Turbulent times

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy summer while it lasts.

Michael Keaton seems like an interesting guy. All over the map, but interesting.

Reports that ‘the Kennedy family’ were in favor of parole for Sirhan Sirhan might have been a little premature. I suspect the lawyers advocating for his release were pushing the narrative. Apart from the devastating impact the assassination had on the family at the time, the murder of RFK was also a big deal for the country. James Aloisi considers what could have been.

Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, which features a story about how his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott is giving away billions of dollars from her divorce settlement from Bezos, mostly to struggling art organizations. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall during the pitch, approval and editing process for this story.

Ben Marks reviews Good Pictures: A History of Popular Photography by Kim Beil (Amazon link.) Sounds like an interesting read. It covers the gamut, from daguerreotypes to Brownies to smartphones.

And is Facebook the new AOL? Closed garden, lots of older users, etc. Sure looks that way. Now we need something new to come along to disrupt it, just like the web did to AOL back in the day.

I told you so

It’s the last Monday in August. The word is of the day is numinous.

The Taliban wants to go mainstream. They’re shutting down the opium trade to gain international acceptance. But that’s where all the money is. Maybe they should have started with women’s rights.

A long list of virus deniers, anti-vaxers and Faucci mockers have succumbed to covid. It seems like a new one dies every day. Retributive obituaries have now become a thing. I guess there’s a little Nelson Muntz in all of us. But Jay Baruch suggests taking a more compassionate approach. He writes that the “only way out of this pandemic is by supporting one another, shifting the focus from judgements about right and wrong and exploring ideas that ask what degree of discomfort each of us is willing to accept to put the current crisis behind us.” I’m not quite there yet.

Dave Winer has a brilliant idea about spreading the news.

No signal? No problem. Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the new iPhones will be able to fall back to LEO satellite connectivity when terrestrial cell service isn’t available.

And if you’re looking for some spontaneous fluctuations, stifle your rationalist bias and take a walk.

Shuffling the deck

Sunday. Today is the 55th anniversary of the last show of the Beatles final tour.

It’s still August but the Farmer’s Almanac is forecasting a snowy January and a “winter whopper” in late February. Now there’s something to look forward to.

A new poll in the mayor’s race shakes things up a bit. But most people are still undecided.

From today’s Globe: “Police investigating two homicides; city shuts down nightclub from shooting.” Usually when The Boston Globe publishes a headline reading that way, the city it would be referring to would be Boston, right? This one is about Providence, a city in an entirely different state. Baffelling. But that’s OK. The Dorchester Reporter has the Boston news covered.

Kathy Ryan took black and white photos of the covid-abandoned New York Times offices. Beautiful work.

And MSG has gotten a bad rap. It’s a good source of umami and is perfectly safe. Actually it can have health benefits, as it allows you to cut down on salt. I’m in.

One throat to choke

Saturday. A day to drink red wine and eat crackers over your keyboard.

A major Christian organization has fired its spokesman for encouraging people to consider vaccination. In other religion news, Harvard, in a “milestone of inclusion,” has installed an atheist as its head chaplain. Modern America in a nutshell here.

The Globe Editorial Board comes down on the side of an appointed school committee. They’re right on that. In principle, an elected committee seems more sensible for purposes of accountability and representation. But in reality, and historically as the authors point out, that isn’t the way things actually happen. The elected school committee was a disaster in Boston. The best approach is the current one. Let the Mayor be responsible for selecting the committee members and be then be accountable to voters for the results.

Squatting is big business in Barcelona. Removing squatters is also a big business.

Matthew Gilbert goes out on a limb to pick the best episodes of TV series from the 2000s, the heyday of quality television. I agree with most of his picks. I loved that first episode of Lost. But I was wondering why he didn’t pick the final episode of Mad Men – until I realized that it aired in 2015. Duh.

And Hurricane Ida is heading towards New Orleans, expected to make landfall as a Cat 4 on the anniversary of Katrina. Batten down the hatches.

Free wheeling

Friday. The end of a long, hot week.

The Globe reports that rain, sharks, coyotes, and a resurgent virus didn’t damper tourism on the Cape this summer. Good to hear.

We all know that ‘Boston Magazine’ is not a magazine about Boston. But ‘Affluent Suburbs to the North and West of Boston Magazine’ doesn’t have the same sort of ring to it. Anyway, of the five Boston bike shops featured in this story, I’m impressed that a couple are actually in Boston. But why feature only 5 shops? What about Landrys, or Bike Barn or Bikeway or Crimson or Bikes Not Bombs or Serious Cycles or Bicycle Link or Grace Bikes, etc, etc.? There are hundreds of great bike shops in the Boston area and no indication as to why these featured five stand out.

