Some weird, morbid trivia: After a person dies, their body will usually start to cool down. Except, not always. Sometimes the body of a recently deceased person will actually rise in temperature. The phenomenon is known as "postmortem hyperthermia."
According to the Czech law, the deceased must remain in the hospital ward for 2 hours after death. In this case, the ambient temperature in the hospital room was 20ºC. One hour after death, nurses started to prepare the body for transport to the Department of Pathology. They noticed the unusually warm skin of the deceased, and a doctor was called back to the hospital room to verify death again. The first record of postmortem body temperature was noted in 1.5 hours after death and peaked at 40.1ºC. Remarkably, the medical staff had concerns about spontaneous combustion of the body and attempted to cool the body with frozen solutions placed near the groin.
Source: "Postmortem Increase in Body Core Temperature" Am J Forensic Med Pathol - 38(1), Mar 2017
Scientists really aren't sure what causes postmortem hyperthermia, but the list of possible causes includes: "pathological processes," violent incidents resulting in hidden cerebral traumatism, brain trauma with cerebral hypoxia, death by asphyxiation, and excited delirium.
Naturally, when Chuck informed Alex and me earlier of his decision to retire, we were heartbroken--just as all of his readers are showing themselves to be.
And yet, once the dust of that explosive announcement settled, Alex and I realized--just as all of his readers must--that Chuck's long, invaluable, joyous service would remain forever an inspiration, and that no one deserved more accolades and more congratulations and more good wishes for a long and fruitful post- NOTW lifetime than he did! So, Chuck, please consider those warm feelings and congratulations delivered in spades!
Of course, after all this, Alex and I still faced the question of whether to keep Weird Universe going. We decided to give it a go, for as long as readers keep coming and seem to enjoy what we do.
The blog has not been diminished by one-third, but by more like fifty percent, with Chuck's departure. So I guess Alex and I will just have to try to fill those large shoes to some degree.
Thanks to one and all--but most of all, to Chuck, whose idea it was to do Weird Universe in the first place!
Back in 1977, photographer Douglas Curran began taking photos of objects built by people in anticipation of the arrival of extraterrestrials. Eight years later, he collected these photos together in his book In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space.
"The words in the title," [Curran] said, "came to me in a dream in 1975. I wrote them down and carried them in a book for two years before I had any ideas as to what I was going to do with them."
Curran was asked how the people he photographed received him. Were they suspicious or secretive? He replied that they were open to him.
"I arrive on their doorstep," he said, "tell them my name, and explain that I heard about their work and want to talk to them. They're usually surprised that somebody from so far away heard about them. Also, they feel I'm ordained to do this. I've become great friends with many of them."
I haven't had a chance to read the book, but it seems like it belongs in any library of weird reading material. You can get a copy either via Curran's website or from Amazon.
Curran also made a documentary film of the same name that he released in 1993.
Dear Weirdettes and Weirdbros,
I am retiring very soon from News of the Weird and Weird Universe.
My final weekly NotW column (my 1,534th) will be posted on July 2nd,
ending 29-plus years in the saddle (28 of them as distributed by
Universal Press Syndicate, now known as Universal UClick). (I don't
know what Universal's plans are for the column, and I am not part of that
discussion.) The reason for retiring is that I am simply exhausted, i.e.,
so many stories to process, slower-firing synapses with which to process
them. In fact, my synapses don't so much "fire" these days as they kinda
"lurch." I know that some of you (because you're kind) will be moved to
shout out a few nice words to me, but, as I say, I am exhausted and thus
may not (or may) respond. Just let me say that I will forever and ever be
so very grateful to readers (and editors) for allowing me this gig. Y'all
take care of yourselves.
