The Art Of The Possible

Monday, 2/28. A week begins and a month ends.

This archeological find is pretty cool. Nice juxtaposition with the Shard in the photo.

Michael Javen Fortner has been studying crime for years. He sees parallels in what’s happening today to what’s happened in the past and warns ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ Democrats not to go too far astray.

The war in Ukraine, so far, appears to have been an ill conceived effort on Russia’s part—mostly spearheaded by an isolated Putin. It’s only been a week but even in that short time period the impact has been remarkable (see here and here) and not remarkably good for Russia.

“Tired of digging out in the wake of horrible winter storms? Disgusted with a poisoned political culture and a divided citizenry?” Charlie Flanagan wants to entice Irish Americans to come back home.

And some good news: at least you won’t have to charge that flip phone anymore.

Duck and cover

Good morning. It’s Sunday. John Steinbeck‘s birthday.

Russian nukes are on alert. That’s never a good thing.

Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College in London, thinks Putin has bitten off more than he can chew. But Chris Miller, from the Fletcher School at Tufts, thinks the Russian knows what he’s doing and that he has a range of options. “Putin could simply choose to destroy Ukraine and leave the West to pick up the pieces. Such a dismembered, dysfunctional Ukraine could well suit his interests.”

Joshua Yaffa is on the ground in Kyiv.

For what it’s worth, US and Canadian liquor stores, including those in Virginia and New Hampshire, are ceasing the sale of Russian vodka. That’ll show them. Also Rick Steves is cancelling his St. Petersburg tour. Russia is kicked out of Eurovision. And Putin’s conductor friend lost his gig at Carnegie Hall this weekend. Tough medicine all around. Meanwhile, did I mention that Russian nukes are on alert.

And where there’s a crisis there will be scammers. In this case, crypto scammers.

Meet the new war, same as the old war

A snow-covered Saturday.

Dorothy Wickenden went to visit Wendell Berry. It’s been a while since I read Berry and I’m reminded of how much I enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll jump back into the world of Nathan Coulter and Jaber Crow this spring.

Thomas Friedman, who’s been around a few conflicts, writes about Putin’s strategy and how it may play out in a technologically and economically connected world. It’s an updated version of his globalization theory from the late 90’s. He considers a range of contingencies on how modern war is both different and the same as wars of the past. But I think Friedman’s argument that technology and social media could slow the invasion or shame Russia into retreat is overblown. Putin will just shut down the cell networks until he has full control of the message.

Sahil Bloom has a quick primer on SWIFT and the implications of cutting Russia out of it.

Sean Penn is in Ukraine filming a documentary. He’s nuts, for sure, but his life certainly is an adventure.

And the Bugs Bunny Film Festival is back at the Brattle. The Dig has some highlights.

Invading forces

Friday. It’s the anniversary of Khrushchev’s secret speech denouncing Stalin.

In Springfield, the question of who gets to pick the police commissioner—the mayor or the police oversight commission—was fought in court. The court ruled that the oversight commission gets to pick. But the mayor gets to pick the oversight commission. So there.

In Ukraine news this morning, Kiev is about to fall. Protests are being put down in Moscow. China is still sitting on the sidelines, as is India. Russian oligarchs are losing billions because of sanctions. (It’s hard for them to complain. The state giveth and the state taketh away.) And the new stars of Russian media are a couple of familiar faces.

Is this Columbia Point or Tahiti? Apparently there will be surfing on Dorchester Bay.

What will the war in the Ukraine do to the economy? A hike in oil could push inflation higher. But, as Neil Irwin writes: “Usually, geopolitical strife represents a short-term blip for financial markets and a buying opportunity for the gutsy. That could yet be the case with Ukraine, but the range of possibilities is ominous.”

And Apple AirTags are designed for finding lost items, not for tracking stolen ones. But they do a pretty good job at the latter, especially finding stolen bikes.

Full scale attack

Today is Thursday. The word of the day is utmost.

It’s a good day to quit the news.

Russia is now engaged in a wider invasion, going beyond Donetsk and Luhansk. Also, we’re seeing some of what the future of war will look like with more malicious and destructive cyber attacks taking place. The stock market is tanking on the news. And crypto may be a way for Russia to evade the pain of sanctions.

