A Weird Universe
April 24, 2017
Can't Possibly Be True: Backpacking white college kids frolicking in poor Asian countries--and begging locals to crowdfund them. [The Coverage (Malaysia)
Nor This One: Ms. I. H. Spjut, a California restaurant server, born in 1998 with the birth name Isis Harambe Spjut. [Daily Dot
District of Columbia officials, after complaints from merchants, airport workers, and others, change their driver's license to "Washington, D.C." because "District of Columbia" confuses the 9th-grade-Civics dropouts. [WTOP Radio
"Kenya Cancels Primaries After Too Many Voters Turn Up"
--Deutsche Press-Agentur headline via Deutsche Welle
Let's not get carried away: Police chief in Avondale, Ariz., swore in his new officer, a "drug-sniffing" bearded dragon
See? Not just Wall Street gets off clean. The United Nations-backed tribunal prosecuting Cambodia's 1.7m killing-field victims have just 3 notches in 11 yrs. [NY Times
It's a shack (with an upscale bathroom), but was listed at $495k, sold for $755k. Oakland, Calif.,'s tony Rockridge. [SFGate.com
The Sex Detector made its debut around 1920. It was a gadget, sold by "Sex-Detector Laboratories," that promised to be able to detect the gender of an egg — or any piece of biological matter whose sex one might want to find out (oysters, butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, worms). It supposedly even worked on blood. So police could use it to discover the sex of a criminal.
It was basically an empty rifle shell suspended on a piece of string. When held over an egg (or whatever) it would reveal through the direction of its motion the sex of the chick inside.
It was probably more accurately described as an idiot detector... the idiot being the one holding the string.
For a while it was heavily advertised in poultry journals, but when inspectors at the U.S. Dept of Agriculture investigated the efficacy of the device, they found it to be useless. It worked no better than a piece of cardboard attached to a thread. Advertisements for the product were banned.
The Leghorn World - Feb 1921
Wilmington Evening Journal - May 4, 1928
Williams News - July 8, 1921
San Francisco Chronicle - Oct 17, 1920
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Feb 5, 1922
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M524, April 23, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
A June 2016 police raid on David Jessen's Fresno County (Calif.) farmhouse caused a $150,000 mess when sheriff's deputies and Clovis Police Department officers "rescued" it from a trespassing homeless man--with the massive destruction leading to Jessen's lawsuit announced in March. The misdemeanant had helped himself to an ice cream bar and half a tomato, but was otherwise "unarmed"; however, by the time the police standoff ended, the "crime scene" included more than 50 cop cars, a SWAT team (and backups), two helicopters, standby ambulances, a police robot, and a crisis negotiation team. Windows, walls, and wrought-iron doors were destroyed; tear gas and a "flash bomb" were employed. (Jessen suspects that the farmhouse's isolation enticed police to decide that it presented an excellent training opportunity.) [TechDirt, 3-13-2017
"Pro-choice" activist Jessica Farrar (a Texas state legislator) introduced a bill in March to create consistency between the state's rigorous regulation of women's reproductive functions and those of men (regulation which, by the way, in either case she calls "invasive" and "unnecessary"). Because Texas's anti-abortion laws highlight "procreation" as a crucial government interest, she believes male use of erectile-dysfunction drugs should be regulated as abortion is. Under her bill, individual use of "Viagra" or similar drugs must be preceded by "counseling" similar to that required by abortion laws, and since male masturbation involves the "wasting" of precious sperm cells, it, too, would require "beforehand" counseling. [Texas Tribune, 3-12-2017
Jason Sexton told KFSM-TV in Fort Smith, Ark., in April that he alone had been digging the massive hole neighbors noticed, now 34 feet deep and with separate tunnels extending off of the main hole. Police had come to check it out, since it was on another person's private property (and not the city's, which Sexton had assumed). He said he had been digging off and on for three years to get an answer to whether "the Spanish" had been in Fort Smith centuries ago, mining iron, and, if so, the site should therefore be a lucrative tourist destination. Sexton said he felt he had to give his explanation: "Nobody in their right mind," he said, "would dig a hole [this big] for no reason." [KFSM-TV, 4-13-2017
At a time of growing awareness that some people seem almost addicted to their cell phones and instant 24/7 communication, police in Brookfield, Wis., released surveillance photos of a woman in the act of robbing banks on March 25th and 27th--while standing at teller counters and talking on the phone during the entire episodes. Acting on a tip from the photos, police arrested Sarah Kraus, 33, on March 28th. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-29-2017
College activist Pablo Gomez Jr., 22, was arrested in Berkeley, Calif., in March and charged with the brutal stabbing death of an elementary school teacher. Gomez, a senior at University of California, Berkeley, is well-known on campus for insisting on a gender identify for which (as an example) the pronoun "he" is an inappropriate reference. (Hence, "they" was charged with what is so far the only homicide in Berkeley this year.) [San Jose Mercury News, 3-27-2017
Paul Perry, Jr., 39, sound asleep behind the wheel of his car, with motor running, at 6 a.m. on April 2nd, was in no position to talk his way out of a DUI ticket but did offer a gentle challenge to the Youngstown, Ohio, police officer. Several times, according to the police report, Perry offered to "thumb wrestle" the officer to get out of the ticket. From the report: "Perry was advised officers would not thumb-wrestle him." [Youngstown Vindicator, 4-4-2017
Wait, What? A father, 43, and his son, 22, argued on April 9th about who would walk the dog at their home on Chicago's South Side. They apparently thought to settle the issue with a gunfight, and police, who recovered the two weapons, said both men received multiple wounds. The son was killed, and the father was in critical condition. [WLS-TV (Chicago), 4-10-2017
