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December 2004
image The Oregon Statesman Journal has an article about that photo of a soldier in Iraq tending a small plot of grass (which I posted here back in October). They identify the soldier as Warrant Officer Brook Turner stationed at Camp Cooke north of Baghdad. They even provide his email address in case you want to send him a happy New Year's message. Plus, they mention the Museum of Hoaxes in the article. The weird date on the photo which had everyone confused was apparently just a result of not resetting the camera's date after the batteries had been changed. So that's one mystery cleared up. Officer Turner, who's preparing to come home from Iraq soon to his home in Hawaii, seems pretty laid back about the whole episode, remarking that "Everyone seems to be a little more excited about it than me... I just planted some grass -- nothing big." (Thanks to Dwight Mears for forwarding me the article)
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 31, 2004
Comments (10)
image This is of interest only as yet more proof that the sell-junk-on-eBay gag will never, ever end:

Wade Jones of North Carolina says he snared a plastic cup from which Elvis Presley drank at a concert in 1977 and kept the cup and the water for 27 years before selling the remaining few tablespoons of water on eBay. The winning bid for the water was $455. He says he won't sell the cup.
Categories: Celebrities, eBay
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 31, 2004
Comments (11)
Here's a new ghost photo that's begun to do the email rounds. To me it looks like a simple double exposure... but maybe it really is the ghost of Mary's Grandfather. In which case, sell him on eBay!!
Here's the text that accompanies the photo. Click photo to enlarge (thanks to Jennifer for sending this to me):
image This picture is soo freaky..... My co-worker Mary that lives in stockton bought her sister a digital camera for X-mas. Her sister took a picture of their niece and if you look behind the chair the niece is sitting on you will see Mary's Grandfather who past away 2 months ago in October 04. Remember this picture was took on X-mas day morning and I was also with Mary when she bought the camera at Circuit City the day after Thanksgiving. Her Grandfather was creamated and his ashes are at Mary's home. When I saw this picture it gave me the CHILLS!!! If you can make the picture bigger so you can get a better look at him.
Lydia
Categories: Paranormal, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 31, 2004
Comments (37)
'Big Gary' spotted this item in a year-end round-up of unlikely stories of 2004:

Israeli authorities seized a consignment of 80,000 cans of dog food disguised as gourmet goose liver pate. The Bulgarian product was originally marked as "Chicken for dogs" but was relabelled "Domestic birds' liver pate" and "Pate de foie gras". The importer had also forged a kosher certificate to fulfill the requirements of Jewish dietary law.

