On the fast track

Monday. The second day of Squirrel Week.

Jet Blue is looking beat up these days. The question is: Is it just chipped paint from the weather or is it a crack in the fuselage?

Finland and Sweden are on track to join NATO as early as this summer. There’s a long border between Russia and Finland. Plenty of room for an Article 5 misunderstanding.

Matt Viser on Kamala and Marty.

The jigsaw puzzle is almost finished but one important piece that was supposed to fit… just doesn’t. In this case, the puzzle is the Universe.

And what’s a good tip for a robot waiter? You tell me.

Duck and cover

Good morning. It’s Sunday. John Steinbeck‘s birthday.

Russian nukes are on alert. That’s never a good thing.

Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College in London, thinks Putin has bitten off more than he can chew. But Chris Miller, from the Fletcher School at Tufts, thinks the Russian knows what he’s doing and that he has a range of options. “Putin could simply choose to destroy Ukraine and leave the West to pick up the pieces. Such a dismembered, dysfunctional Ukraine could well suit his interests.”

Joshua Yaffa is on the ground in Kyiv.

For what it’s worth, US and Canadian liquor stores, including those in Virginia and New Hampshire, are ceasing the sale of Russian vodka. That’ll show them. Also Rick Steves is cancelling his St. Petersburg tour. Russia is kicked out of Eurovision. And Putin’s conductor friend lost his gig at Carnegie Hall this weekend. Tough medicine all around. Meanwhile, did I mention that Russian nukes are on alert.

And where there’s a crisis there will be scammers. In this case, crypto scammers.

You can go home again

A wonderful Wednesday.

Sidewalk dining sheds in New York are either a good thing that will be made permanent or a bad thing to be removed forthwith. I agree.

A former Irish minister for foreign affairs is pushing to lift restrictions on US citizens who want to retire to Ireland. The plan promoted by Charlie Flanagan would be open to Americans who can show a connection to Ireland, either through ancestry or cultural involvement, or even frequent travel, with an offer of citizenship after 5 years. Interesting.

In bumping up bag check fees, airlines have incentivized the use of carry-on bags. And more often than not these days those carry-on bags are big and bulky, which slows down boarding, costing airlines money. Delta has a pilot program in Boston to see if free bag checking will speed up the boarding process. I hope they didn’t spend a lot on consultants to come up with this.

The Washington Post reports that bananas are getting expensive at the Greater Boston Food Bank. Also, Superbowl guacamole is going to cost more this year as grocery store produce departments succumb to inflation.

And in Seattle, there’s a large intersection between people who drive Mazdas and those who listen to NPR. Strange.

Following tracks

Tuesday. The word is disheveled.

Trailways and Greyhound airlines are merging into one airline. Actually it’s Frontier and Spirit. Christopher Muther has some ideas on what the new carrier should be called.

Adam Gaffin breaks a story on Universal Hub about a lawsuit against the Globe by a California man who is upset about Facebook ad tracking, which he alleges is a violation of federal law.

Harold Meyerson writes about the state of long haul trucking and the demise of unions.

Brian Krebs reports that spammers and phishers are exploiting a LinkedIn feature called slinks (great name for what it’s turned into) that allows third parties to leverage what looks like an official LinkedIn URL to market their own products. It would look like this, linkedin.com/slink?, with a potentially nefarious redirect code coming after the “?“.

And a guy playing slots in Vegas became frustrated when the machine locked up. After a while he lost patience and walked away. When the casino did maintenance on the slot machine it discovered why it had locked up: it hit a quarter-million dollar jackpot. By that time the guy was back home and the casino had no idea who he was. But there’s a happy ending to the story.

Running out the clock

Today is Thursday. It’s Mozart‘s birthday.

The film that’s so bad it’s goodinteresting… hilarious, is back on the big screen. The Room is now at the Coolidge for midnight showings.

Michael Jonas writes about Michelle Wu’s balancing act on labor relations and vaccine mandates. He notes that she has put the recalcitrant unions on “double (not so) secret probation.” My take: it’s just a flexing exercise for both sides. By the time it’s resolved it will all be moot.

Ireland is back. The government has announced the end of all Covid restrictions.

As we gear up for a foot and a half of snow this weekend, Seth Daniel recounts the challenges of winters past in Boston, from using diesel fuel in his furnace to old Mr. Gilchrist shoveling his own walk.

And what this country needs is a good sarcasm font. If Thomas Edison was alive, this is what he would be working on.

Peak Omicron

It’s a chilling Tuesday.

Eric Hill, of the Cambridge Historical Society, takes us back to a time when shoe manufacturing was such a big deal that an exhibition hall was built along the Charles River to showcase the latest in leather work technology.

