Weird Universe Archive

September 2008

September 3, 2008

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Wednesday

Swiss gov't's state-of-the-art animal-protection law
Among other things, ya have to take a class in treating pet dogs well; ya have to humanely knock out goldfish before flushing them down the toilet; ya have to afford hamsters and gerbils daily face time with at least one of their own kind; and ya have to offer your pet pigs a refreshing shower once in a while to get the mud off. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo
Comments 'swiss_animals'

The miracle baby who survived--thanks to zip-lock bags
The ultrasound showed the little thing was in serious trouble, forcing doctors to bring it out way-prematurely, and it turns out that the perfect way to keep little Billy (2 lbs., 2 ozs.) in the incubator was inside a Tesco supermarket plastic sandwich bag. Daily Telegraph (London)
Comments 'baby_ziplock'

Those clever Orthodox Jews!
It's big business to parse the Torah and think of technological ways to make yourself comfortable while obeying Jewish law. There's a lamp that has a twistable shade to block out distracting light during the day (because ya can't turn on electric stuff during the Sabbath). "Every day, God gives us things to take advantage of," said an Israeli researcher. Can't write something down during the Sabbath? Use disappearing ink! New York Times
Comments 'clever_orthodox'

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it
Dan Mason is perhaps about to finally be indicted in Colorado for the murder of his wife in 2004 because he's about 0-for-10 in explaining inconsistencies about her last will 'n' testament and how she fell off a cliff during a "fishing trip." The clincher: She screamed to him to come help her, he insisted, but then the coroner reported that her neck had snapped instantly upon impact, making screaming impossible. In that case, said Dan, it was "an angel" I heard. Yeah . . yeah, an angel! An angel screamed at me! Associated Press via Summit Daily News (Summit County, Colo.)
Comments 'dan_mason'

The market for cremation-ready corpses in China
Tradition says the body must be buried, but the gov't demands the more-efficient cremation, so, presto, a black market in which gangs kill ne'er-do-wells on the street and sell the corpses to rich people so they'll have something to submit for cremation when a relative dies (and then they bury the relative). Reuters via Yahoo
Comments 'china_cremation'

Your Daily Loser
Lorenzo Knight, 22, on the run from the victim after stealing a camera from a car, tried to hide in a porta-potty, but the victim saw him and tipped it over, (a) sealing him inside and (b) er, shaking up the potty's contents. Tampa Tribune
Comments 'lorenzo_knight'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Now, try to be fair to Gene Bush, 52, who was picked up in L.A. after allegedly shooting at a traffic light with a few of his alleged 10,0000 bullets, in an incident that allegedly had something to do with a paper he was allegedly carrying, dubbed "The Secret." Los Angeles Times
Comments 'gene_bush'

Eyewitness News
[news videos goin' around]
snapshots from 15 of the world's most bizarre themed restaurants (only 5 of which ever made News of the Weird) (with favorites including the one where all the seats are toilets and the one where the food arrives in a, uh, cadaver, and you have to, like, do an autopsy to get at it. South Florida Sun-Sentinel [link from]
Comments 'themed_restaurants'

More Things to Worry About on Wednesday
You'd think a guy who's been sitting in jail for 2 yrs awaiting trial would notice that his lawyer hasn't been by to see him lately, but Joseph Shepard apparently had extremely low expectations of the Missouri Bar . . . . . Mumbai industrialist Mukesh Ambani is building a $2B, 27-story, 400,000-sq-ft home (that requires 600 assistants to maintain) . . . . . An Israeli court ruled that the Palestinian Authority has to pay that $116m U.S. judgment against it for killing that American couple in a terror attack in 1996, so, that check'll be in the mail real soon . . . . . The ESPNU channel is beaming Friday night U.S. high school football games across the globe, which means there'll be offshore Internet point spreads and betting . . . . . Last weekend was the annual birthday celebration of a long-since-expired millionaire whose will requires his heirs to gather every year and party (or else get disinherited). Today's Newsrangers: Paul Music, Roger Gulbransen, Michael Richardson, Barry Rose
Comments 'worry_080903'

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Sep 03, 2008 - Comments (0)

September 2, 2008

Circuit Bending

Nick sent us a bunch of youtube links about the art of circuit bending. He writes:

there is a hobby that nobody talks about called circuit bending. It's great fun, I've done it a few times and I've got a few friends that are really into it. Circuit bending is the act of cracking open a musical toy,radio, tape machine, cd player, walkie-talkie etc. and hapazardly/randomly poking around the ciruit board with a couple of wires to get unique sounds out of whatever you're "bending". You then solder the wire at the points you want and voila, you have a brand new musical insrument. Some people get really crazy with it and add new parts like light sensors, switches, buttons etc. and get some really wild effects.

