Weird Universe Blog — April 27, 2022

Anti-Submarine Seagulls

During World War I the British Navy attempted to train seagulls to reveal the presence of German submarines. The idea was to use a dummy periscope "from which at intervals food would be discharged like sausage-meat from a machine." The birds would, hopefully, learn to associate periscopes with food and would then fly around approaching German submarines, revealing where they were.

Initial tests were conducted by Admiral Sir Frederick Inglefield in Poole harbour in Dorset. Inglefield tried to train the birds not only to fly around periscopes, but also to poop on them.

Subsequent tests were briefly conducted in 1917, but then the Navy abandoned the idea.

One private inventor, Thomas Mills, refused to give up on the idea. In 1918 he patented what he called an "apparatus for use in connection with the location of submarines" (Patent GB116,976). It was basically a dummy periscope that disgorged ribbons of food.

Unfortunately for Mills, the development of sonar then made submarine-detecting seagulls unnecessary.

More info: "Avian Anti-Submarine Warfare Proposals In Britain, 1915-18: The Admiralty And Thomas Mills," by David A.H. Wilson in the International Journal of Naval History - Apr 2006, 5(1).

Thomas Mills' seagull-training device

Mills and his invention

Posted By: Alex - Wed Apr 27, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Military | Patents | 1910s

April 26, 2022

Wolfe v. Feldman

Peter Ackerberg, writing in the Minneapolis Star (Nov 17, 1979), described the unusual legal case of Wolfe v. Feldman, which was heard in 1936:

Charlotte Wolfe had three rotten teeth, so she went to Max Feldman, a dentist specializing in oral surgery, to have them pulled. When the surgery was over, however, Wolfe complained of pain in a strange place: the pinky finger of her right hand. It turned out to be a possible fracture, and she sued Feldman.

Feldman countered that it wasn't his fault, and he told the judge this story:

Wolfe was strapped to the dentist's chair (apparently a common procedure then), and was given nitrous oxide, an anesthesia better known as laughing gas. What happened next was no laughing matter.

The next part of the story is best summarized in the text of the case itself:

Defendant's story is that plaintiff was strapped to the operating chair; that a short time later, after plaintiff was in the excitement stage of nitrous oxide anaesthesia and as he moved closer to the chair to adjust the suction aspirator, plaintiff, despite the limited movement of the strapped wrist, clutched his testicles with a painful grip, which required the use of great force to release.

So the patient, while under the influence of laughing gas, managed to grab hold of the dentist's testicles, and in the process of freeing himself the dentist fractured her little finger.

Nevertheless, the judge ruled in favor of the patient for $650, saying:

It was incumbent on him, during the time the patient was in the so-called 'fighting stage' reached by patients undergoing anesthesia by nitrous oxide, not to place his body in such a position as to permit plaintiff's hands to interfere with him to such an extent as to require the application of force sufficiently severe to cause her physical injury.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 26, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Lawsuits | 1930s | Teeth

Death’s Doings

Next time you need cheering up, have a gander at this jolly volume, available at the Internet Archive.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Apr 26, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Death | Books | Nineteenth Century

April 25, 2022

Hidden images in comic books

In Seduction of the Innocent, published in 1954, Fredric Wertham accused comic books of corrupting youth. One of the specific ways they did this, he alleged, was by concealing images of naked women in seemingly inoffensive panels. He helpfully reproduced one of these hidden images in his book.

The image in question originally appeared in Jungle Comics #98, Feb 1948.

via Legends & Rumors

Posted By: Alex - Mon Apr 25, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Censorship, Bluenoses, Taboos, Prohibitions and Other Cultural No-No’s | Comics

April 24, 2022

Jazz Emotions

The Rock Island Argus - Feb 8, 1926

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 24, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Babies | Censorship, Bluenoses, Taboos, Prohibitions and Other Cultural No-No’s | Music | 1920s

Panko:  The Suffragette Card Game

See more cards and history here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 24, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Games | Politics | 1910s | Women

April 23, 2022

An unusual rectal foreign body

An article recently published in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports describes the case of an unusual foreign body (a dumbbell) removed from a patient's rectum. It also provides a brief overview of the phenomenon of unusual foreign bodies that end up in rectums:

Retained rectal objects are a rare complaint in the emergency department, but an increasingly important occurrence in recent years. A Caribbean study conducted in hospitals over 5 years revealed an incidence of approximately 0.15 cases per 100,000 population/year, but exact frequency data is not known. Despite being a problem that affects both genders, in the literature consulted there is a predominance of males, at a ratio of 28:1 to females, more specifically white men between 20 and 40 years old, having practices of sexual gratification as the greatest motivation. A huge variety of rectal objects have been described, with a greater predominance of those of a sexual nature, followed by glass objects, which should be handled with greater care due to their fragility and risk of injury if broken.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 23, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Health | Surgery | Sex Toys

The Mystic Swing

Posted By: Paul - Sat Apr 23, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand | Movies | 1900s

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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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