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The week that was

As the capitol rioters start coming before judges, we are seeing a variety of creative defense strategies. Former Houston police Officer Tam Dinh Pham says he broke into the Capitol “to see the art.”

Cosplay is big business and Japan wants to cash in. Under a proposed extension of copyright law, Japan’s professional cosplayers would have to pay for use of the characters they bring to life.

A 58-year-old woman in France was declared dead by a French appeals court and she has been spending her life trying to untangle the legal imbroglio and prove she is still very much alive.

An IRS agent who was responsible for investigating criminal activity was arrested for falsifying bank statements and paychecks in order to purchase a three bedroom duplex on the UES of Manhattan.

A casino company CEO and his wife allegedly chartered a plane to a remote Indigenous community in Canada and pretended to be members in order to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Oregon health workers, stuck in a snowstorm with several coronavirus vaccine doses that were about to go bad, walked down the line of stranded cars giving shots to anyone that wanted one.

A South Carolina town that was having trouble running its drive thru vaccination clinic hired local a Chick-fil-A manager to direct traffic. “When you need help, call the pros,” he said.

Four airline travelers in China, trying to avoid extra fees for their 30kg box of oranges, decided to eat the contents at the gate, in 30 minutes. And made the news. “We never want to have any oranges again,” Wang said.

A snowy owl visited Central Park.

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.

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The week that was

I took last week off to reset. Both to shake out four year’s worth of fight-or-flight crouching and also to finish moving into a new home. I’m now a New Yorker!

Feeling much more relieved and refreshed. Now back to the groove. Here’s some news I dropped in the basket over the past two weeks.

Some countries have amnesty programs for crimes previously committed but in England they just press the delete key.

A San Francisco developer who has $220 million in Bitcoin stored on a hard drive has only two guesses at the password (which he has long since forgotten) before he’s locked out permanently. He seems at peace with it though.

12 bottles of Bordeaux came back to earth after spending a year aging in weightlessness at the International Space Station as part of an experiment funded by, you guessed it, the French. No word on if any bottles were consumed in space.

Oakley, known for their sports sunglasses, solved the foggy-glasses-because-of-mask problem with a new design, meet the MSK3.

Coronavirus infections are spreading in China again and Covid-19 has now been detected in the ice cream supply.

It was revealed that Rudy Giuliani, who pinned much of his legal attack on the legitimacy of the presidential election on provisional ballots, voted with a provisional ballot.

Its future may be uncertain under the new administration but at least the Space Force knows that its HQ will be in Alabama.

A top gamer has retired from the professional circuit at 25 because of an injury to his thumb.

The Queen Mary went bankrupt.

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.

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The week that was

It’s tough to be pithy after this week but here it goes:

The official hockey puck of the NHL will change for the first time in the league’s history. Each 6-ounce hunk of vulcanized rubber will be embedded with a battery-powered infrared light to help track the tiny puck to make it more visible on the TV.

The collectable community was in shock to learn that a shipment of rare Goku statues were lost at sea when the ship on which they travelled was caught in a storm that tipped its containers (almost 1,800 of them) into the sea.

44 hospital workers were infected with Covid-19 after a staff member walked though the emergency room in an air-powered inflatable Christmas Tree costume. “Obviously, we will no longer allow air-powered costumes at our facilities,” stated the spokesperson for the hospital.

The freezer storing Covid vaccines broke down and a Northern California town went into overdrive to quickly vaccinate 600 people as fast as they could, before the vaccines spoiled.

Hipster bicycle saddles from the 140-year old Brooks company are no longer available in England where they are manufactured because Brexit tariffs make them prohibitively costly to ship from their Italian distribution center back into the UK.

The irony desk reports that rioters who broke into the US Capitol may face up to 10 years in prison under President Trump’s executive order designed to protect various statues and monuments from Black Lives Matter protestors. Also, a woman carrying a Don’t Tread on Me flag was tragically trampled in the rush to get into the Capitol building.

The fallout from Wednesday’s riot in DC continues as the FBI combs through social media to identify the clearly identified maskless perpetrators. The dragnet has netted so far:

Contested election results aside, a dead heat in the Dickinson, Texas mayoral campaign was decided in accordance to the local election law, by drawing a name out of a hat.

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.

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2020: In Hindsight

Each week I highlight a handful of stories that I run across during the course of my work. I try and pick stories that might have been missed, ones that celebrate our quirky nature as fallible human beings. It’s a labor of love that distracts me from the breathless grind of the daily headlines and helps to mark the passage of time.

If you’re a regular reader, thank you! If not, you can always read The Week That Was on this site or subscribe to the newsletter for something to read as you start your weekend.

This week is a year-end run down of the most popular stories that readers clicked on in 2020. You picked some real doozies and it’s fun to go back pull them up. I’ve adjusted the rankings a bit because the number of subscribers to the TWTW newsletter grew over the year so more recent posts got more airtime and thus more clicks.

