The week that was (12-07-18)

Thanks to 9-year old Dane Best, the town of Severance in Colorado reversed a 100-year old ordinance that banned the throwing of snowballs.  After successfully convincing town leaders, Dane mentioned his first target would be his little brother.

Arlington County police and medics had to break up a large and unruly crowd when a promotion for free cheesecake got out of control.

Tumblr’s ban on pornographic content is going about as well as you’d expect. The AI software built to identify porn flagged a photo of hockey player Alex Ovechkin sleeping with the Stanley Cup as NSFW.

California Highway Patrol officers pulled over a Tesla on the freeway that was driving itself home. The owner was sitting in the driver’s seat, passed out drunk.

An art collective in Germany set up a website to identify participants at a neo-nazi rally and monitored individuals who used the site’s search function to put names to faces of those they had yet to identify.

An 18-wheeler carrying jalapeños caught fire on a freeway in Texas.

Photo credit: Twitter user @PanosZahariadis

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The week that was (11-30-18)

Dutch police found around €350,000 stuffed inside the drum of a washing machine and accused a man of money laundering.

Facial recognition cameras installed in Chinese cities to catch jaywalkers misfired when a woman’s face was captured in an advertisement on the side of a bus driving thru an intersection.

Scientists concluded that it takes on average 1.71 days for a tiny, yellow Lego head to make its way through the human digestive system.

A Bank of America employee put $100 bills into the $20 tray at a Houston-area ATM and all hell broke loose.

A school in Connecticut had such a problem with parents visiting their kids at school they had to tell parents to stop. Some felt the new rule, “deprived them of cherished time to check in on their children and model good social behavior.”

A school in Michigan handed out hockey pucks to be used as weapons in case of an active shooter.

A blind man filed a class action lawsuit against Playboy.com for not supporting screen-reading software so he could, “fully and equally use or enjoy the facilities, products, and services.”

Knickers, the massive steer from Australia, was the most talked about bovine last week until mild-mannered Canada begged to differ.

Photo credit: 500px user Raylivez

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The week that was (11-23-18)

Scientists at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures voted to redefine the kilogram.

Hasbro updated its Monopoly board game with a Millennial Edition in which players collect life experiences instead of real estate, “because you can’t afford it anyway.”

The world of Professional Darts erupted in controversy when two players accused each other of farting onstage to distract their opponent. “It definitely came from table-side and it was eggs, rotten eggs, but not from me,” said one of the players.

A German teenager lost his license for excessive speeding just 49 minutes after earning it.

A Louisiana couple discovered some old lottery tickets while tidying up for Thanksgiving and discovered that one of them was worth $1.8 million. The ticket was due to expire within two weeks.

The latest broadside in the on-going trade war with China was lobbed by the Trump administration, to protect rubber bands.

A missionary kayaked to a remote island in the Indian Ocean to bring, “the kingdom of Jesus” to one of the last tribes on earth untouched by civilization.  He brought with him a football, a gift  from his home state of Alabama, and was shot dead on the beach in a hail of arrows.

Archeologists translated a Mesopotamian clay tablet from almost 4,000 years ago and discovered that it was a letter of complaint.

Photo credit: Reddit user silbecl

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The week that was (11-16-18)

Tanzania threatened to deploy the army to harvest the cashew nut crop from farmers who refuse to sell.

A Wisconsin company decided to give all its employees a gun for Christmas.

A New Jersey man, pulled over for driving under the influence told officers he did it because, the “Jets suck.”

A robotic bricklaying machine in Australia completed an entire house in just three days.

The Japanese government’s recently appointed head of cybersecurity admits that he’s never used a computer.

Oxford Dictionary announced that the word of the year is, toxic.

Photo credit: Reddit user theguant

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The week that was (11-09-18)

An uninhabited island off the coast of Japan vanished. No one noticed until a photographer went looking to update his book of Japan’s “hidden” islands.

A former pro boxer was taken down by a croissant. Mario Melo died while choking on his third croissant in a croissant-eating contest.

Harley Davidson unveiled an electric motorcycle.

A Chinese pork-producer, facing a bit of a cashflow problem, is paying off its bondholders in ham. “Payment in kind becomes PIH (Pay In Ham).”

The Japan Post has begun unmanned drone document delivery in Fukushima.

Researchers in Sweden have figured out how to store solar energy in liquid form, essentially “bottling sunlight.”

A dead man was elected in Nevada. Dennis Hof, who ran the Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada recently died while celebrating his 73rd birthday.

Two Marine Corps pilots were grounded after it was revealed that the “irregular flight pattern” they were flying drew the shape of a huge phallus.

Photo credit: Twitter user @muumi5x15

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Post-Midterm Trump

I am shocked at how this president treats the press. I can appreciate how the relationship is adversarial, that is healthy, but there is no reason for him to hurl insults from the podium and say things like, “You are a rude, terrible person,” to Jim Acosta from CNN.

