Weird Universe Archive

May 2016

May 27, 2016

May 26, 2016

Bacteria Panic

"Never play this game with the real victims of disease."

Arizona Republic - May 3, 1991

Washington Post - May 7, 1991

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 26, 2016 - Comments (8)
Category: Games, 1990s

Follies of the Madmen #283

"But, Betty, I can't fit the corpse into the upright model so easily!"

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 26, 2016 - Comments (13)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Death, Appliances, 1950s

May 25, 2016

Stealing Boosts Staff Morale

Companies do all kinds of things to boost staff morale. They hire motivational speakers, have team-building exercises, give employees gifts, etc.

But the industrial psychologist Lawrence Zeitlin, in an article published in June 1971 in Psychology Today ("A little larceny can do a lot for employee morale"), argued that the most effective way a business could boost morale was by allowing its employees to steal a little from the company.

He argued that theft added to a sense of "job enrichment" by making the job more interesting. It gave employees a sense of satisfaction at getting away with it. Also, workers "often looked upon theft as a condition of employment." Furthermore, he noted, allowing the theft could be cheaper than installing elaborate security precautions.

In her book Management and Ideology, business author Judith Merkle provides some background info on Zeitlin's article:

Before its publication in Psychology Today the Harvard Business Review had previously turned down the article. It was, after all, a classic application of amoral Scientific Management techniques, and it offended the HBR down to its puritan roots. The interesting point is, however, that the control practices recommended in this article bear a close family resemblance to the working practices of Stalinism. Allowing theft, while keeping the rules against theft, certainly makes theft more thrilling, but it also opens up the way to arbitrary and discriminatory uses of power through the selective application of dead-letter rules. This is, of course, the first step in the destruction of the rule of law, and, in the long run, leads to the introduction of de facto totalitarianism.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 30, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 25, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Business, Crime, 1970s

Jackety Jack

Your language lesson for the day.

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 25, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Languages, Music, 1950s

May 24, 2016

Motivational Bull Castration

Continuing the theme of odd ways coaches have motivated players (started with yesterday's post about the coach who bit the heads off live frogs) —

In 1992, Mississippi State Coach Jackie Sherrill arranged for a bull to be castrated in front of his players before a game, as an "educational and motivational experience." Asked how it was motivational, Sherrill replied, "That's everybody's different perception."

His team did win the game.

The Tennessean - Sep 15, 1992

The Tennessean - Sep 18, 1992

Asbury Park Press - Sep 15, 1992

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 24, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Sports, 1990s

Beer Can Launcher


Send beer cans flying straight into some innocent bystander's head into space with a .22 shell? I'm sold!

Posted By: Paul - Tue May 24, 2016 - Comments (10)
Category: Death, Destruction, Disasters, 1960s, Weapons

May 23, 2016

Pre-Game Frog Head Biting

1977: Larry Canaday, football coach at Eau Gallie High School in Florida, would inspire his players to victory by biting the head off a live frog. No one at the school was particularly disturbed by this. Parents would even give him frogs before games to help fire up the kids. But when word of the unusual motivational technique began to attract national attention, school officials told Canaday that the "frog-biting must cease."

The Bloomington Pantagraph - Oct 14, 1977

Coach Canaday, with frog statue

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 23, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Rituals and Superstitions, Sports, 1970s

The Billiken


Woman imagines a deity, it become part of the native cultures of Alaska and Japan. That's pretty weird.

Wikipedia entry here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon May 23, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Cult Figures and Artifacts, Religion, Superstition, Foreign Customs, 1900s

May 22, 2016

News of the Weird (May 22, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M476, May 22, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced they had recently (a first, they claimed) transmitted high-speed digital data through slabs of pork loin and beef liver. The signal cleared the muscle and gristle so cleanly that it permitted streaming of high-definition video--enough to watch Netflix, said the lead researcher. (Actually, the advance is crucial in that it allows a patient to swallow a transmitter and for physicians to monitor inner workings of the body in real time and externally control implanted devices such as cranial sensors and defibrillators.) [Engineering at Illinois press release, 4-18-2016]

