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.

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.

Redefining success

Monday redux. Today is Vietnam War Veterans Day.

About that ship in the Suez Canal… well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

Researchers from New York University, Rutgers and Texas A&M used data from the Suffolk County DA’s office to determine if prosecution for low level offenses leads to recidivism – and the answer is yes, it does. The results ring true. The conventional wisdom is that prosecution for any offense will lead to recidivism. So lack of prosecution will likely reduce recidivism. Makes sense. The study is being seen as a vindication for District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who has formalized a policy of not prosecuting for some minor crimes. The research suggests that there are benefits for offenders who might otherwise become pulled into the criminal justice system. But the study doesn’t address how Rollins’ policies impact victims or overall crime rates, which is where critics say Rollins approach still falls short.

Digital photos are data. There’s the image and then there’s all that unseen meta-data. The BBC’s Jerone Andrews gives a good primer on all of thing your pictures can tell other people.

When it comes to how to board an airplane everyone is an expert. Back to front. Front to back. Window to aisle. Anything would be faster than what we have now. Research has been conducted. Mathematicians have calculated. Physicists have studied. Engineers have simulated. But, according to the CEO of American Airlines, the status quo is still the best way to do it.

And Volkswagen is readying the ID Buzz for 2023. I could see myself in one of these.

Deja Vu all over again

Today is Sunday. Look for a Super Moon late this afternoon.

Think you can spot a lying liar? Think again.

Just when you start to believe things are getting better, with vaccine availability improving and new case numbers beginning to trend down, all of a sudden the numbers are rising again and experts are warning about another surge. And then there’s Brazil. Scary and discouraging.

Scientists are considering geoengineering the atmosphere by releasing material to block the sun. What could possibly go wrong?

Is coffee killing us? Researchers want to marshall artificial intelligence to find out. What’s the point? We drink a lot of it now and we enjoy it and it’s not obvious that it’s harmful in anyway. So why go looking for a problem?

And some companies are offering Zoom-free Fridays as an employee perk. Does that mean you have to come into the office? Doesn’t sound like much of a perk to me.

Go Yankees

Is it Wednesday already? Yes it is.

Former intelligence director John Ratcliffe says that the UFOs are coming. Better get Arnold on the phone.

Hugh O’Brien was the first Irish mayor of Boston. That was in 1885. Since then it’s been mostly Irish men as mayor. Christopher Child’s genealogical research reveals that with the exception of John Collins, who had some Scottish ancestors, all of these men had recent family origins in Ireland. Tom Menino broke the Irish hold with great-grandparents who came from Italy. Now as Kim Janey steps into the role, Child looked into her family background. Interestingly, she will be the first mayor since 1930 with a great grandparent born in Massachusetts. So I guess you could say that, after 91 years, a yankee is back in the mayor’s office.

Another day, another mass shooting in Colorado.

Miriam Wasser writes about why a local challenge to the Weymouth natural gas compressor facility is a big deal that could reverberate nationally.

And Windows XP seemed like it was around forever. It was here for only 12 years. Mac OS X, on the other hand, is 20 years old and it seems as good as new.