Weird Universe Archive

June 2016

June 27, 2016

Skinny Suicides Survival Rate


I had this post in the queue before Alex did his story about the woman jumping yesterday. Maybe this is the explanation for her miracle.

Apparently, it's best to put on a few pounds before jumping from a high place, if you are serious about doing yourself in.

Original article here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 27, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Suicide, 1980s, Women

News of the Weird (June 26, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M481, June 26, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Getting Fannies in the Seats: The Bunyadi opened in London in June for a three-month run as the world's newest nude-dining experience, and now has a reservation waiting list of 40,000 (since it only seats 42). Besides the nakedness, the Bunyadi creates "true liberation" (said its founder) by serving only food "from nature," cooked over fire (no electricity). Waiters are nude, as well, except for minimal concessions to seated diners addressing standing servers. Tokyo's Amrita nude eatery, opening in July, is a bit more playful, with best-body male waiters and an optional floor show--and no "overweight" patrons allowed. Both restaurants provide some sort of derriere-cover for sitting, and all require diners to check their cellphones at the door. [The Guardian (London), 6-7-2016] [, 6-10-2016]

Cultural Diversity

Milwaukee's WITI-TV, in an on-the-scene report from Loretta, Wis. (in the state's northwest backwoods) in May, described the town's baffling fascination with "Wood Tick Racing," held annually, provided someone finds enough wood ticks to place in a circle so that townspeople can wager on which one hops out first. The "races" began 37 years ago, and this year "Howard" was declared the winner. (According to the organizers, at the end of the day, all contestants, except Howard, were to be smashed with a mallet.) [WITI-TV, 5-30-2016]

Government in Action

The Department of Veterans Affairs revealed in May that, between 2007 and last year, nearly 25,000 vets examined for Traumatic Brain Injury at 40 VA facilities were not seen by medical personnel qualified to render the diagnosis--which may account for the result that, according to veterans' activists, very few of them were ever referred for treatment. (TBI, of course, is the "signature wound" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.) [WVEC-TV (Norfolk), 5-26-2016]

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Basking in its "record high" in venture-capital funding, the Chinese Jiedaibao website put its business model into practice recently: facilitating offerers of "jumbo" personal loans (two to five times the normal limit) to female students who submit nude photos. The student agrees that if the loan is not repaid on time (at exorbitant interest rates), the lender can release the photos online. (The business has been heavily criticized, but the company's headquarters said the privately-negotiated contracts are beyond its control.) [The Guardian (London), 6-15-2016]


For the last 17 months, Stan Larkin, of Ypsilanti, Mich., has gone about his business (even playing pick-up basketball) without a functional heart in his body--carrying around in a backpack the "organ" that life-savingly pumps his blood. Larkin, 25, was born with a dangerous heart arrhythmia, and was kept alive for a while with a defibrillator and then by hooking him up to a washing-machine-sized heart pump, leaving him barely mobile--but then came the miraculous SynCardia Freedom Total Artificial Heart, weighing 13 pounds and improving Larkin's quality of life as he endured the almost-interminable wait for a heart transplant (which he finally received in May). (An average of 22 people a day die awaiting organ transplants.) [Washington Post, 6-10-2016]

An ordinary green tree frog recently injured in a "lawn-mowing accident" in Australia's Outback was flown about 600 miles from Mount Isa to the Cairns Frog Hospital. CFH president Deborah Pergolotti spoke despairingly to Australian Broadcasting Corp. News in June about how society underregards the poor frogs when it comes to rescue and rehab--suggesting that "there's almost a glass ceiling" between them and the cuter animals. [Australian Broadcasting Corp. News, 6-6-2016]

News You Can Use: When they were starting out, the band Guns N' Roses practiced and "lived" in a storage unit in Los Angeles, according to a book-review essay in May 2016 Harper's magazine, and "became resourceful," wrote the essayist. Wrote bass player Duff McKagan in one of the books, "You could get dirt-cheap antibiotics--intended for use in aquariums--at pet stores. Turned out tetracycline wasn't just good for tail rot and gill disease. It also did great with syphilis." [Harper's, May 2016]


News updates from Kim Jong-un's North Korea: In March, a South Korean ecology organization reported that the traditional winter migration of vultures from China was, unusually, skipping over North Korea, headed directly for the South--apparently because of the paucity of animal corpses (according to reports, a major food source for millions of North Koreans). And in June, the Global Nutrition Report (which criticized the U.S. and 13 other countries for alarming obesity rates) praised North Korea for its "progress" in having fewer adults with "body mass index" over 30). [Daily Telegraph (London), 3-25-2016] [New York Times, 6-13-2016]

