Weird Universe Archive

June 2015

June 23, 2015

Happy Birthday Patty

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Everyone wish our Patty a Happy 51st old lady birthday !!

Posted By: BrokeDad - Tue Jun 23, 2015 - Comments (7)
Category: Holidays, 1960s

News of the Weird / Plus, June 23, 2015

News of the Weird / Plus
June 23, 2015 (Part 2) [weird stuff that made me excited (frightened) (ROTFL) (appalled) last week, some of which will appear in News of the Weird soon] [Part 1 on Monday, Part 2 on Tuesday]

WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Mich., noted that the heating and air-conditioning at 19 local schools is still, to this day, controlled by a Gateway computer running Windows 95 an Apple Lisa a Commodore Amiga. WOOD-TV

Suspicion Confirmed: Three part-time New York City postal workers were busted for writing bogus Dear-Santa-We’re-Poor children’s letters for display at Xmas time so that bleeding hearts would shower them with gifts. It worked. New Yorkers are notoriously generous in the few days before Xmas (thus freeing themselves up from that annoying “generosity” until the next Xmas). New York Post

How drunk do they get in Ireland? Gerard McGaughey caused about $800 damage at a bar (and knocked himself out) when he crashed against the front window. According to the surveillance video, he was trying to head-butt his own reflection. DerryNow.com

It’s getting out now that, since the gov’t closed its pathogen-research lab just off NY’s Long Island (where winds could blow any oops-ies out to sea) and gave Homeland Security authority to re-establish it somewhere, they decided to put it in Kansas (aka “Tornado Alley,” where oops-ies would contaminate the entire Midwest food supply). [Note to Readers: You’re too late; SyFy channel’s probably looking at a dozen scripts right now. Slate.com

In a BBC documentary, Stephen Hawking’s son, Tim (now 36), said as a lad he messed with the old man, adding cuss words to his speech-machine software and bumper-car-racing with his wheelchairs. [ed. Obviously, that was before The Simpsons writers drew Hawking up some aggressive wheelchair accessories.] Mother Nature Network

Matt McMullen, inventor of super-realistic RealDolls, is working on adding animation--meaning that half of all Japanese men (and a fair percentage of the rest of us) will have no further need for women. The problem, though is the “uncanny valley,” which of course refers to the market-tested fact that if the doll is too real, it will be perceived as creepy. That is, no matter how realistic McMullen can make them, they still have to look a little like . . dolls. New York Times

How to Be a Dept. of Homeland Security Bureaucrat: If you catch border-jumpers, blindly assume (a) they’re not jumping in order to claim asylum and (b) they’re here mainly for the purpose of taking jobs away from Americans (i.e., deportable). The bureaucrats learn about (b) by (allegedly, that is) asking the border-jumper point-blank. (That’s what the bureaucrats’ forms say, anyway--even if the border-jumper was . . 3 yrs old . . or 11 days old, even.) Huffington Post

Nine NYC graffiti-ists/vandals filed a lawsuit against a landlord who whitewashed their work from his building without notifying them in advance. Seems a bit of chutzpah . . except that if they convince a federal judge that their work has “recognized stature,” the landlord will owe damages under the U.S. Visual Artist Rights Act. New York Daily News

Republican presidential contender (sort of) Carly Fiorina is, with her hubby, rich (net worth about $59m) (2013 income, $2.5m) and made it a campaign talking point that the Fiorinas had to file 17 state tax returns in addition to the federal. A New York Times writer selected their “Michigan” return as an example, finding that they owed the state $40 in 2013--but only determinable after filling out 58 pages’ worth of data the state requires (in order to show that everything else Michigan could charge them for was actually more justly payable to other states). Wrote the Times, gently, “[O]ther advanced countries generally do not emulate” the U.S. tax structure. New York Times

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Jun 23, 2015 - Comments (2)
Category:

Extraterrestrial Real Estate

In my latest about.com article, I explore some of the characters who have claimed to own the sun, moon, stars, and planets (and are often willing to sell plots of land on them, for a nominal price).

