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The Year That Was – 2019 TWTW Round-up

Photo: The most popular image was this bit of graffiti at Hong Kong Polytechnic which I learned from commenters is a Winston Churchill quote. Seems appropriate to leave this here as Hong Kongers are still protesting since mid-March 2019.

So here it is, the top links from this year’s The Week That Was – these are the stories that most interested you this past year in order of popularity. Thank you for your time and attention this year and see you in the next!

Special Operations Command Is Experimenting With Bullets That Shoot Through Water – Defense One

A night of drinking, a closed strip joint and a White Castle shooting bring suspensions for 3 judges – CNN

Meet the $50 Strawberries That NYC’s High-End Chefs Are Fawning Over – Eater

Fake guns banned in downtown Las Vegas district, but real guns OK – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Tiny Hand Will Be Your New Comic Sans – BuzzFeed

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez Involved in Active Criminal Probe – Miami New Times

Memphis youth builds home nuclear fusion reactor – Memphis Commercial Appeal

I Just Took the World’s First 20-Hour Flight. Here’s What It Did to Me – Bloomberg

There’s a Dramatic Beef in the Quilting Community, Over a Pair of Scissors – Jezebel

Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years – BBC

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The week that was (12-21-19)

Photo credit: Electronic machine used to vote on articles of impeachment.

Jeep, the company behind four-wheeler brands such as Wrangler and Gladiator announced that its entire lineup will go hybrid or full-on electric by 2022

A sharp-eyed researcher discovered that Department of Agriculture listed Marvel’s mythical East African country, Wakanda, as a trading partner on a website built to track tariffs on nations signed on to the free trade agreement. The developer had forgotten to remove the test files from the prototype.

A woman in San Francisco, desperate to locate her dog, stolen while it was waiting for her outside a local grocery store, hired a plane for $7,000 to fly a banner with the website she set up to find her her dog. BTW, the website is www.bringjacksonhome.com/

Merck received FDA approval for the world’s first vaccine for the Ebola virus.

Now that it’s legal in increasingly more counties, marijuana has become a major export for the African country of Lesotho and a “critical piece of the government’s agricultural strategy.”

With the recent proliferation of metal credit cards, those looking for something more distinctive can opt for the $200,000, gemstone-encrusted Visa card from the Insignia Group.

San Francisco had to quietly revise the government’s well-intentioned blanket ban on facial recognition technology when they realized that the City Supervisors’ use of their government-issued iPhone Face ID was made illegal.

A shoplifter at a Walmart in Ohio was quickly apprehended when she made the poor choice to commit her crime during the annual Cops and Kids shopping event.

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The week that was (12-15-19)

A bank employee allegedly stole $88,000 from his bank and was found out after posing with stacks of cash, on his social media account.

An all-electric powered seaplane took off from Vancouver, Canada, in what the operators describe as a “world first” for the aviation industry.

The man who placed the winning $243,200 bid for Olivia Newton-John’s leather jacket that she wore in the movie Grease, returned it to her as a gift.

The art world continues to debate the significance of the duct-taped banana.

A beach in Northern California was overrun by thousands of penis fish.

A self-driving truck delivered 40,000 pounds of butter from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania, finishing a 2,800-mile-trip in under three days.

Photo credit: Tokyo from above

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The week that was (12-07-19)

Scientists at the University of Bath have developed an artificial neuron chip that behaves just like biological neurons.

A team of researchers in Poland worked on eye-tracking technology to give them hints at the ideally shape of a woman’s boob.

Finland just elected the youngest Prime Minister in the world. Sanna Marin is 34 and leads a coalition of four other parties, all led by women, three in their thirties.

Willie Nelson quit smoking weed. and Big Bird died.

Wal-Mart is selling the KFC-scented yule log that smells like warm fried chicken.

Someone duct-taped a banana to a wall and called it art, and sold two of them for $120K and another for $150K. Then a performance artist ate one in a performance he called, Hungry Artist.

Wasatch County in Utah has a tax revenue shortfall of $6 million when they realized that a single property was over-valued by $1 billion. “I’m thinking it was a data entry that would be something like they dropped their phone on the keyboard and it kicked out all these numbers without verifying,” said County Assessor Maureen “Buff” Griffiths.

Your long read of the week is a fantastic story of lost gold. The Fishermen’s Secret is told by The SF Chronicle.

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The week that was (turkey edition)

Someone hosted an entire Thanksgiving banquet (and all were invited) on a NYC subway L train.

The White House went into full lockdown on Tuesday when something violated the immediate airspace. No, it was not Governor Ernie Fletcher, just a flock of birds.

Someone starting posting advertisements for trips to Eroda. The only problem was that it doesn’t exist.