This reminds me of a dream I've had for years. I want to hack into one of those Big Mouth Billy Bass animatronic toys and make it sing "Let the Eagle Soar" by John Ashcroft. It would be the ultimate piece of kitsch. I guess that makes me a would-be circuit bender. But I don't have the skills to make it happen. Also, I doubt my wife would allow me to keep it in the house.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 02, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Music, Technology

Do pets make you snore?

A recent study published in the journal Respiratory Research found a correlation between growing up with dogs and snoring as an adult. The authors found the correlation after giving a questionnaire about snoring frequency to 16,190 randomly selected men and women. The other factor associated with habitual adult snoring was growing up in a large family. The authors conclude:

exposure to a dog as newborn, and growing up in a large family appear as possible risk factors for snoring in adulthood. We speculate that these factors may enhance inflammatory processes and thereby alter upper airway anatomy early in life causing an increased susceptibility for adult snoring.

Their theory sounds rather unlikely. After all, correlation does not equal causation. I grew up with a dog, and I don't snore. But then, my family wasn't very large either. (Thanks to KT Jayne!)

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 02, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Pets, Dogs, Science

What is the world’s largest work of art?

It's a question I've wondered about before. (I once posted about it on the Museum of Hoaxes.) The possible record holders include:

1) a 1½ mile-wide eye created by Tom Van Sant in the Mojave Desert back in 1996 1980. It was made by placing mirrors in the desert whose reflection could be seen by a satellite passing overhead.

2) A 7-mile-long pencil drawing created by thousands of volunteers on an 800-pound roll of paper back in 1991.

But there's a new challenger. An artist calling himself "Ando" created a sketch that occupies 4 million square meters of desert in the Australian Outback. It shows a Stockman (an Australian Cowboy). He calls it "Mundi Man" and claims it's the largest work of art.

Four million square meters would be about 1.2 miles in length on each side, which would make it smaller than Van Sant's eye. So I don't think Ando does hold the record.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 02, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, World Records

Follies of the Mad Men #21


[From Life for March 10 1952. Two separate scans, top and bottom.]

The weirdest thing about this ad is the notion that an airline would give a customer something for free!

Posted By: Paul - Tue Sep 02, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Business, Advertising, Drugs, Smoking and Tobacco, Flight, Travel, 1950s

September 1, 2008

Follies of the Mad Men #20


[From Life for September 24 1956. Two separate scans, top and bottom.]

Judging by the reaction of the people in the background, these are either a) real transgenic tiger men walking down the street; or b) very convincing masks. In either case, the viewer is forced to ask, "Are tigers particularly famous for their sartorial choices?"

BONUS: this ad may serve as Furry porn, if you're so inclined.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Sep 01, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Business, Advertising, Fashion, Sexuality, 1950s

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Monday

Pakistani legislator speaks up for cultural diversity
"These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them," said Hon. Israr Ullah Zehri. Mainly, he was speaking of the right of a tribe to punish girls who want to pick their own husbands. The latest punishment, about a month ago in a remote village, was that the five girls were shot, then buried alive in a ditch. Associated Press via New York Daily News
Comments 'buried_alive'

Lawsuit: Amtrak ought to have saved me from my sorry, drunken butt
A 25-yr-old New York man took 27,500 volts after climbing to the top of an idle Amtrak car in Boston in 2006 and lost an arm and a leg to burns. That was mostly Amtrak's fault, he now says in court, because, hey, trespassing happens; sometimes, railroad cars need to be climbed on top of. New York Post
Comments 'amtrak_zapped'

