The week that was

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.


The week that was

Los Angeles has hired robots to police one of its parks but it’s not working out. When a woman tried to report a crime, the robot told her to go away and then “trundled away while singing a song . . . pausing periodically to say ‘Please keep the park clean.’

Eliud Kipchoge, a 34-year old Kenyan, broke the two-hour barrier for the marathon. But it wasn’t exactly a marathon. To hit 1:59:40 in 26.2 miles you would need to run approximately 4:30 minutes/mile 26-times in a row!

Scholars in Japan found a missing chapter from The Tale of Genji in a storage closet. Game of Thrones fans complained about the one-year hiatus until the final season. The Tale’s final chapter had been missing since the 11th century. Junko Yamamoto, a professor who specializes in literature of the Heian Period could hardly contain her excitement.

A 73-year-old activist Berliner was arrested and fined for painting over racist and xenophobic graffiti with hearts.

Maybe just make the graffiti invisible? A Canadian company has invented something they call Quantum Stealth, “material is as thin as paper, inexpensive, and requires no power source” that can make things effectively invisible.

A GOP congressman (and former Army staff sergeant) wished the US Navy happy birthday on twitter with a photo of a battleship that others helpfully pointed out was a Kirov-class battlecruiser in the Russian navy.

The Air Force upgraded its nuclear missile command and control centers so they no longer require 1970s era 8-inch floppy disks.

The mayor of a village in rural Italy is blaming Google Maps for sending tourists down impassable roads where they get stuck and have to be rescued. In the past year, they’ve had to send out the local mountain rescue team 144 times.

Of course you could just send your robot. In a curious case of technology looking for a use, Japanese airline ANA unveiled a robot that they say will allow people to “experience faraway places without having to travel there.”

Isn’t the journey half the fun? Unless you’re on Amtrak.

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 (10-11-19)

A Nigerian palace announced that its resident tortoise has died following a short illness. Alagba, which means elderly one was 344 years old.

After hearing about the new border wall designed so that no one can climb over it, a group of rock climbers built an exact replica and held a contest to see if anyone could make it over. One climber was up and over in 40 seconds and eight-year old made it as well.

The Glenlivet company took inspiration from the Tide Pod controversy and designed a new way to consume their whiskey.

A Seattle man broke into an office building downtown and “devoured” $200 of chocolate and promptly passed out. Sugar coma?

An agricultural researcher discovered that pigs use tools to prepare their nests.

The Sacramento Kings basketball team is getting into crypto and will be giving their fans an Ethereum-based crypto coin which can be redeemed for future games or concessions within the stadium.

The Spanish maritime patrol agents were in hot pursuit of drug smugglers when their boats collided and all three agents fell into the ocean. After responding to a plea to help, the smugglers spun around and picked up the patrol agents. The smugglers were still arrested.

Idaho State Police responded to an overturned truck that spilled potatoes all across the interstate, delaying traffic. In Beverley Hills, a restaurant is serving a baked potato with caviar and creme fraiché for $100.

A man in Tokyo was arrested on suspicion of stalking a female pop idol by studying reflections of her pupils in photos she shared on social media and using Google Street View to find out where she lived.

The new arena for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team features a “rage room” where angry fans can go break shit because that’s how Philly fans roll. The room is available only via advance reservations so you need to plan for your anger.

$2.2 million worth of counterfeit Nike sneakers were found in a Long Beach container labeled as “napkins.”

In order to comply with a US Government executive order prohibiting “transactions and services” with Venezuela, software-as-a-service company Adobe done gone and cancelled all accounts in the country and is not give refunds.

I made it to 142 cities and 22% of the population on this page. Off the top of your head, how many US cities can you name?

For extra credit, how many of these 50 songs in this video below can you name?


The week that was (10-04-19)

A German company has developed the expertise to launch floating islands of solar panels. If you own 3+ acres of open water, they want to ask if you’d like to rent it out.

