Weird Universe Archive

November 2009

November 19, 2009

Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh My!

A couple visiting a safari park in Johannesburg, South Africa got a bit closer to nature than they expected after one of the Lions, a juvenile male, calmly got hold of the rear door handle in his teeth and pulled it open. After a shocked moment, the driver gunned the engine and the vehicle took off with the lion in hot pursuit. It was finally driven off by wardens at the exit gates (Daily Mail).

Meanwhile Mr Zhu, a 61 year-old retired teacher from China’s Jiangxi province, let his curiosity get the better of him during a vistit to the circus in Nankang, and put his hand though the bars of a tiger’s cage to feel its fur. The tiger promptly bit off four of his fingers. Zhu collapsed on the spot with shock, but survived to receive 3500 yuan (about $500) in compensation. The tiger was unharmed by the incident, but felt hungry again 15 minutes later (Times of India).

Less aggressive, but equally troubling, is the giant bear that has made its home near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, described by one resident as “super smart”. The residents of Incline Village are enduring almost nightly visits from a 700 lb black bear that has already caused $70000 of damage this year. The bear has evaded the traps set for it and the patrols looking for it, and has even survived a couple of rounds from a .44 magnum, one of which reportedly bounced off its skull (Las Vegas Sun).

In other (not actually) bear news, Australian marsupial pinup the Koala is looking at a bleak future according to recent reports. The loss of eucalyptus trees through deforestation, dog attacks and car accidents are stressing the animals to such an extent that they are succumbing to usually harmless viral infections. Frank Carrick of Queensland University’s Koala Study Program said the koalas were in “diabolical trouble” and that their numbers were “declining alarmingly”. (Washington Post). The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are fewer than 100000 koalas left in the wild, maybe as few as 43000, and the mainland population could go extinct in as little as 30 years (New Scientist).

Finally, a crocodile bit of more than it could chew this week when it strayed too close to a bloat of hippopotami and their young, who promptly formed a threatening defensive ring. Startled, the crocodile attempted to escape over the backs of the angry hippos, a fatal mistake. The croc’s scaly hide was no defence against the 3000-4000 lbs of bite pressure of an adult hippo, and it was soon crushed to death in their jaws (Telegraph).

It's a far cry from the cretaceous period where, according to new fossil finds, crocodiles were the extraordinarily successful inhabitants of a swampy region that was to become the Sahara Desert. Given nicknames like "boarcroc" and "ratcroc", the fossils show a plethora of different crocodile species living alongside each other, with each adapted to different ways of life. Some, like "dogcroc" and "duckcroc" have oddly shaped braincases that suggest they may have been considerably more intelligent than their modern descendants (Times).

Posted By: Dumbfounded - Thu Nov 19, 2009 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Death, Stupidity

A Little Light Weirdness - Strange Attractors

First up, scientists at the University of Leeds in Great Britain have determined that if you want to meet the right man, the optimum amount of flesh to flash is 40%. Less than that and you might appear too dowdy to catch his eye, any more and you’re more likely to attract a stalker than a soul mate. Psychologist Colin Hendrie had his four female assistants perform demanding “undercover” surveillance in Leeds’ nightclubs, recording how women were dressed and how often they were approached on concealed dictaphones. But it wasn’t just the women who were being judged. Hendie’s results also showed that the most successful approaches came from men who were neither too thin nor too fat and at least a head taller than their target. It also revealed that 30% of clubbers left as couples, though only 20% arrived so (Daily Mail).

Sadly, this research came too late for Geisy Arruda of Sao Paolo in Brazil, who caused a near riot at the city’s Bandeirante University by turning up for lectures in a mini-dress. Despite Brazil’s normally “relaxed” attitude to skimpy clothing, campus dress is often more conservative and Ms Arruda’s short, pink sheath dress attracted more than a few comments and cat-calls. She eventually had to be escorted from lectures, and the campus, by security and was later expelled for breaching the University’s ethical and moral standards and for offending its “academic dignity”. Her ban was promptly reversed however when she became a bit of a cause celebre, and Brazil’s Education Ministry became involved (CNEWS).

