Weird Universe Archive

July 2016

July 31, 2016

More Site Woes

As part of the ongoing site upgrade and maintenance we've been doing lately, we moved the site on Saturday night to a shiny, fast, new server. This inadvertently caused a cascade of problems. First, it took the site offline entirely until about mid-day Sunday. Then a whole bunch of settings got reset to default values. As a result, no one could post comments because the captcha settings were all messed up.

I think I've got most of the settings back to the way they should be.

However, a bigger problem is that now we're not able to post new entries. Doing so triggers a database error. But mysteriously, we can edit and update (and entirely change) old entries, which is what we're doing for the time being.

Also, some of our attempts to create new posts created mystery, ghost posts that appear only in partial form, such as Paul's cryptic post below [edit: now above now gone], "Upgrade Madness." We're unable to delete these ghost posts.

I've contacted professionals who will hopefully be able to solve these problems, though not until Monday or Tuesday.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 31, 2016 - Comments (0)

Name That List, #32

What is this a list of? The answer is below in extended.

  • 5 American flags
  • 2 golf balls
  • 12 pairs of boots
  • 96 bags of urine, feces, and vomit
  • Several improvised javelins
  • Insulating blankets
  • Used wet wipes
  • A feather from Baggin, the Air Force Academy's mascot falcon
  • A small silicon disk bearing goodwill messages from 73 world leaders
  • A cast golden olive branch

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 31, 2016 - Comments (8)
Category: Name That List


Full story here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 31, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Music, Video, 1960s

July 30, 2016

Follies of the Madmen #289


Erotic embrace of gasoline pump by 1920s woman indicates America's love affair with cars dates to earliest era.

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 30, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Motor Vehicles, Public Indecency, 1920s

July 29, 2016

Trial By Touch

Back in colonial times, the American legal system occasionally relied upon a curious form of murder investigation known as "Trial by Touch." The book Legal Executions in New England: A Comprehensive Reference offers this explanation:

It was widely believed in those days that "murdered blood cried for vengeance" just as the blood of Abel was said to have "cried up from the ground." This formed the rationale for a further belief that if a murderer touched the corpse of his victim, that corpse would either bleed or have the "blood come fresh upon it."

That same book offers a number of examples of people found guilty by means of the Trial by Touch. For instance, in 1644 Goodwife Cornish of York, Maine, was accused of killing her husband, whose body was found floating in the York River:

Goodwife Cornish and Edward Johnson [her supposed lover] were both confronted with the decomposed remains of Richard Cornish and compelled to put their hands thereon. As they did so, blood oozed from the dead man's wounds.

Both of the accused were next brought before a council of local officials. The ensuing "trial" was a farce. The prosecution's only evidence was the result of the "Trial by Touch" and hearsay about the woman's character. It was her reputation more than anything else that counted against Goodwife Cornish. She was declared guilty and condemned to death. Edward Johnson was acquitted.

During her "trial" Goodwife Cornish continued to deny all knowledge of the murder. She repeated her admissions of lewd conduct and even named a local official as one of her lovers. Few doubted the story because the man had a reputation of his own. Goodwife Cornish was hanged at York in December of 1644. There the matter ended.

Trial by Touch was referred to by a number of different names, such as "Ordeal by Touch" or "Ordeal of the Bier." The Penny Magazine (January 1842) explains this latter name:

The murdered person was placed upon a bier, and the suspected assassin desired to approach and touch the corpse. If blood flowed from the wounds, or the position of the body became changed, the charge of murder was considered as proven. The ordeal of the bier was in frequent use in the sixteenth century, and was even resorted to on one occasion at the commencement of the eighteenth.

I haven't found much info in academic sources about the Trial by Touch. Evidently the custom was widely practiced throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and then brought to America by settlers. And apparently a bleeding corpse wasn't the only indicator of guilt. If the corpse seemed to change color, sweat, or move at all, that would be enough to convict the accused. In The Old Farmer and His Almanack (1920), GL Kittredge offers the example of the trial of Johan Norkott in England (1628):

On this occasion the minister of the parish, "a very reverend person," testified (and his evidence was corroborated) that when the body was touched by the defendants thirty days after death, "the brow of the dead, which before was of a livid and carrion colour, begun to have a dew or gentle sweat arise on it, which increased by degrees, till the sweat ran down in drops on the face. The brow turned to a lively and fresh colour and the deceased opened one of her eyes and shut it again: And this opening the eye was done three several times. She likewise thrust out the ring or marriage finger three times, and pulled it in again; and the finger dropped blood from it on the grass."

The illustration at the top is by the Hungarian artist Mihály Zichy (1894). It depicts a scene from a ballad about a woman found guilty, by means of the Ordeal by Touch, of killing her young husband (via Hungarian Art History).

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 29, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, Customs, Death

Teen Suicide Inspired by Media!

Yes, a "contemporary" trend happening in 1921.

