Weird Universe Archive

April 2017

April 25, 2017

7 Clicks (April 24, 2017)

7 Clicks
A Weird Universe News Service
April 24, 2017

Can't Possibly Be True: Backpacking white college kids frolicking in poor Asian countries--and begging locals to crowdfund them. [The Coverage (Malaysia)]

Nor This One: Ms. I. H. Spjut, a California restaurant server, born in 1998 with the birth name Isis Harambe Spjut. [Daily Dot]

U-S-A! U-S-A! District of Columbia officials, after complaints from merchants, airport workers, and others, change their driver's license to "Washington, D.C." because "District of Columbia" confuses the 9th-grade-Civics dropouts. [WTOP Radio]

"Kenya Cancels Primaries After Too Many Voters Turn Up"--Deutsche Press-Agentur headline via Deutsche Welle

Let's not get carried away: Police chief in Avondale, Ariz., swore in his new officer, a "drug-sniffing" bearded dragon

See? Not just Wall Street gets off clean. The United Nations-backed tribunal prosecuting Cambodia's 1.7m killing-field victims have just 3 notches in 11 yrs. [NY Times]

It's a shack (with an upscale bathroom), but was listed at $495k, sold for $755k. Oakland, Calif.,'s tony Rockridge. []

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Apr 25, 2017 - Comments (1)

The Sex Detector

The Sex Detector made its debut around 1920. It was a gadget, sold by "Sex-Detector Laboratories," that promised to be able to detect the gender of an egg — or any piece of biological matter whose sex one might want to find out (oysters, butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, worms). It supposedly even worked on blood. So police could use it to discover the sex of a criminal.

It was basically an empty rifle shell suspended on a piece of string. When held over an egg (or whatever) it would reveal through the direction of its motion the sex of the chick inside.

It was probably more accurately described as an idiot detector... the idiot being the one holding the string.

For a while it was heavily advertised in poultry journals, but when inspectors at the U.S. Dept of Agriculture investigated the efficacy of the device, they found it to be useless. It worked no better than a piece of cardboard attached to a thread. Advertisements for the product were banned.

The Leghorn World - Feb 1921

Wilmington Evening Journal - May 4, 1928

Williams News - July 8, 1921

San Francisco Chronicle - Oct 17, 1920

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Feb 5, 1922

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 25, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, 1920s

April 24, 2017

News of the Weird (April 23, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M524, April 23, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

A June 2016 police raid on David Jessen's Fresno County (Calif.) farmhouse caused a $150,000 mess when sheriff's deputies and Clovis Police Department officers "rescued" it from a trespassing homeless man--with the massive destruction leading to Jessen's lawsuit announced in March. The misdemeanant had helped himself to an ice cream bar and half a tomato, but was otherwise "unarmed"; however, by the time the police standoff ended, the "crime scene" included more than 50 cop cars, a SWAT team (and backups), two helicopters, standby ambulances, a police robot, and a crisis negotiation team. Windows, walls, and wrought-iron doors were destroyed; tear gas and a "flash bomb" were employed. (Jessen suspects that the farmhouse's isolation enticed police to decide that it presented an excellent training opportunity.) [TechDirt, 3-13-2017]

Compelling Explanations

"Pro-choice" activist Jessica Farrar (a Texas state legislator) introduced a bill in March to create consistency between the state's rigorous regulation of women's reproductive functions and those of men (regulation which, by the way, in either case she calls "invasive" and "unnecessary"). Because Texas's anti-abortion laws highlight "procreation" as a crucial government interest, she believes male use of erectile-dysfunction drugs should be regulated as abortion is. Under her bill, individual use of "Viagra" or similar drugs must be preceded by "counseling" similar to that required by abortion laws, and since male masturbation involves the "wasting" of precious sperm cells, it, too, would require "beforehand" counseling. [Texas Tribune, 3-12-2017]

