Bizarre Swarms of Jellyfish: Danger or Natural Cycle?

The Earth's oceans have an abundance of jellyfish. However, it appears that they are becoming even more abundant. In the past 10 or so years, fishermen, scientists and even nuclear power plant workers have been noticing dense blooms of jellyfish that can number in the billions. Some species also seem to be venturing further from their natural waters. This is adding up to several dangers and there is no consensus regarding the potential consequences of these blooms.

Large jellyfish blooms can hinder or even destroy certain industries. In 2007, it was impossible to fish Irish salmon, as jellyfish were actively attacking the cages that were meant for the fish. Fishing has been a problem in other areas of the world thanks to this as well. Because the blooms are capable of clogging the inlets leading into nuclear power plants, which are necessary to their proper functioning, they have closed several power plants in various countries.

Researchers, laymen and scientists have posited several possible explanations for the increase in jellyfish populations. As usual, global warming is one possible explanation. Overfishing creatures like turtles that eat the same food as jellyfish could also be the problem as jellyfish move to fill in the gap in the food chain. Jellyfish are more resilient to unbalanced water than some food fish, which is another possible explanation or one of a few reasons.

While it seems that this could lead to a problem and possibly a jellyfish filled ocean such as has not been seen in millions of years, some experts think it is no problem at all. The populations of jellyfish, like many other things, ebbs and flows. The population may correct itself, as competing species are replenished, normal temperatures return, predators move in to take advantage of the abundance, etc. It is either that or we'll be swimming in tentacles.

Bizarre Entertainment: A Real Mummy Becomes Carnival Fodder

Oh, the scares we subject ourselves to. We will walk through a "haunted house" at an amusement park almost hoping that we will be sent into fits of fear or at least get to see a hysterical person run screaming or crying out of the realistically innocent building. Really what we are afraid of are mere facsimiles of the things we dread. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, mummies -- they are all just fakes for our sick amusement. Or are they? Alright, I will spare the theatrics. They typically are, but just once that I know of, the mummy in an amusement park house was real.

In December of 1976, a film crew was at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, California when a member of the crew moved one of the pesky spooks out of the way. When he did, the mummy's dry, old arm snapped off and I imagine a puff of skin dust filled the air and only when the epidermal exhalation of death cleared did the man notice that there was a bone in the arm. Not a pig bone. Not a sheep bone. It was not even a really good fake bone. It was a freaking man's freaking arm bone.

It turns out that the sick and twisted carnies of old school Nu-Pike thought it would be cool to rip a dude off and steal the mummy he had been parading around for profit. It was the body of Elmer McCurdy, who was shot and killed in 1911. The funeral home did not find an owner for the body so put it on display and sold views for a nickel. Five years later, the creepy carnies claimed to be related to the deceased and the previous "owner" was forced to give up the corpse. The new "owners" continued to use it for profit until it wound up in the fun house where I presume countless people touched it, not realizing it was a dude who died decades earlier. Bizarre? You might say that.

The BC Feet Mystery

The so-called "BC feet mystery" began around 2007, when a man's foot was discovered still wearing a sock and sneaker. The rest of the body was nowhere to be found. Other discoveries were made around the Salish Sea in Canada and Washington State amounting to a few more than a dozen with the bulk coming from Canada. Obviously, the discovery was more than a bit disturbing and people quickly came up with morbid explanations.

The two most popular explanations for the feet that have turned up in British Columbia and Washington are murders and the 2004 tsunami. The feet have obviously come from bodies that decomposed, coming loose naturally at the ankle or the knee. It has been suggested that the feet turn up and not the bodies because the sneakers help make them buoyant. It would take a heck of a lot for a foot to travel all the way across the ocean, though. It is presumably not impossible, given that trash has a way of making its way around the world on currents, but it is unlikely.

Investigators took to trying to identify the feet as they appeared. Four of the feet were matched into two pairs. That eliminates the idea that a serial killer is leaving a single foot of each of his or her victims to taunt locals and authorities. The more likely answer is equally as sad. In 2011, one of the pairs was linked to a woman who was known to have jumped off the Pattullo Bridge in Westminster. Her feet obviously floated along the river and reached the shore. Another of the identified feet belonged to a man who was known to be depressed. Does this mean that is what happened with all of the feet? No, but it is a start.

Nearby, there is a river -- the Fraser River -- that goes out to the Salish Sea. Over that river are numerous bridges and many suicides occur in the area every year. Some experts believe that this is the most likely source of the mysterious feet.

Can Living at a Higher Altitude Lead to Suicide?

Suicide is an unfortunate result of being extremely depressed or apathetic for one reason or another. Known reasons for suicidal behaviors are some medications, depression, extreme loss, certain mental illnesses, etc. Other times, a strange trend is seen in suicides.  One of these strange trends is the apparent correlation between high altitude and higher than normal suicide rates.

In 2012, a psychiatry professor from the U School of Medicine and his team found that suicide rates appeared to be higher in states with higher altitudes. They found that the risk of suicide was roughly one-third higher than normal at an altitude of 6,500 feet. The study focused on data available from NASA, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the Centers for Disease Control.

We know that the western states tend to have higher altitudes than eastern states. In 2006, all 10 of the states in the top 10 for suicides were western states. This was what led to the research. They wanted to see what the common denominator was and it was altitude. The conclusion was that the higher risk may have something to do with mild hypoxia and may just make already depressed people more depressed. Similar data is appearing at high altitudes in other countries, such as South Korea.

Book Bound in Human Skin: "Narrative of the Life of James Allen"

The Boston Athenaeum, among its many interesting volumes, holds an autobiography that is bizarre and intriguing on a number of levels. The book, known to most simply as "Narrative of the Life of James Allen," is the deathbed confession of a young criminal who was torn between a life of crime without god and a death with forgiveness from god. At least, that was how the warden put it in his notes in the book. Regardless of the man's struggle, he made a macabre decision to have this confession/biography bound in his own skin after his death. A man named Peter Low did the arguably disgusting deed.

Thanks to the story behind the story, "Narrative of the Life of James Allen" is widely available. It is also in the public domain, so readers can download it free online. Even without the dead skin of the author adorning its pages, it is a worthy read. Young James Allen, who went by a number of aliases, gives the reader a glimpse into the life of an early 19th century highwayman. He only lived from 1809 until 1837, but James Allen had more than just a confession to offer. He confessed the failings of his parents, his guardians and his employees as well. The book turned into a guidebook on how to turn a young man into a criminal.

The skin of "Narrative of the Life of James Allen" is treated so it looks like deerskin. However, that is little consolation to viewers who know it is the skin of the man whose life story is told within its pages. The cover is adorned with a rectangle of black leather on which "HIC LIBER WALTONIS CUTE COMPACTUS EST" is stamped in gold.

It might add to the story to say that James Allen was executed in Massachusetts State Prison. However, he died of what the warden called consumption. Today, we would call it pulmonary tuberculosis.

The Gruesome Show of John Charles Fare

The story of John Charles Fare is most likely purely urban legend or an exaggeration of factual events. Whatever the case may be, the story is highly unlikely, entertaining and tragic. Like most fictional illusionists, John Charles Fare had an aura of mystery, whether he was real or not.

In 1968, N.B. Sheen published the first known account of John Charles Fare in a poetry journal. Roughly four years later, Tim Craig published the same story, but elaborated greatly on the plot. According to Craig, Fare was a Canadian by birth, but he moved to London to go to university. That obviously did not work out, as he moved quickly to Copenhagen. Apparently, he flashed his privates there and landed in a mental institution for a time. When he got out, he glued some things to Golni Czervath's car. The two became friends and the show of John Charles Fare was reportedly born.

The act the two devised involved a surgical table that is beyond even technology decades later. It had robotic parts that would operate on Mr. Fare. The story had it that John Fare's first act was to allow the table to perform a lobotomy on him. How he managed his later performances after that surgery is anyone's guess. In subsequent shows, the table reportedly removed some of his toes, an eye, some fingers, some flesh, his testicles and his right hand. The last performance was a beheading, allowed by Fare.

There are no pictures of John Fare, no paperwork, no records. The only evidence is the testimony of two writers, one of whom claimed that Fare was still performing up until 1972. If he were real, one could say that he was less an illusionist than a victim. The story has it that he was in a mental institution and then partnered with a man to allow a table to torture him. His partner would probably be arrested were such a thing to be discovered today.

The Sad and Bizarre Story of David Reimer

Quite often on That is Bizarre!, the stories are funny. Sometimes they are even tragic, but it is rare for a horrible, personal tragedy to be pointed out as bizarre here. I would like to think that is because, despite the inherent flaws of humanity, it is rare for bizarre treatment to be carried out on an individual. I could be wrong. It could be quite common. In fact, one could argue that it is, depending on what you think is bizarre. Whatever the case may be, it is certain that what happened to David Reimer was bizarre. It was a case of taking a tragedy and making it significantly worse by allegedly trying to "help."

David Reimer and his twin brother Brian were born on August 22, 1965. They were both healthy boys. When they were eight months old, their parents noticed that they were having trouble urinating properly. It was decided by doctors that the twins needed circumcisions. David went first, and the surgery went horribly wrong. His penis was destroyed. Doctors held off on Brian's circumcision, and he wound up not requiring it.

Worried that their son would be confused, Janet and Jon Reimer went to John Money, a doctor specializing in gender identity. It can easily be said that John Money did more to ruin David's life than even the doctor(s) who botched his surgery. Money and his colleagues thought that Reimer should have gender reassignment. He did not have surgery, but over time, he underwent estrogen therapy, was treated like a girl, dressed like a girl and underwent an arguably abusive form of therapy with John Money.

Reimer's parents renamed him Brenda and dressed him in dresses, even in the cold Canadian weather. He was increasingly confused, scared and angry as he got older, but his parents and doctors turned a blind eye to his suffering. His parents may have feared they had no other choice, but his doctors were certainly neglectful. Some workers later tried to blame the parents for not reporting David's progress correctly, but his issues most certainly came forward during what John was doing to him and John reported that David was turning into Brenda quite nicely. He was wrong.

John Money used Brian to aid in his "treatment" of David. He had the twins come in and take up sexual positions to reinforce gender roles with David. He had David spread his legs and Brian lay between them. He also had David bend over and had Brian press his groin against David's rear end. On at least one occasion, Money took pictures. They were also made to be naked during some of these treatments. Later, David became increasingly depressed and threatened suicide as a teen. Brian developed schizophrenia.

Money suggested that the Reimers have a sex change done on David. David stopped going, whether because he refused or his parents realized what they were doing is unclear. Reimer eventually reversed the damage done by estrogen and had two operations to give him a penis. He got married, as well. Sadly, Brian died of an antidepressant overdose in 2002. In 2004, David's wife said she wanted to separate. Days later, David killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head.

Hysteria and the Villejuif Leaflet

The Villejuif Leaflet, which was sent out far and wide in Europe, was a list. On the list was a bunch of substances one commonly finds in food. These substances were listed as carcinogens. In defense of whoever made the list, many of them were potentially harmful. However, citric acid was on the list, and it is decidedly safe.

The Villejuif Leaflet was named thus because it was reportedly sent out by a hospital in Villejuif, France, but this turned out to be false. Nonetheless, the leaflet's origins were most certainly in France, though the precise location and distributor have never been discovered. It first appeared in 1976 as one page that was put together on a typewriter.

What is bizarre about the Villejuif Leaflet is not that it contained misinformation. This is common. What is bizarre is that it made enough rounds to reach roughly 7 million people, many of whom became very scared. It caused mass hysteria that lasted for years.

Bizarre Experiments: The Broken Toy Experiment

Often cited as a cruel psychological experiment, the Broken Toy Experiment was designed to produce guilt in children who had done nothing wrong. The children were left to stew in their negative emotions so researchers could study their reactions. This was meant to show them meaningful things about moral awareness and feelings. Yes, it might have, but it reeks of being unnecessary, given that parents of children of any age can tell how, when, where and why guilt manifests in children.

In this test, the children were given a "special" toy to play with. They were told to be careful with the toy. It was also rigged to fall apart when they touched it. The adults said nothing of the fact that the toy was a trap and just watched the kids for a full minute before finally leaving and coming back with the same toy, but not broken. To be fair, the children were then told that it was not their fault and they did not seem traumatized. Nonetheless, one has to wonder who they got to sit there all stoically while the kids squirmed. Darth Vader perhaps?

In the end, this is not the kind of experiment that will go down in history as evil. It was just a bit mean, and some of the kids probably do not even remember it. Then again, there is no long-term damage if you steal candy from a toddler and make it cry, but that does not mean psychologists should do it just to take notes on how the kid reacts in order to ostensibly collect meaningful data on the tears of children.

The Robbers Cave Experiment

Back in the day, bizarre experiments were par for course, particularly in the field of psychology. One of these bizarre experiments was masterminded by Muzafar Sherif. Sherif was trying to prove the principles of realistic conflict theory. The theory is that separate groups that have opposing goals or have to compete for limited resources will inevitably become hostile with each other. To prove this point, Sherif pitted 22 boys, ages 11 and 12 and split into 2 groups, against each other. In other words, he fixed it so the two groups would get overly competitive.

