Weird Universe Archive

June 2016

June 23, 2016

Fashion Show with acne

The theme of Malaysian designer Moto Guo's "Picnic in the Society" fashion show was flaws, including skin flaws. All his models sported facial acne (apparently cosmetically created) as they walked down the runway.

More:, daily mail

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 23, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Fashion, Skin and Skin Conditions

Anchor Stone Building Blocks


Another weird old playtoy for building stuff. Very pricey on Ebay.

Wikipedia entry here.

A blog post here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 23, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Toys, Europe, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century

June 22, 2016

How to shrink paper money

Dip the bill in liquid ammonia, then let it dry. Repeat this a few times, and you'll end up with a mini-sized bill.

Of course, most people don't have liquid ammonia lying around the house. So this is a trick only mad chemists can do.

I'm sure that shrinking a bill would be considered defacement of currency and therefore illegal. However, defaced currency remains legal tender (depending on the degree of defacement), so in theory you could still spend your tiny bill, but it would probably be difficult finding a store willing to accept it.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 22, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Money

June 21, 2016

Late mail, postage due

1974: Roy Baker of Guthrie, Oklahoma received a Christmas card two years after it had been mailed. Because the price of a stamp had gone up between the time it was mailed and the time it was delivered, the post office decided there was postage due.

Baker wisely decided it was useless to argue with the post office and paid them the two cents they wanted.

Detroit Free Press - Apr 7, 1974

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 21, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: 1970s, Postal Services

Mystery Gadget 38


What is this 1950s fellow dressed for?

The answer is here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 21, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, 1950s

June 20, 2016

View from the Ledge (June 20, 2016)

View From The Ledge

(Chuck channels the spirits of his landmark 1980-1996 zine)
June 20, 2016

Start Spreading the News: A "DEA lawyer" who says he's in the loop told a reporter for the Santa Monica Observer that cannabis will be moved from a Schedule I Controlled Substance (i.e., no medical benefit) to Schedule II (rx's OK in all states) on 8-1-2016. The SMO published this bit on Saturday, but it has been slow to catch on laughed off by legit sites concerned with who the hell "DEA lawyer" is. You heard it here first--or second, or whenever. [Santa Monica Observer]

Oh, You Didn't Know? GAO reported that, yet again, the federal workforce is wonderful (78% of middle managers are "outstanding," precisely 1% performing poorly). [Washington Post]

Bell Curves
Yr Ed, being a hobbyist statistician, unavoidably sees everyday life in a series of Bell Curves (fat ones, skinny ones, short-tailed, long-tailed, whatever). It's been my occupation for 28 yrs to imagine the median and seek the tails--especially, of course, the left tails, which is the direction most often marking failures. Sometimes, I just don't know how the characterization goes (as the pro football running back John Riggins once said, of those in the Washington, D.C., establishment who were puzzling him, "I don't know whether I'm ahead of 'em or behind 'em, but I know I'm not even with 'em"). Hence, my wiseass-neutral The Passing Parade, below.

What you need to remember is that, say, when Reagan became president, the population of the U.S. was 225m; today, it's 315m. That's 90m more people (births minus deaths), and they create a boatload more possibilities of daily life. Yeah, much has happened to shape the personalities and lifestyles of everyone, but, in addition, there are just many more possibilities now than then because there are many more people. So if you're a certain age (let's see, 1980 was 36 yrs ago), don't be shocked. And guess what--it's gonna get worse . . . or, y'know, better, much better.

The Passing Parade (I): A guy last week got caught trying to smuggle an iguana into the Boulder County (Colo.) courthouse. [ed. It doesn't matter what the reason was, but anyway, there wasn't one.] [Daily Camera (Boulder)] The Passing Parade (II): Oops--need to feel better about my country; let's go to Europe. He started, 5 yrs ago, with about 100 bottle caps, and now has about 10,000 umm , no, actually, a million no, wait, what? About 10 million. He's "donating" them to a family recently struck by tragedy. I guess they appreciate the sentiment . . .. [The Local (Vienna)] The Passing Parade (III): A Japanese family lives and works in a house shaped (and labeled "MILK") like a milk carton. Oh, wait. That doesn't count on my thesis b/c it's Japan. My bad. [Fark]

From a column by Eduardo Porter: "It's possible the United States will soon be governed by a president who rode into office partly by appealing to popular resentment against China, a country where overt nationalism is a central plank of the government's claim to authority. What would happen if an incident in the South China Sea [cf. Gulf of Tonkin incident which started the Vietnam War] ended with 200 dead American sailors?" [NY Times, 5-25-2016]

Back on Wednesday. WeirdNews at the domain earthlink dot net.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jun 20, 2016 - Comments (8)

Laziest Hitchhiker

This reminded me of the urban legend of the "killer in the backseat." Except, in this case, it would be the lazy hitchhiker sitting in the backseat.

