Weird Universe Archive

August 2013

August 25, 2013

News of the Weird (August 25, 2013)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M333, August 25, 2013
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Shepherd

[NOTE: Due to circumstances beyond my control probably within my control, if I'd handled things differently, News of the Weird 2.0 will not be published this week. Back next Monday.]

Lead Story

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: The upscale restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced in August that it would soon add a 20-item selection of waters from around the world, priced at from $8 to $16 a bottle (except for a $12 “tasting menu”). Martin Riese, general manager of Ray’s & Stark Bar, who is also a renowned water gourmet, will sell his own California-made 9OH2O, which comes in “limited editions of 10,000 individually numbered glass bottles” at $14 each. Said Riese, “[M]any people don’t know that water is just as important to the entire dining experience [as, say, a good wine].” Riese has been certified as a Water Sommelier by the German Mineral Water Association. [Ray’s & Stark press release via, 8-6-2013]

The Continuing Crisis

A security lab, delivering a report to the makers of software for a luxury Japanese toilet, warned that a flaw in their Android program renders the toilet hackable--even while a user sits on it. The Satis (which retails for the equivalent of about $5,600) includes automatic flushing, bidet spray, fragrance-spritzing, and music, according to an August BBC News report, and is controllable by a “My Satis” cell phone app. However, the PIN to operate the app is unalterably “0000,” which means that a prankster with the app could create some very uncomfortable mischief in a public restroom. [BBC News, 8-5-2012]

The CEO of Christian Schools Australia told the Australian Associated Press in June that Caloundra Christian College in Queensland teaches a range of creative sexual health messages and offered the school’s recent student pamphlet, “101 Things to Do Instead of Doing It,” as evidence. Recommended substitutes: “Pretend you’re six again,” “Have a water fight,” “Blow bubbles in the park,” and “Have a burping contest.” [Australian Associated Press via, 6-22-2013]

What Hawkmoth Researchers Know: According to their study in July in the Royal Society of Biology Letters, researchers from the University of Florida and Boise State somehow have learned that the hawkmoth evolved to avoid predator bats by jamming bats’ signature radar-like hunting technique called echolocation. A co-author told that the hawkmoth “confuses” the bats by emitting sonic pulses from its genitals. [Science Recorder, 7-5-2013]

New Meaning to “Hon. John Hurley”: Immediately following Judge John Hurley’s having reduced her bond from $76,000 to $10,000 on drug trafficking charges in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., courtroom in August, Felicia Underwood, 38, asked, “You can’t make it a little lower, hon?” According to a South Florida Sun-Sentinel report, Hurley was momentarily taken aback, asking: “Did she just refer to the court as ‘honey’?” “Oh, well . . ..” (He kept the bond at $10,000.) [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8-5-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Adult “swinger” clubs occasionally rent commercial facilities like restaurants for an evening in which randy couples can mingle, but a club in Melbourne, Australia, struck a deal with the Casey Kids Play House Cranbourne, where frolickers could enjoy the playtime equipment--until parents of the kids found out in June. The parents were especially concerned about the partiers cavorting among the plastic balls in the giant ball pit. One parent told the Herald Sun, “My son is one [who] puts balls in his mouth . . ..” [Herald Sun, 6-24-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: British birdwatchers were especially excited by news earlier this year that a rare White-throated Needletail (the world’s fastest flying bird) had been spotted on the UK’s Isles of Harris--only the eighth such sighting in Britain in 170 years--and ornithologists arranged for an expedition that attracted birdwatchers from around the world. A June report in the Daily Telegraph noted that about 80 people were on the scene when the bird appeared again but then had to watch it fly straight toward the blades of a wind turbine. (As the event might be described by Monty Python, the bird thus joined the choir invisible, left this mortal coil, became an ex-White-throated Needletail.) [Daily Telegraph, 6-27-2013]

