Weird Universe Archive

May 2016

May 17, 2016

Elderly Should Lose Vote

Back in 1970, Douglas P. Stewart, a professor of classics at Brandeis University, made headlines for advocating that the elderly should lose the right to vote.

His thesis is this:
"The old, having no future, are dangerously free from the consequences of their own political acts, and it makes no sense to allow the vote to someone who is actuarially unlikely to survive and pay the bills for (what) he may help elect."
In other words, Stewart thinks old people vote with an attitude of "grand je serais mort, je me ficherais de tou — (when I'm dead, it (society) can go to hell)."

Stewart, if he's still alive, would now be around 83. I wonder if he's still voting?

The Daily Journal (Franklin, Indiana) — Sep 23, 1970

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 17, 2016 - Comments (12)
Category: Elderly and Seniors, Politics, Elderly, 1970s

Robot Ballet

The Italian Futurists had a thing for robot costumes in their dance performances. They left behind some weird imagery.

Read about them here.








Posted By: Paul - Tue May 17, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Costumes and Masks, Futurism, Robots, Avant Garde, Dance, Europe, Twentieth Century

May 16, 2016

The Case of the Confused Tourist

October 1977: German tourist Erwin Kreuz took a flight from Augsburg to San Francisco. When it landed in the United States, he got off.

Three days later, he realized he wasn't actually in San Francisco. Instead, he was in Bangor, Maine, where the plane had stopped for refueling. Kreuz realized his mistake when he got bored of wandering around what he thought were the suburbs of San Francisco, got in a cab, and asked to go to downtown San Francisco. The cabbie somehow managed to inform him (despite Kreuz's total lack of English) that it would be a very long trip.

Kreuz later explained that when he had been sitting on the flight, after it had landed, a stewardess had walked past him and wished him a "pleasant stay in San Francisco." The crew was being switched during the refueling, so she was just saying goodbye, but Kreuz assumed it meant they had arrived in SF. So he deboarded, went through customs, and managed to get a cab to a local hotel.

When the media got word of Kreuz's mix-up, he became a national celebrity. The SF Examiner flew him out to San Francisco at their expense, where he got to meet the mayor and tour the city.

A year later Kreuz returned to Bangor to be the celebrity guest at the opening of a shopping mall, but things for him then went downhill because the brewery where he worked back in Germany fired him for taking too much time off.

In 1979, Kreuz returned to Bangor a third time, hoping to find a job by cashing in on his celebrity. But the only job he was offered was as a janitor. So he returned to Germany.

More info: Wikipedia, Bangor Daily News

The La Crosse Tribune - Oct 29, 1977

Erwin Kreuz

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 16, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Tourists and Tourism, 1970s

Follies of the Madmen #282

Chimps improve every product.

Posted By: Paul - Mon May 16, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Anthropomorphism, Business, Advertising, Products, 1950s, Cars

May 15, 2016

News of the Weird (May 15, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M475, May 15, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Google filed a U.S. Patent Office application on April 28th for a vision-improvement device in liquid form that, once inserted (i.e., injected directly into the eyeball!), solidifies into not only a lens replacement for the eye but an instrument that carries its own storage, radio, and wireless power supply. The idea, according to inventor Andrew Jason Conrad, is to better focus light onto the retina. (The patent process does not assure that the device will ever come to fruition, but it might indicate that Google’s parent Alphabet is concerned that other inventors might be doing similar work.) [, 4-28-2016]

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Before new parents ruin their baby daughter’s chances of future success by giving her “weak” names (such as “Polly”), they should consult one of several services that recommend more powerful ones (such as “Elizabeth”). A New York City woman offers personalized naming research for fees starting at several hundred dollars, but a Swiss agency whose primary work is helping to name product brands now offers parents suggestions on their offspring’s “brand” (for corporate-like fees beginning at around $29,000). (Parents in South Korea and India traditionally seek baby-naming recommendations from priests, who review religious text, culture, and astrology--in exchange for modest offerings.) [, 4-19-2016] reported in April the surprising success of “Ship Your Enemies Glitter,” in which, for about $10, the startup sends an envelope full of glitter that, when opened, scatters, irritating (or enraging) the recipient. The concept was an overnight sensation but quickly petered out and was seemingly worthless--until a prescient businessman offered $85,000 for its two assets: (1) a valuable list of customers who might buy similar pranks (such as a cupcake that’s really horse manure) and (2) an opportunity at additional waves of customers newly discovering the original glitter product. The $85,000 purchaser now reports sales “in the high six figures.” [, 4-20-2016]

