1971: After relocating the Boston Patriots from Boston to Foxborough (a half-hour south), team owner Billy Sullivan decided he needed to rename the team. So they became the Bay State Patriots.
A month later he changed the name again, to the New England Patriots. The reason this time: a radio announcer had referred to the team as the "BS Patriots." Sullivan explained, "We didn't think that abbreviation would reflect well on either the team or the league."
Between the 1930s and 1970s, employees at Merriam-Webster created a massive "backward index." It was a card catalog, containing all the words in its dictionary typed backwards. It eventually included around 315,000 index cards.
The reason for creating this thing was to allow the company to find words with similar endings. Such as all words ending in 'ological'. It also helped them create a rhyming dictionary.
Computers made the backward index obsolete, but it still sits in the basement of the company's headquarters.
A Weird Universe News Service
April 3, 2017
Who knew? The Illuminati's plans for Earth include members' right to public "indecency" under a blanket. [WPLG-TV]
How to tell if you're drunk: You can't squeeze your stolen gun far enough up your butt to keep it from falling out in the police station. [AL.com]
Something Else You Can Do in 2017: be served water with the color and taste of lemonade added digitally. [New Scientist]
Agreed: Sheriff's deputies and Clovis, Calif., cops ought to have been able to arrest that homeless man they were after (for stealing an ice cream bar)--without burning down David Jessen's farmhouse. [Techdirt]
Wrong Place, Wrong Time: You're safe on top of your floating car when a flood hits--until all the deadly insects in the area seek refuge, too. (Bonus: Australia! Everything's deadly!) [9News.com]
So many suicides in Kota, India, that they're adding spring sensors to ceiling fans so the blades go limp when self-hangers try to Take The Only Way Out. [The Hindu]
Also in India: The maximum sentence for cow slaughter in Gujarat state is now the same as in 22 U.S. states for killing a human. (In other news, about that "female genital mutilation" thingy, Gujarat will, y'know, try to get that stopped, y'know, if they have time.) [New York Times]
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M521, April 2, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
China's public-park restrooms have for years suffered toilet-paper theft by local residents who raid dispensers for their own homes (a cultural habit, wrote Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, expressing taxpayer feelings of "owning" public facilities), but the government recently fought back with technology. At Beijing's popular Temple of Heaven park, dispensers now have facial-recognition scanners beside the six toilets, with pre-cut paper (about 24 inches long) issued only to users who pose for a picture. (Just one slug of paper can be dispensed to the same face in a 9-minute period, catastrophic for the diarrhea-stricken and requiring calling an attendant to override the machine.) [South China Morning Post, 3-2-2017; BBC News, 3-20-2017]
Latest Religious Messages
The church-state "wall" leaks badly in Spindale, N.C., according to former members of the Word of Faith Fellowship (reported in February by the Associated Press). Two state prosecutors (one, a relative of the church's founder), in nearby Burke and Rutherford counties, allegedly coached Fellowship members and leaders how to neutralize government investigations into church "abuse"--coaching that would violate state law and attorney ethical standards. Fellowship officials have been accused of beating "misbehaving" congregants, including children, in order to repel their demons. (Among the Fellowship's edicts revealed in the AP report: All "dating," marriages, and procreation subject to approval; no wedding-night intimacy beyond a "godly" cheek kiss; subsequent marital sex limited to 30 minutes, no foreplay, lights off, missionary position.) [Associated Press via Winston-Salem Journal, 3-6-2017]
Babies born on the Indonesian island of Bali are still today treated regally under an obscure Hindu tradition, according to a February New York Times report, and must not be allowed to touch the earth for 105 days (in some areas, 210). (Carrying the infant in a bucket and setting that on the ground is apparently acceptable.) Each birth is actually a re-birth, they say, with ancestors returning as their own descendants. (Accidentally touching the ground does not condemn the baby but may leave questions about negative influences.) [New York Times, 2-19-2017]
Catholic priest Juan Carlos Martinez, 40, apologized shortly after realizing, as he said, he had gone "too far" in celebrating March's Carnival in a town in the Galicia area of Spain--that he acted inappropriately in dressing as Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, reclining on a red satin sheet on a parade float carrying men dressed as classic Playboy "Bunnies." Despite apparent public support for Father Martinez, his Archbishop asked him to attend a "spiritual retreat" to reflect on his behavior. [The Local (Barcelona), 3-10-2017]
The Bedroom of Tomorrow
In March, vibrator customers were awarded up to $10,000 each in their class-action "invasion of privacy" lawsuit against the company Standard Innovation, whose We-Vibe model's smartphone app collected intimate data (vibrator temperature and motor intensity) that could be associated with particular customers--and which were easily hackable, and controllable, by anyone nearby with a Bluetooth connection. The Illinois federal court limited the award to $199 for anyone who bought the vibrator but did not activate the app. [The Guardian (London), 3-14-2017]
