Brush fires

Sunday. Stalin became leader of the USSR one hundred years ago, today.

If you thought the Oscars were fun, just wait for the Grammys.

Pakistan is in crisis. The Prime Minister has dissolved Parliament and the Supreme Court may be next. Oh, and then there’s this. Just what we need.

Nabil Ayers singles out a few guitar solos for consideration. It’s not even close to a definitive list. But no matter. The guitar solo is over. These days I’d rather listen to Cory Wong play funk rhythm.

No more knocking on doors. Kyle Chayka writes about how to sell a vacuum cleaner on social media. Design is key. Marketing needs to be next level: “It’s not a vacuum, it’s a meditation on dust.” Aspirational. Whether it picks up dirt is besides the point.

And the Cybertruck is dead. It never seemed real to begin with.

Good news bias

Saturday morning music: Something/Anything by Todd Rundgren.

St. Brendan’s was once a powerful center of Irish Catholic life in Dorchester. Today it’s hanging on by a thread. Lauren O’Brien makes an appeal to the Cardinal to keep it open.

Inflation. War. Oil anxiety. God forbid we should concentrate on some positive economic news.

Walgreen’s is moving towards having robots mix prescriptions. In Japan, robots will bring your food. Elon Musk’s says his most important project this year is the development of a humanoid robot. It’s happening

One good thing to come out of the pandemic is better access to government through live streaming and remote access meetings. Let’s keep that going.

And anyone can be a great photographer. All it takes is a smart phone and lots of bad photos.

A cat and mouse game

Tuesday. Pushing through the week.

You can’t get there from here. Adam Gaffin provides directions on the T.

It’s always been a little fuzzy to me how the coronavirus can persist and adapt in the face of antibodies and widespread vaccination. This article was helpful. Apparently the virus mutates in two dimensions, transmissibility and immunity evasion. The former can reach an equilibrium but the latter goes on and on, as it does with the flu. So we should get used to the idea of ongoing, updated inoculations.

A seven hour gap? Seems weird. A mere eighteen and a half minute gap brought down a president once, a long time ago.

The power of the Internet in the Ukraine war has been pretty apparent. The fact that it’s still up and running in that country is both a surprise and a testament to telecom workers in the war zone.

And now you, too, can slap the shit out of Chris Rock. (Note: no actors were harmed in the development of this simulation.)

Franchised fiasco

Saturday. It was worth the wait for the weekend.

In today’s Boston ‘Metro’ news, a musician from Los Angles died— in South America. I don’t know why the Globe even bothers to organize their news by sections.

The Washington Post covers the de-globalization of Russia as Western brands flee the country. There’s a new codicil to the Thomas Friedman rule that countries with McDonalds don’t attack each other: When they do, the McDonalds’ have to close. As far as coffee goes, Starbucks has suspended all operations in Russia. But as of today, Dunkin’s is still serving up Moscow mocha-chinos.

Mike Evans writes about the appeal of the Leica M9, one of my all time favorite cameras.

During the Iraq war priceless antiquities were lost. In Ukraine a different set of cultural artifacts were destroyed. A smaller tragedy maybe, but still a tragedy.

And here’s William Shatner‘s all time favorite album playlist. It’s a trip down memory lane.

Who, what, where, when and why

It’s Thursday, a stormy late-March day.

I guess Arnold must have hit a nerve.

A Globe story highlights the fallout after removing police from Boston schools. The author’s take is that evidence suggests removing city police from the schools was a mistake. Strangely conspicuous by its absence in the story was any mention of the Mayor’s longstanding position on the subject.

As Putin is backed into a corner, Peter Rosen, a professor of national security and military affairs at Harvard, plays out a few nuclear scenarios. Terrifying stuff.

Doom-scrolling is a hard habit to break. But at least there are rest stops along the way.

And rich people are getting worried about the economy. Good. Maybe now something will be done about it.

One hand washes the other

It’s Monday, Bach’s birthday. Also time for some St. Matthew’s Passion.

