Weird Universe Archive

July 2008

July 23, 2008

Looks Like a Robot

The Looks Like A Robot Flickr pool does not contain any photos of robots. What it does contain is over 300 pictures of objects that look like robots. Lots of fun to browse. (Thanks, Bob!)


Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 23, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Technology

July 22, 2008

Kinder Surprise

This ad from the late 80s makes you wonder what they put in those Kinder chocolates besides toys. Maybe if you eat enough of the "Kinder Surprise" the humpty-dumpty guy will start to make sense. Me Scrooble Now. Whee!

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 22, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising

Smelly Old People

Do old people produce an unpleasant body odor? In 2001 Japanese researchers conducted an experiment that suggested they do. The researchers had a group of volunteers sleep in the same t-shirt for three nights. According to the New Scientist:

The researchers then studied the volatile chemicals picked up by the material. Volunteers over 40 produced an unsaturated aldehyde called 2-nonenal, which the team described as having an unpleasant "greasy" smell.

Happily, the case against gramps is not yet proven. Recently researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia conducted similar studies, but detected no unpleasant smells coming from old folks. They suggested the foul odor found in the Japanese study may have been produced by a diet high in fish.

Whether or not the phenomenon of "aging odor" is real (I doubt it), I can't believe the cosmetics industry hasn't picked up on this idea and tried to profit from it. They could come up with a scary, scientific-sounding name for age-related odor (what about Geritosis?), and then roll out a line of products supposedly specially formulated to combat it. With the graying of the baby boomers, they would make a killing.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 22, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Experiments

Follies of the Mad Men #5



[NOTE: this is actually two image files, upper and lower, and you need to click on each one for enlargement. From The Saturday Evening Post for October 23, 1965.]

Sorry I didn't get this one up in time for Fourth of July--but then again, WU hadn't debuted then!

In any case, this ad is very confused. It seems to be appealing to the mystical vibe of the ever-iconic American War of Independence, what with the flintlock pistol and all. But then again, Sexy Car-crawling Girl is patently an attempt to attract the Pepsi Generation, those wild 'n' wacky "rebellious" kids, with their surfboards and long hair and love beads.

So who's supposed to want to buy a Polara? Mom and Pop Daughters-of-the-American-Revolution? Or little Janie Peace-Sign?

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 22, 2008 - Comments (11)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Guns, History, Patriotism, 1960s, Cars

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Tuesday

The fish pedicure
A Virginia salon owns 1,000 garra rufa carp fish, and for $35 for 15 minutes, ya can stick your foot in a bath and let 100 of them bite off dead skin (instead of having the pedicurist shave the skin with a razor). Seems degrading, but who knows what goes through the mind [sic] of a carp? Associated Press via CNN
Comments 'fish_pedicure'

America rehabbed, and it only took 4 years
No longer does the U.S.A. have to live with the stigma of having fined a company a half-million dollars because 540,000 people wrote the FCC that they were grossed out by seeing 9/16th of a second of areola on a Super Bowl show. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! New York Times // 100-page .pdf of the ruling (nerds only)
Comments 'fcc_areola'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Apparently, the modus operandi (three episodes) of Andre Allen, a Baptist pastor in Wheaton, Ill., with 22 yrs' service, was to hang out at Lifetime Fitness, act like an employee offering martial arts training to women, and then lie down on top of them and hump around. He has recently joined the nation's unemployed. Chicago Tribune
Comments 'wheaton_pastor'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Mark Verrette, 48, not yet been proven to have indecently exposed himself (but he was quoted by cops as saying, "OK, you got me. I'm drunk, and I'm stupid") Sheboygan (Wis.) Press
Comments 'mark_verrette'

More Things to Worry About on Tuesday
California headline, "Men Sentenced for Setting Friend's Crotch Ablaze" ("Friend's"?) . . . . . At a Wiccan ceremony in Lebanon, Ind., a woman who was to plunge a sword into the ground as a symbol of thanks, missed the ground and got her foot (How does one miss "the ground"? "The ground" is a big place.) . . . . . In Kokomo, Ind., a Crossroads Community Church pastor, intending to make a point on "unity" by riding his motorcycle across the stage, accidentally plunged into the pews and broke his wrist . . . . . Among the findings of a Gov't Accountability Office report on the Indian Health Service: About $700K worth of computer equipment had been ruined by "bat dung" in a storage room . . . . . The scrap-metal market for brass has now dangerously provoked thieves to cannibalize fire hydrants for their (and I quote) "brass nuts" . . . . . Part of Beijing's all-court spruce-up for the Olympics (says the L.A. Times) is an online course in how Chinese should greet visitors from different cultures, e.g., "A]n American male [would be] received with a hearty clasping of the hands and a 'Hey, man, what's up?'" Today's Newsrangers: Tony Jeswald, Jessica McRorie
Comments 'worry_080722'

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Jul 22, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 21, 2008

The Latest Fashion

From the Weird Universe inbox: Don says, "This should qualify for 'Weird' in some universe."