The Vernon Daily Record - Jan 11, 1951

Woman Qualifies for Laziest Hitchhiker Title
Syracuse, N.Y. Jan. 10 (AP) — A woman qualified today for the title of laziest hitchhiker.
Syracuse police found the woman sitting in a parked car. They said she told them:
"I often sit in parked cars hoping the owners will come back and give me a ride downtown. You see, I hate buses."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 20, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: 1950s, Cars

Strip Polka

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 20, 2016 - Comments (3)

June 19, 2016

News of the Weird (June 19, 2016)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M480, June 19, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

In May, the Norwegian Counsumer Council staged a live, 32-hour TV broadcast marathon--a word-for-word reading of the “terms of service” of Internet applications Instagram and Spotify and more than two dozen others, totaling 900 pages and 250,000 words of legal restrictions and conditions that millions of users "voluntarily" agree to when they sign up (usually via a mouse-click or finger-swipe). A Council official called such terms "bordering on the absurd," as consumers could not possibly understand everything they were legally binding themselves to. (The reading was another example of Norway’s fascination with “Slow TV”--the success of other marathons, such as coverage of a world-record attempt at knitting yarn and five 24-hour days on a salmon-fishing boat, mentioned in News of the Weird in 2013.) [Wall Street Journal, 5-25-2016]

Government in Action!

The Defense Department still uses 1980s-era 8-inch floppy disks on computer systems that handle part of America's "nuclear umbrella," including ballistic missiles. Also, according to a May report by the Government Accountability Office, systems using 1970s-era COBOL programing language are still used for key functions of the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service, among others (including Veterans Affairs, for tracking beneficiary claims). Agencies have reported recruiting retired employees to return to fix glitches in operating systems long since abandoned by Microsoft and others. [CNBC, 5-25-2016]

In April, police in Boise, Id., told KAWO Radio that they will not relax the year-old ban on dachshund "racing" that was traditionally families' entertainment highlight at the annual "Arena-Weina Extravaganza"--because all dog-racing in Idaho is illegal. The station had argued that the law intended to target only greyhound racing; that an exception had been carved out for popular dogsled racing (reasoning: individual dogs were not racing each other); and that in any event, the "race" course was only about 40 feet long--but reported that the authorities were "dead serious" about the ban. [, 4-25-2016]

Can’t Possibly Be True

A watchdog agency monitoring charities revealed in May its choice for “worst” among those “helping” U.S. veterans: The National Vietnam Veterans Foundation raised more than $29 million from 2010-2014--but wound up donating about two cents of every dollar toward actual help. The other ninety-eight cents went to administration and fund-raising. (Similarly troubling, according to the watchdog, is that the CEO of NVVF is a staff attorney at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.) [Fox News, 5-17-2016]

More Adventures of the Easily Offended

(1) A March video featured a black San Francisco State University woman angrily confronting a white student, accusing him of "cultural appropriation" because he was wearing his hair in dreadlocks. (2) A March fitness club ad pitch in Sawley, England, picturing an extraexterrestrial with caption, "And When They Arrive, They'll Take the Fat Ones First," was denounced by an anti-bullying organization as "offensive." (3) A May bus-stop ad for a San Francisco money lender ("10% Down. Because You're Too Smart to Rent") was derided for "ooz[ing] self-congratulatory privilege." [SF Weekly, 4-19-2016] [BBC News, 4-3-2016] [, 5-24-2016]

Unclear on the Concept

Gainesville, Fla., performance artist Tom Miller planned a public piece in a downtown plaza during May and June as homage to the music composer John Cage’s celebrated “4'33" (which is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of purposeful silence by all musicians who “play” on the piece). Miller said his project would consist of local artists “installing” sculpture at 15-minute intervals for five days--except that the “sculpture” would have to be imagined by observers, as (in the tradition of Cage) nothing otherwise perceptible would be there. [Gainesville Sun, 5-31-2016]

