Weird Universe Archive

January 2014

January 13, 2014

News of the Weird / Pro Edition (January 13, 2014)

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
January 13, 2014
(datelines January 4-January 11) (links correct as of January 12)

Wrong Line of Work: Four perps broke into the house of Joseph Torrez, who it appears was unarmed (except for his mixed martial arts membership card). By the close of business, one perp was dead, one in the hospital, other 2 arrested. Las Cruces Sun-News

There’s “drunk” and then there’s “blitzed”: In the latter, you run away from a DUI stop by climbing a tree and pretending to be an owl, and when a cop tries to talk you down, you say, “Awwww, see, now you are just trying to get me to talk so you can add more charges.” WCVB-TV (Boston)

Great Britain, in an obvious attempt to appeal to curmudgeons such as that which Yr Editor is turning into, almost adopted a new legal tool: replacing the Anti-Social Behavior Order with the Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance. Really, who doesn’t want to stop “annoyance”? However, even the House of Lords thought that was dancing too close to arbitrariness and voted it down, 306-178. BBC News

Randy Turner of very, very rural Pine, Ida., was the only “lucky” landowner (among about 50 in the area) who did not get burned out by the recent Elk Complex Fire. Of course, his “neighbors” now are a bunch of cinders and tree trunks, but no matter: The area was scheduled for a 10 percent rise in residential property taxes, and he’s still around, so . . .. KTVB-TV (Boise)

The Femskin company makes special-order silicone body suits ($850) for super-transvestites for whom mere clothes, accessories, and makeup don’t make them look fabulous enough. The “rubber dollers”/”living dolls”/”maskers” wear the elaborate suit underneath--which comes with the payoff ladyparts--to enhance their fashions, wigs, and paint jobs, but then the next day it’s back to work as property developer or forklift driver or whatever. World’s Greatest Newspaper /// Femskin

Stories That Never Get Old: In East Kingston, N.H., during Polar Vortex Week, “Maddie,” 12, got stuck licking a flag pole. Excellent! WMUR-TV (Manchester)

Suspicion Confirmed: Of course almost all Americans believe they’re in the top half on good traits (driving, sexual prowess, etc.), but now a British journal study reported that prisoners say the same thing about themselves (in, for example, “morality” and “kindness”). (Only exception: In “law-abidingness,” they’re only “average.”) Pacific Standard

Of Course: Andrew Carreira, 23, was arrested for car burglary in Austin, Tex., though he denied it. Problem was, there was fresh doggy-doo on the ground, and on Andrew’s shoe, and inside the car. Austin American-Statesman

The Way Washington Works: The NASA space center in Hancock County, Miss., is the nation’s “premier rocket engine testing facility,” which is why, with utterly nothing to do since 2010, Congress ordered NASA to keep maintaining and improving it during 2010-2013. It’s named after the venerable ol’ segregationist John Stennis, and Senators just couldn’t bring themselves to stop spending on it. Ya sorta hear them saying to themselves, Jeez, We waste more money than this every Monday between 9 a.m. and 9:01 a.m. so what’s the big deal here? Bloomberg News via Stars and Stripes

Nobody to Mess With: (1) A political opponent of Zambian president Michael Sata has been arrested for defamation, and by “defamation,” I mean calling Sata a “potato.” (2) Ms. Rhian Jeremiah is a nice-looking 26-yr-old Welsh babe that, on first impression, you might want to take home for the evening--until you see that she was in court last week for gnawing through the roof of a Fiat 500 after a spot of spirits. TimesLive (Johannesburg) /// WalesOnline (Cardiff)

Srsly: (1) A pimp, in prison for beating someone with a Nike sneaker, is suing Nike for not putting a warning label on the shoe that it was a dangerous weapon. (2) A British woman is suing her divorce lawyers for negligence for not telling her that if she prevailed in the divorce (and she did prevail), she wouldn’t be married anymore. The Oregonian /// The Independent (London)

Readers’ Choice: Finally, here are two items not underreported, and if they are new to you, that’s a sign you need to get out of the fresh air, come inside, and spend more time online. A guy in Oklahoma killed his dad with what was reported as an “atomic wedgie,” suffocating him with the waistband pulled up in the back up over his neck. And the ex-wife of novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) was arrested for threatening her boyfriend with a pistol she had brought into the room inside her hoo-hah. [ed.: insert Bushmaster XM15 joke] The Oklahoman /// The Smoking Gun /// [recommendations for vaginal-carry guns]

Newsrangers: James Mohr, Mel Birge, Steve Dunn, Justin Warner, Ben Harmer, Kevin Noonan, John Canterbury, and Sasha Hemon, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jan 13, 2014 - Comments (5)

January 12, 2014

News of the Weird (January 12, 2014)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M353, January 12, 2014
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Shepherd

[Ed. Note: The last item, Armed & Clumsy, does not have clickable citations. Too tedious to code.]

