News of the Weird: These Shoes Weren’t Made for Walkin’
Sep12

News of the Weird: These Shoes Weren’t Made for Walkin’

The upscale clothier Barneys New York recently introduced $585 “Distressed Superstar Sneakers” from the high-end brand Golden Goose that were purposely designed to look scuffed, well-worn and cobbled-together, as if they were shoes recovered from a Dumpster. The quintessential touch was the generous use of duct tape on the bottom trim. Critics were in abundance, accusing Barneys of mocking poverty. News That Sounds Like a...

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News of the Weird: Outstanding in Their Fields
Sep06

News of the Weird: Outstanding in Their Fields

The recently concluded Olympics included a few of the more obscure athletic endeavors — such as dressage for horses and steeplechase for humans — but U.S. colleges compete in even less-heralded “sports,” such as wood chopping, rock climbing, fishing, and broomball. University of Alabama, 2015 national football champions, dominates also in the 280-school bass-fishing competition, and New York’s Paul Smith College’s...

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News of the Weird: Virtual Fandom
Aug29

News of the Weird: Virtual Fandom

The phenomenal Japanese singer Hatsune Miku — 100 million YouTube hits — is coming off of a sold-out, 10-city North American concert tour with high-energy audiences — blocks-long lines to get in; raucous crowd participation; hefty souvenir sales — except that “she” isn’t real. Hatsune Miku is a projected hologram on stage singing and dancing, but her band is human, and her May show in Dallas, according to a Dallas Observer...

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News of the Weird: New World Order
Aug22

News of the Weird: New World Order

India has supposedly outlawed the “baby-tossing” religious test popular among Hindus and Muslims in rural villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka states, but a July New York Times report suggested that parents were still allowing surrogates to drop their newborn infants from 30 feet up and awaiting the gods’ blessing for a prosperous, healthy life. In all cases, according to the report, the gods come through, and a...

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News of the Weird: Frontiers of Fashion
Aug08

News of the Weird: Frontiers of Fashion

As Americans’ fascination with guns grows, so, too, does the market for protection against all those flying bullets. Texan John Adrain has introduced an upscale sofa whose cushions can stop up to a .44 Magnum fired at close range, and is now at work on bullet-resistant window blinds. Another company, BulletSafe, recently touted its $129 baseball caps (with protection against the same bullets, but only in front) — though the...

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News of the Weird: Designer Leather
Aug15

News of the Weird: Designer Leather

The late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who dabbled in macabre collections, himself, might appreciate the work of acolyte Tina Gorjanc: She will grow McQueen’s skin from DNA off his hair in a lab, add back his tattoos, and from that make leather handbags and jackets. Gorjanc, a recent graduate of McQueen’s fashion school alma mater, bills the project mainly as showcasing the meager legal protections for abandoned bits...

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News of the Weird: Painting Eyes on Cow Bums for Science
Aug01

News of the Weird: Painting Eyes on Cow Bums for Science

A conservation biologist at Australia’s University of New South Wales said in July that his team was headed to Botswana to paint eyeballs on cows’ rear ends. It’s a solution to the problem of farmers who are now forced to kill endangered lions to keep them away from their cows. However, the researchers hypothesize, since lions hunt by stealth and tend to pass up kills if the prey spots them, painting on eyeballs...

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News of the Weird: Weird Numbers
Jul25

News of the Weird: Weird Numbers

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced in May that it had collected $765,000 in loose change left behind in airport scanner trays during 2015 — an average haul for the agency of $2,100 a day. Los Angeles and Miami airports contributed $106,000 of the total. Take Your Word for ItScientists at the University of Cambridge, writing in May in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claimed to have figured out...

