1974: Roy Baker of Guthrie, Oklahoma received a Christmas card two years after it had been mailed. Because the price of a stamp had gone up between the time it was mailed and the time it was delivered, the post office decided there was postage due.
Baker wisely decided it was useless to argue with the post office and paid them the two cents they wanted.
In 1971, it was widely reported that a girls' high school in Johannesburg, South Africa had banned peanut butter due to a concern that peanuts were a sexual stimulant.
This news, of course, was met with incredulity by the American press, but given the lack of details in the story (the school, for instance, was never named) I suspected it might be an urban legend reported as news. However, in a New Scientist article published two years later (Nov 1, 1973) I was able to find some more information which suggests that the story apparently was true, and that the ban was inspired by local African folk belief about peanuts:
"This command has been traced by local health officials to a traditional taboo among the native tribal population which regarded both peanuts and eggs as sex stimulants and therefore forbade their consumption by the young and unmarried."
January 1973: Texas State Rep. Jim Kaster filed a bill that would have required criminals to give their victims twenty-four hours notice before they committed a crime. Argued Kaster, "Obviously the criminal is not going to do it, but this would be another punishment that could be added to the penalty." No surprise, the bill was defeated.
Grannis, Arkansas: On September 29, 1975, the Nance family — about 40 of them in all — stopped paying all their bills (including their mortgage) because they were sure the Second Coming was about to happen. They knew this because Aunt Iola Walker had received a message from God. Ten months later, U.S. marshals evicted them, and the family members had to, once again, get jobs.
In 1973, Lloyd Honey opened the Tricircle drive-in movie theater. It was the first-ever circular drive-in. The advantage of this was that it allowed x-rated movies to be shown, because the picture couldn't be seen from surrounding areas. This circular design was marketed as "Visible X" technology, but it doesn't seem to have caught on.
Lloyd Honey of [Richland, Washington] already owned a couple of standard-size drive-ins in the area when he opened a miniature one on May 30, 1973. It was circular in shape, with 120 individiual screens each of which was 3 by 4 feet, a sixty-inch diagonal. The projection booth was located in the center of the circle, 165 feet from the viewing area. Using 120 lenses and reflecting mirrors, the image was back-projected to all the screens. Sound was picked up on the car radios. Honey said that this theater — built at a cost of $70,000 — needed just two people to operate it. While not designed specificially for X-rated films, this new theater "could very well show them," Honey conceded. He claimed that it was the "first of its kind on the West Coast." It was also the last.
According to drive-ins.com, the Tricircle was torn down at some point, and there's now a Wal-Mart on the site.
Companies do all kinds of things to boost staff morale. They hire motivational speakers, have team-building exercises, give employees gifts, etc.
But the industrial psychologist Lawrence Zeitlin, in an article published in June 1971 in Psychology Today ("A little larceny can do a lot for employee morale"), argued that the most effective way a business could boost morale was by allowing its employees to steal a little from the company.
He argued that theft added to a sense of "job enrichment" by making the job more interesting. It gave employees a sense of satisfaction at getting away with it. Also, workers "often looked upon theft as a condition of employment." Furthermore, he noted, allowing the theft could be cheaper than installing elaborate security precautions.
In her book Management and Ideology, business author Judith Merkle provides some background info on Zeitlin's article:
Before its publication in Psychology Today the Harvard Business Review had previously turned down the article. It was, after all, a classic application of amoral Scientific Management techniques, and it offended the HBR down to its puritan roots. The interesting point is, however, that the control practices recommended in this article bear a close family resemblance to the working practices of Stalinism. Allowing theft, while keeping the rules against theft, certainly makes theft more thrilling, but it also opens up the way to arbitrary and discriminatory uses of power through the selective application of dead-letter rules. This is, of course, the first step in the destruction of the rule of law, and, in the long run, leads to the introduction of de facto totalitarianism.
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.
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