Compelling Explanations

Peter Jensen of Athol, Id., filed a lawsuit against the state Transportation Department in April after his driving privileges were revoked because his car had no license plate. For the inconvenience, he believes he deserves $5.6 million in damages (gold and silver only, please) because, for example, there is nothing about “license plates” in the Ten Commandments. [KREM-TV (Spokane, Wash.), 4-22-2016]

Simple As That: (1) Bingham County (Idaho) Sheriff Craig Rowland told reporters in March that the state legislature had no reason to improve the statewide administration of “rape kit” evidence because the majority of local rape accusations are, he is certain, consensual sex. (2) Scout Hodge, 20, angry at his mother, was charged with arson in Austin, Tex., in January for setting fire to her rug, He told police he did it as a “political” statement (unexplained) and to prove he isn’t a “loser.” [Associated Press via, 3-15-2016] [KEYE-TV (Austin), 1-16-2016]

Modern Problems: (1) Sophia Sanchez, 27, was charged with intentionally crashing her car into her boyfriend’s in April in Riverside, Ill. According to police, the couple had been arguing the night before, and Sanchez said she felt she had to disable his car so that he would talk to her. (2) William Timothy Thomas, 25, was arrested for vandalizing a home in Largo, Fla., in April. He told police he needed to go “destroy” stuff because he “listened to too much music and masturbated too much.” (Bonus: Three first names! Special police surveillance warranted!) [WLS-TV (Chicago), 4-27-2016] [, 4-12-2016]

Leading Economic Indicators

(1) As China’s real-estate construction boom fades, tempers have flared, and according to a local government officer in Hebei province, two companies’ officials angling for a contract wildly dueled each other in their bulldozers in an incident captured on video. The losing driver was seen running from his toppled machine. (2) Italy’s top appeals court ruled in April that a homeless man stealing cheese and sausage from a grocery story in Genoa, and who received a six-month jail term for it, was actually not guilty of criminal behavior at all. The court set him free using a traditional Italian legal principle that no one is required to do the impossible--which, the court surmised, would be to allow himself to starve. [Sky News (London), 4-18-2016] [New York Times, 5-4-2016]

Least Competent Cops

Motorist Rebecca Musarra was stopped for speeding in October 2015 by state troopers in New Jersey, and dutifully handed over her license, insurance, and registration but declined to answer the troopers’ “do you know why we stopped you” questions. Annoyed at her silence, troopers Matthew Stazzone and Demetric Gosa threated several times, with increasing aggressiveness (according to dashboard video, obtained by NJ Advance Media) to arrest Musarra for “obstruction.” Musarra pointed out that--as nearly every American knows--she has the right to remain silent. The troopers nonetheless arrested her (then recited, of course, her “right to remain silent”). After nearly two hours back at the station, a supervisor offered a weak apology and released her. Musarra, an attorney, unsurprisingly has filed a federal lawsuit. [, 5-5-2016]

Cavalcade of Weird Animals

The species Acanthonus armatus first arrived only 10 years ago in waters near Vancouver, British Columbia, generating ichthyological excitement at the time--in that it is widely known as the assfish. The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, put one on display in January with its bulbous head and flabby skin, and resembling a “glorified tadpole,” said a museum curator, who declined to guess at the origin of the assfish name (bypassing a chance to link it to the fish’s large mouth and tiny brain). [National Post, 1-14-2016]

Cliches Come to Life

(1) The British broadcast censor Ofcom declined to punish a January edition of the “Jeremy Kyle Show” on which a guest used a “well-known swear word”--because the speaker has a Scottish accent, and, Ofcom said, probably no more than two or three people thus comprehended what he was saying. (2) The body of Peter (“Petey Crack”) Martinez, 28, who had a long rap sheet, washed up on a beach in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 2nd--with his feet encased (up to his shins) in a hardened-cement bucket. It was the first time veteran New York detectives could ever recall seeing actual “cement shoes” (though they have of course been icons of true crime stories for decades). [BBC News, 3-21-2016] [New York Times, 5-5-2016]