Lead Story

At least two U.S. medical schools so far are early adopters of Dr. Benjamin Lok’s and Dr. Carla Pugh’s “Robot Butt” for teaching doctors-in-training to properly (and compassionately) administer prostate exams. The robot, bent over a desk to simulate the patient profile, has sensors to alert the students if they dig too deeply or quickly for comfort. Other sensors enable a check on eye contact to evaluate “bedside manner.” (News of the Weird reported a similar innovation in 2012 by Nobuhiro Takahashi, whose model’s “sphincter” has the ability to “clench up” if the probing becomes too distressing.) [Huffington Post, 11-13-2013]

The Continuing Crisis

Neuroscientist James Fallon, fascinated by the brains of serial killers, experienced a seminal career moment in 2005 when he realized that his own brain scan was a dead-on match for the typical psychopath’s. Subsequent self-examination revealed him to be, he said, a “pro-social psychopath,” displaying traits similar to a killer’s (aggressiveness, low empathy) and different (“killing” only opponents in games and debate, with little compassion for their haplessness). “I’m kind of an asshole,” he admitted, according to a November report by The Smithsonian, “and I do jerky things that piss people off.” Fallon failed to break bad, he guesses, because he “was loved [growing up], and that protected me.” He figures he has not kicked his pathology but rather strives “to show to everyone and to myself that I can pull [this balancing act] off.” [, 11-22-2013]

Sucker’s Game: (1) Homeless James Brady had his New Jersey state benefits cut off in October for “hiding” income. He had found $850 on a sidewalk in April and turned it in; when no one came forward, it was returned to him, though he was unaware that he needed to report it as “income.” (2) A 16-year-old, Fox Chapel, Pa., boy realized at a football game in September that he was inadvertently carrying a pocket knife and conscientiously turned it in to a security guard--which earned him a 10-day school suspension. The school’s “zero tolerance” rule, said the boy, “sends a message [that] you should probably lie.” (3) Betty Green was fired as clerk at the Speedway gas station in Lexington, Ky., in November when she “just said no” to an armed robber, who smiled and walked out. Company rules require always giving up the money. Said Green, “I don’t think anybody knows what you are going to do until it happens to you.” [Associated Press via ABC News, 11-10-2013] [KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh), 9-16-2013] [WLEX-TV (Lexington), 11-6-2013]

In November, the senior class president of Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore., “came out”--as an atheist. Eric Fromm, 21, is apparently popular on campus, and an ABC News report revealed that he was under no pressure to resign or drop out. Said the director of university relations, “All of our students are on a journey.” “We as an institution meet students where they are at.” Fromm said he was impressed with the school right from his initial visit. “No one was speaking in tongues or handling snakes, so I decided to stay.” [ABC News, 11-11-2013]

Bright Ideas

Not the Usual Modus Operandi: (1) The vandalism of Marion County High School in Jasper, Tenn., on the eve of a big football game in November was not, after all, the work of arch-rival South Pittsburg--notwithstanding the clues. The “South Pittsburg” markings were apparently made by Marion County teacher-coach Michael Schmitt, who was arrested. He told officers he was only trying to inspire the team (which lost anyway, 35-17). (2) Police in Urunga, Australia, charged teacher Andrew Minisini in December with taking three female students to a motel, giving them alcohol, and seducing them--not into sex but into vandalizing the residence of one of Minisini’s former colleague-rivals. [Times Free Press (Chattanooga), 11-13-2013] [Sydney Morning Herald, 12-6-2013]

A government-subsidized, foundation-supported program for alcoholics in Amsterdam announced a “welfare”/”work” program offering the city’s drunks the equivalent of about $14 a day--and five free cans of beer--for several hours of street-cleaning. Some beneficiaries told London’s The Independent, in a November dispatch, that, of course, they intended to use the cash to buy even more beer. [The Independent, 11-20-2013]