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News of the Weird: Fashion Challenges
Jul19

News of the Weird: Fashion Challenges

Beautician Sarah Bryan, 28, of Wakefield, England, who garnered worldwide notoriety last year when she introduced a wearable dress made of 3,000 Skittles, returned this summer with a wearable skirt and bra made of donated human hair — a substantial amount of which, she said, is pubic hair. She admits having had to work in an eye mask, breathing mask and thick gloves, out of fear of donors’ hygiene habits. More conventionally,...

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News of the Weird: Blessings, Guaranteed
Jul11

News of the Weird: Blessings, Guaranteed

More and more churches — hundreds, according to a June Christianity Today report — offer hesitant parishioners a “money-back guarantee” if they tithe 10 percent, or more, of their income for 90 days, but then feel that God blesses them insufficiently in return. The South Carolina megachurch NewSpring instituted such a program in the 1990s and claims that, of 7,000 recent pledgers, “fewer than 20” expressed...

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News of the Weird: A Longtime Recurring Theme Peaks
Jul05

News of the Weird: A Longtime Recurring Theme Peaks

In May, an apparently devout woman named Katy Vasquez of Winter Park, Florida, posted a sincerely written entry on Facebook — and told Huffington Post in an interview — that she had just seen a “sign from God,” a cross, as a smudge in her infant’s soiled diaper. “I prayed to God for a sign that everything would be okay,” she gushed to the reporter. “It might not be the prettiest sign, but he put it...

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News of the Weird: Getting Fannies in the Seats
Jun27

News of the Weird: Getting Fannies in the Seats

The Bunyadi opened in London in June for a three-month run as the world’s newest nude-dining experience, and, since it only seats 42, it now has a reservation waiting list of 40,000. Besides the nakedness, the Bunyadi creates “true liberation,” said its founder, by serving only food “from nature,” cooked over fire — no electricity. Waiters are nude, as well, except for minimal concessions to seated diners...

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News of the Weird: App Nauseam
Jun20

News of the Weird: App Nauseam

In May, the Norwegian Consumer Council staged a live, 32-hour TV broadcast marathon — a word-for-word reading of the “terms of service” for internet applications Instagram, Spotify and more than two dozen others, totaling 900 pages and 250,000 words of legal restrictions and conditions that millions of users “voluntarily” agree to when they sign up, usually via a mouse click or finger swipe. A council official...

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News of the Weird: Who’s a Good Boy?
Jun14

News of the Weird: Who’s a Good Boy?

Life is good now for British men who “identify” as dogs and puppies, as evidenced by a BBC documentary, Secret Life of the Human Pups, showing men in body outfits — one a Lycra-suited Dalmatian, “Spot” — exhibiting “sexual” expressions, such as stomach-rubbing, ear-tickling and nuzzling their “handlers;” eating out of bowls; gnawing on chew toys; wearing collars, so as not to be a...

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News of the Weird: Cashing In
Jun06

News of the Weird: Cashing In

By 2009, when Zimbabwe’s central bank gave up on controlling inflation, its largest currency was the 100 trillion-dollar bill — barely enough for bus fare in Harare and not even worth the paper needed to print it. However, that 100 trillion-dollar note has turned out to be a great investment for several astute traders in London and New Zealand, who bought thousands of them at pennies on the trillion and now report brisk sales to...

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News of the Weird: People With Issues
May31

News of the Weird: People With Issues

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, Indiana. 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...

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News of the Weird: Medical Miracle
May23

News of the Weird: Medical Miracle

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced they had recently transmitted high-speed digital data through slabs of pork loin and beef liver. The signal cleared the muscle and gristle so cleanly that it permitted streaming of high-definition video — enough to watch Netflix, said the lead researcher. The advance is actually crucial in that it allows a patient to swallow a transmitter and for physicians to...

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News of the Weird: Google Sees the Future
May16

News of the Weird: Google Sees the Future

Google filed a U.S. Patent Office application on April 28 for a vision-improvement device in liquid form that, once inserted — i.e., injected directly into the eyeball — solidifies into not only a lens replacement for the eye, but an instrument that carries its own storage, radio and wireless power supply. The idea, according to inventor Andrew Jason Conrad, is to better focus light onto the retina. The patent process does not assure...

