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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:

  • Its The Real Thing
    Some think of a pool full of Coca Cola and Mentos and say, "Why?" These guys said, "Why not!"
  • Slip Slidding Away
    Havana, Illinois has a bug problem. Not bed bugs or cockroaches, mayflies. Their bridge is covered in them and by covered I mean up to six inches deep. The resulting bug goo all over the bridge has caused a number of accidents, cars and motorcycles. A certain kind of water bug grows wings and swarms as mayflies before laying eggs. I am thinking there will be far fewer of the water bugs this season because so many got squished on the bridge before laying eggs.
  • Eels smelling alcohol
    Various sources report that the sense of smell of the eel is so acute, that if you were to pour a few drops of alcohol into the Great Lakes (or Lake Constance, according to who's telling the story), an eel would be able to smell it. From Consider the Eel, by Richard Schweid: "You can take one liter of a certain type of alcohol, pour it into the Great Lakes, and an eel will smell it," said Uwe Kils, a 48-year-old German oceanographer at the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences field station at Little Egg Harbor on the New Jersey coast. "The Great Lakes compose about 19 trillion liters, so you are talking about being able to smell something at one part per 19 trillion. That's a very acute sense of smell." And from The Eel, by F.W. Tesch & R.J. White: In painstaking conditioning experiments it was shown that the eel can perceive the scent of roses (β-phenylethyl alcohol) even when the latter is diluted by 1:2.857 X 1018. Such a degree of dilution corresponds to a solution of one ml of scent in a volume of water 58 times that of Lake Constance (Bodensee). The original source from which this info seems to come is a 1957 article in a German scientific journal: Teichmann, Harald. (January 1957), Das Riechvermögen des Aales (Anguilla anguilla L.). Naturwissenschafter 44(7), 242.
  • Bob “Bazooka” Burns
    Full story here.
  • Said no at altar
    I guess that's why it's posed as a question. You don't have to say "I do." Anyway, if you're 16, the correct response to a marriage request is 'No.' Unfortunately, it seems that Lois did end up getting married a week later, despite her initial reluctance. The Ottawa Journal - May 1, 1971 Girl Says 'No' At the Altar SIBSON, England (UPI) —Radiant and demure in white lace, Lois Elliott walked down the aisle on her father's arm as the organ intoned "Here Comes the Bride." "Wilt thou," said Rev. Frank Best, "take this man to be thy lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish 'til death do you part?" Lois, 16, smiled at Mr. Best, at her father and at the groom. "No," she said quietly. Then she turned and walked out of St. Botolph's Church. Lois offered no immediate explanation for her change of heart. But her father, Barry Elliott, said he thought a chance remark by one of the groom's relatives "may have upset her."
  • Skinny Suicides Survival Rate
    I had this post in the queue before Alex did his story about the woman jumping yesterday. Maybe this is the explanation for her miracle. Apparently, it's best to put on a few pounds before jumping from a high place, if you are serious about doing yourself in. Original article here.

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

Recent posts:

  • Heinlein (Counterfactual) in the Sixties June 28, 2016
  • Short Story: "Seven Kill Tiger" June 28, 2016
    This review contains spoilers.“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao is a disturbing story, but maybe not for the reasons the author thinks.  We start with a deeply unpleasant main character, Zhang Zedong, a company man sent from China to Zambia who needs to improve his production numbers and who is prone to thinking things like “Africa would be a glorious place were it not for the Africans."  “What he needed was more Han people,” he thinks, and the solution he comes up with is to wipe out the native population of Africa using genetic warfare.Dr. Philip Thompson, a scientist at the Center for Disease Control, gets some information about a disease in Zambia that is killing only Africans, leaving the Chinese people in the area unaffected.  But as he’s thinking about reporting these statistics, and his uncomfortable conclusions about them, he gets a visit from a Chinese man who threatens him with his death and the deaths of his friends if he shares his suspicions with anyone.Spoilers ahead.And then the full epidemic is triggered, and all the Africans die.One of the weirdest things about this story, of course, is that it’s nothing like what Puppies say they want, narratives fraught with conflict, excitement, tension, and with good triumphing over evil at the end.  There’s no tension whatsoever, just a straightforward account of what would be the worst genocide in human history.  Good doesn’t triumph over evil here — it doesn’t even get out of the gate.And there are no likable characters, another thing Puppies say they want.  The closest is poor Dr. Thompson, who folds completely when he’s threatened.Then there’s the unapologetic racism.  Not Zhang Zedong’s racism, which is understandable for the kind of character he is, a colonizer who doesn’t understand why the colonized are refusing to get with the program.  I mean the story’s racism, where the murder of nearly an entire race happens without even a passing remark.  (People do think about genocide in the abstract; it’s the kind of genocide, specifically of Africans, and the horrible historic implications, that are passed over as though they don’t matter.)  “Seven Kill Tiger” is presented as a thought experiment, an attempt to show that, as editor Jerry Pournelle says in his introduction, “once something is possible, it is only a matter of time before it becomes real.”  But surely the genocide of over a billion people overshadows any detached, logical thinking on the subject.  I know I didn’t come away from “Seven Kill Tiger” thinking, “Wow, genetic warfare, pretty scary.”  Instead the story functions as a kind of genetic weapon itself: anyone with the least bit of empathy will be left feeling sick to their stomach.
  • Russ in the (Counterfactual) Sixties June 28, 2016
  • Delany in the (Counterfactual) Sixties June 26, 2016
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE June 24, 2016
    3 books, 3 reviews! A bargain!
  • Short Story: "If You Were an Award, My Love" June 23, 2016
    “If You Were an Award, My Love” is not so much a story as a group of schoolkids drawing dirty pictures in their textbooks and snickering.  It’s ostensibly a parody of Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” but unlike successful parodies it has no understanding of the story it’s satirizing.  In fact, it’s so full of Rabid Puppy in-jokes it’s well-nigh unintelligible.  Scalzi, the Puppies’ nemesis, is there, and an award, and there’s something about rabbits… But there’s really no point in trying to give a synopsis, even if I could.  It was nominated to embarrass the Hugo voters, but it’s far more embarrassing for the people who wrote it.Brad Torgersen must be breathing a huge sigh of relief right now: he is no longer responsible for the worst stories ever nominated for a Hugo.And for the love of everything good in the world, don’t read the comments.  This is such a near-universal piece of advice it should have its own haiku:Leaves fall from the treesAnd drift away unnumberedDon’t read the comments.