Defense One normally writes about new tanks or geo-political hotspots. This week they took time out for a deep-dive budgetary analysis of a Snake-and-Alligator boarder moat.For the 1,954,000-member Snake Border Guard, the optimal force laydown should mix water moccasins (for maximum water effectiveness) and brightly colored coral snakes (for maximum visual deterrence)”

You can now ask Alexa to help you get a job at McDonald’s.

A protest in London got a little out of hand when the hose they were using to spray the Treasury building with fake blood got away from them and doused the street, trees, protestors, random passers by and pretty much everything but the Treasury, instead.

Chill out Spiderman, marijuana is now legal in the Marvel Universe.

Customers at an IHoP in Asheville, NC broke into a riot when they discovered their OJ refills were not free.

In San Diego, someone is renting out their backyard shed for $1050/month. It doesn’t come with parking.

Morale is down at Uber. Due to budget cuts they no longer give out Uberversary balloons and, the ultimate insult, they stopped serving free coffee brewed by the hip Portland roaster Stumptown and now only serve – Starbucks!


The week that was (09-27-19)

Never take LSD at a theme park. That is the lesson learned from this tale of a 32-year old Swiss tourist who dropped acid with his girlfriend at Disneyland Paris. After falling into the Adventureland Lake near Captain Hook’s ship and Skull Rock, this freaked-out tripper eluded a search crew of “30 firefighters, 10 divers, 10 policemen, 80 Disneyland Paris employees and a police helicopter with a thermal-imaging camera.” He was finally discovered, 24 hours later, stark naked, on a road about a mile outside the park.

A Russian naval zodiac boat was attacked, punctured and sunk by a walruses.

Biologists at CalTech discovered a new species of worm at Mono Lake that has three sexes.

A high-speed police chase almost ended in failure when the policeman’s pursuit vehicle, a Tesla, almost ran out of battery power.

The first gas station to convert entirely over to electric charging stations for EVs opened in Maryland.

A United Airlines flight from DC to SF had to make an emergency landing in Denver so ground crew could free a woman trapped in the bathroom.

A state senator from Michigan threw in the towel on funding to road repairs in his state and suggested downgrading them to gravel from asphalt.

Huey Lewis & the News released their first song in ten years and Rick Springfield finally ‘fessed up and told us who Jessie’s Girl was written about.

Photo credit: Google Maps


The week that was

Sorry kiddos – I took a week off to take in the sights and sounds of New Orleans. I was primarily there for a conference but I did get some time to have some amazing food and hear some great jazz.

China’s flying pilotless drone taxis are almost ready to become a thing. Guangzhou will serve as the first urban air mobility pilot city for a company called EHang. Meanwhile, the US Air Force is working on similar technology which they are calling Agility Prime.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Someone finally made off with the golden toilet.

Hasbro released a new version on Monopoly to teach kids about the gender pay gap. Girls start with $1900 and get $240 every time they pass Go while the boys need to make do with $1500 and $200 for every lap around the board.

The entire population of Ecuador (including the president) had their personal information leaked online due to a misconfigured database server.

A software engineer who discovered code that he had contributed to the Chef software project was being sold to ICE deleted his repository, forcing Chef to retroactively update and patch around his code.  “I have a moral and ethical obligation to prevent my source from being used for evil.” wrote the engineer.

European scientists have developed a new type of polymer that can heal itself. They plan to use it to make self-healing robots. Hopefully not killer robots.

Tesla filed a patent on a new kind of windshield wiper.

Looking for a long-read that will teach you something new? Check out On the Line and it’s companion piece, Dirty Business which won this year’s Student Journalism award. Both pieces go behind the scenes of the recycling business and the risks for the workers there.

Photo credit: Reddit user Drown_In_The_Void


The week that was (09-07-19)

Greetings from Portland! I’m a bit late this week as I’m at a conference for online artists that doesn’t have public wifi. The talks are all so amazing so I’m kinda glad about that anyway.

Here are your offbeat tidbits from last week.

The pope got stuck in an elevator.

An Australian student pilot made an emergency landing when his instructor passed out. It was the student’s first lesson.

A man was stuck with the bill for the Hustler channel when his dog stepped on the remote and ordered the porn channel by mistake.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao launched a cryptocurrency.

