Weird Universe Archive

May 2017

May 12, 2017

His and Her Bikinis

Fashion from the 1970s. For couples that like to match.

The Oshkosh Northwestern - Jan 8, 1970


Unisex apparel goes one step further with the advent of "His and Her" two-piece bikinis, shown in New York from the design board of Rudi Gernreich, creator of the topless bathing suit. The male's top looks like an athletic shirt that ends mid-point between the shoulder and elbow, exposing the abdomen from that point to the waistline.

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 12, 2017 - Comments (8)
Category: Fashion, 1970s

The Empire of the Sahara




In June 1903 a French sugar millionaire, one Jacques Lebaudy, a dapper little man with a sharp nose and a shrill high-pitched voice who was said to have a personal fortune of some pounds 3m, recruited a dozen Breton sailors and landed them on the coast of Spanish Morocco, commanding them to go forth and establish an empire. Lebaudy then informed the French authorities that he was henceforth to be addressed as Jacques I, Najin-al-Den, Emperor of the Sahara, Commander of the Faithful, King of Tarfaia, Duke of Arleuf and Prince of Chal-Huin.


Full account here, including his inglorious death.

Wikipedia entry here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri May 12, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Bombast, Bloviation and Pretentiousness, Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Eccentrics, 1900s, Africa, Europe

May 11, 2017

Height Increaser For Short People

"The patient lifted himself by the chin which was cradled in a sling attached to ropes looped to an overhead beam."

In 1937, the American Medical Association warned the public that this device, despite being widely advertised, didn't actually work.

The Muncie Star Press - Apr 9, 1937

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 11, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Inventions, 1930s

Mystery Illustration 45



Which product is exemplified by this illustration?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 11, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Advertising, Surrealism, 1940s

May 10, 2017

Middle Finger Candle

You could have one of these burning in your front window to let neighbors/salesmen/people-trying-to-convert-you know how you feel about them.


Available from the Cool Material Shop.

via SylK's Playground

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 10, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Products

Mildred Our Choir Director



Posted By: Paul - Wed May 10, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Humor, Music, 1950s

May 9, 2017

The Drivometer

A device for simulating driving, and measuring the skill of drivers, which was developed at Iowa State's Driving Research Laboratory in the 1930s.



A description of what it felt like to operate the thing. It sounds like it would have made a good arcade game. From The Dalles Chronicle - Aug 21, 1936:

Dr. Alvan R. Lauer of Iowa State college sent here today a shiny red instrument of torture, designed apparently to give the ordinary, garden-variety motorist the everlasting willies. This device, which Dr. Lauer invented and christened the drivometer, insidiously reverses the usual laws of nature and turns them wrong side forward. The drivometer consists essentially of an automobile which doesn’t move, and a landscape which does, at 50 miles an hour. Imagine that, if you can! We couldn’t either, until the American Automobile association persuaded us to sit behind the wheel. The road twisted like a hula dancer – and we were supposed to steer down it, paying close attention to stop lights, warning signals, WPA men working, and hot dog stands. Never before have we had such a ride. We knocked a truck off the road. We ran down a farmer’s daughter and we wrecked his house. We whanged into a freight train, jumped across a mountain range, drove through a lake and smashed an ice cream shoppe into tutti-frutti. We tried to stop the thing, but everything we pressed made it go faster. We shifted into reverse and raced to the rear, bumping barns, beats and bicycles. Sadly shaking his head, Earl Allgaier, the AAA safety expert, turned off the current. He said we didn’t seem to be very well coordinated, somehow, but that he’d test us on his other machinery. This, together with the drivometer, will be taken on a nationwide tour beginning next week to prove to the average motorist that he’s got a lot to learn.


Update: I think the top picture shows the 2nd version of the Driveometer, developed in the 1950s. The original version, from the 1930s, is below.

Wausau Daily Herald - Oct 26, 1937


Posted By: Alex - Tue May 09, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, Science, 1930s

The Philadelphia Insectarium



World's biggest "insect zoo."


Article here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue May 09, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Insects, Museums

May 8, 2017

News of the Weird (May 7, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M526, May 7, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

A San Francisco startup recently introduced a countertop gadget to squeeze fruit and vegetables for you so that your hands don't get sore. However, the Juicero (a) requires that the fruit and veggies be advance-sliced in precise sections conveniently available for purchase from the Juicero company, (b) has, for some reason, a wi-fi connection, and (c) sells for $399. (Bonus: Creator Jeff Dunn originally priced it at $699 but had to discount it after brutal shopper feedback.) (Double Bonus: Venture capitalists actually invested $120 million to develop the Juicero, anticipating frenzied consumer love.) [BBC News, 4-21-2017]

Great Art!

