Re-renegotiation

It’s New Year’s Eve Friday.

Evan Allen plays Clarice Starling to Anthony Pledger’s Hannibal Lecter in this strange but beautifully written Globe story.

They probably won’t win in the court of public opinion but public safety unions are pushing back at Mayor Wu’s vaccine mandate. Wu doesn’t appear to be backing down. This battle will likely set the tone for the administration’s upcoming labor negotiations with police and firefighters.

Axios and Google Trends provide a nice visualization of our collective attention span over the past year.

On the Covid front, the numbers are looking bad (21,137!) but there’s also some potentially good news. And this is also interesting: “For most people, an Omicron positive case will feel much more like the common cold, starting with a sore throat, runny nose and a headache,” said an epidemiologist at King’s College in London. Cross off lack of smell and taste from the list of characteristic symptoms.

And this is a nice introduction to computational photography. If your friends are foliage.

Outsourcing responsibility

Good morning. It’s Thursday, December 30th.

Where is winter?” First of all, just posing the question is asking for trouble. And besides that, who’s complaining?

Michael Norton reports from the State House on the lack of results from a commission set up to make recommendations on standards for police body cameras. He notes that “lawmakers over the years have increased their reliance on special commissions, often punting major topics to appointed panels that don’t always meet their deadlines.”

T-Mobile has had some SIM swap data breach incidents recently. The only way to prevent this is to step up internal controls and accountability for staff.

Jobless claims are down and layoffs have fallen to a fifty year low. (Thanks Biden.) Now we just have to get past Omicron.

And Patriots fans are sad. We’re the second saddest fans in the league, according to a survey by Lineups. But at least we’re not as miserable as Jets fans.

The new abnormal

Wednesday. It’s Little Joe Cook‘s birthday today.

Covid or common cold? Here’s how to play.

Remember back in early 2020 when there were only a few identified Covid cases in the country and the president said it was all well under control and “would soon go down to zero?” I’m reminded of that as Massachusetts approaches its one million case milestone, with almost 20,000 deaths.

The tensions between progressive and practical politics are playing out in Philadelphia. Crime and race are driving the divide, and not necessarily in the ways you would expect.

Thanks to the New York Times, Discord is now mainstream. Soon it will be too crowded and no one will go there anymore.

And reports of a data breach at Last Pass are, according to Last Pass, greatly exaggerated.

Plenty of money to go around

Monday. That strange week between Christmas and New Year.

Hiawatha Bray looks at how the coming shut down of the old 3G networks will affect the first generation internet of things. Older connected cars, home security systems and medical devices will need to be upgraded.

Fiscal watchdogs are crying fowl over how Massachusetts’ covid relief money will be spent. From gazebos to dog parks to walking trails, there’s a lot of non-covid related pork in this spending bill. And it’s nice to see the Globe doing some boring civic journalism for a change.

And speaking of boring civic journalism, here’s yet another informative Globe story, this one on how the state’s Department of Public Utilities is blocking communities’ efforts to innovate on energy projects. Keep em coming.

Covid pushed many weddings from 2020 to 2021. Here’s how one wedding photographer dealt with a busy year.

And I always knew Abba had catchy melodies but hearing these bass lines really made me appreciate their music. Also, Julia Hofer is amazing.

The ties that bind us

Today is Sunday, Boxing Day.

How loud is the Boston area? Pretty loud.

Well, it’s that time again, Dave Barry‘s Year in Review. 2021, he reports, is a variant of the previous year. Also…
Many Americans have been vaccinated but continue to act as though they have not.
– Many other Americans have not been vaccinated but act as though they have.
– Many of those who got vaccinated hate Donald Trump, who considers the vaccines to be one of his greatest achievements.
– Many who refuse to get vaccinated love Donald Trump.
What do these facts tell us? They tell us that we, as a nation, are insane. But we knew that.

How about those Red Sox? Researchers have advice for having a good conversation: Go deep.

And Liz Walker is retiring once again. Always a class act and inspirational presence in the community.

Whack a mole

Twas the day before Christmas.

Gary Sampson had appealed his death sentence in 2017, for a crime that occurred in 2001. The appeal was still pending as of this week when Sampson died in federal custody.

The economy is at a weird place at the end of a weird year. People have cash and demand for goods is still high. With the supply of those goods constrained, prices go up. Econ 101. There are also more jobs than workers, so some many small businesses are in a precarious position. If we hike interest rates to stem inflation, small businesses will take the hit. It looks like a vicious circle.

The Webb telescope launch vehicle has rolled out to the pad and is now waiting on a 7:20 AM launch tomorrow. Hoping for a Christmas miracle.

And Trump’s SPAC is a Chinese company. Imagine that.

Climbing and descending

Thursday, Christmas Eve eve.

A big new development is being proposed along the water in Dorchester. Dorchester Bay City. Looks great on paper. They use the slogan “from the T to the sea,” probably because nothing rhymes with Kosciuszko Circle.

As Adam Gaffin points out, new case numbers are rising ominously fast in Massachusetts. But in South Africa, where cases are closely tracked and where the Omicron outbreak preceded ours by several weeks, cases are going down. “If previous variants caused waves shaped like Kilimanjaro, omicron’s is more like we were scaling the North Face of Everest,” South African infectious disease specialist Salim Abdool Karim told the Washington Post. “Now we’re going down, right back down, the South Face,” he said. Fingers crossed it will work out that way for us.

Biden says he will run again. If… he is in good health. Sounds like a hedge to me.

Commonwealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas picked up on Mayor Wu’s regional approach to ramping up covid restrictions. It’s a smart move. Who knows, maybe she can persuade Quincy to let her build that bridge.

And it wouldn’t be a Covid Christmas without people on Amazon complaining about candles that don’t smell.

Attracting eyeballs

Just another Wednesday.

When it comes to Boston rents, the new normal is a lot like the old normal.

The Globe runs a small article in the National section today about the likely coming of a second American civil war. Then it’s on to more prominent stories about rare eagle sightings and places around Boston where you can get into the holiday spirit. Move along, nothing to see here.

On his last broadcast, BBC news anchorman Andrew Marr signed off with an homage.

Workers are burned out. Te-Ping Chen and Ray Smith explore the landscape of overworked Americans.

And don’t walk under a coconut tree. At least not without a helmet.