New York City police rounded up 39 people on April 26th suspected as part of a massive credit-card-scamming operation targeted at customers of high-end retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue--and whose members are affiliated with the rap-music group Pop Out Boyz, which makes reference to the scams in its songs. (One number, “For A Scammer,” features the lyric, “[Y]ou see it, you want it, you have it,” while another voice repeatedly brags, “I’m crackin cards cause I’m a scammer.” A New York Post report describes “cracking cards” as a scheme paying a bank customer a fee to accept a phony deposit into his account to be later withdrawn--but the scammer removes much more money than the phony deposit.) [New York Post, 4-26-2016]

Ricardo Ruiz, 26, was arrested in March on complaints from women that he had groped them at parks in Davie and Cooper City, Fla., but the case got easier afterward when police were tipped to a YouTube video that they believe is of Ruiz, addressing the camera while driving a car and extolling his groping habit. “Man, today was a good . . . day, touching ass,” he says. “If you don’t touch ass, you’re crazy. That’s all I got to say.” [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3-31-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (March 2012)

Louis Helmburg III filed a lawsuit in Huntington, W.Va., in February [2012] against the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and its member Travis Hughes for injuries Helmburg suffered in May 2011 when he fell off a deck at the fraternity house. The reason he gave for falling was that he had been startled, and toppled backward off the rail-less deck, after Hughes attempted to fire a bottle rocket "out of his anus"--and the rocket, instead, exploded in place. (The lawsuit did not refer to Hughes's injuries.) [Courthouse News service, 2-2-2012]

Thanks This Week to Richard Zehr and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun May 15, 2016 - Comments (2)

Find the movie tickets

September 1994: Georges Wache, managing director at a French furniture company in Vietnam, offered free movie tickets to employees as a morale booster to reward them for good work. The only catch was that to receive the giveaway, the employees had to "put their heads between his thighs" to search for the tickets.

One man refused and reported the odd demand to the authorities. When word reached the media, it sparked national outrage. Saigon newspapers branded Wache "The Ugly Frenchman" and demanded his deportation from the country. Wache insisted that his actions had simply been innocent fun that was misinterpreted. From what I can gather, Wache eventually was able to keep his job.

Sydney Morning Herald - Sep 13, 1994

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 15, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, 1990s

Johnny Horizon


"Mom, Dad--I want to grow up to be an EPA field-worker like Johnny Horizon!"

Such were the words probably never actually spoken in the early 1970s, when the icon of Johnny Horizon was launched by the BLM. But if any lad or lassie did utter such a wish, then they could have been placated with the Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit. Parker Brothers showed a little poindexter hard at work in their ads for the kit.


Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun May 15, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Geeks, Nerds and Pointdexters, Government, Nature, Toys, 1970s

May 14, 2016

Judo Girls

Posted By: Paul - Sat May 14, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Martial Arts, 1950s, Women

The Flower Language Ebito

Dr. Akiki K. Nyabongo was an East African prince who lived in Brooklyn and had an ambition to write a book about Ebito, or flower language, which was "a symbolic method of communication among his compatriots, involving the use of flowers, leaves, grass, seeds, twigs, clay, beads, animal hair, and stones." (New Yorker - Jan 26, 1952).

I don't think his book was ever published. However, he did author a short article (below) about the Flower Language, which ran in the journal Folklore (Dec 1938).

According to this article, if you give someone a piece of Asparagus puberulus it means:

Wali Kaisabisabi kahamuhanda kakwata embogo zabagenzi, nanyowe ndikwata engonzi zawe.


You are the Puberulus that grows at the side of the road and grasps the barkcloth of every passer by, and I will grasp at your love.

Posted By: Alex - Sat May 14, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages

May 13, 2016


Not weird, as many of you are well aware, but worth passing on. A day in November is not the only time we should remember to say:
To all of you who served or are serving in the military, thank you for your service. Your sacrifices should never be forgotten.

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 13, 2016 - Comments (0)
Category: Emotions, Military, Money, Patriotism

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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.

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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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