Weird Universe Blog — February 21, 2017

The Bruce Effect

If a pregnant rodent is exposed to the scent of an unfamiliar male, she will often spontaneously abort. This is known as the Bruce Effect, after researcher Hilda Bruce who discovered the phenomenon while working at London's National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in the 1950s.

It's thought that the female rodent does this in order to make herself ready for mating with the new male — because the new male would probably kill the children of the other father once they were born, so why bother carrying them to term. The trick doesn't work with the scent of a castrated male.

The history of the NIMR (pdf - page 208) offers some interesting details about Bruce's research. The Parkes mentioned was Alan Parkes, her boss:

The Bruce Effect implied that every male mouse smells different to every other male mouse, at least to female mice, and that he produces a spectrum of odours that vary slightly between individuals of the same strain and differ markedly between individuals of different strains. With lateral thinking on how to prove their theory, Bruce and Parkes turned to Boake, a world famous perfumery.

Knowing how skilful perfumers must be in distinguishing between thousands of different odours, they persuaded some Boake representatives to visit NIMR for the purpose of smelling the mice. They invited them to sniff at pieces of cloth that had each been exposed to different cages of various mouse strains. The perfumers had no difficulty in distinguishing the different strains as all had a unique aroma; they even commented that four of the strains were quite similar – all of which had been bred from one original colony at Hampstead. They also noted that the CBA mouse strain, which was fairly new to NIMR, had a wonderful and pleasantly musky smell that could be of commercial interest in perfume manufacture!

Hilda Bruce

Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 21, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Science, Experiments, Pregnancy, Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

Joan Ridgway, Yodeling Cowgirl





Plenty more of her on YouTube. But hardly any biographical info. What little there is seems to indicate that despite all cultural signifiers, she was Australian, not American.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Feb 21, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Human Marvels, Music, 1950s, Australia, North America

February 20, 2017

Name That List, #38

What is this a list of? The answer is below in extended.

  • Scratch face
  • Dead Spaniard
  • Ape's laugh
  • Goose-Turd
  • Lustie-Gallant
  • Smoked Ox
  • Fading Flowing
  • Merry Widow
  • Kiss-Me-Darling
  • Chimney-Sweep
  • Dying Monkey
  • Mortal Sin
  • Love Longing
  • Horseflesh
  • Flybert
  • Soppes-in Wine
  • Maide's Blush


More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 20, 2017 - Comments (7)
Category: Name That List

Follies of the Madmen #305



Australia offers the rest of the world its giant mushroom phallus.

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 20, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Innuendo, Double Entendres, Symbolism, Nudge-Nudge-Wink-Wink and Subliminal Messages, Music, Public Indecency, 1970s, Australia

February 19, 2017

News of the Weird (February 19, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M515, February 19, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

San Francisco's best-paid janitor earned more than a quarter-million dollars cleaning stations for Bay Area Rapid Transit in 2015, according to a recent investigation by Oakland's KTVU. Liang Zhao Zhang cleared almost $58,000 in base pay and $162,000 in overtime, and other benefits ran his total income to $271,243. He worked at San Francisco's Powell Street station, a hangout for the homeless, who notoriously sullied the station 24/7 (urine, feces, and needles, especially), necessitating overtime hours that apparently only Zhang was interested in working. In one stretch during July 2015, he pulled 17-hour days for two and a half straight weeks. [KTVU, 2-7-2017]

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

"Of All The Gin Joints In The World . . .": An Abbotsford, British Columbia, burglar was successful in his February 7th break-in at a home, but his getaway was thwarted by a snowfall that blocked him in on a roadway. He eventually decided to ask a passerby for help--and inadvertently picked out a man (of the city's 140,000 residents) whose house had he had just broken into (and who recognized him from reviewing his home's security camera footage). The victim called police, who arrested the man (and reported that it was the second residential break-in that night in which the snowfall had foiled a burglar's getaway.) [Vancouver Sun, 2-7-2017]

Oh Dear!

