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I just uploaded two new levels to the Hoax Photo Test: Levels Three, and Four. Enjoy.
John Walkenbach points out on his weblog that the Third Annual Nigerian Email Conference begins tomorrow in Abuja. I'm bummed that I can't make it.
Here's a hoax photo of Ray Charles that's going around. It's pretty stupid, actually, but then the words 'stupid' and 'hoax photo' seem to go together often. It may not even be photoshopped. It could just be a picture taken at the instant that he was pointing the mike away from himself for some reason. (Found on the German language Wohin Heute).
A visitor named Patricia wrote to ask whether British Giant Rabbits are real, or whether this site devoted to them is just a joke. They're real, Patricia. And very cute!
Here's a spooky site. It's called 'My Son Peter.' I'll use the text from the site itself to describe it: "My son Peter has always loved to play hide and seek. In fact, he loves it so much that he will wake me up in the middle of the night to play. The only problem is that Peter has been dead for eight years. This website documents the hell I've lived and continue to live every night." It's a fairly simple site, and it doesn't look like it's been updated for quite a while, so maybe Peter has discontinued his hauntings. But it does have a ghost video of Peter that's worth checking out. (Oh, and apparently the site was created by an advertising agency called Yarnbird that specializes in viral content).
Talk about sheer useless stupidity... Holdthebutton.com challenges you to see how long you can hold down the button of your mouse while keeping it positioned over a small rectangle. I managed exactly seven seconds, though they say that the average time is 4 minutes (do people really have nothing better to do?). But this is the part that I'm convinced must be a hoax. They claim that the record is over 13 days. Unless someone wedged something over their mouse button and then left it there for 13 days, I don't see how that would be possible.
Here's a product that we need more than ever! It's Plug 'n' Pray. The software kit that easily allows you to convert to a new religion. As the blurb on the website says, "Do you need to change religion to grab the chance for a career outlook? Are you going to work abroad? Getting a new customized god is easy with Plug'n'Pray. A new spirituality and a new respectability can be yours at a mouse click." I especially like the 'Switch Kits' available in the Palestine and Ulster editions. These offer two religions conveniently packaged in one kit. Again, as the website explains: "Are you on the border where religious communities mix and discrimination rages? Switch religion with the Plug'n'Pray Switch Edition and choose the most convenient one for your present situation." (Thanks to Richard for the link).
I would say that this kid has issues. He's been charged with making thousands of hoax phone calls to emergency services in Scotland. 3000 alone just in the past few weeks, and thousands more during previous months. In one day alone he made over 300 calls. And he's only twelve. I guess PlayStation doesn't do it for him.
While I was away in England during October I missed a bunch of news. One story that I missed was the remarkable spread of a spoof CNN webpage (see PDF file) claiming that "Fellatio may significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer in women." Reading through it now, I don't see how anyone could not have recognized it as a joke. After all, how many doctors are named "Dr. Inserta Shafteer"? But apparently many people were fooled. CNN was annoyed enough that they threatened the creator of the hoax site, a North Carolina State University student named Brandon Williamson, with legal action. Brandon quickly removed all CNN references from the page. The spoof page itself was hosted on NCSU's server (which was another reason people should have immediately realized it was a hoax). But apparently people are still being taken in by it. Just a few days ago Mary Ann Liebert, publisher of the Journal of Women's Health, issued a press release demanding that "the network must investigate thoroughly its decision-making process that allowed a story that is so damaging and degrading to be put up on its website." Apparently she doesn't realize that the spoof page never appeared on CNN's website.
The Piltdown Man skull is being taken out of storage this month and put on display at Britain's Natural History Museum, as part of the Pfizer Annual Science Forum. They're putting it on display in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the fraud (I guess it's better to celebrate when they discovered the fraud, rather than when the fraud was first perpetrated). The Washington Post has a good, informative article about the history of Piltdown Man.
Here's an interesting situation. A robber walks into a store, waves a gun around, and tells the cashier to give him all the money in the register. The cashier takes one look at the gun, thinks it's plastic, and assumes the guy is joking. So she tells him to get lost. Frustrated, the would-be robber runs out of the store. But authorities now believe the robbery attempt was real, which makes the woman quite lucky. But there's still the possibility that the gun actually was a fake. After all, if the guy really did have a loaded gun, why didn't he fire a warning shot to let the cashier know he was serious?
Here's another image from the San Diego fires that seems to be too amazing to be real, but is actually totally genuine. It's circulating around with the caption 'lucky bastard' (enlarge it to see why this makes perfect sense). It was sent to me by Kentaro Mori of Liquito. I think that the photo was taken in the Scripps Ranch neighborhood of San Diego, though I could be wrong about that. According to the navy website which the picture comes from, the photo was taken from a Sea King helicopter by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Michael J. Pusnik, Jr.
I'm making a mental note to myself: the next time I'm at a party in China, I won't strap fake genitals to myself, dance obscenely, and throw scraps of papers pulled from my underwear at the audience. Three Japanese students attending school in China made the mistake of doing this and have sparked massive anti-Japanese demonstrations throughout the country.
An environmental activism group named Sea Shepherd photographed and videotaped Japanese fishermen slaughtering sixty dolphins in a cove near Taiji, Japan. They posted the pictures of the slaughter on their website, thereby causing widespread outcry. But one of the pictures is also provoking debate of a different kind. It shows the water of the cove turned an almost neon red color because of the blood of the dolphins. People looking at this are wondering, can that possibly be real? Can the water really be that red? Or did Sea Shepherd, perhaps, tweak the colors in the picture via photoshop? I don't have the answer. In an accompanying videotape the water is definitely red, though not quite as red as in the picture. The debate has been raging on Metafilter, as well as a site named egullet.