Bright Ideas

Helpful Derivative Military Technology: Manayunk Cleaners in Philadelphia has been testing delivery of customers’ clothing via its own drone (a converted four-blade DJI Phantom quadricopter originally used for aerial photography), guided by GPS. Said one bemused customer, “I was wondering what the hell that was, to be honest.” So far, the payload is limited to a shirt or towel, to be picked off the hovering aircraft by the customer, but owner Harout Vartanian hopes to buy a bigger drone soon. (PREVIOUSLY) Agence France-Presse news service reported an even bolder drone program in August--delivering beer to music festival-goers in South Africa. The director of the Oppikoppi festival in Limpopo province attested to the drone’s success. A reveler places an order by cell phone, which marks the location, and the drone is dispatched to lower the beer by parachute--usually in the midst of a cheering crowd. [NBC10 (Philadelphia), 7-9-2013] [Agence France-Presse via, 8-8-2013]

Contrary to popular wisdom, cows do not sleep standing up, but actually spend 12-14 hours a day lying down, even though their shape makes the position uncomfortable. Conscientious dairy farmers use beds of sand to adapt to the cow’s contour, and since the late 1990s, a Wisconsin firm (Advanced Comfort Technology) has marketed $200 cow waterbeds, which are even more flexible. Waterbeds may be superior, also, because they are built with an extra chamber that makes it easier for the cow to lower herself safely. The founders’ daughter, Amy Throndsen, told Huffington Post in June that her parents endured awkward moments starting the company: “Everyone . . . is telling them, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Are you kidding me? Waterbeds?” [Huffington Post, 6-23-2013]


“High School in the Community” (HSC), the teachers’ union-managed school in New Haven, Conn., recently completed the first year of its program aimed in part at ending “social promotion”--the automatic passing of students to the next grade even if they lack the skills and knowledge necessary for that grade. However, the officials were shocked to learn that not a single one of the school’s 44 first-time 9th-graders passed the promotion tests (and will have lengthy 9th-grade make-up sessions over the summer or beginning again in September). (Several other 9th-graders, who were already repeating 9th grade, were promoted.) [New Haven Independent, 6-28-2013]


PREVIOUSLY: Look! Up in the Sky!: (1) Andy Hill was enjoying a leisurely inner-tube ride on the Clark Fork River near Missoula, Mont., on Sunday, July 21st--when a man landed on top of him, sending Hill to the hospital with broken bones and torn ligaments. The man, who was not seriously hurt, had playfully jumped from a bridge without looking. (2) College baseball shortstop Mattingly Romanin, 20, suffered a concussion in July, while on the field before a summer league game, when a skydiver knocked him to the ground. The skydiver was part of a pre-game flyover at the Hannibal (Mo.) Cavemen’s game but was wind-blown slightly off-course. [Associated Press via Great Falls Tribune, 7-25-2013] [Fox Sports, 7-21-2013]

Least Competent Criminals

Recurring Themes: (1) PREVIOUSLY: A 28-year-old man ordered to submit to fingerprinting in Mason, Mich., in July in connection with a fraud investigation, had another charge added when he decided to pay the $16 fingerprinting fee with a stolen credit card. (2) Sheriff’s deputies in Apopka, Fla., charged Chad Winslow with burglary after finding him stuck in a grease vent (facing outward) on the roof of Sam’s Discount Food Store in June. According to a deputy, Winslow’s first words were, “I’m stuck, and I have to take a poop.” [ (Grand Rapids), 7-11-2013] [Bright House Cable News (Orlando), 6-23-2013]

A News of the Weird Classic (November 2010)

Librarian Graham Barker, 45, of Perth, Australia, casually revealed to a reporter in October [2010] that his hobby of 26 years--harvesting his own navel lint daily, just before he showers--has now won acclaim in the Guinness Book of World Records. His three-jar collection (a fourth is in progress) has been sold to a local museum. His pastime, he told London's Daily Mail in October, "costs nothing and takes almost no time or effort so there is no compelling reason to stop." Barker, who also collects McDonald's tray liners, said he once did a "navel lint survey,"and "a handful of respondents" "confessed" to having the hobby. "One guy [said he] might have persisted, but he got married, and his wife ordered him to stop." [Daily Mail, 10-25-2010]

