Weird Universe Archive

October 2015

October 27, 2015

Don’t Call It Junk Mail

As George Orwell noted, political language often strives "to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind" — or pure junk, in this case.

Spartanburg Herald Journal - Apr 24, 1989

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 27, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category: Government, Languages, 1980s

Groovy Gasoline

Posted By: Paul - Tue Oct 27, 2015 - Comments (11)
Category: Business, Advertising, Motor Vehicles, 1960s

October 26, 2015

Mean Stranger Gives Eye Test

Perhaps an ophthalmologist in a bad mood?

The Terre Haute Tribune - June 21, 1949

Man Decides Boy Has Normal Vision
LOS ANGELES, June 21 — Harvey Bornstein, a studious 10-year-old, needed a new pair of horn-rimmed glasses today.
Harvey groped his way into Wilshire police station yesterday to report that a middle-aged man came up and snatched his specs while he was playing on the street with another boy. Then the stranger held his open hand up before Harvey and asked:
"How many fingers do you see?"
"Five," said Harvey instinctively.
"You don't need glasses," said the stranger. He threw the spectacles on the street, stamped on them and walked away.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 26, 2015 - Comments (9)
Category: 1940s

Follies of the Madmen #263

The deodorant that combines the crushing force of Niagara Falls with the brutal chemicals of a municipal water-treatment plant.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Oct 26, 2015 - Comments (7)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Hygiene, Nature, 1950s

News of the Weird (October 25, 2015)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M446, October 25, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

In October, a Harvard University debate team (three-time recent champions of the American Parliamentary Debate Association) lost a match to a team of prisoners from the maximum-security Eastern New York Correctional Facility. Prison debaters “are held to the exact same standards” as college debate teams, according to the director of Bard College’s Prison Initiative, which coaches the inmates. Prisoners took the “pro” side of public schools having the right to turn away students whose parents had entered the U.S. illegally (though team members personally disagreed). The Bard trainers pointed out that the inmates perfected their presentation despite (or perhaps because of) the prison prohibition on Internet access. [Washington Post, 10-7-2015]

Compelling Explanations

A black alleged gang member, Taurus Brown, 19, under arrest in Clearwater, Fla., in September for having a marijuana cigarette casually tucked behind his ear as he talked politely to a white police officer, tried to flee on foot but was quickly taken down. Asked why he ran, Brown replied (according to the police report), “I don’t like white people touching me. White people do weird stuff.” [The Smoking Gun, 9-4-2015]

Unclear on the Concept

The Merit Systems Protection Board is (wrote the Washington Post) “a personnel court of last resort” for federal employees unfairly punished by demotions or firing--which is just what employee Timothy Korb needed when his federal agency suspended him in 2013, allegedly for revealing at a staff meeting that the agency’s actual case backlog was much worse than it was letting on. Korb’s employer, ironically, is the Merit Systems Protection Board, and in September 2015, an administrative law judge upheld his claim of unfairness. [Washington Post, 10-2-2015]

Philosophy professor Anna Stubblefield (Rutgers-Newark University) was convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a severely disabled man she was discovered having sex with on the floor in a locked office, but at trial in September, she testified that the man had “consent[ed]” and that the two were “in love.” The victim, 34, has cerebral palsy and other ailments, wears diapers, requires assistance for nearly all activities, is intellectually disabled, and does not speak, “except for making noises,” according to a brother. Stubblefield had been working with him on the controversial practice of “facilitated communication,” in which a facilitator reads a patient’s mind via subtleties such as eye movement and articulates the words for him. However, a jury failed to appreciate that facilitated “consent” and quickly convicted her. [NJ Advance Media via, 9-25-2015; Inside Higher Ed, 10-5-2015]


In rare bipartisan action, the U.S. Senate is preparing a bill to ban taxpayer funds for those military salutes at sporting events. Teams (the legislators believe) already benefit from the fan-friendly staging of heartwarming patriotic displays. (The Pentagon had paid $5.4 million just to the National Football League over the last four years.) An NFL spokesman, finally playing catch-up, said in September, “[N]o one should be paid to honor our troops.” [NJ Advance Media via (Newark), 9-30-2015]

Legislators in Action

In a recent resolution, Blount County (Tenn.) Commissioner Karen Miller called for her fellow commissioners and state officials all the way up to the governor to prepare for “God’s wrath” for recent national policies (same-sex marriage, etc.) she disagrees with. Though other states might be in for a smiting, Miller’s resolution calls on God to spare Blount County (by the “safety of the Passover lamb”). In October, the commission tabled the resolution, 10-5, but she promised to reintroduce it. [WBIR-TV (Knoxville), 10-7-2015]

By September, Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser were finally out of the Michigan legislature--Gamrat by guard-escorted removal after her formal expulsion and Courser by pre-emptive resignation--following the pair’s months-long “secret” sexual affair and clumsy handling of its revelation. Courser’s original defense strategy was to plant a bogus story of a gay-sex scandal, hoping to discredit as hysteria any news about his actual affair, but when that failed, he issued a 1,900-word plea, liberally quoting the Bible, acknowledging his hypocrisy and hoping for salvation from his colleagues (who failed to come through). [Associated Press via New York Times, 9-11-2015]

