Weird Universe Blog — October 12, 2016

Don’t guess about your future… Analagraph it!

The Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company marketed its electronic analagraph service from the late 1930s to the 1970s. They described it as "a scientific device that lets you chart the family and its retirement needs." They even had an "analagraph school" in Newark, New Jersey where their employees would be sent to get trained as analagraphers.

More recently, Electronic Development Labs has marketed an "analagraph recorder" for use by chiropractors. I found an explanation of what this device does in the book Pendulum Power:

There are various methods for locating spinal subluxations. One of the most popular among chiropracters is the analagraph machine. This utilizes a thermocouple device which is passed over the skin all the way down the length of the spine. As the thermocouple passes each vertebra, it picks up any excessive heat readings and records them on a thin sheet of graph paper in the machine. All the doctor has to do is look at the graph paper and note any strong heat peaks. These are the areas where a subluxation is most likely to be present.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Oct 12, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Insurance

Polka Dotted Poliwampus

Posted By: Paul - Wed Oct 12, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Humor, Music, Surrealism, 1950's, Fictional Monsters

October 11, 2016

Destination Atlantis

Auto mechanic Frank Russell of Biggleswade, England spent two years building a submarine in his backyard. He did it, he said, so that he could find the "lost city" of Atlantis. He described the construction of the sub in an article distributed by International News Service (Dec 1949):

My job is that of a motor mechanic and these craft that I build are purely a spare time hobby. Thus I have to get on with their construction as I can afford it; a few shillings or a pound or so at a time. Believe me, this method is exasperating and heartbreaking.

Practically all the parts have been cut, filed and even some of the holes drilled with ordinary hand tools, though I did manage on several occasions to borrow an oxy-acetylene cutter and an electric drill.

I have built this craft entirely by myself except for some of the more tricky points of welding on the hull. This was done by a friend, who is a highly skilled factory welder.

This submarine has been built entirely out of second-hand steel plates and scrap from local yards. Oxygen cylinders, motors, batteries, and the like are all from government surplus sales. The only new items are the glass observation ports and some rivets and bolts.

The launch date for his sub was November 4, 1950. Unfortunately, I can't find any reports about the launch, but I'm assuming he didn't find Atlantis.

And I'm guessing he may have been pulling everyone's leg about wanting to search for Atlantis, because eight years later he was back in the news as the perpetrator of an elaborate UFO hoax involving a "do-it-yourself space ship made of wire, silver paper, clockwork and a couple of flashlights." So it seems that he was a bit of a practical joker.

The Eagle (Bryan, Texas) - Nov 8, 1950

New Castle News - Oct 7, 1949

The Decatur Herald - May 28, 1958

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 11, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Boats, Hobbies and DIY, 1950's

Candy Wrapper Archive

You can certainly pass some delightful hours at the Candy Wrapper Archive, marveling at the sometimes wacky candies of yore.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Oct 11, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Candy, Collectors

October 10, 2016

The Fasting Minister of Memphis

Episcopal minister Israel Harding Noe of Memphis, Tennesse had an odd career.

He first made the news in 1931 when his wife sued him for divorce, claiming that he had attained "such a state of spiritual perfection" that he had lost all interest in her. In other words, he had decided to embrace celibacy. The two eventually reconciled, which is to say that they didn't get divorced, although they apparently remained separated.

Seven years later, 1938, Noe was back in the news when he stopped eating to prove that man can live indefinitely on "spiritual sustenance" alone. Before he stopped eating entirely, he had supposedly spent the previous year living only on oranges. After 22 days of fasting, he fell into a coma, at which point doctors began force feeding him.

Albany Democrat-Herald - Jan 19, 1938

Pittsburgh Press - Jan 20, 1938

After recovering from the fast, Noe returned to preaching, but in 1951 was again making headlines with his claim that he had recreated the lost signet ring of King Solomon. He explained that he knew what the ring looked like because "I developed extra sensory perception until I was able to tap the reservoir of the universal subconscious mind."

Noe declared that he would give the ring to a "worthy wearer" who would then be endowed with "all power and knowledge of the universe — just like its original wearer, King Solomon." After a search, Noe eventually gave the ring to Rev. Canon Gottshall of Oakland, California, who never seemed to develop any special powers from it.

Noe died in 1960, at the age of 68, when he suffered a stroke while driving to church.

Cincinnati Enquirer - Feb 10, 1952

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 10, 2016 - Comments (7)
Category: Eccentrics

Mystery Gadget 41


What is the output of this machine?