Jason Sexton told KFSM-TV in Fort Smith, Ark., in April that he alone had been digging the massive hole neighbors noticed, now 34 feet deep and with separate tunnels extending off of the main hole. Police had come to check it out, since it was on another person's private property (and not the city's, which Sexton had assumed). He said he had been digging off and on for three years to get an answer to whether "the Spanish" had been in Fort Smith centuries ago, mining iron, and, if so, the site should therefore be a lucrative tourist destination. Sexton said he felt he had to give his explanation: "Nobody in their right mind," he said, "would dig a hole [this big] for no reason." [KFSM-TV, 4-13-2017]

Crime Report

At a time of growing awareness that some people seem almost addicted to their cell phones and instant 24/7 communication, police in Brookfield, Wis., released surveillance photos of a woman in the act of robbing banks on March 25th and 27th--while standing at teller counters and talking on the phone during the entire episodes. Acting on a tip from the photos, police arrested Sarah Kraus, 33, on March 28th. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-29-2017]

College activist Pablo Gomez Jr., 22, was arrested in Berkeley, Calif., in March and charged with the brutal stabbing death of an elementary school teacher. Gomez, a senior at University of California, Berkeley, is well-known on campus for insisting on a gender identify for which (as an example) the pronoun "he" is an inappropriate reference. (Hence, "they" was charged with what is so far the only homicide in Berkeley this year.) [San Jose Mercury News, 3-27-2017]

Paul Perry, Jr., 39, sound asleep behind the wheel of his car, with motor running, at 6 a.m. on April 2nd, was in no position to talk his way out of a DUI ticket but did offer a gentle challenge to the Youngstown, Ohio, police officer. Several times, according to the police report, Perry offered to "thumb wrestle" the officer to get out of the ticket. From the report: "Perry was advised officers would not thumb-wrestle him." [Youngstown Vindicator, 4-4-2017]

Wait, What? A father, 43, and his son, 22, argued on April 9th about who would walk the dog at their home on Chicago's South Side. They apparently thought to settle the issue with a gunfight, and police, who recovered the two weapons, said both men received multiple wounds. The son was killed, and the father was in critical condition. [WLS-TV (Chicago), 4-10-2017]

Leading Economic Indicators

The eight elite Ivy League universities are better thought of as "hedge fund[s] with classes," according to a March report by the activist Open The Books, and thus there is little reason for taxpayers to have given them the more than $41 billion in grants and entitlements they received over a recent six-year period. The schools are already legendary for their $119 billion "endowments" (based on donations from alumni and aggressive investment). Those endowments are enough, according to Open The Books, that (assuming donations continue to arrive at the same pace) schools could provide free tuition to every student in the eight schools--in perpetuity. (Even if no new donations are made, the eight schools could provide such free tuition for 51 years.) [Fox News, 3-29-2017]


Federico Musto was suspected recently by of audaciously inventing academic credentials to help land his job as CEO of the company Arduino (a circuit-board manufacturer popular in the computer industry among coders creating, among other things, robots and motion detectors). Arduino's work is "open source"--creating hardware that others, by design, exploit and modify for their own loftier projects. It might thus be said that Musto's claimed academic "accomplishments" (his so-called MBA from New York University and claimed Ph.D from MIT) are themselves the product of his having "open-sourced" his own, previously modest curriculum vitae. [, 4-16-2017]

Bright Ideas

In February, local government and sexual-assault critics unveiled a consciousness-raising exhibit on Mexico City's trains: a plastic seat onto which is subtly molded contours of a male body, except with genitals sharply exposed. (Men supposedly have been spotted absent-mindedly lowering themselves onto the seat only to leap up in shock.) A note on the floor by the body read (in Spanish): "It's uncomfortable to sit here, but that's nothing compared to the sexual violence suffered by women on their commute." [New York Times, 3-31-2017]

The Foreign Press

(1) Village police in Bangladesh arrested Yasin Byapari, 45, in January on the complaint of his wife--after she had learned that she was not, as he had told her, his second spouse but rather the 25th of his 28. (Police found him at the home of Number 27.) The accuser said she had, through sleuthing, tracked down 17 of her "competitors." (2) A male schoolteacher reported in February that he had been kidnaped by four women near Lupane, Zimbabwe, drugged with a beverage, and sexually assaulted. Police set up roadblocks and arrested three women with 31 condoms full of semen in what appears to be a return of the "sperm bandits" said to operate in the area. [BDNews24 (Dhaka), 1-24-2017] [Daily Mail (London) via MyNewsGH (Ghana), 3-1-2017]