The experiment consisted of a three-week camping scenario. Boys were given no contact with their parents throughout the experiment. For the first week, the boys were placed with their respective group and given activities that built camaraderie among them. Neither group had any idea the other existed. At the end of that week, the group saw each other from a distance.

Week two was perhaps the worst of the weeks. The groups were put into intense competition with each other. Whichever team one would get a group of coveted prizes, while the losers got nothing. This put the boys into hostile mode. There was only one set of prizes and each group was determined to get it. Sherif noted a lot of name-calling and hostility at this point. One team even burned the flag of the other team.

The last week of the experiment, the researchers put all of the boys together and had them work as one team toward a common goal. This seemed to restore their natural social behavior and some of them even made friends with members of the opposing team. So, as long as you make them work together at the end, it is cool to purposely make 22 adolescent boys go at it Lord of the Flies style.

The Bizarre Case of Benjamin Kyle

What is bizarre about Benjamin Kyle is that he is not real, but he is real. No, he is not fictional or dead. Benjamin Kyle is living the life of a character in a thriller. Some would probably say it was poorly written or unbelievable. The thing is that truth is at least as strange as fiction in this man's case.

Benjamin Kyle's true identity is unknown. Benjamin Kyle is not his real name, though it is the only name this roughly 60-year-old man knows. He is listed as missing, but the authorities know exactly where he is. He is unemployable, at least legally, as he has no social security number. He is treated as an American, though he could be from anywhere, despite his memories of growing up in America. Enough enigma for you?

Benjamin Kyle has amnesia and he was unlucky enough to get it while alone in 2004. It has currently been eight years since he came down with amnesia and still no one has claimed him. He was found behind a Richmond Hill Burger King on August 31, 2004. He was unconscious, facedown in the dumpster area. He had no identification, though he may have suffered a head injury. He had cataracts so bad he was nearly blind. The amnesia could be from mental illness or from a head injury, but he can remember no such thing. DNA tests and fingerprinting have turned up nothing. He is a man without a past.

Perak: The Spring Man of Prague

The Spring Man of Prague or "Perak" is some sort of man or creature who reportedly appeared in Czechoslovakia between 1939 and 1945. This being was very similar in both appearance and behavior to Spring-Heeled Jack of British legend. The reason for both of their names was their ability to jump over tall structures and the assumption that they did so with the help of springs or some other device.

Perak would supposedly jump out at people and scare them. This is decidedly less sinister than the cutting and terrorizing done by Jack, but there was a man reportedly attacking people with razors in Prague around the same time they say Perak was active, so the two legends may have merged. Either way, there seem to be no police records whatsoever of the Spring Man of Prague.

Interestingly, unlike with Spring-Heeled Jack, Perak was later portrayed as a hero in fiction. He was initially a figure who teased the SS who were occupying Prague at the time. Later, he went on to have other adventures, but his first appearance in fiction might give a clue as to why the Spring Man of Prague came about to begin with. Prague was then occupied by the Nazis, and its people were likely living in fear. It is not unusual that an urban legend spring, pun intended, from such circumstances.

Twin Cluster in Brazil Because of Nazi Doctor?

Candido Godoi is a relatively small town in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Only roughly six to seven-thousand people live there. However, they have a hugely inflated number of twins when compared to most of the rest of the world. Because of this, and the attention brought to the town by the Nazi "Angel of Death," this quiet little town is the focus of some disturbing and amazing theories. If true, it would be both horrifying and a game-changer for genetic science.

Ten-percent of all pregnancies in Candido Godoi result in twins. Only fewer than two-percent occur on most of the planet. This excess of twins has been around since near the beginning of the 20th century. A reported 34 of the original settlers were twins. This indicates that there is a genetic factor behind this deluge of twins. The rate began to increase in the early 1960s. This may indicate that the genes behind the twins is becoming more prominent in the population. It could also mean someone starting messing with the families there around that time.

Doctor Josef Mengele was a psychopath Nazi doctor who conducted experiments on prisoners at concentration camps during World War II. His particular area of interest was twins, on which his experiments were particularly gruesome. After World War II, he went into hiding. He first hid in his native Germany before fleeing to South America. While there, he is known to have lived in Brazil, which is also where he died. Historian and writer Jorge Camarasa posited that the twin birth rate in Candido Godoi was due to Mengele's presence in the area. In other words, he went there to play with twins some more. However, there is currently no evidence. There is only correlation.

Bizarre Crimes: The Assassination Attempt on President Andrew Jackson

When it comes to United States presidential assassinations attempts, Richard Lawrence's attempt on the life of Andrew Jackson is the first known and one of the weirdest. Richard Lawrence bore a grudge against the 7th President of the United States based on delusions. The grudge got worse and worse until the deranged man tried to shoot Andrew Jackson outside of the Capitol Building on January 30, 1835.

Richard Lawrence was born sometime in 1800 or 1801 in England. The details of his childhood are unimportant to this story. What is important is that he came to the United States and got sick. He worked as a painter in his adult life, but was so ill by the time he was in his 30s that he stopped working. You see, Richard Lawrence believed that he was King Richard III, a man centuries in his grave by then. He thought that he would be given his rightful place on the throne and that he had no need to work.

It is assumed now that Richard Lawrence suffered from paranoia and delusions, possibly linked to schizophrenia. Even then, it was known that he was not in his right mind. He started dressing differently and talking to himself. He told people that the United States owed him money that would get him back home so he could assume the throne. He believed that Andrew Jackson was withholding the money from him and that the man had killed his father.

Lawrence haunted the steps of the president for weeks before going to the Capitol Building and making his attempt on the life of Andrew Jackson. He brought two pistols with him and fired once with each at the president's back. However, neither pistol would fire. They were both defective when wet. The crowd quickly subdued the would be assassin with the help of Jackson himself, who hit him with his cane. Richard Lawrence was not found guilty, as he was quite insane. He spent the rest of his life in mental institutions.

Bizarre Creatures: The Loveland Frog

The Loveland Frog is a cryptozoological creature reportedly spotted near Loveland, Ohio in 1955 and 1972. Both accounts vary. They put the creatures between three and four feet tall. They stand erect like humans and have humanoid bodies, but they have bald heads, green, rough, lizard-like skin and gaping, lipless mouths. One account said they were hairless with wrinkly heads. Another supposedly said that they were covered in hair, but it was matted down as if they were wet. One man might have even seen one riding a bicycle. However, given the ambiguity of the report, it might have been the man riding the bicycle when he saw the creature.

The first sighting of the Loveland Frog was of a group of the creatures on a bridge in May of 1955. There were roughly four of them. The man who reported seeing them gave the hairless, green and leathery description. He also said they had frog-like features. Flash-forward to March 3, 1973 and a police officer reportedly saw the same thing in the area, but this one had matted hair. However, it must be noted that the police officer later stated that he saw no such thing. It was a slightly large lizard on all fours crossing the road. The media inflated and changed his story. Therefore, the only sighting that has not been debunked appears to be the 1955 sighting.

The thing about this cryptid is that it is reportedly humanoid and was only ever seen once in Ohio. Humanoid creatures have a tendency to be obvious because they are bipedal and, well, look like people. Unlike Big Foot, this creature has not been seen all over the world, so it seems more likely that Mr. 1955 was very drunk than that there are human frogs hanging out near Loveland.

The Shag Harbour Incident: UFO in the Gulf of Maine

Shag Harbour (The Gulf of Maine is where "Atlantic Ocean"
is marked on this image.) 

The Shag Harbour Incident was a supposed UFO sighting near Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia. It occurred in the waters of the Gulf of Maine, according to witnesses. However, despite all indications that the object had crashed into the water, no evidence that anything had crashed was ever found.

The incident occurred on October 4, 1967 at about 11:20 p.m. A few locals saw an object flying through the sky over the gulf. It was flying along fine and then a whistling noise indicated that something was wrong. Witnesses likened the sound to that of a bomb, which begs the question: Was it a bomb? There was then a whooshing sound and the sound of impact. Initial reports from some 11 witnesses stated that the object was an airplane, so authorities responded as such.

Rescue workers scoured the area where the plane reportedly went down. They found no survivors. Even stranger, they found no wreckage, no bodies and nothing to indicate there had even been a crash. Nonetheless, several Canadian law and military organizations continued the investigation. Dive teams looked for wreckage beneath the water and checked to see if any planes had gone missing. There was nothing.

In the end, there was nothing to do but label the incident a UFO case. In this instance, one might substitute the f for "falling." Of course, there were a lot of conspiracy theories that came out of it, but none seems to pan out with physical evidence, of which there is none. Then again, the physical evidence might just be locked up in a Canadian version of Area 51.

Collective Effervescence: A Social Phenomenon

Collective effervescence is a social phenomenon that occurs when people gather in groups for an identical or similar purpose. Examples are concerts, sporting events and even riots. It is a group feeling often experienced by people in gatherings that can lead to behavior that is uncharacteristic of the individuals involved. It can be of a fun, moving or violent nature. What makes it collective effervescence is that the crowd and their focused attention causes it. A similar feeling while alone is not the same.

Collective effervescence is very closely associated with other social phenomena like collective behavior, hooliganism and mob rule. In fact, it may be this very feeling that leads to those phenomena. It tends to strip people of their senses of personal responsibility or burden, giving them the feeling that the group shares the responsibility or burden of whatever is happening. This is what makes it so bizarre. A calm person can turn violent without thinking of the consequences, whether that person is typically responsible or not.

The Disappearance of the Amber Room

The Amber Room Replica
Public Domain Photo Courtesy of jeanyfan

The Amber Room was an 11-foot square Baroque style room made of amber and worth $142 million dollars by today's standards. It was given to Peter the Great by Prussia in 1716 and remained in Russia for more than 200 years. It was altered by the Catherine the Great, but all accounts make it clear that she only made the room more magnificent. She also moved it from the Winter Palace, where it was originally housed, to Tsarskoye Selo, from whence it was stolen in 1941 by Nazi Germany.

The delicate room was packed into 27 crates and hauled out of Russia, most of it never to return. It was taken to Konigsberg, Germany and allegedly stored there. The official story from Germany is that the major bombings of the city in 1945 destroyed the Amber Room. However, there is a twist.

One of the men who moved the crates wound up with some of the room in his possession. In 1997, a mosaic and a chest from the room were found with his family in Bremen, Germany. No one is quite sure if the man stole the items when he was moving the room or if he managed to obtain them after the room was supposed to have been destroyed. The mystery remains.

A Bizarre Thought: The Hindu Milk Miracle, Heat and Stench

The Hindu Milk Miracle was a craze that took place on September 21, 1995. One man noticed that his offering of milk disappeared when he held it up to a statue of Ganesha. As the day wore on, it was found that Hindu statues all over the Eastern Hemisphere were displaying similar behavior when followers held up glasses, spoons and even buckets of milk. The "miracle" has been repeatedly debunked, even when it was occurring, but that did not stop insane amounts of milk from being purchased for statues from India to the UK.

So, the event in itself is not very bizarre. Religious "miracles" are known to cause hysteria. Nonetheless, while reading about it, I had a slightly bizarre thought. Tens of thousands of pints of milk were fed into these statues, some in very hot locations. What happened in the days that followed? It seems to me like there would have been a terrible smell coming from these statues. In a way, I found that humorous. I am actually very curious to know what became of it. I know that if I dumped milk all over something in my back yard and let it bake in the sun, I would not be worshipping the object the next day.


Lithopedions are bizarre, yet horrifying and sad results of fetuses dying in the womb. When a mother is carrying a dead fetus that she does not abort, miscarry or birth, it can calcify inside of her if it is too big for the body to reabsorb. It is a way that the human body can protect itself, as the dead fetus can cause infection. The resulting calcification leaves something akin to a stone fetus inside the mother. These sad remnants of a failed pregnancy are called lithopedions.

In most countries where medical care is readily available, lithopedions are unheard of. Dead fetuses are not left inside mothers and mothers are typically aware that they are pregnant. However, in places where many women do not have access to medical treatment, women may carry "stone babies" and not know it. Even if a woman does know she was pregnant and has a noticeable bulge, she can still carry it for decades without a problem, though there can be complications. Some women have even had healthy pregnancies after a lithopedion has formed. Without an ultrasound, there is no way of knowing that the womb is shared with a dead fetus and the dead fetus is not birthed with the live one.

Lithopedions are a thankfully rare occurrence, judging by known cases, though there are surely some that were never discovered. There has been an average of less than one known case per year for 400 years. A similar condition is fetus papyraceus, which occurs in multiples pregnancies when one of the fetuses flattens and mummifies. Lithopedions too can occur during multiples pregnancies. This condition is completely avoidable and reversible with proper medical treatment.

Bizarre Reactions to Horrible Situations: The Zombie Idiocy

There is currently a lot of buzz online about supposed "zombie attacks." Of course, something as bizarre as that would not escape scrutiny at That is Bizarre. However, there are no zombie attacks and yet, there is still a post here about them. You might wonder why and I am about to tell you. It is because there is something far more bizarre going on. It is called mass hysteria. Well, it is not really hysteria in the "run for your lives" way. It is hysteria in the "holy crap, facebook, twitter, my blog and wherever else I can post on the internet, there are zombies and I'm going to be prepared" kind of way. So, we are going to take a moment here to laugh at the bizarreness of technological age human nature and mourn the loss of seriousness in the face of serious situations.