And yet more conflict ensued between academia and allure this past month when a number of female students from the prestigious Cambridge University in England posed for “cheesecake” shots for an in-house online magazine. Predictably, some called immediately for the images to be removed as they were demeaning to women saying that as a University, Cambridge should “do better”, an attitude site co-founder Taymoor Atighetchi dismissed as “intellectual snobbery" (Telegraph).

However support of a sort for the (very) fresh-women came from an unexpected quarter this week when Jill Berry, president of the UK “Girls’ Schools Association”, said that wanting to be fashionable did not make girls shallow. Speaking at the GSA annual conference, Mrs Berry said caring about your physical appearance wasn’t a betrayal of feminist ideals, and insisted that girls can have fun while also being taken seriously (Guardian).

But ladies, if you’re still unsure what to wear, then remember that other way to a man’s heart. That’s certainly an option for Jules Clancy, a food scientist from Sydney in Australia, who bagged a table for two at the world’s highest rated restaurant, the “El Bulli” in Spain, only to break up with her partner before the big night. In a moment of inspiration, Ms. Clancy decided to advertise online for a new dinner partner, and has been inundated with offers, though whether it is her charms or the food’s that is the draw is unclear (Orange).

(Picture: "Stupefyin’ JonesMoonbeam McSwine" from Al Capp's Li'l Abner.)

Posted By: Dumbfounded - Thu Nov 19, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Body, Education, Fashion, Feminism, Food

November 18, 2009

Turning a Sphere Inside Out

In case you wanted to know how to turn a sphere inside out without creasing it, this short video shows how to do it. It doesn't make any sense to me, but maybe someone out there can explain how the solution doesn't crease. Another bonus -- it seems to be narrated by two androids.

At least it's interesting to watch. Maybe turn off the sound so you don't have to listen to the narration?

Posted By: gdanea - Wed Nov 18, 2009 - Comments (4)
Category: Science

Teddy Bear Keepsake

Anyone care to guess what this cute little bear is made of?

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 18, 2009 - Comments (6)

November 17, 2009

Four Dimension Animation

This kind of looks like an evolving octopus, and there is even a formula for creating this design on the You Tube notes. I think it is a great animation of four dimensions.

Or maybe not -- opinions?

Posted By: gdanea - Tue Nov 17, 2009 - Comments (3)
Category: Science

Redneck Hedge Trimmer

Two New Zealanders came up with a unique way to trim the hedges. On Sunday when someone who was to trim one of the men's hedges did not show up the guys came up with a plan to get the job done. Simple really, they just needed a crane and a riding mower. Using the crane to lift the mower allowed them to trim away. People passing by were bemused and the wife of one of the men, upon coming home to the spectacle, just laughed.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 17, 2009 - Comments (3)

Bacon Again!

More products getting in on bacon's deliciousness to sell their wares. Now it's envelopes with bacon flavored adhesive on the closing flap. Yum, now i need a pen pal!

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 17, 2009 - Comments (4)

Bill Willamson, RIP

Let us all pause to honor the memory of Bill Williamson, Nevada resident, deceased last week, who taught his various dogs to drive a car in the annual Nevada Day Parade. Read his obituary here.

(Nevada Appeal file photo)

Posted By: Paul - Tue Nov 17, 2009 - Comments (2)
Category: Eccentrics, Parades and Festivals, Regionalism, Dogs

News of the Weird / Pro Edition (11-16-2009 Extra)

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 16, 2009

Still More Things to Worry About

Latest Religious Message: Lufkin, Tex., school teacher Pam McLaurin says the government can give her a reaming-out background check if they want, but no way will she submit her fingerprints, which the Book of Revelation says would be a bad thing. KLTV (Tyler)

Update: The Italian heavy-metal Franciscan monk, Cesare Bonizzi [celebrated in News of the Weird M070, 8-10-2008], is retiring as front man for Fratello Metallo, acknowledging that Satan made him too much of a celebrity. Reuters via /// YouTube performance video