Everyday Hazards: In Portland, Ore., in January, Ashley Glawe, 17, a committed "goth" character with tattoos, piercings, and earlobe holes ("gauges") was, she said, "hanging out" with Bart, her pet python, when he climbed into one of the lobes. She couldn't get him out, nor could firefighters, but with lubrication, hospital emergency workers did (thus avoiding an inevitable split lobe if Bart had kept squeezing his way through). [The Oregonian, 2-1-2017]

Iraqi forces taking over an ISIS base in Mosul in January reported finding papers from at least 14 Islamic State "fighters" who had tried to claim "health" problems, asking commanders to please excuse them from real combat (and martyrdom). One (a Belgian man) actually brought a note from a doctor back home attesting to his "back pain." Five of the 14 were initiated by volunteers from France, a country that endures a perhaps-undeserved national reputation for battle-avoidance. [Washington Post, 2-7-2017]

Government in Action

Legislators in Iowa and Florida recently favorably advanced bills giving women who receive legal abortions up to 10 years (or longer, in Iowa) to sue the doctor if the abortion winds up causing them "emotional distress." (Doctors in all states are already liable, of course, for actual "negligence" in their practice.) In the Iowa version (which the Des Moines Register reported would likely face amendments), even a signed consent form by the patient would not immunize the doctor (but might mitigate the amount of damages awarded). [Des Moines Register, 1-17-2017] [Miami Herald, 2-9-2017]

Great Art!

German art collector Rik Reinking paid the equivalent of about $138,000 in 2008 for a resplendent, complex drawing by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, but it was one created in ink on the skin of (the still-alive) tattoo parlor manager Tim Steiner--to be delivered only upon Steiner's death, when his skin will be displayed in Reinking's collection. (The deal also requires that, in the meantime, Steiner personally showcase his back at galleries three times a year, and BBC News recently caught his latest appearance.) [BBC News, 2-1-2017]

More Things to Worry About

Higher Math: The first robots to have survived journeys close to the "core" of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan (which melted down in a 2011 earthquake) returned a reading of 530 "sieverts" per hour. (Some scientists label just 4 Sieverts an hour fatal to half the people exposed to it.) Since the robots stopped short of the actual nuclear fuel, and since they only visited one of the three cores, the true danger of Fukushima remains unknown. (On a more optimistic note, scientists in February said they have developed a computer chip that would survive on the surface of Venus for 21 days, eclipsing the old record of two hours--long enough to send back meaningful data, including the temperature. The current estimated temperature is 878 degrees (F).) [Washington Post, 2-8-2017] [Ars Technica, 2-8-2017]

Priests Gone Bad

Prominent Tallahassee, Fla., pastor O. Jermaine Simmons, a community leader who ministers to the homeless and downtrodden, was rescued by police on January 17th, naked and hiding behind a fence after making a run for it when the husband of his mistress found the two in bed. The husband, screaming, "I'm gonna kill him," ran for his handgun, and the mistress summoned police, but by January 30th, all involved had declined to press charges. Simmons, married with a son, is highly regarded for good deeds such as running a "cold night" shelter. [Tallahassee Democrat, 1-30-20178]

The decidedly-uncelibate Catholic priest Don Andrea Contin, 48, of Padua, Italy, was accused by three women in December of having as many as 30 different lovers over the years, organizing "orgies" on church property, visiting a "swingers'" resort in France several times, making pornographic "home videos" of his trysts, "encouiraging" one woman to have sex with a horse, and "always" carrying a briefcase full of vibrators, sex toys, and bondage equipment. Contin has not yet been charged with a crime but, said a Catholic official, is "finished" as a priest. (Bonus: The boxes for his home videos were labeled by the names of Popes.) [The Independent (London), 2-5-2017]

Wait, What?

