Weird Universe

March 25, 2009

[News] Exceptionally Bad Gov’t Ideas This Week

Sex-education workshops for teenagers, sponsored by Britain's Nat'l Health Service, might be a good thing, but it's unclear why in one class they needed to give each participant a sorta-souvenir, 6-inch-long rubber penis to take with 'em. Belfast Telegraph

Illinois state Rep. Annazette Collins suggested gun education classes for public schools—and especially urban schools, since many kids in rural downstate areas already get gun education from their hunter-parents. WBBM Radio (Chicago)

The mayor of Dixon, Ill., has just the deal for ya in this job-evaporating recession: yet another national holiday (for St. Patrick's Day)! Daily Gazette (Sterling, Ill.)

So Seattle passes a law to require developers to put in sidewalks on their construction ("pedestrian safety"), but, say, a janitor saved for 12 yrs for the down payment on building his $250k "dream" house, and he got it, and he built, and he sees the finish line . . and then the city says he needs another $15,000 to put in that sidewalk. No, he's not a developer, but it's new construction. And, no, not a single other home on his block has a sidewalk (hence, his "sidewalk to nowhere"). And no, there's probably not gonna be any other sidewalks there for years because tear-down/rebuilds are exempt. Also, no, there's nothing we can do about it, officials say. Seattle Times

Your Daily Jury Duty
["In America, a person is presumed innocent until the mug shot is released"]
John Coppes, 25, Mena, Ark., might be guilty of trespass (plus, in another state, ya could be judging him on having had "indecent sexual intercourse," but in Arkansas, that crime applies only to human-on-human sex). Associated Press via WLFI-TV (Lafayette, La.)
Posted By: Chuck | Date: Wed Mar 25, 2009 | Comments (20)


Otherkin is a name used to describe people who believe they are "something other than human." That something other might be an elf, angel, dragon, or vampire.

The Otherkin Wiki explores topics such as Differences from humans, Identifying your species, and, of course, the dreaded Wannabes who try to infiltrate the Otherkin community:
It's hard to detect wannabes...they can become enmeshed in the community and be quite active, or perhaps they eventually figure out that they were wrong and leave -- the realization is probably due to some type of disillusionment...
There is also some measure of fan-culture around some mythological archetypes -- such as Elves in the wake of the Lord of the Rings movies, Vampires after Buffy:TVS and so on. Due to the prevalence of these archetypes in popular media, the community does attract some people who "Wanna be" elves, vampires, etc. even though they know that they aren't. Some of them hang out for a while before realizing that we're by far an unromantic and rather boring community as a whole. They also probably leave disillusioned.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Mar 25, 2009 | Comments (11)
Category: Animals, Psychology

The Matter Store

The Matter Store offers some great items for sale. For instance, what about this concrete doorstop. $3500 may seem a bit pricey for it, until you learn that it was cast in "an original Alvar Aalto Savoy vase" which was then smashed.

Similarly, $1900 may seem expensive for an old rusty stool, but this stool was "found in a duck blind in Northern Ontario" and then coated in aluminum.

Needless to say, they don't have a "gifts for $10 and under" section.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Mar 25, 2009 | Comments (6)
Category: Furniture

March 24, 2009

The Private Life of a Cat

And now, 20+ minutes of kitties, from Maya Deren's husband, Alexander Hammid.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Mar 24, 2009 | Comments (14)
Category: Documentaries, Cats, 1940's

Follies of the Mad Men #60

[From Playboy magazine for December 1965.]

Okay, we get it. Your product has an odd name that might lend itself to a double entendre. Such a campaign worked for Smucker's Jelly & Jams, of course. But the problem lies with the verb "sniff." If the ad had read "May I hold your Klompen Kloggen," all would have been good smutty fun. But although you can indeed hold the unlit tobacco, you can't "hold" the delightfully aromatic pipe smoke (the selling point). So the copywriter is forced to use "sniff."

