Someone has stolen a hundred brains, from the University of Texas, and I for one admire them. Because if you steal a hundred brains, you're committing a crime you definitely haven't thought through. You're doing it for the thrill of the chase and the love of the game and you really haven't considered the practicalities of storing a hundred human brains. Somewhere out there, right now, is a dude or lady wondering how to keep a room full of brain jars hidden from their loved ones and the police.
Some details about all the brains that got stolen: they might not actually have been stolen. All officials at the university are saying is that 100 brains have gone "missing", as though the brains have just been temporarily mislaid or might, at some point, choose to come back.
What I'm especially in love with, in the case of the missing brains, is the quiet resignation evident in psychology professor Tim Schallert's assessment of it all. "We think somebody may have taken the brains, but we don't know at all for sure," he told the Austin American-Statesman. Isn't that brilliant? Each word just drips with defeat, has that open-armed gesture of what-the-fuck sighing heavily all over it. A room that had a hundred brains in it now lies empty. Who had the key last, guys? We had a load of brains in here. Where the fuck are all the brains?
The leading theory seems to be that students, collectively, have been pinching a brain here and there, as a gruesome Hallowe'en decoration or general student jape. But the authorities are taking it seriously, perhaps because one of the missing brains belonged to former UoT student and crazed sniper, Charles Whitman. I guess it's useful to know what the brains of massacrers look like.
Whitman went on a rampage and killed 16 people. Now, ol' Charlie's brain is lying in a jar, probably in someone's dorm room, not being studied, which is a bit of an issue. Here's Tim again, talking about a sniper's brain: "It would make sense it would be in this group. We can't find that brain." I want to buy this man a pint so much. I want to buy him a pint and give him my brain.
Brains are interesting and have been written about at VICE many times. The Brain Institute in Moscow is all about that brain life. There's a guy who is trying to figure out how to download brains, so we can put them on USB sticks and make it easier for students to steal them while they still belong to living people. And neuroscientists themselves are proper characters: for example, this one likes to dress like Drag Elvis.
The remaining 100 brains are being moved to a more secure building nearby, and presumably a haughty all-email has been sent round the students declaring a Brain Amnesty, so this will all be over soon. But as long as I have a brain in my skull, I will never forget the fact that one time, 100 pickled brains mysteriously went missing so hard that it baffled a bunch of brain scientists. Never.
More weird crimes: