The hardest words

Whew. Saturday.

Did the FBI find Jimmy Hoffa‘s body in a New Jersey landfill? I expect we’ll be hearing an announcement soon, one way or the other.

Joan Vennochi was wrong. She admits it. It’s a thoughtful and forthright column about how journalists sometimes get things wrong and why it’s important to correct the record, even if it takes 20 years.

Spencer Buell extols the power of the wood chipper for making an impact.

Lord Vinheteiro sat down to play five different pianos ranging in value from $40 dollars to over a million to see which one sounded the best. The cheapest has that Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da sound to it. The sweet spot, to my ears, is somewhere in the middle. As far as the million dollar piano goes, well, you’ll just have to watch/listen to the end.

And in a tech breakthrough, now your phone can be a remote control for your… cow.

War footing

A mid-November Friday. Better get those turkeys and pies early this year.

So much for that trip to Hallstatt.

David Brooks went to a conference to see what the future of conservatism looked like. It wasn’t pretty. Actually, it was a bit scary. According to his recounting, future (and current) leaders on the right believe that the left is such a threat to the American way of life that extraordinary measures will be required to counter it. He describes the sentiment: “The country is under assault from a Marxist oligarchy that wants to impose its own pseudo-religious doctrine. If you try to repulse that with pallid liberalism, with weak calls for free speech and tolerance, you’ll end up getting run over by those who possess fanatical zeal, economic power, and cultural might.” So, basically, the people on the right want to save America from the people on the left, and are willing to destroy American democracy to do so. I don’t like where this is going.

I suppose you could do this with any of the big camera brands, but here are a bunch of iconic photos shot with a Leica.

The usually pragmatic and clear-headed Zeynep Tufekci waxes philosophical on the future of the US in the wake of a botched response to Covid.

And first it was bikers. Then spring breakers. Now Phish Heads are being pegged as super spreaders. Surrender to the flow.

It will have to wait

Thursday. It’s a birthday for Mickey Mouse.

No cashiers in Starbucks? I know it’s hard to get help but don’t just throw in the towel and get rid of all the humans. I’m usually a fan of new, cutting edge lifestyle technology. But this seems wrong. (Also, probably, unfortunately, the future.)

Well, the legislature wouldn’t let the governor spend the $4 billion dollars in federal relief funds that the state had received. They wanted to decide for themselves how it would be spent. But now, of course, they can’t decide. And they’re going on their holiday break. Matt Murphy and Sam Doran report.

The folks at Facebook claim that mainstream news sites are the most popular source of information on its platform. Anyone who has scrolled through the viral feculence on the blue app would suspect that this just isn’t true. The Markup collected data that would confirm those suspicions.

Now, if you break your iPhone, you can order the parts from Apple and fix it yourself. It’s being billed as a breakthrough for consumer rights. Picture your beautiful smart phone laid out in many, many pieces on the kitchen table while you search for a microscopic torx screw that somehow went missing. I’m pretty sure most people are going to opt to bring the phone in to Apple and have them fix it.

And Melissa Clark has the scoop on how to make a tasty pie for Thanksgiving. But beware of ingredient shortages.

History redux

Today is Wednesday. Downhill to the weekend.

Would reducing the charging time of electric vehicles to less than 5 minutes dramatically open the market for EV’s to be competitive with gas cars? I think it would. Now would be a good time get the grid fixed.

Michelle Wu was sworn in yesterday on the Bible of the Revolution. Right out of the gate there’s much talk about her making history although, really, Kim Janey did that. But Wu could be the first to enact a progressive agenda and take a hard line on contract negotiations with the police unions. Wait, Tom Menino already did all that. Affordable housing? Marty Walsh. So what’s left? Plenty, actually. Wu can make her mark. But first we need to turn down the hype machine and let her get her feet on the ground.

Continuing on with yesterday’s theme of Democrats being in trouble for the midterms, Thomas Edsall doesn’t think the party should be worried. He believes they should be in a state of abject terror.

We were going to be back on the moon by 2024. But it turns out that that aspirational goal was just a tad bit unrealistic.

And the story of the tilting Millennium Tower in San Francisco is a fascinating cautionary tale. An engineer’s nightmare. The moral is, don’t build a skyscraper on shifting clay.

The long honeymoon

Tuesday. The word of the day is facetious.

Bernie Sanders seems to have set Elon Musk off. Or maybe he’s just giving him cover.

Boston gets a new mayor today. Michelle Wu will be sworn in this afternoon. The Globe is setting expectations very high, which probably isn’t fair. Operationalizing politics while governing is hard, particularly at the start of an administration. Wu and her staff, especially if they’re coming from outside city government, are going to need a little time to settle in.

Henry Olsen is concerned for Democrats. And Fredrik deBoer, a dyed in the wool socialist, is worried that people on the left are stuck in their own bubble. Not to worry. People on the right are in a bubble, too. Everyone seems to be in their own bubble these days.

The state’s unemployment insurance fund was supposed to be in deficit. That was bad. But actually, there’s a surplus. That should be good -but it’s also confusing to the business community.

And no, your phone isn’t listening in to your conversations. Spread the word.

A mix of ingredients

Monday once again. A beautiful week ahead.

