Weird Universe Archive

February 2016

February 25, 2016

The Draft and Army IQ

Following up on Chuck's mention of "military intelligence" in his latest column, this short article from 1951 noted the (perhaps unexpected) effect that a military draft has on the average IQ of GIs.

St. Petersburg Times - Oct 13, 1951

Intelligence Average of GIs Going Up
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The intelligence average of American troops in Germany is going up.
Reason: The draft.
Officers in the U.S. Army's European Command headquarters here say Army intelligence averages go up every time there is a military draft.
"With the draft, we get the extremely brilliant persons, as well as the average or slightly below average persons," one officer explained. "The 'brilliant' persons usually do not enlist in the Army as a private."

Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 25, 2016 - Comments (10)
Category: Intelligence, Military, 1950s

Mike Greenstein, RIP

Obit here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Feb 25, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Elderly and Seniors, Human Marvels, Obituaries

February 24, 2016

Rutland’s Missing Mail Mystery

June 1975: The post office in Rutland, Vermont was receiving numerous complaints about mail not being delivered. So what was happening to the mail?

"Patient observation" revealed the culprit to be a new trash basket recently donated to the city by the Kiwanis Club and placed outside the post office.

Many people were apparently mistaking the trash basket for a mail box and putting their letters in it. Although one resident noted, "I can't understand it. It doesn't even look like a mail box, except it's blue."

The Hays Daily News - June 5, 1975

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - June 9, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 24, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: 1970s

The Republic of New Africa

As a science fiction writer, I love alternate history novels, about timelines where things happened differently from what we know. Here's a scenario I had been unaware of, which is particularly timely today, in light of many controversies, sharing many parallels.

A factual account of the possible historical turning point is appended below.

Someone did fictionalize it, and you can read the first 58 pages here.


Source of text.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Feb 24, 2016 - Comments (10)
Category: Government, Racism, Science Fiction, 1960s

February 23, 2016

Weird Leap Year Facts

With February 29 coming up fast, encouraged its writers to create some leap year-related content, so I did my part.

Definitely learned some new info from writing this — such as that February is shorter than every other month because the Roman Senate, in trying to suck up to Augustus, took a day from February and added it to his month (August) to make it longer.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 23, 2016 - Comments (10)
Category: History, Holidays

Audiopill — Music From the Inside

Conceptual artist Jan Strmiska recently sought to raise money to fund the production of his invention, the Audiopill. It's a pill-like device that you swallow that will play sound within your body (but not audible to anyone else). His description definitely makes me want to try this thing. (uhh.. or, maybe not).

When swallowed it starts beating within you innards at a preset BPM. Restless feeling will pump you up to insanity.

Audiopill (pill) will make you feel like you are standing in the middle of a concert hall with a powerful audiosystem inside your body. Or like you are standing in a factory workshop full metal working machines and ramming an impact drill into your stomach. The only diference is there’s an absolute silence all around and you are experiencing the music in perfect privacy and only from the inside.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 23, 2016 - Comments (9)
Category: Inventions

SSTR Frannie Blew Velvette at Transmodern Labbodies 2014

Posted By: Paul - Tue Feb 23, 2016 - Comments (2)

February 22, 2016


George was rocking the spit curls.

Source: The WhisperThe 1950 Pardeeville High School yearbook (Pardeeville, Wisconsin).

via Hair Hall of Fame

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 22, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: 1950s, Hair and Hairstyling

Hitler Is Alive!


In its heyday, THE POLICE GAZETTE was a goldmine of weird news. It was recently revived by Steven Westlake, son of the famous crime novelist Donald Westlake, and he has now compiled a book of the best Hitler articles from the magazine. Looks like a winner!

Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 22, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators, Magazines, Europe, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century

February 21, 2016

News of the Weird (February 21, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M463, February 21, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Channeling George Carlin (“Military Intelligence” Oxymoron): The head of U.S. Navy intelligence has for more than two years been prohibited from accessing classified information (as the Pentagon disclosed to the Washington Post in January). Vice Admiral Ted Branch came under investigation in 2013 in a corruption scandal involving a foreign defense contractor and various Navy personnel and might have been suspended from all duties--except that, given the political gridlock in Washington, no consensus candidate has emerged. No charges have been filed against Branch, but before he enters any room at the Pentagon, classified material must be stowed away. [Washington Post, 1-28-2016]

Recurring Themes

New World Order: (1) Yet another woman gave birth to her own granddaughter in January. Tracey Thompson, 54, offered to be the surrogate mother for her fertility-challenged daughter, Kelley, and delivered a 6 lb., 11 oz., girl at The Medical Center in Plano, Tex. (2) After notable successes in the United States, Latin America claimed in December its first transgender pregnancy after Ecuadorean Fernando Machado announced he was expecting a child with his partner Diane Rodriguez. Fernando used to be “Maria”; Diane used to be “Luis”; and though both undergo hormone therapy, they have retained their birth organs. [KTVT (Dallas), 1-7-2016] [Associated Press via The Guardian (London), 12-24-2015]

Overexcited police departments occasionally feel the need to safeguard towns by zealous enforcement of anti-gambling laws. In November, police in Altamonte Springs, Fla., raided the Escondido Community Clubhouse, formally shutting down the retirement village’s games of bingo, bunko, penny poker, and--most controversially--the weekly sessions of the culturally-venerated Mahjong. Although none of the games is illegal under state law, advertising for-money games is, and the notices in the Heritage Florida Jewish News were such attention-getters that the pots for the games often grew to exceed the $10 legal maximum. (Given Mahjong’s sociological significance, news of the bust was even reported in Jerusalem’s Times of Israel.) [Orlando Weekly, 11-23-2015]

Perspective: On the heels of a similar program in Richmond, Calif., Washington, D.C.’s D.C. Council authorized funding in January to pay stipends to notorious criminals if they stop committing crimes. Police would identify up to 50 residents likely to violently offend again in 2016 and offer them periodic cash payments plus special training and educational benefits--as long as they stay out of trouble. Officials in Richmond (once overwhelmed by gun deaths) say their program, commenced ten years ago, has produced a 76 percent drop in gun-related crime. [Washington Post, 2-7-2016]

Reports of the prominence of animal urine in various cultures’ health regimens have surfaced periodically in News of the Weird, and in December, in Al Qunfudhah, Saudi Arabia, a shop selling camel urine (with a long history of alleged medicinal qualities) was closed by authorities after they found 70 camel-urine bottles actually filled with shopkeeper-urine. [Daily Mail, 12-22-2015]

About a decade ago, several fast-food restaurants (especially during evening shifts staffed by sometimes inadequately-trained managers) were plagued by a prank phone-caller, posing as law enforcement requesting investigative help, asking managers to strip-search employees for “contraband” and to describe the searches in real time to the caller. (A suspect was arrested, and the calls stopped.) Managerial judgment was also on display at a Morro Bay, Calif., Burger King in January when a prank caller somehow convinced BK employees to begin shattering the store’s windows because of a purported “gas leak.” Several windows were smashed in, and an investigation of the call is ongoing. [KSBY-TV (Santa Barbara), 1-21-2016]

Awkward: In January, Israeli television journalist Eitam Lachover became the latest to be injured in a high-profile test of a “protective” vest when he volunteered to be stabbed on camera for a news segment. Vest company officials’ faces turned quickly sour as the blade penetrated the vest (though the wound was described as “light”). [Jerusalem Post, 1-6-2016]

