The week that was

Oscar Mayer is looking for new drivers of their famous Wienermobiles after a probably now former driver was pulled over for speeding in Wisconsin. Yep, that’s them up above.

A Tennessee man, hauled into court to appear before a judge on marijuana possession charges, “casually reached into his pocket, pulled a joint and brazenly lit it while talking about how marijuana should be legalized in the state.”

Scientists have figured out how to keep their robots from overheating. They make them sweat.

The Trump Wall project isn’t going so well. Parts of it have fallen over in the wind. Because of seasonal flash floods, it now looks like they will literally have to open hundreds of flood gates in the wall for months at a time “to prevent flash floods from undermining or knocking it over.”

A Florida man, already facing drug charges, went a wee bit crazy with the technicolor Jackson Pollock effect on his house, mailbox, car, and trees and the neighbors are not pleased.

Luxury brand Louis Vuitton is opening up a restaurant in Osaka, Japan. Depending on how that goes, they may open up a hotel. Game console maker Atari is already working on their first hotel in Phoenix.

If you’re still looking for that special, romantic place for Valentine’s Day dinner, Waffle House is taking reservations.

Rent is so expensive in San Francisco that one developer is planning to rent out bunk beds in a basement for over $1000/month. They are marketed as “sleeping pods.”

Wondering how the senators keep going during hours and hours of presentations during the impeachment trial? I’m glad you asked.

For the first time in 54 years we have two teams that wear a red jersey to their home games. KC gets to wear red if you’re wondering. Enjoy the game but don’t drink too much and end up like the Mayor of Mahwah.



In 1999 I was at the founding of Factiva, a joint venture between Dow Jones and Reuters, two of the leading news organizations at the time. This global JV brought together the news archival databases of both companies and made them available “on the web” which was a big deal back then.

Factiva Launch Video

With the right information, our possibilities are endless.

The Factiva product had a super-complicated search UI which allowed you to create complex search statements that could find articles that mentioned Ford and Aardvark in the first paragraph within 5 words of each other but only in articles written by Phillip Roth (no, I do not think such an article exists btw). This database had over 9,000 newspapers, magazines and news wires. Every single article going back decades, fully indexed and fielded for detailed spelunking. The web was only a minor side tab, we crawled something like 300 sites.

With the right information, we can seize opportunities we never realized we had.

Factiva was a huge business, 26 offices around the world, hundreds of millions in revenue each year. We sold our product to the top global companies around the world. We consulted with them on their information needs and delivered the news and information they needed to run their business. We thought we were hot shit.

If information is going to be our most valuable asset, facts will be its currency.

Playing back the marketing launch video at the top of the post, its funny how innocent it all sounds. All you need are facts to make the world a better place. With facts, all will be right.

Every fact can invigorate and improve the way we think.

Today our elected leaders will decide if testimony and documents from key individuals with first hand knowledge of the Ukraine/Biden/Zelensky affair are necessary to pass judgement on Trump’s impeachment. I really hope our Senators answer a higher calling and #TakeOneWeek to remove any doubt but I’ve become too cynical to see that happening. Facts are not needed in the “pick your truth” world we live in today.

Just imagine what we can do with hundreds and thousands of facts at our fingertips.

So back the Factiva promo video. 1999 was a time when information was scarce. You usually had to work with a corporate “information professional” to use specialized databases to locate and find what you needed. Information was mediated, curated by editors and fact-checked by many layers of the media ecosystem.

Today it’s the opposite – we have such easy and direct access to information that it’s time, focus and attention that are scarce. Because our attention is limited and we are bombarded with shiny things on the internet to look at (and of course, share), news organizations need to hoot, scream and holler to get and, more importantly, hold our attention.

I was hoping that our leaders would rise to their test during this impeachment trial but I fear this will not be the case, they will vote in their own self-interest, circling the wagons to protect themselves. It will be up to us, the public citizens, to seek out facts and the truth and hold our leaders accountable.

Current Events


As we get closer to tomorrow’s vote on additional witnesses, Adam Schiff pleaded to the Republican Senator’s conscience to set aside one week to prepare depositions.

I think we can. I think we should. I think we must.

Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii was not so subtle.

Current Events

Smaht Pahk

Hyundai celebrates the Boston accent

Perhaps Hyundai was over-confident that the Pats would make the Super Bowl again and had already finished this commercial and didn’t want to see it go to waste. If so, I’m glad they didn’t because this is gem.

Appearance by Chris Evans, John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch, and local hero David “Big Papi” Ortiz.

