Teflon Charlie

Today is Tuesday. It’s International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.

Cam Newton says he’s still in the game. We shall see.

Everyone, from legislators to columnists, is slamming Charlie Baker. But according to polls, among voters he’s still very popular, despite all the issues around vaccine distribution.

The upcoming MBTA service cuts, especially on the commuter rail, are being reworked to provide less trains during rush hour but more regularly scheduled runs throughout the day. It’s an interesting approach, but it’s still an open question whether it will save money while attracting new riders, as the T hopes.

In the smartphone sales race, Samsung always sold more phones while Apple made the most profit on the fewer iPhones it sold. Now, for the first time in a long time, Apple is selling more phones than Samsung – and still selling them at the same higher profit margin.

And the engineering effort required to land the Perseverance rover on Mars was simply amazing. Watching this video of it actually happening is no less amazing.

Hand wringing

Thursday. Today is Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day. Uh-huh.

In what may be the final chapter of the Bulger saga, after almost 19 years in custody, John Connolly is set to be freed from prison on a medical release.

Just because something works in Boston doesn’t mean it will work across the river in Cambridge. Licensing authorities in the people’s republic kiboshed a proposal for live acoustic music that would have bolstered local bars and restaurants because of the potential for noise complaints. Now, about those leaf blowers.

Crowded House have a new song ahead of a new album coming in June. That’s good news.

Later today the Perseverance Mars Rover will land on the red planet. NASA is live-streaming just after noon. You can watch a behind-the-scenes video from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory while you wait. Or you can go out to Crispy Creme and get yourself a mars doughnut.

And another transit system goes for easy, contactless payments. Hint: it’s not ours.

Too much, too little, too late

It’s Saturday, Galentine’s Day.

A high-speed rail link between Boston and New York that tunnels under Long Island Sound and makes the trip in an hour and a half? Sounds like a good idea but I doubt it could be done in my lifetime.

A couple of years ago Bloomberg published a story on a massive hardware hack involving Super Micro Computer servers and China. Then the story died with lots of conflicting information and denials floating in the wind. There’s been nothing on it since then, even though, as one of the authors points out, there should be plenty of evidence out in the world to confirm the allegations. Now Bloomberg has an update that, as Nick Heer notes, doesn’t do much to clear up the mystery but does quote many more un-named sources. If I were to guess, I’d say an ongoing successful counter-intelligence op was at play here.

So here’s the plan: we’ll start with the oldest part of the population and then require them to set up their vaccine appointments over the internet. I can’t imagine why this wouldn’t work well.

Ever search for a recipe only to be assaulted with pop-up ads and messages begging you to subscribe to something you have no interest in, and then scrolling and scrolling and scrolling to find the actual recipe, which often requires going to another page to see the final steps, where you then may have to endure another set of pop-ups, etc.? This is where you begin to lose faith in what the Internet has become. But then something like this comes along and your faith is restored.

And the album Tapestry is fifty years old this week. The Guardian assembled a group of fellow singer-songwriters, including James Taylor, Ricky Lee Jones and Danielle Haim, to reflect on the album. So far away.

Technocratic breakdown

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. That is all.

The MBTA Advisory Board is not happy with the Globe editorial board. The rest of us are just bored.

It’s clear that Massachusetts has had a tough time with its vaccine rollout. The state’s website is difficult to use to make reservations. People are frustrated and disappointed in Charlie Baker, who was supposed to be good at these kinds of things. But I think Baker is as frustrated as the rest of us and maybe his hands are tied since he’s reliant on sub-par government technology to solve this problem. But it is solvable, as these non-government programmers easily demonstrated.

France is worried about the influence of crazy ideas coming from the US, particularly from our universities. Now that is saying something.

I haven’t heard much about the guy that ran onto the field during the Superbowl. CBS quickly cut away and mostly ignored it, other than to use the time to show more commercials. But radio covered it the way it should have been covered.

And if you’re stuck in an assisted living facility during a pandemic, you might as well make the best of it. Cheers!

Jumping the turnstile

Today is Monday, Opposite Day.

It’s not exactly The Villages but I guess it’s the same basic idea. Who doesn’t love a parade on Opposite Day.

One of the big reasons that Uber and Lyft took off is because they were low friction. No cash, no special cards to carry. No long-term commitment. You use it when you need it and you know what it costs. Compare that to the MBTA, where you have to get a Charlie Card, put some arbitrary amount of money on it, even for a single ride, and then worry about the balance for the next ride. So it’s welcome news that the MBTA is at least in the very early stages of switching over to a contactless payment system. Just like in London and Chicago, two efficient systems I’m familiar with. And New York, where the payment system upgrade is also well underway. Mass transit should be cheap and easy to use – and pay for. This is a step in the right direction.

Superbowl teams have been warned to stay away from Tampa. One team might have a problem with that.

Some say that Elon Musk’s Starlink system is going to be a game changer. Others (especially in the Telecom sector) say it’s just hype. I don’t care either way. As long as it’s sustainable it will be another choice for getting connected, especially in remote settings.

And if you mix this hot sauce with mayo, you can make yourself a “thermonuclear bologna sandwich.” It looks like the guy that killed Bin Laden is trying to kill the rest of us.