A man has blown up part of his house in France while trying to swat a fly. The man, who is in his 80s, was about to tuck into his dinner when he became irritated by a fly buzzing around him. He picked up an electric fly swatter and started targeting it - but a gas canister was leaking in his Dordogne home. A reaction between the device and the gas caused an explosion, destroying the kitchen and partly damaging the roof of the home in Parcoul-Chenaud village.
I checked to see if Chuck had ever decided that people destroying their homes while trying to kill insects was a 'No Longer Weird' type of story, and yes, he had! In his Sept 18, 2016 column, he listed the following story under the 'no longer weird' heading:
Police in Centralia, Washington, arrested a man (not identified in news reports) for reckless burning in August when, trying to rid his apartment of roaches, he declined ordinary aerosol bug spray in favor of making a homemade flamethrower (the aerosol spray fired up by a lighter). He fled the apartment when he realized he might have taken things too far. (Firefighters were called, but the damage was minimal.) [The Oregonian, 8-8-2016]
In 2003, the UK children's charity Barnardo's came out with the ad below. It promptly triggered numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Barnardo's argued that it "caused distress for good reason, but the ASA banned the ad anyway, saying it could "cause serious or widespread offense."
The ad was subsequently voted one of the top 10 ads of 2003 by Campaign magazine.
Of course, the charity must have known it was likely the ad would get banned, but evidently figured the controversy would attract more attention to their message than something more subdued.
When you clean bugs off your car's windshield, think of Detroit researcher Clark Wells who spent his career figuring out how best to do this.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Mar 22, 1953
WINDSHIELD-SPATTERING WITH A PURPOSE
The curious actions of Frederick Brownell (left) and Clark Wells at Detroit are in the interests of science. They are using pea-shooter and slingshot to shoot bugs against a windshield at squashing velocity so that Wells, a chemist, can then test fluids to be used in wiper spray to remove them. For his experiments, Wells buys such insects as bumble bees, June bugs, fish flies, deer flies and other of the more succulent species from collectors for amounts up to a dime each.
Huntsville Times - June 20, 1954
Inventor Clark Wells, of Fraser, Mich., lacked the bugs he needed to test out a windshield wiper fluid he was perfecting, so he placed a Classified Ad in a Detroit paper, soon had an adequate supply of bumblebees, June bugs and other insects.
In the mid-1970s, there was a fad among jewelry stores to use tarantulas as security guards. Stores claimed it helped prevent thefts, although tarantulas aren't going to do much to stop a thief, besides looking scary. Rattlesnakes, I imagine, might work better.
To the Editor: A recent case seen in an emergency department of a large urban hospital may have finally settled the tormenting and age-old question concerning the best method of removing Periplaneta americana, the common cockroach, from the ear canal. Numerous methods have been described in the medical literature, the most popular of which appears to be placement of mineral oil in the canal and subsequent manual removal of the creature. More recently, lidocaine spray has been suggested as a more effective approach to this problem.
A patient recently presented with a cockroach in both ears. The history was otherwise noncontributory. We recognized immediately that fate had granted us the opportunity for an elegant comparative therapeutic trial. Having visions of a medical breakthrough assuredly worthy of subsequent publication in the Journal, we placed the time-tested mineral oil in one ear canal. The cockroach succumbed after a valiant but futile struggle, but its removal required much dexterity on the part of the house officer. In the opposite ear we sprayed 2 per cent lidocaine solution. The response was immediate; the roach exited the canal at a convulsive rate of speed and attempted to escape across the floor. A fleet-footed intern promptly applied an equally time-tested remedy and killed the creature using the simple crush method.
However humble the method, and despite our small study population, we think we have provided further evidence justifying the use of lidocaine for the treatment of a problem that has bugged mankind throughout recorded history.
K. O'Toole, M.D.
P.M. Paris, M.D.
R.D. Stewart, M.D.
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
To the Editor: The excitement was unbearable. "There's a girl with a bug in her ear!" the nurse had exclaimed. "Looks like a cockroach to me!" It was all we could do to keep from running to the patient's bedside. "Grab the lidocaine!" we shouted. This was the moment we had been waiting for. We had seen the reports, but did it really work?
As we burst into the room, we could see the young woman writhing from the combined sensations of movement and pain in her ear canal. One of us tok a look, confirming the nurse's diagnosis, while the other filled a 3-cc syringe with 2 percent lidocaine solution. With hurried anticipation we sprayed the drug briskly into the ear canal and quickly jumped back, fully expecting the beast to come hurtling forth at first contact with the noxious substance.
Nothing. "Increase the dosage," we shouted, filling a 10-cc syring. Still nothing. "Get that sucker outa my ear!" the patient screamed. What a brilliant idea! We grabbed a 2-mm metal suction tip and attached it to a wall suction apparatus with a negative pressure of 120 cm of water. Then we gently passed the tip into the ear canal, taking care not to occlude the canal and risk tympanic-membrane barotrauma. Shloop! "Got him!" we exulted. Sure enough, there he was, plastered to the suction tip like a fly to flypaper. After a repeat examination of the canal and a few drops of Cortisporin solution, the patient was on her way.
We recommend suction as a safe and efficacious method for removing insects from the ear canal when other methods fail.
Jonathan Warren, M.D.
Leo C. Rotell, M.D.
State University of New York
Health Science Center
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.