WeirdNews at Earthlink dot net (until Dec 2017) / P. O. Box 18737,
Tampa FL 33679 (permanent)
Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 04, 2017 -
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M530, June 4, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
A country-and-western radio station in Benson, Ariz. (near Tucson), owned by Paul Lotsof, has periodically run "public service announcements" about one of Lotsof's pet peeves: the harsh sentences usually given to mere "collectors" of child pornography. Many, he believes, are non-dangerous, day-dreaming hermits--but often imprisoned for long stretches. Thus, his PSAs publicize tips for avoiding the police, such as saving child porn only on an external computer drive (and hiding the drive securely). Despite recent community outrage (causing Lotsof to retire the announcements), he remains defiant that, since he personally avoids child porn, he is merely exercising a free-speech right. [Washington Post, 5-11-2017]
Can't Possibly Be True
The inexplicable ease with which foreign hackers attack U.S. computers and security systems is finally grabbing the attention of officials. In a March Washington Post report, a technology expert from Britain's King's College London told a reporter of his astonishment to realize that the "security chips" on Congressional staff members' identification badges are fake: The badge "doesn't actually have a proper chip," he said. "It has a picture of a chip." Apparently, he added, "It's [there] only to prevent chip envy." [Washington Post, 3-31-2017]
Suzette Welton has been in prison in Alaska for 17 years based almost solely on now-debunked forensic evidence, but the state's lack of a clemency process means she cannot challenge her life sentence unless she proves "complete" innocence. Evidence that the fire that killed her son was "arson" was based not on science but on widely-believed (but wrong) folklore on how intentional fires burn differently than accidental ones. (The bogus arson "trademarks" are similar to those used to convict Texan Cameron Todd Willingham, who suffered an even worse fate than Welton's: Willingham was executed for his "arson" in 2004.) [Alaska Dispatch News, 5-14-2017]
Reverence for the lineage of asparagus continues in epic yearly Anglican church festivities in Worcester, England, where in April celebrants obtained special blessing for the vegetable by local priests as a costumed asparagus pranced through the street praising the stalks as representing "the generosity of God." Critics (including clergy from other parishes) likened the parades to a Monty Python sketch, and "an infantile pantomime," with one pleading plaintively, "Really, for [God's] sake," can't the Church of England offer "more dignified" worship? [Daily Telegraph, 4-25-2017]
Leading Economic Indicators
(1) Andrew Bogut, signed as a free agent by the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers in March and expected to be a key player in the team's quest to defend its league championship, checked into his first game and played 58 seconds before crashing into a bench and breaking his leg. For that 58 seconds, the Cavs owe Bogut $383,000. (2) Jose Calderon signed as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors in March, but the NBA-leading Warriors changed their mind (for unforeseen reasons) two hours after the deal and released Calderon. For his 119 minutes as a Warrior (6:06 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.), Calderon was paid $415,000. [Cleveland.com, 3-7-2017] [San Jose Mercury News, 3-2-2017]
In May, as Taunton, Mass., police were about to arrest Amy Rebello-McCarthy, 39, for DUI after she left the road and crashed through several mailboxes (with the crash causing all of her tires to deflate), she, laughing, told officers there was one other thing: She had a bearded dragon in her bra (where it was riding while she drove). (The lizard was turned over to animal control.) [Providence Journal, 5-16-2017]
Felicia Nevins complained to reporters in May that the Pasco County (Fla.) Sheriff's office had improperly drawn attention to her on a matter purely of a personal nature--that she had called for help, concerned that the sperm she was storing for in-vitro fertilization (kept under liquid nitrogen in a thermos) might explode. Deputies had placed the details (but not her name) on the office's Facebook page (but the Tampa Bay Times deduced her name from public sources). [Tampa Bay Times, 5-20-2017]
Fine Points of the Law
In a legislative battle waged since a 1979 state court decision, some North Carolinians tried once again this year to change a state law that explicitly states that once a person (almost always, of course, a "female") has "consented" to an act of sexual intercourse, that consent cannot be withdrawn--even if the encounter turns violent. (The violence might be prosecuted as an "assault" but never the more serious crime of "rape.") Said state Sen. Jeff Jackson, whose bill to change the law failed in April to get a legislative hearing, "We're the only state in the country where 'no' doesn't mean 'no.'" [WRAL-TV (Raleigh-Durham), 5-2-2017]
Learning Useful Skills: (1) In May, the British tribunal dealing with student cheating rejected the appeal of a law student who was caught taking an in-class exam with her textbook open (OK--permitted) but containing hand-written notes in the margins--not permitted, but written in invisible ink legible via the UV light on her pen). (2) On testing day in March for Romania's 14- and 15-year-olds, administrators of the country's popular DEX online dictionary, acting on suspicion, changed the definitions of two words likely to be improperly looked-up by cheaters during the exam. "[H]undreds" of school searches for the words took place that morning, but administrators were still mulling an appropriate punishment for the cheaters (who were, of course, easily identified by their mis-application of the suspect words). [NBC News, 5-6-2017] [BBC News, 3-16-2017]
