Sword of Damocles

A rainy Friday. Of course.

It’s a Segway that goes 93 mph. Looks pretty cool, too.

Some Massachusetts businesses worked hard to avoid laying off workers during the pandemic. But now, a much higher than expected federally mandated unemployment fee is putting some of those businesses into a situation where they may have to lay off workers just to be able to afford the unemployment fee. It’s a crazy situation. Jon Chesto reports that the Governor’s office is pushing the payment deadline back, but only by about a month.

Another day, another mass shooting. Here’s a list in case you’re counting.

Reagan National Airport was always weird but it seemed to work surprisingly well. I’m concerned that’s going to change. Previously, you could jump on the Metro downtown and be through security and at your gate within 40 minutes. (Then, once there, you had to deal with the crowds, lack of places to sit and flight delays, etc. But still.) The new layout might make things better – or worse. We shall see.

And Adrian Higgins encourages us to plant a tree, particularly an oak tree. Add water and wait.

Fixing potholes

Monday, April 5th. Kurt Cobain, Alan Ginsburg and Saul Bellow all died on this date.

Airlines and hotels have reduced their capacities. Post-pandemic demand for travel is about to surge. Supply, meet demand. Travellers should prepare for higher prices.

Kim Janey is out in the street, attending events and making appearances as the acting mayor. Danny McDonald interviewed a bunch of political insiders and they all agree that if she does run for the job (which, of course she will) that this visibility will give her an edge over the other candidates. They point to the similar situation that Tom Menino was in as acting mayor when Ray Flynn left to take a job in the Clinton Administration. But Tom Menino had a hook. He was the urban mechanic and he used his time as acting mayor to demonstrate that he could be effective in that role. It was what differentiated him from the other candidates. Janey will need more than just higher visibility. She’ll need a hook to make her stand out from the crowd.

Still no inspection stickers. Applus is quiet. The RMV is deflecting. Not a good situation.

Its original name was Harbor Lights. The list of artists that performed there includes Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Radiohead and Billie Eilish. Later, the name of the place was changed to Bank of Boston Pavilion. Then BankBoston Pavilion. Then Fleet Bank Pavilion. Then Bank of America Pavilion… Blue Hills Bank Pavilion… Rockland Trust Pavilion. Now it has a new name, the Leader Bank Pavilion. Maybe we should just call it the increasingly more obscure financial institution music venue. IMOFIMV. It would be easier to remember.

And how long would it take to walk all the way around the moon? Of course someone has done the calculations.

Trial and error

It’s Monday. This is the first time that March 22nd has fallen on a Monday since 2010.

Remember when ex-presidents didn’t criticize sitting presidents? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

Charlie Baker’s reputation as a pragmatic, business-oriented leader got banged up after the state’s initial handling of vaccine distribution. It certainly looked like his team didn’t know what they were doing. But the Globe reports that behind the scenes they were following the private sector playbook of innovating, correcting and iterating toward a successful approach. And now Massachusetts is one of the most effective states at getting people vaccinated. So there.

European markets account for most sales of Kentucky whiskey. But Trump-era tariffs are threatening to close that business down. Industry leaders in the red state are now appealing to the new administration for help to ease those tariffs.

Some people fly from Boston to New York rather than taking the train. They would say it’s faster despite all the hassles at the airport. And it is faster. But only by about five minutes, as Thomas Pallini found out. So I’ll stick to the train.

And if you get vaccinated you might get a doughnut. That sounds like a good deal to me.

Whip inflation now

Springing ahead this Sunday morning. And it’s π Day. Go on, have a piece of π.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler has died. He fought some amazing fights. He was our guy in the ring.

Stimulus checks are coming and Americans are in a spending mood. The textbooks say that when there’s money to be spent and a shortage of things that people want to spend it on, you get inflation. Optimists say the textbooks are wrong or that if it does happens we can manage it. I remember how long it took and how hard it was to rein in the Great Inflation of the late seventies so I wouldn’t take the threat too lightly. Maybe we need a Paul Volcker on standby.

Rick Steves, stuck at home, is hosting weekly virtual travel video nights. He does them on Monday evenings. Tomorrow, with appropriate timing, he’ll talk us through his guide to Saint Patrick’s Ireland.

I’ve always enjoyed and admired Graham Greene‘s writing. This essay by Scott Bradfield is a reminder to pull one his novels down from the shelf to re-read this spring.

And Lou Ottens, who invented the cassette tape, died recently. Those tapes were a big thing for my generation. It was how we compiled and shared music. But I wasn’t sad to see them go. As a medium they were inconsistent and quirky. The best thing I can say about cassette tapes is that they were slightly better than 8-tracks.

Here comes the pain train

A happy, spring-like Tuesday.

We used to burn draft cards and bras, and blow up disco records. Now we burn masks.

Less riders. Less funding. The post-pandemic future will be difficult for the MBTA. Capital projects may be suspended and maintenance deferred, potentially leading to more unreliable service, leading to less riders and even less funding. A death spiral. But what if the riders miraculously reappear? Well, that might be a problem too.

It was the Day of the Triffids in northern Vermont. And in England, a rare carbonaceous chondrite meteor landed in a driveway in the town of Winchcombe not far from Stonehenge. Many a Creature Feature started out just like this.

One in ten jobs worldwide is dependent on tourism. That’s averaged out. In some places it’s much higher. These NYT charts show just how hard the pandemic has hit the people dependent on tourism.

And there’s been a report of aggressive, out of control, threatening behaviour in the White House. But this time it wasn’t a high-level official. It was just the dog.