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News of the Weird: Jail Is Hell
May09

News of the Weird: Jail Is Hell

The eye-catching Vietnamese model and Playboy, Venezuela edition, Playmate Angie Vu complained to the New York Daily News in April that her five-plus months in jail in Brooklyn have been “torture” and “cruel” because of her lack of access to beauty care. Vu is fighting extradition to France for taking her 9-year-old daughter in violation of the father’s custody claim and is locked up until a federal judge...

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News of the Weird: That’s Entertainment, Baby!
May04

News of the Weird: That’s Entertainment, Baby!

By Chuck ShepherdOne notably hypersuccessful YouTube channel — 700,000 subscribers — features Lauri Vuohensilta of Finland pulverizing various objects such as a bowling ball, in a 100-ton hydraulic press. Said Vuohensilta, “I think it’s built into every person — the need to destroy something.” That channel is free of charge, but other entrepreneurs have created 24-hour pay-per-month websites and apps offering...

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News of the Weird: The Internet’s Promise Fulfilled — For Men
Apr25

News of the Weird: The Internet’s Promise Fulfilled — For Men

Japan’s Tenga toy company appears to be first on the market with a virtual reality bodysuit (for use with the Oculus Rift “Sexy Beach Premium Resort” 3-D game) containing a genital stimulator and the sensation of “groping” breasts — sending “impulses all over the wearer’s body to make it feel like another human being is touching them,” according to one reviewer (who expressed dismay that the...

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News of the wEiRd: The Power of Precedent
Apr12

News of the wEiRd: The Power of Precedent

Department of Veterans Affairs employee Elizabeth Rivera Rivera, 39, was fired after her arrest, followed by a February guilty plea, for armed robbery, but when she was sentenced only to probation, an arbitrator ordered the VA to rehire her — and give her back pay she “earned” while sitting in jail awaiting trial. She had been the driver for a man arrested for a street robbery in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rivera’s union...

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News of the Weird: Hardly a ‘Do-Nothing’ Congress
Mar29

News of the Weird: Hardly a ‘Do-Nothing’ Congress

In March, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the House Rules Committee, introduced a resolution to recognize magic as one of America’s “national treasure(s),” backed by a 711-word paean urging all to “support and protect” the storied craft — which needs to be “understood and promulgated,” especially given that, according to Sessions, it “requires only the capacity to...

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News of the Weird: Glaciers and Gender
Mar22

News of the Weird: Glaciers and Gender

University of Oregon professor Mark Carey produced a 10,300-word journal article in January proposing a new sensitivity to Earth’s melting icecaps: a “feminist glaciology framework” to “generate robust analysis of gender, power and epistemologies” with a goal of more “just and equitable” “human-ice interactions.” The jargonized, densely worded tract suggests that melting icecaps...

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News of the Weird: Take That, Portland!
Mar14

News of the Weird: Take That, Portland!

Seattle’s ambitious Office of Arts & Culture has allocated $10,000 this year to pay a poet or writer to create a work while present on the city’s Fremont Bridge drawbridge. The office’s deputy director told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in January that the city wants to encourage “public art” and that the grant will oblige the recipient to create a work of prose or poetry from the bridge’s northwest tower, to help the people of...

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News of the Weird: The Square Wheel of Justice
Mar08

News of the Weird: The Square Wheel of Justice

In February, New York’s highest court finally said “enough” to the seemingly endless delays on a multimillion-dollar judgment for negligence that occurred 23 years ago. Linda Nash had sued, among others, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for injuries she suffered when trapped in an underground parking garage during the World Trade Center terrorist act — not the one in 2001, but the bombing eight years before that, which...