But sniffing some private portion of another individual (the inescapable connotations of "May I sniff your BLANK...) conjures up all sorts of canine or rutting behavior, not sexy but animalistic. One pictures this pretty woman burying her nose in some guy's armpit--or elsewhere.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Mar 24, 2009 | Comments (29)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Hygiene, Tobacco and Smoking, 1960's

Detergent Suicide

I posted last week about how Aokigahara Forest in Japan was a popular destination for those wishing to commit suicide. Another suicide fad in Japan is "Detergent Suicide," which involves gassing yourself by mixing common household chemicals:

At least 500 Japanese men, women and children took their lives in the first half of 2008 by following instructions posted on Japanese websites, which describe how to mix bath sulfur with toilet bowl cleaner to create a poisonous gas. One site includes an application to calculate the correct portions of each ingredient based on room volume, along with a PDF download of a ready-made warning sign to alert neighbors and emergency workers to the deadly hazard.

A few cases of Detergent Suicide in the US have experts concerned that the fad may be catching on over here.

An interesting article by sociologist Kayoko Ueno argues that suicide is actually one of the defining features of Japanese society (think of hara-kiri and kamikaze) and one of its major cultural exports:

We, Japanese, are living in an affluent society geographically far away from the Middle East and Russian turmoil, and many of us view the suicide bombing news as an alien event, or something out of a computer game VR (virtual reality). On the other hand, there are some Japanese, especially from the wartime generation, who see the news differently, tracing the suicide bombers’ prototype to Japan’s “Kamikaze”, the suicide air attack squad at the end of World War II. In fact, one of my senior colleagues the other day came to me, pointed at one more such item in the news, and whispered melancholically, “that’s Japan’s invention.”
Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Mar 24, 2009 | Comments (20)
Category: Death, Asia

Org Porn

Add a new vice to the list of vices we must beware of: Org Porn Addiction.

Org Porn, according to authors Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch, is:

that glossy, airbrushed fantasy world where everything is pristine, serene and perfectly in order, sort of Playboy, but with chore charts and name-plated cubbyholes...
It's everywhere you look these days: in magazines, coffee table books, advertisements, and TV shows...
beautiful images of meticulously organized rooms, perfectly displayed collections, color-coordinated closets, flawless family schedules, pristine kitchens, tidy mud rooms, and picture-perfect work spaces

They suggest that addiction to Org Porn can lead to "feelings of inadequacy, binge spending on organizational products, and even marital discord."

If you suspect you're an org porn addict, "Remind yourself that org porn is merely entertainment and an escape that few if any actually achieve. Reality is something entirely different." And, I guess, stop watching so much Home & Garden TV.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Mar 24, 2009 | Comments (8)

[News] Things to Worry About Today

Britain's Leeds College of Art and Design has apparently OK'd Alex Humphrey's degree study plan, which includes hunting for and finding a husband and submitting her marriage certificate for course credit. United Press International

In storage at just one of Arizona's three Customs and Border Protection warehouses for seized contraband: 13 tons of marijuana, 1,150 vehicles, and $500k in cash. Arizona Republic

Peter Enmon, 44, was arrested in Anchorage after driving into a cement pole while being chased by police for stealing computers from a shop. (Bonus: It was a repair shop; he had busted machines.) Anchorage Daily News [UPDATE: Link fixed]

At a Texas legislative hearing on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program Thursday, Rep. Gary Elkins (a House member since 1995), sought clarity: "What's Medicaid? I know I hear it. . . . I really don't know what it is." (Bonus: Gary, it accounts for about one-fourth of Texas's budget, and at least close to that for every other state.) Austin America-Statesman

Your Daily Jury Duty
["In America, a person is presumed innocent until the mug shot is released"]
Well, this'll certainly challenge you: Ya think Robert Caldwell, 62, Kennesaw, Ga., shot his wife? WSB-TV (Atlanta)