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 23, 2015 - Comments (2)
Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy

The Adorable Circle of Life

Chicago-based artist Alex Solis has a series of illustrations that show predators doing what they do best — killing — but simultaneously being adorable. My cat reminds me of this paradox on a regular basis, that what is adorably cute can also be a brutally efficient killer.







via Paste Magazine

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 23, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Art

The True History of Hot Pants

I rely on Wikipedia quite a bit, and get upset when I discover an error. I have done so in their entry on Hot Pants.

Wikipedia attributes the invention of Hot Pants--which they specifically equate with "short shorts"--to UK designer Mary Quant. What a slur on American ingenuity!

You can see below the use of the term and the style in a 1950 issue of Life magazine.

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[Click second instance of caption to enlarge]

Original 1950 article here.

And again, in a 1956 issue.

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Plainly, Wikipedia is in grave error on this important scholarly matter.



Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 23, 2015 - Comments (3)
Category:

June 22, 2015

News of the Weird / Plus, June 22, 2015

News of the Weird / Plus
June 22, 2015 (Part 1) [weird stuff that made me excited (frightened) (ROTFL) (appalled) last week, some of which will appear in News of the Weird soon] [Part 1 on Monday, Part 2 on Tuesday]

In the Indian village of Ganeshpura, a thug in a higher class stomped an underage low-class girl because she bumped into him and got cooties on him. her shadow got accidentally cast upon him (along with, of course, cooties). Indian Express

In the Dublin, Ohio, school district, about 20 percent of high school grads were designated as “valedictorians.” Used to be one per school, but since so many GPAs are over-4.0 now because of Advance Placement classes, they all “deserve” valedictorian status. [ed. Nerd/Wonk Alert: But special-honoring the lad or chick at the top seems logical; special-honoring everyone who’s aced an AP course is just a committee construct.] Education Week

Americans sure have a way of convincing ourselves that really, really bad things can’t happen here (like that it’s odd that there are vicious racists with guns). More: “Every big [computer] hack discovered will eventually prove to be more serious than first believed,” sagely asserted Wired.com. There’s evidence now that the recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management not only got 4m current and former federal workers’ SSNs and stuff but also OPM’s form SF-86 files used for security-clearance background checks. And more! Wired.com

In the course of a Medicare fraud investigation that hit the press last week, it was learned that Dallas-area doctor Noble U. Ezukanma, 56, billed the gov’t for 205 hours’ work in one day. It was October 16, 2012; how much work did you get done that day? Dallas Morning News

Bill Clinton is fond of saying (at those $200k-plus speeches he gives) that we all need to be working together, that “the great [naturally] cooperating species are ants, termites, bees, and people.” Add “baboons,” according to University of California, Davis researchers, who tracked a troop to see how they decided to go this way instead of that way and discovered that, rather than rely on a dominant leader, they crowdsourced the direction. Washington Post

There’s something called the Institute for Economics and Peace, and according to its calculation, “wars” cost our Earthian civilization $14 trillion in the last yr (equal to the combined GDPs of the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Spain, and Brazil). Seems a steep price to pay for human frailty. Daily Telegraph (London)

A Washington Post blog entry briefly reviewed the new edition of Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies. Conclusion: “The realm of ignorance is so vast that no one volume can fully cover it.” Agreed. Washington Post

Ashley Miller, 18, Bradenton, Fla., was caught with video files with her dog “2-face,” whom she had trained to lick the carpet. (Bonus: 2-face is female--alert the American Family Ass'n!--and at least 63 yrs old, but back when Ashley might have been a minor, she had another dog, Scarface, that similarly provided for her needs.) The Smoking Gun

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jun 22, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category:

Before the TSA

German travelers in the 1950s complained that beautiful women were routinely being singled out for strip searches by guards at border crossings. The pretext for these searches was usually something trivial, such as a few Swiss francs undeclared. Sounds like the TSA learned some lessons from these guys.

