Weird Universe Archive

February 2017

February 28, 2017

Cockroach Magnetization

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore recently made an unusual discovery, which is that "the magnetic properties of living cockroaches are strikingly different from those of dead cockroaches."

Place a living cockroach in a magnetic field and it'll become magnetized, and then stay magnetized for about 50 minutes.

Place a dead cockroach in a magnetic field and it'll also become magnetized, but then remain magnetized for almost 50 hours.

The reason for the difference:

Cockroaches become magnetized because they contain magnetic particles that become aligned with an external magnetic field. These particles are trapped in a runny medium that has low viscosity in living cockroaches. But as soon as the creatures die, the medium begins to harden and its viscosity increases.

So I'm curious how strongly magnetized dead cockroaches become. Would it be possible to use them as refrigerator magnets?

More info: MIT Technology Review

Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 28, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Insects and Spiders, Science, Experiments

Mystery Illustration 40

Who was the celebrity groom who wore this amazing outfit to his wedding?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Tue Feb 28, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: 1970s, Weddings

February 27, 2017

Heaton’s Aerocommuter

Back in 1974, David Heaton spent $50,000 pursuing his dream of building an "aerocommuter" -- a two-person flying saucer that would "cost no more than a medium-priced American car," thereby allowing everyone to fly to work.

He claimed to have all the engineering problems worked out, but it doesn't sound like one of these things ever managed to leave the ground.

Aiken Standard - June 6, 1974

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 27, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Inventions, Air Travel and Airlines, 1970s

Very Long Prison Sentences Served

Original article here.

Try to guess where Honeck's stint places him in the Top Ten "Longest Times in the Stir."

Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 27, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Crime, Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough, 1960s

February 26, 2017

News of the Weird (February 26, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M516, February 26, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

U-S-A! U-S-A!: Although discouraging marriage of children in developing nations has been U.S. foreign policy for years, a data-collecting watchdog group in America disclosed in February that 27 U.S. states, as well, have no minimum marriage ages and estimates that an average of almost 25,000 children age 15 and under are permitted to marry every year ("estimates" because some states do not keep records by age). Child marriage is often allowed in the U.S. if parents approve, although no such exemption is made in foreign policy, largely to curb developing nations' "family honor" marriages--which often wreck girls' chances for self-actualizing. (However, "family honor" is still in some states the basis for allowing U.S. child marriages, such as with "shotgun" weddings.) [Unchained At Last via Washington Post, 2-10-2017]

Compelling Explanations

Creative: (1) Glenn Schloeffel, vice president of the Central Bucks school board in a Philadelphia suburb, recommended that science books be viewed skeptically on "climate change" because teenage "depression" rates have been increasing. Surely, he said, one factor depressing students is reading all that alarming climate-change data. (2) Seattle's Real Estate Services rental agency has informed the family of the late Dennis Hanel that it would not return Hanel's security deposit following his January death because Hanel had not given the lease-required "notice" giving up his apartment. (He had cancer but died of a heart attack. Washington state law requires only that the landlord provide an explanation why it is keeping the deposit.) [Philadelphia Magazine, 2-14-2017] [Crosscut Public Media (Seattle), 2-15-2017]

Runaway Math

John Haskew, who told investigators that he was "self-taught on the banking industry," evidently thought he might succeed making bogus wire transfers to himself from a large (unidentified) national bank, in the amount of $7 billion. He pleaded guilty in February in Lakeland, Fla. (He said he thought he "deserved" the money.) (2) Katherine Kempson, 49, deciding to pay "cash" for a $1.2 million home, forged (according to York County, Pa., deputies) a "proof of funds" letter from the Members 1st credit union. Home sales are, of course, highly-regulated formalities, and several attempted "closings" were halted when her money kept not showing up. One deputy told a reporter, "I'm guessing she probably didn't think it through." [WFTV (Orlando), 2-3-2017] [York Daily Record, 2-3-2017]

The highest bail amount ever ordered in America--$4 billion for murder suspect Antonio Willis--was briefly in play in Killeen, Tex., in February, set by Bell County's elected Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown. Bail was reduced 10 days later, to $150,000, by a district court judge, prompting Brown to acknowledge that she set the "$4 billion" to call attention to Texas's lack of bail standards, which especially punishes indigent arrestees with little hope of raising even modest amounts when accused of minor crimes. [Fox News, 2-13-2017]

Wait, What?

Researchers including Rice University biochemist John Olson revealed in a February journal article that one reason why a man avoided anemia even though he had a gene mutation that weakened his hemoglobin was because he has been a tobacco smoker--that the carbon monoxide from smoke had been therapeutic. His daughter, with the same gene mutation, did develop anemia since she never smoked (although Olson suggested other ways besides smoking to strengthen hemoglobin, such as by massive vitamin C). [Rice University via New York Post, 2-16-2017]

Several death-penalty states continue to be frustrated by whether their lethal-injection "cocktails" make death so painful as to be unconstitutionally "cruel," and Arizona's latest "solution," announced as a Department of Corrections protocol, is for the condemned to supply their own (presumably less unpleasant) drugs. (There was immediate objection, noting that such drugs might only be available by black market--and questioning whether the government can legally force someone to kill himself.) [The Guardian (London), 2-15-2017]

People With Underdeveloped Consciences

(1) Just before Christmas, Tammy Strickland, 38, was arrested in Polk County, Fla., and charged with stealing 100 toys from a Toys For Tots collection box. (2) In February, thieves unbolted and stole a PlayStation from the children's cancer ward at Wellington Hospital in New Zealand. (3) Judith Permar, 56, who was found dead, stuck in a clothing-donation drop-off box in Mount Carmel, Pa., in February (a result, police said, of trying to "steal" items), had driven to the box in her Hummer. [Bay News 9 (St. Petersburg), 12-20-2016] [New Zealand Herald, 2-10-2017] [, 2-7-2017]

Recent Alarming Headlines

"America's Top Fortune Cookie Writer Is Quitting Because of Writer's Block" (Time magazine, 2-3-2017). "Vaginal Pain Helps Exonerate Man Accused of Murder" (Miami Herald, 2-8-2017) (emergency medical technicians treating his sister corroborated his alibi). "Dresden Protest Against Anti-Islam Pegida Group Banned Over Snowball Fight Fears" (The Independent (London), 1-24-2017) (previously in Dresden, Germany, religious-freedom demonstrators chose "tossing snowballs" as appropriate for ridiculing Pegida).

