Monthly Archives: January 2019

The week that was (01-25-19)

You can now edit genes at home. “People can alter a frog’s anatomy with a few simple injections right in their own home,” said Josiah Zayner, the founder of The Odin, makers of the $300 Frog Genetic Home Engineering Kit.

A ship’s anchor sliced through Tonga’s main fiber-optic cable which took it off the internet disrupting, “overseas phone calls, money transfers, airline bookings, university enrollments as well as Facebook.”

A sinkhole opened up a block away from the White House.

The Governor of Louisiana sent a formal letter of complaint to the NFL Commissioner following a botched call in the final minutes of the playoff game that knocked the New Orleans Saints out of contention for the Super Bowl trophy.

Excitement in Scotland over the discovery of a prehistoric stone circle lost steam when the former owner of the property showed up to say that he built the stone circle for fun back in the 1990s.

Police in Fremont, California purchased their first Tesla Model S which it has outfitted in black and white to go out on patrol.

There’s now a company that will sell you a box of tissues (at $80 each) that come pre-infected with germs so you can, “get sick on your terms.”

I thought the emotional support peacock was the winner but word of Wally, the 5-foot emotional support alligator is my new favorite. His owner, “frequently takes Wally out for meet-and-greets at places like senior centers and minor-league baseball games.”

Former 49er’s quarterback Joe Montana and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz invested in a weed dispensary and delivery startup.

Photo credit: Reddit user FauxPoesFoes228

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The week that was (01-18-19)

Teenage vandalism plans were dashed when the Washington highway authority hatched a plan to thwart the rash of thefts of the 420 and 69 mile-marker signs on the state’s freeway. These signs now say 419.9 and 68.9.

McDonald’s lost its trademark on the Big Mac in Europe.

A woman in Wichita Falls has been banned from the local Walmart after she reportedly had been drinking wine from a Pringles can for several hours while riding on an electric cart.

China proudly announced that a cotton seed they planted on the far side of the moon had successfully spouted. Later that day, they had to announce it had died.

Ambrosia, a startup that charges $8,000 to fills the veins of older people with blood from younger donors, is up and running in five cities.

Scientists have deployed wasps against killer ants in an epic battle to save the crabs of Christmas Island, a technique called biocontrol. Over the past 10 years they are hesitatingly calling the mission a success as the crab population has begun to recover. The crabs be raving.

Roads are melting in Australia during a record heatwave and the Rhine River in Europe is drying up.

Nike released self-lacing sneakers that you can adjust with an app.

A Japanese hotel owner who had hoped to completely automate his operation with robots admitted that the novelty had worn off and admitted that maybe robots are not ready for the hospitality business. One guest complained that he was woken up regularly through the night by a virtual assistant robot that was put in each guest’s room. The doll kept asking him, “Sorry, I couldn’t catch that. Could you repeat your request?” when it was activated by the guest’s snoring.

Photo credit: The Language Nerds (thanks Uncle Peter!)

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The week that was (01-11-19)

Norway, a country that plans to ban sales of all gasoline-powered cars by 2025, is well on its way with 50% of cars sold last year being either hybrid or electric.

In North Carolina, a man tried to kidnap a woman. She fled and ran into a nearby karate studio. It did not end well for the man.  In Rio, a man tried to rob a woman waiting for her Uber and he found out the hard way that she was a professional UFC fighter.

Someone bought a fish for $3.1 million in Japan.A 612-pound bluefin tuna.

At Costco, you can now buy Nutella in bulk. $22 will get you a 6.6 pound bucket. If you’re still feeling peckish after that, they also have on offer a 27-pound bucket of Mac & Cheese. Both items are available in the store’s emergency foods section.

Traffic ground to a halt when an 18-wheeler crashed on an Alabama highway spilling its load of chicken tenders and drivers stopped to pick up the food.

At the CES tech conference, Kohler announced an intelligent toilet, “fully immersive,” with ambient lighting, surround sound speakers and built-in Alexa (so you have someone to talk to?).

A Florida man arrested for drugs was accused of trying to smuggle contraband into jail after three syringes were found in his rectum. The man insists they don’t belong to him.

Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, a San Francisco institution for over 125 years, recently closed its doors. When they put up their eclectic decor for auction, they discovered that the 8-foot vase that has been gracing the central dinning room since as long as anyone remembers was in fact a rare Japanese art piece had been missing since it was shown at the California Mid-Winter Fair in 1894.

The “sonic attack” noise which caused diplomats visiting Cuba to complain of headaches and nausea could just be the mating song of Indies short-tailed cricket.

A Virginia home was overrun with baby praying mantises after eggs hidden in the branches of a Christmas tree hatched. When asked whether the homeowner had seen any insects in the bedroom, she said, “I don’t want to think about that. It’s possible, but I don’t want to know.”

Amazon Alexa fact-checked a Qualcomm executive giving a presentation at the CES trade show. During an on stage demo of Amazon’s voice service, Alexa interrupted up saying, “No. That’s not true.”

Photo credit: Reddit user dvne3K

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US Immigration, visualized

In celebration of the diversity of the 116th congress, I’m sharing this beautiful visualization illustrating the diverse origin of immigrants to the United States over the years.


Data visualization with a poetic take on the data — historical immigration to the U.S. is shown as a set of tree rings (1830-2015). As time advances, the tree grows, forming rings of immigration. Each ring corresponds to a decade. Cells are deposited in layers, and each cell corresponds to 100 immigrants that arrived in that decade from a specific region outside the U.S.

Pedro Cruz is an Assistant Professor in information visualization at Northeastern University and his work above was one of the winners in the Kantar Information is Beautiful awards. If you like this kind of stuff, you really should check out the other winners.

Related:

The week that was (01-04-19)

The Chinese cellphone maker Huawei was the source of much ridicule when they used an iPhone to tweet to the world Happy New Year, this only a few weeks after the company famously banned all employees from using Apple products. The reason for the blunder? The PR company could not use Twitter from behind China’s firewall and thus had to use the iPhone which did work.

Another Chinese company has fully embraced the government’s initiative of, “adding technology into campus” and is marketing school uniforms embedded with GPS chips along with an app that will alert teachers when students leave campus.

In what some saw as a bad omen for 2019, a Rose Bowl parade train float caught fire and literally became a train wreck.

Monks in Japan are protesting one monk’s traffic ticket for “driving in a kimono that could affect safety” by posting videos showing off amazing feats of agility all while dressed in ceremonial robes.

A man shot out the drive-thru window at an Oklahoma City Taco Bell because he didn’t get enough hot sauce.

A town in Finland claims it is the happiest on earth. When asked, one resident claimed their secret was, “not being miserable.”

Scientists discovered that household plants spiked with “synthetic rabbit DNA” form a powerful new compound that can filter potentially cancer-causing organic compounds from the air.

A mugger in West Palm Beach picked the wrong mark when he went after 68-year old Steve Shepherd who is a five-time, world-champion kickboxer.

Photo credit: at least this guy got something out of the year’s first presidential press briefing.

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