A facility being built in New Jersey is going to be the world's largest vertical farming plant. AeroFarms is set to be 3 times bigger than the next largest place of its kind located in Japan. Water usage is much lower while yield is substantially higher than standard farming operations. It looks like something that would be used to grow food in a Mars colony or in an underground bunker after Armageddon. But perhaps we will find that solving world hunger is a Jersey thing.
June 1988: Australian researcher Peter Hepper reported in the medical journal The Lancet that fetuses often appeared to learn to recognize the theme tune of their mother's favorite soap opera. As a newborn baby, hearing this tune would then calm them down.
He tested this hypothesis by playing the theme tune of the Australian soap "Neighbours" to a group of newborns whose mothers watched the show. Upon hearing it, he reported, six of the seven babies promptly adopted a "quiet alert state."
Gravitz wasn't actually doing this himself, but he reported that back in the early 20th century (and presumably earlier as well) creating warts was a popular pasttime among girls in the Swiss canton of Vaud:
Charles Baudouin, a contemporary Swiss, noted that the canton or province of Vaud, in which Lausanne is located, was well known for its large number of lay wart healers. It was also possible for a patient to employ a prescription for the treatment of warts without consulting one of these folk healers. "In these cases, autosuggestion is seen in all its beauty. Prescriptions pass from village to village and hamlet to hamlet. Some of them are incredibly quaint. For example, to cause warts, the subject goes out one evening, moistens the tip of the finger, looks at a star, and simultaneously applies the wet finger-tip to the other hand. The operation is repeated, the finger being freshly moistened with saliva each time, while the subject counts, 'one, two, three . . .' up to the number of warts desired. Now, wherever the moistened finger-tip has been applied, a wart duly appears."
He noted that such practices were a form of amusement among the Vaudois girls who derived pleasure from passing their own warts on to someone else. "A ribbon is tied around the affected hand, and is knotted as many times as there are warts on the hand; then the ribbon is dropped on the highway. Whoever picks it up and unties the knots, will get the warts, and the original owner of the warts will be cured."
This seems to me a vivid example of a massively clever technology that totally missed out on the future train. Adding sound capture to film stock itself made this huge device totally obsolescent overnight.
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M478, June 5, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
By 2009, when Zimbabwe’s central bank gave up on controlling inflation, its largest currency was the 100-trillion-dollar bill--barely enough for bus fare in Harare and not even worth the paper needed to print it. However, that 100-trillion-dollar note (that’s “1" plus 14 zeros) has turned out to be a great investment for several astute traders in London and New Zealand, who bought thousands of them at pennies on the trillion and now report brisk sales to collectors on eBay at US$30-$40 a note--a six-year return on investment, according to a May report in London’s The Guardian, of nearly 1,500 percent. [The Guardian, 5-14-2016]
Can’t Possibly Be True
Long-divorced Henry Peisch, 56, has seven children but only one still living with his ex-wife (who had originally been awarded $581 weekly support for all seven). (Three children are now independent, and three others successfully petitioned courts to live with Henry.) The resultant hardship (the $581 remains in effect) caused Henry to ask the Bergen County, N.J., Family Court several times for a “hardship” hearing, which the court denied (thus even defying the New Jersey Supreme Court). On April 8th, Family Court judge Gary Wilcox, noting Peisch’s appearance on a related matter, spontaneously “granted” him his “ability to pay” hearing (with thus no opportunity for witnesses or evidence-gathering)--and summarily jailed him for missing some $581 payments (because, the judge concluded, he did not “believe” Peisch’s hardship claims). [Bergen Dispatch, 4-28-2016]
Magician and professional gambler Brian Zembic, 55, finally consulted surgeons recently about removing his historic C-cup breast implants, which he bore on a $100,000 bet in 1996 (with a rider of $10,000 annually for retaining them). (He also won an companion game of backgammon to determine who would pay for the original surgery.) He told news sources in May that he had intended to have them removed early on but that they had “grown on” him and become “a normal part of my life.” [Huffington Post, 5-18-2016] (The Daily Mail has more detail.)
