Two-headed calf skeleton by C.Puremorning
I can hammer a nail into my nose, and I know all the names of the deer with fangs. I listen to Ripley's Oddcast, and I've been trying to get a group to go together to go to the California Institute of Abnormal Arts. My desktop is a picture of a two-headed cow. I hula-hoop with fire and read about cults. The normal is great, but the abnormal is most captivating.
For this post, I won't explain why we love to learn about the abnormal, but why we should. Looking at that youtube vid of a two-legged kitten is fun, but maybe it can mean more than that.
Inherently, the fun aspect is a practical value; it fosters curiosity, learning and amusement. Additionally, there's no reason not to capitalize and expand on amusement. In journalism, we learn this adage: “If a dog bites a man, that's not news. If the man bites back, that's news.” People love knowledge of the bizarre, so we should love the potential it has for media.
Secondly, one could argue that it fosters a more accepting environment by expanding our view of reality and opening our minds to diverse practices.
When I worked at the rock wall at California State University, Northridge, one of my co-workers was reading a magazine, and she expressed alarm at an article that was written there. It detailed the relationship a woman had with a younger man, a man who was friends with, and more similar in age, to the woman's daughter.
“Isn't that weird?” my co-worker asked.
“Not really,” I said. “I've seen weirder.” I didn't mention it, but I had read of a man who married a dog, and a woman who married the moon. There's always something weirder, and at some point you just accept that there are strange tastes out there. I'm always interested, but it's hard to put me off or freak me out. In other words, through my knowledge of diversity, I'm more accepting of the marginal lifestyles.
Of course, that's not to say that the strange are always portrayed fairly. Ask any person whether their profession, hobby, culture, or they themselves—strange or not—have been portrayed fairly in the media, and they will say “no.” No matter how hard a journalist tries to get the full story, someone will think it's unfair. C'est la vie.
Learning about the heterodoxical can also teach us about the normal. For example, in the book Mutants: On Genetic Variety and Human Form, the author discusses diprosopus, or the formation of two faces on one person or animal. Creatures with this condition have an excess of a protein called Sonic Hedgehog Homolog, the gene that controls for facial width. Cyclopes, who have a face so narrow that their eyes merge into one, don't have enough of this protein. Without the cyclopes and two-faced freaks (and of course I mean that in the most endearing way), we would have known of no connection between face widths and the Sonic Hedgehog Homolog protein. To a biologist studying embryonic development, there are pertinent implications.
Sometimes, though, we learn about the strange and determine that it is actually a normal thing. For example, say you do something particularly strange. Say you're not attracted to anyone, and you are asexual. Then you see an article or news segment describing a strange culture of people as bizarre, maybe “messed up,” a group of asexuals. AVEN, the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, brings together people to discover that there is a group of people who feel the same way. Although it's likely that the group was portrayed as an oddity, and others look at the group as weird, you've just discovered that your little strangeness is not unique, and ultimately it's just an uncommon variation.
So learning about the unbelievable has a lot of implications, from scientific to social to just entertainment. Perhaps these are the reasons that we love abnormal, because it expands our minds and has real-world implications. So, here's a picture of a unicorn (tricorn?) cow. Expand your mind with it.
Last week, Patricia Snope had a decent life as a secretary. She's a mother of two and plays the lottery. She was a curious woman, exploring new things. She was gentle, caring, nurturing and contemplative, because these were the characteristics of her star sign, Cancer.
However, this week the zodiac signs changed, and Patricia became a Gemini. This change shifted the world beneath her. Her employer noticed the change and promptly fired her due to Patricia's new personality. Just because a scientist, who has no training in astrology, has changed the zodiac calendar.
"It feels like my world is spinning," explained Patricia. "If I can't count on horoscopes, how do I know who I am? How do I know what lottery numbers to choose? And now I've lost my job, what will I do?"
