Steam-punk vaccinations

Today is Wednesday. March is, in fact, going out like a lamb.

G. Gordon Liddy has died at 90. He was bonkers, even by today’s standards.

If you’ve been vaccinated, don’t lose that paper card or leave in in a pocket to go through the wash. Vaccine development may have been a next century technological achievement but the record keeping for who gets vaccinated remains something from the Victorian era.

The saga of the Fattman campaign contributions continues. A judge has ruled against the couple and now the matter will be referred to the AG. Bruce Mohl follows the money.

Charlie Baker’s poll numbers were down after initial vaccine rollout stumbles but – surprise – they’re back up again. Most people give him high marks overall. This is not great news for Maura Healey, who was expected to challenge him for the governor’s job.

And that Volkswagen name change? Nevermind. Just an early April Fool’s joke gone off the rails.

Coming down the tracks

Tuesday. Van Gogh was born on this day in 1853.

Is Volkswagen changing its name to Voltswagen? As in Volt? That would be weird.

The Orange Line derailment from last month looks like it was caused by an old switch rather than a new train. With stimulus money expected to hit the books soon, the MBTA is preparing to improve maintenance and restore service levels. But long lead times for staffing and training are frustrating some of these efforts, managers told the Control Board. And what happens when the stimulus money runs out? It’s an open question. “The T that exists today cannot continue to exist in fiscal 2024 and fiscal 2025,” one Control Board member remarked. Indeed.

Andy Warhol may have been borrowing from Marshall Mcluhan when he said “art is anything you can get away with.” But he didn’t get away with anything this time.

More Walsh loyalists are leaving City Hall. Not unexpected, but the city will be fine. Operations will go on just as efficiently under Dion Irish and financial management of the city will be in good hands with Justin Skerrit.

And a team for the billionaire funded Space X ride has been selected. All regular people. Fast Company interviews one of the crew, Sian Procter, a community college professor who says, “Strap me in—I’m ready to go.”

Redefining success

Monday redux. Today is Vietnam War Veterans Day.

About that ship in the Suez Canal… well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

Researchers from New York University, Rutgers and Texas A&M used data from the Suffolk County DA’s office to determine if prosecution for low level offenses leads to recidivism – and the answer is yes, it does. The results ring true. The conventional wisdom is that prosecution for any offense will lead to recidivism. So lack of prosecution will likely reduce recidivism. Makes sense. The study is being seen as a vindication for District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who has formalized a policy of not prosecuting for some minor crimes. The research suggests that there are benefits for offenders who might otherwise become pulled into the criminal justice system. But the study doesn’t address how Rollins’ policies impact victims or overall crime rates, which is where critics say Rollins approach still falls short.

Digital photos are data. There’s the image and then there’s all that unseen meta-data. The BBC’s Jerone Andrews gives a good primer on all of thing your pictures can tell other people.

When it comes to how to board an airplane everyone is an expert. Back to front. Front to back. Window to aisle. Anything would be faster than what we have now. Research has been conducted. Mathematicians have calculated. Physicists have studied. Engineers have simulated. But, according to the CEO of American Airlines, the status quo is still the best way to do it.

And Volkswagen is readying the ID Buzz for 2023. I could see myself in one of these.

Deja Vu all over again

Today is Sunday. Look for a Super Moon late this afternoon.

Think you can spot a lying liar? Think again.

Just when you start to believe things are getting better, with vaccine availability improving and new case numbers beginning to trend down, all of a sudden the numbers are rising again and experts are warning about another surge. And then there’s Brazil. Scary and discouraging.

Scientists are considering geoengineering the atmosphere by releasing material to block the sun. What could possibly go wrong?

Is coffee killing us? Researchers want to marshall artificial intelligence to find out. What’s the point? We drink a lot of it now and we enjoy it and it’s not obvious that it’s harmful in anyway. So why go looking for a problem?

And some companies are offering Zoom-free Fridays as an employee perk. Does that mean you have to come into the office? Doesn’t sound like much of a perk to me.