Monument to Flossing: Russian artist Mariana Shumkova is certainly doing her part for oral hygiene, publicly unveiling her St. Petersburg statuette of a frightening, malformed head displaying actual extracted human teeth, misaligned, populating holes in the face representing the mouth and eyes. She told Pravda in April that "only [something with] a strong emotional impact" would make people think about tooth care. [Pravda, 4-12-2017]

Artist Lucy Gafford of Mobile, Ala., has a flourishing audience of fans (exact numbers not revealed), reported AL.com in March, but lacking a formal "brick and mortar" gallery show, she must exhibit her estimated 400 pieces online only. Gafford, who has "long" hair, periodically flings loose, wet strands onto her shower wall and arranges them into "designs," which she photographs and posts, at a rate of about one new creation a week since 2014. [AL.com (Mobile), 3-20-2017]

Bright Ideas

Though complete details were not available in news reports of the case, it is nonetheless clear that a magistrate in Llandudno, Wales, had ordered several punishments in April for David Roberts, 50, including probation, a curfew, paying court costs, and, in the magistrate's words, that Roberts attend a "thinking skills" course. Roberts had overreacted to a speeding motorcyclist on a footpath by later installing a chest-high, barbed-wire line across the path that almost slashed another cyclist. (A search did not turn up "thinking skills" courses in Wales--or in America, where they are certainly badly needed, even though successful classes of that type would surely make News of the Weird's job harder.) [Wales Online, 4-12-2017]

Raising a Hardy Generation: Pre-schoolers at the Elves and Fairies Woodland Nursery in Edmondsham, England, rough it all day long outside, using tools (even a saw!), burning wood, planting crops. Climbing ropes and rolling in the mud are also encouraged. Kids as young as age 2 grow and cook herbs and vegetables (incidentally absorbing "arithmetic" by measuring ingredients). In its most recent accreditation inspection, the nursery was judged "outstanding." [Metro News (London), 4-10-2017]

Compelling Explanations

Criminal Defenses Unlikely to Succeed: (1) To protest a disorderly conduct charge in Sebastian, Fla., in March, Kristen Morrow, 37, and George Harris, 25 (who were so "active" under a blanket that bystanders complained), began screaming at a sheriff's deputy--that Morrow is a "famous music talent" and that the couple are "with" the Illuminati. (The shadowy "Illuminati," if it exists, reputedly forbids associates to acknowledge that it exists.) Morrow and Harris were arrested. (2) Wesley Pettis, 24, charged with damaging 60 trees in West Jordan, Utah, in 2016, was ordered to probation and counseling in March, stemming from his defense that, well, the trees had hurt him "first." [WPLG-TV (Miami), 3-28-2017] [Salt Lake Tribune, 3-29-2017]

Leading Economic Indicators

Legendary German Engineering: The state-of-the-art Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, scheduled to open in 2012, has largely been "completed," but ubiquitous malfunctions have moved the opening back to at least 2020. Among the problems: cabling wrongly laid out; escalators too short; 4,000 doors incorrectly numbered; a chief planner who turned out to be an imposter; complete failure of the "futuristic" fire safety system, e.g., no smoke exhaust and no working alarms (provoking a suggested alternative to just hire 800 low-paid staff to walk around the airport and watch for fires). The initial $2.2 billion price tag is now $6.5 billion (and counting). [News.com.au (Sydney), 3-27-2017]

Rich Numbers in the News: (1) A one-bedroom, rotting-wood bungalow (built in 1905) in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., sold in April for $755,000 ($260,000 over the asking price). (2) Business Week reported in April that Win Financial Holdings (part of the Russell 2000 small-company index) has reported stock price fluctuations since its 2015 startup--of as much as 4,555 percent (and that no one knows why). (3) New Zealand officials reported in March that Apple had earned more than NZ$4.2 billion ($2.88 billion in U.S. dollars) in sales last year, but according to the country's rules, did not owe a penny in income tax. [SFGate.com, 4-19-2017] [Business Week, 4-21-2017] [ArsTechnica.com, 3-20-2017]

New World Order

Why? Just . . Because: (1) The AquaGenie, subject of a current crowdfunding campaign, would be a $70 water bottle with wi-fi. Fill the bottle and enter your "water goals"; the app will alert you to various courses of action if you've insufficiently hydrated yourself. (2) Already on the market: A company called Blacksocks has introduced Calf Socks Classic with Plus--a pair of socks with an Internet connection. The smartphone app can help you color-match your socks and tell you, among other things, whether it's time to wash them. (Ten pairs, $189) [PR Web, 4-17-2017] [TechDigg.com, 4-27-2017]

Undignified Deaths

Dark Day for Competitive Eating: A 42-year-old man choked to death on April 2nd at a Voodoo Doughnuts shop in Denver, Colo., as he accepted the store's "Tex-Ass Challenge" to eat a half-pounder (equivalent of six regular donuts) in 80 seconds. Later the same day, in Fairfield, Conn., a 21-year-old college student died, three days after collapsing, choking, at a pancake-eating contest at the Sacred Heart University student center. [KUSA-TV. 4-3-2017] [Connecticut Post, 4-4-2017]

