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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:

  • Yellow Snow Experiment
    An experiment conducted by animal behavior expert Marc Bekoff of the University of Colorado, Boulder with his dog, Jethro: While talking Jethro on his daily walk I conducted a study of his sniffing and urination patterns. To learn about the role of urine in eliciting sniffing and urinating, I moved urine-saturated snow ("yellow snow") from place-to-place during five winters to compare Jethro's responses to his own and other dog's urine. Immediately after Jethro or other known males or females urinated on snow, I scooped up a small clump of the yellow snow in gloves and moved it to different locations. For some reasons passers-by thought I was strange and generally left me alone. Moving yellow snow was a useful and novel method for discovering that Jethro spent less time sniffing his own urine than that of other males or females. More info: Psychology Today - June 29, 2009
  • Artwork Khrushchev Probably Would Not Have Liked 6
    The artist is Federico Beltran Masses. "Hints of drugginess in the eyes, and suggestions of Sapphic eroticism laid on with a trowel, created a sultry visual cocktail that appealed equally to celebrities of the order of Rudolph Valentino, Joan Crawford and King George VI, all of whom had their portraits painted, and the general public." Full essay here.
  • Manatee Alerting Device
    Edmund Gerstein claims to have invented a "Manatee Alerting Device" (aka MAD) that, when attached beneath a boat, will emit a beam of sound alerting manatees to get out of the way. But it's controversial. Other researchers insist the device will just add more noise to an already noisy underwater environment. It would be like "putting a siren on every car on a highway." And that manatees wouldn't be able to tell where the sound is coming from. Complicating the controversy, it turns out Gerstein has a history of advancing unorthodox manatee theories. Back in the 1990s he claimed to have discovered that manatees can hear high-speed boats better than low-speed ones. His claim was promoted by boaters who wanted no speed regulations, but after paying tens of thousands of dollars on extra manatee research, the state of Florida decided Gerstein was wrong. He was also busted for faking a degree. Which is why researchers aren't exactly welcoming him with open arms now. More info: tbo.com "Demonstration of an acoustic warning system to alert manatees" [pdf]
  • Art Arfons and the Green Monster
    Love that rocketship design!
  • Minipoo
    Minipoo Dry Shampoo was sold from the 1940s until the 1960s. I'm assuming that 'poo' must not have had the same slang meaning back in the 1940s? Otherwise why would a manufacturer choose a name suggesting a small bowel movement? I came across a newspaper column from 1980 commenting on the strangeness of the name. So at least by then the name had started to sound odd to people. Muncie Evening Press - Mar 19, 1980 I found the Minipoo images at the National Museum of American History website. The very first comment there, posted in 2015, was from a woman, Dolores Mitchell Byrne, claiming to have been the model on the label. I googled her name and found that a woman of the same name won the title of "Miss Subways" back in January 1961. (Paul has posted about this unusual beauty contest here.) She's got a different hairstyle, but I think it's her, the Minipoo model. You can see a more recent photo of her at BrooklynPaper.com. Dolores Mitchell Byrne, aka 'Miss Subways' - via Facebook
  • Italian Caveman Rock ‘n’ Roll

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

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