Phallic News From Overseas

(1) Earlier, He Would Have Been Worshiped: In February, doctors at Narayana Health City in Bangalore, India, were successful in five-hour, 20-specialist surgery in normalizing the infant born with the chromosomal abnormality "polymelia"--which resulted in four legs and two penises. Doctors praised the parents, from rural Puladinni village, for recognizing the issue as "medical" and not as "superstition." (2) In February, police in southern Bangladesh arrested a family that used a fake penis to convince neighbors that the family had the powers of genies ("djinns"). The villagers had known the family had a girl, but overnight the genies had "changed" her into a "boy," thus frightening the villagers into making offerings to the family. [CNN, 2-10-2017] [Agence France-Presse via Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2-8-2017]

Undignified Deaths

(1) Unhappy Ending: Clifford Jones, 58, was killed in a one-vehicle crash in Detroit in January, having lost control of his car because (according to Michigan State Police) he was distracted by watching pornography on his cell phone. He was also not wearing pants. (2) Leslie Ray Charping, 75, of Galveston, Tex., lived "much longer than he deserved" (according to his daughter, in a widely-shared obituary in February) in a life that "served no obvious purpose." The death notice referenced his "bad parenting" and "being generally offensive," and closed with "Leslie's passing proves that evil does in fact die." [The Smoking Gun, 1-26-2017] [KTRK-TV (Houston), 2-10-2017]

Least Competent Criminals

Willie Anthony, 20, and Jamarqua Davis, 16, were arrested in Kannapolis, N.C., in February after, police said, they broke into a Rent-a-Center at 2 a.m. and stole a big-screen TV. After loading the set into one car, they drove off in separate vehicles, but in their haste smashed into each other in the parking lot. Both men subsequently drove the wrong way down South Cannon Boulevard, and both then accidentally crashed separately into other vehicles, allowing police to catch up. [WCNC-TV (Charlotte), 2-8-2017]

The Passing Parade

(1) Nelson Foyle, 93, is believed to be Britain's longest-time patron of the same pub (the Dog & Gun in Salisbury, England), and fellow drinkers recently bought him an honorary "lordship" title to mark his 80th year on the establishment's barstools. (2) An art collective in a Los Angeles storefront re-created (for a two-week run in January) a retro video store which featured only boxed VHS editions of the movie "Jerry Maguire"--about 14,000 copies. [NPR, 2-14-2017] [LA Weekly, 1-14-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (May 2013)

The beauty pageant each April at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Tex., requires traditional abilities (interview poise, evening-gown fashion, talent) but also some skill and inclination to milk and skin rattlers. High school senior Kyndra Vaught won this year's [2013] Miss Snake Charmer, wearing jeweled boots one night for her country-western ballad, then Kevlar boots and camouflage chaps the next as she took on dozens of rattlers in the wooden snake pit. Vaught expertly held up one snake, offered its tail-end rattles for a baby to touch, then helped measure, milk, and skin the buzzing, slithery serpent. [Los Angeles Times, 4-12-2013]

Thanks This Week to Stan Kaplan, Vernon Balbert, and Harry Thompson, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Feb 26, 2017 - Comments (0)

Fish Bowl Fashion

Some examples of fish bowls (with live fish) incorporated into fashion:

In 1954, Kathleen Radel created fish bowl earrings containing live guppies.

The Pittsburgh Press - Apr 4, 1954

More recently, London fashion designer Cassandra Verity Green included a goldfish handbag in her "Neptune's Daughter" collection of knitwear.

And finally, there's the Japanese artist Eijiro Miyama who's known for riding around on his bicycle wearing, among other things, fish bowl earrings that contain live goldfish.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 26, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Fashion, Jewelry, 1950s

President Naa Hoo Woo of the USA

What a blatant instance of cultural appropriation!

Original foto here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Feb 26, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Fashion, Politics, Officials, 1970s, Native Americans

February 25, 2017

Death by Space Helmet

Another example of the danger of reading comic books. From July 1954:

a man suffocated by a plastic raincoat round his head was trying to copy a space-helmet he saw illustrated in a "comic." He appeared to be trying to imagine the sensation of travelling through space.

See here for a previous example.

The Guardian - July 27, 1954

Perhaps the space helmet that inspired him looked something like this:

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 25, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Comics, Headgear, 1950s

Eddie Harris:  That Is Why You’re Overweight

Although the tune is fine, the lyrics are the thing here, and they start around 2:20.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Feb 25, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Addictions, Food, Music, 1980s

February 24, 2017

Secret to a successful marriage

February 1954: J. Frank Winebrenner, wed 72 years, when asked what the secret to his successful marriage was, replied, "We did little fussin'. We said little. Mostly we just set."

Looks like Frank died in March 1955 and Tressa in 1956. They're still "setting" together, saying little.

Chicago Daily Tribune - Feb 10, 1954

Los Angeles Times - Feb 4, 1954

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 24, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Marriage, 1950s

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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.

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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.

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