Can’t Possibly Be True

Religious leaders associated with the Quiverfull ministry announced intentions for a November retreat this year in Wichita, Kan., at which parents will meet to plan “arranged” Christian marriages for their prepubescent daughters, to maximize the future couples’ childbearing potential--supposedly the number-one priority of all females. Quiverfull activist Vaughn Ohlman has written that female fertility is optimal during their teens (actually, just after age 12) and drops off in their 20s. The local district attorney, queried by the Wichita Eagle, said such marriages are legal as long as all parties consent--but Ohlman has maintained that the Bible does not require the bride’s consent if her father has given his. [Wichita Eagle, 5-5-2016]

Apparently, Japanese taste buds easily become bored, for manufacturers seem eager to create extravagant food combinations to satisfy them but which might prove daunting to most Americans. The latest exhibit: the familiar Kit Kat chocolate-coated wafer--but with the ripe taste of melon and cheese (specifically, “Hokkaido Melon with Mascarpone Cheese”). As Japanese foodies know, Kit Kats in Japan come in at least 15 coatings, according to a 2013 review by, including Edamame Soybean, Purple Sweet Potato, Hot Japanese Chili, Matcha-Green Tea, Wasabi, and Red Bean Sandwich. [London Daily Mirror, 5-2-2016] [, 2-11-2013]

The Daily Pakistan newspaper, covering the Anti-Terrorism Court in Karachi in April, reported that a judge in Courtroom III asked a constable if he knew how the grenade entered into evidence worked. Rather than assume that an explanation was requested, the constable pulled the pin to demonstrate, and the resulting explosion injured the constable, a court clerk, and another police officer. The constable is said to be facing severe discipline as soon as he recovers. [Daily Pakistan, 4-11-2016]

Latest Religious Messages

Great Britain’s prisoners claiming to be adherents of the ancient Celtic pagan religion are allowed, under rules from the National Offender Management Services, to be excused from jailhouse routines to celebrate four festivals, including (of course) the Festival of the Lactating Sheep. Although “Skyclad,” or naked worship, is forbidden, prisoners can wear the silver pagan ring (to avoid “distress”) and are permitted their own chalices, crystals, “worry beads,” pentagram necklaces, hoodless robes, and flexible twig-wands. [Daily Express (London), 4-14-2016]

An Israeli man (unidentified in press reports) petitioned the Haifa Magistrate’s Court recently for a restraining order against God, pointing out that the Almighty has exhibited (according to a May Times of Israel report) “a seriously negative attitude toward him,” especially over the previous three years. The judge rejected the petition even though God was not present to argue against it (or at least His presence could not be detected). [Times of Israel, 5-4-2016]

Parental Values

(1) In the latest ruling on a familiar theme, a court in Modena, Italy, ordered a father to continue paying living expenses for his son, age 28, who had meandered through a degree in literature but now has decided to seek another, in experimental cinema. (Almost two-thirds of Italians aged 18-34 still live with their parents.) (2) In Beijing, an elderly couple secured a court order in March forcing their 36-year-old daughter finally to move out after she had refused for years. The couple admitted to the Beijing Morning Post that they might have pampered her excessively over the years, even lending her the equivalent of $23,000 to buy a house. (Still, she stayed.) [Daily Telegraph (London), 4-27-2016] [, 3-30-2016]

New World Order

Gynecologists interviewed by the New York Times for an April report said they were baffled by the recent increase in teenage girls demanding cosmetic surgery on the external folds of their vulvas--since there is rarely a medical need and the safety of the operation on young girls has not been demonstrated. Some doctors called the “need” just an extreme example of teen girls’ beauty obsessions and suggested the presence in some girls of the psychiatric malady of “body dysmorphic disorder,” in which a person imagines or exaggerates a physical characteristic. (The phenomenon is different from the “vaginal rejuvenation” requested by older women, especially after childbirth, because that involves tightening internal tissue.) [New York Times, 4-26-2016]

