Line in the sand

Good morning. It’s Sunday.

A study out of Oregon Health and Science University suggests that if you are fully vaccinated and have a mild breakthrough infection soon after, then you’ve hit the jackpot. You could have super immunity, with antibodies 1000% more effective than vaccination.

Live Boston is reporting that the Wu administration has changed its vaccine mandate to eliminate the testing option, reversing a policy that had been negotiated with some of the public safety unions. This could be the first of many battles between Wu and the unions and it could set the tone for upcoming contract negotiations.

Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker (who don’t agree on much) are not bullish on artificial intelligence. But new developments might cause them to reassess.

Apple intends to release a completely rewritten version of the old and slow Music App (formally iTunes) on the Mac. You would think this would be welcome news but I’m nervous. Some of us have years of music organization invested in iTunes and although the current version is a lumbering beast, it provides a lot of features that we’ve come to rely on. Here’s hoping that Apple doesn’t dumb it down too much.

And Radio Shack is getting into crypto. But of course, you have to give them your phone number email to get onboard.

A familiar face

Saturday. Apparently it’s going to snow.

The US Attorney wields immense power. But not when it comes to the federal bureaucracy.

According to a survey, the use of facial recognition by law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts is pretty low. The two biggest agencies reporting that they use the technology are the State Police and, surprisingly, the Suffolk County District Attorney. (Even before the City Council ban, Boston Police tended to shy away from facial recognition systems because they were often inconclusive or unreliable.)

Why isn’t Joe Biden more popular? It’s probably because he isn’t angry or resentful. Anger, resentment and tilting at windmills are the the tools of the political trade these days. Democrats in general aren’t angry enough either. And when they do get mad it might be too late.

If you’re one of the people worried about harmful radiation emitted by 5G towers you can wear a radioactive pendant around your neck as protection. Darwin lives on.

And if you thought 2021 weather was crazy, wait until next year.

One door closes

Thursday in December. An unseasonably warm day ahead.

A new airline called Play looks a lot like an old airline called Wow. Christopher Muther investigates.

Three dedicated and effective city councillors are leaving the stage. That’s a shame. Campbell, Essaibi-George and Janey always put the work in. They knew the players and understood the issues. I hope we’ll be seeing them again.

A Dunkin’ blast from the past. Glass mugs and a case full of actual donuts. I’m guessing this was N. Beacon and Market.

Years in design and at a cost of billions of dollars, the Webb Telescope is set for launch later this month. It’s kind of a big deal. Astronomers are on the edge of their seats.

And Einstein wins again. The hits just keep on coming.

Devilish details

Tuesday. The word of the day is flippant.

Buccaneers and Patriots in the SuperBowl. I’m calling it here.

Mass and Cass is a major test for the new mayor. Neighborhood residents are impatient to see campaign rhetoric turned into action. But anyone who thinks that Wu’s team is going to swoop in and solve an intractable problem are bound to be disappointed. The same goes for those waiting for her to free the T. Governing might look easy, but it’s not.

Travel restrictions around Omicron might cause foreign students attending Boston-area colleges to miss the spring semester.

George Dvorsky thinks 2021 may have been the weirdest year yet in space. It was pretty weird—and that’s even before Michael Strahan blasted off. Also, there are a bunch of boring non-billionaire enthusiasts and volunteers working on their own space program. God speed.

And that Succession season finale? It’s not exactly a spoiler, but it’s all here in this image.

Money for nothing – nothing for money

Today is Monday, Taylor Swift‘s birthday. (Guess what year she was born.)

Off with their heads! It’s nice to be King of the Metaverse.

What is the future of money? Peter Coy has some interesting thoughts and observations. We’re in a weird time, he thinks. Cash “is becoming technologically obsolete before replacements have gained the trust of the public and the backing, or at least acceptance, of governments.” Interesting times ahead.

The good news is that the Log4Shell exploit has been patched. The bad news is that not everyone patches their Apache servers quickly.

David Leonhardt warns of an electoral ambush in 2024. He’s right. It’s going to be ugly.

And there’s been another promising development in anti-aging science, which, at least so far, has been very advantageous for mice, but not so much for certain very impatient humans.

A partisan spiral

A sleepy Sunday.

Felice Freyer has an interesting article on the unusually large amount of mutations that were required for Omicron to develop. Scientists are still trying to figure it all out.

