Weird Universe

April 10, 2009

[News] Chuck’s Links for Friday, April 10, 2009

A 55-yr-old woman did a successful suicidal cannonball over a railing at a New York City shopping mall, landing on a guy "relaxing" on a coin-operated vibrating chair. New York Daily News

Once again, a loving mother protectively sends her child to heaven in order to pre-empt Satan, who was surely about to take him the other way. Orlando Sentinel

Sweden's National Library archives copies of everything published in the country, including from the years 1971-1980, when child pornography was legal, and ya can check it out over the counter, apparently. The Local (Stockholm)

Can ya really make crack cocaine with a microwave oven? Fort Pierce Tribune

Last week, it was a funeral home mistakenly cremating a female when the order was for a male; and now another home incinerates a black man when the order was for a white woman. Houston Chronicle

Suddenly, sperm-harvesting is a hot topic again: A Texas mother yearns to be a grandmother even though her son had just been killed (and so she obtained an emergency body-preservation order to keep the sperm viable). And a divorced Michigan couple who earlier divided up their six pedigreed bullmastiffs are back in court fighting over bullmastiff jizm. Austin American-Statesman /// Detroit News

Small-town politics (Duncanville, Tex.) at its best, with the mayor ordering the arrest of a mouthy city councilman, who promptly falls to the floor in pain. (Bonus: It's on video!) Dallas Morning News

People who should've left well-enough alone: (1) A registered sex offender is charged only with failure to submit a change-of-address, but he's got his laptop with him at the station and offers to show the guys an "amazing" flight simulator game he's been playing, and they said, cool, but up should pop what on the screen? (Of course.). (2) This guy was let off with a warning to stop harassing diners at a restaurant and to get home in a taxi because he was drunk, and he did that, but then started stewing about being accused of intoxication, and so drove down to the station and offered to take a breathalyzer to prove he was sober. (You know it.) Anchorage Daily News /// Akron Beacon-Journal

[Jury Duty] Tammy Webb, 43, Milford Center, Ohio, got three DUIs in a six-day period . . disoriented, yes, but with nary a drop of alcohol in her system. WCMH-TV (Columbus)

Today's Newsrangers: Rob Snyder, Gil Nelson, Shannon Thompson, Joe Weckbacher, Harry Farkas, Ken Vermette, Sandy Pearlman, Stephen Taylor
Posted By: Chuck | Date: Fri Apr 10, 2009 | Comments (2)

April 9, 2009

Artificial Blitzkriegs

I came across a description of this experiment in an old newspaper (Reno Evening Gazette, Sep 8, 1941) and have never found any other references to it. The experiment was conducted by British psychologists who wanted to find out if "civilian populations can be made immune, through familiarity, to fear caused by air raid noises." The methodological problems with the design of the experiment are obvious, but it's interesting that it was conducted nevertheless. The details follow:

The London experiment consisted of herding workers, children and bomb-shocked neurotics into underground vaults and there subjecting them to an 'artificial blitz bombing.'
Sound effects used in the test were recordings made during one of London's worst air raids last year, amplified to simulate the real thing. An Associated Press writer who witnessed the experiment reported:
"The sounds swelled in the dark vault. The guns kept banging. Then big bombs burst. The guns kept up. More bombs. Then the crackle of flames. Next clanging fire engines added their noise, the other sounds continuing."
According to the reporter, the subjects stood the test very well: 'No one was crying out. A flashlight swung around the room, revealing drawn faces and frightened eyes. But no one was swooning. The experimenters stepped up the amplification.'
The British psychologists responsible for the experiment were reported delighted with the results. They said it proved their theory that whole populations could be exposed to 'artificial blitzkriegs' and thus rendered immune to fear during air raids.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Apr 09, 2009 | Comments (8)
Category: Science, Experiments, Psychology, War

Tokyo Cat Cafes

You pay $9 for the privilege of spending an hour in a cafe begging some cats to pay attention to you. Apparently the concept has become very popular in Japan due to a combination of factors that make pet ownership difficult: people spend too much time at work, and many apartments have no-pets policies.