In January, 15-year-old Anthony Ruelas, trying to rescue a classmate gasping from an asthma attack, became the latest casualty in public schools’ relentless insistence on “zero tolerance” of any deviation from rules. Gateway Middle School in Killeen, Tex., suspended Ruelas for two days for what others called his “heroic” assistance in gathering the girl in his arms and taking her to the nurse’s office--while the teacher, following “procedure,” waited passively for a nurse to e-mail instructions. (Ruelas had defied the teacher, declaring, “[F-word] that--we ain’t got time to wait for no e-mail from the nurse.”) The school district’s superintendent later cited a federal law that he interpreted as justifying the procedure. [KCEN-TV (Waco-Killeen), 1-27-2016]

Age-Old Prank Fails: Will Lombardi, 19, was charged with arson in Northampton, Mass., in January after he acknowledged that “probably” he was the one who left a flaming box of excrement on the front porch of the family with whose daughter he was feuding. The fire was supposed to alarm the victim, who would try to stomp it out, thus spreading the feces and soiling the stomper’s shoes. In this case, however, the fire had spread a bit. (Bonus: Lombardi’s box selection was a used mailer with Lombardi’s name and address still readable.) [, 1-22-2016]

Least Competent Criminals: (1) In January, a 27-year-old man in North Pole, Alaska, became the most recent forced to flee a crime scene on foot because he had locked his keys inside the getaway car. He was identified by surveillance video outside the two businesses he burglarized, but he was still at large. (2) Also in January, David Boulet, in Tacoma, Wash., became the most recent to haplessly try to steal a police car. As officers chased him on an earlier charge, Boulet spotted a parked, marked squad car (with lights flashing) but apparently thought, in the night’s darkness, that the car was momentarily unoccupied. He climbed in--and landed on the lap of a Tacoma police sergeant in the front seat. [Associated Press via KINY Radio (Juneau), 1-21-2016] [KIRO-TV (Seattle), 1-20-2016]

Undignified Deaths: (1) A 47-year-old man in Saint-Marcel, Italy, fell to his death in January as he leaned over a balcony railing to shake crumbs off his tablecloth after breakfast. The tablecloth reportedly slipped from his hands, leading him to (unsuccessfully) reach for it. (2) A 58-year-old driver dressed except for pants was killed in January in Detroit when he was thrown from his car by a crash. A Michigan State Police spokesman reported that the man had been viewing pornography as he drove. [The Local (Rome), 1-20-2016] [WJBK-TV (Detroit), 1-26-2016]


News of the Weird’s long-time super-creative serial litigant Jonathan Lee Riches filed yet another claim in January--against the Tennessee couple identified as winners in the recent $1.6 billion Powerball lottery. John and Lisa Robinson, Riches says, “owe” him half their winnings because he says he sent their daughter (and his penpal) Tiffany $20 to buy Powerball tickets. Riches’s lawsuit, written in longhand, claims that he and Tiffany were to be married and move to “a remote island full of milk and honey.” Riches had been serving a federal prison term for parole violation, but his current situation was unreported (except that he now claims an alias, “Jihadi Schitz,” and wrote from a Philadelphia mosque). It is expected that this lawsuit will suffer the same fate as his against, among others, George W. Bush, Britney Spears, Steve Jobs, Nostrodamus, Plato, and the various Kardashians. [, 2-2-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2011)

A judge in Nice, France, ruled in September [2011] that Article 215 of the French civil code (defining marriage as a "shared communal life") in fact requires that husband and wife have sex. A husband identified only as Jean-Louis B. had evidently lost interest years earlier, and his wife was granted a divorce. Apparently emboldened by her victory, she then filed a monetary claim against the husband for the value of his 21-year-long lack of service, and the judge awarded her 10,000 euros (then worth about $13,710--$653 a year). [Daily Telegraph (London), 9-5-2011]

Thanks This Week to Stan Kaplan, Mel Birge, Chuck Hamilton, Sam Scrutchins, Jenny Adams Powers, Bill Lawrence, Robin Daley, and Kelly Fitzpatrick, and to the News of the Weird Board Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Feb 21, 2016 - Comments (2)

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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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