Government In Action
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, in a May publication deriding the value of certain federally-funded research, highlighted several recent National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation projects such as the $13 million for exploring musical preferences of monkeys and chimpanzees; the $1.1 million judging whether cheerleaders are more attractive seen as a squad than individually; the $390,000 to determine how many shakes a wet dog needs to feel dry; and the $5 million to learn whether drunk birds slur when they sing. (Also strangely included was the actually-valuable study by Michael Smith of Cornell University ranking where on the human body a bee sting was most painful. He found, from personal testing, that “on the penis” was only the third-worst--research that brought Smith a prestigious Ig Nobel prize last year.) [Fox News, 5-10-2016] [Sen. Jeff Flake, “Twenty Questions,” May 2016]
(1) Yahoo News Australia reported (with photos) a man in Tallebudgera Creek on the country’s Gold Coast swimming with his pet snake. The man, standing chest-deep in water, would toss the snake (apparently a carpet python) a few feet, and according to the videos, the snake would swim back to him each time. (In the man’s other hand, of course: beer.) (2) In April, police in Broome (in Australia’s far northwest) on traffic patrol stopped a 27-year-old man whose “several” children, including one infant, were unrestrained in his car while “cartons of beer” were “buckled into car seats,” according to an Australian Broadcasting Corp. report. He faces several charges, including driving on a suspended license. [Yahoo News Australia, 3-1-2016] [Australian Broadcasting Corp. News, 4-7-2016]
New World Order
Transgender Blues: Ms. Jai Dara Latto, 23, won the title Miss Transgender UK last September in London, but in February organizers stripped her of the title as being insufficiently trans, passing the crown to Ms. Daisy Bell. Officials had spotted Latto (who has worked as a “drag queen”) in a BBC documentary wearing boxer shorts, and since switching “underwear” is usually such a crucial step for transgenders, officials concluded that Latto must not yet have made a sufficient-enough commitment to qualify for the title. [The Herald (Glasgow), 2-20-2016]
In a recent book, biologist Jennifer Ackerman noted the extraordinary intelligence of birds--attributed to the dense packing of neurons in their equivalent of humans’ cerebral cortex (according to an April Wall Street Journal review of Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds). For example, the New Caledonia crow, among others, knows how to make and use hooked tools to hide food (and retrieve it from tricky-to-reach places), and the blue jay and others, which store many thousands of seeds during autumn, also steal seeds from less-vigilant birds--and they even return to re-hide food if they sense they have been spotted storing it earlier). Additionally, of course, the birds’ equivalent of the human larynx is so finely tuned as to be regarded as the most sophisticated sound in all of nature. [Wall Street Journal, 4-23-2016]
The president of the New England Organ Bank told U.S. News & World Report recently that she attributes the enormous upsurge in donations in recent years to the opiod “epidemic” that has produced a similarly enormous upsurge in fatal overdoses. Now, one out of every 11 donated organs comes as a result of the overdosing that in 2014 claimed over 47,000 lives. (An organ-sharing organization’s chief medical officer reminds that all organ donations are carefully screened, especially those acquired from overdose deaths.) [Washington Post, 5-9-2016]
Nature 2, Florida 0
(1) Nicole Bjanes, casually zipping along Interstate 4 in Volusia County around noon on May 9th, saw a red-eared slider turtle come sailing through the air and crash into her windshield, sending her car off the road. The Florida Highway Patrol said it had become airborne after a truck hit it. (It was apparently unhurt and swam away when a firefighter released it into a nearby pond.) (2) On May 10th police in Key West, responding to a caller at the scene of a giant banyan tree (common to Florida and featuring vertical roots that thicken, spread, and become entangled with the central trunk). A woman had attempted to climb the tree but had fallen among the vertical roots, making her barely visible.. Said a proud police spokesperson, “[W]e popped her out like a cork.” [WFLA-TV, 5-13-2016] [WPLG-TV (Miami), 5-10-2016]
Unclear on the Concept
Prolancia Turner, 26, was arrested on May 13th at Vero Beach (Fla.) Outlets mall after she allegedly walked out of a Claire’s store with unpaid-for earrings tucked into her waistband. Police reported her “crying and angry” and complaining that, “Everyone steals from this store. Why are you picking on me?” [The Smoking Gun, 5-19-2016]
In 2006 a court in Preston, England, apparently weary of Akinwale Arobieke’s repeatedly, unconsensually “touching” men’s biceps in public, issued a Sexual Offenses Prevention Order making any such future contact automatic offenses. Arobieke admitted a longtime fascination with buffed-up physiques and continued from time to time to find biceps irresistible, but in May 2016 convinced a Manchester Crown Court judge to lift the SOPO based on his assurance that he wanted a “fresh start” and would behave himself. The judge seemed not quite sure but noted that police could still arrest him under other sexual or assault statutes. [Manchester Evening News, 5-5-2016]
News of the Weird Classic (May 2012)
At the 10th Arab Shooting Championships in Kuwait in March , as medals were presented and winners' national anthems were played, officials were apparently ill-prepared for medalist Maria Dmitrienko of Kazakhstan. Consequently, they cluelessly played, as her "national anthem," the humorous ditty from the movie "Borat." (Instead of such lyrics as "sky of golden sun" and "legend of courage," the audience heard "Greatest country in the world / All other countries are run by little girls" and "Filtration system a marvel to behold / It removes 80 percent of human solid waste.") Dmitrienko reportedly kept a mostly-straight face, although Kazakhstan later received an official apology. [BBC News, 3-23-2012]
Thanks This Week to Chuck Hamilton and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 05, 2016 -
Back in 1906, everyone in Montezuma, Iowa raised chickens. And anyone who didn't was politely encouraged to get out of town.
"A few have tried to live in Montezuma without engaging in the poultry industry either for pleasure or profit, but they have always found their dislike for chickens growing into a sort of barrier against friendly intercourse with their neighbors and they came to be almost social outcasts."
It's pretty common to hear people say that they're so disgusted with American politics that they're going to move to Canada and renounce their U.S. citizenship... especially if candidate X or Y wins the election. But people almost never follow through with this threat/promise.
But Joel Slater did. Back in the Reagan era (1987), he became so angry at U.S. policies that he decided to renounce his American citizenship. The problem was that he did this without first arranging to acquire citizenship in another country. So he made himself stateless.
He was in Australia when he renounced his citizenship, and had assumed he would be able to stay there. But no, Australia promptly deported him to the U.S. Then, as a stateless person, he discovered that he was effectively trapped in the U.S. because he couldn't travel anywhere else without a passport. He managed to make it into Canada and Mexico a few times without a passport, but they both eventually shipped him back to the States. He also couldn't legally work without a social security number. So he became homeless, surviving on "odd jobs and the generosity of strangers."
After much begging and pleading, he was able to regain his U.S. citizenship in 1993.
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 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.