Weird Universe Blog — March 26, 2019

The Lemon-Juice Bandits

In January 1995, Macarthur Wheeler and Clifton Johnson robbed a bank in Swissvale, Pennsylvania. However, they had a plan to avoid detection: they rubbed lemon juice on their faces. Their reasoning was that lemon juice can be used to make invisible ink, so surely it would conceal their faces from surveillance cameras as well. They even tested this hypothesis by taking polaroid pictures of each other smeared with lemon juice, and it seemed to work.

Unfortunately, they showed up just fine on the bank's cameras, and they were identified and arrested several months later when the footage of the robbery was broadcast on a local news show.

This odd crime has an interesting postscript. The psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University read about it, and it inspired them to start thinking about the problem of stupidity: this being that stupid people often don’t realize they’re stupid. In fact, they think they’re quite smart, which leads them to do incredibly dumb things. This phenomenon (of dumb people not being able to recognize the limits of their competence) is now known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. In the journal article in which they introduced the concept, Dunning and Kruger cited the lemon-juice bandits as their inspiration.

Tyrone Daily Herald - Jan 8, 1996

Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Mar 21, 1996

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 26, 2019 - Comments (3)
Category: Stupid Criminals | Psychology | 1990s

How to Catch a Cold

Disney and Kleenex: a match made in...Madison Avenue?

Plus: excess square-dancing opens you up to germs.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Mar 26, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Body | Business | Advertising | Health | Disease | PSA’s | 1950s

March 25, 2019

Decomposition Cupcake

The “Five Stages” cupcake by artist Claire Ratcliffe. It was part of the Edible Body Farm exhibit held in England back in 2016, which used culinary creations to explore the topic of bodily decomposition.

Stages of decay cupcakes by Claire Ratcliffe

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 25, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Art | Death | Food

Miss Cinderemmy

Apparently the Emmy Awards once featured a beauty queen. The 1956 contenders first below, then the 1957 queen.

December 31, 1957. Lovely Rochelle Greenblatt, 21 year old receptionist at McCadden Studios, Hollywood, was chosen 'Miss Cinderemmy' tonight (Dec. 31) and presented at midnight to the entire television industry at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences New Year's Eve Ball staged at Beverly Hilton. She was crowned as queen of the ball by actor Ronnie Burns, son of comedy star, George Burns, who coincidentally owns and operates McCadden Studios.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Mar 25, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Contests, Races and Other Competitions | Television | 1950s

March 24, 2019

Jesus Clock

Created by artist Manfred Erjautz and installed in the Spitalskirche in downtown Innsbruck, with the permission of Bishop Hermann Glettler.

the upside-down wooden corpus projects from a mechanism on a shaft that is embedded in the torso. The severed arms of the sculpted icon of the Crucified mark the minutes and seconds on the timepiece.

More details: Life Site

Posted By: Alex - Sun Mar 24, 2019 - Comments (3)
Category: Religion

Follies of the Madmen #419


Posted By: Paul - Sun Mar 24, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Business | Advertising | Music | Stereotypes and Cliches | 1970s | Men | Women

March 23, 2019

The Ratapult

Invented circa 1992 by Allen Gross. It was intended to be a more humane rattrap. Instead of killing the rats, it flung them up to 50 feet into a cage or bucket. The dazed, but still living, rodents could then be either turned over to authorities or released into the wild. Noted Gross, “I didn’t want the (rodents) squashed or turned into meatloaf.”

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Feb 14, 1992

Staunton News Leader - Feb 14, 1992

Turns out this wasn't the first rat-flinging trap to be invented. Back in 1912, a similar device debuted, also called the Ratapult. Though it wasn't intended to be in any way humane:

A metal arm, operated by a powerful spiral spring, is released, and, passing through a slot in the cavelike compartment in the manner of a catapult, it strikes the unfortunate rodent with a blow of sufficient force to break every bone in its body and hurl the carcass at least fifteen feet away from the trap, far enough away so other rats will not be warned against the trap.

Vergennes Orwell Citizen - Jan 9, 1913

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 23, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions | Pests, Plagues and Infestations | 1990s

March 22, 2019

Man kicked in face by dead cow

Cows that attack have been a recurring theme on WU for quite a while (see here and here). Apparently, dead cows are just as dangerous as the living ones.

BERLIN (AP) — Police in southern Germany say a slaughterhouse worker suffered serious injuries after being kicked in the face by a dead cow.

In a statement, police said the cow was “killed according to regulations” early Thursday at an abattoir in Aalen, and hung from a meat hook for further processing.

Police said the carcass then kicked the man in the face, apparently due to a nerve impulse that experts say isn’t uncommon.

The 41-year-old worker was hospitalized.


Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 22, 2019 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals | Injuries

1968 Seatbelt PSA

Nice to see that despite being horribly scarred for life, she has maintained her mascara, eyeliner and lashes.


Posted By: Paul - Fri Mar 22, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Accidents | Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Motor Vehicles | PSA’s | 1960s | Face and Facial Expressions

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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