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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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Current Events

The week that was

Scientists at the MIT have created a plane which flies without propellers or jet engines. Electrons are removed from the air in front of the wing and added behind it, the flow of ions over the wing creating lift. It’s basically what powered the TiE (twin ion engines) in Star Wars.

A man posing as the owner of a building in Peoria commissioned an artist to paint a huge mural of the cookie monster styled after late-Soviet propaganda on a wall over the Thanksgiving holiday, then disappeared. “What the hell are you painting this weird-ass shit on my wall for?” said the real owner to the bewildered artist when he returned from the holidays.

The mayor of Austin apologized for imploring his constituents to stay at home and resist the urge to travel over the holidays in a video message delivered while he was on Thanksgiving vacation, in Cabo.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association published its guidance to prevent the spread of the virus during the wrestling season. Student-athletes are permitted to wrestle, but must refrain from handshakes before and after the match. The Ohio State – Michigan football game was cancelled due to Covid.

Australia, hard at work on their version of a Covid-19 vaccine, were forced to scrap the $750 million program after some trial participants falsely test positive for HIV.

The Yes Men issued a very real looking press-release which forced the Bank of England to correct the record and say that they were actually not going to stop buying fossil fuel-linked bonds. The next day, (inspired?) the $226 billion New York State pension fund announced that it would liquidate its fossil fuel holdings.

China has built a computer so fast that it can calculate reality on the fly. The photonic quantum computer is so fast, it produced results on a calculation in minutes that the world’s fastest supercomputer would take nearly 2.5 billion years to finish.

The People’s Liberation Army is apparently playing around with gene-editing CRISPER technology in hopes of developing soldiers with “biologically enhanced capabilities”

China is planning to expand its experimental weather modification program to cover an area greater than the size of India with artificial rainfall.

Even Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, on the border to China, grew a couple of feet.

A Chinese submarine dove into the Mariana Trench to a depth exceeding the height of Mount Everest.

Finally, to round out the week, the Chinese space program put a flag on the moon.

But my cousin has done the research and concludes China sucks at building aircraft. They certainly have no TiE fighter in the works.

Analyst Scott Kennedy says China can’t get the hang of building commercial aircraft.

Hanukkah Sameach y’all. Chin up and masks on. Just a few more months and we can beat this Covid thing!

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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Current Events

The week that was

We started off the week with Sarah Fuller, kicking off into history for Vanderbilt’s football team. “Mommy, are you crying?” said one ESPN reporter’s daughter to their mom.

Chris Kennedy of North Little Rock has put up a seven-foot Black Santa in front of his house for years. This year he got a racist note condemning his decoration and he read the note live on Facebook. Now his neighbors have all put up Black Santas.

In Japan, a fisherman caught a rare 9-legged octopus but didn’t notice the extra leg until he was already boiling it for supper.

It’s going swimmingly heading into the holiday season and climbing the expected second wave. This week the entire United States became one giant Covid Red Zone. New York Governor Cuomo is calling Covid the Grinch.

You know the series about the royal family, The Crown, is cutting close to the bone when the British government asks Netflix to place a warning on screen to remind “viewers the drama is fictionalised.”

An anti-LGBTQ Hungarian member of the EU parliament resigned after a “long period of reflection” following his arrest by Belgium police as he was trying to escape out of the window from an illegal lockdown orgy.

Residents of an Austrian village are fucking tired of their fucking town’s name and all the fucking tourists who rip off their Fucking signs. In January, all that comes to an end when they’ll live peacefully, in Fugging.

The House voted to decriminalize marijuana, tipping the scales in favor of the 36 states that have already legalized pot and clearing the way for federal decriminalization and eventually tax revenues.

San Francisco passed a law banning smoking inside apartments, unless you’re smoking pot.

We end this week with the latest on The Monolith. For those following along, last week it appeared in the remote Utah wilderness, then it disappeared. Here’s what happened just this week:

  • 11/27 – Another metal monolith suddenly appears on a hillside in Romania.
  • 11/30 – A giant wooden phallus disappears off a Bavarian mountaintop, leaving behind only a pile of sawdust.
  • 12/01 – The Romanian monolith disappears. Joining the Utah monolith and the wooden phallus perhaps?
  • 12/02 – A social media influencer comes forward to say that he and a group of friends removed the Utah monolith to protect the land.
  • 12/02 – Another metal monolith appears in Atascadero, a small town in California, overlooking the Pacific coast.
  • 12/03 – A group of kids drive five hours and livestream the destruction of the Atascadero monolith replacing it with a crude wooden cross.
  • 12/04 – now even Vegas has a Monolith.

I can’t help but think the aliens are desperately trying to communicate with us but we are all too busy posting memes on social media to notice. Oh, and the giant radio telescope we used to listen to the cosmos just fell apart as well.

Stay safe everyone!

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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Current Events

The week that was

Estee Lauder is paying NASA $128K to have them take 10 bottles of its Advanced Night Repair to the International Space Station for a photo shoot. This is, consequently, what they’d pay an Instagram influencer.

Seven people in Russia died after drinking hand sanitizer when the regular booze ran out at a party.

You can no longer sneak in Stairway to Heaven, Guitar Center, the largest musical instrument retailer in the US, filed for bankruptcy.

New York Governor Cuomo was awarded an Emmy for “his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.” I posted some thoughts on Cuomo and New York’s love/hate relationship with their governor earlier.

In the space of 24 hours, President Trump pardoned a turkey and convicted felon.

While out counting bighorn sheep, a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter crew discovered a 10-12 foot high metal monolith standing upright is the desert. Reddit jumped in and solved the mystery. and then it disappeared.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Philadelphia busted members of the mob on charges of racketeering, illegal gambling, loansharking, and drug trafficking. Among the 15 defendants were 60-year-old “Joey Electric” and 73-year-old “Tony Meatballs.”

State officials uncovered what they are calling the largest fraud in California history. Prison inmates filed pandemic unemployment benefit claims totaling over $140 million. The claims used names such as John Doe, John Adams or, in one case, Poopy Britches. “Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us,” said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

A group of Princeton grads have won more than $6 million from lotteries in Indiana, Missouri, Washington and the District of Columbia. They say they are just lucky but they also incorporated themselves under the moniker Black Swan Capital LLC.

Dog-sized Argentine black-and-white tegu lizards have eaten their way across Georgia and South Carolina and are now threatening Alabama. “The entire southeast portion of the United States is at risk.” says Amy Yackel Adams, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

If you’re looking for “hilarious COVID-19-themed ornaments” for your Christmas Tree, we’ve got you covered.

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

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.