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September 2004
image Computer Beast is the name of the first ever card game based on computer viruses, worms, and hoaxes. I'm not quite sure how you play, but it involves cards that depict famous viruses such as the Sasser virus, or hoaxes such as Bonsai Kitten or the Bill Gates Fortune hoax. The game has been out in Germany for a while, but the English version is set to debut later this year. I'll definitely have to try to get my hands on one of these.
Categories: Email Hoaxes
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 30, 2004
Comments (1)
image As the presidential candidates gear up for their first debate tonight, the focus of the world is not on what the two men are going to say about the War in Iraq, the rising costs of healthcare, or the erosion of civil liberties, but instead on the real burning issue: did John Kerry get a fake tan? His face definitely does look a little on the over-ripe side, but then I'm sure that Bush also uses tanning aides. Of course, maybe judging candidates by the quality of their tans isn't that illogical since, as this article points out, these debates are little more than carefully scripted pseudo-events anyway, carefully rehearsed to be completely free of surprises. So the candidates' tans are no more or less real than anything else you get to see about them. Which is why reporters are able to write analyses of the debate before the debate even occurs, as demonstrated by a post-debate analysis written in the past tense that appeared on ABC's site earlier today (i.e. hours before the debate). ABC has since pulled the analysis, but luckily screen captures of it were made, one of which can be viewed here.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 30, 2004
Comments (5)
image Once upon a time a popular art hoax involved getting critics to praise a work of art, and then revealing that the work was really created by a monkey or a child, thereby proving what poor judgement the critics had. For instance, in the 1960s critics were embarrassed by the cases of Pierre Brassau, the monkey artist, as well as Willie the Painting Worm. But I don't think that kind of hoax would work today because critics seem to be voluntarily lining up to heap praise on works by animals and infants. Paintings by asian elephants are fetching thousands of dollars, and now a 4-year-old girl in New York, Marla Olmstead, is creating a buzz in the art world, having just had her own gallery show. That's one of her paintings to the right. The owner of the gallery said it was his most successful show ever. The NY Times reports that "Marla has sold 24 paintings totaling nearly $40,000, with the prices going up. Her latest paintings are selling for $6,000. Some customers are on a waiting list." I guess this proves that art is whatever critics say is art. It also proves that I'm definitely in the wrong line of work. Maybe I should branch out as the art manager for my 6-year-old niece, Astrid. She's done some very good work, if I may say so myself. For instance, her work shown below (titled: 'butterfly wings painted on a face') not only daringly uses her own face as a canvas, but also clearly evokes echoes of Picasso and Gauguin.
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Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 30, 2004
Comments (16)
The Pregnant Men website collects together a wealth of information about pregnant men. As the site boasts, "If it pertains to men being pregnant, you can be sure to find it here." It's very odd. Almost like a fetish site with people contributing stories and art about pregnant men. So I'm not sure if it counts as a hoax website because it doesn't claim that any man in particular has gotten pregnant. It just fantasizes about men in general being pregnant.
Categories: Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 30, 2004
Comments (36)
True or False: there's a restaurant in Zurich where most of the waiters are blind and all the meals are served in total darkness? It's very strange, but true. The restaurant is called Blindekuh (translated: Blind Cow). Here's its website (translated via Google into English). You choose your meal first, and then you're led into the dining area, which is kept absolutely pitch black. No lights at all are allowed. Not even cellphones or watches. Reportedly (and not surprisingly) it totally changes the dining experience. My wife read about this in Gourmet magazine. I would definitely try it out if there was a restaurant like that in San Diego.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 30, 2004
Comments (5)
image I'm late to the party with this image (all the other hoax-related sites have had it up for a couple of weeks), but hey, I was on vacation, and the picture's too good to ignore. Anyway, no one seems to be able to say definitively whether it's real or a fake... or even where it originally came from. It does seem pretty unbelievable that a footprint would be that well defined through the wall of the abdomen. Plus, the foot seems awfully long. And what are those weird bumps in the middle of the foot? But on the other hand, I've heard some women say that this is possible.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 29, 2004
Comments (73)
This should be filed under perfect timing: yesterday California State University, Monterey Bay had organized an earthquake drill complete with police, rescue workers, and actors to play victims. Five minutes into the drill a real earthquake hit. Reportedly "it didn't appear that anybody who took part in the drill was noticeably frightened by the real quake." Probably because they figured it was all part of the simulation.
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 29, 2004
Comments (6)
Is Norway really going to start promoting seal-hunting tourism? Apparently it is, if this article in Aftenposten can be believed (and I don't see any reason not to believe it). Here in San Diego seals are treated pretty much like royalty, and seal-watching is a major tourist attraction, especially in La Jolla (advice for tourists: the seals at seal island are fun to watch, but they stink to high heaven). So the idea of shipping in tourists to hunt seals seems bizarre... a bit like organizing kitten-hunting expeditions (or raising kittens inside of glass jars). No word yet on whether Norwegians consider seal-hunting to be a religion, but I suppose that's next.
