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April 2004
On March 20, tv viewers in Taiwan got to see real-time election results flashing across their screens as the votes were counted for the Presidential election. But it turns out now that the election results viewers were seeing didn't actually bear any relationship to reality. The tv stations were just making them up. For example, some stations were reporting 3 to 6 million votes already counted and opposition candidate Lien Chan taking a strong lead, when actually the election commission had only counted fewer than 200,000 votes and the election was a dead-heat. If memory serves me, didn't this same thing happen here in America during the 2000 election?
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 26, 2004
Comments (1)
Ella Schultz, an elderly black woman living in Kentwood, Michigan, is quite the emailer. Over the past year she's been shooting off emails to teachers, school administrators, and even a few journalists. But it turns out that Ella isn't actually real. The person actually sending those emails was Edward Kape, a Kentwood Board of Education member (who has now resigned). Or at least, he was one of the people using 'Ella Schultz' as their nom de plume. He insists there were others, though he's not naming any names. The tip off for those receiving the emails should have been that they came from Yahoo and Hotmail accounts. Whenever I receive an email from someone I don't know who's using a Yahoo or Hotmail account, my b-s detector immediately starts to go off.
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 26, 2004
Comments (5)
I just updated the blogging software that the site runs on. I've been working on this the past few days (that's why I haven't posted much). I'm sure there are some bugs in it, but hopefully I'll iron them out over the weekend. I moved from pMachine to Expression Engine (which is actually a revamped edition of pMachine). Unfortunately this means that many of the links on the site have changed. For instance, if you read this site through an RSS reader, you'll have to resubscribe using the new RSS links (see the sidebar for the links). But the new software has an atom feed also, so that's an advantage. Plus, the new software has a lot of other bells and whistles that should prove useful, such as the ability to assign entries to multiple categories.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 24, 2004
Comments (0)
Saying that you were just pretending is now no longer an option. Luisa Holden-Cardozo tried to argue that her marriage should be annulled since the 100-guest ceremony was just a sham done for the sake of her boyfriend's (husband's) sick mother. The judge didn't buy this excuse, ruling that "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's a duck." This verdict might put a damper on the mock wedding craze.
Categories: Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 20, 2004
Comments (1)
image JL wants to know if Banana Guard is real or a hoax. But first, what is the Banana Guard? From the website, it's a "unique, patented device [that] allows for the safe transport and storage of individual bananas letting you enjoy perfect bananas anytime, anywhere." In other words, it stops your banana from getting bruised. It's available in a variety of colors such as Mellow Yellow and Glow in the Dark. So to answer JL's question: Yes, JL, there is a Banana Guard. It was invented by two Vancouver ER doctors, Drs. Sunil Mangal and David Agulnik, over ten years ago. Agulnik noted in a 2003 Toronto Star article about their invention that, "Many people who see this for the first time do seem to make reference to its adult toy appearance, but once they see the practicality and usefulness of the product they are eager to try it for its intended purpose."
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 20, 2004
Comments (4)
image If you're a regular reader of Blogdex, as I am, then you'll recognize the name Hot Abercrombie Chick (aka Amanda Doerty). For some reason her weblog keeps rising to the top of Blogdex's index. I've never been able to figure out why. Her posts just don't seem that interesting or relevant. To be honest, I find them boring. Apparently other people have had the same thought, because now she's being accused of gaming Blogdex. But that's not all. Julia Set reports receiving an inside tip that Hot Abercrombie Chick isn't a chick at all. According to Julia, "Hot Abercrombie Chick is really a male college student capitalizing on cute pictures of his girlfriend (previously unbeknownst to her) in a rush of "beggars" trackbacks... Over the course of the last couple of months, 'Mr. Abercrombie' has played every text-book trick for raising his popularity on the blogosphere. The most recent flood of activity, which probably led to his bust, occurred by spamming comments on popular blogs all over the net." Kevin, over at Wizbang, says he's going to contact 'Amanda' to find out what the truth is. Until he reports back, I guess we won't know if the accusations are totally unfounded, or if the Hot Abercrombie Chick is actually another Kaycee Nicole Swenson. Normally I wouldn't pay much attention to random accusations like this, but there does seem something fishy about the Abercrombie chick's rapid ascent to blog stardom. (via Overstated)

Update:The Hot Abercrombie chick insists she's not a hoax. Though I guess one would expect her to say that. There's still no proof either way... but then, how do we know who anyone else on the internet really is?