Democracy Blues

In November, Dave Wilson, a white conservative candidate for the board of the Houston (Tex.) Community College System, pulled off an astonishing victory over the African-American incumbent--by distributing campaign materials that made him--Wilson--appear to be black and thus the favorite of African-Americans. Wilson’s brochures depicting black “supporters” were all, he later said, copied from the Internet. [KHOU-TV, 11-10-2013]

Recurring Themes

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: In 2001, German computer repairman Armin Meiwes captured world attention when he was convicted of killing, and then sauteeing and eating parts of, a Berlin engineer of particularly low self-esteem, who had offered himself on a German cannibal-fetish website. In November 2013, police in the German state of Saxony were investigating human body parts found at a bed-and-breakfast run by “Detlef G.,” suggesting the parts were from “Wojciech S.,” who frequented a cannibal-fetish website and who had traveled to meet Detlef--and that the parts had been found in an area of the grounds used for “grilling.” Wojciech had written recently about wanting “to be grilled alive” (but most visitors to the website are merely fantasy role-players) The investigation is continuing. [Spiegel Online, 11-29-2013] [Spiegel Online, 12-4-2013]

The Aristocrats!

Selfies: PREVIOUSLY: Cornelius Fergueson, 45, a psychologist for the Philadelphia Family Court System, was arrested in December for allegedly masturbating in front of his office window. Edward Alvin, 34, was arrested on a similar charge in November, in the lobby of the DMV office in West Palm Beach, Fla. PREVIOUSLY: Brian Hounslow, 37, was arrested in November (similar charge), in the ladies’ room at a Tulsa, Okla., Walmart. (Asked the bewildered woman who called security: “Who gets up at 8:30 in the morning and decides they’re going to go to Walmart, take off all their clothes, and masturbate in the woman’s bathroom?”) [, 12-5-2013] [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11-12-2013] [KJRH-TV (Tulsa), 11-20-2013]

People With Issues

PREVIOUSLY: A condominium association in Niles, Ill., is debating whether to pursue Norman Kazmierski since he has now moved. As a resident, he was accused of keying cars, egging hallways, disabling the emergency sprinkler system, and leaving several pounds of excrement in buildings in protest of alleged mistreatment. The association said it all started when one resident asked Kazmierski to please park his car between the lines so that parking spaces could be used more efficiently. [Chicago Sun-Times, 11-23-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Police in Mayville, Wis., arrested John Grant, 42, in November for shooting his wife Nicole three times with a Taser gun. The couple tried to explain that Nicole (Green Bay Packers fan) had bet John (Chicago Bears fan) on the game, with the winner getting to Taser the loser (although she sheepishly said later that she didn’t think John would actually shoot her). (According to breath tests, neither of the Grants could have lawfully driven a car.) [KARE-TV (Minneapolis), 11-6-2013]

Suspicions Confirmed

During the September Guantanamo Bay trial of five people charged in connection in the 9-11 attacks, defense lawyers continued to complain that their “confidential” client information was being leaked from the poorly-secured “classified” Pentagon computer network. Said the lead defense counsel (Air Force Col. Karen Mayberry), the normal Department of Defense “classified” network is so porous that she has been forced to use the wi-fi at the local Guantanamo Starbucks, which she regards as more secure. [Reuters via (Singapore), 9-20-2013]

Armed & Clumsy (all-new!)

* Americans who accidentally shot themselves recently: A 31-year-old man, showing off his high-powered rifle to friends, shot off part of his face, Waterville, Maine (November). A 22-year-old woman, handing her brand-new assault rifle to her husband, shot herself (fatally) in the head, Federal Heights, Colo. (May). Two police chiefs shot themselves (Medina, Ohio, in April and Washington, N.H., in June). A a 66-year-old firearms instructor, Winona, Minn., shot his finger while explaining to his wife that it was impossible to pull the trigger while the gun is holstered (April). Awkward Wounds: A Columbia, Mo., man shot in the “posterior” while removing his gun from his back pocket (May); a 23-year-old man, Charleston, W.Va., shot in the groin while holstering his weapon (August); a 43-year-old man, Norfolk, Va., shot in the groin while waving his gun [CORRECTION] at a speeding driver at people yelling at him for driving too fast (August).
Waterville: [Morning Sentinel (Waterville), 11-8-2013]
Federal: [KMGH-TV (Denver), 5-16-2013]
Medina: [Medina Gazette, 4-18-2013]
Washington: [WMUR-TV (Manchester), 6-3-2013]
Winona: [Winona Daily News, 4-30-2013]
Columbia: [KMIZ-TV (Columbia), 5-30-2013]
Charleston: [Charleston Daily Mail, 8-28-2013]
Norfolk: [WTKR-TV (Norfolk), 8-7-2013]