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News of the Weird: Cat Culture
Feb29

News of the Weird: Cat Culture

Longtime National Symphony cellist David Teie announced in November that his crowdfunding project was hugely successful, freeing him to produce an album of music meaningful to cats. Cats, for example, relax in response to the earliest sound of their mother’s purring, which Teie clocked at 23 harp notes a second. Teie’s work, according to an October Washington Post feature, includes examining waveforms of real-time purrs and creating...

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News of the Weird: Intelligent Design
Feb16

News of the Weird: Intelligent Design

Wired.com’s most recent “Absurd Creature” feature shows a toad devouring a larva of a much-smaller beetle, but the “absurdity” is that the larva is in charge and that the toad will soon be beetle food. The larva’s Darwinian advantage is that, inside the toad, it bites the hapless “predator” with its hooked jaws and then secretes enzymes to begin decomposing the toad’s tissue, making it edible — and provoking it to vomit the...

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News of the Weird: The Well Armed Woman
Feb08

News of the Weird: The Well Armed Woman

Even though concealed-carry gun permit-holders in Texas can now “open carry,” pistol-packing women concerned with fashion are not limited to traditional firearms in ordinary cowboy holsters. An online company, The Well Armed Woman, offers such carry options as stylish leggings, lace waistbands and an array of underarm and bra holsters — even an in-cup model, the “Marilyn” — in leopard-print and pastel colors. However, a woman’s body...

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News of the Weird: Newest Fashionistas
Feb03

News of the Weird: Newest Fashionistas

In January, the upscale Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana introduced stylish hijabs and abayas aimed at Muslim women unafraid to call attention to themselves as they exercise their obliged modesty. D&G’s marketing effort even accessorized models’ headscarves and cloaks with stilettos and oversized, gaudily framed sunglasses. It was clear from the suggested retail prices that D&G would be pitching the line mainly in the wealthy...

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News of the Weird: Streaming News
Jan25

News of the Weird: Streaming News

The “public art” statues unveiled in January by Fort Myers, Florida, Mayor Randy Henderson included a metal structure by sculptor Edugardo Carmona of a man walking a dog, with the dog “lifting his leg” beside a pole. Only after inspecting the piece more closely did many observers realize that the man, too, was relieving himself against the pole. Carmona described the work as commentary on man and dog “marking their territory.” ∎ A...

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The New Grade Inflation
Jan18

The New Grade Inflation

They are simply “‘spas’ designed to attract teenagers,” according to one university official — plush, state-of-the-art “training” complexes built by universities in the richest athletic conferences to entice elite 17-year-old athletes to come play for and, perhaps, study at, their schools. The athletes-only mini-campuses include private housing and entertainment — theaters, laser tag, miniature golf — but, actually, the schools are in...

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News of the Weird: Hard Times for Science
Jan11

News of the Weird: Hard Times for Science

A tractor-trailer driver with a load of bottled water tried to make it over an historic bridge in Paoli, Indiana, on Christmas Day, with the obvious outcome when 35 tons of water starts across a limit-6-tons span. The driver told police she saw the 6-ton sign, but did not know how that “translated” to pounds. ∎ Among the activists denouncing a proposed solar-panel farm at a December Woodland, North Carolina, Town Council meeting were...

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New World Order
Jan04

New World Order

In December, Canada’s supportive organization The Transgender Project released a biographical video of the former Paul Wolscht, 46, and the father of seven children with his ex-wife, Marie, describing his new life as not only a female, but a 6-year-old female, Stephoknee Wolscht. She told the Daily Xtra, a gay and lesbian news site, that not acting her real age — even while doing “adult” things like working a job and driving a car —...

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One-man Arsenal
Dec28

One-man Arsenal

According to the flabbergasted sheriff of rural Chesterfield County, South Carolina, “This has completely changed our definition of (what constitutes) an ‘ass-load’ of guns.” Brent Nicholson, 51, had been storing more than 7,000 firearms in his home and a storage building on his property. Every room of the house was stacked with weapons, and it took four tractor-trailer trips to haul everything away, with help of 100 law-enforcement...

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