From the ‘this can’t be good’ department, mercury has been found in Northern California coastal mountain lions and researchers are fingering the famous regional fog as the culprit.

It’s been reported that Trump’s golfing budget exceeds $115 million. Considerably more (287-times more) than the annual presidential salary Trump promised to give up.

This week’s dystopian news comes from Moscow where farmers have concluded that cows jacked into VR projections of greener pastures have less anxiety and may potentially produce more and better tasting milk.

Lee Sedol, the former Go champion beaten by Google’s DeepMind AI, retired after declaring AI invincible. Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated’

Extra Credit: The amazing story of The Jungle Prince of Dehli is an fascinating read and wonderful four-part podcast.

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The week that was (11-22-19)

In Las Vegas you can be put away for 6 months or fined $1,000 for carrying around a fake or toy gun. But, because of Nevada’s open carry laws, it’s totally OK to walk around with a real firearm.

Frogmen can now emerge from the water, guns a-blazing now that US Special Ops has developed special bullets that can be fired underwater.

A man in Oregon, who lost his cat five years ago, got a call from someone who found Sasha, in New Mexico.

Things did not go well for three state superior court judges at an educational conference. 3am – strip club – White Castle parking lot – verbal altercation – gun.

Everyone was making fun of Trump’s giant, sharpie note. It was made into a Ramones song, compared it to his predecessor’s note, put in Morrissey voice, and made into a downloadable font.

A University of Miami professor who is the nation’s foremost expert on money laundering in Latin America got arrested for money laundering for Latin America.

There’s a hotel in Japan where you can spend the night for 100 yen, as long as you agree to livestream your entire stay.

A farmer in New Jersey is selling a box of eight perfect strawberries for $50.

Photo credit: Graffiti at Hong Kong Polytech

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The week that was (11-15-19)

The plan was to fly a private plane slow and low and dump 350 gallons of appropriately colored water to reveal the gender of their future baby. Unfortunately the aircraft, suddenly 350 gallons lighter, “aerodynamically stalled, impacted terrain, and came to rest inverted.”

NASA unveiled its first all-electric aircraft. This prototype will most definitely not be used for gender reveals.

Teenagers are pranking high schools with a new and unexploited vector – Google Maps photos. For some reason, Alf is showing up everywhere.

Burners are going mainstream. There are museum openings and there will soon be a musical. Burning Man the Musical follows Sparkle Pony, a recent college grad, and her journey of finding herself at Burning Man. The video promo is a must see.

In what most certainly will be one of their best-selling editions, Railway Modeller magazine ran an exclusive cover story on Rod Stewart’s “magnificent” layout.

Feral hogs raiding an Italian drug dealer’s cocaine stash was too good a headline to resist so everyone wrote about it.

The Baby Trump protest balloon was brutally murdered outside a University of Alabama football game when someone sliced it with a razor blade. There are now competing fundraising efforts, one for the Baby and one for the protestor.

In the Bay Area, a man was handcuffed and cited for eating a sandwich on a train platform. Outrage at the heavy-handed police action sparked sandwich-eating protests and “eat-ins.” BART later apologized.

66-year-old Tay Boon Keh was not happy with his working conditions as a baggage handler so he decided to extract revenge by swapping luggage tags on 286 bags, a real-life version of chaos engineering.

Aeroflot has stripped Mikhail Galin of his frequent flier miles for sneaking his cat into the cabin of an airplane. Viktor, his 17 lbs. cat, was clearly over the weight limit of in-cabin pets and his switcheroo scheme fell apart when he posted photos on Facebook.

Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy announced he’s going back into treatment for pancreatic cancer and one of the contestants showed his support and touched a chord.

For the second time in three years coastal Florida modified its building codes to account for rising sea levels caused by climate change. The Veneto regional council in Venice, Italy was not as wise.

All wildlife, including a herd of wild horses, were feared lost months ago when a storm surge swept their island home clean. All except for three cows who managed a 4-mile swim to the island where they were found this week adding new meaning to the phrase, “when the cows come home.”

A dad took a photo of his daughter every week, for 20 years

Photo credit: from r/AccidentalRenaissance

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The week that was (11-8-19)

So Oliva Newton-John’s iconic leather jacket and skintight pants she wore in the movie Grease ended up going for over $400,000. Next up are Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk socks that Footwear News optimistically expects to fetch over $1 million.

Russia decided to crack down on hip-hop music because of it’s rebellious and anti-authoritarian message, which made it even more popular.

The makers of the game Grand Theft Auto have not paid corporate tax for the past 10 years.

Stepping up their service animal game, one person brought a small horse on the BART train.

The Marines are getting soft. Umbrellas are now allowed, “at their option during inclement weather.”

