Weird Universe Archive

November 2009

November 4, 2009

Amazing and Unusual USA

This new guidebook certainly seems as if it would make a fine Xmas present for your favorite WU-vie!

Posted By: Paul - Wed Nov 04, 2009 - Comments (2)
Category: Pop Culture, Regionalism, Travel, Landmarks, Sightseeing, Books

Making an Invisible Statement

Liu Bolin, a young Chinese artist, has found a unique way to protest the government's decision to close his art studio in 2005. He paints himself to blend into the scenery, like a chameleon. There is no trick photography involved, and he doesn't use photoshop. Instead, he spends about ten hours studying a picture and painting his body so that people don’t even realize he is there until he moves. The Telegraph online has a pretty good gallery showcasing his images, but you can easily find more thanks to Google.

Posted By: Nethie - Wed Nov 04, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Art, Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand, Body Painting

November 3, 2009

Space, The Final…Vacation Destination

There has been talk for some time about space tourism, but now one company claims they will be ready to accommodate guests by 2012. Galactic Suite Space Resort CEO Xaviar Claramunt says for 3 million euros, $4.4 million, you will get a 3 day stay in their orbiting pod. The price includes an 8 week training course on a tropical island. A rocket takes the guest into space and docks with the pod. The guest then spends 3 days in the pod alone, with velcro helping them move around. Then the rocket brings them back $4 million dollars poorer, but with some great vacation pictures. Another company, Virgin Galactic, owned by Richard Branson intends to provide suborbital space rides for just $200,000 a pop. There was no estimate on how soon the space rides will be available.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 03, 2009 - Comments (8)

Follies of the Mad Men #75

Are "zip, zing and pep" actual scientific elements recognized by the FDA?

Posted By: Paul - Tue Nov 03, 2009 - Comments (7)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Food, Children, 1950s

News of the Weird / Pro Edition (11-2-2009 Extra)

Still More Things to Worry About

He just knocked off his fourth southern California bank in two months: a 70-ish gentleman, well-dressed . . . and on oxygen, carrying his tank around with him. KSWB-TV (San Diego)

Venezuelan Mega-Church: As many as 30 percent of the country's paisanos have gone to meetin' at a Maria Lionza event, which a New York Times dispatch calls a "malleable" religion (creating new, useful spirits and rituals, meaning if one thing doesn't work, think of another one). Some of the devout "lie within [elaborate chalk designs on the ground] awaiting cleansing before spirits possess them. Then they prick their faces with razor blades" or "writhe in apparent agony, or ecstasy . . ." And they dance on burning embers and put them in their mouths. New York Times

The Casket Store in Hamilton, Ontario, has vowed to seal up those lockets customers bought (to carry around their loved ones' ashes) but which started leaking specks into the mashed potatoes. Hamilton Spectator

Where we're headed: Britain's Watford Borough Council has banned parents from the playground (unless they have "play ranger" licenses). They have to watch their urchins play from behind a fence. Daily Telegraph

A delightful story of Poland's court system: It took a year and a half, but a man convicted of damaging a neighbor's plastic bucket (value €3) ($4.40) has been exonerated. Along the way, he "proved" his innocense with video of the neighbor continuing to use the bucket as before, but the neighbor "proved" his own case by bringing in an "expert" to examine the bucket (and he said it was quite possible that the bucket was damaged). In the end, justice. [link from]

A free-lance feminist avenger is loose in British Columbia, to the dismay of Anthony Clark, 22, the latest victim, who is minus one testicle from a random kick. The Province (Vancouver) via Calgary Herald

It says here, anyway, that a woman in Madison County, N.C., tried to burn down her ex's house, and got the fire started, but she didn't count on his plastic spittoon being full, and melting, dousing the flames. News-Record & Sentinel (Marshall, N.C.)

In Somalia, where the average male's life expectancy is 47, Ahmed Mohamed Dhore is not an average man, being age 112. He recently married a 17-yr-old girl. It was his sixth marriage (but the first in about 75 yrs). "I believe that I can give her the kind of love that not any young man can offer." Agence France-Presse via Google News

Update: For the fourth time, Florida investigators have shown that a forensic dog-handler from the 1990s was probably just making up his testimony that put a couple dozen people away. This is the guy from News of the Weird in August, who claimed his dog had miracle smelling ability — until a judge actually tested the mutt in court and found it a disgrace to dogs everywhere (olfactorily speaking). This fourth poor schnook has been in lockup for 25 years. Orlando Sentinel /// News of the Weird M122 [lead story]