I wonder if anyone would have realized what they were actually eating, or if they would have figured it was just weird tasting pate.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 28, 2004
Comments (14)
image Hong Kong officials have pulled from store shelves a gag gift named the 'Fart Bomb' because the toy not only does exactly what it promises (produces a giant cloud of stench), but it also causes nausea, headaches, and eye irritation. Just imagine what schoolkids could do if they got their hands on these things. Thanks to Gary for finding this story. As he points out, it may not be the worst toy idea ever, but it's definitely in the top 100. But hey, it looks like you can buy fart bombs on the internet.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 28, 2004
Comments (15)
The Anonymous Lawyer blog makes clear that it's the diary of a "fictional hiring partner at a large law firm". However, as this NY Times article notes, many people who had become fans of the blog and its account of the "soulless, billable-hours-obsessed partners, the overworked BlackBerry-dependent associates and the wrecked families that are the dark underside of life at his large firm in Los Angeles" were convinced that it had to be written by a real-life "Big Law insider". As it turns out, it's not. The author of the blog is Jeremy Blachman, a third-year Harvard law student who simply wanted to "post as a hiring partner and be believable."
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 28, 2004
Comments (4)
image Alek Komarnitsky claimed that his christmas lights were web-controlled. Visitors to his site could turn them on and off, and view their work via a webcam. So people with visions of inducing epileptic seizures in his neighbors were busy clicking away. Alek even took a helicopter ride with a local TV station and showed them the lights on his house madly flashing as thousands of visitors to his site supposedly turned the lights on and off. But an article in today's issue of the Wall Street Journal reveals that the web-controlled christmas lights were just a hoax. The mad flashing seen from the helicopter was caused by his wife operating a remote control in the house, and the webcam images were generated by a computer program, though as Gene points out in the hoax forum, the guy's story about how he rigged up the webcam to simulate activity is so convoluted that one suspects the revelation of a hoax is itself a hoax. I guess that in this case we'll just have to trust the WSJ. This all reminds me of that web-controlled toilet that was popular a few years ago (you could remotely flush it). I can't remember whether or not that too was a hoax and sadly I can't find any links about it either.
Categories: Places, Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 28, 2004
Comments (16)
image Ever wondered how John Lennon is getting along in Heaven? According to 'internationally known' psychic Linda Polley he's doing very well. She's been channeling his spirit and reporting on what's going on with him. You can read all the latest news on the John Lennon and George Harrison's Official Website from the Afterlife. The biggest surprise is that John has "officially divorced his former partner Yoko Ono Lennon for her support of homosexuality" and decided to marry a dancer named Mary Marie Francesca. Oh, and John has also penned many news songs, which he shares with the people back on earth via Linda Polley. Most of the songs are about his new pro-war views and his strong support for the Bush administration's policies in Iraq. For instance, one recent work is titled Hussein's Butt Song (it's all about how we kicked Hussein's butt), and there's also the catchy Vote for Allawi! To be honest, I'm not sure whether or not any of this is meant to be taken seriously (I kind of suspect it is). But one thing I do find oddly incongruous. Linda Polley claims that all the songs have been composed by John Lennon, and yet she simultaneously makes a point of claiming copyright, warning that "None of the lyrics or the audio files may be copied without the precise consent of Speaker Linda Polley." But if John Lennon wrote the songs, why does she own the copyright?
Categories: Celebrities, Entertainment, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 28, 2004
Comments (36)
Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it. I'm not at home this Christmas. Instead I'm in Phoenix, Arizona. So having now received (I think) almost all of my gifts, I'd have to say that the strangest one I got this year was Elephant Dung Paper from Malawi. It says on the info that comes with the paper that "The elephant dung is first collected from Liwonde National Park and then beaten and mixed with recycled waste paper to produce the pulp from which it is made." It actually looks like very high quality paper (in case you're wondering). Of course, I still have to go over to my Great Aunt's house (she's the one who's into all the alternative medicine stuff), so I may yet get a stranger gift. She has, in fact, already promised to channel my Reiki energy while I'm there.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 25, 2004
Comments (12)
The cheerleader goes up, and comes down exactly through the basketball hoop. It seems like there has to be a trick to it somehow, though I can't figure out what the trick might be. As I watched the movie clip, I kept thinking 'what if her foot got caught in the net'. At the very least the net must be rigged so that it would rip away from the hoop if her foot were to catch it.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 24, 2004
Comments (81)
A coin dropped into a Salvation Army kettle last week in Naperville has made headlines. It was a $400 gold coin wrapped in a $1 million bill (the $1 million bill was fake). This brings up the mystery of just who's behind this tradition of dropping gold coins into Salvation Army kettles. Apparently the tradition dates back to 1982, when a gold coin was dropped into a kettle in a Chicago suburb. Gold coins have shown up in kettles in many states ever since then. Some think the coins are donated by people who benefitted from the charity in the past. But others suspect it may all be a publicity stunt engineered by the Salvation Army itself. After all, news reports about the gold coins always seem to encourage more donations. I suppose it's a hoax for a good cause, if it is a hoax.
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 22, 2004
Comments (33)
Filmthreat.com has a list of the "10 BEST URBAN LEGENDS IN FILM HISTORY". It's an interesting list, but I think they've chosen an odd choice for number one: the 'urban legend' about President Woodrow Wilson allegedly remarking that the ultra-racist film Birth of a Nation was like "history written with lightning" and "all terribly true." I've heard these comments attributed to Wilson many times. In fact, I can remember sitting in quite a few classes and listening to the lecturer make this exact claim. The remarks also appear in numerous history books. To be honest, until I read filmthreat's list I wasn't aware that there was any controversy about their truthfulness. Personally, I think Filmthreat may be cutting Wilson too much slack. While they point out that there's no definite evidence that he said these comments, there is anecdotal evidence that he did say them. When this is combined with Wilson's well-known views about race (he was the president who chose to resegregate the federal government after it was desegregated following the Civil War), it doesn't seem that unlikely that he might have said words to this effect, even if it wasn't those exact words.
Categories: Entertainment, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 22, 2004
Comments (5)
At RoyalChild.com Sarah and Brent Hinze investigate Prebirth Experiences. They define these as when "a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, etc., receives communication from a child before she is born, or in many cases, before he was even conceived." I hadn't heard of this particular variety of psychic (or spiritual) phenomenon before. It seems like a strange offshoot of past-life communication... except that instead of talking with people who once existed, you're communicating with people who are waiting to exist in the future. My question is: what if a 'parent' communicates with their child-to-be, but then they end up never having a child. Who, then, were they chatting with? Would the Hintzes define this as an imposter pre-birth experience? (via Holy Weblog)
Categories: Paranormal, Psychology
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 22, 2004
Comments (173)
Here's the latest eBay oddity. It's 'Magic Air' that grows alien bacteria and makes your feet swell up:
This glass was left outside by one of my kids during a solar eclipse. When I retrieved it I noticed that it weighed over 10 pounds. I didn't notice any contents but tried pouring it out and spilled some of the "Magic Air" on my left foot. My shoe grew from a size 11 to a 17 DDD in less than 15 seconds. I ceased pouring any more of the Magic Air out and placed the Haunted Purple Glass in my cupboard.
It's already sold, but it sounds like he has a limitless supply of this 'Magic Air' for future auctions.
Categories: eBay, Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 21, 2004
Comments (22)
The NY Times has an interesting article about the growing popularity of Festivus celebrations. Festivus falls on Dec. 23 and is celebrated by gathering around an aluminum pole, airing grievances, and having wrestling matches (among other things). It was introduced to the world by the Frank Costanza character on Seinfeld, but was actually invented back in 1966 by Dan O'Keefe, an editor at Reader's Digest. It looks like there's a good chance the celebration could seriously catch on and become a permanent fixture in the ever-growing galaxy of American holidays. I could do without the wrestling part of it, but if it offers another excuse to eat and drink, then I'm all for it. You can get Festivus cards here or here.
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 21, 2004
Comments (13)
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