The flip side of that "last lecture" professor: the Australian pastor with terminal cancer who inspired hundreds of thousands . . to send him money so he could buy porn
Sydney pastor Michael Guglielmucci has finally come clean after two yrs of playing a fully-immersed cancer patient, including pulling his hair out and developing the ability to vomit on cue. It was all a scheme to fund his 16-yr porn obsession. He fooled his wife, too, but now she defends him, insisting that his two-year fake-out tore him up so much that he was almost as miserable as if he'd had cancer. Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
Comments 'cancer_porn'

India has its extremes of rich and poor, but maybe they think differently about it than we do
Vogue India just ran a photo feature some of the dirt-poor (a half-billion people subsist on less than $1.25 a day) modeling the fanciest of goods (Fendi, Burberry, Hermes), e.g., a woman with a handbag that sells for almost 3 yrs' income to her. Vulgar? Said a Western marketing exec specializing in India and China, it's "a very Western attitude" for rich people not to flaunt their wealth. In China and other emerging markets, he said, 'If you've made it, you want everyone to know you've made it,' and luxury brands are the easiest way to do that." New York Times
Comments 'india_vogue'

Two new church campaigns to put more fannies in the pews
In Manassas, Va., Pastor Rob Seagears's summer sermon series involved dressing up and channeling characters from whichever movie was number-one at the box office that week, and then tying that message to God. Easy: "Dark Night" (with its built-in morality). Harder: "Hellboy II." Hardest: "Tropic Thunder" (the black preacher as a white actor playing a black soldier). And in the UK, the management of Birmingham Cathedral has turned all entrepreneurial, setting out to create a chain of wine bars and branded merchandise to, er, lift the church's profile and raise money for community work. Washington Post // Daily Mail (London)
Comments 'seagears_winebar'

Your Daily Losers
Two men were badly burned when their car blew up in Anderson, S.C. They were huffing keyboard cleaner and had rolled the windows up to keep out all that noxious fresh air, but then one of the men decided he needed a cigarette. WHNS-TV (Greenville)
Comments 'huffing_explosion'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Christopher Sullivan, 43, told police in Oshkosh, Wis., that he is a sexual predator but that he is all talk and that women have nothing to fear because actually crossing the line to rape would be a "grave sin." So his talk consists so far, police say, of stealing underwear, sending women photos of Barbie dolls with heads cut off, and making low-tech Photoshop-type porn (i.e., with scissors and paste). The Northwestern (Oshkosh)
Comments 'christopher_sullivan'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Jeffrey Mitchell was arrested on drug charges in Middleburg, Fla. (just south of Jacksonville). Now, just because he is the 225-yr-old vampire named Draven does not mean he's guilty of the drug charges. (Jacksonville)
Comments 'jeffrey_mitchell'

Eyewitness News
[news videos goin' around]
From Colombia, an 11-month-old boy who weighs, er, 61 lbs. (a genetic thingie makes his bones grow too fast.) Independent Television News
Comments '11lb_baby'

More Things to Worry About on Monday
In Scotland, there's actually an annual speed-eating contest for haggis (which is, of course, one of the world's ugliest foods), with 1 lb. downed in just over two minutes (and even one Californian in the contest!) . . . . . And speaking of that, "haggis" appeared on the top-20 list of regional UK ice cream flavors (along with "sausage & mash," "Welsh rarebit," and "Worcestershire sauce") . . . . . Mr. Jean Chery only had to spend a day and a half in an F State jail until New York authorities decided he wasn't the fugitive Ms. Jean Chery . . . . . Recurring Theme: Once again, an earnest citizen found a bomb (actually, 32 dynamite-stick-sized bombs) and dutifully brought them down to the police station and laid them on the counter . . . . . Perfect karma: The Nolita nightspot in lower Manhattan drives the apartment-dwellers next door nuts with the noise, but fortunately for them, the Nolita has this neat glass-roof sunroom, which is "accessible" by men with strong streams standing on their balconies. Today's Newsrangers: Debra Taylor, Ben Hestir, Steve Miller, Emory Kimbrough
Comments 'worry_080901'

Editor's Note
Tomorrow will be the last malaise day of the summer. I'll be back on 6-day schedule starting Wednesday.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Sep 01, 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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