Sadly, this bizarre sweep of reports regarding alleged zombie attacks is based on true, horrific stories. Without getting into too much detail, let us just say that a few people have been partially eaten, some of them dead at the time of the dining, some of them still alive. I know, it is absolutely horrible. Then, there is a man who harmed himself and put on a very gory display for responding officers. All of these saddening events took place relatively close together time wise, but were spread out around the globe. Zombie fanatics got creeped out by the seeming similarities between these events (of which they are very few worth noting) and took to social networks ranting about purchasing weapons and preparing for the apocalypse. Way to react, human race. (Insert virtual facepalm)

Now, to the bottom of things. There are no zombie attacks occurring right now. The sad truth is that these things happen much more than they should and they are not happening more often than usual. Furthermore, it was one sensational story that caused people to start linking all of the other stories. There are no links apart from human suffering and that has been around for a long time. So has the bizarre habit of making something bad worse with ignorance. Let us just hope people do not start seeing zombies where there are none anywhere other than the internet.

Bizarre Animals: Zebroid

A Zebroid at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club
Photo by Olliver: Public Domain

The zebroid is one of those creatures that happens rarely in the wild and happens sometimes with the help of people. It is a hybrid zebra that goes by several different names, depending on its parenthood, but essentially comes down to one thing, crossing a zebra with a horse, mule or donkey. The resulting creatures are quite bizarre and often beautiful.

In most cases, the fathers of zebroids are the zebras and the mothers are the horses, donkeys or mules. On occasion, the mother is the zebra, but this is far rarer. There have been some recorded instances of a zebroid producing offspring, resulting in another form of hybrid. However, zebroids are typically infertile or close enough to infertile that it is pointless trying to make them breed.

Zebroid characteristics depend on the characteristics of the non-zebra parents. In most cases, the animal has the stature of the non-zebra parent and has a touch of dwarfism. There are always stripes, though they are often not over the entire body and are sometimes only faint, depending on the animal's coloring. In some of these bizarre-looking zebroids, the animal looks, quite literally, like half a zebra. It may have several areas of very clear zebra markings or have them on approximately half of its body. This often happens when the zebroid is the offspring of a zebra and a horse.

Bizarre Art: Michael Cross' Bridge

The Michael Cross Bridge is a work of art that is also an amazing use of space and perception. Judging by Bridge, Michael Cross is clearly an artist who wants people to experience his work in an interactive way. It is a footbridge across a small body of water that gives the illusion that the person interacting with it is walking on water. There was something similar in the film "Labyrinth," but there is no Ludo traversing Michael Cross' Bridge and there is hopefully no stench arising from it.

According to Michael Cross' account of his inspiration for Bridge, its construction was more of a personal desire than anything else. He envisioned himself walking to or standing in the middle of a lake without getting wet and without anything around him but water. It may sound like a delusion of grandeur or that M. Cross aspires to be the mythical water walker himself. However, the reality is far less dramatic.

Michael Cross built his Bridge in the middle of Dilston Grove Church, which is currently an artist gallery. The water is contained in a roughly 24-inch deep tank in the middle of an aging room. While Bridge is in this makeshift tank, there is the illusion that the room is flooded. The eponymous bridge is a series of steps that rise from the water as a person walks across and sink back down once the step has been used. Because of this, the steps are not visible in front or behind you as you walk across.

This project is reportedly only the test. Michael Cross is planning to build an improved bridge in the future. For now, he is working on the kinks in the mechanisms that create his illusion. To see this amazing work of art, visit Michael Cross' website.

When the Jian River Ran Red

The Jian River, in and of itself, is not bizarre. It is just like any other river that flows on this planet. It is subject to pollution; it can change with the landscape and can also change due to weather. However, when the river turned red in December of 2011, it became like something out of hell. The color was not just red; it was a deep red reminiscent of blood. It understandably freaked out people who lived in its vicinity in Luoyang, China.

Authorities immediately began looking for the source of the problem. It was clearly not environmental. It turns out, it was red dye being dumped by two illegal factories in the city. Police raided the factories and shut them down when it became clear that the factories were indeed the problem. They were not dumping the dye directly into the river, but rather dumping them into the city's storm drain system, which, in turn, flows into the river. This was also illegal, but the factories themselves appeared to be running under the radar, as it was.

The river has apparently since returned to normal, though reports of it have tapered off since the original sensational story of the river turning blood red hit. Regardless, the images of a blood red Jian River will be remembered for a long time to come.

Click here for an image of the event.

The Peabody Hotel's Red Carpet

The Duck March at the Peabody Hotel
Photo by Mandy

The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee is home to a bizarre ritual that has been occurring there since 1932. The ritual takes place every morning at 11 a.m. and every afternoon at 5 p.m. This ritual involves five residents of the hotel that live in a penthouse on the roof known as the "Royal Duck Palace." These residents stroll out to the hotel's travertine marble fountain in the lobby on a red carpet amidst spectators and then stroll back to their palace, also along the red carpet, after having spent the day frolicking in the fountain. The red carpet V.I.D.'s are trained North American Mallards. Yes, ducks.

The practice of marching ducks out to the fountain of the Peabody Hotel began as something of a joke. The hotel's general manager and his friend thought it would be funny to put three ducks in the fountain. It turned out that the entertainment was a success. People enjoyed the novelty so much that the three were replaced by five North American Mallards and it has been five North American Mallards ever since.

Initially, there were just ducks in the fountain. Well, the word "just" does not really describe it, but that was the extent of it, nonetheless. That was, until the hotel got its first Duckmaster. Edward Pembroke was initially a bellman for the hotel. He was a former animal trainer and used this skill to get a more prestigious job as Duckmaster at the Peabody Hotel. He is the one who trained the animals to walk the red carpet until he retired. Several celebrities have been named "honorary Duckmasters." However, let's give credit where credit is due. None of these celebrities has trained multitudes of wild animals to behave in a crowded hotel.

The Peabody Hotel Ducks are not just five ducks that are replaced over the years. They only work for three months, after being raised on a farm. After the three months is up, they go back to the farm, where their novel skill as red carpet strutters becomes useless.

The Thirteen Club: Debunking Bizarre Beliefs

While I love stories of the bizarre and unusual, I prefer those stories to be truthful or at least verifiably mysterious. When it comes to superstition, the only thing that is bizarre is that people actually adhere to these beliefs. Over the centuries, numerous scientists and free thinkers have attempted to debunk superstitions of nearly all types and origins with varying degrees of success. One group of such debunkers was known as The Thirteen Club. As the name suggests, it was started with superstitions about the number 13 in mind. However, that was not the only superstition members of The Thirteen Club set out to debunk.