The answer is here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Oct 10, 2016 - Comments (11)
Category: Technology, 1900's

October 9, 2016

News of the Weird (October 9, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M496, October 9, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Large kidney stones typically mean eye-watering pain and sudden urinary blockage until the stone "passes" (often requiring expensive sound-wave treatment to break up a large stone). Michigan State University urologist David Wartinger told The Atlantic in September that he had recently happened upon a pain-free--even exciting!--way to pass stones before they become problems: the centripetal force from a roller coaster ride. In a 200-trip experiment preparing for a validating "human" trial, he successfully passed stones in his hand-held, silicone model kidney (using his own urine) about two-thirds of the time when sitting in a rear seat at Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. [The Atlantic, September 2016]


With about 30 states having adopted some form of "stand your ground" defense to assault (or murder) charges, five membership organizations, charging up to $40 a month, have signed up a half-million gun owners concerned that law enforcement treat them fairly should they someday be forced to shoot--providing instructions and a "hot line" to coach members on what to tell police, plus liability insurance and help getting a lawyer. Critics say such organizations are also useful to those who might be prone to shooting people and want advice on how best to get away with it. The U.S. Concealed Carry organization's wallet-sized card, to give to police, asks that the shooter under suspicion be given the same consideration as the officers might give to their own colleagues under suspicion. [Tampa Bay Times, 9-16-2016]

In a dozen YouTube videos recently released, Syria's Tourism Ministry praised the country's sandy, fun-filled beaches as ideal vacation spots and its many "World Heritage Sites" as renowned tourist exhibits--attempting to distract world travelers from the country's daily bloodshed (and the wartime destruction of those priceless historical sites). Before civil war broke out in 2011, Syria was a fashionable, $8 billion-a-year destination (and the now-devastated city of Aleppo known worldwide for its food). [Washington Post, 9-2-2016]


"Diego" the giant tortoise, believed to be more than 100 years old, now lives in semi-retirement on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, but from 1976-2010, Diego brought an almost-extinct species back to life by fathering about 800 babies in the captive breeding program on Espanola, another Galapagos island. Biologists did not realize Diego's prowess until 2010 when DNA tests identified him as the father of 40 percent of all tortoises on the island. Even on Santa Cruz Island, Diego keeps busy, with a "harem" of six females. (Another Galapagos tortoise species did die out in 2012 when the last male, the centenarian "Lonesome George," maintained his celibacy until death.) [Fox News, 9-15-2016]

Compelling Explanations

The New York City Council, grilling police officials in September about their practice of freely seizing money from detainees under suspicion, asked for a thorough accounting of that money (suspecting that innocent victims rarely get it back unless aided by high-powered lawyers). Though (in "crime-fighting" hyperbole) NYPD routinely boasts of its half-million annual seizures, an NYPD official told the Council it would be "impossible" to account for everything--that keeping track of it all would cause its computers to crash. [Village Voice, 9-16-2016]

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is bureaucratically at the epicenter of the state's drought crisis, but in September KCBS-TV aired video of the Department actually using sprinklers to water the artificial lawn at a substation in South Los Angeles. A DWP spokesperson said such watering is routine at substations to "clean" the plastic (and wash off any dog urine, for example). [Reuters via, 9-18-2016]

Things You Thought Didn't Happen

Wanda Witter, 80, had been living on Washington, D.C., streets for 10 years but insisting to anyone who would listen that the Social Security Administration owed her sums that recently reached $100,000, and that she had documents to prove it. However, given her circumstances, all regarded her as just another luckless person confused by homeless life. In June, though, social worker Julie Turner took a closer look and found, improbably, that Witter was indeed owed $100,000 and even more improbably, that all of her paperwork was carefully organized among the unimpressive possessions she hauled around daily. SSA paid her $999 on the spot, and the remaining $99,999 arrived in August. [Washington Post, 8-23-2016]

Feel-Good Marketing

One branch of the James Harper funeral homes, in Bromley, England, announced its latest promotion via a sign in a front window (reported by the Bromley News Shopper in September): "Wow! Free Child's Battery Powered Vehicle with Every Pre-Paid Funeral Arranged This Month." A Harper spokesperson said the purpose was to encourage residents to think ahead about funerals. [Bromley News Shopper, 9-15-2016]

"Considering Cremation?" was the headline of the August 7th advertising supplement to the Tampa Bay Times (and other Florida newspapers), appearing just below a snapshot of a mom, dad, and three youngsters, frolicking in the grass, seemingly overjoyed. Nothing about "cremation" appeared except dates and sites of free cremation seminars, sponsored by the National Cremation Society (whose website is thankfully more somber). [ (Stuart, Fla.)]

Recurring Themes

The most recent immigrant family living high on the hog in the United Kingdom is Arnold Mballe Sube and his wife Jeanne, both 33, who drew the equivalent of about $130,000 in government benefits last year but are still feuding with the Luton Borough Council near London over its inability to find (free) housing adequate for them and their eight children. They turned down four-and five-bedroom homes, were housed temporarily in a Hilton hotel, and said they would be satisfied only with a six-bedroom residence. Mr. Sube, from Cameroon, emigrated to France at age 18, then came to England in 2012 to study nursing at the University of Bedfordshire. [The Sun via Daily Mail, 9-8-2016]

The Aristocrats!

