Weird Universe Archive

December 2013

December 18, 2013

Shotgun Gardening

Shotgun shells loaded with plant seeds. Point, shoot, and watch your garden bloom! There's a Dick Cheney joke in here somewhere. Available from (though currently on backorder). [via HuffPost]

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 18, 2013 - Comments (9)
Category: Guns

December 17, 2013

Paul von Boeckmann, Champion Breather




Original ad here.

Hard to argue with the assertion that one has to breathe to stay alive.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Dec 17, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Eccentrics, Twentieth Century, Bodybuilding

December 16, 2013

News of the Weird / Pro Edition (December 16, 2013)

News of the Weird Pro Edition
Angst, Confusion, Cynicism, Ridicule

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
December 16, 2013
(datelines December 7-December 14) (links correct as of December 15)

[Yr Editor is taking his annual holiday hiatus from these Monday posts, which will now by the way return to being called News of the Weird Pro Edition. Although a fresh News of the Weird will continue to appear on Sundays, the next Pro Edition will pop in, at the latest, on Monday, January 6th. As usual, Yr Editor, himself, does not rest and will be at work each day of the hiatus, hand-picking prime cuts of underreported news.]

Can’t Possibly Be True: In a 3-part series this week the Wall Street Journal reminded us that we used to be a nation of lobotomies, even for especially for our wounded warriors. The procedure was quite controversial but never so controversial that a critical mass of the relevant professions outright-condemned it. Result: The total-single-minded neurologist (and, more important, non-surgeon) Walter Freeman could, in broad daylight in front of witnesses take an icepick from his kitchen and jam it into a patient’s eye socket, twist it a bit, and wait around optimistically for weeks for a favorable outcome. Seriously. Dr. Freeman, who died in 1972, spent his last years traveling the country collecting testimonials from the few patients who believe he helped them. Wall Street Journal Part II (on Dr. Freeman) /// WSJ Part I /// WSJ Part III

America, of course, guarantees equality before the law that it mostly strives for equality before the law--so that we still notice when these things occur: (1) A defense lawyer in New York asks the judge to go easier on his murdering client on the ground that . . the victim was not “a person in the higher end of the community” (i.e., she was a whore). Ewww, cringe. (2) Defense lawyers for a 16-yr-old driver in Texas tries to get the judge to go easier on the four-body DUI vehicular-homicider on the ground that . . he is from a rich family whose parents never held him accountable for anything. Ewww, cringe No, wait. That one worked. New York Post /// KRLD-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth) /// CNN

How to Get Rich: The Petite Syrah café in Nice, Frawnts, trying to induce civility, raised its coffee price to €7 (about $9.50)--unless you accompany it with a bonjour and a s’il vous plait, in which case it’s €1.40 (about $1.90). However, politeness is not in the French’s wheelhouse. Never underestimate the resistance! The Local (Paris)

Genentech manufactures Avastin and Lucentis, which are both blindness and cancer-cell inhibitors, but the first costs about $50 a dose, the second $2,000. They’re the same drug. Are they totally, exactly alike? No, and well-paid doctors and lobbyists lull colleagues and regulators to sleep splitting hairs over why the 200 performed something-something percentage better for some people in some study given under some-some protocol for some certain conditions that may or may not be relevant to this-here patient who we’re prescribing the 200 to. By law, doctors billing Medicare get a 6% cut on the drug. Washington Post

Gone Too Far: Celebrity cosmetic surgeon Michael Niccole beamed with pride (according to this story rustled up last week by London’s Daily Mirror) back when he gave his own teen daughters (years ago; they’re now 25) boob jobs. Daily Mirror

No Way! Way. Cops tell the Ohio att’y gen’l’s office that pet owners are abusing their, umm, companions in order to get pain meds from vets . . for the owners either to self-medicate or sell. Yikes. Dayton Daily News

A 17-yr-old girl in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, reported to a doctor with mutilated genitals--the result, she said, of her injectable krokodil habit. (Depending on what it’s cut with, it might rot flesh at the injection site, making the skin look like croc skin. Oh baby oh baby.) New York Daily News

“Every day Mumbai produces enough sewage to fill 4,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools,” but the system still must be cleaned (at least once a year) by hand. This YouTube video was uploaded last week. YouTube

Insane Clown Posse’s biographer Nathan Rabin told the New York Times he’s a little disenchanted with the hard-core outlaw rock group. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope seem “incredibly defanged,” “two affable, middle-aged men in clown makeup.” Said Violent J, “I just want to come home, be with my kids, just kick back and watch TV.” New York Times

The World’s Greatest Newspaper reported on a college student in the UK who transcends appropriate cliches and is, in fact, allergic to books. [Wait, no, she’s not. This is just another one of those extremely annoying British “weird” news stories, immediately recognizable because the “victim” of the applicable tragedy is always captured in a merry series of photos exaggerating her or his condition. The headline says if she opens a book, she dies. The story says she has asthma and that UK colleges’ buildings are old and musty. Never mind.] World’s Greatest Newspaper

The Aristocrats!

