A great moment in the history of science. Arkansas, 1956.
Corsicana Daily Sun - June 8, 1956
'Drunk-O-Meter' Test Is Fizzle: Man Passes Out
HOT SPRINGS, Ark., June 8 — An attempt to test the accuracy of the "Drunk-O-Meter," a device used to measure the degree of intoxication of a person, ended in failure at Hot Springs.
The reason—the man engaged to get drunk for science passed out before he could be measured.
The experiment was conducted by police at the request of the judges' council, an official unit of the Arkansas Bar Association.
The man drank over a 20-hour period. In that time he consumed four half pints of wine, two half pints of whiskey, four half pints of "moonshine" liquor, and a half pint of vodka.
I wonder whatever became of this miracle product. If Larry Rogers, its inventor, was 31 in 1984, then he'd be 62 now. Is he still working away on it somewhere? Or did the product actually make its way onto the market, though under a name other than "bulletproof wheat"? Who knows. I can't find any follow-up info about the story.
Larry Rogers, 31, a Salinas scientist, figures he has the answer to the nation's wheat and coal surplus problem. Earlier this year he invented a substitute for firewood out of wheat and corn. Now he says he's reconstructed things to make the firewood bulletproof. He says he also can turn it into an excellent replacement for wood as a building material by adding high sulfur coal, carbon and cellulose. The material will also be fireproof. He says it stopped an Army M16 rifle bullet during testing. And, because its impact resistant, it's ideal for protective housing units for troops, he says. The product is being tested at Micro Organic Fuel in Carson City, Nev.
Spokane Chronicle - Sep 24, 1984
Santa Cruz Sentinel - Sep 18, 1984
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M436, August 16, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
“The worshipful treatment of pets may be the thing that unites all Americans,” wrote an Atlantic Magazine blogger in July, describing the under-construction luxury terminal for animals at New York’s JFK airport. The “ARK” will offer shower stalls for traveling horses, “conjugal stations” (for ever-horny penguins), and housing for nearly 200 cows (that might produce 5,000 pounds of manure)--and passengers traveling with dogs or cats can book the “Paradise 4 Paws” pet-pampering resort. The ARK is a for-profit venture; said one industry source (quoted in a July Crain’s New York Business report), “You hear stories about the crazy money that rich people spend on their [animals] . . . they’re mostly true.” [Crain’s New York Business, 7-13-2015
] [CityLab.com, 7-20-2015
Government in Action
Officially, now, it is “unreasonable” for a federal agency (the Bureau of Land Management, in this instance) to fail to say yes or no, for 29 years, to a drilling-permit application. (Before July’s federal court decision, BLM had been arguing that 29 years was not too long.) A company had requested to drill just one exploratory well in Montana, for natural gas, in 1985, but the Bureau had delayed the proceeding six times since then. The judge ordered the Bureau to set a deadline for deciding. [Washington Post, 7-29-2015
Georgia, one of six states that make taxpayers shell out huge fees to access its databases of public records, tries so relentlessly to control its archive that, recently, in a federal lawsuit, it said opposition to its policy was basically “terrorism.” Activists (PublicResource.org) have been establishing workarounds to free up some databases for citizen use, and Georgia demands that they stop. Georgia even claims “copyright” protection for one category of important legal documents that were initially drafted by state bureaucrats, audaciously calling them “original” and “creative” works. [Los Angeles Times, 7-27-2015
Mandatory Inaction: In July, the mayor of the town of Ador, Spain (pop. 1,400), officially enacted into law what had merely been custom--a required afternoon siesta from 2 to 5 p.m. Businesses were ordered to close, and children were to remain indoors (and quiet). [The Local (Madrid), 7-16-2015
At a traffic stop in Rockingham, Vt., on July 26th, both driver and passenger were charged with DUI. Erik Polite, 35, was the driver (clocked at 106 mph on Interstate 91, and according to police, with drugs in the car), and while he was being screened for intoxication, passenger Leeshawn Baker, 34, jumped behind the wheel and peeled off in reverse across the highway, nearly hitting the Trooper, who arrested him. [WCAX-TV (Burlington), 7-29-2015
Nathaniel Harrison, 38, was arrested in July in a Phoenix suburb on several charges, including possession of a deadly weapon during a felony, but he escaped an even more serious charge when a second “deadly weapon” failed to engage. Harrison reportedly intended to retaliate against a “snitch” and arrived at the man’s home carrying a rattlesnake, which he supposedly pointed at the man, hoping it would bite him. However, the snake balked, and Harrison’s attempted payback failed. [KPHO-TV (Phoenix), 7-28-2015
Lame Defenses in Lake County, Florida: (1) Daniel Baker, 40, and Robert Richardson, 19, were arrested in Altoona, Fla., in August after getting caught loading appliances from a vacant house. According to the arrest report, both men appeared incredulous to learn that items in a vacant house aren’t just “free.” (2) Six days earlier about 20 miles away in Tavares, Fla., Corey Ramsey, 23, was arrested for burglary when a police officer caught him sitting on a toilet of a vacant, for-sale house attending to a need. Ramsey’s extensive petty-crime rap sheet belied his explanation for being there--that he was contemplating buying the $299,000 house and wanted to try it out first. [Daily Commercial (Leesburg), 8-4-2015
] [Daily Commercial, 7-30-2015
Still-More “Intelligent Design”?
