Weird Universe Archive

January 2009

January 13, 2009

The Site to See If You Have a Humongously Short Attention Span is a super-caffeinated webpage aggregator, for people who don't want to miss anything, ever, either in this hour of the day or the next hour. "All the topics, all the time." Its News page is serious, the top-five headlines of the moment from all the big and medium-sized players. There's also an Oddities page with in the pole position, joined by 50 other sites (i.e., 250 headlines at your disposal at all times!). Weird Universe is not among them. News of the Weird is, except it's not my News of the Weird (the trademark for which I pay a coupla hundred bucks a year to register). It's this guy's, but there's not even an e-mail address for him, so I don't know who he is. My curmudgeonly self brings this to your attention as just another example of people doing things on the Internet . . just because they can. Who is the world, except possibly an Asperger's fringe group, would get any value at all from this page? Beware the aggregators, my friends; support your local editors and writers.


Posted By: Chuck - Tue Jan 13, 2009 - Comments (5)

Cherry-Busting, Sister-Scamming, Sushi-Knife-Stabbing

More Things to Worry About
from News of the Weird Daily
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Three California foreclosure scammers were busted after convincing some people that all they had to do to keep the banks away was to declare their homes sovereign nations. KNSD-TV (San Diego)

Suspicions confirmed: Two economists show that when state gov't revenue drops by 1 percent, traffic-ticket-writing goes up the next year by 30 percent. Charlotte Observer

Bernard Madoff's scam, by the way, also took down his own sister for $3m (which is one reason he was mailing her all the jewelry that almost got his bail revoked). New York Post

Australia's Queensland Rail said, yes, we refunded to passengers in one serious crash, but not another, because in that second one, the crash occurred late in the ride, when it was almost over, so those people got their money's worth. Courier-Mail (Brisbane)

The Fletcher family complained about poor service at the Manor Restaurant in Britain, but management decided to fight back, pointing out that its surveillance video on the family's table showed they were actually having a jolly ol' time. (The Fletchers: You . . had us . . under . . surveillance?) Daily Telegraph

He and his brother were confirmed momma's boys until he was 48 yrs old, and then he won big in the Lottery, and Momma got sick, and he actually went out on a date, and he lost his cherry, and now he'll walk the aisle. The Sun

An Aussie man accidentally shot himself in the thigh with his own speargun, missing both his femoral artery and his crown jewels by the tiniest of margins. Sunshine Coast Daily via

Comments on Things to Worry About?
Comments 'worry_090113'

Your Daily Loser
He is/was 22 yrs old, and in the course of robbing a restaurant in Paris, he snatched the tray holding waiters' tips. Unfortunately for him, it was a sushi restaurant, and one of the outraged waiters was holding a fish-paring knife, and the robber was sculpted to death. Daily Mail (London)
Comments 'robbed_sushi'

Editor's Note
In last week's story of God-oriented writer Neale Donald Walsch [WeirdUniverse, 1-7-2009], I might have, y'know, made fun of his crass, tacky attempt to avoid responsibility for lying about whether a heartwarming story he stole had actually happened to him, personally. You should know, however, that some folks more educated than us have decided that there is a disorder called "cryptomnesia," aka "inadvertent plagiarism" ("remembering" things that never happened to you). I am so ashamed of having made fun of these helplessly afflicted victims and so encouraged to know that such a large percentage of what I thought was "lying" was not "lying" at all but just a grave, unfortunate mental condition! Wikipedia entry
Comments 'editors_walsch'

Today's Newsrangers: Pete Randall, Kathryn Wood, Sandy Pearlman

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Jan 13, 2009 - Comments (0)

Kenner 1973 Toy Catalog, #16

"Your eyes won't believe what your hands have done!" How incredibly accurate is this statement, as the tagline for so very many of the perps who parade across WEIRD UNIVERSE.


Posted By: Paul - Tue Jan 13, 2009 - Comments (4)
Category: Toys, Advertising, 1970s

Death Forever But Friendship by the Hour

News of the Weird Daily
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Insanity defense fails for the boy who killed his mother for taking away his Halo 3
As punishment, they wouldn't let him "kill" aliens for a while. So, "Would you guys close your eyes? I have a surprise for you." The parents went along with it, and moments later, both were shot (Dad survived). The judge said the kid knew right from wrong and therefore was guilty, but added, astonishingly (since the kid was 15 yrs old at the time): "I firmly believe that [the boy] had no idea at the time he hatched this plot that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever." Associated Press via WBBM Radio (Chicago)
Comments 'death_forever'

Relief coming soon for us nerds and other shut-ins
At the Adult Entertainment Expo in Vegas, the RealTouch was unveiled (about $150) and will go on sale next month. Men stick their clintons into one end of it and hook the other end by USB to their computers, and a video ($1/minute online) sends signals of what's happening on screen to supposedly make you believe you're the one doing it. Yee-hah! Agence France-Presse via Yahoo ///
Comments 'real_touch'

The Way The World Works (continuing series)
It's historically been one of the poorer countries on Earth, and under the five yrs of Taliban rule so rudely interrupted by the U.S. in 2001, individual rights in Afghanistan were brutalized. On the other hand, the Quranic gov't was at least honest and kept the neighborhoods safe. On the other-other hand, the current gov't is a cesspool of corruption (both grand and petty); the opium trade is bigger than ever; and the divide between the almost-all-poor and the few super-rich now dwarfs the inequality in, say, Brazil. Progress! Washington Post
Comments 'afghanistan_progress'

Weird Japan (renting "friends"; starting a "smell club"; paying $104k for a tuna)
Evidently, you can rent almost anything you need in Japan, even face time with "professional pets" at cafes (dogs and cats, of course, but also a rabbit, a ferret, or a beetle). Or you can rent face time with a hot college co-ed (no sex, just an effervescent young thing acting interested). Or you can rent people to play your relatives at weddings and funerals, even expertly pretending to recall your favorite moments growing up. Or single mothers can rent dad to help with the kids. And more. BBC News
A Smell Club website (no English version yet) is a gathering place for "smellists" who submit what to them are distinct aromas of such and such (like "old sneakers after a three-hour workout"). You can't get the actual smell by Internet (yet!), but the idea is to have a database of everything that smells different than anything else. The Guardian
Two restaurants in Japan each bought half a bluefin tuna at auction for the equivalent of $104k. A high-end joint cuts its half into larger slivers, for which it charges about $22 each, and a popular dive cuts its half into 3,000 tinier ones, for about half that price. Buried Lede: People in Japan will pay $22 for a bite of fish. Wall Street Journal
Comments 'weird_japan'

Your Daily Jury Duty
["In America, a person is presumed innocent until the mug shot is released"]
Here's a gal who don't need no RealTouch: Emma Modrate, 26, is charged with "outraging public decency," which is the latest of her 32-item rap sheet. Does she look like she could be guilty of (a) being given permission by her boyfriend to service him in front of other people, three different times or (b) for that matter, acquiring a boyfriend in the first place (unless, of course, she's too great a "servicer" to pass up)? The Sun (London)
Comments 'emma_modrate'

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Jan 13, 2009 - Comments (0)

Johnny Lovewisdom

Johnny Lovewisdom (1919-2000) sounds like an interesting character. Some facts about his life from Wikipedia:
  • He was the author of The Buddhist Essene Gospel of Jesus.
  • He was a long-time advocate of fruitarianism (a diet of 100% fruit).
  • He tried to live solely on the papaya tree's fruit and leaves. Eventually, he started to bleed profusely as a result of developing a severe allergic reaction to papaya.
  • Likely as a result of various diets, he suffered from paralysis and poor eyesight, and is thought to have had neurological problems associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • He lived as a hermit in the mountain crater lake, Quilotoa, in Ecuador. Lovewisdom believed that the thin air at high altitudes would allow him to develop clairvoyance and "drink alcohol like water without getting drunk."
  • For a time, he ran a mail order diploma mill and signed his name followed by several degrees: N.H.D, M.D, Sc. D, Ps. D, Ph. D, D.D.
  • He believed himself to be the reincarnation of Milarepa and John the Baptist.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 13, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Food, Nutrition

January 12, 2009

Expensive Pets

Alex's post on animal owners seems to have divided WU readers into two camps: those who would pay any sum to heal their pet, and those who would duct-tape a gerbil at the first sign of infirmity.

I'm sure both types of readers would like to learn about the experiences of Kim Cavallero.

Due to myriad health issues, Kim Cavallero has racked up more than $20,000 in veterinary bills for her cat, Annie, in the past year. Through the employee assistance program at her job, she discovered Feline Outreach. "During a time when people thought I was crazy for continuing to care for my pet through very serious and expensive medical care, Feline Outreach validated me -- especially emotionally,'' she said. "With their grant, they let me know that I was doing the right thing for my cat.''

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 12, 2009 - Comments (12)
Category: Animals, Medicine, Money

Justice in Texas and Wisconsin, and Checking Over Your Arithmetic in Maryland

News of the Weird Daily
Monday, January 12, 2009

Not a perfect double standard for teenage sex, but close
Last week in Sheboygan, Wis., a 17-yr-old girl got busted for consensual sex with a 14-yr-old boy, and a 17-yr-old boy got busted for consensual sex with a 14-yr-old girl; the 17-girl was charged with a misdemeanor and the 17-boy was charged with a felony. Yeah, the first was girlfriend/boyfriend while the second was boy/runaway-girl, but still . . .. Sheboygan Press
Comments 'double_standard'

Belgians take lots of sick leave
Some gov't agencies' employees average 35 sick days a yr. Europewide, it's 11.3/yr (vs. 4.5/yr in U.S.). Only a little bit of investigating of malingering is going on. "Only" 5 percent of absentees are provably cheating (but many, many more are "sick" with depression, the remedy for which might be to take a few days, or weeks, off and go have fun and kick that depression). (On the other hand, a guy who earns the equivalent of about $34k only gets to keep $21k of it after taxes, so . . ..) Wall Street Journal
Comments 'belgians_sickleave'