Original story here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 29, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Suicide, Movies, Teenagers, 1920s

July 28, 2016

Not The Right Tool For The Job

A Lamborghini towing a trailer. leaves me speechless.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 28, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Highways, Roads, Streets and Traffic, Can’t Possibly Be True, Cars

The 1948 Democratic Convention Doves

Image source: Life - July 5, 1968

The Democratic National Convention is currently underway in Philadelphia. The last time the Democrats held their convention in that city was back in 1948, when they nominated Harry S. Truman as the Democratic candidate.

It was a memorable convention in a number of ways (the first televised one, for instance), but among weird-news types it's remembered as the Convention where they decided to release 48 doves inside the convention hall. Zachary Karabell described the stunt in his book The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election (2000) (via Presidential History Geeks):
"Even when Truman was actually nominated, the evening was marred by mishaps. It was sweltering and the voting had taken far longer than expected. A national committeewoman from Pennsylvania, Emma Guffey Miller, sister of the former Senator Joseph Guffey, planned a surprise tribute for Truman. She had the Pennsylvania Florists Association create a Liberty Bell made of flowers. They had given one to Dewey and naturally Miller wanted to make Truman's bouquet even more impressive. She had the florists place a cage of several dozen pigeons inside the bell, and at the appointed time, she intended to release the pigeons into the hall as symbolic 'doves of peace.'

"The problem was that the pigeons had been placed inside the bell hours before. By the time Miller brought the bell to the podium, two of the birds had died and the rest were desperate for relief from the heat. The minute she opened the cage, they darted out as fast as they could and flew directly toward the thirty-six inch pedestal fans that surrounded the stage. Sam Rayburn, the former Speaker of the House and chairman of the convention proceedings, started swatting at the low flying pigeons. His craggy voice carried to the radio and television microphones, and he could be heard shouting 'get those goddamned pigeons out of here!'

"But they could not be contained. One of them briefly came to rest on Rayburn's head, while another landed on the fan right next to Bess Truman. Other pigeons were flying toward the ceiling and, in their nervousness, started to splatter the delegates with droppings. Watching the absurd scene, Jack Redding turned to Congressman Mike Kirwan and said 'what damned fool could have thought of a thing like this? In this heat they all could be dead. It's bad enough having the Zionists, the Dixiecrats and the Wallace-ites after us, now we got to have somebody to arrange for the SPCA to have at us." By the time Truman came onstage, the surviving birds had retreated to the balconies and the overhead lights, where they watched as the president addressed the recently strafed delegates."

A more contemporary account comes from the Kokomo Tribune (July 28, 1948):

forty and eight white doves [were] released from a huge floral Liberty Bell by Mrs. Emma Guffey Miller at the closing session of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia...

Weighing a neat 140 by Republican (conservative) scales, Mrs. Miller had stood on the platform, the personification of a buxom fairy queen, though without wand or wings. When she waved her lily white hand — Bingo! — a trap door in the bell opened and out flew four dozen of the scaredest pigeons you ever saw. They had been cooped up in that bell for several hours. Their bloodshot eyes popped out and their feathers were bedraggled by the humid 100-degree heat of the convention hall.

Some of the sturdier birds made for the high roof, but the feebler birds fluttered to the first perch they could light on — chairman Sam Rayburn's rostrum and the big electric fans that blew breezes over the speakers' platform. Everybody laughed. Then everybody ducked or threw their arms over their heads. Then everybody hollered or screamed.

The event caused one bard to dash off a quatrain:

Sing a song of Democrats, listen to them yell!
Eight and forty pigeons, parboiled in a bell.
When the bell was opened, the birds began to fly.
Wasn't that an awful thing to hit you in the eye?

Finally, it proved difficult to recapture all the doves.

The Decatur Daily Review - July 15, 1948

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 28, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Politics, 1940s

Pinocchio In Africa

Not expecting Disney to film this sequel any time soon.

Full text here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 28, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Puppets and Automatons, Racism, Fantasy, 1910s, Africa, Europe

July 27, 2016

The Price of Political Baseballs: An Update

Four years ago I posted about the comparative prices on eBay of baseballs signed by presidential candidates. I didn't make any predictions back then. However, Obama-signed baseballs were fetching higher prices than Romney-signed baseballs, and Obama won. Make of that what you will.

So what does the political baseball market on eBay look like in this election year?

If you want a baseball signed by Donald Trump, they go for as low as $10.50 (above left) or as high as $2499.99 (above right). (There's one baseball signed by The Donald, Melania, and Ivanka for which the seller is asking $5000, but since that's 3 signatures it doesn't seem relevant for this data set.)

Gotta say, The Donald sure has a crazy signature! How do those zigzag lines spell out Donald Trump?

Hillary Clinton-signed baseballs can be bought for anywhere between $100.99 (left) and $2499 (right). Again, there are more expensive ones signed by both Hillary and Bill, but I'm only looking at individually signed baseballs here.

What conclusions can we draw from this? Well, the prices are much closer for Hillary vs. Donald than they were for Obama vs. Romney. Perhaps this indicates a closer race. However, Hillary baseballs aren't going for the very low prices that some Donald baseballs are going for. So maybe this indicates that Hillary has a slight advantage. Who knows! We'll find out in November.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 27, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Politics

Page 1 of 7 pages  1 2 3 >  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
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 •