 The first meeting of The Thirteen Club was a dinner party of sorts on January 13, 1881. The stories have it that it was a dinner party that few superstitious individuals would have dared to enter. There were reportedly black cats crossing the diners' paths as they entered, open ladders and mirror breaking. There were also 13 people seated at a dinner table, where participants kept spilling salt. They did all of this without spitting to avert evil!

All kidding aside, the idea was to not only show that cats, salt, mirrors and ladders are nothing to fear, unless you are clumsy, have a mean cat or are the victim of an earthquake. It was also to show that a dinner can include 13 diners and all 13 can survive the year. Yes, there seems to be a clearly bogus belief that if 13 people sit down to dinner, one will die within a year. Of course, there is no telling if one or all of them will die, but there is certainly no magic number that will ensure that one will meet his or her maker before year's end. The Thirteen Club proved this but, as is typically the case, people still hold the superstition, which may have been around for centuries centuries.

Beware of warnings about the number 13 and stories of its unlucky history, though. Many of them are demonstrably bogus. Judas number 13 at the Last Supper -- no such mention of any such thing in the Bible. The Code of Hammurabi -- Babylonian law dating back several thousand years -- skipped the number 13! Also hogwash. The Code was not numbered. Sure, hotels have a tendency to skip floor 13 these days, but the 14th floor is still technically the 13th floor and the habit stems from this faulty belief; it is not a result of actual danger.

 The Thirteen Club gained popularity and had more than 400 members involved at one time. Famous names often associated with the club include Teddy Roosevelt, William McKinley, Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland. However, interest dissipated over time and the club went out of fashion. Sporadic groups of a similar nature have since adopted the name and it is quite possible that we will see a spike in membership of these skeptic groups soon. Those interested in debunking myths that can only be termed as superstitions, visit

Richard Wing on the Bizarre Crimes of Kendall Francois

In the world of bizarre things, it is hard to ignore the macabre and nothing is more macabre than serial murders. They are so outside of the norm when it comes to society and even crime that average people find it difficult even to fathom such horror. Here is a piece by Richard Wing on serial killer Kendall Francois. He details the bizarre acts of this deranged man for those of us who can stomach it.

"In a small city just over an hour north of Manhattan, New York City, lurked a macabre and frightening serial killer between 1996 and 1998, Kendall Francois. Residents and police investigators from Poughkeepsie, NY in Dutchess County were being terrorized and mystified between 1996 and 1998 by the disappearances of eight women, Wendy Meyers, Gina Barone, Kathleen Hurley, Catherine Marsh, Mary Healy Giaccone, Michelle Eason, Sandra Jean French and Catina Newmaster. . ."

Who Brought a Bear to Battle?

Voytek, showing off his sitting skills
Photo Courtesy of the UK Government: Public Domain

Voytek, or Wojtek in Polish, is the name given to a black bear who served as a laborer of sorts for a Polish unit during World War II. He was an honorary and then official member of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps.

Voytek's claim to fame was that, according to eyewitnesses, he carried ammunition for his company during the Battle of Monte Cassino -- a long, deadly confrontation in Italy between the Allied and Axis forces. There are stories that somewhere along the line he even caught a spy. This is not unheard of, as animal soldiers are notorious for catching spies.

Voytek was discovered in Iran in 1942 when he was just a cub. For a small fee, a few Polish soldiers bought him from the boy who found him. The soldiers reared the still small and helpless bear in a soldier's style. Before long, Voytek took up the habits of a soldier. When necessary, he saluted. During his off time, he wrestled with his comrades, drank beer and smoked cigarettes. If he had been able to speak, he might have known a handful of Polish swears as well. Fully grown, he was formidable at more than 400 pounds in weight and more than 6 feet in height.

During his lifetime, Voytek traveled from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Italy and lastly Scotland, where he spent the remainder of his days smoking at the Edinburgh Zoo. He went there in 1945, after the war ended and went to the zoo in 1947. Before going to Italy and then later to Edinburgh, he was made an official soldier, so he could travel with his keepers to Italy. Therefore, when he died in 1963, he was an official Polish army veteran.

Bizarre Stories: Melonheads

Urban legends have a tendency to be bizarre, though we know most of them to be false. That is Bizarre! tends to focus on that which we know is real. That is, of course, unless an urban legend is just too weird to overlook. Melonheads are an example of such. This urban legend contains all the medical, horror and backwoods oddities that Americans love in their campfire stories.

Melonheads are reportedly small human-like creatures whose defining features are oversized melon-shaped heads. They are apparently vicious and will attack people at random. Most of the stories of these angry little mutants come out of Connecticut, Michigan and Ohio. Each of these areas has their own legends about the melonheads. However, they are very similar and tend to differ only in small details about how they melonheads came to be melonheads.

One of the most important aspect of the legends to remember is that, while they are often called "humanoid," melonheads are actually human, according to every legend about them. Their odd-shaped heads are attributed to water on the brain in every instance. Their small stature is because they are supposedly children. In some cases, they are children who have escaped from an institution, sometimes said to have been horribly abused. In others, they are inbred children of institution escapees or a family that was banished into the woods for practicing witchcraft.

The most obvious holes in these stories are the apparent absence of institutions that could account for the stories in nearly every area in which the legend arises, the "children" aspect of it and the lack of any physical evidence. With the children part of it, it seems odd that only the children of these mutant colonies would attack. It also seems odd that they either stayed children for all of this time or that they had children of their own and stopped their attacks, letting the kids take care of it. All in all, it is unbelievable. However, it is creepy and bizarre enough to be a decent story.

L. Polyedrum and Glowing Red Tides

Lingulodinium polyedrum is a bioluminescent phytoplankton or more specifically a dinoflagellate. Bioluminescent essentially means it glows. Numerous organisms in nature do this. However, L. polyedrum is special even amongst this group of naturally glowing organisms. That is because Lingulodinium polyedrum forms red tides, more accurately known as algae blooms. These are times when organisms like L. polyedrum are particularly numerous in coastal waters. So, what happens when there is an algae bloom of bioluminescent organisms in warm coastal waters? The waves glow like college students at a rave.

Red tides are not always pleasant to look at and many people would rather not enter the water when microscopic organisms have so visibly taken over. L. polyedrum is much prettier than some red tides and possibly less frightening when it comes to entering the water. However, there may be cause for such concern when it comes to Lingulodinium polyedrum. There is some evidence that these dinoflagellates can be harmful to fish populations and possibly even people. However, a number of people continue to swim and surf despite L. polyedrum algae blooms without any known ill effects. The potential is still there, though.

