Weird Universe Archive

July 2008

July 31, 2008

Divorce Deli


Minister Chuck points me toward the Divorce Deli. It remains a question as to whether pickles are extra.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 31, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Business, Advertising, Domestic, Divorce, Food

Japanese “Do Not” Signs

The one on the left is self-explanatory, though odd. The meaning of the one on the right, however, is a complete mystery to me. Do not sit on the little cone person?

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 31, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Signage

The Bridge to Nowhere

No, not that bridge in Alaska. This one was designed by Michael Cross:

The Bridge is a series of steps which rise up out of the water in front of you as you walk from one to the next, and then disappear back underneath behind you as you go, leaving you stranded with only one step visible in front of you, and one behind. The bridge ends in the middle of the water, where you find yourself totally isolated and cut off from the shore. You return the way you came.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 31, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Buildings and Other Structures

Follies of the Mad Men #7


[From Fortune for December 1936. Two image files, click separately.]

Sniffles = Death.

Not the most subtle or believable of Madison Avenue appeals. Sure, in that pre-antibiotic age, pneumonia was deadly. But I can't imagine that the proportion of cold-sufferers who contracted pneumonia--at least among the affluent audience for Fortune--was any higher then than it is today. In other words, miniscule.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 31, 2008 - Comments (8)
Category: Business, Advertising, Insurance, Death, Family, Hygiene, Medicine, Couples

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Thursday

That's Messed Up: SWAT team raided the wrong house, riddled the place with bullets, is now formally cited for "bravery" and "professionalism" during that very raid
The theory is, apparently, that it takes above-and-beyond ability and character to tear the wrong place apart if the innocent, underwear-soiling homeowner starts firing back at you. Without that professionalism, this episode "could have gone horribly wrong," said the Minneapolis police chief, failing to understand that this episode did go horribly wrong. The innocent Mr. Vang Khang became, once again, livid. WCCO-TV (Minneapolis)
Comments 'swat_honored'

How to drive an environmentalist nuts
You're an Arab Sheikh with a Lamborghini, and you need to get it serviced, and you don't like your options in Qatar, so you fly it, commercial, to London, and back. Not a carbon "footprint," a carbon crater. The Sun (London)
Comments 'sheikh_lamborghini'

Presto! $10B (Zim) now worth $1 (Zim)!
And don't y'all try anything funny by price-gouging or speculating, said President Mugabe, or there'll be hell to pay! The largest bill, to be issued tomorrow, is $500 (Zim), which will replace $5T (Zim). London's Daily Mail, by the way, today produces a photo of a 7-23-2008 bank draft from MBCA Bank (in Harare), for the hand-written amount of, er, $1.072Q, which would be one quadrillion, 72 trillion. (Bonus: the account and bank tracking numbers are clearly visible, but so is "Not Negotiable" on the original draft's printing, so it might be a fake, but maybe it'll keep the Nigerian 419 scammers busy for a few days.) Associated Press via New York Times // Daily Mail
Comments 'zimbabwe_currency'

Alert the World Health Org'n! Epidemic of public wanking!
Michael Weber, 37, in his car, waiting his turn at a sobriety checkpoint near Cincinnati. Brendan Erhardt, 39, driving home in Australia (Bonus: video'ed himself in the act in the car, plus had 10 lbs. of dope and two marijuana plants on the back seat). Daniel Chelland, 18, Wilmington, Del., taking a break on the curb from his job selling Verizon services door-to-door. WKRC-TV (Cincinnati) // Northern Territory News (Darwin) // Wilmington News Journal
Comments 'public_wanking'

Your Daily Loser
In a spectacular failure of both rehab and deterrence, Timothy Wallace, 38, was arrested in Elkmont, Ala., for robbing the Superior Bank, 13 yrs after drawing a 12-yr prison sentence for robbing the same bank. Associated Press via WVTM-TV (Birmingham)
Comments 'timothy_wallace'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Alongside today's masturbateurs (above) we have Rev. Scott Murray, 48, who resigned from the New Covenant Church in Clyde, N.C. (pop. 1,324), after being arrested for breaking into a woman's home and stealing a "sex toy and a bottle of personal lubricant." WLOS-TV (Asheville) [Link contains a video with mugshot, along with sound bites from disapproving middle-aged residents of Clyde]
Comments 'scott_murray'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Juan Alvarez (the fella on the left) might have been one of the guys on a Reno, Nev., burglary spree. Reno Gazette-Journal
Comments 'juan_alvarez'