Recurring Themes

Prominent tax avoider Winston Shrout, 69, was convicted in April on 13 fraud counts and six of "willful" failure to file federal returns during 2005 to 2014--despite his clever defense, which jurors in Portland, Ore., apparently ignored. Shrout, through seminars and publications, had created a cottage industry teaching ways to beat the tax code, but had managed always to slyly mention that his tips were "void where prohibited by law" (to show that he lacked the requisite "intent" to commit crimes). Among Shrout's schemes: He once sent homemade "International Bills of Exchange" to a small community bank in Chicago apparently hoping the bank would carelessly launder them into legal currency, but (in violation of the "keep a low profile" rule) he had given each IBE a face value of $1 trillion. [The Oregonian, 4-21-2017]

Readers' Choice

(1) A successful business in Austin, Tex., collapsed recently with the arrests of the husband and wife owners of a "massage parlor," who had come to police attention when sewer workers fixing a backed-up pipe noticed that the problem was caused by "hundreds of condoms" jamming the connection to the couple's Jade Massage Therapy. (2) Scott Dion, who has a sometimes-contentious relationship with the Hill County (Mont.) tax office, complained in April that he had paid his property bill with a check, but, as before, had written a snarky message on the "memo" line. He told reporters that the treasurer had delayed cashing the check (potentially creating a "late fee" for Dion), apparently because Dion had written "sexual favors" on the memo line. [KVUE-TV (Austin), 4-11-2017] [Associated Press via Great Falls Tribune, 4-11-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (August 2013)

British birdwatchers were especially excited by news in early [2013] that a rare White-throated Needletail (the world’s fastest flying bird) had been spotted on the UK’s Isles of Harris--only the eighth such sighting in Britain in 170 years. Ornithologists arranged an expedition that attracted about 80 of the planet's most dedicated, adventurous birders, who were thrilled as, indeed, the bird appeared again--and then inadvertently flew straight into the blades of a wind turbine (becoming, as Monty Python might describe it, an ex-White-throated Needletail). [Daily Telegraph, 6-27-2013]

Thanks This Week to Larry Neer, Alex Boese, Peter Burkholder, Alex Cortade, Bob Stewart, Mel Birge, Gerald Sacks, and Conan Witzel, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon May 08, 2017 - Comments (7)
Category:

Obese, the Freak Fat Mouse

A fat mouse that was bred at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine during the late 1940s/early 1950s. The researchers called him "Obese," or "O.B." for short. As in, that was his name, not just a description of what he was. Fat mice bred from Obese were used in the study of diabetes and obesity.

Newsweek - Apr 2, 1951


Ellen Ruppel Shell tells the story of Obese in her book The Hungry Gene: The Inside Story of the Obesity Industry:

In 1947, a wildfire swept through Mount Desert Island and the laboratory, incinerating all but a scattering of the mice. Little was determined to rebuild, and donations of mice — all of them originally bred at Jackson — poured back to the lab from around the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Among these was a new mutant, the dystrophic mouse that Coleman would use as his model for the study of muscular dystrophy. And two years later, another mutant suddenly appeared in the lab — a mouse with traits that would, some twenty years later, attract and hold Coleman's attention for the rest of his career.

An animal caretaker first spotted the creature huddled in a corner of its cage, grooming itself. It was furrier than most, but what really stood out was the size of the thing — it was hugely fat. The caretaker alerted doctoral candidate Margaret Dickie, who diagnosed the mouse as "pregnant." But there were problems with this theory. For one thing, the mouse never delivered a baby. And on closer inspection, it turned out to be male. The fat mouse ate three times the chow eaten by a normal mouse, pawing for hours at the bar of the food dispenser like an embittered gambler banging away at a recalcitrant slot machine. Between feedings it sat inert. It seemed to have been placed on this earth for no other purpose than to grow fat.

There had been other fat mice. The agouti mouse, named for its mottled yellow fur similar to that of the burrowing South American rodent, is, in its "lethal yellow" mutation, double the weight of the ordinary variety. But the fat agouti was svelte compared to the newcomer. This mouse was outlandish, a joke, a blob of fur splayed out on four dainty paws like a blimp on tricycle wheels. Rather than dart around the cage in mousy abandon, it was docile, phlegmatic, as though resigned to some unspeakable fate. Dickie and her colleagues christened the mouse "obese," later abbreviated to "ob," and pronounced "O.B.," each letter drawn out in its own languid syllable.

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 08, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Science, 1940s, 1950s

Page 5 of 7 pages ‹ First  < 3 4 5 6 7 > 




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
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 •