COBOL is not dead. But Jan Kammerath advises new programmers stay to away.

A team at the New York Times examined four cases representative of the recent spike in homicides around the country. “Pandemic emptiness” played a role, along with guns, drugs and disrupted lives. And speaking of guns, another Times story looks into the rise of ghost guns, especially on the west coast.

The John Deere strike is causing an escalation in prices for used tractors. Not that I’m in the market.

Usually, for police departments, interference from city hall is a bad thing. In most places accountability comes primarily at the executive level with the chief or commissioner serving at the mayor’s pleasure. But in Baltimore things are a mess, governance-wise. The state is involved. And the city is involved but prohibited from making policy. On top of that the department is under a federal consent decree. So maybe these proposed changes are a good thing.

And after a targeted marketing campaign, New York police officers are relocating to Lakeland, Florida. It won’t be the same. There’s no Ray’s Pizza. And the bagels? Forget about it.

The new Boston

Sunday. Fun day. Also a pretty slow news day.

Ben Sisario got a look at Peter Jackson’s Get Back, a seven-hour Beatles documentary. (It looks like I’m going to have to sign up for the Disney Channel.)

Bostonians get a lot of entertainment from reports of storrowing. Nathan Phillips wants to take that all away. And Shirley Leung would like to see the downtown become a big residential neighborhood where we can all lay down on the grass in Post Office Square after a long day of telework. I would be down with that.

So apparently it’s not the medium or the message. They’re just giving people what they want. Maybe the problem is the audience. We have met the enemy…

I guess Rivian’s IPO went well. They now have a valuation that surpasses General Motors even though they’ve only shipped 150 cars.

And here’s another video from the Facebook metaverse. Oh, wait a minute.


Saturday sunshine. Happy Sadie Hawkins Day.

It looks like Mark Zuckerberg has been reading Ray Bradbury. Spoiler: It doesn’t end well.

As large companies like GE and Johnson & Johnson grow and devour smaller companies, they can take advantage of economies of scale and become even bigger. Until, that is, that they grow so big that they become lumbering giants, threatened by smaller, more agile competitors. So then they just break up into smaller companies again. The cycle of life.

Apparently airplanes can get too big as well. The A380 – that airliner with a double decker row of windows that could accommodate 800 passengers – was a big deal when it was released. Massport even built special ramps for it. Then the pandemic hit and people stopped flying. Emirates, an early adopter of the big plane, is now decommissioning some of its A380s, stripping them down for parts. And Airbus, the manufacturer, will ship the last one this fall. That seemed quick.

The Taproot upgrade is coming to the Bitcoin network in the next 24 hours. It might be a big deal.

And Miles Monroe strikes again.

Harshing the mellow

A stormy Friday. Neil Young and Tonya Harding share a birthday today.

I love the idea that Taylor Swift is taking control of her catalog. Apparently today is a big day: the re-release of Red.

On a stop for DUI, a driver has a choice. Either take a breathalyzer or lose their license for six months. But for someone suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana there’s no such option. Governor Baker has filed a bill to change that. The Clardy bill, named after a Trooper killed by an impaired driver, would introduce sanctions for drivers who refuse tests for marijuana. There’s only one problem. A reliable test for marijuana impairment doesn’t yet exist. Oh, well. Cart first, horse later.

The shooting on the set of Rust struck a nerve with Emmett Folgert. He has some suggestions for preventing a repeat occurrence.

Could we turn the moon into a habitable planet? First we would need oxygen and, it seems, there’s plenty available. I hope someone pursues this.

And Seoul is thinking of embracing the Metaverse. What could possibly go wrong. (Don’t pick the umbrella!)

Transitory inflation

Thursday. Veterans Day.

The days are getting shorter. And now with daylight savings in effect, darkness comes even earlier in the evenings. But we do get a little more light in the mornings, unlike in Reykjavík, where the sun doesn’t come up until almost 10 o’clock and then goes down at around the same time as it does here.

For those of us old enough to remember the stagflation of the 1970’s, the specter of runaway inflation looms as a serious threat. The latest numbers are not reassuring. A healthy rate of inflation is about 2%. The numbers for October show us jumping to over 6%. As recent as March it was below 3% before going up to around 5% over the summer. The trend is going in the wrong direction. Even the GameStop crowd is getting nervous. But then again, we’re recovering from a global pandemic and a constrained supply chain. You would expect higher rates as the economy restarts. Battleships don’t turn on a dime. And in the 1970’s, inflation was at around 20%. We’re nowhere close to that. All that said, it still bears watching. The only way out, if it does become entrenched, is a hike in interest rates and likely a follow-on recession. The ghost of Paul Volcker looks down.

The used car market has gone crazy. Kate Marino reports.

Farhad Manjoo writes about Apple’s latest chips, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. He thinks they’re transformative. I’ve been using a new Apple laptop with an M1 Pro chip and I have to agree with him. I have the entry-level model with lower specs and even that blows away any computer I’ve ever used, including an Intel-based pro desktop. It also has an amazingly bright screen, it’s quiet, cool and the battery lasts forever. It shouldn’t be this good.

And the West Side Rag has some scoop on the new West Side Story. Cool.