Weird Universe Archive

April 2009

April 9, 2009

Tokyo Cat Cafes

You pay $9 for the privilege of spending an hour in a cafe begging some cats to pay attention to you. Apparently the concept has become very popular in Japan due to a combination of factors that make pet ownership difficult: people spend too much time at work, and many apartments have no-pets policies.

As someone who owns a 15-year-old cat that insists on spending a large portion of her time every day sleeping in my lap -- and instead of trying to move her I've just learned to work around this -- I'm not really in a position to make fun of anyone else's weird cat-related behavior. If I didn't own a cat, and I lived in Japan, I'd probably be one of the people hanging out at the local cat cafe. (Thanks to Cassie Sperry for the link!)

Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 09, 2009 - Comments (10)
Category: Animals, Cats

Human Hamster Balls

All future arguments on WU shall be settled by TRIAL VIA GIANT HUMAN HAMSTER SPHERES! Participants may purchase spheres here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Apr 09, 2009 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Games, Toys

Two-Way Stretch

As we all know, Chuck has a recurring theme about how the Brits coddle their prisoners. Apparently, this motif goes back at least as far as 1960, the year that the Peter Sellers film TWO-WAY STRETCH premiered. In this film, Sellers and gang receive deliveries from the milkman and newsboy, keep a cat, steal the warden's ciggies, and generally make their stay quite enjoyable. Until the tough-guy guard known as "Sourkraut" shows up. See some moments below.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Apr 09, 2009 - Comments (0)
Category: Movies, Prisons, Stupid Criminals, 1960s, Europe

[News] Chuck’s Links for Thursday, April 9, 2009

Little Rock's new River Church will hold its Good Friday and Easter services at downtown bars. KLRT-TV

A Cause Greater Than One's Self: At least Abdullah, 11, is a jihadi suicide bomber; all you can say about that Dillon, S.C., 11-yr-old is that he shot his little sister in the face with a shotgun because she took his potato chips. Daily Mail (London) /// WBTW-TV (Myrtle Beach)

A knife fight in a Waco, Tex., motel room, provoked by an apparently particularly noxious fart. Associated Press via Houston Chronicle

Dragging the bottom of the job market: Ringling Brothers has just hired 18 clowns. Associated Press via Yahoo

A real-life tick-tock in Toronto: Infant Lillian, needing heart transplant, is sh_t-outta-luck because the arranged donor (terminally-ill Kaylee) is defying everyone by . . living. Globe & Mail

Best and the Brightest: Texas state Rep. Betty Brown, noting how difficult it is to verify voter registration of Asian-Americans with Anglicized names, suggested that they change 'em to names "easier for Americans to deal with." Houston Chronicle

An ex-NYPD officer, fighting to get his job back, said the only reason he could think of for testing positive for cocaine was that he used to go down on his cokehead girlfriend. New York Daily News

Peter Dennis sued the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. because its voluntary self-exclusion (from casino) program didn't work for him, letting him lose around $600k more (and he's suing on behalf of all the other gamblers it didn't work for) ($3.5B). Toronto Star

Brett Picciotti, 26, said even if he has been charged with throwing his girlfriend off of a second-floor balcony, that's no reason to kick him out of medical school. (Bonus statement by his lawyer: "He's an exemplary young man. This is an aberrational charge. I think there's an explanation. I'm just not prepared to give it to you right now.") Philadelphia Daily News

[Jury Duty] After a high-speed chase, police accused Sterling Devine, 25, of a home break-in, but he doesn't see it that way. KCTV (Kansas City)

Today's Newsrangers: Jessica McRorie, Stephen Taylor, Joe Pat Clayton, Jim Dukes, Sandy Pearlman

Posted By: Chuck - Thu Apr 09, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category:

April 8, 2009

A Single Tear

Posted By: Paul - Wed Apr 08, 2009 - Comments (3)
Category: Cartoons, North America

Follies of the Mad Men #63

image
[From Playboy magazine for February 1970.]

Was this behavior ever really sexy or cool, or a good way to pick up women?

