On December 17, 1974, the CIA sent President Ford a top-secret briefing on terrorist activity around the world. The document noted that a bomb had been found at the British consulate in Buenos Aires and that threats had been made to hijack British Airways flights. Even more ominously, it noted that:
A new organization of uncertain makeup, using the name "Group of the Martyr Ebenezer Scrooge," plans to sabotage the annual courier flight of the Government of the North Pole. Prime Minister and Chief Courier S. Claus has been notified and security precautions are being coordinated worldwide by the CCCT Working Group. (CONFIDENTIAL)
This entire report was kept classified until 1999, at which point it was declassified. However, before it was released, a censor blacked out the section pertaining to the Scrooge terrorist group. It was only in 2003 that a non-redacted version of the document was released, in an effort to end the "overclassification" of government documents, and the public became aware of the threat posed by the Martyr Ebenezer Scrooge. [via Unredacted
Marian Morgan believed that dance could be used to enhance the instruction of just about any subject. And back in 1916, she toured the country with her six dancers, demonstrating how dance-enhanced education would work.
The basic theory was that students would pay more attention if young female dancers performed at the front of the classroom as the lecturer talked. For example, as explained by the Washington Post
(Aug 20, 1916):
Picture a fat freshman dosing in the chemistry class. The day before he had said boldly, and unashamed, 'I think I'll cut that beastly class in chemistry. I don't care what those darned atoms do to each other.' The fat freshman enters the class, bored and rebellious. He remains in it sleepy and indifferent. Suddenly he starts, suppressed a yawn, stealthily arranges his tie sheepishly, combs the hair with hurried fingers.
What happened? Has Old Bones (his disrespectful nickname for the professor of chemistry) been rooting around some second-hand store and found Aladdin's lamp?
The freshman's perception, newly acute, pierces his usual mental haze. The scene is a real one and delightful. True, 'Old Bones' is continuing his discourse. He is describing the chemistry of the blood. 'But this war of atoms may be a beneficent one,' he drones. 'The presence of disease-breeding bacilli in the blood is not necessarily destructive. For there are vigilant baccilli who lay hold upon the destroyers and slay them, as you see illustrated by this dance.'
The eyes of the freshmen beam. Never have 'Old Bones'' lectures been rewarded by such rapt and flattering attention. On the platform one lithe young Amazon in short Roman tunic is struggling with another.
Too bad this never caught on. Certainly would have improved a lot of lectures I had to sit through back in my college days.
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News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M402, December 21, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
People advertising for love interests via online dating sites have apparently become picky about how they describe their sexuality. To the usuals (male, female, gay, heterosexual) have been added recently (as reported by NPR in December after surveying OkCupid.com) “asexual,” “androgynous,” “genderqueer” (evidently not the same as “gay”), “queer” (not quite “gay,” either), “questioning,” “trans man,” “transsexual,” “transmasculine,” “heteroflexible,” and the NPR reporter’s favorite, “sapiosexual” (turned on by “intelligence”). Still, some users of the site found the choices inadequate. One young woman described her sexual orientation as “squiggly,” and the reporter cited others who thought highly of that term. [NPR, 12-4-2014
Britain’s Home Office revealed in November (by releasing archived documents from 1982) that among the contingency suggestions for worst-case nuclear attack on the country was commissioning “psychopaths” to help keep order. They are “very good in crises,” an advocate wrote, because “they have no feelings for others, nor moral code [yet] tend to be very intelligent and logical,” and thus could do quite well at containing the vigilante survivalist enclaves that might develop in the event parts of the kingdom became lawless. (After an apparently thoughtful debate, the suggestion was not agreed to.) [The Independent, 11-1-2014
Great Art! At a recent art show at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, Italian artist Sven Sachsalber, for his provocative piece, brought in a large haystack on November 13th, dropped a needle into it, and gave himself two days to find it. Late the next day, he picked it up. (Palais de Tokyo calls itself an “anti-museum par excellence.”) [Daily Mail (London), 11-14-2014
(1) Three homes on the Pacific Ocean near Grayland, Wash., were washed away by the violent rainstorms in early December, but the residents had seen it coming. The longtime local name for the area is “Washaway Beach.” Said one, “I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I had hoped it wasn’t this soon.” (2) In November, an airline’s advertising staff created the catchy slogan (to attract impulse travelers), “Want to go somewhere, but don’t know where?” and convinced management to send it, via Twitter, to the airline’s thousands of followers. (Spoiler: The airline was Malaysia Airlines, whose Flight 370 still has not been found.) [KOMO-TV (Seattle), 12-11-2014
] [Malta Independent, 11-28-2014
Hide the Show Program Inside the Porn: A theatrical producer in Madrid found a way around Spain’s recent steep sales tax increase on certain entertainment venues (sports, movies, live theater): It sold back issues of vintage pornographic magazines for the equivalent of $20--with a “free” ($20) ticket to its latest stage production by noted director Pedro Calderon de la Barca. (A show ticket would carry a 21 percent tax, but a pornographic magazine is still taxed at 4 percent.) [Bloomberg Business Week, 12-1-2014
Creative: Eric Opitz, 45, who was indicted on 13 counts of fraud in Philadelphia in October, had explained that the reason he needed Human Growth Hormone (that he would resell) despite being 6-foot-3, 450 pounds, was that he was really a dwarf and feared he would recede if he stopped the medication. [NJ.com, 10-10-2014
