Strange forms of defensive behavior, from the animal kingdom. Camponotus Saundersi is a species of Malaysian ant that can cause itself to explode at will. It does so by contracting its abdominal muscles, which ruptures its body and sprays poison in all directions. This ability is known as autothysis. [wikipedia]
Then there's the horned lizard found in the southwest United States. When threatened, it increases the pressure in its sinus cavities until the blood vessels in the corners of its eyes burst. This causes blood to squirt at its attacker. Check out the National Geographic video. I don't understand why coyotes would be deterred by the squirting blood, but apparently it works.
I've found a new musical to add to my ongoing list of strange musicals. It's Das Kapital, the Musical. It comes to us from China. Here's the plot, such as it is:
In the first half of the story, the employees discover that their boss is exploiting them and learn of the “surplus theory of value.” However, they react differently to the knowledge of their exploitation: some are willing to be exploited by the company, and the tighter they are squeezed, the more they feel they are worth. Others rise in mutiny, but this ruins the company and leaves them out of work. Still others band together and use their collective wisdom to deal with the boss.
Worse Sex Life Than Yours: Bob Epley, 56, Nashville, Tenn., was arrested for hiring kids for sex, specifically, to "place him in a stranglehold with their legs" "in order to create an autoerotic sensation." The Tennessean
Even now, some people still have too much money: The sculpture of a cat that will go to auction in May in NYC is expected to bring $16m-$22m. Reuters
William Bieber, 35, was arrested in Chehalis, Wash., for sneaking meth into his wife's water because, nursing their 3-month-old, she seemed not to have any energy left for cleaning the house. Associated Press via Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A slightly intoxicated motorcyclist crashed into wild pigs on the road in 2003 and messed himself up badly, and a jury decided that was California's fault for not putting up "Wild Pigs" signs on the highway. (Bonus: Good luck collecting $8.6m from a state that's almost bankrupt.) Associated Press via KOVR-TV (Sacramento)
Recurring (embarrassing) Theme: A Saginaw, Mich., man [Ed.: No, not the one humping the vacuum cleaner at the carwash] got his finger stuck in his car's gas tank, and it took firefighters 4 hours to get it loose. Saginaw News[finger]///Saginaw News[vacuum]
Recurring Theme: It says here that a newspaper in Quanzhou, China, reported a suicidal Chinese woman's jumping off a building and landing on a non-suicidal man, killing him (her boyfriend!) but sparing her. Daily Telegraph (London)
Your Daily Loser
Brian Round, Eustis, Fla., apparently one of the thousands of 17-yr-olds confident that they've got everything figured out, called up his friends and told them he had been "messing with people" using his police-style lights in his car but was sure he was home-free because none of his friends "would rat me out." Brian was making the calls on his cell phone from an interrogation room at the police station during a break, and he didn't think anybody would be monitoring. Orlando Sentinel
Today's Newsrangers: Tom Barker, Paul Woolwine, Andrew Gibson, Matt Mirapaul, and a boatload o' people who tipped me to the carwash case last week (which I had already covered when the poor guy was arrested)
Terry Nichols, serving a life term for being Timothy McVeigh's go-fer, filed a lawsuit against prison officials for not serving him nutritious food, which he says constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in that it destroy God's "holy temple . . . my body."Associated Press via KMGH-TV (Denver)
The Dept. of Veterans Affairs decided to impose a co-pay for a roadside-bomb-disabled soldier who thought his best hope for saving his leg was to, y'know, go outside the network, so he did, and the 13th surgery on the leg saved it, whereupon the gov't sent him a bill for $3,000 (Seriously). CNN
In Sun City Center, Fla., golf carts can use public roads as long as they don't hit 20 mph on the speedometer, but still, the geezers swap out their motors for souped-up versions, plus add fancy tires, shiny rims, and brush guards. St. Petersburg Times
The Buffalo, N.Y., city council approved a new Muslim-owned slaughterhouse to share space in a building that already houses a Subway sandwich shop. Buffalo News
A Japanese law professor who's been teaching in Australia for 10 yrs was convicted of harassing officials (via the traditional Japanese way of relentless phone-calling), whereupon she went nuts in court, "screaming," "claiming she was about to soil herself," and of course "exposing her buttocks." The aristocrat! Courier-Mail (Brisbane)
Your Daily Jury Duty ["In America, a person is presumed innocent until the mug shot is released"]
Does Mark Adams, 31, Golden Gate, Fla., look like the kind of fella who'd throw a full can of soda in the face of his 70-yr-old mother just because she accidentally stepped on his toe? WINK-TV (Fort Myers)
The Westermarck Effect is a psychological phenomena named after Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck. The effect is that (according to Wikipedia): "when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, both are desensitized to later close sexual attraction." Which is why most people don't get the hots for their sibling.
However, if siblings don't grow up together and only meet for the first time later in life, they may be intensely sexually attracted to each other. This is known as genetic sexual attraction, or GSA. Again, from Wikipedia:
Several factors may contribute to GSA. People commonly rank faces similar to their own as more attractive, trustworthy, etc. than average... Shared interests and personality traits are commonly considered desirable in a mate... In cases of parent-child attraction, the parent may recognize traits of their sometime mate in the child. Such reunions typically produce complex emotions in all involved.
Finally, there is the phenomena known as the Westermarck Trap, which occurs when two people who have grown up together (and thus are sexually desensitized to each other) are expected to marry each other, because of an arranged marriage. According to one theory, this is what the novel Frankenstein depicts:
Students of the Westermarck effect may be interested to know that this trap is depicted in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, in which Victor Frankenstein is expected to marry a cousin reared with him. Instead, he creates a monster that persecutes him and murders his prospective bride before the marriage can be consummated. It is suggested that the plot owes something to Mary Shelley's own experience of the Westermarck effect, following a childhood in which she was reared with a stepbrother. Her own personal solution was not to create a monster but to elope with a married man (Percy Bysshe Shelley) at the age of 16.
On her resume, cabaret comedienne Amy Gordon lists her Special Skills as: Rollerskate dancing (disco, tap), Ukulele, Swing Dance, Tango, Stilts, Slackwire, Rolling Globe, Yoga, Prat/Stairfalls, Hat-tricks, Juggling (pass clubs, knives, fire), rubber face/body, dialects, Dutch/French languages, Pyrotechnic Shooter.
Her acts include doing a Flamenco dance on rollerskates, singing "Taint No Sin" accompanied in harmony by skulls she wears as a bra, as well as playing "America the Beautiful" in three part harmony on kazoos from three different orifices. The latter act you can see below.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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