Zoologists at the University of Basel in Switzerland, publishing recently in a prestigious British journal, reported the likelihood that a certain flatworm species has overcome the frustration of not finding a mating partner in its lifetime. The scientists believe the flatworm exploits its hermaphroditic qualities and injects its sperm into its own head, from which it sometimes migrates to its reproductive facilities. (Flatworm researchers are aided on their projects by the species’ transparent bodies, facilitating the tracking of the sperm.) [World-Science.net, 6-2-2015
About 200 protesters gathered in front of Hong Kong police headquarters on August 2nd to denounce the 3-1/2-month jail sentence given to Ms. Ng Lai-ying, 30, who was convicted of assault for shoving a police officer with her chest. Women (and some men) wearing bras as outerwear chanted, “A breast is not a weapon.” (Ng was originally protesting the hardly-sexy issue of import-export abuses between Hong Kong and mainland China cities.) [South China Morning Post, 8-2-2015
The Joy of Protest: An August 1st demonstration outside Britain’s Parliament protesting legislation to curb until-now-legal psychoactive drugs drew about 100 people--consuming their drug of choice, nitrous oxide. As organizers distributed gas-filled balloons for demonstrators to take hits from, “the group erupted in fits of laughter,” according to The Guardian. [The Guardian, 8-1-2015
Construction on a $1.7 million therapeutic equestrian facility in St. Cloud, Fla., expressly for use by wounded U.S. service members, was delayed in August when a bald eagle nest was discovered on the grounds. Federal law requires at least 330 feet of clearance for the nest, plus additional monitoring to assure the birds’ tranquility. Said one neighbor, “The very animal that symbolizes freedom is delaying therapy for those who fought for it.” [Bright House Cable (Orlando), 8-5-2013
Funny Old World
The Welsh language is such a severe mutation of the original English spoken in the Middle Ages that, to the inexperienced eye, it is barely distinguishable from, say, Klingon. In fact, in July, the Welsh government, responding to queries about a possible UFO sighting near Cardiff airport, playfully issued its galaxy-friendly response in Klingon (“jang vlDa je due luq,” meaning that further information will be provided. (In Welsh, for example, “I cannot understand Welsh” is “nad oes modd i ddeall Cymraeg.”) (Recently, in Swansea, Wales, alleged drug dealer Dwaine Campbell, 25, adamantly refused to leave his cell for a court hearing because he feared being judged in Welsh--until authorities promised to transfer the case to Campbell’s native England.) [BBC News, 7-10-2015
] [Wales Online, 7-27-2015
Despite repeated assurances by Olympic officials, it appears more certain than ever that 2016 boating and surfing events in Brazil’s Guanabara Bay and Rodrigo de Freitas Lake will be conducted in water so polluted with human sewage that every athlete will almost certainly be struck with fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. An August Associated Press report revealed the waters’ virus levels (of fecal coliform and other viruses) as high as two million times the level that would close down a California beach. (Olympic and local officials continue to insist that the water will be safe by next summer, but, as the AP pointed out, their protocols test only for bacteria and not viruses. One U.S. water-quality expert advised all athletes to move to Rio ahead of the games--to try to build up an immunity.) [Associated Press via The Guardian (London), 8-1-2015
News of the Weird Classic (May 2010)
In mid-April , senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi warned that recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and elsewhere were caused by women's loose sex and immodest dress. Immediately, Australian Jennifer McCreight responded on Facebook by urging women worldwide to dress provocatively on April 26th , to create "boobquake" and test the cleric's theory, and at least 90,000 women promised they would reveal serious cleavage on that date. On April 26th, following a several-day absence of earthquakes, a Richter-scale-measuring 6.5 quake hit just south of Taiwan. (Slight advantage to the Ayatollah, since a Purdue University seismologist observed that a 6.5 quake was not uncommon for that region). [Courier-Mail (Brisbane)-AFP, 4-17-2010; Indianapolis Star, 4-28-2010]
Thanks This Week to Bruce Leiserowitz, Kathryn Wood, and Crystal Hipkins, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.