TIME weird

New York Pays Family $115,000 Settlement After Accidentally Donating Grandma’s Body to Science

The woman's body was barely recognizable by the time her family found out what happened

A New York family has received a $115,000 settlement from the city after a Bronx morgue accidentally donated their mother’s corpse to a medical school.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that 85-year-old Aura Ballesteros died in May 2014, but instead of holding her body while her children arranged a funeral, the morgue sent her body off to be used for research.

According to the Daily News, the state of New York has the right to either bury or donate a body that hasn’t been claimed after 14 days. When Ballesteros family discovered what had happened, too, her body had already been embalmed. Her son testified that she was nearly unrecognizable.

A new law would prevent this kind of incident from occurring in the future by requiring family consent before donating a body for research.

 

TIME weird

13 Things to Know About Friday the 13th

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, 1495 - 1497 about, 15th Century, tempera and oil on two layers of plaster, cm 460 x 880 .
Getty Images

Read this list while you cross your fingers and hold your breath

Don’t step on any sidewalk cracks, walk under any mirrors, or encounter any black cats, because it’s Friday the 13th, the unluckiest day of the year. Here are 13 things to know about why the day is considered so ominous.

1. Some superstitions about Friday the 13th are rooted in the guest list of the Last Supper. Judas was the 13th guest at the table, and Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Coincidence?

2. On Friday the 13th in 1307, thousands of Knights Templar were arrested on orders from King Philip IV of France because of suspicions that their secret initiation rituals made them “enemies of the faith.” After years of torture, they were burned at the stake. Dan Brown’s novel The DaVinci Code popularized the link between the Knights Templar and Friday the 13th.

3. Friday was considered an unlucky day as early as the 14th century. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in The Canterbury Tales that “on a Friday fell all this mischance.”

4. The first specific written reference to Friday the 13th as an unlucky day was in an early-20th century novel by Thomas W. Lawson, called Friday, the 13th. Ironically, a ship named after Lawson was caught in a storm and shipwrecked on the night of Friday the 13th, 1907.

5. Not all cultures believe Friday the 13th is unlucky. In Greek and Hispanic cultures, Tuesday the 13th is considered far more ominous. In Italy, Friday the 17th is spookier than the 13th.

6. The bad luck on Friday the 13th may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. One 1993 study found that hospital admissions for traffic accidents were 52% higher on Friday the 13th than Friday the 6th.

7. But it also might be hogwash: A German study found no spike in hospital admissions or procedures on Friday the 13th.

8. Superstition can result in an economic dip. Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, says U.S. businesses lose millions of dollars on Friday the 13th, because some people are reluctant to leave their homes.

9. Any month that starts with a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th, and there can be as many as three of them a year; 2015 will have two more Fridays like this one.

10. Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Steve Buscemi were all born on Friday the 13th.

11. There are two tough-to-pronounce names for the fear of Friday the 13th: “paraskevidekatriaphobia,” and “friggatriskaidekaphobia.

12. Twenty-five percent of Americans said they were “very” or “somewhat” superstitious in a 1996 Gallup poll, and 9% said they were wary of the number 13. Interestingly, young people were more likely to be superstitious than older people.

13. But Taylor Swift isn’t one of them. The pop star turned 13 on Friday the 13th, which is one of many reasons she says 13 is her lucky number.

Read next: 5 Actually Good Things That Happened on Friday the 13th

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME weird

New Zealand City Shocked By Unintentionally Priapic Sculpture

Artist says he didn't mean sculpture to resemble a large phallus

Residents of Auckland, NZ aren’t so sure this sculpture of clouds reminds them of the sky. Instead, it reminds of them of something else:

“What the hell is that? It’s certainly not a cloud. It looks like a penis,” Mt Roskill resident Joy Dale told the New Zealand Herald.

Gregor Kregar, the sculptor who created the piece with his wife Sara Hughes and architect Davor Popadich, said he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. He thinks the sculpture is about clouds, vapors, and raindrops, with an emphasis on the modernity of the area, and is surprised by the public response.

“Art is out there to stir reaction,” Kregar told the Herald.

Kregar also says the sculpture will look different once the neon lighting is installed.

[NZH]

TIME weird

Chinese Herder Finds Gold Nugget That Looks Like China

It weighs 17 lbs

A Kazakh herder stumbled up on a 17-lb gold nugget in the shape of the Chinese mainland, Chinese media reported Friday.

The herder, Berek Sawut, found the nugget on Jan. 30 but was afraid he wouldn’t be able to keep it, since it likely came from a mine owned by the government, the New York Times reports. It’s the largest nugget of its kind to be found in the Xinjiang region, home to more than 600 gold mines. So far, nobody has confiscated the nugget.

The nugget is not solid gold, but is instead a mixture known as “dog-head gold,” which is natural gold ore mixed with quartz.

[NYT]

TIME weird

This Superfan Spent $10,000 to Cover His Back with Simpsons Tattoos

His favorite character is Homer.

Some people show their fandom by buying a box set or putting posters on their walls. For Michael Baxter, a prison officer from Australia, these empty tributes wouldn’t suffice. The 52-year-old says he has spent $10,000 and 130 hours to cover his back with 203 Simpsons characters.