On to the countdown:

10 The caper of the small town in Wales that kept losing its internet at the same time every day and the delightful resolution.

9 The man who blew up part of his house while chasing a fly.

8 The hapless Frenchman who pulled the wrong lever while riding along in a jet fighter.

7 The weather reporter who inadvertently activated Facebook filters while broadcasting.

6 The San Francisco thug that made the mistake of attacking a portrait artist with a photographic memory.

5 The story of the Walla Walla onions that tripped off Facebook’s porn filter.

4 The story of the “weird-ass” Soviet propaganda-themed cookie monster mural in Peoria.

3 The robot guard dogs working at the Air Force base in Nevada. BTW, if you liked that one, you should really check out what their siblings are doing.

2 Y’all loved Oreo’s tear-jerker mini-movie posted on Twitter, #proudparent.

1 But the most popular link of the year? The thing you came back to and watched multiple times? I think this says something about 2020 and the year it’s been? Maybe it indicates our collective yearning for simpler times. Here it is, a video of popcorn popping in ultra-slow motion.

Have a wonderful and peaceful (as in the contemplative, 108-tolls on the buddhist temple bell) New Year’s Eve. It’s been a tough year, I’m happy to pass it by and leave it behind. Let’s now turn and face forward and collectively squint at the faint sliver of a sunrise on the horizon.

See you next year.

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.

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The week that was

An artist visiting NYC from Budapest posed as a Hungarian billionaire in order to visit luxury apartments in Manhattan, take photos, and publish a coffee table photo book.

The president of Chile was fined the equivalent of $3,500 for breaking protocol because he took off his mask to pose for a selfie on the beach.

The Monolith appeared once again, this time in Quincy, Massachusetts, with a crop circle.

Portland residents reported and animal looked like a cheetah, but “did not appear to be aggressive.” Deputy Sullivan used his “ninja-like skills to sneak up on the beast” only discover it was a stuffed animal.

If you’re still looking for a post-Christmas gift, may we suggest the Louis Vitton monogramed kite for a mere $10,400? (screenshot for posterity)

Scientists now think that early humans survived the long winters by hibernating. Now I know where my tendency to nap comes from.

Not to knock the scientific achievement but the headline of this piece is way more impressive than the actual result.

Hope you had a wonderful and safely intimate Christmas. TWTW will be early next week with our 2020 (good riddance) wrap-up.

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.

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The week that was

A man visiting Taiwan was fined over $3,500 for leaving his hotel room and breaking his quarantine for 8 seconds.

Nearly 50 children were exposed to Covid-19 when Santa and Ms. Claus tested positive following a tree-lighting event and photo op in Georgia.

Bored rescue workers in central China equipped their rescue drone with a petrol tank and nozzle to eliminate treetop wasp nests.

A San Francisco-based ramen maker is developing a self-driving, autonomous ramen-delivery robot.

Amazon is selling Chaos as a Service.

Several important relics from the Great Pyramid of Giza that have been missing for the past 150 years were discovered in a cigar box, in northeast Scotland.

A study estimates the weight of all things human-made, the anthropogenic mass, doubled in the last 20-years and now weighs the same as all of Earth’s living biomass.

After stalking an air-conditioning repairman for four days, a former Houston police captain was arrested for running him off the road and forcing him to the ground at gunpoint. The former policeman believed the repairman had 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck. All that was found were air-conditioning parts and tools.

While investigating the devastating SolarWinds cyber-attack, a security researcher discovered the update server responsible for spreading the tainted update was protected by the password “solarwinds123”

The Dutch hacker who broke into President Trump’s twitter account in October revealed that he was able to guess the password, “MAGA2020!”

Atlantic City, New Jersey is auctioning off the chance to press the button that blows up the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino.

A man in upstate New York was rescued after spending 10 hours trapped in his car which was completely covered by a mountain of snow from a passing snowplow.

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.

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The week that was

Italian police used a Lamborghini to transport a donor kidney 300 miles in two hours. The car kept up an average speed of 143 mph.

In Belgium, a racing pigeon was sold at an auction for $1.9 million. The winning bid from a wealthy Chinese pigeon racing fan.

A commercial airliner struck a brown bear while landing in Southeast Alaska.

You can now buy bacon-flavored beer if that’s your thing. Waffle House at least thought it a good idea.

Theatre TikTok has been hard at work collaborating on a musical version of the Ratatouille story from Pixar. It’s really coming along and starting to get professional attention.

Microplastics, discovered two years ago in the Mariana Trench, was found at the summit of Mount Everest. “It really surprised me to find microplastics in every single snow sample” said Imogen Napper, the author of the report.

Harper’s Index tells us the US set all-time record highs for coronavirus cases and coronavirus hospitalizations while simultaneously topping out the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 stock-market indexes.

Covid came to Loving, the last Covid-free county in Texas. The Prime Minister of Samoa appeared on national television to announce to citizens the first positive test result in the small Pacific island nation.

The Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng, as the first woman General Manager of a Major League Baseball team.

Last week, New Yorkers teamed up to transport 17-pound sick swan to safety on the the A train. This week an owl was discovered wrapped up in this year’s Rockefeller tree bewildered, famous and available as a bobblehead.

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.

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The week that was

I know there was an election last week. Everyone’s talking about it. There are plenty of hilarious riffs on it too. Here’s what else happened while we were glued to the election.

A Florida man was mauled by a black leopard after paying $150 for a “full-contact experience” with the wild animal.

A Florida woman stopped by her polling place to vote, while on her way to the hospital to deliver her baby.

David Andahl won a seat in the North Dakota state legislature. Unfortunately, Mr. Andahl perished from Covid-19 in October.

Things did not start out well at the “roborace” for autonomous cars when one car took a hard right into a wall.

After multiple trips to Mars to look for signs of water, earthbound scientists say they found evidence in a meteor they found in our very own Sahara Desert.

Two men in India were arrested for conning some poor sap to pay them £72,000 for a tattered hunk of metal they swore was “Aladdin’s lamp.”

If you didn’t hear about the whale sculpture that caught the runaway Dutch train, read on.

We must count every vote – even if it’s late. But maybe not 41-years late.

Australian scientists discovered a massive, free-standing coral reef that rises 1600 feet off the ocean floor, making it taller than the Empire State Building.

Costco pulled coconut water off its shelves when they were informed that the vendor of that product forced monkey slaves to harvest the coconuts.

Donald Trump claimed the election was stolen from him and the votes against him were fake. DC voters also overwhelming voted to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms.

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.

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The week that was

Times are a-changin’ in San Francisco. The last blinking billboard within the city limits, the old Coca-Cola sign that sat at 5th & Bryant since 1937, was taken down. Downtown a developer closed on the purchase of the Transamerica Pyramid building for $650 million, a $61 million discount off the price agreed upon before the pandemic.

Trump’s campaign website was briefly hacked and someone guessed the Florida Governor’s online voter registration password (his birthday) and changed his address “to a small apartment more than 400 miles away.”

A spat between the Pimco co-founder Bill Gross and his neighbor over a delicate Dale Chihuly glass sculpture devolved into multiple visits by the Laguna Beach police and allegations that the billionaire bond king “blared the Gilligan’s Island theme song on a loop at all hours to annoy his neighbor.”

A Scottish cancer patient had part of her shin bone removed, taken away and treated with radiation at another hospital, and then returned and replaced.

Floods from climate change are impacting famed guitar maker Fender’s access to Swamp Ash wood used in its Stratocaster guitars.

A police chief in the Philippines sent to break up an illegal cockfight was killed, by one of the cocks.

Poor QA and sub-optimal translations caused much embarrassment for Amazon at the launch of its Swedish site. Someone confused the Argentinian flag for Swedish one and products featuring cats were described with the lewd double meaning of the word “pussy”

People keep calling the East Dallas police on Steven Novak’s hyper-realistic, crime scene lawn display. While some people embrace Halloween hijinks, Novak gives them a bear hug.

All you news junkies out there can purchase a Newsroom Scent candle to keep you company on Election Night. It smells of late deadlines, stressed editors, free pizza, lukewarm coffee and democracy.

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.

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The week that was

HBO host John Oliver traveled to Danbury, Connecticut to celebrate the renaming of the town sewage plant to the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant. The ceremony marked the end of a months-long playful spat with the town. Oliver remarked on his show “at the end of this awful, awful year, what could be more important than evidence that, if we want to, we can come together, overcome our differences and sort our shit out.

A troupe of yodelers who held two sing-along concerts in a small town in Switzerland have been fingered for a recent spike in Covid-19 infections. The performers were unmasked so as not to impede their yodeling as they played to an indoor audience.

A Swiss couple named their baby girl Twifia so they could get 18 years of free wifi.

Online conversations at a virtual paleontology conference ground to a halt when discussions became disjointed and hard to follow due to an overzealous profanity filter. Automatically censored words such as bone, stream, and beaver made chatting amongst the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology attendees a comical game of charades. The vendor of the platform (ironically named Convey Services) was not available to convey their comment.

A rapper who boasted on a YouTube video about getting rich off of unemployment benefits was arrested for committing unemployment benefits fraud.

All eyes are on Georgia state Representative Vernon Jones who threw CDC cautions to the wind and crowd-surfed sans mask over a crowd of maskless supporters.

Commuters in Brooklyn were put out when the Greenpoint public ferry stop was taken out of service because the Australian developers who owned the surrounding land and pier blocked access. The mayor called it a “quizzical situation.”

The race is on to monetize parents with young kids by putting up paywalls around nostalgia. First to go were Ernie & Bert and the Sesame Street gang which moved to HBO, this week it was announced that Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin and Christmas specials will only be available on Apple TV. As far as we know, the Heat Miser and Schwartz, Flick and the flagpole will still be available for appointment television.

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.