In January, a New York City judge dismissed the original indictment of John Kennedy O'Hara, 55, who had been convicted in 1996 of the crime of "felony voting"--the only person convicted under that state law since Susan B. Anthony, who cast a ballot in 1872 even though females were barred from the polls. O'Hara was indicted for voting in 1992 and 1993 after registering in Brooklyn elections from a "bogus" address--a basement apartment that was considered uninhabitable. (A judge in 2017 determined that the apartment "could" have been habitable.) O'Hara paid $15,000 in fines and did 1,500 hours of community service. [New York Times, 1-13-2017]

Least Competent Criminals

Recurring Themes: Once again, in January, curiosity got the better of a perp. Adriana Salas, 26, allegedly stole a truck in Jonesboro, Ark., and drove it to Fort Smith, 260 miles away, but then could not resist stopping by the local sheriff's office to ask whether the truck had been reported stolen. (It had; deputies, taking a look outside, read Salas her Miranda rights.) [KFSM-TV (Fort Smith),25-2017]

The Passing Parade

(1) Belgium's federal parliament decided to keep supplying free beer and wine during legislative sessions (over the objection of its ethics committee) because, since drinkers would continue to drink off-premises, anyway, serving the items on-premises would at least improve attendance. (2) On January 30th, as police, with a search warrant, approached the front door of child-porn-possessing suspect Brian Ayers, 57, they spotted him inside, hatchet in hand, pounding away at his tablet computer. Ayers, of Florence, N.J., was free at the time, pending sentencing in another New Jersey court on earlier counts of distributing child porn. [Politico.eu, 1-20-17] [NJ.com (Burlington, N.J.), 2-1-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (April 2013)

Those Clever Toddlers of Finland: A University of Kansas professor and two co-authors, in forthcoming [2013] Journal of Finance research, found that children age 10 and under substantially outperformed their parents in earnings from certain stock trading. A likely explanation, researchers said, is that mom and dad were buying and selling in their children’s accounts if they had illegal insider information--because they feared getting caught by regulators if they used it for their personal accounts. The kids’ accounts (including those held by babies) were almost 50 percent more profitable than their parents'. (The study, reported by NPR, covered 15 years of trades in Finland, which, unlike the U.S. and most other countries, collects traders' ages.) [NPR, 4-9-2013]

Thanks This Week to Anthony Yeznach, Robin Daley, Michelle Jensen, Michelle Collier, Mark Lillicrap, and Mel Birge, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Feb 19, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category:

Who Gets the Beanie Babies?

November 1999: After filing for divorce, Frances and Harold Mountain proved unable to agree on how to split up their Beanie Baby collection. So Family Court Judge Gerald Hardcastle instructed them to bring the entire collection into the courtroom, spread them out on the floor, and pick one each until they were gone.

The judge remarked, "This isn't about toys. It's about control. Because you folks can't solve it, it takes the services of a District Court judge, a bailiff and a court reporter."

Frances Mountain said, "I don't agree with the judge's decision to do this. It's ridiculous and embarrassing." Nevertheless, she got down on her hands and knees and started picking out Beanie Babies.



Santa Cruz Sentinel - Nov 6, 1999

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 19, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Divorce, Collectors, 1990s

February 18, 2017

The famous rhyming will

In 1830 Mr. Wheatstone, a solicitor of Chancery Lane died and left the following will, which was admitted to probate:

As to all my worldly goods now or to be in store,
I give to my beloved wife and her's, for evermore;
I give all freely! — I no limit fix!
This is my Will, and she's Executrix.

As far as I can tell, this is the first time anyone ever used this rhyming will, but it definitely wasn't the last. It caught on, and many other people subsequently used the exact same poem as their final will (slightly updating the language to make it more modern). It continued to be used at least up until the 1950s. I'm not sure if anyone has used it since then.

The London Observer - Apr 18, 1830



The New Bloomfield, Pa Times - Sep 27, 1870



Altoona Tribune - Nov 16, 1912



Battle Creek Enquirer - Mar 3, 1928



The Greenwood Index-Journal - Oct 16, 1950



The Louisville Courier-Journal - Aug 6, 1954

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 18, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Death

Blackguardiana

You can surely amuse yourself for hours reading this 1793 guide to rogues. And I think we should resurrect these old terms for modern times. For instance, if a woman is inconveniently pregnant, let us say she has "sprained her ankle."



Posted By: Paul - Sat Feb 18, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Crime, Eighteenth Century, Slang

February 17, 2017

Ski masks for chilly cheeks

Almost as bad as styling on the slopes.



Source: Teenagers' Weekly - July 3, 1963

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 17, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion, Headgear, 1960s

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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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