Posted By: Paul - Wed Apr 08, 2009 - Comments (11)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Sexuality, Tobacco and Smoking, Men, Women

Latin Mottoes

You've probably been looking for a list of Latin mottoes from 16th-century sources. Well, here it is. Most of them made sense to me, but these three I couldn't quite figure out:

Simul astu et dentibus utor.
I use my cunning and my teeth simultaneously.

Scribit in marmore læsus.
The injured man writes in marble.

Quod huic deest me torquet.
What this creature lacks torments me.

This one should be the motto for the government bailout of the banks:

Ei, qui semel sua prodegerit, aliena credi non oportere.
He who has once squandered his own, ought not to be trusted with another's.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Apr 08, 2009 - Comments (3)
Category: Literature

The Scale of Loss

Apparently New York workers enjoy a fixed compensation scale for the loss of body parts. Each body part is judged to be worth a certain number of weeks of wages. Here's the scale:
  • One eye: 160 weeks
  • One ear: 60 weeks
  • Both ears: 150 weeks
  • One arm: 312 weeks
  • One leg: 288 weeks
  • One foot: 205 weeks
  • Big toe: 38 weeks
  • One hand: 244 weeks
  • pinky: 15 weeks
  • little toe: 16 weeks
So why is the little toe worth more than the pinky? The New York Times has the full illustrated list.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Apr 08, 2009 - Comments (4)
Category: Body Modifications

[News] Chuck’s Links for Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Almost No Longer Weird: 911 calls for [restaurant didn't serve enough shrimp in the fried rice]. Associated Press via Yahoo

A gov't fire and rescue service in Britain requires firefighters to use long poles to test ceiling alarms . . because stepladders are dangerous. Daily Mail

Recurring: Vero Beach is the latest F State jurisdiction to use what has become the standard state definition of the area of the ass that must be covered in public (easier to understand if you're good at geometry). TCPalm.com

Sounds Like a Joke (just like other reality-show concepts once did): Someone's Gotta Go (in production at Fox), where employees of an actual small company decide which one of them actually gets laid off. Washington Post

Americorps volunteers in Denver fan out . . to help people with that analog-to-digital TV thing. KUSA-TV

A trotters' track in Paris is giving away bags of horse manure (but it's champions' poop—only the best!). Agence France-Presse via Yahoo

Alfonso Rizzuto walked into the post office in Kingston, Pa., on business, not realizing that right there on the wall was a wanted poster for fugitive Alfonso Rizzuto. Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre)

$9/hour entertainment charge at one of 39 Tokyo "cat cafes," where trendy or lonely people get to pet the kitties while they sip tea. GlobalPost.com

The Pentagon has been dressing pigs in body armor, strapping them into Humvees, and setting off roadside bombs to see if armor helps/hurts with brain injuries (because pigs' brains are like ours!). USA Today

[Jury Duty] Daniel Alexander, 39, charged with killing his mobile-home roommate [top photo is the victim; Alexander's underneath]. Palm Beach Post

Today's Newsrangers: Scott Langill, Cassie Sperry

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Apr 08, 2009 - Comments (11)
Category:

April 7, 2009

Herrings Workers on Romance Covers

I don't think anyone will accuse Jane Liffen's article, published in a recent issue of Social Semiotics, of being overly broad in its focus. It's title is: “A very glamorized picture, that”: images of Scottish female herring workers on romance novel covers. Here's the abstract:
This article analyses portrayals of Scottish female herring workers on the covers of romance novels and investigates how far these representations conform to, or subvert, the genre of romantic fiction. Covers are analysed to establish whether they accurately portray Scottish female herring workers at their labour. If romanticisation of the women's working role is evident, the ways in which this manifests itself and the possible reasons for this romanticisation are examined. Composition of images and the mise-en-scene of covers are analysed, as well as aspects concerning the narratives of the novels, and elements of herring processing work that are noticeably absent in the depictions are also considered. These elements excluded from the covers are examined through theory relating to the abject in an attempt to ascertain whether the covers potentially provide models of female empowerment for the reader.

And here are some of the romance novel covers in question.



I'll spare you the trouble of reading the article by summarizing its findings. Gutting herrings is smelly, dirty work. This is not accurately portrayed on romance covers. (Thanks to Dave Monroe!)

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 07, 2009 - Comments (7)
Category: Literature, Gender

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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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