Ready for their close up

Come Saturday morning. The word of the day will be, is, reminisce.

Good news. A space rock that scientists had dubbed the poster child for hazardous asteroids has been taken off the watch list. At least for a hundred years.

A Massachusetts film tax credit or no Massachusetts film tax credit? That is the eternal and recurring question. The legislature is considering making the credit permanent, which would be a relief to the local movie industry and end all the bickering over numbers each time the measure comes up for reconsideration. But that would be no fun.

Interesting news on the battery technology front. Structural batteries are coming along. Imagine a car frame that is also the battery. Makes sense.

Digging that big ship out of the mud in the Suez Canal could make the situation go from bad to worse if it tips over. It’s a possibility.

And, the other day I rode my bike through Paris in the springtime, virtually, on Zwift, down the Champs-Elysees and around the Jardin des Tuileries. And today, I can also stop into the Louvre and virtually peruse the art. Oh la vache!

Leica digital over a decade

When the Leica M9 came out in 2009, it was quite a technical achievement: A full-frame sensor on a compact rangefinder camera that accepted almost all of the existing M-mount lenses. The sensor was a CCD and it rendered crisp, warm images, reminiscent of Kodachrome (that sensor was made by Kodak, after all). The 18 MP resolution was more than sufficient at the time.

The M9 was my primary camera for several years. Leica released follow-up models with better, more modern sensors, live-view and other technical improvements. I stuck with the M9, choosing to invest in lenses rather than spending my money on incremental camera improvements. But over time those incremental improvements began to add up and by about 2015, the M9 began to feel dated. It seemed slow and it was missing important new features like the ability to use an EVF.

These days I mostly shoot with the M10, SL2 and particularly the Q2 Monochrome, pictured above. These cameras are very capable – fast, high resolution with incredible low light capability and bright and clear EVFs. All the while, my poor M9 was gathering dust.

But I wondered how would it stack up against the current state of the art. So I brushed off the dust and put the M9 into my bag with the Q2-M. I’ve been shooting with both cameras on my recent walks and taking comparison shots.

This is not intended to be scientific or precise. Just a little fun. All of the comparison images below were post-processed in Lightroom for tone and contrast and to allow for side by side comparisons. Also, since I was using a 35mm Summilux on the M9 and the Q2-M has a fixed 28mm Summilux ASPH, some cropping was also necessary where I didn’t zoom with my feet. I tried to use the same aperture and the lowest reasonable ISO on both cameras. The goal was just to get them to look as similar as possible.

Images on the left are from the Q2 Monochrome, released last year. On the right is the M9 from 2009.

What do you think? To my eye the M9 holds up pretty well. I’m actually seeing more micro-contrast in the images from the M9.

Obviously, when you zoom in, there’s more detail and crispness in the RAW files from the Q2-M due to the larger sensor and better lens. But, even after 11 years, which is an eternity in the world of digital camera technology, the M9 can still give the new guys a run for their money.

Here are some more images, old and new, from the M9 – this time in color to show off that sensor.

Grading on a curve

Friday. Good morning. It’s Leonard Nimoy Day.

Under Massachusetts law, any home that was the site of a homicide, suicide or other violent act can be resold without the owner having to disclose that fact to a potential buyer. That same law also, strangely, allows sellers to maintain their silence on any resident ghosts on the premises.

Boston’s restaurant grading system was supposed to mimic New York’s system, where grades are placed in the window to give customers confidence that the conditions inside are sanitary. In New York you see a lot of A’s, a few B’s and also some ‘Grade Pending’ cards. The latter can be posted if, after an inspection, a restaurant gets a B or a C grade and is cleaning up pending another inspection. Locally, Colman Herman looked at how Boston’s system is working, particularly in Dorchester. What he found was not encouraging.

A number of well-known Dorchester restaurants failed their most recent health code inspections, including the Lower Mills Tavern, Lucy’s American Tavern, Starbucks, Bowery, and Wahlburgers. All of them failed prior inspections as well.

