Take this job and…

It’s Monday. Let’s do it all again.

Sabine Hossenfelder transports us to another dimension. Part 1 of 2.

The New York Times spoke to Covid-stressed mayors, many of whom were from Massachusetts, starting with Donna Holaday from Newburyport. Thomas McGee of Lynn and Joe Curtatone of Somerville also weighed in, as did Thomas Bernard, the mayor of North Adams. Twenty percent of the mayors in Massachusetts are considering a different line of work.

Some guy won the golf thing.

The iPhone 12 has been out for almost half a year. When it was released many of us were excited about the camera improvements and rushed to check out the initial reviews. Sebastiaan de With, of Halide, has been using his iPhone camera for months now and offers a comprehensive and long-term review with lots of photos. Good read for photography nerds.

And, speaking of cameras, the ones on our laptops are pretty horrible. I mostly use my phone camera for Zoom calls because of its much higher quality. I always wondered why Apple hadn’t improved the quality of the cameras on the Macs. Maybe this is why.

Troubling developments

It’s a sunny Saturday. The word of the day is fatuous.

Condé Nast Traveler picked Sconset beach on Nantucket as one of their 25 best island beaches. I always preferred Cisco or Surfside for swimming, or Dionis for beach parties (like the one in Jaws). No one I knew went to Sconset. It was for rich people (like the guy who wrote Jaws).

Violence is spreading in Northern Ireland. Very disheartening. Brexit and coronavirus restrictions are playing a role in the escalation. CNN’s Kara Fox breaks it down. David Trimble weighs in.

Florida Texas man tries to blow up the Internet.

Physicists working with Microsoft have published an interesting paper on the ultimate operating system: the universe. The thesis, in a nutshell, is that we are living in self-learning computational environment. I don’t know. Does it seem like there’s a lot of self-learning going on around us these days?

And Covid lockdowns have brought more than Zoom meetings. UFO sightings and close encounters went up too.

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.

How soon we forget

Good morning. It’s going to be a mild Thursday.

Andrew Yang is running for mayor of New York and, at least according to this headline, he has some concerns about Zoom. Apart from that, his platform sounds pretty good.

Workers in grocery stores hung in there during the pandemic, dealing with maskless customers acting out over toilet paper. It’s past time that we get them vaccinated, along with the teachers and nurses. It’s only right, right?

Faster than light warp drives were a science fiction thing. But now scientists have worked out how to actually build one. Here’s Sabine Hossenfelder to explain.

Boston traffic has apparently improved. Last year we had the distinction of having the worst traffic in the US. But in the latest rankings we’ve dropped to number 4 nationally, 36th globally, putting us behind backwaters like Zagreb and Rostov-on-Don in congestion. Come on, we can do better than that.

And a Bloomberg story from yesterday has been updated to reflect that the police video system that was hacked was not in Stoughton, MA, but Stoughton, Wisconsin. So close.

Complementarity

It’s Valentines Day Sunday. And we’re halfway to March.

The Globe takes us inside the process of appointing a new police commissioner.

Frank Wilczek has a new book out, Ten Keys to Reality. Here’s the Times review. Wilczek also recently appeared on Sean Carroll’s podcast to talk about topics in the book and the current state of physics. I’ve noticed that there have been plenty of other physics-related stories floating around recently. Here’s Sabine Hossenfelder on panpsychism, Alan Lightman on infinity, Dennis Overbye on luminance and Miguel F. Morales on particle interaction. There have also been recent stories about news in quantum chaos and dark energy. And finally, Conan O’Brien and Jim Carry discuss the stochastic phase switching of a parametrically driven electron in a penning trap. That happened.

Derek Thompson believes that we can get past the pandemic by the summer if we get smart and busy with vaccine distribution.

A 30 year practical joke involving George Harrison, Phil Collins and Jackie Stewart. “Don’t worry, it was a piss-take.”

And the acquittal wasn’t unexpected but it was a disappointment. Sad.