After almost four decades someone found a new Easter egg in Windows 1.0. (The fact that someone was still using Windows 1.0 might be the bigger story.)

Apparently the Trump administration practice of putting politics over expertise also applies to Massachusetts Democrats. This is why people are cynical about politics.

The Odessa Journal celebrates 4 Ukrainian woman photographers.

Ukraine is facing a brutal onslaught as a frustrated Putin switches to Plan B. But Tom Friedman is even more worried about Plan C—and especially Plan D.

And in the exciting area of monetary policy, the New Yorker’s John Cassidy writes about Jerome Powell’s needle-threading on inflation and jobs.

Invisible battles

Saturday. Today is the anniversary of the time zone.

Press Watch to the NYT over its editorial on free speech: Shut up.

In the invasion of Ukraine, cyber warfare has been conspicuous by its absence. Or has it? Thomas Rid: “Some of the most consequential computer network breaches may stay covert for years, even decades. Cyberwar is here, but we don’t always know who is launching the shots.”

Kyle Chayka wonders if the cameras on the newer iPhones are just a little too good… so good they’re bad.

Military analysts continue to be surprised at the ineffectiveness of the Russian military. Also, John Ismay writes about how Ukrainian soldiers are using shoulder fired missiles to great effect, notably the NLAW, a British weapon made in Sweden by SAAB.

And here’s how to stop. This is important to know.

Doomed to repeat

Happy Wednesday. It’s a birthday for Amos Tversky and Jerry Lewis.

We could send a man to the moon but we couldn’t make a good rideable robotic mountain goatuntil now. (So much to enjoy here, from the frenetic music to the woman waving to the crowd of photographers.)

Ed Markey, among others, submitted a bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent year round. The Senate passed it. I’m on the fence. At the very least I’d miss the seasonal ritual. This idea was tried before, back during the energy crisis of the 1970’s. It was a popular idea then, too. Almost 80% of Americans were in favor of year-round DST at the time. Nixon signed it into law and in 1974 it went into effect. But within 4 months the country turned against it and by the end of the year the law was reversed and we went back to seasonal time.

Lingling Wei takes a look at China‘s economic position, both domestically and internationally, and how alignment with Russia complicates things for Xi Jinping. Europe is also taking notice.

Russia has responded to US sanctions by sanctioning a number of current and former US officials. The list of former officials that they’re going after seems to be narrowly selected. Apparently they’re targeting their enemies and sparing their allies.

And now the robots are making robots. This is how it begins.

We have our own problems

Tuesday. The Ides of March.

Finders keepers. All $10 billion worth.

The headline begins, ‘Brutal.’ ‘Awful.’ ‘Purgatory.’ Is it a story about people living in Kiev as Russian rockets hit the city? No, it’s about people trying to find a reasonably priced apartment in the Boston neighborhood of their choice. File under: Tone deaf. Update: It appears that the Globe has changed the headline.

Robots are the latest hires at White Castle. Flippy, I assume, will be working the grill.

The woman who held a “stop war” sign on a Russian newscast has disappeared after she was charged and detained. Here’s hoping that she somehow got out of the country—but Russia’s history in dealing with dissidents argues against that outcome. Update: She’s been found.

And it’s that time of year again: time for spring cleaningyour brain.

Stating the obvious

Today is March 9th. A Wednesday.

There’s nepotism and favoritism in City Hall, according to the Globe.

Today’s headline is that Russia is leaving the Internet. Reports say that they will cut the line at the end of the week. Next month’s headline might be that ransomware attacks in the US seem to have disappeared. So there’s that.

At the United Nations, words and language can be important. But this seems a little nit-picky to me.

If you park at the commuter rail station in Cleary Square you’ll pay $6.50 to get into Boston. Or you could take a short walk over the hill to Fairmount station and pay two bucks less. Both routes take about 20 minutes to get to South Station. Or you could drive a couple of minutes down the street to Readville—and pay even more. Bruce Mohl highlights this weirdly inconsistent fare setting.

And after 106 years, researchers have found Shackleton’s Endurance. Amazing.