Weird Universe Archive

January 2014

January 5, 2014

Ice Truck

On December 12, 2013 the Canadian Tire Ice Truck attempted to set a World Record for being the first, self propelled ice creation to drive. Not only did the Ice Truck drive but it travelled 1.6 kilometers in its record setting attempt.

Read more about it here.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 05, 2014 - Comments (5)

News of the Weird (January 5, 2014)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M352, January 5, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd

Lead Story

People With Too Much Money: During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney caught criticism for his proposed California home with parking on an upper floor, requiring a car elevator. Much more elaborate elevator access will be available in the new Porsche Design Tower near Miami (opening in 2016 and already 80 percent sold out, according to a December report by The 132 oceanside units (in square footage from 4,300 to 17,000 and in price from $5.3 million to $32.5 million) include glass-walled, elevator-accessed spaces for two or four cars (for people who would rather admire their Bugattis and Maseratis than the Atlantic Ocean). [, 12-11-2013]

Can’t Possibly Be True

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: Equality Under Law: (1) In December, Fort Worth, Tex., judge Jean Boyd sentenced teenager Ethan Couch to probation with no jail time for drunkenly killing four people in a car crash--apparently accepting Couch’s “defense” that his affluent, permissive childhood had taught him irresponsibility. (WFAA-TV turned up a 2012 case in which Judge Boyd sentenced a 14-year-old black kid to 10 years in prison for punching another boy who then fell, bumped his head, and died.) (2) New York City prostitute murderer Rasheen Everett got a 29-year-sentence in December, despite his lawyer’s “defense” that the was merely a transgendered prostitute. (“Shouldn’t [29-year-sentences] be reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain [higher] classes of individuals?”) [KRLD-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth), 12-10-2013] [WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth), 12-13-2013] [New York Post, 12-6-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Tension over digital security is such that an alarming disclosure made in 2004 (and largely ignored) can resurface on a website in 2013 and appear even more astonishing. At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s (and largely because of Pentagon-White House contentiousness), “safeguards” were installed to prevent rogue generals from launching nuclear war on their own. What today would be a “PIN” number was assigned to each missile, but Strategic Air Command generals mocked the PINs by setting each one to “00000000"--a code that today would be ridiculed as naive. (Furthermore, “00000000" was then written out on each missile’s instructions, according to the former launch control officer who disclosed it in 2004.) [Huffington Post, 12-5-2013] [Center for Defense Information, 4-4-2004]

Many medical professionals are certain that Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, 70, is a quack, treating cancer patients with expensive, FDA-unapproved substances, giving false hope to the terminally-ill and in some cases diverting them from better-regarded treatments. However, according to a December USA Today investigation, Dr. Burzynski enjoys enthusiastic support from a small but dedicated group of patients, and neither regulators in Texas (where he is licensed) nor two juries (who turned back indictments against him) have been able to stop him. FDA regulators have been inconsistent toward him but appear to be gaining aggressiveness following recent inspections of his facilities. (Dr. Burzynski manufactures his own proprietary drugs, charging around $10,000 a month to patients who can pay.) [USA Today, 11-17-2013]


PREVIOUSLY: One Rule Fits All: Jim Howe, father of two boys at South Cumberland Elementary School in Crossville, Tenn., was handcuffed and briefly detained by a sheriff’s deputy in November after mistakenly believing that he could walk his kids home when class let out at 2 p.m. Actually, the school allows 2 p.m. departure only for kids being picked up in cars; pupils who leave on foot must wait until 2:35. (Howe assumed that the waiting period was only to protect young pedestrians from pick-up traffic.) Deputy Avery Aytes said a rule is a rule and that if Howe failed to cooperate, he would be jailed. [WATE-TV (Knoxville), 11-18-2013]

David Friehling, who was identified as Bernard Madoff’s accountant soon after Madoff’s 2008 confession to running his notorious Ponzi scheme, provided evidence in November that a certain Madoff associate knew all along that Madoff was running bogus numbers on his books--testifying that he dutifully certified all such falsified documents that the associate showed him. In 2009, Friehling, in pleading guilty for his personal role in the scam, revealed that somehow he had actually blown $4.3 million of his own money in the swindle (on behalf of his children and other family members). [New York Post, 11-13-2013]

Overcompensation: Mr. Kelcey Nicholas, 28, was arrested, along with Lataura Jarrett, 21, in Mt. Nebo, W.Va., in September and charged with having incestuous relations. Thus, West Virginia--a popular target for jokes about cultural tolerance for incest and inbreeding--appears to be boldly reversing course, since Jarrett is merely Nicholas’s step-daughter. [WV Metro News (Charleston, W.Va.), 9-20-2013]

