Weird Universe Archive

June 2021

June 25, 2021

Death by golf and peacocks

Oct 1951: Edward Harrison died in a freak golf accident, by managing to stab himself in the leg with a broken club. As he lay bleeding to death, he screamed for help. "Two other golfers said they twice heard screams, but thought they were the cries of peacocks from a peacock farm."

Deseret News - Oct 9, 1951

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 25, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Sports, 1950s

Follies of the Madmen #510

What's the point of using even a drawing of a pretty woman in your ad if you hide her face?


Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 25, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Advertising, Sex Symbols, 1950s

June 24, 2021

Hiccup-curing straw (and other hiccup cures)

Researchers have invented a straw that, they claim, will cure hiccups. They call it the HiccAway. From the product page:

HiccAway can instantly stop hiccups by generating enough pressure while sipping from the device to lower the diaphragm while simultaneously activating the leaf-shaped flap in the throat, known as the epiglottis. Doing this stimulates two key nerves, the phrenic and the vagus nerves, which are responsible for the hiccups. This allows the brain to reset and stop hiccups.

Back in 2015, we posted about Hiccupops, invented by 16-year-old Mallory Kievman. These were apple-cider lollipops that, she said, could cure hiccups. Apparently she's done well with her invention, because she's now the CEO of a company selling them.

And here's some more hiccup cures, from an article I wrote for (back when the site still existed):

For many years, doctors only had one remedy of last resort to offer those suffering from hiccups — to crush the phrenic nerve. This procedure was done on the theory that irritation of this nerve was causing the hiccups.

But in the second half of the 20th century, researchers stumbled upon some less-invasive, but definitely odd, hiccup cures.

The first of these was reported by Dr. Erminio Cardi of Rhode Island in an August 1961 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Cardi had discovered that he was able to cure the hiccups of several patients simply by using a cotton swab to manipulate a hair in their external ear canal. He confessed that this treatment was "seemingly unorthodox," but it worked. He theorized that it did so because the hair had been irritating a nerve that triggered the hiccup response.

And if examination of the ear revealed no hair irritant? No problem. In that case "twirl a stick tipped with cocaine-soaked cotton in the ear," instructed the doctor.

Nowadays doctors are more likely to use lidocaine than cocaine, but the principle remains the same.

The second cure is even more unorthodox, but again, it seems to work. In an August 1988 issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Francis Fesmire of Jacksonville, Florida reported that a "digital rectal massage" (aka a finger up the bum) had unexpectedly cured a patient of hiccups. Fesmire didn't record what inspired him to think of this technique, but the reason why it worked, he suggested, was similar to the ear method — because it calmed an overactive nerve. Several other doctors have subsequently reported success using this technique.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 24, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Health

Polyform, Edison’s Topical Anesthetic

American inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison is legendary for his contributions to such technologies as the lightbulb, the telephone, the phonograph, and motion pictures, among many others.1In his lifetime, Edison obtained 1,093 US patents and some 1,239 patents in other countries. Little known among these efforts was his “improved anesthetic compound.”

In the summer of 1882, George F. Shrady (Founder and Editor, Medical Record 1866–1904) (1837–1907), reported that Thomas Edison invented a new anesthetic made of chloroform, ether, alcohol, and camphor and had applied for British and German patents.2The witty but misinformed editor added, “Edison may wish to use it on his stockholders until electric light was in successful operation.”

In fact, the “anesthetic” actually was an analgesic liniment that Edison had prepared in early 1878. He named it Polyform and advertised it for “neurologic pain.” Polyform was a mixture of chloroform, ether, camphor gum, alcohol, chloral hydrate, morphine, and oils of peppermint and clove. Edison believed that his compound’s various analgesics would potentiate each other and that the mixture would attack pain in a “shotgun manner.”3

More info here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 24, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Celebrities, Inventions, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Nineteenth Century

June 23, 2021

Death by playing cards

Oct 20, 1930: Convict William Kogut, who was waiting execution on San Quentin's death row, somehow knew that it was possible to make a bomb out of playing cards. This was because, at the time, the red ink of cards contained nitrocellulose. So by scraping off enough of the red ink, Kogut was able to make a pipe bomb out of a hollow bedpost. He used this to kill himself, rather than letting himself be executed.

Modern playing cards no longer contain this explosive ingredient.

Somewhat confusingly, Snopes classifies his death as a "legend," even though their brief write-up seems to confirm that it happened exactly as described.

More info:

Oroville Mercury Register - Oct 20, 1930

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 23, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Suicide, Prisons, 1930s

1967 Hippie Festival

Eighteen minutes of unscripted grooviness. I am particularly taken by two beautiful women performing some kind of mutual meditation exercise, as seen in the still shot below.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 23, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Parades and Festivals, Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers, 1960s

June 22, 2021

Horse Spike

In 1899, Patent No. 636,430 was granted to Franz and Konrad Hieke of Philadelphia for what they described as "cavalry equipment". It was essentially a large spike attached to the front of a horse. From their patent:

This invention relates to cavalry equipment; and it has for its object the provision of novel means for protecting the horse from the missiles of the enemy and in the provision of a cutting projection designed to injure the enemy or cause him to evade the projection by stepping to one side where an attack by the rider would be effective.

A better view:

Argos Reflector - Feb 8, 1900

I wonder if one of these was ever actually used in combat?

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 22, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Inventions, Weapons, Nineteenth Century

Maid of Cotton

Unique in mandating the composition of all contest garments: 100% cotton, what else!

Full story here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 22, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Agriculture, Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Regionalism, 1930s

June 21, 2021

Earl Grey Tea Intoxication

As reported in the April 17, 2002 issue of The Lancet:

A 44-year-old man presented in May, 2001, with muscle cramps. He had no medical history of note, but volunteered the fact that he had been drinking up to 4 L of black tea per day over the past 25 years. His preferred brand was GoldTeefix (Tekanne, Salzburg, Austria). Since this type of tea had given him occasional gastric pain, he changed to Earl Grey (Twinings & Company, London, UK), which he thought would be less harmful to his stomach. 1 week after the change, he noticed repeated muscle cramps for some seconds in his right foot. The longer he drank Earl Grey tea, the more intense the muscle cramps became.

After 3 weeks, they also occurred in the left foot. After 5 weeks, muscle cramps had spread towards the hands and the right calf. Occasionally, he observed fasciculations of the right adductor pollicis and gastrocnemius. Additionally, he noted distal paraesthesias in all limbs, and a feeling of pressure in his eyes, associated with blurred vision, particularly in darkness...

The patient assumed that there was a relation between his symptoms and his tea consumption, and stopped drinking Earl Grey after 5 months, reverting to pure black tea again. Within 1 week, his symptoms had completely disappeared. Symptoms also remained absent if he completely withdrew from tea, which he did in the nature of experiment, for about a week. He found that his symptoms did not recur as long as he consumed no more than 1 L of Earl Grey daily.

When last seen in November, 2001, neurological examination, nerve conduction studies, and electromyography were normal. He was still drinking 2 L of plain black tea daily (his entire fluid intake), and had no complaints.

The moral of his story is that 2 liters of tea a day is apparently fine. But 4 liters is asking for trouble.

via reddit

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 21, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants, Coffee and other Legal Stimulants

Yoko Ono, “Cut Piece”

To accompany Alex's Patty Chang post from yesterday.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 21, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Fashion, Performance Art, 1960s

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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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