Whether they are dangerous or not, these organisms certainly create a beautiful show. It is as if lights are turning on in the waves as they begin to crash. It is said that a footprint in the sand will glow when these organisms are present. Therefore, one can walk down the beach agitating them with their feet and making them glow in the sand while watching the light show they put on in the water. There really is nothing like it. It is like a trip to Pandora.

Watch the video below for some great footage of this phenomenon. Sorry for the music, if it is not pleasing to your ears, but these are the best lengthy shots of waves out of the bunch.

Bizarre Stories: The Monster of Glamis

Glamis Castle circa 1880
(photograph in the Public Domain)
The Monster of Glamis is the moniker given to a human, not a monster -- human who may have been dead at infancy. Now, the Monster of Glamis also refers to a ghost that supposedly haunts Glamis Castle in Scotland, the ghost of that very same individual. Whatever it/he really is and whether it/he existed or not, its story takes place in the centuries old castle from whence it name came.

Glamis Castle is situated in Angus, Scotland next to Glamis. The original structure was built in the 1300s. Naturally, several ghost stories have come out of the castle. There is nary a structure that can exist for that long and escape rumors of otherworldly guests. In the case of the Monster of Glamis, the guest was supposedly a resident and member of the aristocratic family that dwelled there.

The Monster of Glamis was born Thomas Bowes-Lyon. Of the existence of this child, there is little doubt. He was the son of Charlotte Grimstead and George Bowes-Lyon and an ancestor of the current Queen of England. The child is recorded as having been born on October 21, 1821 and having died that same day.

According to later accounts, a rumor began not long after the boy's alleged death. The rumor was that the child was horribly deformed. It went even further, claiming that the boy had not died at all. Thomas survived and was locked away in a room for the remainder or his life. There, his deformities kept him from taking on his rightful role as lord of the castle. He was kept in the room at all times, save the darkest nights when he was taken for a walk. Some claims go as far as to say he was fed through the door.

The deformities that led to such familial disgust and abandonment were supposedly weak and small limbs. Thomas is also said to have had a hairy egg-shaped body. Why a hairy Humpty-Dumpty lording over a castle was such a stretch is anyone's guess. He may have also been mentally infirm or his weak limbs were worse than the above description. Whatever the case, he said to have lived and died in the castle. There is no gravestone for the infant or the monster he is said to have become.

Bizarre Plant: Dracunculus vulgaris

Dracunculus vulgaris photo by Peter A. Mansfeld

Dracunculus vulgaris can grow to be more than two feet tall. The spathe that surrounds the spadix blooms to reveal a deep purple flower-like growth. The spadix itself has a yellow, corncob like appearance at the base. The rest is purple and black. After flowering, it produces green berries that ripen in the fall. Dracunculus vulgaris is currently found in various places in the United States, but it is endemic to Europe, particularly the Balkans. 

Dracunculus vulgaris goes by many names, most of which are derived from its appearance. Its other names include Drakondia, snake lily, voodoo lily and dragon arum. The snake and dragon names stem from the black, snakelike appearance of the spadix, which is a long, stalk like projection that comes out of the plant's spathe. The dragon name also stems from finger like shapes on the leaves that have been compared to antlers and dragon claws. 

Dracunculus vulgaris is a plant very similar to one previously featured on That is Bizarre -- Amorphophallus titanum. These two plants have similar structures and identifying features, though Amorphophallus titanum is the larger of the two. The most memorable feature of both plants is an awful stench that they emit when attracting flying insects for pollination. The most common description of this smell is that of rotting dead meat. Nonetheless, Dracunculus vulgaris is a beautiful plant.

Bizarre Death: George Plantagenet

George Plantagenet was the 1st Duke of Clarence, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, the 1st Earl of Warwick, the brother of King Edward IV and the brother of King Richard III, who became king of England after George's death. His royal status did not save him from death. In fact, it was the very reason for his death.

George was found guilty of treason when his brother King Edward IV suspected him of vying for the throne. Like other treasonous royals before him, he was held in the Tower of London until his execution. It is not this macabre, yet interesting, path to death that makes George Plantagenet's death bizarre. It is the rumors that sprung up around his death that make the story so strange.

George Plantagenet was led to his death on February 18, 1478. The typical means of demise for executed royals was public beheading. In some cases, it was a private execution, as it was in George's case. After his death, it was suspected that he was not beheaded at all. An exhumation of the body supposed to be his reportedly turned up his head intact, though there is much speculation about whether the body belonged to him or not. Whether or not it was his body, it is believed that George Plantagenet was killed by forced drowning in a vat of wine -- Malmsey wine, to be precise.

Shakespeare's play Richard III about George's brother, who came to the throne later, holds to this rumor. The character of Plantagenet is drowned in wine. Because his manner of death was never verified, there is still the possibility that the rumors are true and Shakespeare's play is accurate in that regard.

The London Monster

The story of the London Monster is a similar story to that of our recent post on that of the Halifax Slasher. It is the story of an alleged attacker who stalked women at night and attacked them with sharp objects. On top of that, the stories are similar in that the attackers were never caught, may not have existed or may have only been responsible for very few of the crimes to which they were attributed. However, in the case of the London Monster, it is also very possible that an attacker existed and very few of the alleged attacks were hoaxes. Given the early attacks and the extent of some of the victims' injuries, it is fair to say that something nefarious was afoot in London between 1788 and 1790.

The London Monster's M.O. was reportedly to sneak up on women at night and stab them in their derrieres whilst swearing at them. Of course, descriptions of individual attacks differ. However, the bottom line was assaulting good-looking women with knives. This in and of itself is not suspicious in the sense that it seems made up. This is well within the known realm of criminal activity. In fact, the very act described has its own name -- piquerism. Therefore, there is some likelihood that there was a piquerist in London around the time of the London Monster attacks. Nonetheless, things did get suspicious over time.

As expected, there was something of a panic in London. Innocent men took great pains not to appear shady, as there was some hysteria that had the potential to turn violent. Then, there were the women who faked attacks. It does not get much more bizarre than taking what was a frightening situation and turning it into a bid for attention. Because at least one woman later admitted to faking an attack, the entire situation is hardly taken seriously in modern times. Unlike Jack the Ripper, the London Monster has something of a reputation as a hoax. His crimes were not as severe, but it is possible that he stabbed innocent women in the street. That is serious enough to warrant investigation. However, the investigation itself was botched by the hysteria.

A man by the name of Rhynwick Williams was found guilty of three attacks and given six years in prison, despite the fact that most of the evidence was ridiculous, he had alibis for confirmed attacks and one of the witnesses admitted to lying. Oh, and there was also the monetary reward motivation on the part of his accused. Williams was able to get a retrial but it did not work out in his favor. The hysteria won out. More attacks occurred while he was in prison but it is unknown whether it was the real attacker or more hoaxes.