Source: The Corpus Christi Caller-Times - Dec 6, 1951

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 22, 2015 - Comments (2)
Category: Government, Officials, Travel, 1950s

Worst Freebie Ever

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Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 22, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category:

June 21, 2015

News of the Weird (June 21, 2015)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M428, June 21, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

What Cannibals Can Teach Us: Researchers studying the human-brain-eating Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea reported in a June journal article that they have identified the specific “prion” resistance gene that appears to offer complete protection against mad-cow disease and perhaps other neurodegenerative conditions such as dementias and Parkinson’s. The tribe customarily dined on relatives’ brains at funerals (although has abandoned the practice) and consequently suffered a major 1950s epidemic that wiped out 2 percent of the tribe annually. According to the lead researcher, survivors, with the specific resistance gene, demonstrated “a striking example of Darwinian evolution in humans.” [Reuters, 6-10-2015]

Recurring Themes (All-New Episodes!)

Spouses often disagree politically and vote accordingly, but occasionally one runs for office against the other--as is the case in Bremerton, Wash., where incumbent Councilmember Roy Runyon is being challenged by his wife Kim Faulkner. Both were mum as to reasons and in fact filed their registration papers together at the same time in May. Said Runyon, “We’re different people. She might have a different approach.” [Kitsap Sun (Kitsap, Wash.), 5-14-2015]

India’s media reported in April yet another birth defect in which the surviving baby is treated as a representation of Hindu holiness. A four-armed, four-legged child (medical explanation: remains of an underdeveloped conjoined twin) is worshiped as the reincarnation of the multi-limbed Lord Ganesha, and pilgrims journey from all over India to the birthplace, Dumri-isri in Jharkhand state. (In a nod to modernity, one witness told a reporter that initially he had thought a photograph of the child was “Photoshopped,” but now has seen the baby with his own eyes.) [OneIndia.com (Bangalore), 4-23-2015]

The law of turkey-baster insemination took a turn in Virginia in April when mother Joyce Bruce was unable to keep sperm-provider Robert Boardwine out of her son’s life. Bruce relied on a state statute that seemed to allow her sole parenthood if the pregnancy was based on assisted-reproduction medical technology. However, the Court of Appeals of Virginia declared that a “kitchen implement” is not “medical technology” and, considering Boardwine’s genuine interest in fatherhood, ruled that he was entitled to joint custody and visitation rights. [CNN, 4-21-2015]

Another “Human Right”: In April, London’s Daily Mail spotted Anna Broom of Gillingham declaring that despite her various disorders that keep her from working, she nonetheless imagines a first-class wedding with champagne, horse-drawn carriage, and Mexico honeymoon--all at government expense--because that would be her “human right.” She told a reporter that a small ceremony at a government office would not boost her confidence but that her “dream” wedding would be just the thing to get her back on a job search. [Daily Mail, 4-16-2015]

The most recent exposition of people who tattoo their eyeballs, at the International Tattoo Festival in Caracas, in February, featured the phenomenon’s founder, Mr. Luna Cobra, who said it all started when he tried to create “bright blue” eyes, as in the 1984 film “Dune.” (Pigment is injected, permanently, so that it rests under the eye’s thin top layer, the conjunctiva.) Asked what the process feels like, devotee Kylie Garth told BBC News, “It was mentally intense,” resembling an eye poke, pressure, and “a bit of sand”--but “no pain.” Mr. Cobra urged young people to get their jobs before trying eye tats, since “You’re going to look frightening forever to the majority of people you encounter.” [Washington Post, 2-4-2015]

Once again, in May, lawyers went to court trying to persuade a judge that some rights under the U.S. Constitution be extended to intelligent apes (here, chimpanzees, as “autonomous and self-determining beings” at least as perceptive as, for example, severely mentally ill people, who retain rights while institutionalized). Lawyers are once again asking for a writ of habeas corpus (now available only to humans) to remove “Hercules” and “Leo” out of a lab and into a sanctuary. (Adding to the discussion, in the week after the court hearing, a Harvard professor and colleagues, writing in the journal Current Anthropology, hypothesized that chimps could cook foods if given the chance. Tests revealed that they resist raw food when they are able to place it into a device that made it taste better--which in theory makes them more intelligent than children who eat cookie dough.) [Associated Press via Toronto Star, 5-27-2015] [New York Times, 6-3-2015]

