The week that was (10-12-2018)

Birds are getting drunk after eating too many fermented berries.

A Grand Rapids man thought the rock that he has been using for years as a doorstop didn’t look like a normal rock. He was right.

A  man who used a stolen credit card to pay his court fines was subsequently booked for stealing credit cards.

Seconds after the gavel came down on the sale of a Banksy piece at Sotheby’s for $1.3M, a hidden motor in the frame shredded the piece. The destruction of the painting increased the value of the painting which art brokers are now saying may have doubled in value. Some speculate Sotheby’s was in on the prank.

The prestigious Rooney Prize for Irish Literature awarded annually by Trinity Dublin College was awarded to one of its janitors.

Over 300 suspected Russian spies were uncovered in Europe when reporters uncovered that they had registered their cars to the address of their military dormitory in Russia.

“Your radical socialist kickboxing lesbian Indian” was how a Michael Kalny, Kansas GOP precinct committeeman, described the Democratic congressional candidate in a Facebook post. He resigned.

Researchers at MIT have simplified the Turing test to a single word that distinguishes higher level human intelligence from a computer’s artificial intelligence. That word is poop.

Researchers at a university in Melbourne have invented a new font named that has been demonstrated to increase retention. They dubbed the new font, Sans Forgetica.

Another flight was delayed (2 hours) over a disagreement on what the airline would consider an emotional support animal (squirrel).

Hunters in India tracking down a tigress suspected to have killed up to 13 people deployed an men’s cologne to flush out the man-eating big cat from the jungle. Calvin Klein Obsession for Men worked best.

Photo credit: Reddit user xsited

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Lady Gaga on Dr. Ford’s Courage

I am a sexual assault survivor. Trump the other day was speaking at a rally, and he said, ‘She has no memory of how she got to the party. Should we trust that she remembers the assault?’ And the answer is ‘yes’ … And I also know this woman is smart because she’s a psychologist – she’s no dummy. If someone is assaulted or experiences trauma, there’s science and scientific proof – it’s biology – that people change. The brain changes. What it does is it takes the trauma and it puts it in a box and it files it away and shuts it so that we can survive the pain. And it also does a lot of other things. It can cause body pain. It can cause baseline elevations in anxiety. It can cause complete avoidance of not wanting to even remember or think about what happened to you. But what I believe that have seen is that when this woman saw that Judge Kavanaugh was going to be possibly put in the highest position of power in the judicial system of this country, she was triggered, and that box opened. And when that box opened, she was brave enough to share it with the world to protect this country.

For more on the science, see Why Christine Blasey Ford Can’t Remember How She Got Home (psychologytoday.com)

The week that was (2018-10-05)

A woman in Columbia was caught having an affair she and her lover were picked up in an Uber that was driven by her husband.

China will begin construction of a replica of Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. The real town is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists visiting England.

The media really piled it on Donald Trump. Even Scientific American couldn’t help themselves.

Animal scientists were busy. We now know how giraffes get their spots and why elephants have wrinkles.

In Arkansas, a hole opened up in the ground and shot flames 12 feet into the sky and burned for 40 minutes. No one knows why but officials have “ruled out” Satan. The flames erupted in front of a billboard advertising the Baxter Regional Medical Center’s Bone & Joint Clinic who were pleased with the free publicity.

A 1926 bottle of the Macallan 60-Year-Old whisky sold at auction for $1,100,000.

Thieves in Southern Germany harvested and made off with an entire vineyard of Riesling grapes. Police suspect a rival vintner.

An elderly couple lost their way home from a short trip to the hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. The ordeal turned into a five day trip through three states ending in Atlanta, Georgia where they were discovered by police. They are recovering at home but their relieved daughter has decided to take the car keys away.

It is now against the law for mapmakers in the United Kingdom to put the Shetland Islands “in a box.”

A global study determined that between 2011 and 2017, over 250 people have perished in “selfie-related deaths.” The study noted a sharp increase in the death rate in 2016 concurrent with the release of the “selfie stick.”

Photo credit: Reddit user Oweat10

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Ford-Kavanaugh and Truth

The clash of cultures that has been on slow boil since the election came to a frothing head last week in the back-to-back hearings of Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Both insisted they are absolutely correct and that those on the other side are either mistaken at best or lying under oath at worst.

