Trial and error

It’s Monday. This is the first time that March 22nd has fallen on a Monday since 2010.

Remember when ex-presidents didn’t criticize sitting presidents? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

Charlie Baker’s reputation as a pragmatic, business-oriented leader got banged up after the state’s initial handling of vaccine distribution. It certainly looked like his team didn’t know what they were doing. But the Globe reports that behind the scenes they were following the private sector playbook of innovating, correcting and iterating toward a successful approach. And now Massachusetts is one of the most effective states at getting people vaccinated. So there.

European markets account for most sales of Kentucky whiskey. But Trump-era tariffs are threatening to close that business down. Industry leaders in the red state are now appealing to the new administration for help to ease those tariffs.

Some people fly from Boston to New York rather than taking the train. They would say it’s faster despite all the hassles at the airport. And it is faster. But only by about five minutes, as Thomas Pallini found out. So I’ll stick to the train.

And if you get vaccinated you might get a doughnut. That sounds like a good deal to me.

Growing pains

Sunday. It’s Bach’s birthday (and just in time for St. Matthew’s Passion.)

Big news on the railroad beat – STOP – Canadian Pacific is buying up Kansas City Southern – STOP.

Twitter is 15 years old. Almost old enough to drink. Is that a moustache? How did this happen? Chris Taylor takes a look at some of the milestones involved in getting here.

The Massachusetts Legislature is trying Paul DeBole’s soul.

George W. Bush was once the very definition of conservative politics. He hasn’t changed at all but somehow he’s become a liberal. Now that’s a riddle.

And in Iceland, a volcano near Reykjavik has erupted after being dormant for 800 years. Bjork is very excited. But this volcano, Fagradalsfjall, can’t hold an orthoepic candle to Eyjafjallajokull, which erupted in 2010 and disrupted air traffic across the region and TV announcers around the world.

A legacy of peace

It’s Saturday. The word of the day is equinox. Spring has sprung.

Can happiness be taught? Over 3 million people say it can. Sign up for the course – or be miserable.

When John Hume died in August travel restrictions were in place across Europe and memorials were kept small and local. But on this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, many of his admirers and family here in the US appeared in a video to remember the Nobel Prize winner. It’s worth a watch, as is this documentary on his life’s work.

One year ago I took a walk around Boston with my camera. The streets were empty. It was strange. A lot has changed in 12 months and we’re not quite back to normal. It’s coming, soon, but we’re not there yet. Over the past year Google has been tracking how we have been searching for information about the virus. First we were curious about masks and how to avoid being infected. Then toilet paper, symptoms, tests, stimulus checks and school openings were the hot topics. Now we’re searching for how to get vaccines and wondering about side effects. I think that’s progress. (I hope that’s progress.)

Acer has reportedly been hit with one of the biggest ransomware hacks yet. $50 million is the demand. The company is being tight-lipped but has acknowledged and reported “recent abnormal situations” to authorities The hackers have given them until March 28th to pay up or have their data released publicly.

And here are the winners of this year’s Leica Woman’s Foto Project awards. Impressive talent and that Leica magic make for some extraordinary photos.

Meet the new boss

It’s a cold, windy Friday in March. Otherwise known as a Friday in March.

Some say there are too many Dunkins around Boston. I have no idea why people would think that.

Boston is changing mayors and it’s not alone in Massachusetts in doing so. Commonwealth Magazine reports that nearly twenty percent of mayors statewide are switching jobs. Some of this is normal churn but stresses of governing during the pandemic were also a contributing factor.

Google, who make software that allows us to work remotely and was one of the first companies to send its employees home, is betting big on getting its workers back into the office.

Researchers in Japan examined how people looking down at their phones while walking on a crowded sidewalk impacted group dynamics. It’s wasn’t pretty.

And the plan for Facebook is to build a version of Instagram just for kids. Brilliant idea. What could possibly go wrong?

Enemy of the good

Good Thursday morning. It’s public defender day.

Even if you can’t go to the pub you can, at least, listen to it. Turn all the dials to 11!

They didn’t like one or two of the words so a bunch of House Republicans voted against a resolution to recognise the Capitol Police officers who protected them on January 6th. The absolutists are out of control.

Speaking of absolutists, this guy wants to outlaw documentary street photography to protect women. He makes some valid points around the margins but he’s essentially missing the point of street photography. Meanwhile, women street photographers are flourishing, with some encouragement from Gulnara Samoilova.

You’ll have one extra month to get your federal tax returns in this year. The IRS said they want to “do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic.” Translation: We’re overwhelmed and need more time.

And remember that creepy hacker in the TV ads for last year’s right to repair campaign? Turns out he was getting his location data from the auto manufacturers all along.

Devil in the details

Today is Wednesday. It’s a good day to wear green.

