Weird Universe Archive

July 2008

July 17, 2008

Obscene Torture

Cruel, sadistic prison guards subjecting inmates to horrible excruciations. It's a sad practice as old as history. But seldom before today has the vile ritual reached such depths as reported in this story.

What exactly is the new nadir of torture? Here's the quote:

"Houghton also said that Botas and Viveiros forced him to watch a Burger King cartoon on his office computer and sing along to a jingle that accompanied the commercial. He said that all three officers laughed and 'were getting a kick out of it … that they could take advantage of me.'”

Oh, the humanity!

Recovering my senses, and getting over the evident confusion on the prisoner's part between "cartoon" and "commercial" (his mind is obviously shattered, after all), I had to ask, "Which Burger King commercial?" Not watching much TV, I'm unsure what's currently on the airwaves that might have registered on the radar of the abusive guards. But they were after all using a computer, presumably to visit YouTube. So I found five possible torture jingles.

Which one do you find most excruciating? Or do you have another candidate?

See them after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 17, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Crime, Stupid Criminals, Food, Government, Officials, Prisons, Torture

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Thursday

A 1970s icon to disappear: the hospital that housed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
They're finally tearing down the long-since-abandoned Oregon State Hospital building where Nurse Ratched tormented McMurphy, mainly because by now it must be haunted (since state legislators touring the facility in 2004 found the remains of 3,600 mental patients, in copper canisters). Meanwhile, last week, in one of the active buildings on the OSH campus, a patient escaped a serious lockup (that required at two different points that a guard look on the monitor to see if the ID [belonging to a female staffer] matched the person seeking egress [the patient who stole the ID, a man]). Despite that, an OSH administrator said "staff negligence" was not a factor in the escape. Associated Press via Seattle Times // Associated Press via Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Comments 'cuckoos_nest'

Recurring: She's suing the bar because she got hurt drinking underage, and the bar shouldn't have let her in in the first place
The 20-yr-old agreed, for some reason, to accept the bartender's invitation to try the flaming shot of Bacardi 150. She's OK now, but she got burned badly that night and wants the bar to pay her $8,500 medical expenses plus lost wages. Tampa Tribune
Comments 'flaming_shot'

Texas executive takes The Only Way Out . . . with panache
Nobody knows yet what Thomas Hickman's backstory was, but he drove into the New Mexico desert, rigged a gun to helium-filled balloons, and shot himself in the back of the head, most likely to create the impression that he was murdered (because the gun would float away). However, the gun got snagged in some bushes. It's always somethin'. Dallas Morning News
Comments 'balloon_suicide'

Update: Divorce final
The super-brave Yemeni 10-yr-old, who walked into court in April and demanded a divorce from her arranged, much-older husband, was granted it. (Fellas! She's back on the market!) However, tribal law is slow to change: Her family still owes compensation to the ex-husband. CNN
Comments 'yemeni_divorce'

Dispatcher no help in catching murder suspect
Cristobal Jaimes allegedly shot a man in Dallas, Tex., last month (might have been self-defense), and there was a warrant out, and he called 911 to find out how to give himself up. You'll just have to go to [a certain] jail, the dispatcher said, and you'll have to get there on your own (walk, bus, taxi, etc.). KDFW-TV (Dallas)
Comments 'cristobal_jaimes'

Update: The murder suspect in the lion's head slippers
William Torres was arrested in Pennsylvania in January and charged with a couple of unremarkable murders, but when police finally apprehended him, he happened to be wearing lion's heads on his feet. He had his preliminary hearing this week, and you can once again check out the slippers. Morning Call (Allentown)
Comments 'lions_slippers'

I wish I could believe that some guy in the Australian outback regularly spends $1,000 (even A$1,000) a week on downscale beer
That's what his lawyer said (though not under oath), and the Northern Territory News published what the lawyer said, and Reuters reported what the Northern Territory News reported, and thus it must be true. Reuters
Comments '1000_beer'