I’m reminded of why I don’t watch cable news. I noticed this article about the deadly mid-December tornados on the Fox News website this morning, under the heading Natural Disasters. It’s a news article—not an opinion piece—that blames liberals… for blaming conservatives. Not much about the actual disaster, itself. The metaverse is here and we’re all living in it.

You saved a few bucks to put down on a new car but you still have to make monthly payments on the car loan. But that’s not the end of it. Toyota is considering requiring a paid subscription to use the remote start key fob. On your car.

The solvency of the state’s unemployment insurance fund is starting to come into focus. It looks there may be a little less in it than hoped.

And when you’re thirsty and you want something sweet, go for a cloud frappuccino. It looks absolutely delicious.

Stamp of approval

Good morning. Today is Saturday.

This interview with Stanford professor Gary Nolan kind of sneaks up on you when you realize he’s talking about his work analyzing engineered metals from UFOs. I was looking for some indication that he was a nut job or that this was a practical joke, but none of that jumped out. The opposite, actually.

The Globe has endorsed Lydia Edwards in the race for state Senate. I agree. Edwards has been a standout on the City Council. Matt Stout looks at the race.

Ian Aldrich remembers Mr. Rogers in his other neighborhood, Madaket. “We’re not Mr. and Mrs. Rogers here — we’ve always been Joanne and Fred to everybody,” he once told the Globe. That was true.

Adrian Walker goes over who isn’t going to be the next Suffolk DA.

And if you’re looking for an investment opportunity, but don’t want to get into stocks or gold, economists from the Higher School of Economics in Russia have one word for you: plastic. Plastic Legos.

State of play

Thursday. Four days down, one to go.

A Banksy exhibition is coming to Boston. Where and when? Nobody knows.

Charlie Baker is not running for reelection. I guess he thought: enough was enough. Baker has been a steady hand on the tiller. Financially, the state is in pretty good shape. On the minus side, the MBTA didn’t improve much. So who will the next governor be? Sonia Chang-Diaz, Ben Downing, and Danielle Allen have already expressed an interest in running. Maura Healey is also a likely candidate. And Politico is reporting that Marty Walsh is very seriously considering leaving his post in the Biden administration to run for governor. Now that’s interesting.

Elizabeth Howcroft talked to developers about the Facebook Metaverse. They’re not enthusiastic. Another Facebook plan to change the world doesn’t seem to be panning out either. The guy in charge of project Libra, the big cryptocurrency initiative, is leaving the company.

Ed Flynn is interested in the City Council President role. The council has a crop of new members and Flynn has been around for a while so it makes sense for him to be in that position. That, and the fact that he’s a genuinely committed public servant.

And New Zealand has an opinion about killer robots. Big thumbs down.

Running on empty

Today is Tuesday. Give it up for Tuesday.

Founder Jack Dorsey has quit Twitter. But he’s still running Square and Tidal. And maybe for mayor of New York.

Bruce Mohl looks deeper into the curious case of the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. It’s either well-funded or needs money, nobody seems to know. The group running it doesn’t even know how much money it has. But we do know that they own hundreds of millions to businesses because of overcharges. The governor is prepared to float bonds to keep the fund solvent, if necessary, but that could complicate governance of the fund. As Jeff Garlin would say, it’s a big bowl of dysfunction.

Who needs satellites for GPS? All the Navy needs is muons.

The city’s eviction moratorium did not stand up to a court challenge. It was originally implemented by Kim Janey but now Michelle Wu will have to deal with the fallout from housing advocates who want to see the city do more. Wu hasn’t indicated what she’ll do, other than “looking at all of our options.”

And the Swedish Prime Minister is channelling Birgitte Nyborg after all. That was a quick comeback.

Once more around the block

The Monday grind starts here.

If you have a bird feeder you’ll already know who the most aggressive birds are. But ornithologists have been collecting data and have produced a definitive list.

With the new variant spreading, David Leonhardt considers the impact of previous strains and current expert opinion on Omicron and concludes that if we take reasonable precautions this one should play out like the Alpha and Delta variants -probably. But Zeynep Tufekci worries that we haven’t learned the obvious lessons from our recent past.

The Kenya Airports Authority was tired of looking at all those abandoned aircraft so they held an auction. There were some good deals. One Boing 707 started at $2500. A 737 went for $3600. Cash and carry.

Scott Kirshner explores what it means to be a Boston-based company and finds that being based in Boston is not necessarily one of the requirements.

And on Cyber Monday, Forbes offers a look at the future of shopping. Actually it’s more like retailers of the past catching up to the present of shopping.