The Globe has a story on pickled peppers just in case you’re predisposed to pick a peck.

The Justice Department is switching over to incident-based national crime reporting for this year. Much more detailed information is provided to the FBI by local police under the new system. The New York Times dipped its toes into the story but there’s a lot more to the transition than they can cover in a quick overview. In any case, Boston, unlike New York, Chicago and New Orleans, has already updated its police data systems to be able to report more detailed crime information for the new format.

Chris Matyszczyk wonders why Apple is encouraging you to mistreat your phone.

Samsung is warning that the semiconductor shortage will impact its businesses. Car manufacturers have already sounded the alarm on the shortage.

And toss that morning coffee. This new morning drink from Mountain Dew has lots of caffeine and all sorts of nutrients. And, I’m guessing, it will make a great whiskey chaser.

Ms. Mayor

Tuesday. The word of the day is replete.

The movie theater in the Seaport didn’t make it through the pandemic. It’s closing permanently.

It looks like we’ll have a new mayor sometime in the next week. It’s been a long and low-key transition but when it does arrive, will be a historic one.

Expensive camera and lenses? Check. Photographer’s shoes? Check.

Switching to daylight savings is a bummer for morning people and it’s never easy to adjust to. So why don’t we just keep the same time all year? We tried that and it didn’t work out.

And it was nice while it lasted. The US and Russia are breaking up their space cooperation relationship.

Compassionate loophole

It’s Monday, March 15th. Beware.

What would spring break be without a little teargas?

It appears that the Legislature left a opening for convicted first-degree murderers to be released from prison for medical reasons. Twenty-one murderers have been released as a result, the Globe reports. The compassionate release bill pushed through by lawmakers was inspired by the situation one of their colleagues found himself in at the time. Sal DiMasi, the ex-speaker, was serving federal time for fraud and extortion and was asking for compassionate release for hospice treatment after what his doctors said was a fatal cancer diagnosis. He got out. That was over four years ago. Today DiMasi is working as a lobbyist. And the bill his plight inspired is playing out in the headlines.

A giant walrus has come ashore on the southwest coast of Ireland. Experts think it may have fallen asleep on an iceberg and floated down from the arctic. I assume officials will waive quarantine requirements. No comment were reported from the eggman.

About 12% of the population of Massachusetts has been fully vaccinated. More than 23% have had their first shot. To put that number in perspective, under 9% of people in the state have tested positive for the virus. That takes us to about 20% of people with immunity. Throw in another ten percent who may have asymptomatic infections to produce antibodies and subtract the overlap of people with antibodies getting vaccinated and that might take us up to about 30 percent or so with immunity. So we still have a ways to go. Assuming an R0 of 5.7 for Covid, that means that we need to get to about 80% before we shut this thing down. But we’re moving fast on vaccinations and that’s a good thing.

And a man in Charlton said he was following the instructions from his GPS navigation system when he drove his car into a lake. Was he using Google Maps or Apple Maps? Inquiring minds want to know.

Whip inflation now

Springing ahead this Sunday morning. And it’s π Day. Go on, have a piece of π.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler has died. He fought some amazing fights. He was our guy in the ring.

Stimulus checks are coming and Americans are in a spending mood. The textbooks say that when there’s money to be spent and a shortage of things that people want to spend it on, you get inflation. Optimists say the textbooks are wrong or that if it does happens we can manage it. I remember how long it took and how hard it was to rein in the Great Inflation of the late seventies so I wouldn’t take the threat too lightly. Maybe we need a Paul Volcker on standby.

Rick Steves, stuck at home, is hosting weekly virtual travel video nights. He does them on Monday evenings. Tomorrow, with appropriate timing, he’ll talk us through his guide to Saint Patrick’s Ireland.

I’ve always enjoyed and admired Graham Greene‘s writing. This essay by Scott Bradfield is a reminder to pull one his novels down from the shelf to re-read this spring.

And Lou Ottens, who invented the cassette tape, died recently. Those tapes were a big thing for my generation. It was how we compiled and shared music. But I wasn’t sad to see them go. As a medium they were inconsistent and quirky. The best thing I can say about cassette tapes is that they were slightly better than 8-tracks.

Measure twice, cut once

It’s a Saturday morning. Al Jaffee is 100 years old!

Scientific American informs us that ketchup is a non-Newtonian fluid. But we knew that.

Boston Police overtime is up despite a 12% cut in the budget. As the Globe’s Danny McDonald points out, that cut was mostly symbolic.

What’s an NFT? It’s just an entry on a blockchain associated with a work of art (or anything else.) But the devil is in the details, as this discussion illustrates.

Pandemic shopping is causing a cargo container backup at US ports.

And check your zipper. If the brand is YKK, you have the Cadillac of zippers. (via John Gruber)