Thanks This Week to Bruce Siegel, Roy Henock, Russell Bell, and J.T. Sterr, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Aug 25, 2013 - Comments (5)

August 24, 2013

Unusual Friends

The book 'Unlikely Friendships 47 Remarkable Stories From The Animal Kingdom' by Jennifer S. Holland is a menagerie of inter species friendships that charm and delight. The baby antelope and the lioness that adopted it, pictured above, is just one of the unusual pairs described at the link. The book is available on Amazon.

Posted By: patty - Sat Aug 24, 2013 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals

Peter Pink

A strange potato and zucchini street protest outside the Reichstag in Berlin, created by Peter Pink, who describes himself as a "nonsense maker." [Peter Pink, Mad Subculture]

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 24, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Art

Life in America:  1953

Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 24, 2013 - Comments (4)
Category: Customs, 1950s, North America

August 23, 2013

Spontaneous Baby Combustion Mystifies Doctors

He's caught on fire four different times. The theory is this baby is emitting combustible gas from his pores.


Here's the link to the story:

Even worse news? The family has been banned from the village since neighbors are afraid their houses will get burned down.

Posted By: gdanea - Fri Aug 23, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Babies and Toddlers

Eye Machines Might Rot

I'm assuming something has been lost in translation with this article on It reports that after a "colossal sum of money" was spent buying new machines for the Eye Centre at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), the hospital now finds it can't install the machines because there are some people living next to the Eye Centre who "produce excessive heat." And this heat will somehow damage the machines.

The hospital wants all these heat-producing people cleared away. And it warns that if it doesn't get its way, it won't be able to use the new machines at all. And non-usage will also damage the delicate machines! Or, as the headline puts it, "KATH eye centre machines rot." Sounds like if these hot people could cool down a bit, they could stay and everyone would be happy.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 23, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Africa

Jasper and the Haunted House

What else but "Spooks Gooseberry Pie?"

Learn more here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Aug 23, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Food, Stereotypes and Cliches, Fantasy, Stop-motion Animation, 1940s

August 22, 2013

Taking A Shot At Teaching

A 73 year old man teaching a conceal carry class in Ohio made the cardinal mistake when handling a firearm. He thought the gun was empty and dry fired it without checking. The bullet that was, of course, in the gun ricocheted off a metal desk and struck a man taking the class. Not a class to teach by negative example.

Posted By: patty - Thu Aug 22, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Guns

Rodent Fur in Ketchup

BBC News reports that Brazilian health officials banned a batch of Heinz ketchup made in Mexico after traces of rodent fur were found in it.

Back in the 60s, my mother graduated from college with a degree in chemistry, and the first job she got with that degree was working in a Heinz factory, microscopically examining ketchup samples for things like bug parts and rodent fur. As she tells it, her responsibility wasn't to make sure that there was no nasty stuff in the ketchup. Instead, she was only supposed to make sure that the nasty stuff didn't exceed certain levels. So all the condiments you buy are going to have unpleasant things in them. The question is just how much.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 22, 2013 - Comments (12)
Category: Food

Biggest Station Wagon Ever Built

From Wikipedia:

At 5,182 lb (2,351 kg) shipping weight, or about 5,400 lb (2,400 kg) curb weight, the three-seat 1974 Estate Wagons are easily the heaviest Buicks ever built, even heavier than the Buick Limited limousines of 1936-42. The 1971-1976 models were the largest station wagons ever built.

For comparison purposes, equal to the weight of three Smart Cars.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 22, 2013 - Comments (11)
Category: Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough, 1970s, Cars

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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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