Future history

Happy Saturday. It’s the Fourth of July! Today’s word is aphelion.

Baseball has returned to Fenway. But players are already testing positive. I guess we’ll see how this all works out. Take me out with the crowd? No thanks.

Michael Dukakis provides an object lesson in overconfidence in the polls that the Biden campaign should be paying attention to.

Americans still aren’t allowed into Europe even if they show up on a private jet. And in Taiwan, you can board the plane but never take off. Strange times.

One under-valued librarian in a Boston school has had enough. A sad ending to an inspirational career.

And if you’re looking for someone to blame for coronavirus you can blame those damm Neanderthals and their chromosome 3 gene cluster.

Degrees of freedom

Friday on my mind. Beans on the plate.

Making plans for the Forth? Stay home. There’s always next year.

In Massachusetts, Phase 3 starts on Monday (in the city it will begin on July 13.) It took a relatively quick six weeks to get here from Phase 1. The governor says Phase 3 could last for quite a while though, possibly until a vaccine is available and we can move into ‘the new normal‘ of Phase 4. By most measures Massachusetts is doing well. But apparently not well enough for Maine to let us across the Piscataqua, at least not without a vacation-length quarantine. Which is crazy because they really do need the tourism.

Martha Bebinger shows us a day in the life of a contract tracer, much of which is spent trying to keep quarantined people in their homes.

Travel writer Elizabeth Heath suggests micro cruises as a safer alternative to the large overcrowded cruise lines. The only problem is that most small cruises operate somewhere in the European Union and travel restrictions exclude Americans. (I wonder why.)

And it turns out that Stephen Pinker is a pretty good photographer.

Slow motion disappearing act

It’s Thursday. Surely it could not have been 40 years since Ted Stryker landed the plane.

Here’s the inside scoop on Boston Pizza Wars.

Sarah Betancourt reports that there are 6 less staffers at the Herald this morning after another round of layoffs. One of the people leaving noted that it was “the beginning of the end for the Herald.” I used to worry about Boston not being a two-paper town, especially for local coverage. But the truth is that, for some time now, we’ve barely been a one-paper town since the Globe is regularly scooped on local news by online sites and social media.

Juneteenth is one step closer to becoming a Massachusetts state holiday.

Pfizer is seeing encouraging results from a vaccine under development, with immunity-producing antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from the virus. Next, testing will determine if the cure is worse than the disease. If it turns out to be safe, pricing and distribution challenges need to be worked out. Then we’re back to normal, right?

From over-touristed to no tourists, Venice and other cities are rethinking their identities.

And Brian Chen has advice for making your tech devices last longer.

Part of the solution

Wednesday. RIP Carl Reiner.

Yesterday was a good day in Massachusetts. The first good day since March 20th. Nobody died from the virus.

The Globe runs a remarkably simplistic story about diversity in the Boston Police Department. Events from more than thirty years ago are dredged up to illustrate the department’s “enduring reputation as a racist institution.” A forgone conclusion erasing years of hard-won progress by a reporter in the city for less than a year. The article is unfortunate because hiring a more diverse force is an important issue that should be the subject of a real public discussion. The BPD and the mayor are on record as wanting to change the breakdown of the department, but there are actual legal, political and bureaucratic obstacles to doing that, not to mention the recruiting challenges in the current atmosphere. That’s what the discussion should be about, not tired old cliches about foot dragging.

The merger of two long-established Dorchester parishes, St. Ann and St. Brendan, has been approved. The archdiocese is now asking for input on a name for the newly consolidated parish.

Daniel Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the US, is interviewed by the Washington Post. He talks about tweeting poetry, diplomacy during a pandemic and working with the current US administration. On the last point he was characteristically diplomatic.

And according to AnandTech, 400 terabyte drives are around the corner. It’s due to new technology for higher data density tape. That’s right, tape. What’s old is new again. File under: cold storage.

No flight plan

Tuesday. It’s the last day of June and the anniversary of the Tunguska explosion.

Jim McBride reviews the recent history around the Cam Newton trade. It’s a calculated gamble for the Patriots, but I’m looking forward to the season – barring any early injuries. Adam Kilgore considers the Belichick/Newton combo and likes what he sees. Excitement is in the air once again for Pats fans.

Just in time for a potential coronavirus vaccine, here comes a new virus from China. More here. (Maybe that mid-2020 Mayan ‘end of the world‘ thing was spot on.) Also, James Fallows does an NTSB style investigation into how the US government handled the Covid outbreak and determines the cause to be pilot error. It’s a long article but worth the time to read. And many good links are provided.

CNN looks at the rise and fall of the British cheddar cheese empire. (Make mine Vermont cheddar, please)

Did we really need a mathematical model of political hyper-polarization? I’ll go out on a limb and say no.

And 57% of British people polled recently want to rejoin the European Union. Only 35% still support Brexit. What a surprise.