Back in the day, students were taught the important subjects at school, such as how to kill rats. Here's a description of rat-killing lessons at the Farm and Trade School on Thompson's Island, circa 1907. From Rats and Rat Riddance (1914), by Edward Howe Forbrush:
At the Farm and Trade School on Thompson's Island, where the boy pupils are taught to kill rats, as all boys should be, there is a henhouse built with a cement foundation, but it has an earth floor and no foundation wall on the south side; therefore it is not rat-proof. The wooden floor of the main house is raised about three feet above the earth, leaving a space below it for a shelter for geese. Here the rats have burrowed in the earth, and as it was considered unsafe to use carbon bisulphide there on account of the fire danger, water was suggested. Two lines of common garden hose were attached to a near-by hydrant, the ends inserted into rat holes and the water turned on. All rat holes leading from the henpens to the outer world were closed with earth, and several boys were provided with sticks, to the end of each of which a piece of hose two feet long had been attached. A fox terrier was introduced into the henpens, and in about half an hour the rat war began. As the half-drowned rats came out of their holes somewhat dazed they were struck by side swings of the hose sticks, which knocked them off their feet, to be killed by other blows. If one escaped into the henpens, boy or dog killed it. This operation was repeated later from time to time. Four successive battles several weeks apart yielded 152 rats from under and about this henhouse, and no doubt many young rats were drowned in their nests. Where no high-pressure water main is available burrows on the banks of pond, river or ocean might be cleared in this way by means of a powerful sewer pump and hose.
The pictures show the schoolboys showing off their kill, as well as the rats strung up.
The News of the Weird Blog Angst, Confusion, Cynicism, Ridicule
Hand-Picked and Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
Sunday, December 30, 2012
San Diego: What were you doing in 1989? This guy was stealing, and hiding, a brand-new Corvette--put it in a storage locker and paid rent for 23 yrs before the latest price increase did him in. (He says storage cost him $70k over the yrs.) Still has a new-car smell, 67 miles on the odometer. (Bonus: The DA gave him a pass because he’s remorseful and cooperative.) Los Angeles Times
Holywell, England: Troy Hamilton is the most recent guy to steal a video survillance camera but accidentally get his face caught on tape (“camera,” in this case, meaning the lens unit only). Yr Editor includes this story only because of the startling revelation by the Mold Crown Court magistrate that he was assigning Hamilton to a “thinking skills course,” run by the probation service. England 1, U.S. 0. BBC News
Dorset, Vt.: Donald Blood III was charged with DUI after driving on the lawn at a home. (Bonus: It was Wilson House, a “sanctuary” owned by the late co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson.) Associated Press via Yahoo News
Newcastle-Under-Lyme, England: Julie Griffiths, 43, was upgraded to a 5-yr Anti-Social Behavior Order after her local council’s “monitoring equipment” was installed in a neighbor’s house and calculated that she screeched at her old man 47 noise-ordinance-busting times in three months. (Apparently, he’s fine with that, maybe because she’s such a knockout!) Daily Telegraph
Update: Our friend Jonathan Lee Riches temporarily abandoned his preferred m.o. for getting attention (litigation against famous people) in favor of declaring himself the uncle of Sandy Hook school shooter Adam Lanza. (Bonus: The Smoking Gun appears to have caught Radar Online making up stuff. TSG says it was Riches who filed the latest Britney Spears-Kevin Federline lawsuit, but Radar Online has various “insider” quotes as if the story were authentic. Well done.) The Smoking Gun
End of Year Treat: The fellas at Deadspin.com present their annual compilation of items people got stuck in various orifices (from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which swears all they did was peel off the Centers for Disease Control database). Refrigerator magnets in each nostil, a nickel in someone else’s nose, plus ya got all your private parts chronicled. Deadspin (2012) /// Deadspin (2011)
Miss Elsie Scheel was proclaimed the perfect female specimen in a 1912 New York Times piece. At 5'7" and 171 pounds, how far from ideal would she be proclaimed to be today? Perhaps some of the hysterics over the 'obesity epidemic' are a matter of perspective and cultural norms. On the other hand, she was a blue eyed blonde, so that preference holds.
See, here's what I don't understand: when the two hands are shown scrubbing towards the end, are they the same intelligent face-bearing hands depicted earlier, bashing their facial features against one another till they all fall off? I mean, that's the logic of this nightmare world, right? But if so, where's the screaming?
Honorificabilitudinitatibus, in Latin, means "the state of being able to achieve honours," but it's also an English word and is unusual for a number of reasons. First, according to wikipedia it's "the longest word in the English language featuring alternating consonants and vowels."
Second, it's used exactly once by Shakespeare, in Love's Labour's Lost:
O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon.
But this single use is considered highly significant by those who believe Francis Bacon wrote all of Shakespeare's works, since honorificabilitudinitatibus happens to be an anagram for "hi ludi, F. Baconis nati, tuiti orbi," which in Latin means "these plays, F. Bacon's offspring, are preserved for the world."
Watch the video below if you need help pronouncing it.
Researchers Anna Lomanowska and Matthieu Guitton spent a year examining scantily-clad avatars in the game Second Life in order to determine just how much skin they show — and whether the female avatars show more skin, on average, than the male avatars. A tough job, but someone had to do it! They discovered that "virtual females disclose substantially more naked skin than virtual males." This adds to the growing body of evidence that pretty much everyone likes looking at naked women. (Advertisers have known this since forever.) Their full article can be read at PLOS ONE.
United States Border Patrol agents found some 'suspicious' cans on the US side of the border with Mexico recently. Upon closer inspection the cans were filled with cannabis and had apparently been shot over the border with a cannon. Wonder how much trouble the guy who thought that one up is in now.
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.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.