More Things to Worry About on Thursday
A 21-yr-old New York angler was killed when he yanked his lead sinker out of the water with such force that, by accident it slammed into his skull and penetrated his brain . . . . . An itinerant Alabama preacher heroically ministered to the flock even though he realized that his eldest daughter was right then, in real time, ratting him out to the police for molesting her and killing his wife (Bonus: The missus had been in the freezer for as long as 3 yrs) . . . . . Michael Wax is demanding an apology from the Borgata casino in Atlantic City for ejecting him on body-odor grounds ("There's no question I stink. I'm not denying it. I do have an odor. I've been playing for 17 hours.") . . . . . The Riyadh Comm'n for the Protection of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice banned dog-walking, on the ground that it might lead to owners' intersex flirting . . . . . A fella ought to be able to create a Verizon DSL User Name with his own name that's been in the phone book for decades, but if you're Dr. Herman Libshitz, Verizon blocks it. Today's Newsrangers: Jonathan Barnes, Roger Gulbransen, Abby Dombrovski, Jerry Whittle, Tony Jeswald, Don Schullian, Paul Vogt, Peter Hine, Joe Littrell, Steve Dunn, Paul Music
Comments 'worry_080731'

Posted By: Chuck - Thu Jul 31, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 30, 2008

Mystery Bug Invades Britain

This sounds like something out of a horror novel. A mysterious red and black insect has been found in parts of London, baffling experts who have no idea what it is. Ominously, it is spreading rapidly. From BBC News:

The tiny red and black bug first appeared in the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden in March 2007. Since then it has become the most common insect in the garden and has also been spotted in Regent's Park and Gray's Inn. The bug appears to be harmless, but there is potential for it to spread throughout the UK, said experts...

Despite containing more than 28 million insect specimens, the museum failed to find an exact match for the new bug. Experts said it closely resembles the rare species Arocatus roeselii that is usually found in central Europe. But the roeselii bugs are brighter red than this new bug and they are usually associated with alder trees. The National Museum in Prague discovered an exact match to the mystery insect but experts there have also failed to determine exactly what it is. "It seems strange that so many of these bugs should suddenly appear," said Mr Barclay.

Sure, it appears to be harmless for now, but what are the odds it'll remain that way? Haven't they read The Day of the Triffids?

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 30, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Horror, Unsolved Mysteries, Science Fiction

Monkeys on Opium

Reported in November 1887 in the Pall Mall Gazette:

Dr. Jammers, in a memoir sent to the Academie des Sciences, states that monkeys, unlike other animals, unless it is the human animal, readily acquire the habit of taking morphia. When monkeys live with opium smokers, as they do in eastern countries, where the habit is more prevalent than elsewhere, and become accustomed to the medicated atmosphere, they acquire a taste for the pipe. One particular monkey, it is said, would wait for his master to lay down his pipe and would then take it up and smoke what remained. If not allowed to do so for several days it would fall into a state of depression and inactivity which would disappear as soon as it was allowed to "hit the pipe."

And more recently, in a July 2008 BBC News article about the world's largest legal opium factory located in Ghazipur in northern India:

Ghosh [author of a recent historical novel about opium] wrote about "a miasma of lethargy" that seemed to be always hanging over the factory's surroundings - one example was the opium addled monkeys who would lap the open sewers carrying the factory's waste.
Monkeys still have the run of the factory, eating opium waste and dozing all day. "They have become addicted to opium. Most of the time we have to drag dozing monkeys away from this place," a worker says.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 30, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals, Inebriation and Intoxicants

Annoying Gadgets

We all love gadgets. Except for the truly useless and frustrating devices. Those we hate and ridicule. The Japanese actually have a term and category for such items: Chindōgu.

Recently, while browsing through the catalog for WHATEVER WORKS, I found two examples of Chindōgu.

This anti-cootie sack for the paranoid traveler seems utterly useless. Wouldn't the bedbugs crawl inside within seconds of contact?'

This spinning fork is guaranteed to suck all the pleasure out of an eternal childhood pastime: making S'mores. When the batteries die and the plastic handle melts, all the fun comes to a tearful end.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 30, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Products, Domestic, Food, Inventions, Travel, Hotels

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Wednesday

World's luckiest murderer
Kenneth Moore pleaded guilty to a 1995 killing, admitting that he shot a pal in the head during a beer bender. Then, he changed his mind and appealed, and won because his trial lawyer had ignored some evidence that undermined the prosecution's proof. At a subsequent trial, the prosecutor simply didn't have enough evidence, and Moore was found not guilty. And now the Ohio Court of Claims, pretty much following the letter of the law, has just approved Moore's demand for $600k in restitution for having "wrongfully" locked him up. Crime pays. Big. Columbus Dispatch
Comments 'kenneth_moore'

Update on Haiti's food crisis
News of the Weird reported in March [NOTW M051, 3-30-2008]:
In the worst slums of Port-au-Prince, Haiti (where 80 percent of the people live on less than $2 a day), rice now sells for 30 cents a cup (double the price of a year ago), according to a January Associated Press dispatch, leaving the poorest of the poor to subsist mainly on “cookies” made with dirt. Choice clay from the central plateau is at least a source of calcium and can be baked with salt and vegetable shortening. However, recently in the La Saline slum, the reporter noted, the price of dirt, too, has risen about 40 percent.
It's worse than ever now, according to London's Guardian, which has a photo that looks like a field of ceramic pieces baking in the hot sun but, no, they're mud cakes, i.e., food. Guardian
Comments 'haiti_mud'