Patricia tried to file a complaint with human resources, but they said that they could do nothing. There are laws against discrimination because of your race, gender, religion and sexuality, but it's still legal and socially acceptable to judge people based on their star sign, so Patricia does not have a case.
When asked about the incident, Patricia's boss, 43-year-old Bryson Hubbard didn't hesitate to explain his actions.
"I can't have her Gemini type around here," he said. "They're too chatty; she might divulge company secrets. I never did trust them Geminiggers."
People throughout the world are having to change their zodiac signs, from Scorpio to Libra, Virgo to Leo, Taurus to Aries, Pisces to Aquarius, and Saggitarius to Ophiuchus, which is the new one, and it appears to be in the shape of a guy fighting with a giant snake. Many December births have expressed concerns about becoming chronic masturbaters.
Some refuse to believe that the calendar changed at all. Reports from newsfeeds indicate that this technique is working.
Dr. Gunter Ladder from Metastudies University
"I fear that, if you believe this scientist that your astrological sign has changed, many people will immediately become incompatible with their spouses," explained Dr. Ladder. "It'll be a cold day in hell when I admit that my wife has become one of those raving Saggitards."
Two people from California Delta Paranormal came to my house today to see if they could get any readings from the ghost that I had jokingly said inhabited a rocking chair.
One of them was a rotund man carrying a Jack Skellington courier bag, and he was accompanied by an older red-headed woman. They explained to me their various techniques for finding ghosts.
First they brought out a milligaus meter, which measures electricity frequencies. The woman placed it on the rocking chair and kept an eye on it while we were talking. Randomly the meter would get a small reading and the woman would proclaim, "We got a hit!" They tried to talk to the ghost, but Spooks didn't feel much like talking.
The man then pulled out some water-dowsers and asked me "May I use water dowsers in this house?" I think other people consider bent pieces of aluminum to be accursed or something.
Water-dowsers are insane. They are metal bent at 90 degrees and round with metal spheres on the end of them. They are a little difficult to hold still, as a slight tilt to the left or right will make them move. The man held them and asked the ghost questions.
"Please cross the dowsers for 'yes' and push them apart for 'no,' " he asked.
Curious, my sister came in. I suppose she wanted to get involved, so she started to tell them a story about our uncle, Dan, who had died twenty years ago, thinking this would make the haunting story more interesting. I had to pull her aside and tell her that that's not the story with which I was going, and since it took place twenty years ago I can't tell them to these individuals who believe I bought it this year.
When I came back, our paunchy paraphile asked Ecto-woman if the haunting had anything to do with Dan. He tilted his hands inward (unwittingly, I'm sure) making the dowsers cross for "yes." Sighing inwardly, I told them an altered version of the Dan story that would align with the rocking chair story. Now we are supposedly dealing with the interaction of Dan and the rocking chair ghost.
They followed the dowsers around a while, going in circles and claiming that "this ghost is such a jokester!" After they were done, they told me a little more about the organization. According to the red-head, spook-hunting is "very scientific; this is science, not some hocus-pocus like Ouiji Boards or anything." I guess she thinks this because there is rather deep theory involved in ghost hoaxes, like the idea that ghosts exist on a different wavelength and expensive equipment is needed to listen to and see this different wavelength while at the same time communicating with it. I guess that means that since there are so many books written on Scientology, that must be real, too.
They also mentioned that they had gotten hoaxes before, but they were able to determine them by the picture beforehand. I'm not sure what she meant by this, but the woman said "Apple works for us to determine if ghost photos are real." Perhaps she means that there's a program that can verify photos.
So, should I get this organized before I move, it looks like these people will be coming back for a full-scale investigation. After they process the evidence they plan to do a review, to which anyone can come. Apparently once there was a major party during one of these review sessions. Sounds like a lot of fun to me.
Some are concerned that they can sue me. Keep in mind that if they're not paying me, there's really no way that they can even claim, let alone prove, false advertising. I am, however, rather hoping that they don't find this blog, as it would make them very sadface.
I'll update this with part 3 if I can organize it before moving.