The MarkandToddcast is a local podcast making the assertion that “science is funny.” Best friends Mark Middleton and Todd Werkhoven each bring to the table weird and wacky scientific news, Portland gossip, and a potpourri of whatever else strikes their fancy. They regularly feature a segment called “WikiWar,” during which Mark and Todd go head-to-head to see who pulled the most interesting short articles from Wikipedia.

We’ve decided to feature some of their more interesting finds here at Weird Portland United. If you have any suggestions for their next segment, reach out to Mark and Todd at You can listen to their most recent “WikiWar” here.

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite Wiki articles.

Devil Eyes

Devil Eyes was a secret psychological warfare program in 2005–2006 by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to develop an Osama bin Laden action figure and distribute it in South Asia. The CIA worked in conjunction with toymaker Donald Levine, a former Hasbro who created G.I. Joe toys.

Levine designed a twelve-inch lifelike figure of bin Laden whose face was painted with a material that, when heated, would peel off to reveal a demon-like visage with red skin, green eyes, and black markings. 

The goal of the program was to scare children and their parents in an effort to turn public opinion against the real bin Laden.

Read more about Devil Eyes

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Boar Taint

Boar taint is the offensive odor or taste that can be evident during the cooking or eating of pork, or pork products derived from non-castrated male pigs once they reach puberty. 

Boar taint is caused by the accumulation of two compounds – androstenone and skatole – in the fat of male pigs. For centuries, pigs have been castrated to prevent boar taint. 

Read more about Boar Taint

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The Miracle of 1511

The Miracle of 1511 (Dutch: De sneeuwpoppen van 1511) was a festival in Brussels in which the locals built approximately 110 satirical and pornographic snowmen. 

Examples of snowmen built included a snownun that was seducing a man; a snowman and a snowwoman having sex in front of the town fountain; and a naked snowboy urinating into the mouth of a drunken snowman. There were also snow unicorns, snow mermaids, a snow dentist, and snow prostitutes enticing people into the city’s red light district.

Read more about The Miracle of 1511 here

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Vladimir Demikhov

Vladimir Petrovich Demikhov (Russian: Влади́мир Петро́вич Де́михов; July 18, 1916 – November 22, 1998) was a Soviet scientist and organ transplantation pioneer, who performed several transplants in the 1940s and 1950s, including the transplantation of a heart into an animal and a heart–lung replacement in an animal. He is also well known for his dog head transplants, which he conducted during the 1950s, resulting in two-headed dogs. This ultimately led to the head transplants in monkeys by Dr. Robert White, who was inspired by Demikhov’s work.

1937 – first cardiac assist device (artificial heart)

1946 – first intrathoracic heterotopic heart transplant (into chest cavity)

1946 – first heart–lung transplant

1947 – first lung transplant

1948 – first liver transplant

1951 – first orthotopic (correctly positioned) heart transplant

1952 – first mammary–coronary anastomosis

1953 – first successful experimental coronary artery bypass operation

1954 – first head transplant

Read more about Vladimir Demikhov’s experiments


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