With limited trade, investment, and ownership rights, Many Cuban producers are forced to improvise in order to bring products to market--like Orestes Estevez, a Havana winemaker, who finds condoms indispensable, according to an April Associated Press dispatch. The "most remarkable sight" the reporter saw was "hundreds of [open] bottles capped with condoms," which inflate from gases as the fruit ferments. When fermentation is done, the condom goes limp. (The AP also noted that fishermen use condoms to carry bait far from shore and which also increase tugging resistance when nibbling fish fight the line.) [Associated Press via Virgin Islands Daily News, 4-4-2017]
India's Supreme Court approved an order recently that forced bars and liquor stores to close down if they were located less than 500 meters (1,640 feet) from state or national highways. India Times reported in April that the Aishwarya Bar in North Paravoor, Kerala, is still (legally) operating at its old location even though it is clearly within the 500-meter restricted area. The owner explained that since he owns the land behind the bar, too, he had constructed a "serpentine" wooden maze in back and front that requires any entering customer to take the equivalent number of steps it would take to walk 500 meters. (A tax office official reluctantly accepted the arrangement.) [India Times, 4-8-2017]
Canadian Anton Pilipa, 39, who suffers from schizophrenia, was discovered--safe--in the Amazon rainforest state of Rondonia, Brazil, in November 2016, which was the first sighting of him since his disappearance in March 2012. He was unable to communicate well and had no ID or money, but his family has actively been searching for him and believe the only way he could have traveled from the family home in Scarborough, Ontario, to Brazil (6,300 miles) was by hitchhiking or walking. (Bonus: The area in which he was found is noted for alligators and snakes.) [CTV News, 2-9-2017]
A News of the Weird Classic (November 2013)
Secrets of Highly Successful Business Owners: When Michelle Esquenazi was asked by a New York Post reporter in September  why her all-female crew of licensed bounty hunters (Empire Bail Bonds of New York) is so successful at tricking bail-jumpers into the open, she offered a (five-letter-long) euphemism for a female body part. “It’s timeless,” she counseled. “Of course he’s going to open his door for a nice piece of [deleted].” “The thing about defendants is no matter who they are [of whatever color], they’re all dumb. Every single last one of them is stupid.” [New York Post, 9-27-2013]
Thanks This Week to Zach Riipinen and Ellen Lockhart, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Bob McCabe, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Sandy Pearlman, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Peter Smagorinsky, Rob Snyder, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).
Psychologists have found that a person can easily become habituated to a repeated stimulus. But if the stimulus is removed, its absence can itself be perceived as a kind of phantom stimulus. This is known as the "Bowery-el phenomenon" — named after the Bowery el (or Third Avenue el), the elevated rail line that used to run through New York City. The cognitive scientist Karl Pribram explained the term in a Jan 1969 Scientific American article, "The Neurophysiology of Remembering":
For many years there was an elevated railway line (the "el") on Third Avenue in New York that made a fearful racket; when it was torn down, people who had been living in apartments along the line awakened periodically out of a sound sleep to call the police about some strange occurrence they could not properly define. Many such calls came at the times the trains had formerly rumbled past. The strange occurrences were of course the deafening silence that had replaced the expected noise.
And there's a slightly fuller description at indiana.edu:
Apparently the omission of an event can itself be an event. A somewhat famous case of this is the Bowery El phenomenon. The Bowery El is a train the regularly runs through the Bowery, a less than desirable section of New York City. In the Bowery the track is lined by some apartment buildings. That residents of these apartments regularly call police to report suspected criminal activity (breakins, assaults) is not so unusual. However, for a period of two weeks in late the 1960s the police received un unusually large number of calls in the middle of the night. Even more confusing was that the police often found no evidence of criminal activity (breakins, peeping toms, etc.) apparently nothing was happening. At least not more than usual. As mentioned, after about two weeks the number of calls reduced down to the usual number. Some astute investigator noticed that at about the time the calls increased in number the Bowery El had stopped its 2:00 AM run. Apparently the residents of the apartments had habituated to the noise in the middle of the night. However once the noise stopped the residents dishabituated and the resulting OR woke them up. Since no one wakes up to nothing, the residents apparently assumed that something unusual had happened and called the police.
The indiana.edu article says the flurry of calls occurred in the 1960s, but I think they must be mistaken, since the Bowery el was torn down in 1955.
The Bowery el, aka Third Avenue el. Image via wikipedia
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 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.