Cold shoulder

A chilly Monday. Low single-digit chilly.

Today is the anniversary of the Mooninite terror scare of 2007. 15 years!

A basement performance space at the Cantab Lounge is at the heart of an ugly dispute between two long-time local music scene partners. Cambridge Day reports that Joe Viglione (he’ll always be The Count to me) and Mickey Bliss have parted ways over how the basement club should be promoted.

Megan McArdle wondered what all the hubbub was about with cryptocurrencies. She couldn’t figure out why anyone would be attracted to something so volatile?

Devin Coldewey writes about how all new cars seem to be like low budget smart phones. He does have a point.

And what if the earth was made of blueberries? No, really. What if the earth was made of blueberries?


Sunday. The morning after the Great Moderately Heavy Snow Storm of 2022.

The New York Times instructs us in the proper way to walk in the snow. Just in time.

The Globe has a list of snowfall totals by town. (It would have been nice to have been able to sort it by total, but that’s ok.) Looks like Sharon and Stoughton hit the jackpot with 30 or more inches. Not sure what happened in Hingham, with one station reporting 5 inches while three others logged over 20.

The Boston Yeti made an appearance for the big storm. Or a tweet, at least.

Adam Gaffin wrapped up more than twelve hours of breathless, end of the world, TV news storm coverage. I have to admit, Eric Fisher’s enthusiasm seemed to be waning by about 5 PM.

And at one point in the storm, Cambridge completely disappeared. Hopefully it’ll reappear today.

The Russian spring

It’s Saturday. Blizzard day. It’s also Chekhov‘s birthday.

Janet Malcolm, who died last year, was such a fan of Chekhov that she made a pilgrimage to his hometown of Taganrog and wrote a book about the trip—and about her love of Chekhov. In this New Yorker article, she writes about Chekhov’s own long trip east to Sakhalin Island and considers lessons from his work.

Russian winters are long and hard and many of Chekhov’s best stories are set at the end of the season, in the early spring. A hopeful time. The Bishop, one of his best, and one of his last stories, is set on Palm Sunday. There’s also Easter Eve. And there’s The Student. The Student might be my favorite Chekhov story. It’s set on Good Friday. A religious student is walking home in the early evening. It’s cold and he stops to warm himself by a fire kept by two widows in a garden. That’s pretty much the plot. The rest is conversation and inner dialog. It’s short and simple but I always take something new away when I read it. It’s a masterfully subtle take on nature and human nature.

There is no shortage of great Russian writers. Turgenev, Pushkin, Gogol, Gorky and of course, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. How does Chekhov rate in this company? I happen to agree with Nabokov who rated Chekhov with Tolstoy and wrote that “the person who prefers Dostoevsky to Chekhov will never be able to grasp the essentials of Russian literature and Russian life.” There you go.

Boris Fishman grew up in Russia and knows the landscape. He writes that “Everything You Think You Know About Chekhov is Wrong.” (I guess that would depend on what you know about Chekhov.)

And Kashtanka is a dog and she is the protagonist of the story of the same name. It was one of Chekhov’s early, throw-away stories, But it’s fun. It’s hilarious, sad and true all at the same time.

Reducing the attack surface

Happy Friday. Today’s word is myopic.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a big storm on the way. Bombogenesis!

It turns out that the federal government’s new zero trust cybersecurity paper is substantive and aggressive in its approach. That’s a good thing, especially as we gear up for conflict with Russia, one of the biggest threats in the space. Sharon Goldberg read the paper and highlights some of the main points.

Despite all the gloom and worry about inflation and supply chain problems the economy is doing pretty well. Neil Irwin: “Personal consumption expenditures rose at a 3.3% annual rate, and spending started to rebalance, with services spending (+4.7%) rising much faster than durable goods spending (+0.5%).” Also, even with supply constraints Apple had one of its best quarters ever.

Licensing Board news: There will be wine in South Bay but no tacos at 4 AM in Allston.

Geoff Diehl might have an opponent in the Republican primary for the governor’s race. Chris Doughty is more Baker-like than Diehl, who channels Trump. It will be interesting to see where the Republican party in Massachusetts stands these days relative to the rest of the country.

And there are some new emojis on the way. Melting face will have its uses.

Running out the clock

Today is Thursday. It’s Mozart‘s birthday.

The film that’s so bad it’s goodinteresting… hilarious, is back on the big screen. The Room is now at the Coolidge for midnight showings.

Michael Jonas writes about Michelle Wu’s balancing act on labor relations and vaccine mandates. He notes that she has put the recalcitrant unions on “double (not so) secret probation.” My take: it’s just a flexing exercise for both sides. By the time it’s resolved it will all be moot.

Ireland is back. The government has announced the end of all Covid restrictions.