Dan Kois reports that Netflix has been getting pretty clickbaity lately. I’ve noticed this too.

With Charlie Watts’ passing at 80, just as the Stones were getting ready to go on tour (currently rehearsing in Foxboro), I was curious as to the ages of the rest of the band. Ronnie Wood is 74, Keith Richards, 77 and Mick Jagger is 78. No spring chickens.

And the hacker responsible for the latest T-Mobile breach says that the carrier’s security is awful. Also, he’s crazy. That doesn’t mean he’s not right, though.

Peak pandemic

Thursday. Dog day.

What’s more important, the climate or the view from a beach house? Bruce Mohl reports on Cape Wind redux on Nantucket.

Remember ‘Don’t Fauci my Florida‘? Ha, Covid. Big joke. I can only imagine what Dr. Fauci thinks about Florida (and DeSantis) these days as it leads the nation in new infections and bodies stack up in funeral parlors while folks wonder how all this could have happened.

With the preliminary election for mayor just around the corner, Bill Walczak has a message for Bostonians: Get out and vote.

Are you tired of clicking through those cookie warnings and looking at all those ugly ads on websites? Frank Groeneveld has a solution. It’s been under your nose all this time.

And there’s a near infinite variety of pizzas in southern Italy. And not a pineapple among them.

Demand and supply

Happy Wednesday. Were nearing the end of August. Only 128 days left in the year.

Charlie Watts has died. A quiet guy and a great drummer.

Why are rents in Boston almost back to pre-covid highs? The students are returning, for one thing. Over at BU, Katrina Liu has some advice for the incoming freshmen: take naps.

NBC did a poll on who has been vaccinated. 69% of respondents reported getting the shot. More women than men. Politically, it breaks down as you would have expected with 88% Democrats to 55% Republicans admitting to being vaccinated. Granted the info here is self reported and polling in general hasn’t been very accurate lately… but the numbers are interesting.

The House passed the $3.5 trillion dollar budget. It’s just the first step in a long process.

And the Patriots are trading Sony Michel to the Rams. Is this a good idea? You have to assume/hope that Belichick knows what he’s doing.


Tuesday, the 24th of August, 2021. It’s Waffle Day.

The Times ran the numbers for shootings in New York City. They aren’t great, basically, but things could be worse.

Caitlin Ghegan, writing for Trip Culture, endeavors to tell us everything we need to know about South Boston. For instance, it’s called Southie and is distinct from the South End and there are glassy office towers and hip restaurants. “South Boston is distinctly industrial – old brick and iron factories of the early 20th century house new businesses and apartments, while the Seaport is home to an Information Age construction boom of sleek glass towers and contemporary architecture.” It doesn’t help that an image captioned, “South Boston Seaport district,” is a photo of Harbor Towers, International Place and the Boston Harbor Hotel.

The Swedish Prime Minister resigned without notice or explanation. Sounds like something from the plot of Borgen.

Remember the Wall? It was going to be tremendous. There was going to be financing from investors in Mexico. It would be big, impenetrable and beautiful. Well, we’re $15 billion dollars in and we have 15 miles of new wall. This is what it looks like when it rains.

And tourism is the lifeblood of Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii to tourists: Stay away.

A change in working conditions

It’s Monday. You heard that right.

If Pine Bluff, Arkansas were a stock, I’d say, sell.

The Globe reports that unions are pushing back against Governor Baker’s vaccine mandate for state workers. The court of public opinion is with Baker on this one but most of these disputes will be settled by a judge or arbitrator – and more often than not the unions prevail.

It’s always nice to see how our friends in Europe view the United States. Can you imagine?

Some people are good at remembering names. Many people, including me, are not. There are methods and tricks that can help but not all are effective in real life. The best advice seems to be, just be ready with a good excuse.

And living in a bubble has some advantages. Preventing the spread of the virus isn’t one of them.

Transparent as mud

Sunday morning. Hurricane Henri rolls in. (Thats on-ree’ for all you French speakers.)

Here’s a little more on that Facebook Transparency report. First, they tried to cherry pick which information to transparently release. Then, after some criticism, they transparently released the original material. What an ‘orrible company.

Gene Weingarten has some incorrect opinions on food. Apparently balsamic vinegar is “the mark of the devil.” The taste of curry “could knock a vulture off a meat wagon” and cooked green peppers “overwhelms everything with its nasty, rancid presence.” On the other hand, he’s absolutely right about more than two toppings on a pizza, hazelnut in coffee and sweet pickles.

One good thing the pandemic brought us was an upgrade in restaurant tech.

And it was supposed to be a big concert featuring Springsteen, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon and others. But they only got as far as Barry Manilow. Then came on-ree’ to shut it all down.