Florida's Vampire-American community is apparently no more dangerous than a bunch of furries, taking only "energy" (no blood) from others, and then only with their permission. [Actually, Yr Editor is perpetually a quart low on energy and maybe needs to attend the monthly Vampire gathering in Tampa.] Dentist Julio Hernandez of Miami is cleaning up, though, at $150 a pop implanting serviceable fangs (even though they're hardly strong enough to break skin). Miami Herald

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Nov 03, 2009 - Comments (3)

November 2, 2009

Shock Asylum

One of my college courses this year is called "Posthumanism in Science Fiction" (it actually counts towards the core classes needed to graduate). The instructor, Dan Dinello, used to work with Stephen Colbert back in the 1990s, and recently he decided to show the class one of the short films he made with Colbert, a strange dark comedy called Shock Asylum. Like everything else, it happened to be on YouTube (though this version is shorter than the one I saw), so enjoy:

Posted By: Salamander Sam - Mon Nov 02, 2009 - Comments (3)
Category: Movies, Psychology, 1990s, Parody, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Wooden Mirror Interactive Art

With just over 800 pieces, each individually controlled piece of wood acts like a mirror. A computer refreshes the images 15 to 20 times a second, so those people standing in front of the piece create the art.

Some of us might look better with fewer pixels!!

Posted By: gdanea - Mon Nov 02, 2009 - Comments (5)
Category: Design and Designers

Oasis of the Seas

A cruise ship that holds "6,360 passengers and 2,160 crew"...? Now, that's pretty weird.

Read about the launch of the ship here. Then watch the official promotional video.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Nov 02, 2009 - Comments (13)
Category: Oceans and Maritime Pursuits, Recreation, Technology, Travel, Sightseeing, World Records

News of the Weird / Pro Edition (11-2-2009)

November 2, 2009 (news from October 24-31)

Weekly Gold

Sex-accessory sellers are discovering the rich market for environmentally-pleasing lubricants, vibrators, and whips, according to a Time magazine report. Good-bye, lubes that contain the same ingredients as antifreeze; plastic (phthalate-made) vibrators; leather whips. Hello, vegan condoms, organic lubes, mahogany vibrators (not run by batteries but . . . "hand-cranked"). (If operated "by hand," there will be no battery "emissions.") Time

What happens when a severely-disturbed, multiple-personalitied, laser-beam-controlled patient meets a psychologist who believes every word of it but actually taunts her into "recovering" even more "memories" of Satanic cults, etc.? And even furnishes dark glasses to shield the client from those menacing lasers. The Minnesota psychologists' board investigated, and was properly appalled, but did not pull the shrink's license. Star Tribune [with grandmotherly photo of the shrink]

Why is this a crime? Five Los Angeles homeowners, nearing foreclosure, were charged with kidnaping, beating, and torturing two agents who had sold them loan-modification services that proved worthless. KTLA-TV

The latest model doll from the Mattel Barbie collection: the nattily-dressed Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken (not a parody, a genuine Mattel). Due April 2010, but pre-orders accepted. Entertainment Earth [link from]

Five Virginia Department of Corrections officers were charged with intimately fondling a K-9 dog. The investigation continues, and we don't know yet if it was just kinky, or a hazing, or as one report had it, a belief that the dog would be more receptive to training if he was made to feel good. Star Exponent (Culpeper, Va.)

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Jaime Aguirre, 42, Brimfield, Ohio, stopped on a traffic violation, also happened to have, police said, four counts' worth of child porn, but even more disturbing, he had a stash of mammograms and x-rays of females that police believe he used for sexual gratification. Plain Dealer (Cleveland) [with mug shot]

More in extended >>

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Nov 02, 2009 - Comments (8)

November 1, 2009

More Science Fiction/Science Fact

A computer that can read a person's mind and display their thoughts on screen. We've seen something similar in the movie 'Minority Report' and an episode of 'Star Trek: Voyager' for that matter. Now research at the University of California Berkley is having some sucess with the process. Subjects were shown a picture while an MRI recorded their brain activity. The results were fed to the computer to act as a baseline, much like the test questions asked at the beginning of a lie detector test. Next the subject was shown a different picture. The resulting brain scan was also imputed and the computer attempted to recreate the second picture by comparing similar activity in the visual cortex of the brain. While the computer generated picture lacked fine detail, it was still very accurate on a larger scale. Such as depicting a man in a white shirt, but without facial detail, when the subject viewed a picture of Steve Martin in a white shirt. Dr. Jack Gallant, a lead researcher, commented about the possibility of using the technology in art and as a tool to improve eyewitness descriptions of both crimes and criminals. The doctor also expressed concern about misuse, such as reading people without their knowledge or consent. Well, every coin has a flip side.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 01, 2009 - Comments (8)

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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.

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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