Recurring Themes

The super-painful "Ilizarov procedure" enables petite women to make themselves taller. (A surgeon breaks bones in the shins or thighs, then adjusts special leg braces four times daily that pull the bones slightly apart, awaiting them to--slowly--grow back and fuse together, usually taking at least six months. As News of the Weird reported in 2002, a 5-foot-tall woman, aiming for 5-4, gushed about “a better job, a better boyfriend . . . a better husband. It’s a long-term investment.” Now, India's "medical tourism" industry offers Ilizarovs cut-rate--but (according to a May dispatch in The Guardian) unregulated and, so far, not yet even taught in India's medical schools. Leading practitioner Dr. Amar Sarin of Delhi (who claims "hundreds" of successes) admits there's a "madness" to patients' dissatisfactions with the way they look. [The Guardian (London), 5-8-2016]

Least Competent Criminals: (1) Damian Shaw, 43, was sentenced in England's Chester Crown Court in June after an April raid revealed he had established a "sophisticated" cannabis-grow operation (160 plants) in a building about 50 yards from the front door of the Cheshire Police headquarters. (2) Northern Ireland's Belfast Telegraph reported in April that a man was hospitalized after throwing bricks at the front windows of a PIPS office (Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm). As has happened to a few others in News of the Weird's reporting, he was injured by brick-bounceback, off the shatterproof glass. [Winsford Guardian, 6-3-2016] [Belfast Telegraph, 4-13-2016]

No Longer Weird: Once again, this time around midnight in Redford Township, Mich., in June, police surrounded a suspect's home and shut down the neighborhood for the next 11 hours, fired tear gas canisters through windows, and used a robot to scope out the inside--and ultimately found that the house had been empty the whole time. (The domestic-violence suspect is still at large.) [WDIV-TV (Detroit), 6-11-2016]

Armed and Clumsy (All-New!)

More people (all are males, as usual) who accidentally shot themselves recently: Age 37, Augusta, Kan., while adjusting his "sock gun" at a high school graduation (May). Age 28, Panama City, Fla., a jail guard "preparing" for a job interview (May). An unidentified man in Union, S.C., who, emerging from a shower, sat on his gun (January). The sheriff of Des Moines County, Iowa, who shot his hand while cleaning his gun (Burlington, Iowa, December). A movie-goer adjusting in his seat in Salina, Kan., shot himself during the feature (October) (three months after acquiring a no-test-required concealed-carry permit). Age 43, Miami, Fla., demonstrating to a relative how to clean a gun (December). A teenager, Overland, Mo., trying to take a selfie holding a gun (June). (The last two people are no longer with us.)
Augusta: [Wichita Eagle, 5-15-2016]
Panama City: [Panama City News Herald, 5-9-2016]
Union: [WYFF-TV (Greenville, S.C.), 12-29-2015]
Burlington: [KCCI-TV (Des Moines), 12-17-2015]
Salina: [Salina Journal, 10-17-2015]
Miami: [WTVJ-TV (Miami), 12-23-2015]
Overland: [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6-7-2016]

News of the Weird Classic (June 2012)

Collections of comically poor translations are legion, but the Beijing Municipal government, in sympathy with English-speaking restaurant-goers, published a helpful guidebook recently [2012] of what the restaurateurs were trying, though inartfully, to say. In an interview with the authors, NBC News learned the actual contents of "Hand Shredded A$$ Meat" [sic] (merely donkey meat) and other baffling dishes (all taken from actual menus), such as "Cowboy Leg," "Red-Burned Lion Head," "Blow-up Flatfish with No Result," and the very unhelpful "Strange Flavor Noodles" and "Tofu Made By Woman With Freckles." [MSNBC, 4-20-2012]

Thanks This Time to Stan Kaplan and Gerald Sacks, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jun 27, 2016 - Comments (1)

June 26, 2016

Waitress learns her lesson

1951: Miss Evelyn Marshall learns a lesson, the hard way.

The Courier-Journal - Dec 24, 1951

Woman 'Cured' By 5-Story Dive; Won't Jump Again
Denver, Dec. 23 (UP) — Miss Evelyn Marshall, 26-year-old Denver waitress, had a sudden impulse to dive through the window of her hotel room today.
She did, and landed five floors below in a parking lot, after bouncing off a ventilator shaft on the second floor.
She was released from Denver General Hospital after astonished doctors found her suffering only a few facial bruises, a lost tooth, and an "aching tummy."
She said she took the dive on a sudden impulse while drinking beer in her room with two companions.
"This has taught me a lesson," Miss Marshall told officers. "I'll never jump through the window again."

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 26, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: 1950s

Motorized Ice Racing

Something frosty to contemplate during the summer heat.

Full history here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jun 26, 2016 - Comments (8)
Category: Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Daredevils, Stuntpeople and Thrillseekers, Motor Vehicles, Nature

June 25, 2016


Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 25, 2016 - Comments (9)
Category: Architecture, Daredevils, Stuntpeople and Thrillseekers, North America

Scientist who thought women were like apes

The wikipedia article on Oxford anthropologist Arthur Thomson (1858-1935) notes that he's best remembered for formulating Thomson's Nose Rule, which states that ethnic groups from cold climates tend to have thinner noses than groups from hot climates.

