Patrolling the metaverse

Today is Thursday. It’s a birthday for Jimmy Durante, Uzo Abuda and Laura Dern.

Forget the lifting of mask mandates. How will we really know when the pandemic is over? Check to see if the Massachusetts State House has reopened.

Dorchester Reporter correspondent Adam Gaffin reports on an interesting gang unit case where an officer did some undercover work on Snapchat that resulted in the recovery of a gun and arrest of the man who possessed it. The highest court in the state allowed the gun to be admitted but refused to take a bright line rule on social media investigations, instead taking a more thoughtful, case by case approach to the rules of evidence in the virtual world.

In Hudson, Ohio, a proposal to allow ice fishing is generating concern about the inevitable wave of prostitution that will follow.

Don’t believe the crypto hype. The BBC did and it came back to bite them.

And apparently millennials are not interested in vino. As boomers recede, the wine industry is concerned about losing all of its customers. Maybe they need a reboot of Sideways. Pinot Noir anyone?

Working numbers

Monday morning. Back to it.

The next coronavirus threat is cute and has a fluffy tail.

Job numbers from January were much better than expected. Some economists thought we would add, at best, about 150,000 new jobs. Other thought we would lose jobs overall. But in actuality, 467,000 new jobs were created. Matthew Zeitlin runs the numbers for Grid and John Cassidy, writing in the New Yorker, considers the implications. It’s mostly good news but there’s always a downside. Neil Irwin looks at wage growth, which could be a leading indicator for inflation.

When Neil Young left Spotify he had to call in some favors from the record company so he could get out of his contract. Most artists don’t have that option. Will Butler explores how musicians are exploited by streaming services.

A study that looks at levels of citizen cooperation and engagement with police departments after high-profile use of force incidents raises some interesting questions, but also concerns about methodology.

And Facebook is threatening to pull out of Europe. Egads! What will become of Europe?

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.

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.

The clouds part

Hey, it’s Thursday!

Robot umpires are coming to Major League Baseball. What could possibly go wrong.

With Omicron in retreat, David Leonhardt thinks it’s time to ask the questions: “When should schools resume all activities? When should offices reopen? When should masks come off? When should asymptomatic people stop interrupting their lives because of a Covid exposure? Above all, when does Covid prevention do more harm — to physical and mental health — than good?” We’re almost there. But not quite.

Joan Vennochi calls out selective outrage bias when it comes to disruptive protests.

The state of popular music in 2021 is not great. Each Friday I scan iTunes new releases and listen to random albums from artists I never heard of. Every so often I find a gem. But not very often. Ted Gioia goes a little deeper than me. He listens to several hours of new music every day. There are plenty of great young musicians releasing music, he says, but “the music industry has lost its ability to discover and nurture their talents.” As a result, most industry growth is in old music and old musicians. That”s not a healthy thing.

And it looks like Barney Fife’s evil brother has taken over a small town police department in Alabama. Maybe Goober could take that SWAT truck apart and reassemble it inside the courthouse.

You break it, you own it

A sunny Tuesday. It’s Daniel Webster‘s birthday.

The electric car revolution is coming. But only 8% of the batteries needed for it are produced in the US. China is responsible for 76%. We seem to be at a slight disadvantage.

The Brookline Police Department is in crisis. Union leaders complain that they are being reformed into the ground and micromanaged by elected officials. Danny McDonald reports that a member of one of the two reform task forces promotes moving “toward not needing an armed police force,” which would be municipal malpractice. Meanwhile, criminologists grappling to explain the dramatic rise in murders nationwide are narrowing on three factors: Covid, more guns and policing. In Boston and Brookline murders are down, not up. We have Covid. The guns are out there. That leaves policing as the critical differentiator.

Everyone has a phone camera. But not everyone has a 90’s-era digicam. So if you want to stand out on Instagram, apparently you need to post low quality images taken with a crappy camera.

Getting unemployment benefits out the door when Covid hit was a huge and critical challenge and done mostly successfully. But $2.7 billion in overpayments is a big amount and it won’t be easy to get it all back.

And when it comes to Covid shots, third time’s a charm. Four… is too much.

The price of admission

Monday, March 17th. MLK Day.

Imagine People of Walmart in a virtual environment. It could be the killer app for the Metaverse.

The recent court decision on public safety unions and vaccination mandates underscores a reality that many people, including Michelle Wu on the campaign trail, didn’t seem to understand. In city government, you can’t just do things from a management position (like all those police reform promises) without hard and often costly negotiations. Every… little… thing… has to be negotiated. Wu got a pass on implementation of the mandate from the court because of a public health emergency—but not on negotiations. Now comes the part where the city has to pay.

The trend line at Gallup does not look good for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party.

In a sad story, Jeffery Parker, a former manager of the T’s subway systems and current leader of the Atlanta transit system committed suicide by stepping in front of a train.

And if you thought cable prices were bad, welcome to streaming.

Right down the line

It’s a sanguine Sunday.

Dismantling. That’s a good word to describe what happened to the Pats last night.

Where does crypto currency fit in politically? Republicans love it and Democrats hate it. Also, Democrats love it and Republicans hate it. Sounds about right.

Google search trends during the pandemic tell us that the new normal involves roller skates and even more tequila.

Boris Johnson has not had a good week. Time for a ‘good news drop for damage control (although it might not be such good news for the BBC).

And The Onion could not have done better than this real-life scenario. It’s fascinating to imagine what’s going on in some of these people’s brains

Doom and gloom

Saturday. A cold day in the park.

Kevin Hayden, the new, interim DA, talked to Adrian Walker.

Jonathan Stevenson and Steven Simon wrote an op-ed that suggests that we Americans are “whistling past the graveyard” on whether the union will hold through the next election. They’re not optimistic. And they’re not the only ones (and it”s not just the US). A World Economic Forum survey points to the erosion of social cohesion, a livelihood crisis and mental health deterioration as the most pressing threats in the next few years. “Only 16% of respondents feel positive and optimistic about the outlook for the world, and just 11% believe the global recovery will accelerate. Most respondents instead expect the next three years to be characterized by either consistent volatility and multiple surprises or fractured trajectories that will separate relative winners and losers.” Now there’s something to look forward to.

More cheerful news: When the New York Times says that the Democratic agenda is in shambles, that’s not a good sign.

That big eagle, native to Siberia, that earlier was spotted along the Taunton River, is now in Boothbay Harbor in Maine. Birders are flocking to see it.

And Elvis Costello has a new album out. It’s a remote work recording made by group members scattered around the planet that sounds like it was recorded by a live group in a small club. The new normal, I guess.