I wonder where Katsuo Katugoru was during the big 2011 tsunami... if he got a chance to use his invention.
Orlando Sentinel - Aug 23, 1998
Update: I've concluded that Katsuo's inflatable underpants were fake news. Never happened. Columnist Mark Gibbs called it out as such in his May 4, 1998 column in Network World magazine. He also offered some prescient thoughts about the emergence and possible consequences of the fake-news phenomenon:
Tokyo commuter Katsuo Katugoru caused havoc on a crowded tube train when his inflatable underpants unexpectedly went off. The rubber underwear was made by Katsuo himself and was designed to inflate to 30 times their original size in the event of a tidal wave. "I am terrified of water, and death by drowning is my greatest fear," said Katsuo, 48.
— Unsubstantiated story carried March 3, 1998, by London's Daily Telegraph, National Public Radio and many other serious news organizations.
What's interesting about this story (other than the weirdness) is the coverage the story received. According to some reports, The Associated Press sourced it, but no one has been able to find any AP reference. You have to wonder how the likes of NPR and the Daily Telegraph could run with it.
What the event illustrates is a phenomenon that will become increasingly common — the Internet raising gossip, jokes and misinformation to the status of truth. This is what I call "anti-data." Anti-data is not the opposite of data, rather it is the stuff that dilutes and invalidates the data you need.
Part of the reason anti-data exists is because the Internet supports the rapid transfer of huge amounts of what we'll call, for the sake of argument, "news." Way back in 1967, Marshall McLuhan noted the consequence of speedy news delivery as a general trend of modern media in "The Medium is the Message: An Inventory of Effects," (p. 63):
Information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is very rapidly replaced by still newer information. Our electrically configured world has forced us to move from the habit of data classification to the mode of pattern recognition.
The Internet amplifies this effect and applies it not only to news but also to intelligence about markets, people and business concerns in general.
To corporations, this should be a great concern. As your employees begin to rely on pattern recognition over data analysis, generally their judgment will become less consistent.
Their correct conclusions may well become more accurate, but their wrong ones will tend toward the catastrophic. These extremes might average the same as prior judgments, but the fact that the highs are stellar and the lows, abysmal, will induce chaotic behavior.
Invented by artist Dick Turner in 1992. The organizers of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer then got wind of it, and decided it would be "the perfect way to make light of Norwegians' reputation as a dour people and ordered 100,000 of them for Olympic workers and town residents to wear."
But they did this without crediting Turner at all. Nor did they order the smile machines from him. When Turner complained, someone from the Norwegian embassy in Washington called him "and acknowledged that the Smile Machine was his idea but said nothing further could be done about it."
There's now a more high-tech alternative. The Plum Dispenser is a $1500 gadget that stores several bottles of wine, but dispenses a glass at a time — allowing hotel guests to buy a single glass in their room rather than a whole bottle. It's basically wine on tap. Though the prices aren't cheap:
At La Confidante, the Plum in every room dispenses Evesham Wood pinot noir from Oregon ($5.25 for a 2-ounce glass; 5 oz. for $16) and Justin sauvignon blanc ($4, $12) from Paso Robles.
$16 for 5 ounces of wine? You could go to a local supermarket and buy an entire bottle for that.
Abstract: A forehead support apparatus for resting a standing users forehead against a wall above a bathroom commode or urinal or beneath a showerhead. The apparatus includes a mounting member adapted for attachment to an upright bathroom wall either above the commode or urinal or below the showerhead.
Invented by three students at the University of Dundee, the Sociometer is designed to measure how much time people at pubs (or in any social environment) are spending on their phones, as opposed to being social. It does this by measuring WiFi activity and recording it on a scrolling piece of graph paper.
They tested it in a Dundee pub and found that "people were still attached to their phones even at peak times when they were surrounded by friends."
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
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.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.