Undone on a coin-flip

Today is Sunday, World Paella Day!

Here’s a primer on the Oscars (something I would need) from Australia.

The Times has a long but insightful story on the evolution of Putin. Worth the read. Also, David Remnick dissects Putin’s obsession with Russian national identity.

The Globe’s Danny McDonald talks to City Council President Ed Flynn. Flynn is a genuinely nice guy and more importantly for the city, a heads-down, low key, hard working, dedicated public servant with a humility rare in public figures.

Farah Stockman looks at the human side of the war, with a connection to Massachusetts. The Grid provides some recent photos from Ukraine.

And how deep is the ocean… how high is the sky?

The biggest loser

Friday. This is good.

The Massachusetts Senate has rejected suspending the gas tax. Neighboring Connecticut, on the other hand, suspended its gas tax from April 1st to June 30, as well as fares on public buses statewide.

Boston is shrinking or, more accurately, Suffolk County is getting smaller. People are moving out of the city to places like the Cape, although Massachusetts as a whole lost population. Counties in New York and Los Angles also shrank during the pandemic. Where did everybody go? Looks like they’ve all gone to The Villages. Here’s a map.

Here’s how to outsmart your smartphone’s smart camera.

People think Biden isn’t being tough enough on Russia. For what it’s worth, I think he’s doing exactly the right things given the circumstances. As Lawrence Freedman writes, “students of international relations, especially those who adopt a ‘realist’ approach, warn that the understandable desire to see Ukraine win, and moral outrage over Putin’s actions, might interfere with the cool judgements necessary when faced with such a deadly conflict, one with potential repercussions that go well beyond the belligerents.”

And this kid can spell better than you (or me.) Voilià.

Politics as usual

Monday again. Pi Day.

Tom Brady is pulling a Garth Brooks. That was one short retirement.

I used to think Elizabeth Warren had her feet on the ground. This endorsement makes me think otherwise.

Swedes have traditionally been cool to the idea of joining NATO. But now, as Thomas Lassi reports, almost half are warming up to the idea.

Drew Litrell gives us some history on the first computer virus. MIT. Fall of 1988.

And for Nantucket, an island 30 miles off the coast, UPS is critical infrastructure. Too bad they forgot to buy a ticket for the ferry.

Play ball!

Saturday. The word for today is uncouth.

An asteroid hit the earth this morning. Ground zero was somewhere near Greenland.

Marty Walsh’s guide for resolving a union dispute: Stay at the table and keep talking.

Holger Roonemaa and Michael Weiss write about the sorry state of the Russian effort so far. Francis Fukuyama doesn’t think there’s any possibility of a negotiated peace in Ukraine but he does there’s a decent chance that Russia will actually lose the war on the ground. Lucian Kim believes it was a massive intelligence failure that got Russia to this point.

The battle over free/low cost fares on the T drags on. The system General Manager says it could cost $50-$100 million dollars.

And honesty is the best policy in Japan. It’s absolutely un-American.

Fearing fear itself

Friday. Today is World Plumbing Day.

Some members of the People’s Convoy—who’s stated intention was to create traffic jams—are disappointed that motorists in the DC area are not welcoming them, but instead flipping them off. “We go around the Beltway, birds are flying. Birds are flying everywhere. That’s the kind of people that live up there.”

Sure, there’s a lot going on these days. We’ve just come out of a pandemic. War is raging in Ukraine. Russia is blustering over nuclear weapons. Gas is expensive. Inflation is rising. The country is politically polarized. So it’s no wonder that people are stressed, right? But really, back in the sixties… There were lines at the gas pumps. Fuel was so expensive people put locks on their gas caps to prevent it from being siphoned. We had a war going on in Vietnam for which any one of us could be drafted and sent to die in the jungle. There was a cold war. The world was on the brink of nuclear annihilation. The President was killed by a sniper! MKL and RFK were shot. Inflation was rising. There were riots in the streets, bombings, kidnappings and domestic terrorism. A quiet time. Despite all of this I don’t remember people being as stressed then as they are now. But then again, we didn’t have social media or a hyper-speed breaking news cycle reminding us about it all every second of the day. Old guy, just sayin.

Tilting at windmills. Literally.

That big influx of federal assistance cash will only help the MBTA in the short term. Once it’s gone things are going to start breaking down again.

And it’s ‘game on’ for the Mayor’s Cup street hockey tournament, coming in April. It’ll be played at Garvey Playground in Neponset so no one will have to be on the look out for CARS!.

Close to the ground

Thursday. The weekend is in sight.

Tchaikovsky has been cancelled. That should help, right?

Those leased aircraft that Russian airlines were supposed to return by the end of this month? Looks like they’re going to keep them. The leasing companies that own the planes are not happy. There’s a lot of money at stake and the downstream effects on investors, insurance companies and the airline sector as a whole will be enormous. After 9/11 the aviation insurance payout was about $1.8 billion. This war could cost ten times that. Meanwhile, the planes stolen by Russia may end up being grounded anyway since the parts required for day-to-day maintenance are under sanction and it turns out that China won’t help with replacements.

Inflation is up and so are gas prices. Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to suspend gas taxes for a while. It could be a non-inflationary Biden stimulus initiative and it would make people very happy. Even just in Massachusetts, the state coffers are full, so the timing would be good.

There are some signs that Putin may be softening (or not) which raises the question: Will the West be able to pivot on this huge economic assault before Russia is ruined? Is the damage even repairable at this point? (For one thing, no one will be leasing airplanes to Russian airlines for a long, long time.) Much of the effort to support Ukraine was spontaneous and decentralized. How will we wind it down when the time comes? If we’re wondering about Putin’s end game, we should also be thinking about our own.

And when an 82 year-old gamer had trouble competing with younger players online, she decided that she needed an a new game to level the playing field. So she built one.

Proxy wars

Today is Saturday, March 5th. The anniversary of Stalin‘s death.

Samsung is cutting off Russia. It’s a pretty big deal.

Glenn Gerstell believes that we need to get our cyber act in gear—especially now. The worse off Russia is economically as a result of sanctions the less they have to lose in launching a full out cyber attack against the west. Bobby DeSimone says the recent White House Zero Trust memo is a good beginning for getting our defenses up.

Ernie Boch Jr. is mourning the loss of his factory-fresh Bentley, sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic along with a bunch of rare 12-cylinder Lamborghinis. It’s a loss that’s “tough for the public,” he told WJAR before noting that he re-ordered another Bentley.

Dave Levitan and Lili Pike dig into the Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and how it could have, and still could, play out.

And the People’s Convoy seems to have lost its focus as it nears Washington. No one seems to have a plan. “We still don’t know where and what the end game is,” one participant told the Post. 10-4 good buddy.

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.

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.

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?