Weird Universe Archive

February 2016

February 29, 2016

Back Off, Bing!

You may have noticed that the site is loading very slowly. Our web host tells us that the reason is that Microsoft Bing is very aggressively crawling the site.

I'm doing what I can to try to remedy the situation — which is to put a note in the site's robots.txt file kindly requesting Bing to back off a bit. We'll see if it works.

And maybe (fingers crossed) Bing will eventually get bored and go play somewhere else.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 29, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Weird Universe

Cricket Pasta

The food of the future (which, as we all know, is insects) is now available as a pasta. Actually, it's been available for a few years. French pasta-maker Atelier a Pates added cricket pasta to their product line-up a few years ago, but is now reporting that it's become so popular they're having trouble keeping it in stock.

Their recipe: "Whole eggs are added to a mixture of seven percent insect flour to 93 percent organic spelt wheat flour, producing a brownish pasta that is shaped into radiatori, fusilli, spaghetti and penne."

They note that the cricket pasta has a lot of protein in it, so it can replace meat for vegetarians. But can you actually call yourself a vegetarian if you're eating insects? What are the official rules about that?

via CTV News

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 29, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Food, Insects and Spiders

Mac Demarco:  Chamber of Reflection

Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 29, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Music, Cartoons, Gender-bending, Subways

February 28, 2016

News of the Weird (February 28, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M464, February 28, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Longtime National Symphony cellist David Teie announced in November that his crowdfunding project was hugely successful, freeing him to produce an album of music meaningful to cats. (Cats, for example, relax in response to the earliest sound of their mother’s purring, which Teie clocked at 23 harp notes a second.) Teie’s work (according to an October Washington Post feature) includes examining waveforms of real-time purrs and creating an organ sound to mimic the opening and closing of a cat’s vocal chords. His KickStarter pitch raised so much money that he might also try creating music for bored zoo elephants or stressed-out whales. In tests, cats responded well to Teie’s music according to a 2015 journal article (but with less curiosity live at the Washington cat café Crumbs & Whiskers). [Washington Post, 10-18-2015, 11-29-2015]

Leading Economic Indicators has riled up Buddhist temples in Japan (according to a January Associated Press dispatch) by offering traveling monks rentable online to conduct funerals and other rituals. The monk would go to a home, grave, or funeral home, at fees and upgrades ranging from the equivalent of $300 to about $8,500. (Many of Japan’s 75,000 Buddhist temples are struggling financially and destined to close. Complained a spokesman for the Japan Buddhist Association, what Amazon is facilitating “is allowed in no other country in the world.”) [Associated Press, 1-30-2016]

In February, introduced the semi-serious Lube Crude Index as a poignant indicator of how far the price of oil has fallen. Comparing the world price of a standard 42-gallon barrel of crude (about $31) with that of a 55-gallon barrel of “Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant” (retailing as, when packaged in smaller quantities, a sexual aid) shows that “sex lube” is more valuable than crude oil by a factor of 28--a barrel’s worth of the lube recently priced at $1,175 versus crude’s barrel-adjusted $41. As recently as June 2014, the Lube Crude Index was near 1. (Gawker reported that only two actual barrels of Passion Natural could be found and that the price would likely rise further if one of them were sold.) [, 2-3-2016]

Unclear on the Concept

(1) Angel Rivera, 49, was arrested in December in Orlando on allegations that he punched a child in the face because the boy was not getting dressed for church fast enough. (The boy was wearing an ankle brace, which slowed him down.) (2) Ryan Dailey, 28, was arrested in Las Cruces, N.Mex., in February on several charges after, police said, he beat his mother by pounding her with a Bible. His explanation, police said, was that when he asked her who her soul belonged to, she repeatedly declined to answer. [WKMG-TV (Orlando), 12-21-2015] [Las Cruces Sun-News, 2-9-2016]

Who Knew?