Leading Economic Indicators
The eight elite Ivy League universities are better thought of as "hedge fund[s] with classes," according to a March report by the activist Open The Books, and thus there is little reason for taxpayers to have given them the more than $41 billion in grants and entitlements they received over a recent six-year period. The schools are already legendary for their $119 billion "endowments" (based on donations from alumni and aggressive investment). Those endowments are enough, according to Open The Books, that (assuming donations continue to arrive at the same pace) schools could provide free tuition to every student in the eight schools--in perpetuity. (Even if no new donations are made, the eight schools could provide such free tuition for 51 years.) [Fox News, 3-29-2017
Federico Musto was suspected recently by Wired.com of audaciously inventing academic credentials to help land his job as CEO of the company Arduino (a circuit-board manufacturer popular in the computer industry among coders creating, among other things, robots and motion detectors). Arduino's work is "open source"--creating hardware that others, by design, exploit and modify for their own loftier projects. It might thus be said that Musto's claimed academic "accomplishments" (his so-called MBA from New York University and claimed Ph.D from MIT) are themselves the product of his having "open-sourced" his own, previously modest curriculum vitae. [Wired.com, 4-16-2017
In February, local government and sexual-assault critics unveiled a consciousness-raising exhibit on Mexico City's trains: a plastic seat onto which is subtly molded contours of a male body, except with genitals sharply exposed. (Men supposedly have been spotted absent-mindedly lowering themselves onto the seat only to leap up in shock.) A note on the floor by the body read (in Spanish): "It's uncomfortable to sit here, but that's nothing compared to the sexual violence suffered by women on their commute." [New York Times, 3-31-2017
The Foreign Press
(1) Village police in Bangladesh arrested Yasin Byapari, 45, in January on the complaint of his wife--after she had learned that she was not, as he had told her, his second spouse but rather the 25th of his 28. (Police found him at the home of Number 27.) The accuser said she had, through sleuthing, tracked down 17 of her "competitors." (2) A male schoolteacher reported in February that he had been kidnaped by four women near Lupane, Zimbabwe, drugged with a beverage, and sexually assaulted. Police set up roadblocks and arrested three women with 31 condoms full of semen in what appears to be a return of the "sperm bandits" said to operate in the area. [BDNews24 (Dhaka), 1-24-2017
] [Daily Mail (London) via MyNewsGH (Ghana), 3-1-2017
The Passing Parade
(1) In same-day competition in March, perennial Guinness Book records jockeys Zoe L'Amore and Ashrita Furman squared off over the record for stopping blades on an electric table fan the most times in one minute using only their tongues. On Italian TV, L'Amore stopped blades 32 times, but Furman, at a different venue, later stopped 35. (2) Norway unseated Denmark as the world's "happiest" country, according to the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network. (There was no word on whether Denmark was unhappy about losing the top spot.) [UPI News, 3-31-2017
] [Reuters, 3-20-2017
A News of the Weird Classic (August 2013)
The upscale restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced in August  that it would soon add a 20-item selection of waters from around the world, priced at from $8 to $16 a bottle (and a $12 “tasting menu”). The restaurant's manager, Martin Riese, who is a renowned water gourmet, will sell his own California-made 9OH2O (from “limited editions of 10,000 individually numbered glass bottles” at $14 each). Riese has been certified as a "Water Sommelier" by the German Mineral Water Association. [Ray’s & Stark restaurant press release via Eater.com, 8-6-2013
Thanks This Week to Jim Weber, Stan Kaplan, and "John Smith," and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Back in 1961, the fad of holding marathon telephone calls swept college campuses. The girls dormitory would call the boys dormitory, and then people would take it in turns to keep the phone call going for days, or weeks. Of course, the dormitory phone would be tied up that entire time... so too bad if you had to use it for an actual call.
The longest telephone marathon I can find a record of took place at Southern Illinois University in 1965, where they planned a 2½ month phone call. Though I don't know if the full call was actually completed.
(above and below) Dec 1961: Western Michigan students talked on the phone for 504 hours.
Southern Illinoisan - June 30, 1965
Invented by Mrs. E. Isabella Gilbert in 1936 (although I think similar gadgets had been on the market before). They came with these instructions: "Wear dimplers five minutes at a time, two or three times a day, while dressing, resting, reading or writing. Look into the mirror and laugh. There will be a semblance of a line where you should always place the dimplers until your dimples are made."
According to History By Zim
: "The American Medical Association argued that the 'Dimple Maker' would not make dimples or even enlarge original dimples. They also stated that prolonged use of the devise may actually cause cancer."
Louisville Courier-Journal - June 19, 1937
Battle Creek Enquirer - June 19, 1937
Detroit Free Press - Aug 9, 1936
Medford Mail Tribune - Nov 22, 1936
Newsweek - June 19, 1937
1947: Erma Schnitter models the dimple maker
I was curious to know when exactly the American Medical Association denounced the Dimple Maker, since the History by Zim blog didn't mention a date. I tracked it down to 1947, when the AMA put together a collection of quack medical products that it displayed on a nationwide tour of museums.
The Philadelphia Inquirer - Jan 11, 1948
Our own Chuck Shepherd, longtime resident of Tampa, Florida, can salute his city's improbable flag as one of the ugliest banners in the history of banner-dom. He modestly suggests that more people should know of it, to induce further laughter and insults.
And yet, surprisingly, neighboring burg of St. Pete has a halfway decent ensign--if you like pelicans.
Full article here.