According to the Daily Mail, Baxter hopes to snag the Guinness World Record for most having the most tattooed cartoon characters on his body. He’ll need to unseat Lee Weir of New Zealand, whose left arm is adorned with 41 tattoos of Homer Simpson. Baxter is grateful to his tattoo artist, Jade Baxter Smith, whose tattoo art also includes pop culture icons like Bill Murray and a Kill Bill-era Uma Thurman. “I’m happy for Jade to use me to promote her work,” he says, noting that he doesn’t mind if people photograph her masterpiece.

Baxter hopes for world record recognition on Dec. 17, which also happens to be the 25th anniversary of the premiere of The Simpsons.

More colour

A photo posted by Jade Baxter (@jade_baxter_art) on

TIME Bizarre

Man Finds Out Wife Is Pregnant After Using Her Urine for His Drug Test

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Getty Images Pregnancy Test Positive

Surprise!

An Egyptian bus driver found out that his wife was two months pregnant, after submitting her urine in place of his own for a mandatory drug test, the BBC reports. After he assured officials that the sample was his own, he was reportedly told, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant.”

While more details were sparse, the BBC reported that some officials didn’t see this incident merely as a lighthearted prank, given that drug use is on the rise.

[BBC]

TIME halloween

This Is the Best Post-Halloween Police Recap We’ve Seen

City of Santa Cruz

Fox News and a real life Edward Scissorhands and that’s not the end of it

Halloween is a night to get weird, and nowhere did weirdos celebrate the fact with more dedication this year than in Santa Cruz, California, according to a post-Halloween recap released by police.

In addition to what we assume are fairly typical shenanigans—the suspect in a one-car DUI crash throwing punches in the air as paramedics arrived on the scene, a drunk “prowler” found wandering in random backyards as he tried to find his way home—there were some particularly outstanding moments.

Sean Kory, 29, is alleged to have attacked a man dressed as a Fox News reporter, shouting as he did that he “hates Fox News.” What follows is the police release reprinted verbatim, because some things are not meant to be paraphrased.

“The suspect grabbed the victim’s microphone and placed [sic] down the front of his pants and proceeded to rub the microphone on his crotch. The suspect then attacked the victim with an aluminum tennis racquet.”

The victim was not injured. Sean Kory fled after the incident was reported but was apprehended by police. He has since found a small bit of Internet fame after being compared to the Hot Mugshot Guy.

In sadder news, a 12-year-old was “contacted” by police—the cops do not specify why—and found to be carrying a concealed hammer. Police say the kid already sports numerous gang tattoos and was already on probation and when he was arrested for possession of a weapon.

And finally, some glorious moron was issued a citation for “mutilation” of city property. He was dressed as Edward Scissor Hands and busted, police say, “doing some unauthorized trimming of the city trees.”

Stay weird, Santa Cruz.

MONEY Bill Gross

Here’s the Weirdest Economic Commentary You’ll Read Today

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Jim Young—Reuters

Bond guru Bill Gross is famous for his wacky but insightful market analyses, and this one is exemplary -- in both regards.

Janus Capital fund manager Bill Gross—most recently in the news for leaving PIMCO, the bond fund giant he co-founded—today published commentary on the global economy and financial markets in his typically quirky style.

Before turning to some important points on inflation, Gross spends a couple paragraphs waxing Yoda-like about humanity… and how he’s made of sand:

I am a philosophical nomad disguised in Western clothing, a wondering drifter, masquerading in a suit near a California beach. Sand forms the foundation of my being and its porosity is at once my greatest strength and deepest wound. I have become after 70 years, a man who believes that no belief is sacred. I have ideals and moral standards, but I believe them specific to me. Had I inherited your body and ego, “I” could just as clearly have assumed “yours.” If so, I wonder, if values are relative, then what are mortals to make of them, and what would a judging God make of us? If a collective humanity is to be rooted in sandy loam, spreading its ideological seeds through howling winds only to root in mutant form at different places and different times, can we judge an individual life?

Then, against all odds, he steers these elaborate metaphors into a commentary on U.S. fiscal and monetary policy—and it turns out he has some important points to make.

Here are the four of them, roughly translated:

  1. Young people should (and do) fear inflation because it means their retirement portfolios will be cut in half or more.
  2. But these days, deflation is just as dangerous a threat as inflation, because the economy has become dependent on inflation to shrink our debt.
  3. The problem is that the monetary policy approach that would ordinarily prevent deflation—printing more money—is not helping to create true growth. “Prices go up, but not the right prices. Alibaba’s stock goes from $68 on opening day to $92 in the first minute, but wages simply sit there for years on end,” Gross writes.
  4. The solution Gross suggests for making the “right prices” go up is government fiscal stimulus — a surprising policy suggestion from a bond fund manager. But he also points out that government spending is a tough sell, thanks to fears about the very debt that makes us dependent on inflation.

