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April 2004
After having had a few days to consider this year's crop of April Fool's Day hoaxes, I've picked a personal favorite, which would be NPR's news story about the "portable zip codes" program. This program, inspired by the new FCC ruling that lets you take your phone number with you when you move, would supposedly allow people to take their zip code with them when they move. I like the story because, unlike most of the hoaxes this year, it's actually semi-believable. Absurd, of course, but somehow believable.

The prize for the most successful hoax, in terms of how many people actually fell for it, would seem to go to a story in Norway's Aftenposten about a supposed plan by government health authorities to plant electronic id chips under patient's skin in order to better monitor their medical needs. Apparently thousands fell for it, and I can see why because it doesn't sound that far-fetched to me, even knowing that it's a joke.

Finally, the prize for the absolute worst April Fool's joke goes to this guy who called up his ex-wife and told her to come over, then strung himself up with a harness so that when she arrived she thought he had hung himself, prompting her to immediately call 911. No wonder she divorced him.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 06, 2004
Comments (2)
image Inspired by an entry I wrote last year about a growing trend in Italy of taking fake vacations (i.e. people can't afford to go anywhere, so they just tell everyone they went away, while they really spend the whole time at home), Michaela Eaves has created this Fake Vacation Photo Generator, to help people embellish their fake vacation stories with fake vacation photos. Thanks, Michaela. This will come in handy on my 'trip' to Hawaii later this year.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 05, 2004
Comments (2)
imageOver at whitehouse.org (which is not the website of the whitehouse), there's a page describing a novel, titled Sisters, written by the notoriously prudish Lynne Cheney back in 1981. This must have been in Lynne's wilder days because the book is apparently a sexy tale set on the American frontier involving brothels, attempted rapes, and lesbian love affairs. According to this news report, a publisher was going to reissue the book, but was blocked from doing so by Ms. Cheney. 'Goo' sent me the links to these pages and asked if the book was real. At first I was suspicious because I couldn't find it listed in any library catalogs, or on used book sites such as abebooks.com. But then I found it listed on Amazon (no copies are available, but some of the reader comments are quite amusing). So I'm assuming it's real.
Categories: Literature/Language, Politics, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 05, 2004
Comments (6)
When the 'Green' brothers were found living in the wilderness outside of Vancouver, they claimed that they had been living there, in that condition, their entire life. News reports of the Wild Boys of Canada (or 'Bush Boys of Vernon') soon followed. But now it turns out that the pair weren't so wild after all. They were really born and raised in Sacramento, California, until they ran away from home last year and found their way into the Canadian wilderness.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 05, 2004
Comments (0)
Every year on April 1 reporters test our wits by mixing in a few joke stories with the real ones. But then there are also the stories that are real, but sound like jokes. These stories challenge us to keep our skepticism under control. This year, the biggest example of that was Google's Gmail announcement that had many people swearing it must be a joke. Then we also had an article released by the British National Archives describing a bizarre WWII plan to place chickens inside of nuclear bombs (to keep the bombs warm). Apparently true. Finally, there's this story about Canadian plans to annex a group of Caribbean islands, thereby transforming Canada into an expansionist, imperialist power. This reminded me of the Canadian World Domination site, which is now unfortunately defunct.
Categories: April Fools Day, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 02, 2004
Comments (3)
Apparently this was made for a pumpkin carving party (Halloween, I assume), but it would work great as an April Fool's Day food prank as well. It's easily one of the most disgusting food creations I've ever seen, and yet it's just cake. (via Sore Eyes)
Categories: Food, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (6)
Apple Announces iPod V Portable Video Player from iPodLounge (would have been cool if true).
The iShave: An attachment to turn your iPod into an electric razor. (iPod jokes seem popular this year).
DeadJournal: The alternative to LiveJournal.
Bob Carroll, creator of the Skeptic's Dictionary, announces he's seen the light and abandoned skepticism.
L-plates for yum cha carts (But what's a yum cha cart?)
Kids Fly Free on RyanAir (for as long as they can hold on)
Theatre-goers weighed before buying tickets (from stuff.co.nz)
Japanese government hands out lottery tickets in lieu of pension payments
Sony Ericsson left-handed cellphone
God holds press conference at Galapagos Islands: denies evolution
Day Lost to Stronger Trade Winds (from Nature.com)
There's a whole bunch more listed over at urgo.org, but most of the remaining are a bit lame... along the lines of 'site hacked by teenagers' or 'site sold to microsoft'. There's also a list over at waxy.org.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (4)
image The major Christian denominations have jointly agreed to make Oprah Winfrey the fourth member of the Holy Trinity, thereby broadening its appeal and making it less gender-biased. "Along with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the popular talk show host will be recognized as one person in the sacred and indivisible unity of the Godhead--or Quadhead, as the updated Trinity will now be called."
Categories: April Fools Day, Celebrities, Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (2)
In an update of the Instant Color TV prank from 1962, Sweden's largest newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, is reporting that mobile phone users can watch movies on their phone screens, simply by pointing the phones at a tv and punching in the appropriate access code.
Categories: April Fools Day, Technology
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (0)
The Motley Fool reports a mishap at the New York Stock Exchange today. Russ Cooper, CEO of Farmland Enterprise Associates, misread the instructions and thought the invitation to ring the opening bell at the exchange asked him instead to emit the opening belch. He performed as he thought he was required.
Categories: April Fools Day, Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (0)
The new Atlantic Tunnel will open in September 2009. It's being built by the Atlantic Tunnel Corporation (who else?). Check out their website to learn all about this amazing feat of engineering. You can even enter a competition to win a trip on the first train through the tunnel. There's a rumor that the London ad agency TBWAGGT is also somehow involved in this.
Categories: April Fools Day, Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (9)
The folks at ThinkGeek have zeroed in on why people get fat: because they eat too much. Scientifically speaking it's called the ETM (eat too much) Syndrome. Their solution: the Gastron(tm) Remote Controlled Hunger Eliminator. "you can easily control your exact hunger level at any time. Simply swallow the tiny non-digestible Gastron base station and use the remote to adjust your personal hunger level. The base station inflates to fill your stomach, giving you that satisfied full feeling with zero calories." Hmmm. Kind of reminds me of FatSox, from a few years ago... the socks that would suck the fat out of you as you walked around during the day.
Categories: April Fools Day, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (2)
BMW has announced a cutting-edge innovation for commuters that allows them to prepare dinner, while driving home in the car. It's called SHEF, which stands for Satellite Hypersensitive Electromagnetic Foodration. Basically all your oven controls are built into the dashboard of your car, and they communicate wirelessly with your actual oven back in your home. You can monitor the progress of your meal via a built-in oven-cam.
Categories: April Fools Day, Technology
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (1)
image Google has announced that they're now hiring for their new 'lunar hosting and research center': Copernicus Center. Applicants must be "capable of surviving with limited access to such modern conveniences as soy low-fat lattes, The Sopranos and a steady supply of oxygen."
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (2)
Google has announced a new email service called Gmail, that will give each user one gigabyte of free storage. Strangely, the press release is dated April 1, leading many to speculate that it's an April Fool's Day joke. Maybe it is, but if so it would seem a very odd one. Usually April Fool's Day jokes involve a certain minimum level of wit, and you should feel foolish for believing them once you find out they're a joke. But if someone were to tell me that Gmail is a joke, I wouldn't feel foolish. I'd just feel like Google had lied. There is some goofy language in the press release, but otherwise it just doesn't seem over-the-top enough to be a joke. But time will tell.
Categories: April Fools Day, Email Hoaxes
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (11)
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