Weird Universe Archive

July 2008

July 24, 2008

Little Bells and Pepper Spray


Click on the image for an amusing warning.

This photo comes to me via the two-person chain of North Peterson and Michael Bishop.

Thanks, guys!

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 24, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Death, Signage, Paul

Ho, Ho, Ho, Hangman!


Who knew that Serbia boasted so many high-placed fans of Rankin-Bass animation?

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 24, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Celebrities, Crime, Stupid Criminals, Eccentrics, History, Historical Figure, Military, Movies, Cartoons, Prisons, Torture, 1990s

Testing the Law of Probability

If you repeatedly flip a coin, the law of probability states that approximately half the time you should get heads and half the time tails. But does this law hold true in practice?

Pope R. Hill, a professor at the University of Georgia during the 1930s, wanted to find out. But he thought coin-flipping was too imprecise a measurement, since any one coin might be imbalanced, causing it to favor heads or tails.

Instead, he filled a can with 200 pennies. Half were dated 1919, half dated 1920. He shook up the can, withdrew a coin, and recorded its date. Then he returned the coin to the can. He repeated this procedure 100,000 times!

Of the 100,000 draws, 50,145 came out 1920. 49,855 came out 1919. Hill concluded that the law of half and half does work out in practice.

If you have absolutely nothing better to do, you can head over to, which hosts a virtual coin toss, and try to outdo Hill by clicking the "flip coin" button 100,001 times. Make sure to record your results. Although I doubt a virtual coin toss would be considered truly random, even though claims their randomness "comes from atmospheric noise, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs."

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 24, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Experiments, 1930s

Delia Derbyshire and Doctor Who

Too often throughout history men have received the credit for great achievements, even though it was a woman who did most of the creative work. The discovery of the DNA double-helix comes to mind. Another case in point: the Doctor Who theme song.

Ron Grainer is credited as the author of the song, but it turns out that it was Delia Derbyshire, a young sound engineer working in the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop in 1963, who took Grainer's written score and turned it into the song people recognize today. Reportedly when Grainer first heard it, he loved it, but asked, "Did I really write this?" "Most of it," she replied.

Recently a hidden hoard of Derbyshire's recordings were uncovered. It includes a track that sounds like modern experimental dance. A woman ahead of her time!

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 24, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Music, Science Fiction, 1960s

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Thursday

Woman demands that her "assistance ferret" be accorded the same respect as guide dogs
Gyno the ferret has the power to snap Frances Woodard out of her panic attacks and therefore must be allowed to accompany her on public buses. The Canadian transit company said no. (Last week, Debby Rose filed a lawsuit against the local health department in Springfield, Mo., because it was giving legal cover to an array of establishments preventing entry to Rose's "assistance monkey.") Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News // Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader
Comments 'assistance_ferret'

The dog that was trained for sex with a woman (and other recent Updates of News of the Weird stories)
Lucky and Buddy were spared and sent to a shelter and not euthanized as rapists, which is what Diane Whalen and Donald Seigfried had trained them to do for their video business [NOTW Daily, 6-30-2008] . . . . . Not only were 6 Members of Parliament in India released from jail so they could vote on important legislation (reported here yesterday), but it turns out that nearly 25 percent of the 540 MPs who aren't now in jail are nonetheless awaiting trial for something or other . . . . . Jon Van Allen, poster child for "honesty is not the best policy," was sentenced to 4 yrs in prison for child-molesting after he confessed to the crime, out of the blue, because, he said, the state-trooper application he was filling out required honest answers [NOTW M006, 5-20-2007] . . . . . The Greek court deciding who had the greater right to the word "lesbian" (gay women or residents of the isle of Lesbos) ruled for the women [the current NOTW, M067, 7-20-2008] . . . . . That 1999 tight-jeans ruling by Italy's Court of Cassation was overturned; hence, it will no longer be considered impossible for a man to pull jeans off without the victim's "help."
Comments 'updates_080724'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
James McElroy might have gone nuts with a knife on Mom, Dad, and Sis. Tampa Tribune
Comments 'james_mcelroy'