As someone who owns a 15-year-old cat that insists on spending a large portion of her time every day sleeping in my lap -- and instead of trying to move her I've just learned to work around this -- I'm not really in a position to make fun of anyone else's weird cat-related behavior. If I didn't own a cat, and I lived in Japan, I'd probably be one of the people hanging out at the local cat cafe. (Thanks to Cassie Sperry for the link!)
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Apr 09, 2009 | Comments (13)
Category: Animals, Cats

Human Hamster Balls

All future arguments on WU shall be settled by TRIAL VIA GIANT HUMAN HAMSTER SPHERES! Participants may purchase spheres here.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Apr 09, 2009 | Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Games, Toys

Two-Way Stretch

As we all know, Chuck has a recurring theme about how the Brits coddle their prisoners. Apparently, this motif goes back at least as far as 1960, the year that the Peter Sellers film TWO-WAY STRETCH premiered. In this film, Sellers and gang receive deliveries from the milkman and newsboy, keep a cat, steal the warden's ciggies, and generally make their stay quite enjoyable. Until the tough-guy guard known as "Sourkraut" shows up. See some moments below.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Apr 09, 2009 | Comments (2)
Category: Movies, Prisons, Stupid Criminals, 1960's, Europe

[News] Chuck’s Links for Thursday, April 9, 2009

Little Rock's new River Church will hold its Good Friday and Easter services at downtown bars. KLRT-TV

A Cause Greater Than One's Self: At least Abdullah, 11, is a jihadi suicide bomber; all you can say about that Dillon, S.C., 11-yr-old is that he shot his little sister in the face with a shotgun because she took his potato chips. Daily Mail (London) /// WBTW-TV (Myrtle Beach)

A knife fight in a Waco, Tex., motel room, provoked by an apparently particularly noxious fart. Associated Press via Houston Chronicle

Dragging the bottom of the job market: Ringling Brothers has just hired 18 clowns. Associated Press via Yahoo

A real-life tick-tock in Toronto: Infant Lillian, needing heart transplant, is sh_t-outta-luck because the arranged donor (terminally-ill Kaylee) is defying everyone by . . living. Globe & Mail

Best and the Brightest: Texas state Rep. Betty Brown, noting how difficult it is to verify voter registration of Asian-Americans with Anglicized names, suggested that they change 'em to names "easier for Americans to deal with." Houston Chronicle

An ex-NYPD officer, fighting to get his job back, said the only reason he could think of for testing positive for cocaine was that he used to go down on his cokehead girlfriend. New York Daily News

Peter Dennis sued the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. because its voluntary self-exclusion (from casino) program didn't work for him, letting him lose around $600k more (and he's suing on behalf of all the other gamblers it didn't work for) ($3.5B). Toronto Star

Brett Picciotti, 26, said even if he has been charged with throwing his girlfriend off of a second-floor balcony, that's no reason to kick him out of medical school. (Bonus statement by his lawyer: "He's an exemplary young man. This is an aberrational charge. I think there's an explanation. I'm just not prepared to give it to you right now.") Philadelphia Daily News

[Jury Duty] After a high-speed chase, police accused Sterling Devine, 25, of a home break-in, but he doesn't see it that way. KCTV (Kansas City)

Today's Newsrangers: Jessica McRorie, Stephen Taylor, Joe Pat Clayton, Jim Dukes, Sandy Pearlman

Posted By: Chuck | Date: Thu Apr 09, 2009 | Comments (9)

April 8, 2009

A Single Tear

Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Apr 08, 2009 | Comments (6)
Category: Cartoons, North America

Follies of the Mad Men #63

[From Playboy magazine for February 1970.]

Was this behavior ever really sexy or cool, or a good way to pick up women?
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Apr 08, 2009 | Comments (14)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Sexuality, Tobacco and Smoking, Men, Women

Latin Mottoes

You've probably been looking for a list of Latin mottoes from 16th-century sources. Well, here it is. Most of them made sense to me, but these three I couldn't quite figure out:

Simul astu et dentibus utor.
I use my cunning and my teeth simultaneously.

Scribit in marmore læsus.
The injured man writes in marble.

Quod huic deest me torquet.
What this creature lacks torments me.

This one should be the motto for the government bailout of the banks:

Ei, qui semel sua prodegerit, aliena credi non oportere.
He who has once squandered his own, ought not to be trusted with another's.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Apr 08, 2009 | Comments (4)
Category: Literature

The Scale of Loss

Apparently New York workers enjoy a fixed compensation scale for the loss of body parts. Each body part is judged to be worth a certain number of weeks of wages. Here's the scale:
  • One eye: 160 weeks
  • One ear: 60 weeks
  • Both ears: 150 weeks
  • One arm: 312 weeks
  • One leg: 288 weeks
  • One foot: 205 weeks
  • Big toe: 38 weeks
  • One hand: 244 weeks
  • pinky: 15 weeks
  • little toe: 16 weeks
So why is the little toe worth more than the pinky? The New York Times has the full illustrated list.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Apr 08, 2009 | Comments (7)
Category: Body Modifications
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, 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.