Bungling Cinematographers: Zak Hardy, 18, and Terrill Stoltz, 41, were arrested recently in separate incidents and charged with photographing women in bathrooms without their permission. Hardy, caught in a public restroom in June in Exeter, England, pointing his phone from one stall to another, explained that he was just trying to see whether his phone was waterproof. Stoltz professed his innocence, as well, claiming the camera he set up in his ex-girlfriend’s bathroom in Billings, Mont., was solely to have a photographic record of him when he cleaned his chickens in the bathtub. [Exeter Press and Echo, 10-27-2014
] [Billings Gazette, 11-25-2014
The New Normal
An Oceanside, Calif., couple were surprised in November to discover that buying a purebred bichon frise on credit meant they were actually only leasing the dog for 27 months and would have to make a 28th payment to actually “own” “Tresor.” Furthermore, the lease, under a “repo” threat, required “daily exercise,” “regular bathing and grooming,” and “immediate” disposal of Tresor’s “waste.” A spokesperson for the store, Oceanside Puppy (which works with four finance companies), told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the arrangement is fairly standard now for expensive pets. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 11-28-2014
(1) NBC’s “Today” show reported in December the “heartbreak” parents are feeling when they learn that the supposedly unique name (“wonderful, distinctive, rarely-heard”) they had given their infant in the last year or two (e.g., “Mason,” “Liam,” “Lily”) actually appeared on Baby Center’s annual list of most popular names of 2014 (6th, 3rd, and 8th, respectively). (2) After hearing tenants’ complaints, the New York City Council is now considering a regulation requiring landlords to post notices if a common area or amenity is unusable for 24 hours or more--which applies of course to elevators and laundry rooms, but would also extend to any “air hockey” or “foosball” facilities in the building. [NBC News, 12-2-2014
] [Crain’s New York, 12-8-2014
Although elephants, rhesus monkeys, cobras, cows, and water buffalos are regarded as sacred by many of India’s Hindus, the animals most certainly do not live idyllic lives, according to a November BBC News dispatch. As “growing populations are swallowing up habitat,” the divine symbols are forced to the cities, where they must dodge traffic, forage garbage for food, and endanger themselves encountering people less certain of their holiness (such as in the November report of the cobra harassing customers at an ATM in Delhi). As representatives of Lord Ganesh, elephants live well only during religious festivals, but otherwise must navigate asphalt and potholes that tear up their hooves. In another November incident, some Hindu leaders protested a drive to kill rats that had infested the Maharaja Yeshwantrao hospital in Indore--because Ganesh was depicted riding a mouse. [BBC News, 11-15-2014
In a 2012 incident in Cleveland, Ohio (where a white officer recently shot to death a black teenager holding a toy gun), 13 officers high-speed-chased two unarmed black homeless drug users and fired 137 shots at the pair, killing them. (A car had supposedly backfired, suggesting a gunshot at the cops.) As a result of “communication” failure, the 13 were placed on limited “desk duty” for 16 months and subjected to continuing investigation. Recently, nine non-black officers of the 13 sued the city, charging that white officers are historically and illegally disciplined more harshly for mistakes when victims are black. [The Daily Beast, 12-2-2014
Big Crime: (1) Four officers responded in Tayport, Scotland, in November to arrest Irene Clark, 65, who spent 48 hours in jail--after committing the crime of swatting her husband with a magazine while arguing over TV programs (causing a paper cut). (2) Christopher Saunders, 38, pleaded guilty in North Devon, England, in July to possession of 0.09 grams of marijuana (value: 14 cents). (3) Keith Shannon, 44, was sentenced (2 years’ probation) in Letterkenny, Ireland, in November for twice being caught swiping “tester” packets of aftershave at a Boots store (value: 2 cents each). [The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 11-24-2014
] [North Devon Journal, 11-16-2014
] [Highland Radio (Letterkenny), 11-27-2014
A News of the Weird Classic (February 2011)
* The ear has a "G-spot," explained Santa Clara, Calif., ear-nose-and-throat surgeon Todd Dray, and thus the moans of ecstasy that Vietnamese "ear pickers" reportedly elicit from their clients might well be justified. A San Jose Mercury News reporter, dispatched to Ho Chi Minh City in January  to check it out, learned that barber shop technicians could sometimes coax "eargasms" (as they removed wax) by tickling a certain spot next to the ear drum served by multiple nerve endings and tissue-paper-thin skin. Said one female client, "Everybody is afraid the first time, but after, it's, 'Oh my God!'" Said one Vietnamese man, returning home after a trip abroad, and who went immediately from the airport to a "hot toc" parlor for a picking, "[This] brings a lot of happiness." [San Jose Mercury News, 1-23-2011]
Thanks This Week to Kev of arbroath.blogspot.com
, and Christine Van Lenten, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Eric Wildman was a crusader for corporal punishment. He believed strongly that if you spare the rod, you'll spoil the child. He was the president (and perhaps only member?) of the National Society for the Retention of Corporal Punishment in Schools. To support himself, he sold canes and whipping paraphenalia to schools and caning enthusiasts.
In 1948, he was invited to speak at Horsley Hall, a British school for boys. But the talk didn't turn out as he expected. As he was talking, a group of the boys crept up behind him, grabbed him, pinned him down, and then began beating him with his own canes.
Strangely enough, the assault turned out to have been planned by the school's headmaster, who was strongly anti-caning. He had decided to give Wildman a taste of his own medicine. Wildman threatened to sue the school, but never did.
You can read more about Wildman and the Horsley Hall incident at corpun.com
, which also has lots of info about the strange history of corporal punishment.
Wildman and his canes
The Horsley Hall Incident
The Modesto Bee
- Nov 26, 1948