Categories: Animals, Sports
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 29, 2004
Comments (33)
image The British government's decision to ban hunting is encountering stiff opposition from pro-hunting groups. While I was over there this issue was constantly on the news (especially when a group of hunting advocates managed to disrupt a session of the House of Commons). But now British hunting enthusiasts have adopted a novel defense of their pasttime. They've formed the Free Church of Country Sports, which is an ecumenical group that views hunting as a form of worship. Therefore, they claim, a ban on hunting would violate their religious rights. They're also arguing that a hunting ban would be racially discriminatory since, as this article puts it, "those who take part in country sports are sufficiently culturally different to be considered a social group with an ethnic identity." So far, the British government doesn't seem to be buying these arguments. But then, it was also slow to recognize Jedi-ism as a religion, wasn't it?
Categories: Religion, Sports
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 29, 2004
Comments (3)
Since I fall into the demographic group of cynical, urban, over-educated, non-church-goers, when I saw this site urging people to 'Fast for George W' I chuckled and assumed it had to be some kind of joke. But no. It doesn't seem to be a joke. The aim of the site is to organize people "to fast and pray for the holiness of President George W. Bush." Okey Dokey. It even urges people to "please take this seriously" (they must get a lot of people like me snickering at them). As weird as the idea seems to be, I suppose it can't hurt. Maybe it could even be expanded to include 'Wear a Hairshirt for George W' or 'Self-Flagellation for Bipartisanship'. (via J-Walk)
Categories: Politics, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 29, 2004
Comments (8)
Customers who called up NTL (a British cable company) to report a problem were greeted by this bluntly truthful message: "Hello. You are through to NTL customer services. We don't give a f**k about you. We are never here. We just will f**k you about, basically, and we are not going to handle any of your complaints. Just f**k off and leave us alone. Get a life." The message was yanked, of course, as soon as NTL management realized what was going on... But really, I think I'd prefer the in-your-face message to something bland and innocuous and then being kept on hold forever.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 29, 2004
Comments (8)
image Do you suffer from irrational fears, unexplained twitching, or insomnia? If so, then the root of your problems may be childhood goat trauma, probably experienced at a petting zoo. The Childhood Goat Trauma Foundation exists to help you. Their site contains a wealth of information. For instance, did you realize that some malicious goats have learned to climb trees and drop down onto unsuspecting people? Or that there have been reports of roaming urban goats at large? Personally I can't remember ever having been traumatized by a goat... though I can recall a particularly nasty experience involving some geese who mistook my toes for food. (submitted by Terry Austin in the Hoax Forum)
Categories: Animals, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 28, 2004
Comments (5)
Did Anne Rice really post an angry, rambling message on Amazon slamming those who have written negative reviews of her latest book, Blood Canticle?
The post in question (you may need to scroll down a bit to find it... it's the one posted by 'Anne Obrien Rice') appeared on Sep. 6, and it truly is a piece of work. It starts off by denouncing the "sheer outrageous stupidity" of the negative reviews, then informs the reviewers that they're simply projecting their own limitations onto her work, and ends up assuring them of the "utter contempt" she feels for them. Oh, and the message also challenges anyone who doesn't like the book to send it to her home (she provides a New Orleans street address) in order to get a full refund. The rant is so bizarre that many have questioned whether it really was posted by Anne Rice herself, or simply by someone with the same name as her. And it does seem odd that someone as successful as Anne Rice would care that much about a few cranky critics on Amazon. But rest assured, the message was definitely posted by Anne Rice herself. The proof is that Anne Rice discusses the message on her personal website and repeats the money-refund offer. Apparently Rice's message was removed from Amazon for a while, but it looks like it's back up there. As for what could have possessed her to go off like that, this article in the Toronto Star notes that "the death of her husband Stan while she was writing Blood Canticle seems to have hit her hard."
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 28, 2004
Comments (10)
Ringtones are no longer just for alerting you to an incoming call. Now a Japanese inventor has developed a ringtone that "promises to increase the breast measurements of those who listen to it." Incredible. The company offering this ringtone is Mediaseek, and they report that it's one of their top sellers. The inventor, Hideto Tomabechi, notes that "Most would think it's a lie, but the techniques involved in the process have been known for some time and are the result of research I carried out in the '80s and '90s... I use sounds that make the brain and body move unconsciously. It's a technique involving subliminal effects." That sounds logical :-( If you're curious to know what this breast-enlarging ringtone sounds like, Engadget went to the trouble of purchasing it and has posted it on their website.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 28, 2004
Comments (15)
This Portuguese message board has a nice collection of pictures of office pranks including the Chia Keyboard, the Keyboard Through the Desk, and the Newspapered Cubicle (via Red Ferret):
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Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 27, 2004
Comments (1)
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