Reinventing the wheel

A summer Saturday.

New data shows that ending jobless benefits didn’t have a big impact on unemployment. Amrheins, take note.

Nice story in the Globe about police-organized youth basketball games. Apparently, a couple of months ago a member of the State Police and someone from the Sheriff’s office came up with this idea. Strange that the story didn’t mention Boston Police Superintendent Nora Baston, who’s been doing this for years and practically invented the concept.

William Shatner, at 90, is still going strong. Two TV shows, a movie, an album and more. I’ll have what he’s having.

In 2020, 61% of Americans paid no federal income tax. It was a bad year. Experts want to get the numbers back to the pre-pandemic 44% not paying their taxes.

And even if Americans can’t agree on much, at least we can all agree on aliens.

Local navigation

Friday. A happy birthday to Benjamin Harrison.

Mike Lindell offered a $5 million dollar reward to anyone who could disprove his wacky theories about the election by using data. One of his own experts has taken him up on it. That $5 mil will buy a lot of pillows.

South Boston roadways are getting an upgrade. The BPDA’s new South Boston Dorchester Avenue Transportation Plan is out. It includes lots of changes and new features, including a ‘peanut rotary’ at Andrew Square. At 180 pages it’s quite a read. Caught in Southie suggest you settle in with a nice glass of wine before digging into it.

More hospitals are being impacted by ransomware attacks. The latest involve Memorial Health Systems, located in Ohio and West Virginia.

Larry David is on a roll down on the Vineyard. First he jumped at the chance to get out of going to the Obama birthday party and now he’s mixing it up on the street with Alan Dershowitz over his cozy relationship with Trump. I”m hoping both of these make it into next season’s Curb.

And, we may get some weather over the weekend.

Jumping into the ring

We’ve rounded the bend into Thursday.

Tom Nichols says it’s time we “take stock of ourselves and our own role in the decline of our democracy.” Who me? It’s a good read.

Adrian Walker reports that the East Boston Brawler, AKA Lydia Edwards, is set to announce a run for the seat being vacated by state Senator Joe Boncore – if Boncore actually does vacate the seat. That part is still up in the air. It would be good to have Edwards in the State House but it would also be a loss for the city. She has been one of the most effective councillors in some time.

Facebook has released a list of its most popular external content. There’s some odd stuff there but little or no politics, which does not compute. Here’s more from Will Oremus in the Post. Ethan Zuckerman also weighs in.

Lawmakers were already drawing up new district lines. Colin Young reports that the more detailed census block data recently made available will also be thrown into the mix for more accuracy.

And if tech nerds ran the world, this is how they would implement public policy. Smart behavior = low friction. Stupid behavior = high friction.

A tin ear

Wednesday, August 17. Today is National Fajita Day.

This tweet captures the week well.

The Globe Editorial Board tries to do a public service by making a strong case for getting everyone vaccinated. Until, that is, they add this little tidbit at the end: “As a last resort, local governments can simply mandate vaccinations for everyone…” What were they thinking? Statements like this only rev-up and embolden the anti-vax radicals who are influencing the skeptical and undecided. So much for the power of persuasion.

Venmo was a game changer for transferring money. And everyone had it, so it was easy. But there are alternatives and some are pretty compelling. Tatum Hunter has the scoop.

Adrian Walker points out that Kim Janey and Andrea Campbell, the two African American women leading in the race for mayor, are competing hard against each other. When the dust settles they might, unfortunately, cancel each other out, leaving Michelle Wu or Annissa Essaibi-George as the last candidate standing.

And Adam Gaffin informs us that a cruise ship will be docking in Boston tomorrow for a trip to Bermuda. He notes a Massport statement that, “Both passengers and crew will be fully vaccinated.” Only two passengers? Well at least there’ll be no line at the buffet.

Vicarious victimhood

Tuesday. It’s a birthday for Davy Crockett, Robert De Niro and Mae West.

Weekend commuter rail is back. So are the riders. Bruce Mohl reports that Sunday ridership is back to 100% of what it was pre-covid on some lines.

There have been way too many instances of gunfire in the commercial areas of Boston recently. Newbury Street, Albany Street, Downtown Crossing. Too many guns and people stupid enough to use them indiscriminately. It’s only a matter of time before this will lead to a defining tragedy for the city.

Is doxing good or bad? I guess it depends on where you stand on the person getting doxed. Emma Beteul reports on efforts to make the practice illegal.

When it was introduced, the magnetic strip on a credit card was a huge technological leap for commerce. But now its going away. Mastercard gives us a history lesson and a look at the future.

And we’re altering and tweaking the genetic makeup of bugs. What could possibly go wrong.

End of a misadventure

It’s Monday. Let’s do this.

Another day, another T-Mobile data breach. This one seems big.

Fox News is apoplectic with the Biden administration over US troops leaving Afghanistan. Maybe they forgot that it was the Trump administration that signed the agreement mandating that it happen. Biden owns it now, though, and there are valid questions about how the withdrawal was executed. Twenty years, spanning Republican and Democratic administrations, of building up the Afghan forces, only to see them collapse in twenty hours. That was not money, time and American lives well spent.

