Weird Universe Archive

June 2016

June 15, 2016

View from the Ledge (June 15, 2016)

View From The Ledge

(Chuck channels the spirits of his landmark 1980-1996 zine)
June 15, 2016

If you're of the view that Mecca is this sacred, solemn, contemplative place that Muslims are obliged to pray at once (at least) in their lives . . . whoa, baby! The story and photo spread in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday creates a sorta Islamic version of the U.S.-bred "prosperity gospel." [NY Times]

Jeez, Get a Room, Guys! In Australia's Northern Territory, a kangaroo and a pig maybe "identify" differently . . .. [BBC News]

U-S-A! U-S-A! Notre Dame's tax return for 2014 shows former coach Charlie Weis receiving $2.05m (umm, the same that he has received every yr since he was fired in 2009). But at least that contract is over; his 2012 Univ. of Kansas coaching contract (on which he was fired in 2014) paid him $5.6m last yr and will, again, this yr. Nothing succeeds in America like failure! [USA Today]

Street prices in Paterson, N.J.: a Percocet tab (30mg): $25; baggie of heroin: $2. [New York Times]

Congratulations to KayJayII's North Korea--lauded in Monday's Global Nutrition Report. While America and 13 other countries got dogged for obesity, DPRK was cited for its great "progress" . . . in having the fewest adults with Body Mass Index over 30. [New York Times]

Curtis Eidam, 35, was arrested last week in Clinton, Tenn., for DUI and a handgun violation. He was bedecked in, let's see: "white skirt, white leggings with pink stripes," "high heels," "chastity belt." And a ribbon around his goatee. (He helpfully gave up the key to unlock his genitals.) (However, in his mugshot, he appears to "identify" as a "he-man" who can totally kick my butt.) [WYSH Radio (Clinton, Tenn.)]

Kinder, Gentler Justice (not quite Aaron Persky-level, though): In Kerry, Ireland, Judge James O'Connor sentenced a DUI farmer to 3 yrs in prison . . . but also gave him a 6-month delay in reporting because there's a dating fair coming up, and the judge wants him to have a shot at finding Ms. Right. [Irish Independent]

The Republican convention next month will be yet another opportunity to show how much we miss U.S. Sen Ted Cruz. As Matt Taibbi reminded us in Rolling Stone recently, Cruz (as Texas Solicitor Genl) once informed us, "There [is] a 'government' [i.e., Constitutional] interest, [his law brief] maintained, in 'discouraging . . . autonomous sex.'" (For those of you in recovery/rehab, he's saying you have no "right"--y'know, as in that "life" and "liberty" stuff--even to private, consensual, solo yanking. TrusTed, indeed.) [AmericaBlog]

Back on Friday. Thanks This Time to Russell Bell and Denise Sanabria.

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Jun 15, 2016 - Comments (3)

Seven Ways Frogs Mate

Our knowledge of how frogs get sexy together continues to expand. It used to be that we knew of only six frog mating positions, but now a seventh has been added to the repertoire, thanks to the efforts of University of Delhi researchers who "spent a few dozen nights filming the sex lives of Bombay night frogs."

The new position, which involves no genital contact, is called the "dorsal straddle":

The male frog straddles the female from behind using a branch or leaf to brace himself while he deposits his sperm on the female's back. The female lays her eggs, which are fertilized by the sperm trickling down her backside.

Over at National Geographic they helpfully provide a chart of all seven positions.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 15, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Nature, Science

An Airplane Trip by Jet

Real meals! Plenty of leg room! A separate lounge in the front of the plane! What weird alternate world is this?!?

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 15, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Air Travel and Airlines, 1960s

June 14, 2016

Court rules sun uninhabitable

Godfried Bueren of Germany declared that there were areas on the sun cool enough to support human life. He offered 25,000 marks to anyone who could prove him wrong. So the Hamburg Astronomical Society sent him a list of reasons why he was wrong. When Bueren refused to pay, the society took him to court. In 1953, the court ordered him to pay up.

Palm Beach Post - Mar 22, 1953

More info in Time - Feb 23, 1953:

Legally Hot

Through years of spare-time dabbling in such occult sciences as prophecy and mental telepathy, Godfried Bueren, 70, a West German patent attorney, never lost his amateur enthusiasm for astronomy. Finally, he announced, he had learned something that professional astronomers don't know. The sun, asserted Herr Bueren is a hot, hollow sphere, a million miles in diameter; inside its fiery shell floats a cool core, 600,000 miles thick and lush with vegetation. What's more, he had 25,000 marks ($5,945) that said he was correct about the sun.

When Herr Bueren announced his startling theory, most scientists shrugged it off. But the German Astronomical Society accepted the challenge. Said Hamburg Observatory Director Otto Heckmann: the society would like to keep such "silly ideas" from attracting too much attention. Besides, the society needed the money.

Like schoolmasters marking a poor student's test paper Dr. Heckmann and a couple of scientists sharpened their pencils and set to work on Herr Bueren's theory. The sun's corona does blaze at approximately 1,000,000° C., they conceded, but who can believe that the enormous heat is caused, as Herr Bueren also insisted, by cosmic particles striking the sun's outer atmosphere? Why shouldn't the same particles bombard the earth and set it glowing? And did Herr Bueren really believe that sunspots are gaping holes in the sun's shell, opening on to a cool black core where plant life changes heat into chemical energy, thus lowering the temperature? Pure nonsense, said the scientists. As for heat-reducing plants: Dr. Heckmann & Co. pointed out that science knows of no plants that use up all the energy available to them.

A Bueren-picked jury of West German scientists studied the astronomical society's arguments and solemnly announced the the Bueren solar theory had been demolished. His bald pate flushed with anger, the sun-gazing patent attorney refused to pay. "People who want to cash in on the money," he cried, "do not even pay attention to what I have to say."

But Dr. Heckmann and colleagues, having paid attention to the prize offer, sued Bueren in the Osnabruck court. "Science cannot always say what is correct." they argued, "but we have advanced so far as to be able to say what is wrong."

Last week, despite Herr Bueren's dark mutterings that his professorial jury had been intimidated, the court found the sun's core legally hot, ordered him to hand over the 25,000 marks plus a year's interest at 4% and court costs.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 14, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Eccentrics, Science, 1950s

Follies of the Madmen #285

Wait a minute--I'm confused by the graphics. Does this product come from outer space?

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 14, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, 1950s, Hair and Hairstyling

June 13, 2016

Giant Grocery Cart

The Shopper Chopper is the world's largest shopping cart and you can hire it for events! Reminds me of the cart races in the movie Jackass!

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 13, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Engineering and Construction, Enlargements, Miniatures, and Other Matters of Scale, Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough

View from the Ledge (June 13, 2016)

View From The Ledge

(Chuck channels the spirits of his landmark 1980-1996 zine)
June 13, 2016

Undernews from the Calif. primary last Tuesday (locking Hillary in): Judge Scott Steiner (reprimanded for sex in chambers with an intern and a lawyer), re-elected! (having run, naturally, on a "family values" platform). And of course, Judge Aaron Persky (sentence for Stanford rape less than sentence for groping, so message to gropers . . . hey, might as well . . .), re-elected!. U-S-A! U-S-A! [Washington Post]

End Game Is Upon Us: All 66 books of the King James version of the Bible were released as translated into emojis ($2.99 on iTunes--seriously). The Lord cannot be pleased. (If you don't know what "emojis" are . . . good for you.) [The Guardian (London)]

If you regard David Lynch as too conventional, Brit Martin Creed is now at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC with an array of his "best" work, i.e., stuff that directly attacks his anxieties (e.g., barfing, dumping, smelly cheese). NOTW mentioned his Turner Prize exhibit a few yrs back, which was simply a room with lights that just flicker on and off, 24/7. An "artist"? "I'm a person who tries to do things . . . in a field that is commonly known as art." The Daily Beast is on it.

In Chicagoland (Mount Prospect), decent citizens were aroused and turgid with fear at the small-business entrepreneurial success of Tykables--a retail store catering primarily to the needs of adult fetishists who identify as babies (thus requiring diapers, bonnets, oversized cribs, strollers, etc.). So far, it's a word-of-mouth business, with an appointment required for entering. [WBBM-TV]

A Univ of California, Davis research team believes it's more efficient to grow human organs in the lab inside the bodies of pigs. [BBC News]

The Classic Middle Name: Christopher W. Hill, 44, gets 50 yrs in the slammer from a judge in (love it that I have news from here) Harlan County, Ky. He's the third Christopher W. Hill on my list. [Harlan Daily Enterprise] [ed. This would be a good place to link to my complete list of middle-name-Wayne murderers/accused murderers, but it's kinda way out of date and needs me to check a few many things on it, so . . .]

Powers That Be in Torrelodonos, Spain, figure the most effective way to deter "messy dog" owners is, in the middle of town, this huge, inflatable device modeling a swirl of dog caca. [The Local (Madrid)]

What's Really Weird: America has 310m people, the world 7.2bn, but all it takes for something to be labeled "viral" on the Internet is maybe 1m? That's 0.3223 percent of Americans, 0.0139 percent of Earthlings. Why are we so obsessed? [Please consult G.Orwell, 1984*] Latest (chides fivethirtyeight dot com) is Jerry Seinfeld citing a "groundswell" of demand for a Bee Movie 2. Spoiler: There's not even a murmur. []

* In fact, I might as well declare it in Post #1 of this VFTL: There's a lot of 1984 in what I'll be writing.]

Back on Wednesday. Thanks this time to Chris Bailey.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jun 13, 2016 - Comments (5)

Wine On Tap

In 1953, the Hotel Terminus in Dijon, France upgraded its amenities to include free red and white wine on tap in every room.

If this hotel is still around, I can't find any evidence of it online.

The Evening Sun (Hanover, Pennsylvania) - Jan 7, 1954

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Dec 30, 1953

Update — relevant meme:

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 13, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Hotels, 1950s

June 12, 2016

News of the Weird (June 12, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M479, June 12, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Life is good now for British men who “identify” as dogs and puppies, as evidenced by a BBC documentary (“Secret Life of the Human Pups”) showing men in body outfits (one a Lycra-suited Dalmatian, “Spot”), exhibiting “sexual” expressions (stomach-rubbing, ear-tickling, and nuzzling their “handlers”), eating out of bowls, gnawing on chew-toys, wearing collars (so as not to be a “stray”), and jumping in the air for “treats.” (However, decency demands that a Pup must only feign urinating against a lamppost.) Said Spot (aka Tom), “t’s about being given license to behave in a way that feels natural, even primal.” Added “Bootbrush,” “[We are] trying to grasp the positive elements of the archetype of the dog.” [The Guardian, 5-25-2016]

New World Order

As an alternative to the more costly in vitro fertilization, researchers at a Dresden, Germany, institute announced (in the recent Nano Letters journal) that they had developed a motorized device tiny enough to fit around a sperm’s tail and which could be commanded to propel it to “swim” faster toward the target egg, increasing the chances of fertilization. A prototype is still in the works. [ (Moscow), 1-15-2016]

The Internet pornography behemoth PornHub recently added to the glut of physical-fitness “apps” with one designed to help users tone up sexual muscles. The “BangFit”’s routines include the “squat and thrust,” the “missionary press,” and other ways to practice what the company describes as the “one activity people are always motivated to do and [for] which they are never too busy.” (Imagine, for example, wrote, “quantity[ing] your dry humps.”) [, 5-19-2016]

The Continuing Crisis

As Libya’s central bank struggles to stabilize a halting economy, it could surely use the estimated $184 million in gold and silver coins that Moammar Gadhafi minted but left buried in an underground vault in the coastal city of Beyda, but the treasure is inaccessible because no one knows the lock’s combination (as the Wall Street Journal reported in May). The latest plan is to have an engineer good with code to squeeze through a 16-inch by 16-inch hole in the outer vault’s concrete wall and once inside to try his hand. If unsuccessful, the government’s bureaucrats likely cannot get paid, but even if successful, various anti-government factions may go to extremes to snatch the coins. [Wall Street Journal, 5-13-2016]

Bright Ideas

Argentina’s TV channels have many of the same taboos as U.S. broadcasting, including restrictions on women’s hands-on demonstration of how precisely to examine themselves for breast cancer. However, as AdWeek reported in March, the agency David Buenos Aires apparently solved the problem with an explicit TV public service announcement featuring a model (facing the camera, topless) showing exactly how such an exam should go, e.g., where to press down, where to squeeze. The secret? The model was an overweight man with generous-sized “manboobs.” [AdWeek, 4-20-2016]

Wait, What?

Video surfaced in May of students at Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio, Tex., actually playing jump rope with the intestine of a cat that had been dissected in biology class. Obviously, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was not pleased, but school district officials called the exercise a valid demonstration of the “tensile strength of the organ” and only reluctantly agreed to investigate further. [, 5-17-2016]

When Triston Chase, 20, missed his court date in April in Hartnett County, N.C., on financial fraud charges, it was revealed that his arrest in December had come when he had been found “residing” illegally , as a civilian, in a barracks at Fort Bragg--in a facility housing the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group. According to a prosecutor, Chase had been posing as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist “for months.” The official investigation of Special Forces’ barracks “security” was still underway at the time of Chase’s court date. [Fayetteville Observer, 4-27-2016]

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

(1) Efrain Delgado-Rosales was sentenced to five years in prison in March for smuggling non-citizens into the country. (The Border Patrol had caught him 23 times previously but had declined to file charges.) (2) Sean Pelfrey, 38, told his judge in May that the two assault charges against him in Framingham, Mass., do not make him any “threat to society,” even though the current arrest was his 38th. (3) Matthew Freeland, 29, was convicted of several home-invasion offenses in Kingston, Ontario, in May, and the judge, considering a proper sentence, found only two previous probation orders--but then, looking further, found 59 convictions and sentenced Freeland to more than two years in prison. [CNN, 3-27-2016] [MetroWest Daily News (Framingham), 5-17-2016] [The Whig (Kingston), 5-15-2016]

Weird Animals

Among the critters for which life is most difficult are male nursery web spiders that (according to May research in Biology Letters journal) instinctively “court” females with food wrapped in silk--offerings that (a) increase the males’ chances of scoring and (b) decrease, by 84 percent, their chances that the female will spontaneously eat the male. The study also found that males sometimes try to mate using non-food items in silk (with mixed results) and also that sometimes unscrupulous females accept food gifts but nevertheless immediately devour the male. [Washington Post, 5-18-2016]

Least Competent Criminals

South Carolina Chutzpah! (1) James Kinley III, 27, was charged in York County, S.C., in May with dealing marijuana. He apparently had the (unfounded) belief that York County deputies do not monitor Craigslist--because that is where Kinley advertised (“I Sell Weed”), in a notice with his photo, address, and price ($200). (2) Grady Carlson, 58, went to the Carolina Title Loans office in Spartanburg, S.C., on May 25th to apply for a high-interest “payday” loan--and nervously paced while answering questions. The Carolina employee asked if anything was wrong, and Carlson allegedly disclosed that he needed money--fast!--to purchase methamphetamine. A subsequent police search turned up a glass container and drugs. [WIS-TV (Columbia), 5-19-2016] [The Smoking Gun, 5-26-2016]

Recurring Themes (Cow Edition)

For years, India has been concerned about the gas-release problem posed by its nearly 300 million cows (and 200 million more gas-intensive animals), but researchers in Kerala state revealed a promising breeding answer in May: dwarf cows (about one-fourth the size, producing somewhat less milk but one-seventh the manure and one-tenth the methane). (Pound for pound, methane traps 25 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.) (Bonus: The New York Times Style Book apparently now accepts the word “farting” in formal copy--while reporting that “belching” is the far more serious methane problem.) [New York Times, 5-5-2016]

In the early years of News of the Weird, urban readers learned of the custom of various Western locales’ charity cow-patty “bingo” games in which cows are fed and turned loose on a field of wagered-upon squares. (In fact, in 1997 the Canada’s Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission temporarily banned the game while it investigated whether it could be “fixed” by training the cow to favor certain relief spots.) The event lives on, but a charity fundraiser in Great Falls, Mont., in May was halted when the cow jumped over a fence and had to be chased down. Rather than await the now-nervous (or perhaps constipated) cow, the contest winner was selected by random draw. [KTVQ-TV (Billings), 5-19-2016]

News of the Weird Classic (June 2012)

All U.S. states have forms of no-fault divorce, but England still requires that couples prove adultery, abandonment, or "unreasonable behavior," which leads to strange claims, according to an April [2012] New York Times dispatch from London. For instance, one divorcing woman's petition blamed her husband's insistence that she speak only in Klingon. Other examples of "unreasonable" behavior (gathered by The Times of London): a husband’s objecting to the "malicious" preparation of his hated tuna casserole, another’s 15-year silence (except for writing him Post-It Notes), a husband's distorting the fit of his wife's outfits by frequently wearing them, and one's insistence that a pet tarantula reside in a glass case beside the marital bed. [New York Times, 4-7-2012]

Thanks This Week to Mel Birge, Stan Kaplan, Gerald Sacks, and Don Schullian, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 12, 2016 - Comments (5)

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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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