The much-maligned pigeon was recently found by researchers to be as skilled as humans at distinguishing between slides of benign versus malignant human breast tissue. Writing in the journal PLOS ONE, specialists from the University of Iowa and University of California, Davis lauded the birds’ processing of color, contrast, brightness, and image compression, marveling that pigeons see more wavelengths of light than humans, even though their brains are one-thousandth the size. (Birds are already known to distinguish “hostile” humans in celebrated dive-pecking incidents.) [CNN, 11-20-2015]

Police Report

A near-certain robbery of the PNC Bank in Zebulon, N.C., on January 28th was prevented, with employees treated to an almost-slapstick scene in which the bank manager kept the suspect outside by winning a tug-of-war for control of the front door. The manager had grabbed the door after noticing an armed, masked man approaching from the parking lot just after the bank opened. (The frustrated perp fled empty-handed but was at large.) [WTVD-TV (Raleigh, N.C.), 1-29-2016]

Awkward Moments Ahead in Lockup: (1) Joel Sloan, 51, was booked into jail for DUI by a sheriff’s deputy in Birmingham, Ala., in February. Sloan was dressed head-to-toe as a clown. (No explanation was offered.) (2) Vaughn Tucker, 23, was booked into jail in Tulsa, Okla., in February on drug charges. He was wearing a t-shirt with large lettering on the front, “I Would Cuddle You So Hard.” [ (Birmingham), 2-7-2016] [The Smoking Gun, 2-8-2016]

Didn’t Think It Through: The robbers of the electronics store Compucell in Springfield, Mass., in December came up empty but are still at large. A man with a gun jumped the counter and demanded that the employee give him money from the locked cash register. The gunman moved to the back door to let in his accomplice, but that merely allowed the employee and two customers to run out the front door, and the accomplice fled, too, sensing that, with no one to unlock the register, the “robbery” was going nowhere. [The Republican (Springfield), 2-16-2016]


American hunters are so trophy-kill-obsessed that, in the decade ending in 2014 (according to Humane Society figures), they averaged nine imported carcasses a day among the “Big Five” African species (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, and African buffalo)--most of which require special U.S. and foreign permits, with “conservation” conditions. Some countries endanger their own dwindling herds just to sell the lucrative permits, and South Africa even offers 150 captive lions a year to make trophy kills easier. (Total hunting imports of all animal trophies averaged 345 a day, mostly from Canada and Mexico.) [National Geographic, 2-6-2016]

The Litigious Society (Foreign)

(1) Chandan Kumar Singh told BBC News in February that his recent lawsuit against the Hindu god Ram was provoked by Ram’s mistreatment of his wife in spiritual lore. Said Singh, “[W]e cannot talk about respecting women in modern day India when we know that one of our most revered gods did not treat his own wife with respect.” Singh thus wants a court to tell the god to acknowledge he was wrong. (2) After news reports of a male Siberian tiger being playful with a male goat (ordinarily, a tiger’s meal) in a Russian safari park, lawyer Alexei Krestyanov pressured the local prosecutor in February to embargo further announcements, claiming that such coverage harmed children by provoking “interest in non-traditional sexual relations.” [BBC News, 2-8-2016] [The Guardian (London), 2-5-2016]

People With Issues

Police in Austin, Tex., said in February they had received several complaints (KEYE-TV reported “dozens”) from women about a man who approaches them in public genially but then turns aggressive and tries to stomp their feet (in one case, telling the woman it was “normal” behavior for him). (The suspect apparently has only little in common with the Arkansas recidivist who holds the record for multiple appearances in News of the Weird--who merely fondles and sucks women’s toes, although without their consent and sometimes after forcefully grabbing the foot.) [KEYE-TV (Austin), 2-5-2016]

The Classic Middle Name (All-New!)

Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Jerald Wayne Boozer-Brown, Jr., Macomb Township, Mich. (February); Matthew Wayne Long, Hico, Tex. (January); Joseph Wayne Goswick, Graham, N.C. (January); John Wayne Strawser Jr., Belington, W.Va. (September); Jesse Wayne Gunderson, Wayne, Mich. (September); Curtis Wayne Wright, Bonita Springs, Fla. (September); John Wayne Noonkester, Cottonwood, Calif. (July). Indicted for murder: Derrick Wayne Gamble, Belton, Tex. (December). Convicted of murder: Carl Wayne Wiley, Del Rio, Tex. (February). Shot themselves to death while suspected by police of murder: Ricky Wayne Cook, Melbourne, Fla. (February); Lloyd Wayne Franklin, Davidson County, N.C. (October).

If You're Interested . . .

A News of the Weird Classic (September 2011)

FUBAR: Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Rob Dickerson finally received his Purple Heart this summer [2011], four years after he was seriously wounded in a rocket attack in Iraq and two years after he began a back-and-forth paperwork battle with the Army to "prove" he was injured. Recently, the Army had apologized and mailed him the award, but it arrived C.O.D., leaving Dickerson to pay the $21 fee. (The Army subsequently reimbursed Dickerson, but Dickerson said he hasn't been able to cash the check, in that it was somehow made out to "Roy Dirksen.") [KELO-TV (Sioux Falls, S.D.), 8-4-2011]

Thanks This Week to Harry Thompson, Jim Colucci, and Dirk Van Derwerker, and to the News of the Weird Board Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Feb 28, 2016 - Comments (3)

Mystery Illustration 17


Is this 1930 image from:

1) A Surrealist art show?

2) A Paris fashion show?

3) An Artists' Ball?

4) A movie?

Answer after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sun Feb 28, 2016 - Comments (8)
Category: Avant Garde, 1930s

Miss Front End

Following up on my "Miss Sewer Cleaner" post of a few days ago:

In 1947, the admen of Detroit dreamed up the idea of bestowing on a young woman the title of "Miss Front End," who would be "the girl they would most like to have as their radiator ornament."

Dolores Frederick was given the title for 1947, and Carolyn King won it for 1948. After that, there were no more "Miss Front Ends."

I've found a few references to the title of "Miss Reclining Seat" awarded sometime in the 1950s, but I'm guessing this was a joke.

The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) - Jan 17, 1947

Detroit Free Press - Oct 26, 1947

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 28, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Contests, Races and Other Competitions, 1940s

February 27, 2016

Wife choked by snoremeter

January 1936: In Rome, Italy, Goffredo Galluzzi, a "self-styled electrical engineer," created a "snoremeter" in an attempt to stop his wife from snoring. The device, which fit over her mouth like a muzzle, included a thin brass blade that would be lifted by the heavy breathing of snoring, causing an alarm to go off, thereby waking his wife and stopping the snoring. However, the blade came loose, went down her throat, and almost choked her to death.

When I did a keyword search on this story to see how many papers it had run in, I came across something odd. The story was reported as news both in January 1936 and April 1946, but with one difference. In 1936 Galluzzi was reported as living in Rome. In 1946, he had become a resident of Syracuse, Sicily.

So a case of recycled news. It's also quite possible the story was complete baloney, both in 1936 and 1946.

The Evening Times (Sayre, Pennsylvania) - Jan 29, 1936

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 27, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, Sleep and Dreams, 1930s

The Romance of Transportation in Canada

The Romance of Transportation in Canada by Colin Low, National Film Board of Canada

With so many USians threatening to move to Canada if the November Presidential election goes one way or another, I thought it would be handy to screen this comical but accurate cartoon to get such folks ready for their new citizenship.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Feb 27, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Foreign Customs, Cartoons, Transportation, 1950s, North America

February 26, 2016

Personal Space Preference Cards

Created by Sydney-based artist Michael Pederson, who likes to create odd signs and leave them in public places. He calls them his "public projects."

More about him here and here.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 26, 2016 - Comments (10)
Category: Art

The PianoArc

Their homepage.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Feb 26, 2016 - Comments (7)
Category: Music, Technology

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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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