The real world

Today is Thursday. April 15th.

Substack local. I’m very interested is seeing how this turns out.

Kim Janey is in charge now and the annual budget that she’s presenting to her former colleagues in the City Council reflects the realities of being mayor and running a city. That sets up a conflict with some members of the council who take a more rhetorical or aspirational approach to how they see government working. It doesn’t help that some are campaigning in place for her job. I give Janey credit for standing up to unrealistic expectations.

A Dixie cup is something you drink water out of. A Hoodsie cup is ice cream. Why is this even a question?

Defund the police or defang the gangs?” Commonwealth Magazine has a brief discussion of the complicated issue of police reform in today’s highly charged political environment. But the bottom line is that defunding the police is like throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Here’s a key takeaway: “Asked whether regular police patrols in their community would make them feel more safe or less safe, 65 percent of black respondents said more safe, while only 22 percent said less safe. There was a bigger gap among white respondents, with 81 percent saying regular patrols would make them feel more safe and only 10 percent saying less safe. But the broad message seemed to be that Americans want better policing aimed at real public safety dangers in their community.”

And the FBI is reaching into privately owned Exchange servers around the country to remove malicious code. They have court approval to do so but it’s still kind of a big deal.

Not passing inspection

Another Thursday. It should be a nice early Spring day.

Here’s some good news: Part 1 crime has dropped by 28% in parts of Dorchester and Mattapan. The bad news (and you knew it was coming) is that murder rates are up in most big cities, including Boston. In Portland, Oregon, gun violence is on the rise and some are calling out defunding efforts.

The RMV inspection saga continues. The Globe is reporting that Applus has released a software update of some kind (on a thumb drive) but their systems are still not operational or, seemingly, close to being so. Their FAQ on the hack is hosted on Squarespace now, suggesting a lack of confidence in their own IT environment. They continue to describe the hack as malware, which tends to minimize it. Malware can happen to anyone, right? But basic business diligence would have required, at the very least, privilege restrictions, frequent patching and snapshotted offline backups for critical software and data. Maybe they did all the right things and this attack was an outlier but something is telling me that this crew was in over their heads.

Spot, the robot dog, is heading to the battlefield. It’s a test of the Three Laws of Robotics, which I think includes dog robots.

I’ve been scanning the news recently about findings in particle physics that may lead to fundamental changes in our understanding of nature. There’s always plenty of hype in the science feeds about new discoveries that are going to change everything but which turn out to be nothing. This time there seems to actually be something important going on. Dennis Overbye gives a good overview.

And a dog that went missing five years ago is back at home after quite a long ordeal. It’s a survival story with a happy ending.

You can get there from here

Happy Easter. How’s your keaster?

Food and Wine Magazine found the best 50 chocolate makers in the US. It sounds like a lot of dreary research went into putting the list together. Anyway, 4 of the best are here in Massachusetts: Goodnow Farms in Sudbury, EH Chocolatier in Cambridge, Taza in Somerville and Chequessett on the Cape.

One of the things Amtrak included in its plans for expansion under the infrastructure bill is to extend Downeaster train service to Rockland Maine, something that hasn’t been in place since 1959. It would be a nice ride up from Boston.

Facebook was hacked. Lots of personal information was compromised. (Check your email or password to see if it’s out there.)

It’s time to take St. Matthew Passion off the playlist. Michael Brodeur offers some alternatives for spring listening.

And a pioneering woman mariner from Egypt is making the best of an unfortunate case of mistaken identity. Just make sure you spell her name right.

No sticker, no problem

Today is Saturday, April 3rd. It’s a birthday for the Osborne 1 and the iPad.

Just in time for Easter, British chocolate makers are having “teething problems” with Brexit export regulations.

Vehicle inspections are offline in Massachusetts, Connecticut and 6 other states. The systems went down last week and are expected to be down into next week and beyond. The company that runs the inspection system, Applus Technologies, says it was the victim of a malware attack. In other words, they were hacked. Something doesn’t seem right with the explanations of the delay in getting back online. A registry spokesperson said the company is “just trying to assess and understand the situation, and the options and the time it is going to take.” Either there’s no sense of urgency in fixing this, which would be weird, or it’s much worse than they’re saying. My guess is that it was a ransomware attack, everything is encrypted, and the ransom is very, very high. Meanwhile, no stickers.

Everyone loves a good mystery. So who’s piloting a 787 around the world, pushing the range limits on fuel by flying huge distances crisscrossing the globe? Indications are it’s Enrique Piñeyro, an Argentine actor and pilot who has been called the Michael Moore of Argentina. If he’s making a movie about all this, I hope it does well. Those flights are expensive.

Don Chiofaro has been trying to build his waterfront tower for over a decade. Things were looking up but a judge, and a flawed environmental review process, have dealt the project another setback.

And one more April fool’s joke gone bad. What were they thinking?

Fixing it right

Thursday. April 1st. No fooling. And we’ll get some rain for the flowers.

Not a fan of Brutalist buildings? Maybe you’re just looking at them wrong.

The Biden administration is proposing a massive transportation infrastructure initiative. A billion here, a billion there. We know about these things in Massachusetts. And James Aloisi, a veteran of the Big Dig, likes the Biden plan.

According to a review by Ally Jarmanning, body cameras are not catching on among police agencies in Massachusetts. Expense is a big reason. One of the original proponents of cameras for the Boston Police, Shekia Scott, is now having second thoughts, wondering whether the benefits justify the costs of the cameras.

Home and business networking equipment maker Ubiquiti announced that it had suffered a data breach. Brian Krebs now reports that a whistleblower is alleging that the breach was much worse than the company is admitting.

And forget vodka, exercise or the Mediterranean diet. The secret to a long life is baked Alaska. Also, maybe, a little champagne.