The week that was

Researchers at MIT are working on an app that can successfully detect Covid-19 in asymptomatic individuals by processing recordings of an individual’s cough.

A Louisiana family was briefly one of the richest families in America when their bank mistakenly transferred $50 billion into their account.

Philip Morris asked the UK government to ban cigarettes within the decade.

Citizen, a mobile neighborhood watch app that used to be called Vigilante, will pay New Yorkers $25/hour to livestream crime scenes.

The Eastern District of New York sold off Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli’s one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.

Viewers of Olympic women’s field hockey were left hanging when, in the final minutes of the Argentina v. Spain match, the broadcast inexplicably cut to a cameraman focused on a cockroach on the sidelines.

A dispatch from rural New Zealand reports that the case of the “suspicious pair of footprints” has been resolved.

Simone Biles

Much has been written about Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the team and individual all-round competition at the Tokyo Olympics. Despite the negative coverage accusing her of quitting it is instructive to look at her (and her team’s) responses in the press conference.

When reporters trained their questions on Biles’s emotional state, she spoke just as comfortably, talking about mental health in the same terms as fitness and recovery programs—another variable in the champion’s pursuit. She described the danger of pressing through and competing in her state, saying she didn’t want to “do something silly” and hurt herself. She called Osaka—another sport-defining Black woman—a source of inspiration. “I say put mental health first,” Biles said in response to a query about how she’d advise other athletes in similar circumstances. “Because if you don’t, you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.”

Simone Biles and the New Language of Greatness

Your Robot Future

Two versions for you. One a dystopian robot beehive and the other, a thin veneer of joyful play hiding a powerful and increasingly sophisticated machine.

Exhibit One the Ocado beehive

Robots used by the UK online-grocer Ocado zip back and forth across “the grid” delivering good to human packers who box everything up for shipment to the customers. Each robot is about the size of a washing machine and are optimized to run back and forth at great speed, missing each other by the thinnest of margins. Of course, when they don’t which causes all sorts of problems.

Exhibit Two Boston Dynamics dancers

Two videos, the first from January where the Boston Dynamics Atlas machines run thru a number of dance moves to the 1962 hit Do You Love Me? It’s a slick PR stunt to make these machines more lovable but it also had the practical benefit of pushing the team to improve their robot.

Now that Boston Dynamics is part of Hyundai, they have been put to use dancing to the likes of K-Pop boy band BTS. Here’s their most recent video where a group of Spot robots are dancing in unison.

Again, these robots can do much more than just dance. As Google Image search queries have, over time, taught the algorithm what a cat or dog looks like – teaching Atlas and Spot to dance and move with grace will help it integrate seamlessly with humans further down the road.

Are we witnessing the first steps towards Westworld?

The week that was

The people of the Isle de Jean Charles in the bayous of Louisiana became the first federally funded community of climate migrants.

A startup in Amsterdam introduced an electric two-seater car that can run entirely from sunlight collected on its solar-paneled roof.

A woman in Tulsa was located and arrested when she left a comment on the police department’s Weekly Most Wanted Facebook post inquiring about the reward for her capture.

Ford created a premium fragrance to be used in the new electric Mustang Mach-E GT to give owners a hint of that fuel and tire scent muscle car drivers crave.

The Western New York gardening group is having trouble discussing “hoes” on their Facebook page because their posts are constantly flagged by Facebook’s moderation team.

Scientists in Australia are changing the language around shark attacks in order to dispel a “culture of fear” around the threatened species. From now officials will use the phrase, “negative encounters.”

The WHO started using Greek letters to avoid the stigma of associating a the name of a disease with the place where it was detected. This left folks at Delta Airlines grumbling, where they now just call it “the variant.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a pilot program for new municipal trash cans designed by Gucci. They cost $20k each.

Poland had to send home swimmers from their Olympic team when they were told they brought six too many.

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email, follow on Facebook, or forward to a friend.

The week that was

With rising oceans and cataclysmic floods upon us, it only makes sense that Jeep is thinking about adding to their iconic 4-wheeler an underwater mode.

Confirming that global warming has arrived, Car & Driver published a review to see which convertible, left in the sun, has the hottest seat.

A Moscow-based company is proposing a traffic stoplight design with a more information-rich design.

Because of its high cost of living, New York City was ranked as one of the hardest places to live in the United States. True to form, an Upper East Side establishment notched a Guinness World Record for its $200 black-truffled french fries.

An unopened Legend of Zelda game from 1987 was auctioned off for $870,000. Not to be outdone, an unopened copy of Super Mario 64 went for $1.56 million. NFT that!

A Wyoming rancher was rescued after spending two nights trapped beneath his overturned ATV four-wheeler. He survived on several bottles of water and cans of beer which luckily landed nearby.