Reasons to be cheerful: Kevin Kelly is bullish on optimism.

Last month the Globe ran a story about mayoral candidate Essaibi George’s husband’s real estate business. It also mentioned, in one small paragraph, warning letters sent to John Barros and Michelle Wu over not registering rental properties. Now, it turns out, Kim Janey also failed to register rental properties. The Globe didn’t report that. She didn’t get a warning letter because, well, she’s the acting Mayor. It’s not that big of a deal but she should have followed the regular process and sent herself a letter and she now admits that. But I think the Globe is overplaying the whole thing now simply because they missed it in the original story.

And duct tape. Don’t take off without it.

Thirty somethings

Sunday, part 2 of the weekend. This is the anniversary of the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965 and the first day of the Woodstock Festival in 1969 .

When it gets as hot as it’s been this summer, it’s important to stay hydrated. And the best way to do that, apparently, is with a big, cold glass of milk.

There’s a new chapter in the pandemic. Hospitalization rates for people in their 30’s are soaring.

First Matt Taibbi and now Maureen Dowd, on the tone-deafness of the Obama birthday bash. The best story involved Larry David, who was anxiety-ridden over his suspicion that he might be asked to perform at the event. Then he got the call that he was disinvited because of covid concerns. “I was so relieved I screamed, ‘Thank you! Thank you!’ He must have thought I was insane. Then I hung up the phone, poured myself a drink and finished my crossword puzzle.”

The murder hornets are back. Of course they are.

And this old Brian Regan special is one of the sustained, funniest hours in comedy. If you haven’t seen it, you should treat yourself.

Ups and downs

Saturday. The weekend, part 1.

After more than two decades, Beat the Press has been cancelled. Regular participant Dan Kennedy provides an update.

The Globe’s story on what the 2021 census numbers mean for Boston offers lots of anecdotes, off the cuff speculation and extrapolation but not much valid insight. You would be better served with this (albeit not fully updated) dataset. Or this from the Washington Post. Just type in Boston, MA.

Anticipation is a fun. The Dutch know it. They have a word for it: voorpret. Amazon knows it too. That’s why they have the Track Package button.

Everyone is familiar with GPS, the US government system of satellites for location and navigation. Most people don’t know that there are other systems. The EU has Galileo. China has BeiDou. Japan has QZSS and Russia has GLONASS. Which one is better? Who cares. You can use them all at the same time, as Nikon is doing with its new cameras set to use GNSS, the Global Navigation Satellite System. Maybe others will follow suit.

And we have a new Pope. Two, actually.

Maybe, maybe

It’s Friday the 13th. Left handers day. And don’t forget to verify your backups.

Today is the day that President Biden will resign. Kamala Harris too. It will happen sometime this morning. Mike Lindell, the Harold Camping of pillows, made the prediction last month. He’s really been on a roll lately.

The data in these numbers and charts put together by Ryan Huddle and Peter Bailey-Wells might be why Governor Baker is holding back on stricter Covid measures. I hate to say it but Massachusetts is in pretty good shape. We’re highly vaccinated and our case numbers are still pretty low. Things could change. The Delta variant is pretty scary (It has an R0 between 5-9!) and vaccinated people can still get infected and become spreaders. Other states are struggling with high rates of infections which could come our way. And schools are getting ready to open, with masks or no masks for the kids but likely with mandated teacher vaccinations. So fingers crossed – here comes the fall.

Remember when everyone fled New York? New numbers show that the city has actually grown by over 600,000 people. Of course there’s an asterisk.

Originally conceived as a thought experiment, Frank Wilczek‘s time crystals are being put to use in a Google proof of concept for a breakthrough in quantum computing. Strange how these things work out. Wilczek appeared on Sean Carroll’s podcast recently and talked a little about it.

And the Perseids are back. Settle into that lawn chair. It should be a nice warm night for viewing.

Goldilocks health care

Happy Thursday. Stay cool.

Joan Vennochi asks, “Will the Tom Menino model work for Kim Janey?Vennochi doesn’t believe it will. I think it already has.

Paul Hattis parses the latest Mass General Brigham press release on its quarterly financial report. Apparently they’re doing well. But not too well. Not badly. Not great. Somewhere in that zone where they can be making lots of money but keep government regulators at bay while still needing massive Covid relief funds.

Inflation seems to be easing with prices up ‘only’ 5.4% in July over last year. The Council of Economic Advisors tweeted… “One month does not make a trend (monthly inflation slowed in May before rebounding in June), and we know supply constraints persist in various sectors. However, July’s deceleration is encouraging.” Bears watching.

Scorsese’s next movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, will be for Apple TV. He’s already lined up some acting talent. John Lithgow, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Brendan Fraser and Jesse Plemons, for starters. Hopefully he’ll forgo the CGI this time around.

And I would imagine that this would be a red hot item on Cameo. A customized message from Rudy.