In the end, after this full day of wrenching testimony before the Judiciary Committee, it feels like we’re essentially back to “he said, she said.”

Which is exactly where we were 27-years ago with Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. Then, Hill and Thomas were stand-ins for gender and we essentially chose, “he said.”

In this case, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, yes they’re stand-ins for gender, but what today made so clear, they’re really stand-ins for two sides of our divided country and both sides are 100% certain that they are right.

We have been given a week for the FBI to investigate and come forward with the facts. We have a week for our institutions to take these facts and determine the truth and make the right decision on a lifetime appointment. Has a man been unfairly accused of guilt by association or has a woman been heard but ignored?

The stakes have never been higher. The nation watches and the world waits to see if our institutions survive this test and be a reliable crucible that produces truth and justice. We’ll either come out of this stronger with new found optimism or tumble into a cynicism that will infect our midterm elections in the short term and an entire generation of political hopefuls that we can rely on to lead us to make the necessary changes to address the very real challenges to the climate and our way of life.

The week that was (2018-09-28)

An amateur botanist in search of rare flowers in remote West Papua, Indonesia took a snapshot of a tree kangaroo so rare and elusive that it disappeared for nearly a century and was assumed to be extinct. “Only an intrepid Pom in pursuit of rhododendrons would have persevered.”

Scientists determined that sonar signals picked up by the Canadian Coast Guard were from sei whales, previously believed to be extinct.

NASA picked up a faint white dot on the surface of Mars that they believe to be the Opportunity. The 14-year old surface rover has been silent for an agonizing 107 days since going into hibernation to conserve energy from a planet-wide dust storm.

The loss of ice mass due to human-driven climate change, particularly in Greenland, is contributing to a change in how the earth “wobbles” on its axis.

It was observed that praying mantises have learned how to catch fish.

A cafe staffed by robot waiters remotely-controlled by staff with disabilities will open in Tokyo this November. The restaurant is an experiment to see if technology can be used to allow people that, due to their physical handicaps, could otherwise not be employable.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo accidentally created the strongest controllable magnetic field in history and blew the doors of their lab.

German handgun manufacturer Walther is manufacturing a Limited Edition Colt Government 1911 A1 Semi-Automatic pistol that features Donald Trump on the grip and the phrases Make America Great Again, Drain the Swamp, and End Fake News on the barrel.

92-year-old Jean Briggs Watters was buried in Omaha, Nebraska with full British military honors, the Union Jack draping her casket, to the surprise of her unsuspecting neighbors.

Photo credit: Astronaut Alexander Gerst

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octopus!

Feeling a bit overwhelmed from the events of the day? At SmartNews we try very hard to keep the number of times we interrupt users of our app to only the “whoa!” type news events but today those types of stories just kept breaking. Here’s a rundown of the day’s events:

Just when we thought we were done for the day – another tidbit would cross the wire. There were other stories too that would have normally qualified but we were getting numb. Tomorrow’s Kavanaugh hearing is bound to bring more fireworks.

In preparation, I’ve remixed a video posted by Taiyo Masuda, a kayaker in New Zealand, that basically summarizes how I felt today and share it here for all to use when you feel it just can’t get any stranger.

via GIPHY

Yes, that’s a seal slapping someone in the face with an octopus. Enjoy!

The week that was (09-21-2018)

Parents in South Korea are hiring intimidating ‘uncles’ to protect their child from bullies. With the ‘Uncle Package’ a big, intimidating man pretends to be a student’s uncle and gives a stern warning to the bullies, and accompanies the student on their way to school. The service costs about $450/day.

A TV station abruptly went off the air during their weather update on on Hurricane Florence because the newsroom was flooded by Hurricane Florence.

Fed up with the unwinding of proven science, Governor Jerry Brown announced that California will be launching “our own damn satellite” to track climate change.

Police in Alabama are testing an electric lasso that can ensnare a suspect up to 25 feet away and has been likened to a Spider-Man technology.

Golfers at the King’s Walk Golf Course in North Dakota can order food from the clubhouse and have it delivered to them by drone.

The 2nd oldest lightbulb in the world celebrated its 110th birthday.

The airline Cathy Pacific misspelled it’s name on one of its new Boeing 777s.