UC San Diego is experimenting with roads made from recycled plastic.

Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry stepped down after being accused of gifting his constituents over-priced melons.

A Virginia woman who was fired from her job at a federal contractor after flipping off President Trump’s motorcade in 2017 turned her political frustrations into action, and won a local election on Tuesday.

Krispy Kreme realized they had a PR disaster on their hands when the news got out that they were cease-and-desisting one student entrepreneur’s grey market importing operation. They backed off and will pay for his college tuition as well.

We learned that Google serves pizza topped, upon special request, with mealworms.

Enjoy your lunch!

Photo credit: Senator Mitch McConnell gets photo-bombed

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The week that was (11-1-19)

A California-based company has developed a digital camera no larger than a grain of sand. It is designed to be swallowed or even injected for medical diagnoses.

California signed into law the roadkill bill that allows for meat salvaged from roadways to be cooked and eaten. On the other side of the country, researchers at the University of Richmond taught rats how to drive.

Russian scientists tracking migrating eagles were bankrupted after some of the birds took unexpected detours to Iran and Pakistan and their SMS transmitters generated huge data roaming charges.

Moscow police are charging a man for using a cat as a weapon.

The Reagan Presidential Library was saved from a wild grass fire by a herd of goats set loose on a hillside to clear away brush and create a fire break.

A Michigan couple posted a video of what appeared to be a satellite that crash- landed in their backyard. A few hours later, someone from Raven Industries (one of the makers of the satellite) collected the wreckage but offered no details about the device or what had happened.

Mourners at a funeral in Germany experienced nausea and dizziness after eating the wrong cake at a restaurant. The “hash cake” was for a separate occasion.

A suspicious package at a train station in Metro New York turned out to be an emergency call device for people to report suspicious packages.

An Indonesian man who helped draft strict adultery laws that called for public floggings as punishment was publicly flogged when he was caught for adultery.

Rather than preventing illegal border crossings, President Trump’s border wall is enabling them. Migrants are donning orange work vests and blending with the construction crews until they can later slip and cross over, undetected.

A bottle of whisky was auctioned off for $1.9 million. Kurt Cobain’s cardigan sold for $334,000 and Oliva Newton-John’s leather jacket and pants from Grease are expected to fetch $200k.

After discovering that their online game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was being used as part of massive money laundering scheme, Valve blocked the trading of weapons and cosmetic upgrades on their online marketplace.

The UK was given an extension by the EU beyond the October 31 planned date for Brexit. This proved inconvenient for the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer who had to quietly announce that they will be melting down the millions of commemorative coins minted for the occasion.

A man dressed as Jesus for Halloween sucker-punched a San Diego police officer when the policeman tried to break up a brawl involving Jesus and others. Police are still looking for Jesus.

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The week that was (10-25-19)

Soaring demand for avocado (to spread on toast?) has lead to extortion, kidnapping and theft in Mexico where it is referred to as “green gold.” Further north, apple thieves snuck onto a family farm and stole more than 3 tons of fruit right off of the trees. Meanwhile, there is a record surplus of bacon.

A man was airlifted was airlifted to a local Alabama hospital after being run over by his own four wheeler operated by his dog.

Face-to-face with a cougar on a mountain trail, Dee Gallant had to think quickly. She reached into her pocked and flipped thru her phone’s music library, set it on speaker and played Metallica.

Tan, a real estate developer in China paid Xi, a hitman, to take out his competitor, Wei. As is popular in the construction industry, the Xi subcontracted the job to Mo, who hired Yang, who hired another Yang, who hired Ling. The whole thing fell apart and Tan, Xi, Mo, the two Yangs, and Ling were all hauled into court and sentenced to intentional homicide.

Scientists have developed a skin-like mobile phone case that responds to being pinched and tickled. Tapping on the surface can be interpreted as seeking attention while stroking can be associated with providing comfort.

In order to prevent students from the sidelong glance during testing, Bhagat Pre-University College in southern India put cardboard boxes on the student’s heads.

A Bangladeshi lawmaker has been expelled from university after allegedly hiring as many as eight lookalikes to take exams in her place.

A former Apple lawyer in charge of preventing insider trading was indicted for insider trading.

Mats Järlström, a Swedish engineer visiting Oregon, challenged and successfully reversed his wife’s traffic violation there with a judgement that ended up changing the timing of traffic lights around the world. Never cross an engineer.

Qantas Airways completed the longest, non-stop passenger flight ever. Forty-nine passengers flew for 19 hours and 16 minutes from New York to Sydney. One Bloomberg reporter was on board and wrote about it.

The Society of Professional Journalists have trademarked the term “fake news” and plan to send the president a cease and desist notice for using the term incorrectly.