Weird Universe Archive

July 2008

July 9, 2008

Simulated S**t Happens

Alex's Jesus Toilet post reminded me of this great WIRED article from a few years ago, about toilet technology.

It so happens that toilet engineers need to simulate excrement for testing purposes. Here's just a couple of the things they use:

image image

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Bathrooms, Domestic, Food, Hygiene, Inventions, Scatology, Science, Technology

A Month of Spam

McAfee recently released the results of its S.P.A.M. experiment, which stands for "Spammed Persistently All Month." Fifty subjects volunteered to expose themselves to a month of intensive spamming.

When I first noticed this headline, I imagined some kind of Ludovician Aversion Therapy experiment -- subjects strapped into chairs, eyes taped open, forced to view endless screens of spam until they started drooling and screaming for it to stop.

Unfortunately, the experiment wasn't that colorful. Instead, the subjects were simply "given permission to go where most Internet users would not dare, in order to discover how much spam they would attract and what the effects would be." I'm guessing this means they signed up with AOL.

The result: "the participants from 10 countries received more than 104,000 spam e-mails throughout the course of the experiment. That's 2,096 messages each - the equivalent of approximately 70 messages a day."

That surprised me. I thought they'd get a LOT more spam. I estimate my spam filter traps at least 70 messages a day, and I'm not trying to get the stuff like they were.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Advertising, Experiments

The Jesus Toilet

The members of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Waukee have come up with a novel method of raising funds. They place a brightly painted toilet in people's front yards. The toilet has "I ♥ Jesus" written on the tank. They'll only remove the toilet if the homeowners make a donation.

This is a version of the Flamingoing prank that's become a popular method for high school clubs and teams to raise cash: Place a plastic pink flamingo in someone's front yard and only remove it if they give you cash.

Flamingoes are kind of cute, but I'm wondering if the Jesus toilet doesn't send an odd mixed message. After all, if there's a toilet in your front yard, isn't that an open invitation for someone to, you know, use it? [From the Des Moines Register.]

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Religion

Le Bushmiller par excellence!

The next time someone sees you reading comics and criticizes your lowbrow tastes, whip out a hardcopy of this page and reply, "But no, mon frere, I read only zee intellectual bande dessinée, such as zee Arthur et Zoé."


Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Comics, Customs, Foreign Customs, Literature

Foo Kin Chinese Food

My pal Pete Kaplan stumbled across this one. Who knew that up in Cooperstown, NY, they had such pronounced Liverpudlian accents?


Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (7)
Category: Business, Advertising, Food, Restaurants, Weird Names

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Wednesday

U.S.’s new hostility toward Iran: We sell them cigarettes; they die sooner
Iran may be a pillar of the Axis of Evil, and the fulcrum of Middle East unrest, but fortunately, the U.S. can make money trading with them. A CNN investigation found cigarettes to be our chief export, but there was lots of other stuff, including brassieres and bull semen. CNN

Behold Timothy Placko, whose explanation (when it comes) ought to be a good one
Police in Port St. Lucie, Fla., found him in his car, along with a blond wig, rope, binoculars, an 18-inch machete, knives, gloves, a canister containing 18 human teeth, and a stack of women’s sonograms he had printed from the Internet. Palm Beach Post

Ya don’t mess with Texas (Texas judges, that is)
Tiffany Walton, 23, convicted in Tyler of armed robbery (which she perp’ed because she needed money to pay her probation fees), was sentenced to 30 yrs in the slammer. (She had no prior felonies, and she wasn’t even the one with the gun.) On the other hand, in Houston, William Serrano, same age, got only 5 yrs more than that, and he actually murdered a guy. (Bonus motive: The guy’s feet stank.) Tyler Morning Telegraph // Houston Chronicle

More sites added to the soaring scrap-metal market
It started with just stealing, well, scrap metal, but prices are so high that thieves then moved on to stealing electrical wire (including some that was “currently” being used, if you get my drift, and some of them are no longer with us). Now, catalytic converters got ripped right off of cars in San Antonio and a cell-phone tower went down in Tullahoma, Tenn. (no service for two weeks!). WOAI-TV (San Antonio) // The Tennessean

Pedophile with a plan
Austin, Tex., police arrested Leroy Mcafee, 55, and charged him with molesting the 11-yr-old girl they found him with, and they say he told them he had molested “two or three” other girls but that he wasn’t saying who they were, “telling police he wanted to write about it in his autobiography.” Austin American-Statesman

The glorious sadomasochism-libel trial of Max Mosley is underway
He’s the overseer of international Formula One racing yet has very publicly sued Britain’s leading tabloid but not for bringing his closeted S&M passion out in the open, though he’d hidden that from his wife for 48 yrs. No, he’s suing because News of the World called one session “Nazi-themed.” (“[F]ew things [would be] more un-erotic than Nazi role play,” he said.) But he admitted getting aroused at the prospect of being interrogated by foreign-sounding dominatrices, and one of ‘em spoke German. (Bonus: The New York Times’s trial reporter is the legendary John F. Burns!) New York Times

A rich case for CSI: Sydney
An inquest this week is considering the demise of “American actress” Joyce Germain, 59. What have we got? Her body was buried underneath household items, including a foot spa. Electric iron cord around her neck. Clothes pin on her genitals. A toaster was hung from the shower railing. On top of the “household item” pile was a construction hat. A guy named “Kiwi John.” A neighbor with a collection of whips, chains, and sex toys, and who just received a “death threat” accompanied by three silver bullets. A local prostitute who said she knew what happened. Germain’s own “mental health problems” due to heavy LSD use in the 1960s.

