Author Archives: Ian Kennedy

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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2018 Presidential Candidate 404 pages

The last time around I took screenshots of all the presidential candidate 404 error pages. The candidate probably never saw these but they gave a unique glimpse into the character of the people the candidate hired – or at least the person who ran the website.

John Delany

Missed opportunity.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Sit down and take a load off.

Richard Ojeda

Boooooring!

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Warren’s 404 page pokes fun at her reputation as someone that never gives up, especially the phrase uttered by Mitch McConnell that now has its own Wikipedia entry.

I’ll update this post as more candidate websites get launched.

The week that was (12-28-18)

Slow week for the news and myself as we wind down for the holidays so just a few stories for you. See you next week!

A 71-year-old Frenchman set off across the Atlantic, hoping to reach the Caribbean within three months so long as the ocean currents cooperate. He’s in a barrel.

Turns out an Ancestry DNA kit sometimes isn’t the best gift for Christmas.

Chinese scientists have figured out a process to turn low-grade copper into material, “almost identical” to gold.

A Pennsylvania police negotiator ended a nine-hour Christmas Day standoff by signing a rendition of White Christmas, “it is not clear whether the man surrendered due to the perfection or the sheer awfulness of the rendition.”

Photo credit: Reddit user Kristophigus

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The week that was (12-21-18)

Field tests of Google’s self-driving cars in Arizona are not going well. Meanwhile, citizens in Columbus, Ohio have embraced their robot overlords are are happily riding self-driving shuttle buses around town.

Rocco, an African grey parrot, ordered strawberries, a watermelon, raisins, broccoli, ice cream, a light bulb and even a kite via his owner’s Alexa while she was out. “I have to check the shopping list when I come in from work and cancel all the items he’s ordered.”

A convicted deer poacher has been sentenced to one year and 120 days for his crimes. As part of his sentence he has been ordered to watch the Walt Disney movie Bambi once a month during his time in jail.

A police department in rural Alabama is blaming the recent spike in crime on Satan.

A koi fish sold in Japan for $1.8 million.

A federal court ruled that New Yorkers have a constitutional right to nunchucks.

The Indian Air Force is experimenting with bio-jet fuel for its aircraft.

Lamborghini is selling an SUV. The Urus (latin for “domestic cattle”) can go 0-62 mph in 3.6 seconds, 0-124 mph in 12.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 190 mph. Price? $200k.

Meghan Panu loved her tiny home. It simplified her life and allowed her to live wherever she parked. Meghan loved her tiny home, and then someone stole it.

Researchers have discovered a planet at the furthest reaches of our solar system, about 4 times as far from the sun as Pluto. This planet is so far out there that they estimate a single orbit around the sun would take 1,000 years. The planet’s name? Farout.

The 1923 hit Yes! We Have No Bananas enters into the public domain in just a few weeks.

Photo credit: banksy

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The week that was (12-14-18)

China sent a space probe to the dark side of the moon to plant potatoes.

Police in St. Paul, Minnesota responding to complaints of noise, walked in on a heated match on Nintendo’s latest Super Mario game. They ended up joining in and playing.

A Price is Right contestant won a six-night, all-expenses paid vacation . . . to Winnipeg, Canada.

A Russian electric car company released a model heavily inspired by the king of muscle cars, the 1967 Mustang.

A Vermont man was denied by city planners a request to build a large garage on his property. He put up a giant middle finger instead.

A San Francisco developer who illegally demolished a 1936 house designed by a renowned modernist must rebuild an exact replica of the home rather than the much larger structure the property owner had proposed.

Postmates, the food delivery service, announced that it will send out an urban-delivery robot on routes where drivers have trouble finding parking. Los Angeles is first.

Organizers of a Christmas event apologized to outraged parents after a fire alarm prompted Santa Claus to burst out of his grotto, rip off his beard and scream at children to “get the f**k out.”

Photo credit: Reddit user MeanMug3374

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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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