Weird Universe Blog — May 19, 2024

How many books do college students read?

We previously met Suellen Robinson as Miss Biological Research. Here she's posing by a stack of books that represents the number of books an average coed supposedly would read (back in the 1960s) during her four years at college. The number is 376.

Officials of the Renault car company somehow arrived at this figure when they decided to sponsor a National College Queen Contest.

To read that many books a student would need to finish two books a week during the school year, and a book a week during Summer break.

I'm skeptical that the average college student (either back in the 1960s or now) reads anywhere close to that number. Perhaps they're assigned that many (though even that seems a bit high), but they're not reading them.

Orlando Evening Star - Apr 29, 1964

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 19, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Education | Universities, Colleges, Private Schools and Academia | Books | 1960s

May 18, 2024

Hurting the Word Radio #2

The 1964 painting "Hurting the Word Radio #2" by Ed Ruscha is valued at $53 million. It's reportedly one of the most expensive works of art owned by Jeff Bezos.

image source: google arts and culture

The value surprised me when I read about it, though it probably shouldn't have because sky-high valuations for works of modern art are by now, as Chuck Shepherd would have said, "no longer weird."

Even so, as the Center for Art Law notes, Ruscha created hundreds of words on canvas over the decades. How did this one get singled out to be worth so much? Ruscha himself never promoted it as special. (Nor does he directly benefit from its current valuation.)

The Center for Art Law suggests that the work's "impeccable and unimpeachable" provenance may have a lot to do with the high price tag. In an art market awash in fraud, undeniably authentic works command a high premium.

Posted By: Alex - Sat May 18, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Art | Overpriced Merchandise

Forever Walks a Drifter

Their entry at Discogs.

Posted By: Paul - Sat May 18, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Music | Outsider Art | 1960s

May 17, 2024

No TV for a year

Back in the early 1970s, a German research group called "The Society for Rational Psychology" challenged 184 people (all regular TV watchers) to go without TV for a year.. with financial incentives to encourage them to stick to the plan.

Briefly all went well, but then things quickly began to go downhill. Frustration grew. The people started to become moody and aggressive. After five months they were all back to watching TV.

The lesson the researchers concluded: "people who watch television regularly are likely to become so addicted they can no longer be happy without it."

What would they conclude about the Internet?

Of course, the study probably needs to be taken with a grain of salt because I can't find any info about this Society for Rational Psychology. Was it some kind of market research group? Nor can I find the write-up from the study itself. Just lots of references to the study in the media.

Buffalo Evening News - May 8, 1972

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 17, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Addictions | Television | Psychology | 1970s

May 16, 2024

Scratch-n-Sniff Jeans

Available from Naked and Famous Denim. The poor man's version of this would be to spray some fragrance on your ratty old jeans.

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 16, 2024 - Comments (4)
Category: Denim | Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

May 15, 2024

Miss Biological Research

Were biologists supposed to pin her picture up in their labs?

New York Daily News - Feb 12, 1964

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 15, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | Science | 1960s

Headache Hanger

Full patent here.

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 15, 2024 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions | Patents | Medicine | 1910s | Head

May 14, 2024

Gilbert Young, most rejected author ever

Gilbert Young first came to the attention of the British press in the 1960s as a crusader for a single world government. He ran repeatedly for various political offices but never won an election.

Below is an ad he placed in the papers seeking new members for his "World Government Party."

Bristol Daily Press - Jan 29, 1964

But his real claim to fame came in the mid 1970s when the editors of the Guinness Book of Records learned that, for years, Young had been trying to get his book published but had only received rejections from publishers. His book, World Government Crusade, had, by 1974, been rejected 80 times. So Guinness listed him in its 1975 edition as the record holder for the "greatest recorded number of publisher's rejections for a manuscript."

Bristol Daily Press - Sep 26, 1974

Guinness Book of Records 1975

For over fifteen years Guinness continued to list him as the holder of this record. Every few years it would update the number of his rejections. By 1990 his book had been rejected 242 times.

Guinness Book of Records 1991

I thought that perhaps Young's book would now be available to read or purchase somewhere on the Internet. But no, as far as I can tell it's still unavailable.

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 14, 2024 - Comments (3)
Category: Eccentrics | Politics | World Records | Books

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