Creepy life-like baby dolls
An outfit called Reborn Baby sells painstakingly-built dolls, in aesthetic and biological detail, for, well, for practice in holding, maybe, or for cuddling, or for, well, there must be dozens of uses. Price ranges from the equivalent of about $500 to about $3,200. And, of course, the dark side: Last week in Australia, a Reborn Baby was left in a hot, locked car, and a passerby panicked and called the authorities, who broke down the window and rescued the "baby." (On the other hand, it seems perfectly OK to buy an adult Real Doll, at more than $5K a pop, because, well, Real Dolls are consenting adults!)
Reuters // Courier-Mail (Brisbane) // // [Not Safe for Work]
Comments 'reborn_baby'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Luella McAdoo, 68, Tampa, babysitting a mute, mentally-disabled 35-yr-old man, allegedly convinced him to drop down and make her feel good. Tampa Tribune
Comments 'luella_mcadoo'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
By overwhelming reader contribution, we have two today: (1) Elizabeth Kommes, 30, who might have been driving drunk and who might have offered her body up if the charge went away (but who was definitely driving a car with "TROUBLE" as her vanity plate). (2) Daniel Everett, 33, who might have been meeting a "14-yr-old girl" for sex (aka undercover cop) while wearing a "World's Greatest Dad" t-shirt. (Everett's actual family status was unreported.) Daily Register (Portage, Wis.) // WXYZ-TV (Detroit)
Comments 'elizabeth_kommes'

More Things to Worry About on Thursday
A Dutch company is selling machines, for taverns, that release the scent of cigarette and cigar smoke (for atmosphere, now that smoking is banned) . . . . . A San Jose, Calif., marijuana grower made the bad decision to discard his sick plants by burning them in his fireplace, to the joy of the whole neighborhood (but not the police). Today's Newsrangers: Emmitt Dove and Jeff Spirko, plus a slew of people making sure I didn't miss the the Jury Duty stories!
Comments 'worry_080717'

Posted By: Chuck - Thu Jul 17, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 16, 2008

Radiation Cookery Book

Back in March I wrote an article for Smithsonian magazine about pseudo-scientific terms that have gone out of fashion. For instance, it used to be all the rage to affix "electro-" to everything, as in "electro-lumps" (one marketers inspired term for coal).

A term I definitely could have included in my article is "radiation." Once upon a time it didn't have the negative connotations it does today. Witness the "Radiation Cookery Book" from 1934. It didn't actually use radiation for the cooking (except in so far as heat itself is a form of radiation). Instead "Radiation" was the name of the company that made the gas cooker for which the recipes were designed.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 16, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Fads, Food, Cookbooks, Science, Weird Names

When Cows Attack

An image I found on I'm sure a cow could really hurt a person, if they put their mind to it. But being a city boy, I had always imagined them as pleasant, docile creatures.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 16, 2008 - Comments (6)
Category: Cows

Two Weird Museums

Whether you're on the East Coast of the USA or the West Coast, you'll be able to get your fill of atrocious artwork, thanks to two noble institutions.

Us Easterners can visit The Museum of Bad Art.

Them Westerners can mosey over to The Museum of Velvet Paintings.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 16, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Museums

Barnyard of the Gods

At the fascinating blog of my pal, Rudy Rucker, I recently found the archaically NSFW image hidden beyond the jump. Rudy utilized a picture taken by a friend of his, while I've found my image at a site claiming the sculpture in question is housed at the Secret Museum of Naples.

In either case, I thought this was just the kind of bizarre thing WU readers might care to ponder.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 16, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Art, Gods, History, Museums, Sexuality

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Wednesday

Update: The reality TV show Hurl! debuted last night
This Washington Post review tells you all you need to know because you certainly didn't need to see it (on the G4 cable channel) (though the climaxes, into buckets, were obscured by animations). "'Hurl!, in other words, is for people who found Fear Factor much too nuanced and intellectually complex." Washington Post
Comments 'hurl_review'

Those deceitful orchids, tricking pollinators
Even Charles Darwin wondered (in his first book after The Origin of Species) why orchids needed to pretend to be female wasps to take precious sperm from the males ("pseudocopulating"). And now, an Australian researcher writing in The American Naturalist has an explanation. New York Times
Comments 'deceitful_orchids'

An "American craze" that Chuck's never heard of is big, big, big on London's Fleet Street
Both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail gave big play this week to photographer Dean Fidelman's calendar of nude rock-climbers (with samples!). This'll "take Britain by storm," promised one. Daily Telegraph // Daily Mail (even more photos!)
Comments 'nude_climbers'

And "you're not very good at it," said the judge
Mr. Dana Reid, 33, college-degreed, turned to drug-dealing as a "major trafficker" in ecstasy and marijuana, and had the book thrown at him in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Said the judge: "What was going on in your head? You're an intelligent guy. [T]his is not the appropriate way of life for you. Not only is it illegal, but you're not very good at it . . .." Chronicle Herald (Halifax)
Comments 'dana_reid'