By popular demand, here’s SNL on the New England institution that is Dunkin’

Current Events

Two Sides

I hate to pitch politics as just one side vs. the other because it ignores the fact that we’re all Americans (shout out to the guy in the MAGA hat that waved and cheered me on my morning run) and are lucky that we even have the luxury to debate issues and participate in a political process, however flawed it may be.

Adam Schiff closing arguments

Here are the closing arguments of the impeachment trial. It’s instructive to place them side-by-side and compare style and substance.

Pat Cipollone closing arguments

Let’s see how things go over the next two days in the Q&A portion of the trial. Please focus on the facts, try and remain objective while the political winds swirl around us. Everyone is speaking to a camera.

While watching, I’ll be keeping these words from New Yorker columnist, Jia Tolentino in mind.

The early internet had been constructed around lines of affinity and openness. But when the internet moved to an organizing principle of opposition, much of what had formerly been surprising and rewarding and curious became tedious, noxious, and grim.

This shift partly reflects basic social physics. Having a mutual enemy is a quick way to make a friend—we learn this as early as elementary school—and politically, it’s much easier to organize people against something than it is to unite them in an affirmative vision. And, within the economy of attention, conflict always gets more people to look.

Excerpted by Ezra Klein in Why the media is so polarized – and how it polarizes us

SmartNews Jobs

In case you missed it, SmartNews had a big round of funding last year which we are using to staff up positions here in the United States. While we’ve always had openings for machine learning engineers (doesn’t everyone?) we now are also staffing up in Product, Marketing, and Biz Dev.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these roles, let me know!

San Francisco

Product – Business Intelligence Analyst

Product – Design Manager

Product – Data Scientist

Marketing – Senior Partnerships Manager

Engineering – Staff Software Engineer, System Generalist


Media BD – Partner Relations, Business Development Associate

More positions including openings in Engineering and in our Tokyo office posted here.

Current Events

Coronavirus visualization

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins is pulling together data from the WHO and CDC and two Chinese health site, the NHC and Dingxiangyuan into a Google Sheet the drives the visualization above.

You can read more about the map and how they put it together on their blog.

In California the SF Chronicle launched a California tracker.
Closer to home, Alameda has this crowdsourced effort.

The week that was

After driving around waiting for a calling from God, Nadejda Reilly decided to take it up a notch and drive into the path of an oncoming car. Local police charged her with aggravated assault for causing a wreck an injuring two people.

In India, a man suffered lacerations to his neck while taking his rooster to a cockfight when his prized bird turned on him instead.

Temps dropped to below 40 in Florida so it rained iguanas again.

Canadian Neil Young was finally granted US citizenship after his application was held up because of his long history of smoking weed.

In Italy medical marijuana is now apparently free of charge and apparently grown by the Italian Army.

If one Arizona lawmaker gets his way, it will become a felony to lick ice cream and put it back in the store cooler.

Nearly 100,000 gallons of cabernet sauvignon spilled into a river in Northern California at the Rodney Strong winery.

A man with ‘murder’ tattooed across his face sentenced for murder.

Several furries attending a nearby convention stopped a domestic assault, pulling the offender from his car and sitting on him until police arrived.

A Detroit man, trying to deposit a settlement check from a racial discrimination lawsuit against his employer, was refused by a bank that later called the four police officers on him and initiated a fraud investigation. So he sued the bank for racial discrimination.

Oh, and just in case you didn’t think the world is about to end – ‘Unprecedented’ Swarms of Locusts have descended on East Africa

Have a great weekend everyone!

Current Events

Kilian Jornet

Spanish ultra marathoner Kilian Jornet is crazy. He apparently climbed Mt. Everest twice in one week (although there is some controversy about that claim) and holds the Fastest Known Time for ascents of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.

A runner and a BASE jumper race on the Romsdalshorn in Norway

His latest stunt was to race a someone up and down a 1500 foot mountain in Norway with the catch that his competition had a wingsuit so he could literally fly down. Stating the obvious, Kilian says, “he would be quick to climb and of course very fast on the way down.” (via Runner’s W0rld)

Current Events

Nike on Chinese Culture

Nike has done it again, this time capturing the sometimes comic ritual of gift-giving (in this case, the tradition of hongbao red envelopes given out during the Chinese New Year) in Asian culture.

These envelopes are often filled with money and given to children by elder relatives for good luck. The 90-second spot from Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai depicts a cat-and-mouse game between an aunt attempting to give an envelope and her niece who repeatedly declines out of politeness.

The Drum

Hat tip to my son Tyler who has always had his finger on the pulse of pop culture.