The long (and short) arm of the law

Good Tuesday. National Night Out, which would have been tonight, is postponed until October 6.

Is Congress broken? There doesn’t seem to be any political reward for consensus and compromise. And it’s showing.

Homicides are up significantly in many big cities, according to the Wall Street Journal. Boston isn’t mentioned in the story but we’re up as well. Are the spikes related to the pandemic and protests or is it just the normal socioeconomic factors that tend to drive crime? That’s the question. In Minneapolis, residents are finding they can’t live with the police and they can’t live without them. That’s also the case in Springfield. The Massachusetts police reform bill is in a conference committee on Beacon Hill. Those are always slow going but in this case that’s sensible. And Chuck Lovell, the police chief in Portland, speaks out about what his department has had to deal with during the protests. It wasn’t pretty. Nor was it productive.

The still-closed MFA is laying off workers. 100 jobs have been cut so far.

Update your priors! This is a great article on the basics of Bayesian analysis from Siobhan Roberts. It’s useful for assessing coronavirus models but also for everyday life.

And it’s official: we boomers are idiots.

Failure is not an option

It’s Monday. Hot hot hot. Today’s word is Anomaly.

The Washing Post factiously asked, “If a Taylor Swift album drops in a pandemic, does it make a sound?” Here’s the answer.

Six months out and testing for Covid-19 is still a work in progress. They say you can’t manage what you can’t measure and since testing is how we measure the coronavirus spread it should come as no surprise that we’re having a problem with managing outbreaks. This is problem solving 101. The federal government gets a D-minus on this simple, solvable problem. Didn’t we go to the moon once?

Speaking of going to the moon, the Times maps out all the things of earthly origin that are making their way through space.

Stevie Nicks, who was in a very different Fleetwood Mac than the one Peter Green played in, paid tribute to the deceased guitarist on Twitter. “My biggest regret is that I never got to share the stage with him. I always hoped in my heart of hearts that it would happen,” she tweeted. Here’s one of Green’s songs performed by Haim. Turn it up!

Scientists still don’t know why we dream. But they’re working on it. Here’s a new theory that swings for the fences but ends up grounding out.

It’s a cook book!

A sultry mid-summer Sunday morning. Another 90 degree-plus stretch begins.

The great Peter Green is dead. The person who wrote his obituary is also dead.

There are three missions to Mars planned for this year, one each by the US, China and the United Arab Emirates. But that’s nothing compared to what Elon Musk has in store. He plans to send a million people to the red planet, three ships leaving each day. Jobs for everyone. Sign me up. I’ll open a cocktail lounge up there. It’ll be a Mars Bar.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers. As Helen Branswell notes, they’re heading in the wrong direction.

With a drastic reduction in tourists and school groups, Boston’s historical sites are struggling to remain solvent. And the people that are coming tend to be from states with high infection rates, which isn’t exactly the best situation.

And Midtown Manhattan is a ghost town this summer and not just because everyone went to Nantucket.

The great obfuscator

Saturday. Get ready for a heatwave. Today’s word is jink.

Frank Baker gives his thoughts on the city budget and why he voted for it.

It’s expected that a certain percentage of people riding the MBTA would not be wearing masks despite the mandate to do so. But I would think employees and operators should be at 100% compliance. Meanwhile, the biggest brick and mortar retailers in the US are now requiring masks to enter their stores. And on the wearing of masks, the president says… well, your guess is as good as mine.

Headline: Fox attacks Washington Post.

The Times went a bit deeper today than Brian Krebs did yesterday on the Bitcoin hack. It turns out that the person Krebs focused on may have only been on the periphery and that the real culprit apparently stumbled into a Twitter Slack channel and walked away with system admin credentials, which he and others used to get OG usernames. There’s got to be more to this than we’re seeing.

Natalie Wolchover writes about the inside baseball of cosmology as scientists try to determine just how fast the universe is expanding.

And Phillip Reeve has some thoughts on what makes a good picture.

The little things

Tuesday. It could rain. On this day in 1881, Billy the Kid was shot and killed at Fort Sumner by Pat Garrett.

Here’s Biden‘s new ad targeting Texas. I think it’s pretty effective but there’s something missing. Where’s the scapegoating, name-calling, and negativity that we’ve come to expect in a political ad?

It’s nice to see that we’re using state of the art technology in the battle against the coronavirus. Mick Mulvaney, of all people, wrote an op-ed supporting additional funding to address the “testing problem in this country.” You know, the one that the administration says doesn’t exist. Anyway, when a vaccine is ready later this year (hopefully) we may not have enough glass vials to package and distribute it. Syringes may be a problem too. There is a plan to ramp up production. Fingers crossed.

State legislators are earning their paychecks these days. Too much to do, not enough time to do it and no money to fund whatever they’re able to do. One thing is clear. They are going to have to extend the session.

Science writer Lawrence Krauss wasn’t part of the group that signed the notorious letter on open expression of ideas. But he does have some thoughts on how it plays out in the sciences.

And a guy in India is so obsessed with photography that he lives in a giant camera and named his sons Nikon, Canon and Epson(?). I think Leica would be a nice name for a girl.