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TWTW

The week that was

Supreme published its latest collection of branded goods including Ziploc bags, an Oreo cookie and even a Mac Tools rolling toolbox. The Oreos are already re-selling on eBay for $4000.

Do you miss the sweet smell of McDonald’s ketchup? What about the pickles or hamburgers? Not to worry, the golden arches will sell you a set of scented candles. Eater, points out the idea is to light all six candles to re-create the smell of a quarter-pounder. Ugh.

People in Mexico have figured out that they can get over Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall with about $5 of re-bar.

An Indiana man with a Crime Pays tattoo on his forehead was arrested, again.

The emotional support animal bar was raised yet again (remember peacocks and alligators?) when Ronica Froese flew first-class with her mini service horse.

The coronavirus scare has driven up the price of essential goods in Hong Kong, including toilet paper. So much so, opportunistic gang members held up a supermarket and stole 600 rolls.

Climate change has hit the European ski resorts hard. So hard some resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees are bringing snow to their slopes with helicopters.

Tesla cars are smart. They come with cameras that can read speed limit signs and set their speed accordingly. Telsas are dumb. Hackers used some black tape to fool the car to rapidly accelerate from 35 to 85.

Glen Davis drove a school bus in Minnesota since his graduation from high school in 1949. He enjoyed driving the bus so much, he asked to be buried in a lovingly custom-built, school bus casket.

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TWTW

The week that was

Aided by 200 MPH tailwinds, a British Airways flight set the record for the fastest commercial flight from New York to London. Flight 112 made the trip just under 5 hours, 80 minutes ahead of schedule.

In San Francisco, similarly strong winds blew the glass out of the 41st floor of the hapless and slightly-leaning Millennium Tower.

In a touching application of VR technology, a South Korean mother was able to play with her deceased young daughter.

A small museum in Pennsylvania sent out one of their older paintings for a routine cleaning and was informed that said painting was a 400-year old Rembrandt.

The Girl Scouts are out with cookies again so everyone’s got a story of the entrepreneurial ones setting up shop outside their local marijuana dispensary.

Prescription medication is so expensive in Utah one insurance company is sending its workers to Mexico or Canada to pick up medicine for its members.

Engineers in Hong Kong have figured out how to harness electricity from raindrops.

Modern Farmer reports that someone has invented an autonomous robot that can weed your garden.

Someone fell for one of those phishing emails. Unfortunately that someone was a worker for the government of Puerto Rico and they ended up transferring 2.6 million taxpayer dollars to a fraudulent account.

She thought something was funny about her date. He insisted she come pick her up in her car. He then asked her to stop by a bank for a quick moment. Her fears were confirmed when “he came running back, sweating with sunglasses, a hat, a gun and $1,000 cash in hand.”

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TWTW

The week that was

Kansas City beat San Francisco in the Super Bowl. It’s been a long time coming for KC (50 years for those counting) so residents were excited to see their team win, disrupting weather radar with their fireworks and setting couches on fire.

Kansas’ defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi melted everyone’s heart when he lay down in the celebratory confetti (made up of fan’s hopeful tweets), made a snow angel, then went out and paid off the adoption fees for all dogs in the area.

A performance artist made headlines when he caused a virtual traffic jam on Google Maps towing a wagon full of burner phones running Google Maps across various bridges in Berlin.

The Philadelphia Flyers mascot, Gritty, was cleared of physical assault after a tussle with a fan. Tough town, Philly is.

Costa Rica announced that it gets its energy from nearly 100% renewable sources.

A draft executive order titled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” proposes strict guidelines for acceptable design. Following the tradition of “Mussolini, Franco and a particular failed German art student (who) all pushed for a singular, classically inspired state architecture intended to project tradition, order and the superiority of the state.”

It was determined that the Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry last year, by a large margin.

Keith Richards announced he hasn’t smoked a cigarette since October.

A parking space in San Francisco went on the market for $100,000. A bargain compared to the one, “closer to the lobby” that went for $140k.

A Oakland man rammed a police car and sped off hoping for a quick getaway but things didn’t quite work out that way when all four tires on his car fell off.

They thought they were so clever, hiding all their drugs in two bags with the words Bag Full of Drugs blazoned on the side. “They’ll never look in here,” they must have thought to themselves. They were wrong.

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Home

High Tech Alameda

Ever since they shut down the Air Naval Station on the western end of Alameda, there has been a number of cool businesses that have moved in to call the leftover gigantic air hangers their home.

St. George’s Spirits – a required stop when visiting the island – they offer tours of their distillery floor and will tell tales of their innovations and experiments that have resulted in the first modern (legal) absinthe and their award-winning single malt. Be sure to ask them about their wasabi vodka experiment.

The Bladium – when you’ve got an entire hanger, you can do a lot with the space. There’s a boxing ring and an indoor rock wall.

Rock Wall Winery – speaking of rock wall, Rock Wall was founded by the daughter of Kent Rosenblum who ran a very successful winery down the street.

The Rake – a pub attached to Admiral Maltings. They serve up beers that are brewed using their malts. Their beers are, of course, wonderful but the whole WPA, union shop design ethic is really cool too.

The Rake at Admiral Maltings

The Ocean Cleanup – boy genius Boyan Slat threw out an idea at a Ted talk and proposed a clean-up of all the plastic in the ocean. When it came time build a huge boom that they sent out into the Pacific Ocean to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, he chose Alameda. They are also working on a thing I call Roomba for Rivers.

Makani – a Google X graduate, this “moonshot” make huge kites which they fly in the jet stream and use to harness power.

Astra – just out of stealth, this rocket start-up that looks like a garage project that went pro. Astra has hired on some big guns and aims to launch their micro-rockets on a regular (daily) basis to serve the soon-to-be-booming commercial space industry. They will not launch out of Alameda but they found a jet engine testing facility from the Naval Air Station perfect for their undercover tests.

There are more on the way I’m sure – the old Mythbusters used to use the runway to blow stuff up. That same runway has been used to test drive an autonomous motorcycle startup of an unknown name and the movie studio behind The Matrix movies is back for more filming of their dystopian universe.

Who knows what will be next.

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TWTW

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.

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Current Events

Factiva

Factiva Launch Video

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.

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.

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Current Events

#TakeOneWeek

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.

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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’

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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
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Office

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

NYC

Media BD – Partner Relations, Business Development Associate

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