These are some wise insights, despite the strange introduction. Actually, there’s evidence that Gross may be in on the joke when it comes to purple prose, or at least that he’s actively cultivating his reputation as an eccentric genius. In any case, today’s commentary wasn’t necessarily Gross’s strangest. He has in the past mused about his dead cat, Cracker Jacks, crows, and, as in the following passage, sneezing:

There’s nothing like a good sneeze; maybe a hot shower or an ice cream sandwich, but no – nothing else even comes close. A sneeze is, to be candid, sort of half erotic, a release of pressure that feels oh so good either before or just after the Achoo! The air, along with 100,000 germs, comes shooting out of your nose faster than a race car at the Indy 500. It feels sooooo good that people used to sneeze on purpose. They’d use snuff and stick it up their nose; the tobacco high and the resultant nasal explosion being the fashion of the times. Healthier than some of the stuff people stick up their nose these days I suppose, but then that’s a generational thing. My generation is closer to the snuff than that other stuff.

The latter commentary, titled “Achoo!”, goes on for another two paragraphs about sneezing before turning to neutral policy rates.

TIME History

Archaeologists Believe They Found Dracula’s Dungeon

Circa 1450, Portrait of Vlad Tepes 'Vlad the Impaler'(c 1431-1476), from a painting in Castle Ambras in the Tyrol.
Stock Montage/Getty Images Circa 1450, portrait of Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler, from a painting in Castle Ambras in the Tyrol

The dungeon believed to have held Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for the blood-thirsty character, was recently discovered in Turkey

Archeologists in Turkey have reportedly made a spooky discovery, just in time for the start of Halloween season: the dungeon where the real-life basis for Count Dracula was held.

The cell where history’s Dracula, the Romanian prince Vlad III (nicknamed Vlad the Impaler for his gruesome tendency to impale his foes), was recently discovered during a restoration project, the Turkey-based Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Researchers are reportedly restoring the ancient Tokat Castle, where the Ottomans imprisoned the infamously cruel figure, in the mid 1400s. The team there evidently discovered a tunnel leading to two dungeons — one of which is likely to have housed Bad Old Vlad.

TIME health

The Weirdest Stuff We All Do at the Gym

strongman-lifting.
Getty Images

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

A few years ago the media was obsessed with talking about the weird habits of people who live alone. The uninhibited freedom of not cohabitating gives you a free pass to walk around naked, sing to yourself, and leave the bathroom door open 24/7. And, while I currently live with a roommate, I don’t curb any of my quirkiness — except maybe the bathroom-door thing.

But, since the gym is my second home, it’s only natural that I have a second set of weird quirks specific to the sweat-friendly atmosphere. They may be a bit unconventional, but they’re never annoying or disrespectful — no loud conversations or equipment hogging. I proudly display my eccentric gym habits as any true local would — like a badge of honor. From treadmill racing to yawning while exercising to giving my muscles a mental “pat on the back,” here are some oddities I’m definitely guilty of doing.

(MORE: How to Actually Enjoy Your Workout)

1. I maximize viewings of my gym clothes by saving my favorite apparel for Monday workouts — as that is when the gym is always the most crowded. I realize occupying a treadmill in the front row of Equinox isn’t the same as sitting front row during Fashion Week, I just happen to love my spandex and want to show it off. And, when you’re in the front, there’s no room for slacking, so it helps me push harder, even if no one is actually paying any attention.

2. There is such a thing as a “better” treadmill, StairMaster, or [insert equipment of choice]. Perhaps it’s the one positioned directly under the AC or away from the mirror so I don’t have to stare at myself for the duration of my three-mile run. Whatever the reason, once I find my favorite, I’ll forever try exercise on that same piece of equipment anytime I’m at that gym.

3. During lunges, I rest my hands on my butt (as discreetly as possible). It’s a reminder to push through my heels, so that I engage my glute muscles, instead of relying on my quads, to return to standing. Plus, when you feel your muscles working, it’s definitely a “go me” moment.

4. I won’t seek you out, but if you choose the treadmill next to me (when there are a few open), I will assume you want to race. And, we will — game on.

(MORE: 5 Reasons to Skip Your Workout)

5. Even when I’m totally pumped up and not remotely tired, sometimes I’ll yawn at the gym. There are a lot of different theories why this happens (one is that yawning helps cool the brain), and I used to be embarrassed, thinking that everyone around me would assume I wasn’t working hard enough. But, then I stopped caring what other people thought and used my yawns to see if anyone was staring — because we all know that yawning is contagious.

6. I pee no less than three times before my CrossFit workout. Whenever I know that I have a tough training session ahead, my bladder goes into overdrive. It’s annoying, but I’ve learned to deal with it and plan for multiple bathroom breaks.

7. I don’t put makeup on, specifically for the purpose of going to the gym, but, if I train after work, I don’t necessarily put any effort into taking it off. I do plan my lip color around my workout schedule though as I have one red lip stain that I love. But, I have to avoid wearing it on days that I plan to train since it’s impossible to remove.

8. When I forget to toss my armband in my gym bag, I’ll attempt to store my phone in weird places (including in my sports bra, tucked under the strap of my tank top, and in a legging pocket that wasn’t meant to hold anything larger than a key), so I can listen to my jams uninterrupted while exercising. It almost never works, but I keep trying.

(MORE: How I Balance Drinking and Exercise)

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