It’s not a vaccination passport but Hiawatha Bray reports on the new Massachusetts website that will allow you to confirm your vaccination status. Here’s how to start. Meanwhile cases are through the roof. This surge is crazy. Here’s the latest data from the state.

Look at where we are now compared to any of the worse previous surges to get an idea of how widespread Omicron is.

Despite it being less serious, it’s still having an impact on hospitals just by virtue of the numbers. A lot of routine surgeries are being deferred because of staffing. The unvaccinated are being hospitalized at a much higher rate than those who have had the shot, as this chart from the Times shows for New York and Seattle.

But deaths are not peaking quite as badly as they would if Omicron was more potent. Again, vaccination is a big factor in who dies. Now we’ll be watching the numbers going forward to see if this is the acme or if we’ll top off going into February. By March we should be in a better place. Famous last words.

No passengers, no problem. Lufthansa has been flying empty planes to keep gate slots.

And speaking of flying, TSA has released their top ten prohibited items that people tried to take on to a flight last year, complete with Memojis. My favorite is the meth-burrito, although the chainsaw is pretty good, too.

War footing

A mid-November Friday. Better get those turkeys and pies early this year.

So much for that trip to Hallstatt.

David Brooks went to a conference to see what the future of conservatism looked like. It wasn’t pretty. Actually, it was a bit scary. According to his recounting, future (and current) leaders on the right believe that the left is such a threat to the American way of life that extraordinary measures will be required to counter it. He describes the sentiment: “The country is under assault from a Marxist oligarchy that wants to impose its own pseudo-religious doctrine. If you try to repulse that with pallid liberalism, with weak calls for free speech and tolerance, you’ll end up getting run over by those who possess fanatical zeal, economic power, and cultural might.” So, basically, the people on the right want to save America from the people on the left, and are willing to destroy American democracy to do so. I don’t like where this is going.

I suppose you could do this with any of the big camera brands, but here are a bunch of iconic photos shot with a Leica.

The usually pragmatic and clear-headed Zeynep Tufekci waxes philosophical on the future of the US in the wake of a botched response to Covid.

And first it was bikers. Then spring breakers. Now Phish Heads are being pegged as super spreaders. Surrender to the flow.

Burying the hatchet

Another beautiful rainy Sunday morning.

In case you were wondering, Bruce Schneier is not Satoshi Nakamoto.

Kim Janey is backing Michelle Wu. Things got a little contentious between the two in the preliminary election but apparently, now, all is forgiven. This is more of the pragmatism that I liked in Janey as acting mayor. I suspect her days of having influence in the city are not over.

Akela Lacy writes in The Intercept about how moderate Democrats derailed police reform. It’s an odd story of strange political bedfellows.

When Christopher Muther isn’t travelling, he’s writing well-researched articles on airport security.

And in London, Phil McCann is reporting on the fuel shortage. Who but?

Tripped out easy

Today is Saturday, August 7th. It’s the midpoint of Summer.

Dollar stores are proliferating. And that’s not good.

I’ve recently returned from an overseas trip. There are a lot of hoops to jump through but it is possible to travel internationally. Marisa Iati offers advice on what to expect and prepare for.

David Brooks on How the Bobos Broke America. Whether it’s accurate or not, it’s still a depressingly descriptive look at our current cultural, political and economic alignments.

A failed FBI applicant who later went on to become an expert on healthy buildings and environmental systems thinks we should be breathing better air. It could make us smarter. An interesting story.

And Larry David was disinvited to the Obama birthday bash. Was it something he said?

Breaking it down

A rainy Thursday. Rain is good.

Here’s what the judge said when sentencing a January 6 rioter: “You called yourself and the others patriots, but that’s not patriotism. Patriotism is loyalty to country, loyalty to the Constitution, not loyalty to a single head of state. That’s the tyranny we rejected on July 4th of 1776.”

I’ve been out of the country for the past week or so and upon return it looks like covid is back in the news. The administration is considering requiring vaccination for all international travelers. Good idea. Louisiana is reeling. Florida is out of control. Locally, Barnstable, Plymouth and and Nantucket are hotspots. And just when we thought it was over. In England, their recent surge collapsed just they were reopening. Hopefully that happens here as well.

Running an airline is hard. Too hard, apparently, for Spirit.

Some people thought machine learning and AI could predict the path of covid spread and allow for preventative interventions. That didn’t happen. Bad data in, bad information out.

And how about a tomato sandwich for lunch today? Bread, tomato, mayo, salt and pepper. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, maybe a slice of bacon.