It's the latest design presented by Basso&Brooke at the Berlin Fashion show. Looks to me a bit like a poodle in a harem costume.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jul 21, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion

Windigo Psychosis

The Edmonton Sun offers this description of a bizarre murder that occurred in 1887 near Canada's Slave Lake:

Marie Courtereille, 40, died after being struck four times with an axe -- twice by her husband Michel Courtereille and twice by her son Cecil. Testimony at their trial indicated that Marie had begged to be killed because she believed she was possessed by a Windigo, telling them, "I am bound to eat you." Over a period of several weeks, she became increasingly aggressive, "roaring like an animal" and attacking her husband.
Eventually, she was tied down and guarded around the clock until it was decided that there was no choice but to kill her. The community supported the killing.

A Windigo (also spelled Wendigo) is a creature from Algonquin mythology. The Algonquins believed that Windigos were malevolent spirits who could possess people, transforming them into "wild-eyed, violent, flesh-eating maniacs with superhuman strength." Horror fans will be familiar with Windigos, since they've featured in a number of horror books and movies.

The term "Windigo psychosis" describes a psychological condition in which people who believed they were possessed by a Windigo would go on cannibalistic rampages.

Many researchers regard Windigo psychosis as something of an Algonquin urban legend, but ethno-historian Nathan Carlson argues that it was a real phenomenon "which haunted communities right across northern Alberta in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and cost dozens of lives." Carlson is working on a book that will documents dozens of cases of Windigo psychosis. Sounds like fun reading.

More about Windigos in Wikipedia. (Thanks to DJ_Canada for the link)

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jul 21, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Crime, Horror, Psychology

How many megabytes is your brain?

Hitachi recently announced that in 2010 they plan to unveil a 5TB hard drive. This led them to note that, "By 2010, just two disks will suffice to provide the same storage capacity as the human brain."

So, according to Hitachi, the brain has a 10TB storage capacity. But how did they arrive at this number?

There's been a lot of speculation about the brain's storage capacity. The most popular method of arriving at an answer is to estimate the number of synapses in the brain and extrapolate from there. This has led researchers to come up with numbers ranging anywhere from 3TB to 1000TB. Hitachi evidently was using this method.

But there's a second method (noted on the Of Two Minds blog). Psychologists have conducted experiments to measure how much information people are actually able to memorize. This produces much smaller numbers. They've concluded that it's only about two bits per second, or a few hundred megabytes averaged over an entire lifetime.

Of course, until scientists figure out a way to allow us to download our brains to computers, all these numbers are just useless trivia. And when that happens, we can all plug into the Matrix and live happily ever after.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jul 21, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Science, Psychology, Technology

Drunken Frankenstein’s Monster

Nowadays, Hollywood actors and actresses indulge in as much bad behavior as they ever did, if not more, frequently involving intoxicants of various stripes. But here's a difference from the Golden Age. As drunk or stoned as they get offscreen, they seldom seem to report for work in that condition, and if they do, the resulting footage is never seen by the public. Professionalism on the set is the rule, and the infrequency of live broadcasts adds to the censorship.

But such was not always the case.

James Dean was drunk onscreen in EAST OF EDEN.

Montgomery Clift did a scene drunk in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.

And then we had the case of Lon Chaney Jr., a fine actor with an alcoholism problem.

When he acted the part of Frankenstein's monster on TV in 1952, he was totally plastered--so much so that he thought the live broadcast was a rehearsal! That's why, when he picks up furniture to smash, he instead gently sets it down, thinking he has to preserve it for the real performance!

Watch the three parts of this show now, if you wish. The first is below, and the other two after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jul 21, 2008 - Comments (9)
Category: Celebrities, Hollywood, Inebriation and Intoxicants, Movies, ShowBiz

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Monday

Two Montreal shrinks believe they've uncovered a new clinical-grade delusion
Five patients tell them they're certain they're being secretly filmed 24/7 for reality TV shows ("Truman Show Delusion"). We already know about Capgras Delusion (your family's being replaced by lookalike pod people) and Fregoli Delusion (a particular person is dedicated to bringing you down). But veterans in the field say the new one is all of a piece with the old ones. (Capgras was famously in the news last year when former Saturday Night Live actor Tony Rosato was battling the demon.) National Post (Toronto)
Comments 'truman_delusion'