More Things to Worry About on Thursday
High-up British police officials have proposed that dog-handling cops show a little restraint when cornering perps because some perps might, y'know, be allergic to dog hair, etc. . . . . . Parents in Milford, Mass., are damn tired of that serial pantyhose litterer who uses a school bus stop as a drop-off point (and the only clue they have is that the hose seem to be always be black and "queen-size") . . . . . Alcohol-masker or teeth-whitener? A DUI suspect sitting at a cop's desk grabbed a bottle of correction fluid and sucked some down just before his breath test (still, .28) . . . . . A New Zealand judge turned a 9-yr-old kid over to child welfare officials when he found out the parents had named her Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii . . . . . Once a month at the People's Improv Theater in NYC, there is the Naked Comedy Showcase, where the stand-ups (and half the audience, if they want) are nude (seriously). Today's Newsranger: Bob Pert
Comments 'worry_080724'

Posted By: Chuck - Thu Jul 24, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 23, 2008

Jumping Ants

A hypnotic video of jumping ants. The ant-leaping goodness starts about 45 seconds in.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 23, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals

Robotic Writing Monk

The relentless march of progress continues. Now monks have been automated, thanks to The Bible Scribe.

The installation 'bios [bible]' consists of an industrial robot, which writes down the bible on rolls of paper. The machine draws the calligraphic lines with high precision. Like a monk in the scriptorium it creates step by step the text. Starting with the old testament and the books of Moses ‘bios [bible]’ produces within seven month continuously the whole book. All 66 books of the bible are written on rolls and then retained and presented in the library of the installation.

Start looking for a new job, Brother.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 23, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Religion, Technology, AI, Robots and Other Automatons, Books

Peruvian Guinea Pig Festival

Every year the residents of Huacho, Peru hold their Guinea Pig festival. First they dress the guinea pigs in cute costumes. There's a fashion show to decide the best-dressed guinea pig. Then they cook 'em up. The Telegraph notes that "Guinea pigs can be served fried, roasted or in a casserole... The meat tastes like rabbit or the dark meat of chicken, in case you were wondering." (via J-Walk)


Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 23, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Food, Parades and Festivals

The Cow Whisperer

I suspect cows are going to become a theme here at WU. They're ubiquitous and silly and important. Those are three good criteria for inclusion here. Hey, if cows were good enough for Gary Larson humor, they're good enough for us!

The latest news is that they're demanding headphones as they graze! Not sure if iPods are included. Read the article here.

Then watch the video of "The Cow Whisperer" here.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 23, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Agriculture, Food, Science, Experiments, Technology, Cows

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Wednesday

We see by this scan of your brain that you're guilty of murder
Just recently, three people on trial for murder in Maharashtra state in India were convicted with the help of what has been called "brain fingerprinting" or "brain wave science," where electrical activity is measurable in a certain part of your brain only if you have actually experienced what you're being stimulated for (e.g., just reading about it or hearing it doesn't light your scan up). "Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature" requires wearing a cap with 32 electrodes, and obviously, other evidence of the crime is needed in order to fashion precise questions that differentiate what one might experience at the scene from what one merely learned about later. Defendants here, for example, demonstrated experience in buying arsenic, in actually sparring with the potential victim, and in traveling the route that the killer traveled. (News of the Weird reported previously on America's leading exponent of this technology, Lawrence Farwell [NOTW 669, 12-1-2000; NOTW 802, 6-22-2003], which has been put to some uses, but solidifying a murder conviction.seems pretty radical. Times of India // Wikipedia (disputed) // Farwell's website
Comments 'brain_signature'

