Weird Universe Blog — December 22, 2023

Burning Christmas Trees

By chance I came across the following two items at almost the same time.

First: "Your tree... a symbol of joy or a blazing death torch?" (via vintage advertising)

Life - Dec 13, 1948

Second: Hunter S. Thompson burning his Christmas tree, as witnessed and described by Time correspondent Sam Allis. (via Open Culture)

Click for larger version (pdf)

The video referenced in Allis's article. Listen for the screams of "NO, HUNTER, NO! PLEASE, HUNTER, DON’T DO IT!" in the background.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 22, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Christmas

Miracle at Syracuse, NY

Not a "Christmas Miracle," but we'll take what we can get.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Dec 22, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Crowds, Groups, Mobs and Other Mass Movements | Religion | Supernatural, Occult, Paranormal | 1940s

December 21, 2023

The man who hatched an egg on his stomach

We've previously posted about Ella Petry, the British woman who in 1958 became famous when she hatched an egg in her cleavage.

Seven years before she did this, a young man in Germany, Gerd Ruthmann, hatched an egg on his stomach.

He got some media attention for this feat, but nothing like the publicity that Petry received.

Life - July 2, 1951

Life - Dec 12, 1969

Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 21, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Eggs | 1950s

Suffer the Children

Another fine Xmas ditty.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Dec 21, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Holidays | Toys | Children | 1960s | Weapons

December 20, 2023

Uranium may be in your backyard

From what I can gather, this device (a 'geigerscope') would make visible the flashes of radiation given off by radioactive substances such as uranium. But (not mentioned by the ad) it only worked in complete darkness, with a dark-adapted eye. So not a practical way to hunt for uranium deposits.

And if you had uranium in your backyard, you might wanna find somewhere else to live.

More info:

Red Mask, May-June 1955

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 20, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters

Unauthorized Dwellings 31

Squatting on an abandoned island with no amenities, even one convenient to Manhattan, seems to offer some drawbacks. (Article is partial, but I figured we got the gist of it.)

Posted By: Paul - Wed Dec 20, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Oceans and Maritime Pursuits | Urban Life | Unauthorized Dwellings | 1970s

December 19, 2023

Raising Mt. Rainier

In 1948, Washington's Mt. Rainier was considered to be the fourth highest mountain in the U.S., behind California's Mt. Whitney and Colorado's Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive. But the difference between Rainier and the Colorado mountains was only a few feet. So Seattle chiropractor (and mountain-climbing enthusiast) C.A. Mittun came up with a plan to build a 24-foot mound of rocks on top of Mt. Rainier, thereby leapfrogging it from fourth place into second.

However, their plan never came to fruition. A Colorado-born park superintendent stopped Mittun and his team on their way up, telling them that their plan was illegal.

None of the articles from 1948 about Mittun's plan mentioned Colorado's Mt. Harvard, which Wikipedia lists as being four-feet higher than Mt. Rainier. So sometime between 1948 and now the relative heights of the two mountains must have been adjusted, pushing Mt. Rainier further down the list. When Alaska became a state in 1959, Mt. Rainier fell far down the list to its current spot at #17.

Incidentally, Mt. Harvard has its own history of being artificially raised. In the 1960s a group of Harvard graduates put a 14-foot flagpole on its summit in order to make it the second highest point in the contiguous United States. The flagpole stayed up for about 20 years.

Santa Cruz Sentinel - Aug 13, 1948

Hanford Morning Journal - Aug 17, 1948

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 19, 2023 - Comments (4)
Category: Geography and Maps | Landmarks | 1940s

One Hundred Proofs That the Earth Is Not a Globe

Bone up on your arguments for this perennial topic!

Read the 32-page book here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Dec 19, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Eccentrics | Gonzo, Demento, Kooky, Wacky and Out-there | Pseudoscience | Books | Nineteenth Century

December 18, 2023

The Signature of Button Gwinnett

In the world of signature collecting the "holy grail" is to obtain a signature of Button Gwinnett, a representative from Georgia to the Continental Congress and also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. As explained by Wikipedia:

Gwinnett's autograph is highly sought by collectors as a result of a combination of the desire by many top collectors to acquire a complete set of autographs by all 56 signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and the extreme rarity of the Gwinnett signature; there are 51 known examples, since Gwinnett was fairly obscure prior to signing the Declaration and died shortly afterward. Only ten of those are in private hands. The 1953 Isaac Asimov short story "Button, Button" concerns an attempt to obtain a genuine (and therefore valuable) signature of Gwinnett by means of a device that can move objects through time.

In 2022, a copy sold for $1.4m.

If you're going to build a device to move objects through time, I think you can do better than that.

image source:

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 18, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Collectors | Eighteenth Century

Miss Flame

There appear to be literally dozens of different "Miss Flames" across the USA. I can't sort them out. But I will say that it's rather odd to bear a title that represents the enemy of the group--firemen--conferring the title!

Posted By: Paul - Mon Dec 18, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Contests, Races and Other Competitions | Destruction | Firefighting, Arson, Wildfires, Infernos and Other Conflagrations

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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