Il Duce

Good for Peter Alexander from NBC to step in and stand up for Jim’s character but that didn’t prevent him from getting some collateral damage of his own.  “Well I’m not a big fan of yours either,” Trump said.

Later in the day,  Acosta’s press credentials to the White House were taken away because of, “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.” A tweet from the White House Press Secretary makes it sound as if Acosta assaulted the woman in some way. But if you look at the video above, it does not seem to be that way at all. Acosta was just trying to hang on to the mic to finish his question and even said, “Pardon me, ma’am.” No assault or “karate chop.”

A couple of months ago, SmartNews hosted Dan Rather at an event at the annual Online News Association conference in Austin. Speaking to a room of fellow journalists, Mr. Rather warned of events such as the one above and stressed the importance of journalists sticking together through what he saw as a very dark time ahead. Here are a few clips from his speech.

I’m glad to see that CNN, NBC, Peter Alexander the White House Correspondents’ Association are standing behind Jim Acosta. Everyone who believes in a free press should do the same.

Chuck Yeager

“On December 10, 1963, while testing an NF-104A rocket-augmented aerospace trainer, he narrowly escaped death when his aircraft went out of control at 108,700 feet (nearly 21 miles up) and crashed. He parachuted to safety at 8,500 feet after vainly battling to gain control of the powerless, rapidly falling craft. In this incident he became the first pilot to make an emergency ejection in the full pressure suit needed for high altitude flights.” (from the biography of General Chuck Yeager)

The movie, The Right Stuff, depicts the crash in all its terror. In reality, General Yeager was talking with his chase plane pilot and the ground crew about what was happening as a test pilot does so they could take their notes and gather data.

In an interview, listen to Chuck Yeager describe the incident depicted in the film clip above. He’s all business describing the way things were supposed to work, what he suspects went wrong, and how he calmly thought through what he needed to do to survive.

I know it’s been said before but this guy has nerves of steel.

The week that was (11-02-18)

The world’s first, all-robot restaurant opened in Beijing. “Robots will take orders, prepare and deliver raw meat and fresh vegetables to customers to plop into soups prepared at their tables.” The mechanized helpers will, “lower labor costs and boost efficiency” and allow the Haidilao, the $10 billion eatery chain, to open a planned 5,000 new branches worldwide.

Multiple counties in Texas issued instructions to voters to check their ballots prior to submitting them because some machines were changing or de-selecting votes.

Nebraska congressman Jeff Fortenberry made a lot of noise about a University of Nebraska professor liking a Facebook post showing a doctored campaign sign that changed his name to Fartenberry. This of course delighted the media which was desperate for an alternative to 24-hour Trump news.

A Russian scientist working in Antarctica is facing attempted murder charges after allegedly stabbing a colleague for telling him the endings of books he wanted to read.

Miners unearthed a 1.1 kg emerald in Zambia. The 5,655 karat-stone with  “remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green hue,” was found in Kagem, the world’s largest emerald mine.

Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in San Francisco, has a large programmable display covering the top floors. It was designed to be an art installation for the citizens to celebrate the the pride and beauty of their city. Cheeky residents promptly petitioned and were granted a wish to display a giant flaming Eye of Sauron during Halloween.

It was discovered that for the past two and half years an elderly Japanese employee of Shinjuku Gardens in Tokyo was too afraid to ask foreigners to pay the $2 admission fee and was letting them in for free. It’s been calculated that he has cost the gardens almost a quarter million dollars in lost revenue.

October Books, a small independent community bookshop in England, put out a call to their neighborhood to form a human bucket brigade which helped it move it’s stock, book-by-book, to its new location down the street.

A drunk baggage worker at the Kansas City airport decided to take a nap inside the hold of an airline and woke up in Chicago.

Photo credit: Reddit user JustTom1

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Grandma’s Recipes

Izumi turned me on to a YouTube channel she’s discovered that features lovingly documents the kitchen recipes of an older, sometimes forgotten, generation in Japan. Each short vignette explores the life of these women who fed their family with what they had and passed on traditions of their region.

From the producers:

Our team especially tries to focus on eccentric, lovely but “Rock” ladies above the age of 80, who have lived through World War Two. We interview them with great care, and through their recipes which represents the relationships they share with those they care about, we are able to uncover great depth in their life stories. We want to spread those stories to the young generations living today. We believe that if we can share the stories of those beautiful and loving ladies to the world, regardless of borders and languages, people may appreciate even the dinner table just a little bit more.

Grandma’s Recipes
Masami-san has lived a hard life in Nagano and reflects on her grand life of 99 years.
Keiko comes from a wealthy family in Tokyo. During the war, she made a frying pan out of unexploded bomb.