Christies will be auctioning off one of Miles Davis’ trumpets.

The RIAA reports that vinyl records are outselling CDs for the first time since 1986. This is more because people are no longer buying CDs as streaming music represents 80% of the market.

I’m sure you’ve all been following the trial of that French rooster whose early morning crowing was disturbing the early morning peace. Well, the court ruled in favor of Maurice arguing that the “complaint was ridiculous because crowing roosters were part of country life.”

Photo credit: Hurricane Dorian, GOES 16 satellite


The week that was (08-30-19)

The US military is working on a new type of material that can, on command, vaporize immediately.

A huge raft of floating pumice is making its way slowly from the southwest Pacific Ocean to California.

Do you like cheese? Costco will sell you an entire 72-pound wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for $900.

The chicken sandwich wars kicked into litigious territory when a customer filed a civil suit against Popeye’s because they sold out of their famous delicacy.

An ISIS fighter was killed by his own drone bomb when the delivery vehicle ran low on battery power and returned home for a recharge.

With Hurricane Dorian due to make landfall on Labor Day, someone in Miami had the foresight to ask Lime to clear the streets of all its scooters lest they become flying Lime projectiles.

Reports of the death of SF Fog Cam were greatly exaggerated.

Photo credit: Taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt at a children’s puppet show. Taken at the exact moment the dragon was slain.


The week that was (08-23-19)

A Colorado middle school made national news with their “Emergency Go Buckets” fitted with kitty litter so kids can relieve themselves while on lockdown.

Antonio Basco and Margie Reckard recently moved to El Paso and had yet to make any friends. When Margie was killed in the recent mass shooting, Antonio was worried no one would show up. Word got out and hundreds showed up.

After 25 years of faithful service, the world’s oldest, continually operated webcam shut down in San Francisco.

The Proud Boys marched into Portland (Oregon). Before they could mix it up with the anti-fascist protesters waiting for them, police diverted them back over the Hawthorne Bridge which also steered them away from the 12th annual Corgi Walk.

The Amazon jungle is on fire and Greenland mourned the death of a glacier.

In England, a woman was arrested for putting her recycling in the wrong colored garbage bag.

Luxury label Dior jumped on the reusable straw bandwagon with hand-painted, hand-blown glass straws that are “crafted to be the ultimate luxury accessory to help you make a sustainable effort.” A set of six will set you back $150.

The California city of Antioch was overrun by bunnies. “It went from seven to 10 to about 50 rabbits just all over the neighborhood. And then from there it started to not be cute anymore.”

A herd of air mattresses were last seen fleeing the across a field in Denver when a strong wind liberated them from an outdoor movie night.

Photo credit: Reddit user Smashycomman


The week that was (08-16-19)

The ACLU ran a photo of every California state legislator through a facial-recognition program that matches facial images to a database of 25,000 criminal mugshots and got positive matches on 26 lawmakers.

It rained grasshoppers in Las Vegas and plastic in the Rocky Mountains. There’s so much plastic out there it’s getting into our food, so, hey, we might as well eat grasshoppers too. (props to Frank Gruber)

A woman in Brooklyn, prompted to name her WiFi access point, looked around her kitchen for inspiration and entered, “Old Bay Seasoning.” The rest is history.

Two designers used the grotesquely twisted geographic boundaries of gerrymandered US voting districts to make a new alphabetic font.

New Yorkers gathered enough signatures to have the City Council look into renaming the stretch of 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower to the name of his nemesis, changing the address to 725 Barack H. Obama Avenue and forever annoying the President.

In California’s Central Valley, a semi carrying 80,000 pounds of peaches slammed into a box truck carrying a load of koi goldfish. It was not pretty.

A weather station in the Arctic Circle recorded temperatures of 94.6 degrees Fahrenheit, smashing all previous records.

The Cult West Warriors defeated the Maple City Magic to win their fourth straight title at the World Wiffle Ball Championships in a historic, extra-innings final.

Photo credit: Reddit user: britainunwrapped