Texas School Blues

(1) Houston’s KHOU-TV revealed in May that the French teacher at the Houston school district’s Energy Institute High School doesn’t speak French (but did take one year of it, in high school). (2) The Sheldon school district near Houston admitted in May that a 7-year-old student at Sheldon Elementary had written her own successful “please excuse Rosabella early” note (using lettering typical of 7-year-olds) and was allowed to go home instead of attending her after-school program. (3) School police at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Houston threatened to arrest a 13-year-old girl during the last school year because they were unaware that the girl’s $2 bill (cafeteria payment) was valid U.S. currency. [KHOU-TV, 5-3-2016] [KTRK-TV (Houston), 5-3-2016] [KTRK-TV, 4-28-2016]

Police Reports

(1) In April, police in Brighton, Ontario, responded to what was reported by neighbors as a domestic dispute, involving shrieks like, “I hope you die!” They found only a man “arguing” with his pet parrot (who the man said, was “beaking off” at him). No arrests were made. (2) Kayvon Mavaddat, 28, was arrested in Natick, Mass., as police enforced three arrest warrants. He had been on the loose until May 6th, when he politely (inadvisedly) held open a door at Natick Mall for a police officer who, in that brief moment, thought he recognized Mavaddat. Checking his cruiser’s computer, he found the warrants, went back inside, and arrested Mavaddat. [CTV News (Barrie), 4-22-2016] [Metro West Daily (Framingham, Mass.), 5-9-2016]

Cavalcade of Rednecks

Timothy Trammell, 36, was arrested on several charges in Jonesville, S.C., in May after a sheriff’s deputy spotted him spray-painting a car that was not his. According to the deputy’s report, Trammell had just finished angrily painting “C-h-e-e-t-e-r” [sic] on the car (belonging to a woman, identified in a WSPA-TV report as his girlfriend). [WSPA-TV (Spartanburg), 5-9-2016]


(1) In April in Oslo district court, Norway’s most notorious terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik (77 killed in 2011), prevailed in his complaint against prison treatment and was awarded the equivalent of about $41,000. The prison (part of a system generally regarded as the world’s most inmate-friendly) was found to violate Breivik’s human rights by restricting his outside contacts and excessively restraining and strip-searching him. (He had also complained of poor food choices.) (2) The Veterans Affairs hospital in Tomah, Wis., among the system’s most troubled (in personnel issues, falsifying reports, and overdependence on patient opiod use), is reportedly working on a “100-day plan” for reform and recently posted a job opening--for interior decorator ($77,000 position, doctoral degree) to, presumably, improve everyone’s attitude. [Washington Post, 4-21-2016] [Daily Caller, 4-27-2016]

News of the Weird Classic (March 2012)

Fine Points of the Law: In February [2012], a jury in Thousand Oaks, Calif., acquitted Charles Hersel, 41, of child-molestation. Though Hersel admitted through his lawyer that he had paid high school students to spit in his face and yell profanities at him, and had offered kids money to urinate and defecate on him, jurors found that, regardless of why he felt the need to do those things, it must not have been for reasons of "sexual gratification" and therefore, technically, was not a violation of the particular law under which he was charged. [KTLA-TV (Los Angeles, 2-21-2012]

Thanks This Week to Dan Bohlen, Greg Hoggarth, Stan Kaplan, and Robin Daley, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

*****, weirdnews at earthlink dot net, and P. O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33629

Posted By: Chuck - Sun May 22, 2016 - Comments (3)

Page 2 of 7 pages  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›

Get WU Posts by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

weird universe thumbnail
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.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
June 2024 •  May 2024 •  April 2024 •  March 2024 •  February 2024 •  January 2024

December 2023 •  November 2023 •  October 2023 •  September 2023 •  August 2023 •  July 2023 •  June 2023 •  May 2023 •  April 2023 •  March 2023 •  February 2023 •  January 2023

December 2022 •  November 2022 •  October 2022 •  September 2022 •  August 2022 •  July 2022 •  June 2022 •  May 2022 •  April 2022 •  March 2022 •  February 2022 •  January 2022

December 2021 •  November 2021 •  October 2021 •  September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •