Most days I'd pay someone not to look under my sofa. That said, at http://www.opulentitems.com/unique-gift-idea.html
or Opulent Items, for only $200 you can have an led light that changes colors for under your sofa. This site, touted as 'home of unusual luxury', has many such essential items. For $40 an i-pod docking station/toilet paper dispenser so you can take care of business without missing a minute of your playlist. Guys, how about a voice controlled tv remote? If you misplace it just yell and the channel will still change. Perfect because when you lose the remote you yell anyway, so now it will be productive! On the less expensive end of the scale, we have a color changing led light that comes on when you run the faucet for just $15. For that unrepentant, well to do smoker there is the lovely (at least before it is used) diamond ashtray. This falls at the upper end of the price range at $7,250. Wow, what a steal!
Peruse at your leisure and see how a fool and his money are parted.
News of the Weird / Pro Edition
July 13, 2009 (news from July 4-11)
Retiring a News of the Weird Evergreen
Our old friend H. Beatty Chadwick, never convicted of doing anything wrong, has nonetheless been incarcerated near Philadelphia since the middle of President Clinton's first term, to encourage him to hand over money to his ex-wife in their divorce proceeding. At the time, he swore there was no money, that he had lost it all in investments. The judge didn't believe him, then or on any of the ensuing 5,200 days, but on Friday, the law finally said, 14 yrs, WTF? Some murderers in Pennsylvania are out way sooner than that. Philadelphia Inquirer
Economic Stimulus Is Working
Why, there's even a £50k ($80k) job opening for a witch, living the life, looking hag-like, cackling. It's for a tourist park that features a replica Dark Ages cave, which must have a witch on duty. BBC News
Nothing Is My Fault
(1) A well-to-do British doctor retired in 1991 and donated everything he owned to the Self Realization Meditation Healing Centre because he felt at one with its lady guru. It took 18 yrs for this highly educated man to work himself free of the fraud by that manipulative, 78-yr-old woman . . which means . . lawsuit! (2) A 15-yr-old girl in New York City fell into an open manhole, got a little skinned up and bruised, went to the hospital briefly, and maybe got an MRI to see if there was worse damage. That's a lawsuit, too! (Bonus: She fell in because she was distracted by texting.) Daily Telegraph /// New York Daily News
Barney and Gomer on Duty for Your Safety
When Yr Editor had business in federal buildings in Washington way before 9-11, it was jolly fun to try and game the "security" guards by flashing a true ID but then signing in under a completely different name, to see if they would notice. To my knowledge, no guard ever did. Obviously, security has improved since 9-11, in tha— . . . wait, it says here in this GAO report that things are worse. Secure buildings may have X-ray machines now, but if the Federal Protective Service officers ignore the monitors— . . which investigators found a high incidence of, they could sneak in bomb-making components at 10 sites, unbothered. . Washington Post
As if "swine flu" wasn't bad enough, Scientific American is reporting that the Ebola virus has been detected in domestic pigs in the Philippines. The particular strain of the virus, Reston ebolavirus, is not known to cause fatal haemorrhagic fever in humans, but is still rated a class 4 pathogen by the US Center for Disease Control (it's highest rating) because of the extreme fatality rate and absence of effective treatment of the disease caused by other Ebola viruses. One farmhand who worked with the pigs has also tested positive for R.ebolavirus, but is asymptomatic.
In this case it seems like most likely that the pigs caught the disease from the human rather than the other way round. However that pigs can catch and potentially pass on the organism to humans is an unexpected, and worrying, development. Michael McIntosh of the Department of Agriculture expressed concern not only that the Reston strain might mutate into something more deadly in its new host, but that the other disease-causing strains might also be using pigs as a reservoir. "What is the level of risk?" said McIntosh, "We really don't know" (Scientific American Article) (Paper in Science).
Prank phone calls- 'Is your refrigerator running?' 'Better go catch it!' or 'Do you have Prince Albert in a can?' 'Better go let him out!'. Most kids make a few harmless, if annoying to the receiver, calls at some point. Not a big deal right? Well it's becoming a big deal to hotels across the country. Pranksters are calling guests, and in some cases employees, with outrageous requests in the name of emergencies. In Orlando, Florida a vacationing police officer did $5,000 worth of damage to a room because a caller claiming to be the front desk clerk told his wife there was a gas leak. The man had thrown a mattress out the window and the couple and their three children were instructed to jump to 'safety'. Fortunately the Hotel Manager showed up, on a noise complaint, in time to stop them. No charges were filed, nor was the couple made to pay the damages as they believed it was a real emergency. In Arkansas hotel employees were convinced to test the emergency alarms by a caller claiming to work for the sprinkler system company. They subsequently caused $50,000 worth of damage. A Comfort Suites in Alabama was damaged to the tune of $10,000 by sprinklers being set off. This time by a guest who callers had fooled into thinking there was a fire in the hotel. Then we have the Nebraska debacle. Employees were instructed to pull the fire alarm. Next they were told to break the front window to stop the alarm. The employees asked a truck driver to drive into the front of the building to break the widow, and he obliged them. Wow, phone pranks have come a long way since the days of 'Could you page Richard Hurtz, oh he goes by Dick.' http://www.orl.com/news/local/breakingnews/orl-bk-hotel-prank-070809,0,5685745.story
Update: My apologies for the bad link. Here's a different one with the same story- http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2009/07/unsuspecting_guests_employees.html
Many people joke about it, and there is even a dessert named Death by Chocolate, but it is no laughing matter. A man working at a chocolate processing plant in New Jersey lost his footing, fell into the large melting vat, and was hit in the head by the agitator.
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 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.