An Episcopal church in New Mexico announced that it paid off the medical debt for all of New Mexico.

Engineers at UC San Diego have designed a new type of biofuel cell that harnesses energy from the sweat of your fingertips. This technology could make it possible to charge your wearables without a battery pack.

A military paratrooper trainee, whose parachute failed to open correctly during a high altitude training exercise, sustained only “minor injuries” after a 15,000ft fall took him through some trees and the roof of a house in California, crashing into the kitchen in a burst of insulation and roofing material.

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email, follow on Facebook, or forward to a friend.

The week that was

An underwater gas line ruptured in the Gulf of Mexico and set the ocean on fire.

Locals in upstate New York are complaining that a power plant, taken over by a NYC private equity fund to mine crypto, is ruining the their nearby lake. “The lake is so warm you feel like you’re in a hot tub.”

The Chinese Navy has developed an aquatic surveillance drone shaped like a shark to avoid detection.

A crate carrying 100 homing pigeons fell off a truck in Florida. The birds refused to move, causing a hazard for drivers. “It’s the worst case scenario – homing pigeons that can’t find their home,” said a news release from Volusia County officials.

Kohei Jinno, evicted from his family home to clear the way for the National Stadium for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, was evicted a second time 48 years later, when they rebuilt the stadium for the 2020 Games. He was given 170,000 yen ($1500) for the inconvenience.

A man who spent $40,000 on tickets in pursuit of the Guinness Record for most Olympic events attended was crushed to hear that fans would not be allowed to attend the Games in person. 

A 53-year old Japanese woman was arrested for trying to douse the Olympic torch with a water gun.

Jessica Springsteen, Bruce’s daughter, qualified for the US Olympic Equestrian team.

An Ohio state trooper saved a man’s life when he Heimliched a driver pulled over for speeding. The driver was choking on a baggie of marijuana he swallowed to hide from the officer. After coughing up the evidence, he was cited for speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and a misdemeanor for marijuana possession.

Two hundred white supremacists from Texas drove to Philadelphia to stir up trouble in the nation’s birthplace over the July 4th weekend. While marching around and chanting “The election was stolen!” they were summarily chased out of town by fed up citizens.

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email, follow on Facebook, or forward to a friend.

The week that was

It was so hot in Portland, Oregon that the streetcar cables melted.

Scientists say they have created a device to help fight the global obesity epidemic. It involves magnets which hold your jaw shut.

Two men were sunbathing naked on a beach in Australia when a deer startled them, chasing them into the bush. They got lost and needed to be rescued. Police fined them $1000 each for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

A TV news crew interviewing the Chief of Oakland, California’s Department of Violence Prevention was held up by armed robbers on Oakland City Hall steps.

Police in the Netherlands shut down a silent disco party because of noise complaints.

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email or forward to a friend.

Categorized as TWTW

The Flying Car

The AirCar is the flying car of our childhood dreams. Today a prototype completed an inaugural, 35-minute intercity flight from Nitra to Bratislava in western Slovakia.

The 35-minute flight cut normal travel time in half.

Although this is a maiden voyage, the company has a lot of experience.

The company has been working on its hybrid aircraft for more than 30 years. With 142 successful landings and over 40 hours of test flights under its belt.

AirCar prototype completes its first inter-city flight

Runways are needed on either end of your trip so you still need to look for an airport for takeoff and landings. An alternative approach is the Aska which is more like a folding helicopter that has wheels.

Either way, the future is here, if unevenly distributed.

The week that was

The Hubble Space Telescope glitched out and “stopped collecting science data.” NASA engineers work feverishly to get things working again but are running out of options as backup systems also failed.

The U.S. government released a report admitting that due to “lack of data” it can’t explain 143 of the 144 cases of UFOs that have been spotted in recent years.

5,000 racing pigeons mysteriously vanished during a race in the UK.

A man was arrested for stealing 42,000 pounds of pistachios.

A robot ship using artificial intelligence to retrace the voyage of the Mayflower turned back to England.

Temps spiked to a record 118 degrees in the Siberian arctic.

The South African decamom story from a few weeks ago was deflated.

The Norwegians, famous for squirreling away seeds in case of global disaster, announced they will also archive the “world’s most important music recordings.” Let the debate begin.

Canon has integrated its camera’s smile detection software into facial recognition hardware so that you need to smile before you can enter or reserve a conference room. We want to “encourage employees to create a positive atmosphere” said a Canon spokesperson.

The reintroduction of Tasmanian devils to a small Australian island may not have been such a great idea as they wiped out the entire population of little penguins.

A Greek computer scientist re-purposed computer eye-tracking software normally used in computer gaming hardware to enable someone to play the harp with their eyes.

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email or forward to a friend.