As we gear up for a foot and a half of snow this weekend, Seth Daniel recounts the challenges of winters past in Boston, from using diesel fuel in his furnace to old Mr. Gilchrist shoveling his own walk.

And what this country needs is a good sarcasm font. If Thomas Edison was alive, this is what he would be working on.

Known unknowns

It’s another wonderful Wednesday.

There’s a new variant emerging. Of course there is.

There’s no reporting requirement when you test positive with a home test. Public health authorities are bemoaning this, according to a report by the Globe, because it’s harder to track outbreaks and anticipate surges. But isn’t it more important to have easy testing so that infected people can avoid spreading? And as far as tracking goes, the most reliable leading indicator I’ve seen so far seems to be sewage treatment testing.

Companies desperate for workers can’t seem to put their finger on that one thing that would bring them back.

Stories about the Democratic Party losing its connection to working people seems to be an ongoing theme at the New York Times these days. In this article, they interview Ruy Teixeira, who had previously predicted that post-millennium demographic trends would favor the Democrats among the working class. That didn’t happen. What he didn’t anticipate, he says, was that Democrats would tilt “so far to the left on sociocultural issues that it would actually make the Democratic Party significantly unattractive to working-class voters.”

And the Irish fishing industry is punching slightly above their weight by taking on the Russian military. This can’t end well.

Earthquake insurance

Today is Tuesday. Opposite Day.

If Brady is a maybe on retirement, it sounds like Gronk is definitely a probably.

According to an Axios review of social media interactions, politicians who are moderate, competent and boring don’t stand a chance. That doesn’t bode well. Neither does this. The ground is rumbling.

Another milestone for the Webb Telescope. It has arrived at its destination at L2. Joe Pinkstone, writing for The Telegraph, tried to explain what L2 was but he didn’t quite get it right.

2021 was a banner year for ransomware. To make things worse, of the people notified that their account had been compromised in a breach, only about half bothered to change their passwords.

And those long promised flying cars are almost here. Right. I’ve heard that before. And it wan’t even Opposite Day.

Ganging up

Monday. Time to get cracking.

The new, new thing is getting a little old. Cace Metz writes about the long wait for the next tech breakthrough.

A Globe editorial takes aim at the Boston Police gang database, suggesting that it needs to be reformed. The implication is that it isn’t effective. Crime stats make the opposite case. In most US cities crime is rising, especially homicide—and many homicides are gang related. Boston is an outlier. Murders are down to historic lows here. Why? Fair and effective policing might have something to do with it. Tracking gang membership needs to be done carefully and consistently to avoid abuse and I think the BPD are already committed to doing that. Outside scrutiny is important. But it’s also important for the Globe to give credit where credit is due.

This week the Fed might get more hawkish on inflation and raise interest rates. Also, John Cassidy reminds us about the doomish, bubble-bursting projections of Jeremy Grantham. Anything can happen and probably will. Stay tuned.

Should you buy crypto now that prices are down? Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet the retirement account unless you have a strong stomach for uncertainty and wild swings.

And when Roger Ebert wrote a bad review it was a work of art. My favorite line from his 1995 takedown of the kid-facing Power Rangers film: “The movie is like a little unkindness done to its victims.” Ouch.

The final frontier

Today is Sunday. Not much happening.

Eric Adams had promised to take his first three paychecks in Bitcoin. Not great timing on his part.

The Webb Telescope continues to self assemble according to plan as it heads to its destination at L2. Mirrors are now fully deployed. (What’s L2, you ask? It’s a Lagrange Point. William Neff explains.)

The Russians are coming, the Russians are comingupdated for 2022… Irish version.

Speaking of Russia, Joshua Keating tells us what to look for in the Ukraine situation as things get twitchy in Europe. Once again, it comes down to oil supply.

And the LHC usually gets all the attention, but a new particle accelerator coming on line at Michigan State might shed light on what comes after the Standard Model.

Say it ain’t so

Saturday. The word is opine.

On the occasion of the death of Spare Change Guy, Redditors remember some of the other Boston characters, including Screaming Bike Guy, Mr. Butch, the Mirror Lady and Save Jesus Guy, among others.

Will tomorrow be Brady’s last game? Sounds preposterous but that’s the word from some teammates. One source told CBS Sports, “Nothing’s been said, but there is a sense among some guys in the locker room that this is it, one way or the other. It’s just little things here or there they are picking up on. Maybe it turns out to be nothing.” Let’s hope.

How much is not enough when it comes to local aid? It’s always not enough.

Neil Irwin dives into the dynamics of the labor market. It seems that the post-pandemic labor shortage is being driven by demographics, not by Millennial impetuousness.

And being dead didn’t stop one Irish guy from going down to the post office to pick up his pension check. Of course he had a little help from his friends.