Cue the tanks

Wednesday. The word of the day is slapdash.

London, like Boston, needs a new police commissioner. Let’s see who gets theirs first.

Today was supposed to be the day that Russia invades Ukraine. But it probably wouldn’t be a great tactical move to invade on the day that it was announced that you would invade. But then again, maybe that’s what they want you to think. In any case, things are still tense.

Sean Murphy writes about how he cut the cord. Sort of. Actually, not really much at all. He replaced his router but still pays Comcast for TV service and aspires to someday replace his set-top boxes with a Roku? He walked out to the edge but at the last minute returned back to the safety and comfort of cable. Apparently this is scary for people.

I’ve seen the stats but it’s still bewildering to me as to why Covid would lead to such a dramatic increase in traffic accidents. The correlation is clear but I’m still scratching my head over causation.

And it starts at Jamba with smoothies. Next thing you know robots will be making cappuccinos at Starbucks. Maybe then, at least, they’ll be consistent.

The economy, stupid

Friday. Sunny and moderately not cold.

Big changes at the Metropolitan Police. Sounds like the timing was right for the commissioner to depart.

The economy is doing pretty well. That statement might sound wrong depending on your politics. Dan Primark writes, “Republicans think the economy is getting worse while Democrats think it’s getting better. Because the economy itself isn’t really what matters; who’s in charge of the economy is what matters.”

Irish Ambassador to the US Dan Mulhall’s book on James Joyce’s Ulysses is now available.

Bruce Mohl reports that the MBTA intends to raise the price of Charley cards $3 as part of the coming upgrade of its fare collection system. The increase would help pay for costs associated with the new billion dollar system. Meanwhile, fare revenue is up. Also, free fares are being expanded so some of that revenue will be down. Managing the T’s balance sheet sounds like a nightmare job.

And can we all agree now that blocking roadways is not a legitimate form of protest? Good.

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?

Highly accurate

Saturday. It’s Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day!

America’s bridges are falling down, falling down, falling down.

The science of stoned driving is being elevated by the folks at Mass General who have found a way to use blood oxygenation levels in the brain to determine impairment. It’s good news for science but bad news for ‘experts.’

It’s always nice to catch a robber in the act. Great work by the District 11 detectives.

People generally figure out how to manage a household budget at some point in their lives but getting an early start on financial literacy by teaching it in high school sounds like a no-brainer to me. State Senator Pat O’Connor has two bills in the works to that end.

And Benjamin Powers says the Metaverse is “everything you hate about the internet, strapped to your face.” Very enticing.

Mission (not quite) accomplished

Friday. Today is Rosa Parks‘ birthday.

Boris Johnson is having a rough week. The Guardian sees a “fin de régime.”

The tents are down and winter is in full swing but, as the Globe reports, the drug business is still in going strong at Mass and Cass. Area business owners and neighbors are angry, impatient and worried about what will happen in the spring. And who’s in the crosshairs? It’s not the politicians or homeless advocates. At a community meeting, BPD Lieutenant Peter Messina told an agitated crowd that the police were “doing everything we can within our parameters to change what’s happening in the area . . . but you have to understand what’s happening in this area, it doesn’t just change overnight.”

A couple of days ago I linked to a story about the fragility of the region’s power grid. Today, the president of the Conservation Law Foundation takes issue with that whole idea.

In a state considered to be on the left, it turns out that we’ve got a pretty big middle. Scott Lehigh writes about the legacy of Charlie Baker and how that may play out in the next governor’s race.

And a BU Daily Free Press editorial takes on the Spotify / Joe Rogan controversy. Can’t we all just get along?

Fit to print

Today is Tuesday. It’s the Year of the Tiger.

Joan Vennochi compares Bill Galvin to Tom Brady. Both are long time winners but Brady, at least, sees the writing on the wall.

The Globe features another opinion piece about dismantling the BPD gang database. It’s ineffective, the authors state without equivocation. But in the New Yorker, David Rohde writes that “concentrating police efforts on the most active criminal groups and individuals that appear to be fuelling homicides seems to have an impact.” And criminologist Richard Rosenfeld told the Washington Post that “certain crime-fighting strategies appear to be paying dividends. Among them: a laser focus on certain areas and individuals that are driving homicides, while also investing in the repair of police-community relations.” Strangely, the editorial position of the Globe seems to be opposed to both.

Commonwealth Magazine, meanwhile, has news about new DA Kevin Hayden, who told them he would be running for a full term. Also, he is not in favor of eliminating the gang database.

David Leonhardt wants to know why we’re so fixated on inflation. The real problem, he writes, is that we’re upset that society just isn’t functioning very well these days. Inflation, he suggests, is just a stand-in for the broader angst we’re experiencing. (Are things really that bad?)

And finally a fix for the incompatibility issues with texting tapbacks, at least on the Android side. Let’s see if Apple fixes things at their end.

Ganging up

Monday. Time to get cracking.

The new, new thing is getting a little old. Cace Metz writes about the long wait for the next tech breakthrough.

A Globe editorial takes aim at the Boston Police gang database, suggesting that it needs to be reformed. The implication is that it isn’t effective. Crime stats make the opposite case. In most US cities crime is rising, especially homicide—and many homicides are gang related. Boston is an outlier. Murders are down to historic lows here. Why? Fair and effective policing might have something to do with it. Tracking gang membership needs to be done carefully and consistently to avoid abuse and I think the BPD are already committed to doing that. Outside scrutiny is important. But it’s also important for the Globe to give credit where credit is due.

This week the Fed might get more hawkish on inflation and raise interest rates. Also, John Cassidy reminds us about the doomish, bubble-bursting projections of Jeremy Grantham. Anything can happen and probably will. Stay tuned.

Should you buy crypto now that prices are down? Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet the retirement account unless you have a strong stomach for uncertainty and wild swings.

And when Roger Ebert wrote a bad review it was a work of art. My favorite line from his 1995 takedown of the kid-facing Power Rangers film: “The movie is like a little unkindness done to its victims.” Ouch.

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.