Second doctor's opinion? Check. Third opinion, fourth, fifth? Check, check, check. They're all wrong
A cautionary tale out of Arizona: A physician sought out a dermatologist for a major-turbo-itching problem; fancy treatment; got worse; another dermatologist; fancy treatment; got worse; immunologist; got worse; infectious disease person; got worse. Try one more dermatologist, who was Dr. Howard Luber, who instantly, correctly diagnosed the problem (and in fact, his nurse instantly, correctly diagnosed it before he did): scabies, a Dermatology-101 condition. Chuck's not a doctor, but he's sure you can learn something from this. Washington Post
Comments 'second_opinion'

Oregon Health Plan rationing hits the screen
They've got this "5 percent/5-yr" rule: State won't pay for any cancer treatment that doesn't offer at least a 1-in-20 change of survival for at least 5 yrs (or, more generously, they'll pay for it even if the chances are 95 out of 100 that you're doomed). Barbara Wagner is caught in the screen. And her family's ticked off that the state will, without regard to percentages, provide end-of-life palliative care, instead. The Oregonian [NOTE: I was not able to verify the link today]
Comments 'oregon_health'

More evidence from the gene pool that some people are destined to lose their money
A total stranger convinced a man in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to let him hold, on one of the flimsiest pretexts imaginable, $7k out of his bank account for just a couple of minutes (which was all it took, of course). The larger question is how a person that stupid was able to amass $7,000 to begin with. Almost as large a question is why a person like that would want anyone (such as the police) to know about it. "Pride"'s supposed to be a big thing. The Tennessean
Comments 'murfreesboro_scam'

It's ice cream season again in Tokyo, with "ox tongue" the flavor du jour
Mainichi Daily News used to have two slide shows, "The Wacky World of Japanese Ice Cream" and "The Wackier World of Japanese Ice Cream," with photos of the packaging for such flavors as cow tongue, cactus, and sardine, but appears to have taken them down (along with most of its other archives). You can see individual shots of one or more of the packages at various Internet sites and blogs by searching the above two "wacky" titles, using quote marks. Mainichi Daily News
Comments 'japan_icecream'

Your Daily Loser
We don't know his name, but he's the guy who pulled off the latest negative-cash-flow robbery (at Joe's Café in Metairie, La.). As a ruse to get a clerk to open the cash register, our guy dropped a Lincoln on the counter to pay for two donuts, and, with the register then open for change, pulled a gun and said, Gimme all of it. But then the clerk went nuts, screaming, and our guy got scared and fled, without his donuts or his $5. (Bonus: For a disguise, he was dressed, extremely clumsily, as a woman.) Times-Picayune
Comments 'joes_cafe'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Ricky Dale Spears, 42, already in jail for kidnaping a teenage girl from a skating rink, might also be one of the two guys who escaped from lockup in Milton, Fla., by squeezing through a 12-inch by 12-inch vent in a recent-vintage facility. Northwest Florida Daily News
Comments 'ricky_spears'

More Things to Worry About on Wednesday
A quite-quite-large New York City woman incorrectly disembarked from her gym's abductor machine (the thing that you squeeze your thighs together on), and her pants caught, and she was "sling-shot" across the floor (and had to be hospitalized, taken away by paramedics using a "Stokes basket" instead of a stretcher) . . . . . There is such a thing as a voracious fish that looks part-gar, part-snake, and part-gator, right there in that lake near Tempe, Ariz. . . . . . The scrap-metal market grows: A guy was arrested in Miami, Fla., with a 40-ft municipal street lamp tied to the top of his car, headed for a recycling center (People gotta "do what they damn need to") . . . . . Complications in the family tree: A California lesbian couple each bore twins, 22 days [CORRECTION: 22 hours] apart, with the same donor's sperm, and one of the moms' eggs, so they're quads? . . . . . Shikukawa, in the center of Japan, celebrated its annual belly-button (i.e., center of the body) festival last weekend, with people drawing funny faces on their tummies and dancing through town.
Comments 'worry_080730'

Editor's Notes
Reminder: You can get Chuck's Hand-Picked Overnights by e-mail, free, every morning by joining the Google Group DailyWeird at this link:
(Hyperlinks to the original news stories will show up in your copy if your e-mail platform is set to accept html.) No other mail, comments, spam, etc., will be sent to the Group. Today's Newsrangers: Aaron Geiger, Charlie Cummins, Karl Olson, Amber Mances
Comments 'editors_080730'

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Jul 30, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 29, 2008

The Snowglobes of Thomas Doyle

Thomas Doyle offers this description of his art:

My work mines the debris of memory through the creation of intricate worlds sculpted in 1:43 scale and smaller. Often sealed under glass, the works depict the remnants of things past—whether major, transformational experiences, or the quieter moments that resonate loudly throughout a life. In much the way the mind recalls events through the fog of time, the works distort reality through a warped and dreamlike lens.

Here's one of his works titled "The reprisal":


And another titled "Clearing (UXO)":


Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 29, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Art

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
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.

Chuck Shepherd
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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