Unclear on the Concept

Police finally arrested William Footman, 55, in October as the person who somehow managed to swipe inside-front-door mats from at least 37 New York City banks between March and May 2013. No money was ever taken, and some banks were slow to realize the thefts--unobservant that they had even had front-door mats in the first place. “I sell them to bodegas,” Footman told a reporter. “Their floors get wet.” [New York Times, 10-26-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Rodney Rotert of Tulsa, Okla., filed a lawsuit recently against Philadelphia Insurance Companies demanding the return of “his” classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, supposedly worth about $100,000. His case is complicated by the fact that he also recently pleaded no-contest to possessing stolen property, i.e., that very same car, stolen from an Arkansas dealer in 2007. (Rotert claims he bought the car legitimately, but he also changed the Vehicle Identification Number to obtain a false title.) Rotert said his legal claim, especially with the “current” VIN, is superior to the insurance company’s claim. [KOTV, 11-18-2013]


PREVIOUSLY: While many educators lament the mediocrity of American universities in encouraging study of science and engineering, U.S. colleges are surely among world leaders in one area: sensitivity to students questioning their gender. In the current school year, Bellevue (Wash.) College and Mills College (Oakland, Calif.) have offered students unprecedented choices of self-identification. “Male/female” is no longer useful at Bellevue, which offers among “feminine, masculine, androgynous, gender neutral, transgender, and other.” At Mills, students identify themselves as “agender, bigender, third-gender, or gender-fluid,” and select the pronoun they wish to be referred to with (he or she or ze or sie or ve, or the agrammatical “they”). [, 12-2-2013; Associated Press via Yahoo News, 11-30-2013]

The Continuing Crisis

PREVIOUSLY: When a pickpocket shared a taxi ride with him recently in China’s Hunan province and somehow managed to lift Zou Bin’s iPhone, Zou was frightened that he had lost all of his beverage-industry business contacts and began text-messaging desperate pleas to the thief. Several days later, in the postal mail, Zou received a list of his contacts, apparently carefully copied from the phone, totaling 11 handwritten pages of names and numbers, and as the story broke on Chinese social media, the earnest thief was referred to as “the conscience of the [robbery] industry,” and compared to a model member of the People's Liberation Army that the Chinese should aspire to. [BBC News, 11-25-2013]

News That Sounds Like a Joke

PREVIOUSLY: Iowa lawyer Robert Allan Wright, Jr., was suspended for a year by the Attorney Disciplinary Board in December for mishandling client funds. One client had received a “Nigerian inheritance” letter in 2011, and Wright apparently jumped at the opportunity to receive “$18 million,” seemingly unaware of what almost everyone else in the developed world knows about unsolicited Nigerian business deals. By December 2013, Wright had looted accounts of other clients in order to pay the “fees” necessary to free up the $18 million. He was spared a more onerous punishment only because the Board concluded that Wright “honestly” “continues to believe” that the inheritance is real--that “one day a trunk full of . . . one hundred dollar bills is going to appear upon his office doorstep.” [, 12-6-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Tough Sell for the French, Even at Discount: The Petite Syrah café in the city of Nice, France, began pricing its coffee differently in December, to introduce greater politeness among the notoriously brusque French. If a patron orders by saying, “Bonjour, un café, s’il vous plait” (i.e., with “hello” and “please”) the price is 1.40 euros (about $1.90). “Un café, s’il vous plait”--not quite as polite, 4.25 euros (about $5.80). The price for “Un cafe!”--apparently the usual way of announcing one’s need for coffee--7 euros (about $9.50). [ (Paris), 12-10-2013]

Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jan 05, 2014 - Comments (6)

January 4, 2014

The Legend of Lost Cove

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 04, 2014 - Comments (2)
Category: Amateurs and Fans, Movies, Pirates, 1930s

Hands-Free Umbrella

A 1953 invention:

And its descendant in 2005:

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 04, 2014 - Comments (5)
Category: Inventions, 1950s

January 3, 2014

Wrapped in coil

Problem: how could advertisers make a new cooling line for an air conditioner interesting?
Solution: wrap the cooling line around a young model, take a photo, and then distribute the photo to newspapers, which dutifully ran the image back in September 1966.

air conditioner model

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 03, 2014 - Comments (12)
Category: Advertising, 1960s

Group Photo Mystery


Why are these lads all assembled for this photo opportunity?

Answer after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 03, 2014 - Comments (7)
Category: Photography and Photographers, Teenagers, 1960s

January 2, 2014

Beautiful Existence At Starbucks

Beautiful Existence, her legal name, ate only at Starbucks for all of 2013. It cost her $500 to $600 a month to complete the 'challenge'. Between $6000 and $7200 for the year. I have one question; why??

Posted By: patty - Thu Jan 02, 2014 - Comments (6)
Category: Eating

A jar of moleasses

Available on eBay for only $16.55 (plus shipping). These are the byproduct of taxidermied mole front ends. Item condition: Used.
[via 7 Deadly Sinners]

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 02, 2014 - Comments (10)
Category: Taxidermy

January 1, 2014

Best Xmas Card 2013


Now that the season is officially over, I can state with certainty that the best card I received this year was from WU's own Rick Altergott, depicting the artist, his charming and beautiful wife Ariel, and their son Eddie.

Happy New Year to all!

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jan 01, 2014 - Comments (4)
Category: Art, Holidays, Weird Universe

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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.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

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