Thanks This Week to Ernest Isaacs and Gerard Zavaski, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jan 12, 2014 - Comments (11)

Read Any Good Meters Lately?

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jan 12, 2014 - Comments (2)
Category: PSA’s, Utilities and Power Generation, 1940s, Europe

Effervescent Bacon Tabs

"If you drop one of these magic tablets into a glass of water it will instantly begin to dissolve, creating a cascade of bubbles that will infuse the water with a delicious new flavor. But don't limit yourself to water. These Effervescent Drink Tablets work just as well in milk, juice or soda."
Available from Amazon.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 12, 2014 - Comments (4)
Category: Bacon

January 11, 2014

The Player



Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 11, 2014 - Comments (13)
Category: Fashion, 1970s

Terrified to death by a donkey

From the Illustrated Police News, 1883. [via Digital Victorianist]

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 11, 2014 - Comments (7)
Category: Animals, Nineteenth Century

January 10, 2014

Seaweed Sweaters

Featured in Popular Science Monthly, June 1921

Seaweed is the latest victim of economists; new uses for it are being found constantly. The picture above shows it in its latest form — clothing.
Both the sweater and the pair of stockings that the girl is holding were made from seaweed that grows in China. Yet they look not unlike woolen garments.
Pine-needles are also being pressed into service; and so are many grasses and leaves. At a recent exhibition of the Commerce Bureau in the Customs House in New York city many grass-made garments were shown.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 10, 2014 - Comments (7)
Category: Fashion, 1920s

The Pythagoras Cup

Astound your friends.

Full info here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 10, 2014 - Comments (8)
Category: Science, Europe

January 9, 2014

One of These Ads Is Not Like the Others

image image

image image

I think Dad would rather look at the last ad in this sequence.

All taken from the same 1951 issue of BOYS LIFE.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jan 09, 2014 - Comments (5)
Category: Bicycles and Other Human-powered Vehicles, Magazines, Advertising, Sex Symbols, 1950s

Toby the Piano-Playing Terrapin

A news-wire photo that ran in papers back in January 1925.

Terrapins have brains of a human-like quality, declares Alex Barbee of Savannah, Ga., owner of "Toby," the only trained terrapin in the world. His pet is seen playing a toy piano. "Toby" does lots of other clever things.

I found some more detailed information about Toby the Talented Terrapin in a short article by Zoe Beckley that ran in the Syracuse Herald - Aug 6, 1925:

Toby was a diamond-back terrapin of unusual gifts. He is owned by a man whose name I have forgotten, but who owns and manages what he claims is the only diamond-back terrapin farm in existence. It is in Savannah, Georgia, and Toby's father ships anything from one terrapin to a carload to any point east, west, north or south, in these United States where the delicacy of diamond-back terrapin may at that moment be desired. Also, he cans terrapin and makes them into soup.

Toby, however, has escaped this fate by virtue of the rare and great affection which exists between him and his master. He is a small terrapin, and he lived in his master's bath-tub. Each of the diamonds upon his back has been lovingly outlined in gold paint.

When Toby is taken from the bath-tub and into the parlor for the edification of visitors, he is instructed to wink his left eye, and Toby responds properly. Then he is told to cry, and up go his tiny flippers to his tinier eyes, while Toby would appear to be violently sorrowing.

But his crowning achievement is waving his flippers temperamentally over the keys of a tiny music box built to resemble a piano, on which his master has propped him. It would appear to the uninitiate that Toby was making music with all the fire of a Paderewski, albeit minus the hair and the politics. Truly, a talented terrapin.

Also found a picture of Barbee's Terrapin Farm in Streetcars of Chatham County: Photographs from the Collection of the Georgia Historical Society

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 09, 2014 - Comments (8)
Category: Animals, 1920s

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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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