Coca-Cola is jumping on the CBD train and thinking about making a cannabis-infused drink.

That container ship that set off to attempt passage through the Arctic, over Russia, made it through and is due in St. Petersburg next week.

It was decided that if you’re going to have your kidney stones dislodged by a roller coaster at Disneyland, Big Thunder Mountain was the best one for the task.

After “months of torment” the Ipswich Borough Council finally tracked down why the children’s nursery rhyme  It’s Raining, It’s Pouring was eerily playing from the industrial park in the middle of the night. Spiders.

Photo credit: Reddit user logangrey123

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Questions about Kavanaugh

Two things nagging at me as we await what is gearing up to be the showdown of the decade. There’s no about-ness about this. Someone is not telling the truth. It’ll be winner takes all.

Brett Kavanaugh has categorically denied being at the party where  Christine Blasey Ford alleges that she was pinned down and almost raped by the current nominee for the Supreme Court.

Late night TV host Seth Meyers has this observation on curious timing of the release of list of women that support Kavanaugh,

Yet, Chuck Todd from NBC asks,

The problem with the denial is Dr. Ford didn’t make a specific allegation of a specific event. She admitted she couldn’t remember which house where this was. So, why does he have a very specific ability to deny?

How can Kavanaugh deny being at party when accuser never said which party it was?

Then there’s this tweet that makes you go hmm,

The week that was (09-13-2018)

A Mississippi high schooler was chosen first as the homecoming queen, then later kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime at the homecoming game as the football place kicker. Kaylee Foster later posed for a photo in her tiara and football uniform.

You know stressed jeans right? A company in Venice is selling sneakers that simulate the old sneaker look. Price? $560.

A man in Florida ran from his car after getting pulled over for speeding. Jumping into a canal to escape pursuit, he later can be heard calling for help. The canal was full of brackish water, overrun by toxic algae. The police rescued him, hosed him off and rinsed his mouth out before taking him in.

A 75-year old Cleveland man spent 14 hours locked in his Cadillac when the electrical system failed and prevented him from opening the doors. Screaming for help from inside his garage and without his cellphone, his neighbors went blissfully about their day until they discovered him later that evening. He was without the car manual that would have guided him to the manual override tucked below his seat.

Two visiting Australian firefighters, volunteering to fight forest fires near the California/Oregon border, reported they were shot at by “men with scoped rifles.” When asked, the people with the rifles said they were hunting bears.

In Portland, the author of How to Murder Your Husband was charged with murdering her husband.

An “enthusiastic parishioner” thought a 500-year old wooden sculpture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus needed a little color and painted them in day-glo jumpers to disastrous effect.

The company that owns Cadbury chocolate, Mondelez International, is stockpiling chocolate and biscuits in case of a hard Brexit.

Photo credit:  “There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.” – Albert Einstein

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The week that was (09-07-2018)

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station were forced to temporarily plug a small hole with someone’s finger and later with some duct tape and epoxy.  As the week progressed, blame shifted from nature (a micrometeoroid) to internal (sabotage) before finally settling on institutional (shoddy workmanship).

Headline of the week award goes to:  Left behind: Thieves raid Virginia store of right foot shoes  h/t to Jane Costello for this one.

A fishmonger in Kuwait was shut down by authorities after it was discovered that they were sticking googly eyes on fish to make them appear fresher.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have built a bionic eye prototype that could restore sight to the blind.

Africa will, for the first time ever, be host to genetically modified mosquitoes in the wild that produce mostly male offspring as a method of population control.

A motorcycle broke a speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats, topping out at 113 mph, powered by vodka.

Scientists are developing a new type of metal alloy that changes shape and composition at higher temperatures. Such shape-shifting technology holds promise to make more efficient jet engines for quieter airplanes.

A 53-foot trailer loaded with nearly $100,000 worth of ramen noodles was stolen from behind a gas station in Georgia. h/t to Rick Kennedy for this one.

A farmer on the island of Crete who was struggling to free his truck from a mud patch accidentally uncovered an ancient tomb from a civilization that vanished thousands of years ago.

A congressional candidate in Georgia will be running his campaign for office from behind bars after being thrown in jail for drunk driving.

After they were stolen over 13 years ago, Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz were recovered by the FBI and returned to their owner.

Photo credit: reddit user qweratos

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