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.

Pie in the sky

Friday. This week’s a wrap.

Tourists are returning to New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New Orleans. What about Boston? Uber and Lyft rides are getting harder to find in the city. That could be a good thing.

Kim Janey was asked about eliminating fares on the T. She’s in favor. But it’s going to cost money, she admitted to listeners on GBH radio. She would look for federal money to subsidize free bus service in the short-term. There is an argument to be made that public transit should be a free-to-use public amenity but I don’t think we’re anywhere close to having a sustainable financial model to support that idea.

The last 14 months wasn’t an aberration. According to intelligence analysts it was a trailer for the future.

Comedy writer Anne Beatts has died. I was a fan of her work since the early days when she wrote at the National Lampoon.

And Neuralink, Elon Musk’s mind chip company, put an implant into a monkey’s brain that allowed it to play video games by thought. So this is how it begins.

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.

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.

Meet the new boss

It’s a cold, windy Friday in March. Otherwise known as a Friday in March.

Some say there are too many Dunkins around Boston. I have no idea why people would think that.

Boston is changing mayors and it’s not alone in Massachusetts in doing so. Commonwealth Magazine reports that nearly twenty percent of mayors statewide are switching jobs. Some of this is normal churn but stresses of governing during the pandemic were also a contributing factor.

Google, who make software that allows us to work remotely and was one of the first companies to send its employees home, is betting big on getting its workers back into the office.

Researchers in Japan examined how people looking down at their phones while walking on a crowded sidewalk impacted group dynamics. It’s wasn’t pretty.

And the plan for Facebook is to build a version of Instagram just for kids. Brilliant idea. What could possibly go wrong?