"So business will not be interrupted if enemy airplanes should loose gas bombs on Rome before quitting time, a new transparent gas mask that enables a typist to see clearly while enjoying protection from noxious fumes has been introduced into the war-minded Italian capital."
1879: Reports reached America of experiments conducted in the city of Liege, Belgium to determine if cats could be used to deliver mail. Three dozen cats were said to have been placed in bags and then taken several miles out of the city. They were then released, after a message had been tied to each one. The cats reportedly made it back to their homes in Liege before the humans did.
Plans were said to be in the works "to establish a regular system of cat communication between Liege and the neighboring villages".
Sep 15, 1896: Over 30,000 spectators watched as two locomotives were deliberately collided head-on. The event was a publicity stunt staged in Texas, about midway between Waco and Hillsboro. It was named the "Crash at Crush" after the railroad agent William George Crush, who had dreamed up the spectacle.
The event didn't exactly go as planned. The boilers of the locomotives exploded upon impact, despite the earlier assurances of engineers that this wouldn't happen, sending shrapnel into the crowd. Several were killed. Many more were injured. According to TexasEscapes.com:
The [railroad] did have some claims by irate relatives of the victims, but refunds, cash payments and lifetime passes took care of them. A lifetime railroad pass in the 1890s was like winning the lottery.
Mail clerks raised money for preserving their mascot and he was taken to the Post Office Department's headquarters in Washington, DC, where he was on placed on display for the public. In 1904 the Department added Owney to their display at the St. Louis, Missouri, World’s Fair. In 1911, the department transferred Owney to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1926, the Institution allowed Owney to travel to the Post Office Department’s exhibit at the Sesquicentennial exhibit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1964-1992, he was displayed at the Smithsonian museum now known as the National Museum of American History and in 1993 he moved to the new National Postal Museum, where he remains on display next to a fabricated Railway Post Office train car.
The Japanese government recently created an animated character that definitely belongs in our ongoing series of strange spokesbeings. It was a "cute fish-like creature with rosy cheeks" that was intended to represent a radioactive hydrogen isotope. The government was hoping that this creature would help gain public support for its plan of releasing contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea.
While the government didn't give this creature a name, people have been calling it "Little Mr. Tritium".
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.