The company British Condoms is now accepting pre-orders for the iCon Smart Condom, with an app that can track, among other data, a man's "thrust velocity," calories expended "per session," and skin temperature, as well as do tests for chlamydia and syphilis. Projected price is about US$75, but the tech news site CNet reported in March that no money will be collected until the product is ready to ship. [CNet News, 3-2-2017]
The U.S. House of Representatives, demonstrating particular concern for military veterans, enhanced vets' civil rights in March by removing a source of delay in gun purchases. A 2007 law had required all federal agencies to enter any mentally-ill clients into the National Instant Criminal Background Check database for gun purchases, but the new bill exempts "veterans" (including, per VA estimates, 19,000 schizophrenics and 15,000 with "severe" post-traumatic stress syndrome). (An average of a dozen veterans a day in recent times have committed suicide with guns.) [Huffington Post, 3-16-2017]
Fine Points of the Law
Police and prosecutors in Williamsburg, Va., are absolutely certain that Oswaldo Martinez raped and killed a teenage girl in 2005, but, though he was quickly arrested, they have--12 years later--not even put him on trial. Martinez, then 33, is still apparently, genuinely (i.e., not faking) deaf, illiterate, and almost mute, and besides that, the undocumented Salvadorean immigrant has such limited intelligence that test after test has shown him incapable of understanding his legal rights, and therefore "incompetent" to stand trial. (Police made multiple "slam dunk" findings of Martinez's DNA on the victim's body and also linked Martinez via a store camera to the very bottle of juice left at the crime scene.) [Washington Post, 3-13-2017]
On the morning of March 20th in Winter Park, Fla., Charles Howard, standing outside his home being interviewed live by a WFTV reporter, denied he had committed a crime in a widely-reported series of voicemail messages to U.S. Congress members, containing threats to "wrap a rope around your neck and hang you from a lamp post." He boasted that "proof" of his having done nothing wrong was that if he had, he would have already been arrested. "Three minutes later," according to the reporter, agents drove up and arrested Howard. [WFTV (Orlando), 3-20-2017]
People Different From Us
Hey, How About a Little "Remorse": (1) Royce Atkins, 23, told the judge in Northampton County (Pa.) in March that he was so sorry he did not stop his car in 2015 and help that 9-year-old boy he had just hit and killed. However, Atkins had earlier been jailhouse-recorded viciously trash-talking the boy's family for "reacting like they're the victims. What about my family? My family is the victim, too." (Atkins got a four-year sentence.) (2) In February, in a Wayne County (Mich.) court during sentencing for a DUI driver who had killed a man and severely injured his fiancee, Judge Qiana Lillard kicked the driver's mother out of the courtroom for laughing at the victim's sister who was tearfully addressing the judge. (Lillard sentenced the mother to 93 days for contempt). [Lehigh Valley Live, 3-32017] [CBS News, 2-28-2017]
Among the facts revealed in the ongoing criminal proceedings against U.S. Navy officials and defense contractor Leonard ("Fat Leonard") Francis, who is charged with arranging kickbacks: In 2007 Francis staged a party for the officials at the Shangri-La Hotel in the Philippines during which (according to an indictment unsealed in March) "historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts." [Washington Post, 3-14-2017]
The Passing Parade
(1) A 23-year-old Albuquerque woman performed cartwheels instead of a standard "field sobriety test" at a DUI stop in February, but she did poorly and was charged, anyway. On the other hand, student Blayk Puckett, stopped by University of Central Arkansas police, helped shield himself from a DUI by juggling for the officer. (2) Oreos fans sampling the limited-edition Peeps Oreos in February expressed alarm that not only their tongue and saliva turned pink but also their stools (and leaving a pink ring in the bowl). A gastroenterologist told Live Science it was nothing to worry about. [Albuquerque Journal, 2-21-2017] [KTHV-TV (Little Rock), 3-7-2017] [Live Science, 3-6-2017]
A News of the Weird Classic (July 2013)
Yasuomi Hirai, 26, was arrested in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, in June  after being identified in news reports as the man who had crawled “dozens of meters” in an underground gutter solely to gain access to a particular sidewalk grate near Konan Women’s University--so that he could look up at skirt-wearers passing over the grate. After one pedestrian, noting the pair of eyes below, summoned a police officer, Hirai scurried down the gutter and escaped, but since he had been detained several months earlier on a similar complaint, police soon arrested him. [Japan Daily Press, 6-13-2013] [Kotaku.com, 6-21-2013]
Thanks This Week to Mel Birge, Jim Weber, Russell Bell, Bruce Strickland, Stan Kaplan, and Ivan Katz, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Back in 1982, Howard Blakely transformed the back half of his Volkswagen Beetle into a lawn mower. Twice a week, he would use it to mow the three acres of grass around his business, Blakely's Drapery and Upholstering, in Lecanto, Florida.
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.