Ceding control

Happy Tuesday. Today is the winter solstice. It’s all downhill from here.

The Clapper was way ahead of its time.

Meet the new MBTA board. Not the same as the old MBTA board. And the new chair is not a fan of free bus routes. She favors means-tested fares for individuals rather than prioritizing certain routes based on the neighborhoods served. One other tidbit: no fare increases for five years. At least that’s the plan.

Massachusetts state rep Claire Cronin has been confirmed as US Ambassador to Ireland.

From Afghanistan to Jake Paul. From stimulus checks to Squid Game. Google can tell us a lot about ourselves. Looking at Google search trends from 2021, it seems we’re more alike than we are different.

And a fall photo essay by John Tlumacki. Amazing photography, as you would expect.

Line in the sand

Good morning. It’s Sunday.

A study out of Oregon Health and Science University suggests that if you are fully vaccinated and have a mild breakthrough infection soon after, then you’ve hit the jackpot. You could have super immunity, with antibodies 1000% more effective than vaccination.

Live Boston is reporting that the Wu administration has changed its vaccine mandate to eliminate the testing option, reversing a policy that had been negotiated with some of the public safety unions. This could be the first of many battles between Wu and the unions and it could set the tone for upcoming contract negotiations.

Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker (who don’t agree on much) are not bullish on artificial intelligence. But new developments might cause them to reassess.

Apple intends to release a completely rewritten version of the old and slow Music App (formally iTunes) on the Mac. You would think this would be welcome news but I’m nervous. Some of us have years of music organization invested in iTunes and although the current version is a lumbering beast, it provides a lot of features that we’ve come to rely on. Here’s hoping that Apple doesn’t dumb it down too much.

And Radio Shack is getting into crypto. But of course, you have to give them your phone number email to get onboard.

A familiar face

Saturday. Apparently it’s going to snow.

The US Attorney wields immense power. But not when it comes to the federal bureaucracy.

According to a survey, the use of facial recognition by law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts is pretty low. The two biggest agencies reporting that they use the technology are the State Police and, surprisingly, the Suffolk County District Attorney. (Even before the City Council ban, Boston Police tended to shy away from facial recognition systems because they were often inconclusive or unreliable.)

Why isn’t Joe Biden more popular? It’s probably because he isn’t angry or resentful. Anger, resentment and tilting at windmills are the the tools of the political trade these days. Democrats in general aren’t angry enough either. And when they do get mad it might be too late.

If you’re one of the people worried about harmful radiation emitted by 5G towers you can wear a radioactive pendant around your neck as protection. Darwin lives on.

And if you thought 2021 weather was crazy, wait until next year.

The new, new, new, new thing

Hey, It’s Friday!

In New York City, rats are getting a last meal of Oreo cookies before summary execution.

Chris Dixon on why Web3 matters. Kara Swisher is both excited and dubious about it. She advises caution though, writing, “before you start imagining some digital utopia, many (with some justification) think the Web3 movement is also rife with hype, windbags and more than a little grift.” Nicholas Weaver takes it a step further. He thinks it’s an outright fraud.

The Massachusetts rainy day fund is overbrimming. That’s good. We’ll need it when we become our own country.

Some people can’t correct when they’ve taken a wrong stance, so I give credit to San Francisco Mayor Breed for her newfound support for traditional policing. Marc Thiessen takes a more cynical view.

And Tatum Hunter, writing in the Washington Post, provides a guide to secure passwords. But it’s not just a guide. It’s the Ultimate Guide.

One door closes

Thursday in December. An unseasonably warm day ahead.

A new airline called Play looks a lot like an old airline called Wow. Christopher Muther investigates.

Three dedicated and effective city councillors are leaving the stage. That’s a shame. Campbell, Essaibi-George and Janey always put the work in. They knew the players and understood the issues. I hope we’ll be seeing them again.

A Dunkin’ blast from the past. Glass mugs and a case full of actual donuts. I’m guessing this was N. Beacon and Market.

Years in design and at a cost of billions of dollars, the Webb Telescope is set for launch later this month. It’s kind of a big deal. Astronomers are on the edge of their seats.

And Einstein wins again. The hits just keep on coming.

A sense of urgency

It’s Wednesday. And it’s National Cupcake Day.

Yes, Virginia, there is no Babbo Natale.

Eric Adams doesn’t assume office until January 1st but he’s already outpaced Michelle Wu in naming a police commissioner. Other than a discussion about opening the process to public comment, it’s unclear if she’s even put a search team together. “We’ll be announcing details of that soon,” she told the Globe in mid-November.

A lot of big businesses and government agencies run on Kronos for scheduling and payroll. Many are now left hanging as the company’s cloud service has been the target of a major ransomware attack. Not the best time of year for people to be missing their paychecks.

Are cargo bikes the pickup trucks of the future? I’d be down with that.

And if you want to write a daily blog but are a pen and paper person, there’s now a solution. A paper website. It’s actually a thing.

Devilish details

Tuesday. The word of the day is flippant.

Buccaneers and Patriots in the SuperBowl. I’m calling it here.

Mass and Cass is a major test for the new mayor. Neighborhood residents are impatient to see campaign rhetoric turned into action. But anyone who thinks that Wu’s team is going to swoop in and solve an intractable problem are bound to be disappointed. The same goes for those waiting for her to free the T. Governing might look easy, but it’s not.

Travel restrictions around Omicron might cause foreign students attending Boston-area colleges to miss the spring semester.

George Dvorsky thinks 2021 may have been the weirdest year yet in space. It was pretty weird—and that’s even before Michael Strahan blasted off. Also, there are a bunch of boring non-billionaire enthusiasts and volunteers working on their own space program. God speed.

And that Succession season finale? It’s not exactly a spoiler, but it’s all here in this image.

Money for nothing – nothing for money

Today is Monday, Taylor Swift‘s birthday. (Guess what year she was born.)

Off with their heads! It’s nice to be King of the Metaverse.

What is the future of money? Peter Coy has some interesting thoughts and observations. We’re in a weird time, he thinks. Cash “is becoming technologically obsolete before replacements have gained the trust of the public and the backing, or at least acceptance, of governments.” Interesting times ahead.

The good news is that the Log4Shell exploit has been patched. The bad news is that not everyone patches their Apache servers quickly.

David Leonhardt warns of an electoral ambush in 2024. He’s right. It’s going to be ugly.

And there’s been another promising development in anti-aging science, which, at least so far, has been very advantageous for mice, but not so much for certain very impatient humans.

A partisan spiral

A sleepy Sunday.

Felice Freyer has an interesting article on the unusually large amount of mutations that were required for Omicron to develop. Scientists are still trying to figure it all out.

I’m reminded of why I don’t watch cable news. I noticed this article about the deadly mid-December tornados on the Fox News website this morning, under the heading Natural Disasters. It’s a news article—not an opinion piece—that blames liberals… for blaming conservatives. Not much about the actual disaster, itself. The metaverse is here and we’re all living in it.

You saved a few bucks to put down on a new car but you still have to make monthly payments on the car loan. But that’s not the end of it. Toyota is considering requiring a paid subscription to use the remote start key fob. On your car.

The solvency of the state’s unemployment insurance fund is starting to come into focus. It looks there may be a little less in it than hoped.

And when you’re thirsty and you want something sweet, go for a cloud frappuccino. It looks absolutely delicious.