News of the Weird

Oct. 1, 2010
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Beer in a Squirrel

In July, the prominent BrewDog brewery in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, began producing The End of History, the world's strongest and most expensive beer: 55% alcohol by volume at a cost of 500 pounds ($780) a bottle. BrewDog decided to incorporate taxidermy into the release of the first 12 bottles by inserting the beer bottle into the carcasses of roadkill (seven ermines, four squirrels and a rabbit). According to company founder James Watt, BrewDog aims to "elevate the status of beer in our culture."

Questionable Judgments

Disrespecting Electricity: (1) New Hampshire teenager Kyle Dubois was critically injured in March when, during an electrical trades class, he and fellow students attached clamps to his nipples and plugged in an electrical cord. (2) As an alternative to the surgical scalpel, zapping a penis with electricity can produce a cleaner cut and with much less blood—though modern laser therapy may be a better option, according to a team of doctors from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering in Taiwan. As noted in their July report, since the experiments were too risky for ordinary test volunteers, they performed all procedures on themselves.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!


  • In May, at least two employees at the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, Calif., were accused of carrying on a makeshift "beauty salon" inside the facility's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Allegedly, eyebrow waxes and manicures were given near sensitive equipment used to combat infant infections and respiratory disorders. An investigation is continuing, but a hospital official said the notion of a "salon" was overblown and that perhaps a few nail treatments were involved. (Simultaneously, the facility is being investigated for taking kickbacks from nursing homes for placing discharged Medicare or Medicaid patients into those homes.)

  • Unlikely Successes: (1) In July, one of the world's largest four-day rodeos, the Pendleton Round-Up, released a signature men's cologne, Let'er Buck, to mark the company's 100th anniversary. A spokesman claims that the $69-a-bottle product has the fragrance of "sensuous musk and warm sandalwood." (2) Thai Airways announced in June that it would begin selling seven curry sauces directly from its airline food menu in takeout shops in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Weird Science

When Ron Sveden's left lung collapsed in May, doctors initially diagnosed a tumor. On closer inspection, however, they found that Sveden, of Brewster, Mass., had ingested a plant seed that had somehow migrated to his lung and sprouted open. He is recovering.

Leading Economic Indicators


  • To most, the toilet is a functional appliance, but to thoughtful people it can be an instrument upon which creativity blossoms. Thus, the price tags were high this summer when commodes belonging to two artistic giants of the 20th century went on sale. In August, a gaudy toilet from John Lennon's residence from 1969 to 1972 in Berkshire, England, fetched 9,500 pounds (about $14,740) at a Liverpool auction. Also, a North Carolina collectibles dealer opened bids on the toilet that long served reclusive author J.D. Salinger at his home in Cornish, N.H. The dealer's initial price was $1 million because, as he put it, "Who knows how many of [Salinger's] stories were thought up and written while Salinger sat on this throne!"

  • Blairsville, Ga., advertising agency owner and “tea party” supporter Mike Patterson recently introduced the "first ever patriotic home-based business opportunity," and, though it resembles a traditional "pyramid" scheme, Patterson termed it "network marketing" and claimed that it is an important way to fight "liberal tyranny." For joining up at $12, $24 or $50 a year and enlisting others, Patterson promises recruiters "up to $50,000" (actually, later he offers the chance to make up to $283,000 by securing $50 memberships). On spelling- and grammar-challenged Web pages, Patterson laid out salesmanship "levels" and "matrix" patterns that promise a member 60 cents per $24 recruit—leaving $12 for patriotic programs and $11.40 for Patterson.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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