The Weirdo-American Community

“Officially” declaring onself as not subject to the laws of any jurisdiction (i.e., a “sovereign”) opens a wide range of career choices. The FBI and Las Vegas police say that, in Rick Van Thiel’s case, once his porn industry career ended (because someone stole his video equipment), he “decided to go into the medical field,” becoming “Dr. Rick” with expertise performing dozens of abortions, circumcisions, and castrations (plus cancer treatments and root canals). Proudly avoiding actual licensing, Van Thiel promoted “alternative” remedies, with an office in a Nevada compound of trailers that one hesitant “patient” described as something out of a horror movie. Van Thiel, arrested in October, nonetheless staunchly defended his ability (acquired, he said, by watching YouTube medical videos). (Bonus entertainment: In court, he will be acting as his own lawyer.) [Las Vegas Review Journal, 10-9-2015]


In June, Tennessee’s much-publicized program to kick drug users off of welfare rolls (and only from welfare rolls, among all people receiving any type of state subsidy) wound up its first year cutting off fewer than 40 people out of 28,559 on public assistance (“temporary assistance to needy families”). Nonetheless, the sponsoring legislators said they were pleased with the program and planned no changes. The state paid a contractor $11,000 to conduct 468 tests but did not disclose staff costs of processing applications, deciding who to test, and managing cases. [WMOT Radio (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 10-6-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready for Prime Time: It was at 7:30 a.m. on October 8th that, according to Dallas, Tex., police, Kristopher Jones, 18, and a buddy decided it would be Joy’s Donut shop they should rob. As they exited the store (one carrying the shop’s cash register), a uniformed, off-duty officer (who apparently had pulled up to the store--for donuts) saw the whole thing and arrested Jones (though his partner was able to flee). [WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth), 10-8-2015]

I’m Da Man! John Morgan, 28, and Ashley Duboe, 24, were charged in September with robbing the Savings Bank in Ashville, Ohio--with their apprehending made easier by Morgan’s Facebook photos of himself riffling through (and with a mouthful of) his newly-acquired stack of bills (a “McStack,” he wrote) and describing his current elation: “I got six bands bra . . . I’m doing rrree=aaaalll good.” (Police were quick to find the Facebook page because Morgan was already on parole from a 2010 bank robbery.) [The Smoking Gun, 9-24-2015]

Armed & Clumsy (All-New!)

More Men Who Accidentally Shot Themselves Recently: A 16-year-old boy, in the leg--for the second time in three months (same leg) (Tulsa, Okla., September). A road-rager waving a gun at a motorist, jarring his trigger finger as he subsequently crashed (Estero, Fla., September). Christen Reece, 23, shot in the head demonstrating to friends the gun’s “safety” (Navajo County, Ariz., September). A man celebrating his 21st (and, alas, final) birthday (Dallas, Tex., July). A 49-year-old man who failed the “removing the magazine does not clear the chamber” test (Mims, Fla., June). Martin Hoyer, 51, who failed the “waistband is not a holster” test (Wenatchee, Wash., September). Thomas Javier, 26, trying to hide his gun (after being caught urinating in the street) and fumbling it, accidentally shooting himself in the vicinity of the organ in question. (Brooklyn, N.Y., September). Donald Watson, 43, slipping a for-sale gun into his pocket and somehow firing on his penis (Sioux Falls, S.D., September).
[Tulsa: Tulsa World, 9-14-2015]
[Estero: WINK-TV (Fort Myers), 9-16-2015]
[Reece: White Mountain Independent (Show Low, Ariz.), 9-3-2015]
[Dallas: New York Daily News, 7-18-2015]
[Mims: WTVJ-TV (Miami), 6-15-2015]
[Hoyer: Wenatchee World, 9-24-2015]
[Javier: New York Daily News, 9-27-2015]
[Watson: Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 9-25-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2009)

The Power of Love: Before Arthur Horn met his future bride Lynette (a "metaphysical healer") in 1988, he was a tenured professor at Colorado State, with a PhD in anthropology from Yale, teaching a mainstream course in human evolution. With Lynette's “guidance” (after a revelatory week with her in California, searching for Bigfoot), Horn resigned from Colorado State and began seeking to remedy his inadequate Ivy League education. Lecturing at a conference in Denver, Colo., in September [2009], Horn said he now realizes that humans evolved from an alien race of shape-shifting reptilians that continue to control civilization through secretive leaders. [Rocky Mountain Collegian, 9-28-2009]

Thanks This Week to Joan Condell, John Baker, and Bruce Leiserowitz, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Oct 26, 2015 - Comments (2)

October 25, 2015

Beatnik Wedding

Posted By: Paul - Sun Oct 25, 2015 - Comments (6)
Category: Fashion, Husbands, Wives, Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers, 1960s

Cat Head Bags

Made by Japanese artist Pico. They're entirely artificial. That is, not actual cat heads. But they're realistic enough that people might, for a moment, think that you're using the severed head of a cat as a handbag.

One of these will set you back about $700, but are sold only in Japan. via OhGizmo!

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 25, 2015 - Comments (8)
Category: Animals, Fashion, Cats

October 24, 2015

Punching Cadavers

University of Utah researchers rigged up a "pendulum-like apparatus" in which they placed cadaver arms, and then proceeded to make the arms punch a padded dumbbell with clenched or unclenched fist. The idea was to test the theory that the human hand evolved its shape so that men could "fistfight over females" — aka the "pugilism hypothesis of hominin hand evolution."

The researchers believe that their experiment supported the pugilism hypothesis.

More info: Science Daily and the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 24, 2015 - Comments (6)
Category: Death, Experiments

Amusements of Our Forefathers



Both ads here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Oct 24, 2015 - Comments (1)
Category: Humor, Tobacco and Smoking, Sex Symbols, 1950s

October 23, 2015

Please send Library of Congress

Looks like the letter writer forgot to include a stamped and self-addressed envelope.

Lubbock Evening Journal - Apr 3, 1956

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 23, 2015 - Comments (2)
Category: 1950s

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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.

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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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