The Passing Parade

(1) In same-day competition in March, perennial Guinness Book records jockeys Zoe L'Amore and Ashrita Furman squared off over the record for stopping blades on an electric table fan the most times in one minute using only their tongues. On Italian TV, L'Amore stopped blades 32 times, but Furman, at a different venue, later stopped 35. (2) Norway unseated Denmark as the world's "happiest" country, according to the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network. (There was no word on whether Denmark was unhappy about losing the top spot.) [UPI News, 3-31-2017] [Reuters, 3-20-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (August 2013)

The upscale restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced in August [2013] that it would soon add a 20-item selection of waters from around the world, priced at from $8 to $16 a bottle (and a $12 “tasting menu”). The restaurant's manager, Martin Riese, who is a renowned water gourmet, will sell his own California-made 9OH2O (from “limited editions of 10,000 individually numbered glass bottles” at $14 each). Riese has been certified as a "Water Sommelier" by the German Mineral Water Association. [Ray’s & Stark restaurant press release via, 8-6-2013]

Thanks This Week to Jim Weber, Stan Kaplan, and "John Smith," and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Apr 24, 2017 - Comments (2)

Telephone Marathons

Back in 1961, the fad of holding marathon telephone calls swept college campuses. The girls dormitory would call the boys dormitory, and then people would take it in turns to keep the phone call going for days, or weeks. Of course, the dormitory phone would be tied up that entire time... so too bad if you had to use it for an actual call.

The longest telephone marathon I can find a record of took place at Southern Illinois University in 1965, where they planned a 2½ month phone call. Though I don't know if the full call was actually completed.

(above and below) Dec 1961: Western Michigan students talked on the phone for 504 hours.

Southern Illinoisan - June 30, 1965

Posted By: Alex - Mon Apr 24, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Fads, 1960s, Universities, Colleges, Private Schools and Academia

Mystery Illustration 43

What hideous problem afflicts this man? Halitosis? B.O.? Blackheads?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Apr 24, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Body, Advertising, 1920s

April 23, 2017

The Dimple Maker

Invented by Mrs. E. Isabella Gilbert in 1936 (although I think similar gadgets had been on the market before). They came with these instructions: "Wear dimplers five minutes at a time, two or three times a day, while dressing, resting, reading or writing. Look into the mirror and laugh. There will be a semblance of a line where you should always place the dimplers until your dimples are made."

According to History By Zim: "The American Medical Association argued that the 'Dimple Maker' would not make dimples or even enlarge original dimples. They also stated that prolonged use of the devise may actually cause cancer."

Louisville Courier-Journal - June 19, 1937

Battle Creek Enquirer - June 19, 1937

Detroit Free Press - Aug 9, 1936

Medford Mail Tribune - Nov 22, 1936

Newsweek - June 19, 1937

1947: Erma Schnitter models the dimple maker

Update: I was curious to know when exactly the American Medical Association denounced the Dimple Maker, since the History by Zim blog didn't mention a date. I tracked it down to 1947, when the AMA put together a collection of quack medical products that it displayed on a nationwide tour of museums.

The Philadelphia Inquirer - Jan 11, 1948

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 23, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Inventions, 1930s

April 22, 2017

The City Flag of Tampa

Our own Chuck Shepherd, longtime resident of Tampa, Florida, can salute his city's improbable flag as one of the ugliest banners in the history of banner-dom. He modestly suggests that more people should know of it, to induce further laughter and insults.

And yet, surprisingly, neighboring burg of St. Pete has a halfway decent ensign--if you like pelicans.

Full article here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Apr 22, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Annoying Things, Government, Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art, Regionalism, Chuck

Artist Lays Egg

Poincheval hatching eggs

Chuck mentioned a few weeks ago that French performance artist Abraham Poincheval would soon be sitting on a dozen eggs until they hatch. He's now well into the process of doing that and has hatched nine eggs already.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 22, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Publicity Stunts, Performance Art, Farming

Page 2 of 8 pages  < 1 2 3 4 >  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
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 •