Go-cart park for construction-worker wannabes
Mannerspielplatz, near Kassel, Germany, charges the equivalent of about $280 for entry, but then you get to operate 29-ton backhoes and 32-ton front-end loaders, among other big toys. "We fulfill men's dreams" is the ad slogan, and, naturally, deskbound wimps are the major demographic. Wired magazine (January)
Comments 'construction_themepark'

Readers' Choice: More evidence of "Texas justice [sic]"
Death row inmate Andre Thomas, 25, ate his left eye in December after he just yanked it out. Sounds like he's nuts (and thus cannot be executed), but not in Texas. Thomas yanked out his right eye in 2004, yet the judge and jury still thought he knew right from wrong. And his arrest earlier in 2004, for three murders, came about because he walked into a police station to confess and handed over the three victims' hearts, which he had carved out of their corpses. Associated Press via Yahoo
Comments 'texas_eyeballs'

It's not like getting Madoffed, but it's still $31 million
In 2007 the Montgomery County, Md., real-estate assessment office mis-added some numbers and entered $16 billion more into the land value in the county than was there, and nobody ever checked the math, and that number got entered several more times in state and federal records, and eventually the state of Maryland was denied about $31 million in federal grants that it deserved to have under the law but couldn't get because its land is thus too valuable. Washington Post
Comments 'maryland_arithmetic'

Can't Possibly Be True: There's a company of door-to-door stockbrokers
(Bonus: They're hiring!) The average salesperson makes $65k/yr; they've been around since 1922; and they've been in trouble only once lately (for not disclosing that they get a fee for steering clients to certain mutual funds). And since they were almost totally into conservative investments, they didn't crash as badly as others did last year, and besides, the salespeople were ordered to call clients to apologize for the stock market's bad behavior. Still, you read it right: There's a company of door-to-door stockbrokers, and they're hiring. Wall Street Journal
Comments 'doortodoor_stockbrokers'

"The Arrangements Have Been Made" (continuing series)
A contractor named Sonny Otero bought some land in 2004 and then in 2006 sold it to the state of New Mexico, whose taxpayers paid Mr. Otero a $3.2m flipping profit, which they only were able to do because somebody in the legislature pushed through a vote on a special exception to the law, and then the exception bill was signed by the governor. Mr. Otero's one of the governor's biggest campaign supporter/contributors (though he hasn't contributed anywhere near $3.2m). That's how the world works, and that's one of the reasons the President-Elect had to go find another Secretary of Commerce. New York Times
Comments 'sonny_otero'

Your Daily Jury Duty
["In America, a person is presumed innocent until the mug shot is released"]
Fredrick Wessel and his wife Sharon, of Indianapolis, are the people pictured in this video and (scroll down) these mug shots. Remember: It doesn't matter what they're charged with; seriousness of the crime only relates to severity of punishment if they are convicted. Our only duty here: Are they guilty? WRTV (Indianapolis)
Comments 'fredrick_wessel'

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jan 12, 2009 - Comments (0)

Underwater Wedding


June, the month of weddings, is practically around the corner. Why not plan for an underwater one, like this couple from 1954, courtesy of the Life Online Photo Archives...?

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 12, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Ceremonies, Weddings, Eccentrics, 1950s, Couples

Kenner 1973 Toy Catalog, #15

A toy that can be blamed for fostering the notion that every kid is possessed of equal artistic ability.


Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 12, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Toys, Advertising, 1970s

The 5 Types of Annoying Pet Owners

Sociological research, detailed in a 1994 article in the journal Qualitative Sociology, reveals that veterinarians classify annoying pet owners into five different types. I suspect I would fall into the animal-nut category.

Ignorant clients
"Some clients were so hopelessly ignorant of the basic requirements of animal caretaking that they were viewed with a sort of sad bemusement. Frequently, these owners were the focus of joking among the staff." Example: One client insisted that, because she had paid over $350 for her cat, it should be immune to fleas.

Inattentive and Demanding Clients
"Belligerent clients complained, disputed diagnoses, demanded special considerations, and generally did not behave in the compliant and appreciative manner deemed appropriate by the doctors."

Neglectful Clients
"Unlike the ideally compliant and realistic client, some owners were viewed negatively by the staff because their pets' physical condition indicated that they were neglectful of or indifferent to their animals' well-being, For the most part, the veterinarians maintained that this type of client was rare since the very fact that a person brought their animal for veterinary services demonstrated that he or she feels at least a minimal concern for the creature's health."

Over-Involved Clients (animal nuts)
"Over-involved clients were deemed troublesome because of the extra time and unnecessary attention that frequently had to be devoted to them. This client commonly provided the veterinarian with excessive and overly detailed information about his or her pet's condition and behavior, thus making it difficult for the doctor to determine what was actually going on with the animal... Not all 'animal-nuts' were defined as problems, however. Frequently, the vets recognized that people who are strongly attached to their animals were the prime consumers of their services."

Cost-Focused Clients
"Clients who were more worried about the cost of the service than they were about the welfare of the animal tended to be negatively evaluated, while those for whom money was a secondary issue were more positively defined as appropriately conscientious owners."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 12, 2009 - Comments (10)
Category: Animals

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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 Shepherd
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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