Items Tagged: blogging

The Weird Universe explores a human and natural cosmos that is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. The usual suspects are Paul Di Filippo; Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes; and Chuck Shepherd, purveyor of News of the Weird.

Recent posts:

  • Co-Star Records
    There were fifteen of these uniquely bizarre records. The whole story is here.
  • News of the Weird (May 29, 2016)
    News of the Weird Weirdnuz.M477, May 29, 2016 Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved. Lead Story People With Issues: Ms. Pixee Fox reported in May that she was recovering nicely from cosmetic rib-removal surgery, performed by one of the few doctors in the world who offers it (Dr. Barry Eppley of Carmel, Ind.). Though she has had more than a dozen “beautifying” procedures, she had trouble finding a surgeon who would agree to take out six “free-floating” ribs (ones not attached to the sternum). Born in Sweden, she gave up a career as a trained electrician to come to the United States to pursue her goal of looking “like a cartoon character”--which she has surely achieved with her now-16-inch waist. [WRTV (Indianapolis), 5-19-2016] Leading Economic Indicators Triple Crown winner American Pharoah earned an estimated $8.6 million racing but, now retired, could earn as much as $35 million just by having sex. Stallions reportedly can breed into their 20s, and the horse, now barely age 4, will have 175 conquests by the end of this summer, according to a May report by CNBC. One industry worker said Pharoah has put on weight, spends his spare time peaceably eating grass, and “looks more like a relaxed horse.” A spokesman for the Kentucky farm now housing Pharaoh said he “has proven to be very professional in the breeding shed.” [CNBC, 5-2-2016] Latest Religious Messages The Keystone Fellowship Church in North Wales, Pa., has a tradition of congregants reserving pew seats by leaving Bibles in place, but worshiper Robert Braxton, 27, was having none of that on April 24th and took a saved seat anyway. Witnesses told Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV that when one gently tapped Braxton on the shoulder to inform him of the tradition, Braxton snapped at him and became disruptive. Congregant Mark Storms, 46, retrieved a gun from his truck and confronted Braxton, who punched Storms, adding, “That’s not a real gun” and “What are you going to do, shoot me?” Storms, contending that he felt threatened, fired two shots, killing Braxton, and was charged with involuntary manslaughter. [Philly.com, 4-30-2016] Bright Ideas The Moscow Times reported in May that bailiffs in Russia’s Perm region, employing originality as yet unseen in America in attempting to collect an overdue debt, arrested the debtor’s cat. The bailiffs listed the feline’s value at the equivalent of US$23, and the man came up with that sum the next day and took the cat home. The Federal Bailiffs Service explained that all the other “property” in the apartment was in other people’s names. [Moscow Times, 5-6-2016] Shannon Egeland, 41, already convicted in 2014 of running a mortgage-fraud operation during the 2004-2008 real-estate boom, pleaded guilty in May 2016 to the subsequent crime of deliberately having himself shot to gain his judge’s sympathy (and to collect on disability insurance he had purchased the week before). Egeland, scheduled to start a 10-year sentence for the 2014 conviction, told the judge he had been assaulted by gunfire when he stopped in traffic to help a pregnant woman, but in reality he had ordered his teenage son to shoot him in the legs with a 20-gauge shotgun. [Associated Press via Yahoo News, 5-11-2016] New World Order (1) German soldiers participating in a four-week NATO exercise in Norway earlier this year apparently had to abort their efforts days earlier than other countries--because Germany’s defense minister Ursula von der Leyen had imposed strict rules on overtime pay. Soldiers are to work no more than 41 hours a week, she said, according to revelations by London’s Daily Telegraph. (2) Britain’s venerable Oxford University issued a formal suggestion to law lecturers recently that they give “trigger warnings” (and allow classroom absences) if the subject matter might be unpleasant to some students. Complained one frustrated lecturer, “We can’t remove sexual offences from the criminal law syllabus--obviously.” [Daily Telegraph, 4-10-2016] [The Independent (London), 5-10-2016] Oops! This Correction appeared in the New York Times print edition of May 10th: “Because of an editing error, an article on Monday [May 9th] about a theological battle being fought by Muslim imams and scholars in the West against the Islamic State misstated the Snapchat handle used by Suhaib Webb, one of the Muslim leaders speaking out. It is imamsuhaibwebb, not Pimpin4Paradise786.” [New York Times, 5-10-2016] Amateurs: Government agencies trying, legally or not, to hide details from public inquiries under freedom-of-information demands usually resort to indelibly blackening out what they do not want revealed, but the Public Health Agency of Canada recently tried a unique method, according to an Associated Press correspondent. The AP had requested files on the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and, revealed reporter Raphael Satter, the documents finally arrived from the PHA with parts carefully “redacted”--using “Scotch tape and paper.” Satter reported that he got everything the AP had asked for by merely peeling the tape back. (A Dallas Morning News reporter, commenting on Satter’s experience, wrote, “Canadians are so nice.”) [Toronto Star, 5-17-2016] Perspective King Cove, Alaska, population 923, lies between two massive volcanic mountains on one of the Aleutian Islands, unconnected to other civilization and 625 miles from any medical facility (in Anchorage), “accessible” only by a weather-challenging “puddle-jumper” airplane to Cold Bay for a connecting flight. About two-thirds of residents have flying anxieties so severe that King Cove has a makeshift vending machine dispensing Valium. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has campaigned to build a road to Cold Bay to eliminate the nerve-wracking flights, but it would disturb a federally-protected wilderness, and the U.S. Interior Department has so far declined. (Unconsidered: Channel the late Sam Kinison, who implored starving Ethiopians to just “mo-o-o-ove!” since food doesn’t grow in the desert.) [Alaska Dispatch News, 4-14-2016] Armed and Dangerous in The F State Michael Blevins, 37, reported to Florida Hospital in Orange City (near Daytona Beach) in May after finally realizing, three days after the fact, that he had shot himself while cleaning his handgun. He said he was on pain medication and besides, was wearing a black shirt that obscured blood stains. He said he had felt a sharp pain but that, mainly, it had aggravated his back injury, causing him to fall and hit his head against a coffee table, and thus was not aware of the origin of the loud noise the .22-caliber handgun made. Deputies investigated briefly but closed the case. [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 5-10-2016] Charles Richardson, 35, was arrested at the Beachcomber Hotel in St. Pete Beach in May after he had accidentally locked himself out of his room but broken back in by shooting the lock with his handgun. [BayNews9.com (St. Petersburg), 5-19-2016] Update Annual Chinese “Tombsweeping” celebrations have made News of the Weird several times, most recently in 2008 when the government reinstated it as an official holiday. (Traditionally, people brought jewelry and other valuables to ancestors’ gravesites for burial with the body, thus theoretically “enriching” the relative’s afterlife.) In recent years, during economic turbulence, some brought only paper images of valuables (or just left signed checks--“generous” checks!). Now, a retail market has developed of ultra-cheap knock-off upscale items, such as fake Gucci shoes, computers, big-screen TV sets, and even one full-size “air-conditioner” (because, perhaps, it may be “hot” where the deceased is headed?). A Hong Kong representative for Gucci has issued warnings against trademark abuse, even though the flimsy fakes are hardly convincing. [New York Times, 5-5-2016] A News of the Weird Classic (March 2012) The 547-acre FBI Academy on the grounds of the Quantico (Va.) Marine Base houses a firing range on which about a million bullets a month are shot by agents in training, but it also happens to be a de facto wildlife refuge for the simple fact that the Academy is off-limits to Virginia hunters. Thus, according to a December [2011] ABC News dispatch, deer learn that, despite the gunfire (sometimes at astonishingly close range as they wander by the targets), none of them ever gets hit. The Academy has also become a "sanctuary" for foxes, wild turkeys, and other critters. [ABC News, 12-26-2011] Thanks This Week to Elaine Weiss and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
  • Central Premonitions Registry
    The Central Premonitions Registry was established by Robert Nelson in New York in 1968 (following the establishment of a similar agency in the UK the year before). It provided a place where people could send in premonitions or predictions about the future. These would then be filed away for future reference, to see if they came true. The Registry claimed to have a three-fold purpose: to identify people with genuine psychic gifts, to see how many premonitions actually came true, and also to serve as a warning system to prevent disaster in case they received "a flux of dreams that seem to refer to the same pending event." As far as I know, the Registry never actually gave a heads-up about any looming disaster. Eventually the Registry made its way online, but its website was abandoned around 2008. A copy of it is preserved in the Wayback Machine. Cincinnati Enquirer - Mar 18, 1973
  • To Gleep, Or Not To Gleep
    Many times, outsiders seeking to chronicle the language of a tribe are lied to. I suspect this was the case with this 1963 article on campus slang. While many of the terms are well-documented, I can find no online references to the act of "gleeping" and suspect some researcher was getting his leg pulled. Or maybe the reporter felt it would be a prank to make something up and insert it and see if anyone noticed.
  • Owning One Inch of the Yukon
    Back in 1955, the marketing execs for Quaker Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat came up with an ingenious way to sell breakfast cereal. They bought 19.11 acres of land on the Yukon River in Canada. Then they divided up the land into 21 million square-inch plots and gave away deeds for these 1-inch plots inside the cereal boxes, which flew off the shelves. Over at creators.com, Malcolm Berko tells what happened next: Nobody at Quaker Oats could have anticipated the mass idiocy of American consumers. One guy had over 10,000 deeds and wanted to convert them into one single piece of property that would be a little less than a quarter-acre. And Quaker received thousands of letters from consumers who wanted to mine their 1 square inch for gold. However, mineral rights were not included in the deeds, and if gold would have been discovered, it would not have accrued to the deed holders. Quaker Oats never paid taxes on the Yukon land, so in 1965 the Canadian government reclaimed it. Which means that anyone who still has one of those land deeds no longer has any claim to the tiny plot of land. However, the deeds themselves have appreciated considerably in value as collector's items. I've previously posted about a similar publicity stunt: when MGM gave away, in 1947, 1-acre plots of New Mexico desert in order to promote the movie The Sea of Grass.
  • The Pretzel Bikini
    Original ad here.

The Inferior 4+1 is a Livejournal community maintained by Paul, lizhand, Paul Witcover, lucius-t and ljgoldstein.

Recent posts:

  • New DiFi Collection: Cover Reveal! May 28, 2016
    Coming Fall 2016 from WordFire!http://wordfirepress.com/
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE May 26, 2016
    Two Hard SF titans:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2016/05/paul-di-filippo-reviews-stephen-baxter-alastair-reynolds/
  • Lost City of the Pain God May 22, 2016
    Very glad finally to snag a copy of this Ellison prequel.
  • Free Story! May 18, 2016
    My story "Sawing" is now available at Nightmare magazine.  There's also an Author Spotlight saying a bit about the story.
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE May 18, 2016
    Four novels by Frank Herbert!http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2016/05/paul-di-filippo-reviews-frank-herbert/
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE May 12, 2016
    I look at a new story collection:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2016/05/paul-di-filippo-reviews-matthew-cheney/