Not good. Even the cafeteria at UMass Boston has had multiple failed inspection. But somehow all of the restaurants in Dorchester, even the ones with repeated violations, have posted A ratings in their windows. Something seems to be broken here.

It’s one ship vs. the entire global economy. Who you gonna call?

Coronavirus case numbers are ticking up in the state. I’d hate to see another wave but it looks like that’s what’s coming.

And a newspaper in Kansas City printed a blank front page as a warning of what could happen if readers and advertisers don’t support their local papers. It won’t work. The Globe has been offering an essentially empty Metro section a few days a week for quite a while now and I don’t think anyone’s even noticed.

Opportunity knocks

Today is Thursday. It’s a birthday for Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Howard Cosell.

Jack Nicholson hasn’t made a movie in 11 years. That’s too bad. A whole generation of very good actors are pushing into their eighties, as Ty Burr points out in his remembrance of George Segal.

Charlie Baker‘s approval rating slump is cited in an article at Politico by Stephanie Murray. She blames it on the absence of Trump, which I don’t buy. This is local politics mostly related to vaccine distribution. In any case, the governor’s dropping poll numbers are encouraging challengers, particularly Maura Healey. We’ll see. There are almost two years before the election and I’ll bet Baker’s numbers go back up before then.

This just in: Researchers have found that the media tend to emphasize bad news over good news. Apparently bad news keeps people engaged – they just keep coming back for more. (I think most of us have seen enough storm coverage to have figured this out for ourselves.)

It’s still too early to know if the large events scheduled for this summer on the South Shore will go on as planned. The Marshfield Fair is held towards the end of August and it’s probably safe. But the Levitate Music Festival is scheduled for early July. That one is going to be close.

And Florida woman is the new Florida man. The super-glued boxing glove was a nice touch.

Go Yankees

Is it Wednesday already? Yes it is.

Former intelligence director John Ratcliffe says that the UFOs are coming. Better get Arnold on the phone.

Hugh O’Brien was the first Irish mayor of Boston. That was in 1885. Since then it’s been mostly Irish men as mayor. Christopher Child’s genealogical research reveals that with the exception of John Collins, who had some Scottish ancestors, all of these men had recent family origins in Ireland. Tom Menino broke the Irish hold with great-grandparents who came from Italy. Now as Kim Janey steps into the role, Child looked into her family background. Interestingly, she will be the first mayor since 1930 with a great grandparent born in Massachusetts. So I guess you could say that, after 91 years, a yankee is back in the mayor’s office.

Another day, another mass shooting in Colorado.

Miriam Wasser writes about why a local challenge to the Weymouth natural gas compressor facility is a big deal that could reverberate nationally.

And Windows XP seemed like it was around forever. It was here for only 12 years. Mac OS X, on the other hand, is 20 years old and it seems as good as new.

Thanks, but no thanks

A terrific Tuesday. It’s National Puppy Day!

Dr. Oz is hosting Jeopardy. What is, a huge mistake.

We have a new mayor and on her first day the advice is pouring in. The Globe’s James Pindell says she should do nothing right away so that she can do big things later. A reader from Gloucester says she should act now because she is, after all, ‘acting’ mayor. Advice is nice, but I’m sure Kim Janey and her team actually have their own plan.

T. F. Green is the “Official Airport of the New England Patriots.” Colman Herman did the CBA and found that this is a better deal for the airport than it is for the Pats.

I had been a loyal customer of AT&T since the original iPhone came out in 2007. Their data coverage was great and customer service was pretty decent. Then a few years ago I had a phone issue and found myself being passed between the help desk and sales, who tried to upsell me out of a technical problem. It was bad enough that I immediately jumped to T-Mobile where I have been happy ever since. So this experience, by Josh Marshall, is not a surprise to me.

And Sidney Powell is now saying that no reasonable person would have believed what she had said about election fraud. But lots of people did believe it. (I’ll leave you to close the loop for yourself.)