The Continuing Crisis

Tex-ass Justice! Convicted murderer Charles Flores was on Texas’s death row for more than 16 years (until June 2nd of this year) before the state’s highest criminal appeals court finally ruled that the execution might not be justified if the most important evidence was provided by a witness whom the police had hypnotized. The trial judge, and the jury, had accepted that “hypnosis” could lead to “recovered” memory (a popular hypothesis in the 1980s and 1990s but largely discredited today). There was no physical evidence against Flores, and the trial court was ordered to re-think the validity of hypnosis. [, 5-27-2016]

(Government) Crime Scenes: (1) The Massachusetts attorney general disclosed in May that state crime-lab chemist Sonja Farak (who was fired in 2013) worked "high" on drugs "every day" in the lab in Amherst, beginning around 2005. Among her preferred refreshments: meth, ketamine, ecstasy, and LSD. (Farak worked at a different Massachusetts crime lab than Annie Dookhan, imprisoned in 2013 for improvising damaging lab results on at least 20,000 convicts.) (2) The U.S. Justice Department revealed in April that in the 20-year period ending about 2000, most FBI forensic unit examiners overstated hair-sample "matches" in criminal-trial testimony--helping prosecutors 95 percent of the time. [Boston Globe, 5-3-2016] [Washington Post, 4-18-2016]

Wait, What?

Robert Williams, 38, was arrested on June 1st in Calhan, Colo., after challenging his daughter to a duel with handguns. Williams had pointed a gun at his daughter, then demanded that she grab one, too. The daughter's age was not reported, but police said she and Williams both got off shots (that missed). [KDVR-TV (Denver), 6-2-2016]

Erick "Pork Chop" Cox, 32, in an angry construction-site clash in DeBary, Fla., in June, used his front-end loader to dump two heaps of dirt onto his boss, Perry Byrd, 57, burying him up to his waist before co-workers intervened. Cox said Byrd had taken the first swing and that he had only accidentally engaged the loader when trying to turn it off, but Byrd claimed that Cox was laughing during the episode. Cox was arrested. [Orlando Sentinel, 6-2-2016]

Least Competent Criminals

Suspected drug possessor Darius Dabney finally confessed after a protracted confrontation with the judge in a Cincinnati courtroom in May--a showdown initiated when the judge noticed an “overwhelming” smell of marijuana accompanying Dabney as he entered the room. Upon extensive questioning (according to a transcript provided by WXIX-TV), Dabney swore that he had no drugs--though the penalty for lying would be immediate arrest but producing the drugs voluntarily would result only in their being confiscated, without charge. One more chance, the exhausted, super-patient judge implored, just to be sure. Dabney then sheepishly pulled out a bag of marijuana. “Finally, you come clean,” said the judge. “Are you sure [now]?” Dabney then pulled out another bag. “Oh, my lord,” said the judge, who still kept his word and added nothing to the one day in jail Dabney was already facing. [WXIX-TV (Cincinnati), 5-12-2016]

Recurring Themes

In the most recent instance of a landlord ordering a resident to make his home safe for burglars, Kevin Sheehan of Abingdon, England, was told by his housing association in May that he would be evicted unless he removed his above-ground backyard fish pond (and relocated the 80 koi carp and goldfish). The landlord was concerned that if a trespasser jumped the property wall, he could not anticipate that he would land in the pond and might hurt himself. [BBC News, 5-26-2016]

News of the Weird Classic (June 2012)

Chinese media reported that in [2012], at the Xiaogan Middle School in Hubei province, high school students studying for the all-important national college entrance exam worked through the evening while hooked up to intravenous drips of amino acids to fight fatigue. A director of the school's Office of Academic Affairs reasoned that before the IVs were hung, weary students complained of losing too much time running back and forth to the school's infirmary for energy injections. After the media reports, the public backlash was less against China's placing so much importance on the exams and more complaining that the government was subsidizing the cost of those injections. [South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), 5-9-2012]

Thanks This Time to David Lawrence, R.Moore, and Dan Bohlen, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Bob McCabe, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Sandy Pearlman, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Peter Smagorinsky, Rob Snyder, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 19, 2016 - Comments (3)

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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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