Baffling Perversion: Some men are compelled to express unrequited love for women by ejaculating onto them or into their beverages. The Minnesota legislature is working to upgrade its law (since a recent defendant, John Robert Lind, was acquitted of adulterating his co-worker’s coffee on the ground that current law requires actually touching the victim). However, Lind (who admitted a total of six climaxes against the co-worker) is an amateur compared to Tetsuya Fukuda, 40, who was finally apprehended in April, at which time he admitted “more than 100" semen attacks on women on trains near Kinshicho, Japan, dating back to 2011. He told police, “I get excited when in close contact with a woman on a crowded train.” [St. Paul Pioneer-Press, 3-11-2015] [Asahi Shimbun via Gawker.com, 4-10-2015]

Updates on Previous News of the Weird

News of the Weird has remarked on modern, over-the-top versions of the centuries-old tradition in China of making funerals entertaining, to attract mourners and thereby signify that the deceased did not die “faceless.” In the recent past, festive song-and-dance acts were hired, and soon, in the competition for attendees, some families took to hiring strippers to perform--even “obscene” acts, “severely pollut[ing]” the culture, according to a critic. In April, the Ministry of Culture, previously somewhat tolerant because of sensitivity for the families, formally denounced the practice and began detaining the traveling performers. [Wall Street Journal, 4-23-2015]

Backyard firing ranges are legal in Florida (as News of the Weird reported last year), and in March a Florida House committee voted to keep it that way, shooting down legislation to outlaw them even in urban and residential areas. (Firing on private property is legal except if shooting over a public right-of-way or an occupied dwelling, and “negligent” gunfire, though illegal, is only a misdemeanor.) In 2014, one Florida legislator, originally from Alaska, said even in that liberty-conscious state, residents in urban Anchorage do not have rights that Floridians have. [BayNews9.com (St. Petersburg), 3-25-2015]

Convicted “Satanic cult” daycare operators Dan and Fran Keller were finally un-convicted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in May--23 years after being found guilty based in part on toddlers’ fantastical testimony (encouraged by counselors) telling impossible tales of molestation. Still, however, the judges could not bring themselves to rule the Kellers “not guilty,” thus preserving children’s narratives of the Kellers videotaping orgies, serving blood-laced Kool-Aid, kidnaping them to Mexico, and more--yet somehow releasing them, unscarred, each day to parents at pick-up time in Austin. (The Kellers spent 22 years behind bars.) [American-Statesman (Austin), 5-20-2015]

The South Pacific islanders on the Vanuatu island of Tanna believe that 2016 will be the year that the man they inexplicably worship as a god--Britain’s Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh-- will finally visit them. One highly-regarded islander told a London Daily Telegraph correspondent in New Zealand that the cult is starved for a visit, since Philip’s only contact since the 1940s has been via gifts (one, the most treasured, an autographed photo). Legendary Vanuatuan “Chief Jack” was convinced that Philip was a descendant of island royalty. [Daily Telegraph, 4-25-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (January 2011)

Biologists Studying Rare Species Have to Be Fast: Researchers learned from reports in early 2010 of a new monkey species in Myanmar, with a nose so recessed that it habitually collects rainfall and constantly sneezes. However, according to an October [2010] National Geographic dispatch, by the time scientists arrived to investigate, natives had eaten the monkey. (The sneezing alerts hunters.) Similarly, researchers studying a rare species of Vietnamese lizard learned of a sighting in November [2010], and a two-man team from La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif., rushed to Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. However, on arrival they found the lizards being routinely served in several restaurants' lunch buffets. [National Geographic, 10-27-2010] [CNN, 11-10-2010]

Thanks This Week to Nathaniel Oxford, Sam Scrutchins, Nate Tracy, and Kathryn Wood, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 21, 2015 - Comments (2)
Category:

Happy Father’s Day!

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Its Father's Day once again. So best wishes to all the dads as well as the guys here who stand as dad in a child's life. Know that your children are blessed to have you still with them, some of us aren't so lucky. Thank you for all you do, you are loved.

Posted By: patty - Sun Jun 21, 2015 - Comments (8)
Category: Family

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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.

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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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