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 20, 2004
Comments (4)
Kevin Spacey has recanted on his claim that he was mugged in a London park at 4 am and had his cellphone stolen. What he meant to say was that he voluntarily handed over his phone to someone who asked if they could use it to call their mother, but instead ran away with it. Then Spacey tripped over his dog and cut his head. Not quite the same. But saying you were mugged sounds a little more respectable than admitting you fell for what is, quite literally, the oldest con in the book (the origin of the term con, or 'confidence scam,' dates back to the 1840s when a swindler named William Thompson would approach gentlemen on the streets of New York and ask them if they had enough confidence to lend their watch to a stranger. Upon being handed the watch, Thompson would simply walk away with it. Substitute cellphone for watch and you have what Spacey fell for.) (Thanks, Goo)
Categories: Celebrities, Con Artists
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 19, 2004
Comments (3)
BoingBoing linked to this webpage, 1c4.net, advertising a 1995 web-hosting service. Back then you could apparently get a website hosted for the bargain price of $250 a month. That may seem a lot, but when you figure that you got a whopping 3mb of storage space with that, it suddenly seems more reasonable. Times sure have changed, but actually I don't think that this overpriced web host was ever real. First of all, did they have .net suffixes in 1995? Maybe they did, but I don't remember that. Second, the webpage 1c4.net was itself only created in 2003, according to its registration info. Finally, I just don't remember web hosts ever being that expensive, though in 1995 I was enjoying free web hosting via my university, so I wouldn't be in a position to know. But I'd assume that this ad is a joke of fairly recent vintage.
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 19, 2004
Comments (9)
For almost a century Huntley & Palmers biscuit tins have been seen on the tea tables of well-to-do Brits. What few of those Brits realized is that the tins contained a surprise... not in the biscuits themselves, but in the illustration on the outside of the tin. Apparently a rogue employee, early in the twentieth century, hid various sexually explicit scenes in the illustrations. For instance, a tin now up for sale at Lawrences Auctioneers in Somerset shows two dogs having sex in the flowerbed, if you look very carefully. Reuters has rather pruriently prudishly blurred the cover of the tin in the picture accompanying their article, so you can't see the dogs, but luckily Lawrences' itself has a picture of the tin, in which you can just see the dogs. They're in the flowerbed on the right-hand side.

Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 18, 2004
Comments (24)
image BBC News has a good summary of the Shroud of Turin controversy, in light of the second face that was discovered on the backside of it. "Does this mean it is real after all? Or does it mean it's an even better hoax than was previously thought?" The answer: no one really knows. I noted in my book that the debate about the shroud rages on and likely will for the foreseeable future. The emergence of new evidence has simply made that more true than ever.
Categories: History, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 18, 2004
Comments (24)
I talked about the Godsend Institute (the website of a cloning lab that's really a promo for an upcoming movie of the same name) a few days ago. I said that I really didn't think the site was that convincing. But maybe others have been fooled by it because someone started an online petition to ban the Godsend Institute. Of course, I'm not above suspecting that the petition was started by the movie studio itself as a way to generate faux controversy. This was a favorite ploy of P.T. Barnum. Back in 1835 he was exhibiting Joice Heth, an elderly black woman whom he claimed was the 161-year-old former nurse of George Washington. When attendance at the exhibit began to decrease, he sent an anonymous letter to a local paper angrily declaring that Heth was a fake, a "curiously constructed automaton, made up of whalebone, India-rubber, and numberless springs." Sure enough, attendance immediately picked up again as visitors returned to see if Heth really was an old woman or a mechanical automaton.
Categories: Advertising, Birth/Babies, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 18, 2004
Comments (1)
Wired News has an article about a guy, Julian Dibbell, who almost succeeded in making a living from trading in imaginary goods, namely virtual items from the game Ultima Online. Of course, it doesn't seem that extraordinary to me that someone could earn a good living from trading imaginary things. After all, isn't there a trillion dollar industry devoted to just this... i.e. the financial derivatives market? I mean, options and other financial instruments may have real value to people, but they're no more real, in a material sense, than the items from Ultima Online are.
Categories: Business/Finance, Technology
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 18, 2004
Comments (1)
The Register has posted a great Nigerian Bank Scam email that it received. I get these emails all the time, and typically they come from people claiming to be either relatives of (or bankers of) deposed third world leaders who have huge amounts of money trapped in a bank account somewhere. They need your help to move the money out of the country. But this email that the Register received claims to come from a relative of a Nigerian astronaut trapped in space. He has a huge amount of back-pay accrued, and just needs your help to access the cash in order to get home. Very inventive. I wonder if the author of the letter actually expected to snare any victims with this, or just did it as a joke.
Categories: Email Hoaxes
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 18, 2004
Comments (0)
image Fake Faces is a UK look-alike agency that represents a huge number of celebrity impersonators. It's kind of fun to browse through its catalog. As John Robinson of Sore Eyes notes, some of the look-alikes are really, really bad. But some are surprisingly good. For instance, would you be able to tell if that's really Joanna Lumley (of Ab Fab fame) in the thumbnail? It's not. (via Sore Eyes and I Love Everything)
Categories: Celebrities
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 17, 2004
Comments (2)
image I guess this site really isn't a hoax since it delivers exactly what it promises: furniture porn. Still, when you think of porn this isn't what most people have in mind. Very safe for work, unless images of pieces of furniture posed provocatively offend you. (Thanks, Goo)
Categories: Sex/Romance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 17, 2004
Comments (2)
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