If lawyers got paid by the word
Associated Press ran a blurb yesterday about a Tacoma, Wash., judge who, frustrated with a humongously long pleading (465 pages; usually, they’re just a couple of pages), dismissed it with a limerick. Particulars of the filing: The title is 8 pages long; the six defendants are described in the next 18 pages. “Plaintiffs allegations continue for 87 pages,” wrote the judge, “including a 37-page pit-stop to quote emails.” Here’s one of the lawyer’s paragraphs:
Plaintiffs, for a Fifty-Fourth Claim for Relief, reallege and incorporate herein Paragraphs 1 through 105, including the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth, Twenty-Fifth, Twenty-Sixth, and Twenty-Seventh Claims for Relief alleged under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 [“RICO”] [Title 18, U.S.C.A. Sections 1981 et seq], and the Twenty-Eighth, Twenty-Ninth, Thirtieth, Thirty-First, Thirty-Second, Thirty-Third, Thirty-Fourth, Thirty-Fifth, Thirty-Sixth, Thirty-Seventh, Thirty-Eighth, Thirty-Ninth, Fortieth, Forty-First, Forty-Second, Forty-Third, Forty-Fourth, Forty-Fifth, Forty-Sixth, Forty-Seventh, Forty-Eighth, Forty-Ninth, Fiftieth, Fifty-First, Fifty-Second, and Fifty-Third Claims for Relief.

A Comments thread is open for constructing personality profiles of the attorney, Dean Browning Webb. Hit him with your best shot. U.S. District Court Order [link from blog] [via Wall Street Journal Law blog]

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Theodore Pressman, accused not of locking his dog in a hot car while he stepped away, or locking his kid in a hot car while he stepped away, but locking his disabled parents in a hot car while he stepped away (and dad died). Journal News (White Plains, N.Y.)

More Things to Worry About on Wednesday
An Austin, Tex., cop accidentally left his loaded service pistol in a park and 4 hours later still hadn’t realized it was missing . . . . . Congressional investigators found that Medicare paid out $92M since 2000 on prescriptions from doctors that were dead (about half dead for more than five yrs) . . . . . Police in Speyer, Germany, “confirmed” to an Agence France-Presse stringer that indeed a woman had called them for help in getting rid of a guest in her home who wouldn’t stop talking . . . . . There are people who zoom past turnpike collection points without paying, but then there’s this guy, way-hardcore (outfitting his truck to bypass axle-detectors and ripping $575K on a stolen E-ZPass) . . . . . If McCain wins the election, will there finally be a pet ferret in the White House? Today’s Newsrangers: Stephen Taylor, Mindy Cohen, H.Thompson

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (0)

Zombie Garden Sculpture

I'd love to put this zombie garden sculpture in my front yard, but I know it would only be a matter of time before someone mistook it for a real body and called the cops. Available from Design Toscano. (via Boing Boing Gadgets)

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Death

Strange Musicals

Over at the Museum of Hoaxes I kept a list of Strange Musicals, but I think Weird Universe is a better home for it. So far the list includes: To this list I can add The Fly, an opera that debuted in Paris earlier this month, based on David Cronenberg's 1986 movie (based, in turn, on George Langelaan's 1957 short story), about a man who transforms into a fly due to an accident with a teleportation device. From the NY Times review:

as Mr. Okulitch continues to sing in strong voice, he — or rather Seth — acquires a bulbous, hairy skin as well as an impressive ability to walk upside-down on scaffolding at the back of the stage.

Same thing happens to me if I miss my morning cup of coffee.

(Thanks, Sam Gaines!)

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Literature, ShowBiz

July 8, 2008

Selling Ice to Eskimos

Darren McEwen alerted me to this photograph (from 1943) currently featured in National Geographic's Flashback section. He notes that it looks like a guy trying to sell a refrigerator to eskimos. Actually, the women are Bolivian cholitas, not eskimos. The caption explains:

Urban cholitas have little to do with popular beliefs of a timeless, unchanging indigenous culture," explains American University anthropology professor Lesley Gill. Today, "they are urban born and frequently well-to-do. They make their money primarily from commerce, and their style of dress expresses a dynamic, expensive, and completely modern sense of Aymara femininity. Many hats come from Italy, for example," Gill notes, "and nowadays the cloth for their skirts comes from Korea.

If you want a real picture of a guy selling ice to eskimos, here's legendary pr stuntster Jim Moran in 1938, bundled in furs up in Alaska with an icebox, trying to make the aphorism a reality. (Photo from Mark Borkowski's Improperganda.)

Moran's most infamous stunt was when he tried to tie midgets to kites and fly them over Central Park. His idea was that the midgets would carry billboards on which he would sell advertising space. When the police told him he wasn't allowed to do it, he remarked, "It's a sad day for American capitalism when a man can't fly a midget on a kite over Central Park."

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 08, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Business, Advertising

The Horribles

As Thomas Pynchon preached, for every force, there is a counter-force. Thus it should come as no surprise that the state-sanctioned respectful and patriotic Fourth-of-July parade has a dark doppelganger, in the form of the Horribles Parade.

The origin of these mocking, satirical festivals goes back well over a century. In Rhode Island, my home state, the affair is called The Ancient and Horribles parade. You can read about our version here.

In nearby Massachusetts, the town of Beverly Farms staged one that recently generated some controversy, with a float dedicated to the teen-pregnancy pact that was recently all over the news.

Read about reactions to their float here.

You can see the float in this video at about the two-and-a-half-minute mark.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 08, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Performance Art, Customs, Parades and Festivals, School, Sexuality

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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.

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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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