When they build the hall of fame of satellite-navigation boners, this guy will be there
Syrian driver Needet Bakimci set out on his 18-wheeler loaded with high-end cars from Antakya, Turkey, headed for the UK and instructed his navigator to program his route. By the time he gave up, he had missed his destination by, er, two whole countries, owing to (authorities later guessed) the Rock of Gibraltar's being in UK territory despite its location south of Spain. The Sun (London) [CORRECTION, appended 7-25-2008: It was exactly the reverse: He was headed for Gilbraltar but wound up in a rural area in UK with Gibraltar in the name]
Comments 'satnav_gibraltar'

Britain's Mr. Methane tunes up his ass for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
In the footsteps of the classical French vaudevillian Le Petomane, Paul Oldfield describes himself as a flatulist, able to take in and expel air anally, at will, to which ability he applies himself by accompanying certain music with his finely tuned instrument. He's known around the world ("Flatulence is very much the international language"), beloved on Japanese TV for the unique way in which he smokes a cigarette. He's also noted for his feud with Phil Collins over his request to perform Phil's In the Air Tonight. Other celebrity farters are not in his league: "no depth, no context" to their work, he says. The Guardian
Comments 'mr_methane'

Everything made of metal seems fair game for scrap thieves
Guys stole the 8-ft-high, 1,500-pound brass statue at the entrance of Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, N.J., said to be worth $500k, in order to cannibalize parts for scrap which experts said might be worth less than $4k. One head on the statue has been recovered. Philadelphia Inquirer
Comments 'brass_statue'

What Congress can learn from this Indian Member of Parliament
The legislature is debating how to respond to the proposed nuclear weapons pact with the U.S., and the vote is too close to call, so six MPs who were in jail on various charges were released so they could participate in the debate. However, MP Ateeq Ahmed said he's been listening and studying up but that the issue's just too complicated for him, and he'll thus have to vote no, i.e., if he can't understand why something is beneficial, maybe it isn't beneficial. Hey! Great criterion! Agence France-Presse
Comments 'ateeq_ahmed'

A bad week for dying with dignity
A Polish tourist was killed in London when he took a leak on an unknowingly electrified transit rail . . . . . A 50-yr-old Pennsylvania burglar stuck his head inside a hole in the window but then fell off what he was standing on and snapped his neck (and hung, dead, for two days) . . . . . A 37-yr-old man was rescued from San Diego Harbor by police, then turned on them, and was shot to death . . . . . A 180-lb. burglar trying to squeeze through a two-square foot ventilation shaft in Hollywood, Fla., suffocated . . . . . A 23-yr-old man fell to his death from a tree he had climbed in Sonoma County, Calif., to retrieve his Frisbee.
Comments 'dying_dignity'

Your Daily Losers
Randall Fulton, Michael Wiggins, and Craig Curry, charged with swiping that recliner out of the Goodwill collection bin, loading it in their car, and driving off . . a few feet before running out of gas. Cookeville (Tenn.) Herald-Citizen
Comments 'goodwill_recliner'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Daniel Shook, Longmont, Colo., might possibly be an incipient pyromaniac. Denver Post
Comments 'daniel_shook'

More Things to Worry About on Wednesday
Britain's SilentNight mattress company says it has insured (via the carrier Zurich, for £1M) tester Graham Butterfield's butt (because it "isn't like any other" in that he can detect tiny differences in a bed's materials just by sitting on it . . . . . The traditional celebration at this Turkish wedding included slaughtering 70 animals and firing 60,000 bullets . . . . . A Bethlehem, Pa., cop and his wife both got stayaway orders against each other (she allegedly had sprayed bleach in his face; he had loaded his gun and promised a "blood bath") . . . . . One London health care unit is proposing merit-pay bonuses for surgeons if their patients survive. Today's Newsrangers: Jenny Beatty, Scott Langill, Vic McDonald, Paul Music, Bruce Strickland, Jessica McRorie
Comments 'worry_080723'

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Jul 23, 2008 - Comments (0)

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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.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

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