Last week’s alleged public turkey-chokers: Steven Schmidt, 51, Seattle (serial drive-by’s); Dwight Eddington, Jr., 26, Sanford, Fla. (following shoppers at a Beall’s department store); unnamed suspect, Henrico, Va. (roaming a Walmart parking lot performing for shoppers); Cornelius Fergueson, 45, Philadelphia (standing at his office window) (Bonus: He’s a psychologist for the Philadelphia Family Court system). Also: Deacon Alexander Garcia, of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nampa, Id. (met in a storage room with a way-underage girl and said, “Satan” “may have taken control” of his body). Also: Robert Greis, 67, Orlando (caught with a mirror on his shoe looking up a woman’s skirt) (Bonus: his girlfriend’s skirt!).
KOMO News (Seattle) /// Orlando Sentinel /// WWBT-TV (Richmond, Va.) /// /// Idaho Statesman (Boise) /// WKMG-TV (Orlando)


That non-prostitution cuddle shop supposed to open in Madison, Wis., last month didn’t. A Madison assistant city attorney-chick said, “No offense to men, but I don’t know any man who wants to just snuggle.” (Similar shops in Rochester, N.Y., Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco are still apparently doing OK.) Associated Press via (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

Your Weekly Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]

Good thing this guy’s only charged with Disorderly Conduct because he might not stand a chance in a court of law. The Smoking Gun

Editor's Notes

As Yr Editor got caught in the saga of Dr. Freeman, I experienced an interesting week that I pass on to you, although if you are a doctor (or watch “House”), you know all this. Some doctors treat “patients”; other doctors treat “illnesses.” You’ll often get way-different results depending on which type you consult [cf. If you mainly have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail]. Dr. Freeman (and the first cardiologist who treated me for atrial fibrillation) mostly were driven to learn of success rates for, in one case, lobotomies, and in the other re-setting the heart to normal rhythm. Maybe need the other kind of doctor.

Newsrangers: Peter Stekel, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Dec 16, 2013 - Comments (5)

Dead mice dropped from helicopters

Over in Guam, researchers are dropping dead mice out of helicopters. The idea is that the mice, which have been doped up with acetaminophen, will land in trees and be eaten by snakes. The snakes will then die, because acetaminophen is poisonous to them. It's an experiment to see if this method will work at reducing the snake population, which is growing out of control. The video shows some of the mice falling from the skies. [NPR]

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 16, 2013 - Comments (12)
Category: Science, Experiments

December 15, 2013

Polarity Switch

The sun is due to flip poles soon, but don't worry, this change in polarity is not as dire as it sounds. Apparently the switch happens every eleven years. It does cause some disturbances in the universe but few here on earth. Mainly there will be some satellite disruption and more northern lights displays.

Posted By: patty - Sun Dec 15, 2013 - Comments (2)
Category: Natural Wonders

Left or Right

Take a test to determine which side of your brain is dominant, here. Also some insights on how this supposedly effects personality. Do you agree or disagree with your results? Share in extended.

Posted By: patty - Sun Dec 15, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Brain

Hidden Treasures:  What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You


This fascinating book by Harriet Baskas is a perfect gift for the WU-vie in your life. Full of rare info about the bizarre objects--such as the Soap Man Mummy pictured here--which are stashed in museum back rooms, it offers hours of fun and amazement.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Dec 15, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Museums, Weird Studies and Guides

Ambition Pills for Weak and Nervous Men

Ads for these pills ran in many papers in the late 19th century. What was it in the pills that provided the ambition? If these pills were the same as 'Wendell's Ambition Pills,' which came on the market slightly later, then it was strychnine:

"Louisiana chemists reported that each pill was found to contain a little over one-thirtieth of a grain of strychnin and about one-fifth of a grain of iron in the form of the sesquioxid (ferric oxid). Pepper, cinnamon and ginger were also found and what was probably aloes in very small amounts. These pills are sold at 50 cents a box, each box containing forty-two pills. Under our present lax methods of permitting almost any dangerous drug to be sold indiscriminately, provided it is in the form of a 'patent medicine,' it seems, from the Louisiana findings, that it is possible for any one to purchase enough strychnin in a single box of Wendell's Ambition Pills to kill an adult."
The Journal A.M.A., Apr 6, 1918.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 15, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Health, Medicine, Nineteenth Century

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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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