Today's Newsrangers: Gil Nelson, Jodi Lipsitz, Emory Kimbrough

Posted By: Chuck | Date: Tue Mar 24, 2009 | Comments (16)

March 23, 2009

[News] More Things to Worry About Today

Presumably, the Vatican will be pleased because the Barcelona couple plan to get married before their baby arrives, but on the other hand, the lead mommy is in the middle of gender-reassignment (to become "Ruben") and has one-upped American Thomas Beattie by expecting twins. Daily Telegraph

Great Art! "Seats of Power" by Californian Beth Grossman, consisting of upholstered chair seats of the local city council members' butt imprints (to "humanize public involvement in city affairs"). Los Angeles Times

The Nuclear Family's Not What It Used to Be: A Kansas City, Mo., man shot his adult daughter in the ass because she had poured out perfectly good gin. And a 15-yr-old F State boy choked and beat the snot out of his father, twice, threatening to kill him and bury him in the yard, for selling the favorite truck that the kid had been driving around. KCTV (Kansas City) /// Star-Banner (Ocala)

Only in California: Lipstick Bail Bonds, where two ex-LAPD women and their band of hoochies use feminine distractions to do what Dog Chapman accomplishes by force. Orange County Register

One of the biggest, quickest downfalls in history: Marcus Einfeld was a superstar human-rights lawyer and all-around mensch in Australia for 30 yrs (including being formally named a "national living treasure"), but then came a A$77 speeding ticket that he tried to get out of by lying, and then lying again, and then lying again, and then lying again, which in turn invited scrutiny of his backstory, which wasn't all that, and now he's just an all-around shlemiel. The Australian

Your Daily Jury Duty
["In America, a person is presumed innocent until the mug shot is released"]
Cory Dodson, 25, Hamlin, N.Y., charged with aggravated telephone harassment (and try not to hold it against him that the harassees were cops who [CORRECTION: whom] Cory allegedly told weren't smart enough to trace his calls). Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester)

Today's Newsrangers: Karl Olson, Scott Langill, Lee Hasiuk, Paul Music, Jerry Whittle
Posted By: Chuck | Date: Mon Mar 23, 2009 | Comments (9)

[News] Catch-Up:  News I Shoulda Posted Last Week

Aussie Malcolm Biggs said he was a big fan of Steve Irwin's and that that gave him an over-inflated sense of confidence to try to rescue the wounded red-bellied black snake (which is venomous, and btw, snakes do not co-operate with "rescues"). [Ed.: About emulating Steve Irwin . . .] Courier Mail (Brisbane)

A Florida state senator with a fabulous first name, Larcenia Bullard of Miami, in a debate on the proposed legislation to make bestiality a crime but carving out an exception for legitimate "animal husbandry" work: "People are taking these animals as their husbands? . . . So that maybe was the reason the lady was so upset about the monkey (referring probably to the recent incident in Connecticut in which the chimp went crazy)?" Orlando Sentinel [scroll down]

Hundreds of independent gas station owners in New England who followed oil-disposal laws to the letter, dumping their used oil at a legal site in New Hampshire, are starting to be billed amounts into five figures to clean up the site, which is now a Superfund hell-pit, because the site's owner is broke. (Bonus: The independents who dumped their oil illegally are home-free.) Boston Globe

A House subcommittee found that, in a sampling, 56% of TARP bailout recipients last year owed back federal taxes at the time, yet the CEOs had sworn in writing that they didn't (and IRS is said to be "investigating"). Washington Post

Veteran prolific, old-school Tennessee moonshiner "Popcorn" Sutton, 61, was found dead, probably by suicide because he was scheduled to do a stretch in prison, since revenooers had raided his humongous stills (and also found a gun). Wall Street Journal /// Knoxville News-Sentinel [another classic photo]
Posted By: Chuck | Date: Mon Mar 23, 2009 | Comments (6)
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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.