Bizarre Hoaxes: The Halifax Slasher

The Halifax Slasher was an alleged attacker who caused panic in Halifax, Nova Scotia in November of 1938. This person was said to roam the streets attacking mostly women but also a few men with blunt objects and sharp blades. The mention of blades is what led to the man's nickname the Halifax Slasher. The problem with this story is that it was likely concocted. In fact, much of it is known to have been concocted.

The trouble began on November 16, 1938 when Gertrude watts and Mary Gledhill alleged that they were attacked. The said their attacker -- a man -- had a mallet. The only other identifying feature was bright buckles on the man's shoes. The next "victim" was Mary Sutcliffe. She said that the man carried a blade when he attacked her on November 21. More people came out over the next few days. What was bizarre was the public reaction and subsequent hoaxes that followed the alleged initial attacks.

Not long after the three women claimed they were attacked, the town went a little crazy. Citizens hunted for the Halifax Slasher, often coming up with innocent men. Beatings took place and more people came forward saying they had been attacked. The local police called in Scotland Yard for help. In the end, the conclusion was more bizarre than the alleged crimes. A man stalking women in the streets is sadly far from unusual. A town gone crazy and individuals pretending to have been attacked to perpetuate the hysteria is significantly more unusual.

On November 29, a man said he was attacked but later admitted that he lied. The man even harmed himself to make it look like he had been attacked. The investigation turned up a number of these hoaxes and the Halifax Slasher was declared a combination of hysteria and distasteful lies. The people who were found guilty of lying about the attacks were penalized.

Bizarre Animals: Pinocchio Frog

The Pinocchio frog is an interesting little creature with a nose not unlike that of Eva Ernst in "The Witches." It is a small tree frog species with a wiggly piece of flesh at the end of its snout. Paul Oliver, who could find no other specimens at the time of discovery, found it. The area in New Guinea in which it was found boasted a number of other previously unknown species. No one knows for sure why this little dangler exists on the Pinocchio frog's face, though it probably has something to do with reproduction. Most weird appendages do. There are very few pictures available of this little guy. Click here to see one on National Geographic. As soon as more is known about this frog, we will try to post something on That is Bizarre.

Bizarre Health: Koro

When discussing those things in this world that are simply bizarre, it is hard to ignore certain emotional and psychological disorders. The pain that individuals suffer when they deal with these health issues is not humorous. However, they can certainly be described as bizarre. One such psychological syndrome goes by many names. It is called Koro, genital retraction syndrome, shrinking penis or simply penis panic. It is an intense fear that involves disappearing genitals. In cases of Koro, this is simply a perception that is thought to be brought on by psychosexual stress.

Partial genital retraction syndrome is the fear that the penis is shrinking or pulling back into the body. In women, it is the same fear regarding the vulva and/or nipples. This is most common in Westerners who are afflicted with the syndrome, which is far less common than it is among Chinese and Southeast Asians. Total koro is primarily experienced in these areas. It is the same as partial genital retraction syndrome coupled with conviction that death will follow the disappearance of the genitals and attempts to halt the retraction. People can seriously injure themselves by trying to insert objects into their flesh that they believe will stop the genitals from shrinking.

It is important to note that individuals with Koro are not actually suffering from shrinking or retraction. Doctors who observe these individuals are agreed that it is occurring in the sufferer's mind. The cause, apart from a cultural propensity toward this belief, is thought to be feelings of sexual inadequacy and/or shame. Therapy to treat the underlying cause may be beneficial in many cases. However, the syndrome can be chronic; something like a general anxiety disorder or it can come in attacks, something like a panic disorder. Some cases may also have an underlying physical cause, though there are only six of these cases reported.

Bizarre Stories: Lal Bihari and the Walking Dead

Lal Bihari Mritak is an Indian man who holds the rather rare distinction of having been dead for 18 years before being legally declared alive again. In 1976, Mr. Bihari was declared dead by the government at the behest of his uncle, though he was still alive. The uncle, like any good villain, was motivated by greed. With just a simple bribe, the uncle was able to have his nephew Lal declared dead so he could then assume ownership of his property. Thankfully, he did not see to it that Lal was actually dead, though that seems to be a common fear among people like Lal Bihari. Yes, there is more than one case of a person being declared dead in India, despite the obvious fact that he or she are still living.

Over the course of the 18 years following Mr. Bihari's untimely legal death, he struggled to overturn the declaration. He ran for public office, held his own funeral, fought for widow's compensation for his wife and repeatedly appealed to local officials. These tactics only served to get him beaten on occasion. However, through this process, he also found others like himself. In order to gain support for himself and others, he formed Mritak Sangh -- an association for the dead. The Mritak stands for "dead," which is why Lal had the word added to his name. He was desperate for his plight to be recognized and his living status to be upheld by the law.

In 1994, Lal Bihari Mritak finally got his wish. Strangely, he did not take his land back from his wayward uncle. Even more surprisingly, Lal is one of very few who have lived again after being wrongfully declared dead. There is real resistance to overturning these decisions by officials. That is likely because the plague of the dead in India is caused by corrupt officials who are willing to take a few dollars to end a person's life on paper.

Bizarre Events: Mumbai Sweet Water

Mahim Creek in Mumbai, India
Courtesy of Nicholas from Wikimedia Commons

On August 18, 2006, a bizarre phenomenon occurred in Mumbai, India. It is known as the Mumbai Sweet Seawater Incident. What was bizarre about it was not really the allegedly sweet seawater as there were a number of logical explanations for comparatively sweet seawater. The really bizarre aspect of the incident was the reaction.

Early on August 18, 2006, reports started to spread that Mahim Creek was delivering sweet water. That very same day, the same phenomenon was reported with ocean water in Gujarat. People flocked to Mahim Creek and the waters of Gujarat to collect this supposedly sweet water in containers. This was not so people could wash their clothes in Willy Wonka water. This was so they could drink it!

Some might think drinking some creek or even ocean water that suddenly turned sweet is not such a big deal. However, Mahim Creek is notoriously polluted. Not only is it inundated with industrial waste but it is also inundated with raw sewage. That is right. Fecal matter, urine and any number of unhealthy chemicals lurk in the water, no matter how sweet it is. In fact, it is known for having an awful stench. Besides, drinking seawater is a bad idea even if it is clean.

Luckily, there was not widespread cholera or other such waterborne disease epidemics. There is some speculation that the recent monsoon season not only purified the water, insomuch as such water can be purified, but that it also caused the sweet water. It may have also been a case of mass hysteria. Whatever the cause, drinking that water was surely a bizarre reaction. It makes one wonder who drank it first to discover it had turned sweet.