A turtle turned up at a Hindu temple in India's Orissa state, supposedly with markings of Lord Jagannath, meaning it's now humbly worshiped by villagers — except it might just be that whoever found the turtle made up the part about the markings so he wouldn't have to give up the rare, endangered animal. BBC News

A 12-year-old girl in Chesapeake, Va., sneezes 12,000 times a day, and neurologists are mostly stumped (with the only available remedy, apparently, being the standard, "Appear on morning network news show"). WAVY-TV (Hampton Roads, Va.)

"A man whose bowel was damaged in a motorcycle crash has been fitted with a bionic bottom that enables him to go to the toilet using a remote control," writes London's Daily Mail. The remote acts as a sphincter, opening and closing by sensor. (But, asks an NOTW Board Member, what if the remote falls into the wrong hands? Plus, he asks, can't they make a remote that'll just scratch your butt?) Daily Telegraph

Update: Michael G. Dick, 47, the man arrested in December [NOTW Daily, 1-2-2009] while naked, menacing the 88-year-old Oregon woman, until she grabbed him by the handiest appendage at her disposal and yanked, was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Gresham Outlook

Our new generation of leaders (continued): Blake Hall, 56, a St. Anthony, Idaho, deputy prosecutor and member of the national committee of one of our two major political parties, lost both posts after charges that he took a romantic break-up especially hard . . by, for example, tossing his used condoms onto his ex's lawn (19 condoms collected on 10 different dates).

Without a mug shot, how can we possibly decide guilt or innocence? The Winnipeg, Manitoba, woman admitted raking her disabled boyfriend's credit card for $21,000, but she said she only did it to make him dump her because she couldn't bear to do the dumping, herself, because of his disability. As evidence, she quickly gave back all the money, which she said she had saved in order to return. As other evidence, though, she had just been on probation for stealing from another boyfriend to pay gambling debts. Winnipeg Sun

The government of the Extremadura region of Spain is the latest to take the creative approach to sex education by touting teenage (14 to 17) masturbation. "[P]leasure is in your own hands." BBC News

How to respect the spread of H1N1 virus while allowing Catholics to properly bless themselves with holy water: Instead of dipping their fingers in the church's communal pool, parishioners can run their hands under Luciano Marabese's holy water dispenser, which operates, hands-free, like a sensored restroom faucet. New York Daily News

One Minute: Wake Forest's Institute of Regenerative Medicine grows functional organs in the lab by extracting cells and doing the equivalent of putting them under a grow lamp. So far, they do rabbit organs, like bladders, but now they've had success with penises. (But, Chuck, what's the "one minute" reference to?) (Oh, that. "All rabbits with bioengineered [penises] attempted copulation within one minute of introduction [to a female rabbit.")

Additional Newsranger: Larry Seltzer

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Nov 17, 2009 - Comments (4)

Amusement Park Blues

Anyone vacationing in Berlin, Germany would be well advised to skip amusement park rides. Fourteen unfortunate people who were stuck 50 feet in the air for almost an hour last summer have now been billed the equivalent of $420 each by the local Fire brigade for their rescue. The ride operators have refused to pay as they claim they did not call emergency services and did not need help rescuing the trapped riders. One would think if the operators had everything under control it would not have taken so long to get the people down. Also, shouldn't they have refused the service if they did not need it? Instead they allowed the fire brigade to step in and rescue the people, but now claim no responsibility. One family one the ride is being charged 3 times because husband, wife and child were all trapped. Nothing quite like being traumatised and then billed for the privilege. Stefan Fleischer, spokesman for the fire brigade, has said they are looking at the decision to charge the riders again. But he also feels it was fair because the riders could make an insurance claim or sue the operators of the ride. All I can say is welcome to the beginning of the path that leads to the litigious society we have over here folks, maybe you better think about it first.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 17, 2009 - Comments (7)

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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.

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