Iowa City Jamboree: (1) Thomas Morgan, 42, was charged in a May 7th incident at the University of Iowa's Main Library when, using a men's room urinal, he turned to reveal to a fellow user that he was "measuring" his penis with a hand-lettered cardboard "ruler." (2) Thomas Warren, 49, was arrested in September near the Iowa City home that he, naked, had allegedly trespassed into minutes before. He was discovered passed out in the grass, though his clothes, car keys, and driver's license had been left on the doorstep (along with telltale evidence that he had used the doorstep as a toilet). Alcohol and a controlled substance were involved, said police. [The Smoking Gun, 9-21-2016] [Iowa City Press-Citizen, 9-28-2016]

The Passing Parade

(1) A woman was arrested on September 7th at the Italian Pizza Kitchen restaurant in Washington, D.C. She was chatting up a police officer she did not know, then playfully took a french fry from his plate. He asked her to stop, but she took another, and when the exasperated officer issued an ultimatum, she took yet another. The arrest report for second-degree theft, cited by WUSA-TV, included "property stolen" as "three" "French fried potato[es]." (2) At the seven-mile mark of the Allentown, Pa., marathon on September 11th, more than 100 runners were blocked off by an unanticipated, slow-moving train--causing the athletes one of their best chances to qualify for the gold-standard Boston Marathon (by posting fast times at Allentown). The train lingered for 10 minutes, though some runners climbed over couplings and continued on. [WUSA-TV, 9-9-2016] [Lehigh Valley Live, 9-13-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (December 2012)

Orly Taitz, an Orange County, Calif., dentist and lawyer, is America’s most prominent “birther” [as of 2012, anyway!], having filed dozens of lawsuits, appeals, and other legal petitions expressing her certainty that President Obama was not born in America. In her latest legal foray, a California judge tossed her lawsuit against Occidental College (to force release of Obama’s college transcripts and other papers). The loss brings birthers’ legal record (Taitz’s plus a few comrades’) to 0-for-258, according to the websites and Taitz was described by one critic as “almost charmingly insane.” [Huffington Post, 12-3-2012; Lowering the Bar, 10-26-2012]

Thanks This Week to Neb Rodgers and Teri Darcy and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Oct 09, 2016 - Comments (1)

Earrings on a deer

Bettie Phillips' fifteen minutes of fame involved her decision to put earrings on a baby deer. It happened back in 1997 when she found a two-month-old deer stranded by the side of a road and "thought it would be pretty" if it had earrings. So she pierced its ears by hand, pushing the posts of two earrings through its ears.

Police later found the deer in her truck and charged her with animal cruelty.

The charge was eventually suspended, but she had to pay the $250 veterinary bill for treating its infected ears.

San Bernardino County Sun - July 11, 1997

Asheville Citizen Times - Sep 17, 1997

Galveston Daily News - Nov 20. 1997

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 09, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Jewelry, 1990's

Styled in California

My personal choice is the pants with different-colored legs worn by the young lad.

Can you say "sunburst terry twosome" three times fast?

Posted By: Paul - Sun Oct 09, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Fashion, Regionalism, Advertising, 1960's

October 8, 2016

Nellie Hantz, housewife and thief

In October 1916, police arrested Mrs. Nellie Hantz and charged her with committing over 100 burglaries in the Chicago area. Her MO was unusual. When her husband, Carl, left in the morning to attend classes at a school of chemistry, and her 14-year-old daughter was at school, Nellie would sneak out and burglarize homes. She made sure to be home before her husband returned. The press named her the "wife thief" as well as the "matinee thief."

She kept her loot and burglary tools hidden beneath the bedroom mattress, and her husband, upon her arrest, insisted he had no knowledge of her daytime activities. Nellie seconded this: "I've been prowling for eighteen months. I know you've been after me, but it took a long time to catch me, didn't it? I guess I was just born to be a crook. You'll have to lock me up. But it's too bad about Carl. He never suspected."

The burglary equipment police found beneath the mattress included "a revolver, a razor, a jimmy, an electric flash lamp, several files, and an ingenious set of keys, skeleton and otherwise, of her own manufacture."

Despite being caught, Nellie was unrepentant. She declared, "I love to rob places. I'd keep on being a burglar if I had a million, but I am afraid of the dark and I did all my robbing by daylight."

Coffeyville Daily Journal - Dec 6, 1916

Nellie Hantz - via nycmugshots

The Salem News - Oct 28, 1916

Chicago Daily Tribune - Oct 28, 1916

More info here.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 08, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, 1910's

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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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