Recurring: Who came up with the idea that one way to become a mom was to carve you a fetus out of a pregnant woman's belly?
Maybe it's one of those things like first coming up with the idea of tying some leaves together, setting them on fire, and putting them in your mouth? Another pregnant woman is dead, in Pittsburgh; another woman who didn't look pregnant a few days ago says she just gave birth. (Bonus: The dead woman lay for days in an apartment, with foul odor, but no neighbor complained. "This is the ghetto. Something always smells around here.") Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Comments 'removed_fetus'

Another one of those executions that you really have to be into capital punishment to defend
Dale Leo Bishop is scheduled to meet His Maker on Wednesday in Mississippi for holding a guy down for a vicious claw-hammer murder. The guy who did the actual hammering got life in prison. Another guy who was there got off, for his testimony. Clarion-Ledger (Jackson)
Comments 'dale_bishop'

Update: The goldfaced paint huffer got caught again
Patrick Tribett's mug shot from his July 2005 arrest for sniffing gold spray paint was all over the Web. They got him again, in Wheeling, W.Va. Said one authority, the toluene in gold or silver paint can be even more addictive than heroin. WTOV-TV (Steubenville, Ohio) (has slide show of his mug shots)
Comments 'patrick_tribett'

Realism way out in front of the "RealDoll": a medic-training dummy that bleeds, sweats, vomits, and much more
But while the RealDoll's price is still in four figures, this one, developed by England's Univ. of Portsmouth, will run you $80K. So far, they're only going to use it for trauma cases, to train medics on quick-think decisions. Consequently, there's nothing here about just how anatomically-correct it is. BBC News // RealDoll (Not Safe for Work)
Comments 'vomiting_dummy'

"I had fun" doing the three murders
The charming Randall Rushing, 25, was charged with killing his estranged girlfriend and two others as a result of her dumping him. In court in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., he yawned as the murder scene was being described and blew a kiss to reporters. Associated Press via Yahoo // Times-Leader (Wilkes-Barre)
Comments 'randall_rushing'

Who knew brooms could cause so much trouble?
In Montreal, a union complained that the city can't let shopkeepers sweep the sidewalks in front of their stores because only we can sweep sidewalks. And in Britain, the health/safety agency is allegedly pressuring shop owners to trade in their brooms for vacuum cleaners because broom-sweeping is, y'know, bad for asthma and might lead to nose cancer. National Post (Toronto) // Daily Telegraph (London)
Comments 'brooms_trouble'

DNA evidence may not be all it's cracked up to be
There's now a war for hearts and minds over what level of improbability it is that two DNA samples can "match." The FBI lab allows numbers like "1 in 113 billion" and "1 in 108 trillion" to be used, but an Arizona researcher, looking at the question in a slightly different way, says that matches are certainly much, much more likely than that (and thus, "matches" in criminal cases should not automatically convict, as they seem to do now). Other researchers are intrigued and want to further study the FBI database. The FBI responds in the way it usually does when anyone questions it: Move along; nothing to see here; shut up. Los Angeles Times
Comments 'dna_matches'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Update: The Columbus Dispatch provides a brief retrospective on the urophilic career of Alan Patton, 56, whom we reported on most recently in NOTW Daily (7-1-2008), for his arrest after laying down plastic wrap in the toilet bowl and placing cups at the bottom of urinals, so he could catch little boys' tinkles for his drinking pleasure. Collecting urine to drink is not illegal in Ohio, but ya can't fool with the public plumbing, and besides he's under a stayaway order for public restrooms. Why, Alan? Well, "to become a part of [the kids'] youth, happiness, and strength." "I love them; it is a shame I have to obtain love from them that way." Columbus Dispatch // NOTW 945 (3-19-2006)
Comments 'alan_patton'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Omar Khan, 18, and Tanvir Singh, 18, charged (69 counts!) in Las Flores, Calif., with hacking into their school's computer system to pump up their grades. ABC News
Comments 'grade_hackers'

More Things to Worry About on Monday
Police in Bedford, Pa., intercepted a murder-for-hire plan that was using as a payoff, er, NASCAR collectibles ("[a]fter providing a large trash bag of NASCAR memorabilia" to the undercover cop) . . . . . The St. Louis Post-Dispatch uncovers what looks like a sweetheart deal for the police chief—with the tip-off being that the chief's adult daughter keeps banging up the gift cars . . . . . A Tennessee city's commissioners grapple with the dilemma of who has priority in the water at the city boat launch: boaters or churches doing baptisms (Bonus: The city's name is Soddy-Daisy) . . . . . Lawyers in Iran believe 8 women and 1 man currently face stoning-to-death sentences (despite a 2002 edict against it), all in sex-related cases . . . . . A London physician tells how the 7-7 (2005) subway bombings gave Dr. Stewart Drage the courage to finally become Dr. Michelle Drage. Today's Newsranger: Scott Langill
Comments 'worry_080721'

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jul 21, 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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