Inspiring, heart-warming story (sorry about this; I know you expect more from the Cynic Laureate so I won't let this happen too often)
Dr. Bindeswar Pathak, an Indian Brahmin, is mortified at how his country, despite laws against it, continues to oppress the lowest-class, untouchable Dalits, who in many parts of the country are still relegated to toilet-bucket cleaners. He's rescued 56, given them opportunities to middle-class-up themselves, and brought 36 to the United Nations to publicize 2008 as the Year of Sanitation (since 2.6 billion Earthlings do not have access to clean and safe toilet facilities). CNN
Comments 'dalit_inspiring'

Catholic school principal throws it all away to have backyard sex romp
Gabriel De Jesus, 41, Greenburgh, N.Y., met two other guys and cavorted naked in the back yard of a vacant house on Sunday afternoon. The neighbors called police because of the trespassing aspect. One of the men got away by sprinting away through the 'hood. Yes, he was naked, but . . .. WCBS-TV (New York City)
Comments 'gabriel_dejesus'

"Don't hit him again! That's my dad!"
Attempted robbery of a pizza joint in Denton, Tex., by a guy in a wig and dark glasses. Employees Rudy and Stephanie on duty. Rudy jumped on the robber and started to beat him. The wig and glasses came off. Stephanie recognized the perp: her dad. Later arrested, also, were Stephanie's mom and Stephanie's husband (but police said Stephanie had nothing to do with it). Dallas Morning News
Comments 'denton_pizza'

Update: Australian court overturns Sydney's no-annoying law
Well, of course it was void because, said Federal Court judges (of the state-passed law), there is "no intelligible boundary" on what can cause annoyance. [Ed.: Still, though obviously violative of basic notions of due process of law, that's for Other People. As for Chuck, it's a blessed "YIMBY" law, i.e., Yes, In My Back Yard. Do not annoy me!] Sydney Morning Herald
Comments 'update_annoying'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Mr. Kelly Pecor of Sacramento, Calif., surely belongs here today, but we need better reporting than that done by San Francisco's KPIX-TV, which disclosed only that his adult sister had caught him "using her five-month-old bulldog, Chateau, to masturbate." KPIX-TV
Comments 'kelly_pecor'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Charles Knight, 62, was arrested in Charlotte, N.C., for supposedly having child porn on his computer, but, come on, that can't be right because after all, he's a church volunteer and has been mentoring Boy Scouts for several decades! (Oh, wait! I'm not supposed to look at the evidence.) Time Warner Newschannel 14 (Raleigh)
Comments 'charles_knight'

More Things to Worry About on Wednesday
Framingham, Mass., police made an arrest after neighbors reported a "loud argument" between two deaf women . . . . . The kinder, gentler Federal Communications Commission reduced $11.3 million in fines of two telemarketers to, um, $95,000 . . . . . Gas crisis continues: A south Los Angeles gang shooting was via a bicycle ride-by . . . . . Arrested in Clarion County, Pa., for violating a Protection From Abuse warrant: Robert K. Stalker, 41 [second story]. Today's Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Jason Depew, Scott Langill, Stephen Taylor, Tim Trewhella
Comments 'worry_080716'

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Jul 16, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 15, 2008

Rhode Island Roller Derby

All things old are new again, and the retro weirdness of yesteryear always resurfaces.

Read about Women's Roller Derby in Rhode Island here.

And then watch this brawl.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 15, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Performance Art, Fads, Games, ShowBiz, Sports, Gender

Follies of the Mad Men #3

[This image comes from Playboy for July 1980.]

Let's suppose that you're a magazine named Playboy that encourages its readers to believe they can have lots of sex if they follow the advice of the magazine. Then you create another magazine in your empire called Games. You decide to advertise the latter in the former. And the theme of your ad is that anyone who reads the new magazine will not want sex anymore, even when a nubile young woman is thrusting herself upon the reader.

This is where your head should explode.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 15, 2008 - Comments (6)
Category: Business, Advertising, Games, Magazines, Sexuality, 1980s


Good: HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creatures. Available soon at Radio Shack.

Better: The Killer Spider Tank Tachikoma.

Best: NASA's Spidernaut robot arachnid.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 15, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Inventions, Technology

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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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