The Times covered a US-based truck protest from California heading to Washington DC, illustrated with some particularly good photographs by Meridith Kohut.

Last week the Dorchester Reporter ran a column proposing the elimination of the School Committee. Not just getting rid of the elected committee but eliminating the committee entirely, putting the schools directly under the Mayor. Here’s a followup, with reader reaction.

And I sympathize with Owen Williams over his frustration with his ‘smart home.’ The current state of home automation is only for people who are willing to work very hard at making their life easier. It sort of defeats the purpose.

Work your plan

Wednesday, International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. (Quite a mouthful.)

The conspiracy crowd is adopting DuckDuckGo as its preferred search engine. As a long time fan of DuckDuckGo, I’m not sure what to think about that.

Biden promised sanctions and, like Anton Chigurh, now he’s going to impose them. Whether they’ll do much to deter Russian aggression is another question altogether. The Nord Stream project shutdown by Germany will hurt Russia’s strategic plans but Putin and his cronies have insulated themselves from most of the short-term impact of the economic sanctions being imposed. And sanctions can work both ways. But you have to do something.

Not everyone was against the Russian incursion. Some people thought it was a savvy move… genius. I guess it takes one to know one. (And I don’t mean genius.)

Driving your car across a frozen lake is perfectly safe. Usually.

And Truth Social has launched. Just what the world needs, another social network. The launch was what you would expect. Apparently Devin Nunes was put in charge of copy editing.

On the precipice

It’s 2/22/2022. A Tuesday. Get it?

Is the pandemic over? It can’t be because the State House is still on restriction. But we’re making slow, steady progress.

Russia has made its first moves. Where things go from here is anyone’s guess.

Amazon has decimated retail across the board, with one exception: grocery. Even with its Amazon Fresh delivery service and acquisition of Whole Foods, the company is uncharacteristically struggling in this space.

Speaking of multi-million dollar flops, Hyperloop is downsizing.

And people are stealing bees. It’s a thing.

Old man yells at cloud

Monday. A quiet President’s Day.

Covid protests, snowstorms, tent cities… so far Wu has survived the gauntlet. But the next big test will prove her mettle: Will her jokes make the grade at the revived, in-person St. Patrick’s Day breakfast?

What’s wrong with the Internet? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the Internet. Poor quality, risible algorithmic stories like this one, allegedly about Boston, which rise to the top of Google results. Before you know it we’re awash in this type of crap.

I’ve been highlighting strategic dysfunction among Democrats recently so it’s nice to see that Republicans are having some of the same problems.

The state budget is in great shape. Baker is putting some of the ‘extra’ money to good use. Makes sense.

And Daniel Kolitz informs us of all the bad things that are going to happen. Happy Monday.

Led by the nose

Happy Sunday!

Dowd: Can Dems Dodge Doomsday?

Forensic linguists have identified the person, or persons, behind QAnon: Paul Furber and then, later, Ron Watkins. Two nobodies who were making it all up as they went along. But some of us already knew that.

Washington DC Police Chief Robert Contee was grilled by the City Council on his running of the department and on rising crime. As the Post notes, “Some of those same council members who two years ago supported a budget to cut police funds to confront crime as a public health crisis, which police say led to the smallest force in two decades, are facing an uprising of constituent anger, and some have now called for more investment in police.”

Scott Galloway is bullish on Apple. A trillion dollars in revenue?!? Too much.

And the astronaut pen featured on Seinfeld is a real thing. The Fisher Space Pen. Here it is in action.

Smooth descent

Today is Saturday. The word of the day is nonchalant.

For Gretchen Whitmer, success is the best revenge.

There were less than 2000 new cases reported yesterday, down from a precipice of almost 30,000 a little over a month ago. Boston is lifting its vaccine mandate. Good news all around.

Space junk is starting to become a real problem.

Mike Allen reports on more calls for Democrats to shift towards the center to forestall a potential Republican sweep. If it’s not too late.

And although it was 60 degrees this week, we’re in high winter. Matt Dinan reflects on the season and Jessica Wapner searches for strategies to stay warm, or even hibernate through to spring.