Apparently he's not remembered for his "Women Are Like Apes" theory, which he presented to a meeting of the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1927. The basis of this theory was that, "woman's legs are usually shorter, and her arms longer, than man's" — and this, Thomson felt, made women more ape-like.

I was curious whether Thomson was actually correct about female body proportions, and after some googling I've concluded that he probably was — at least about women (on average) having shorter legs as a proportion of their total height than men do. See, for instance, this article by a designer of bicycles for women, which says that's the case.

Harrisburg Telegraph - Oct 5, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 25, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Science, Anthropology, 1920s, Women

Mystery Illustration 22


Which very famous movie star--he flourished from the 40s right into our present millennium--is this awkward drawing supposed to represent?

Answer after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 25, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Art, Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art, Movies, 1940s, Twenty-first Century

June 24, 2016

South Dakota’s Western Border

If you look at a map of South Dakota, you can see that the western border isn't perfectly straight. Right where Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota meet, the border jogs inward a little bit.

The story goes (which I've found in several sources) that this isn't how it was supposed to be. The border was supposed to run straight down the 27th meridian, but the surveyors messed up. The lines they ran from north and south didn't meet up properly, and to fix the error they just made the border jog in slightly, as it does, in order to connect the two lines.

Google Maps

You can find the story of the surveying error told in Joey Green's Dumb History. There's also some discussion of the issue over at the Straight Dope message boards.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 24, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Geography and Maps

Hannah, the Comicstrip

I stumbled on this forgotten strip while browsing through old newspapers online. Apparently it was a weekly feature. Its boneheaded surreal literalism is right up there with Bushmiller's Nancy and Soglow's The Little King.

Not much to be learned about its creator, Courtney Dunkel, beyond what you can read at the link.

Here is a good blog post about one of Dunkel's other strips.






Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 24, 2016 - Comments (0)
Category: Forgotten Figures and Where Are They Now?, Comics, 1940s

June 23, 2016

View from the Ledge ((June 22, 2016)

View From The Ledge

(Chuck channels the spirits of his landmark 1980-1996 zine)

June 22, 2016 (released June 23, 2016)

World's Greatest Lawyer: Chris Dyer, in La Crosse, Wis., convinced a jury that there was "reasonable doubt" when a 17-yr-old resident came home and found Dyer's client in the basement, pants down, perched doggy-style over the resident's doggy (the golden retriever Cooper) and then quickly rose and pulled his pants up. (The 17-yr-old told her dad, "[T]here was a man in our house screwing Cooper.") Attorney Dyer got the client Daniel Reinsvold off on dog-molesting charges, convincing the jury to settle for trespass and disorderly conduct. (Reinsvold testified to an "intestinal disorder" that makes him have "emergencies." OK, but, still, if that's what was happening, hey, show us the poop. (There was no poop.) Plus, the vet said Cooper had Doggy-PTSD symptoms.) [La Crosse Tribune]

Perspective: Using a drone, pro-choice activists in the Irish Republic (penalty for aiding abortion: 14 yrs) flew abortion medications (Mifepristone, Misoprostol) over the border to their counterparts in Northern Ireland (penalty for abortion: ummm, well, death penalty). [Belfast Telegraph]

Y'Know What's Really Weird? Two weeks ago, we learned that Mark Zuckerberg got his social media accounts hacked b/c he broke the rules and used the same password. [NBC News] It says here that at last count, there were at least 11,000 "security" cameras in the U.S. that were not certified as "secured." [] Then, the U.S. Air Force revealed that it had lost the entire fraud-investigation database (no backups--um, as if, well, why would we have backup?) dating from 2004 (though it now says some civilian hackers were working on recovery). [Air Force Times] Back in December, the Federal Trade Commission, which had re-sued LifeLock (you know those guys, right?) for not protecting customers' sensitive information very well, caught 'em again. ("Hey, LifeLock, don't you have, like, one job?") (They had agreed in 2010 to step up security, but now will have to pony up $113m.) [Wall Street Journal] So, really, folks. It's just the Wild West. Best Answer: Go hop in bed and pull the covers up real tight, and try not to think about it.

The Passing Parade (I): Every 5 yrs they have a World Nose Championship in Bavaria, and this year is the lucky year. With actual calipers they measure length and width (and Hans Roest won) (No announcement of marital status, ladies, but c'mon, he must be single.) [The Local (Berlin)] The Passing Parade (II): There's a band named Stone Roses with quite a few fans, 90 of whom bid on eBay for a sealed jar purporting to have captured the air during a recent concert in Manchester, England (with the top bid £65k, which is about US$96,700). (Hold the jar to your ear and experience the "faint reverberation" of guitarist John Squire's solo.) [Daily Telegraph] The Passing Parade--Everyone's Got a Gig.

Thanks to Steven Lobejko. Back on Saturday.

Posted By: Chuck - Thu Jun 23, 2016 - Comments (6)

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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.

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.

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