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December 2004
image Coydogs. Are they real creatures, or just the stuff of urban legend? As the name implies, a coydog would be a cross between a coyote and a dog. But according to Chrissie Henner, a biologist at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, they're an urban legend. She says that "there has never been any physical evidence of a half-dog, half-coyote animal." Not that it would be impossible for the two species to mate and produce an offspring, just very unlikely. Though Henner also points out that the mating cycles of the two species differ: "Coyotes go in to heat between January and March and have pups in May or June, while dogs have their pups in winter." So if animal experts such as Henner are correct that there's no physical evidence of the existence of coydogs, then what exactly is the Sundance Coydogs site selling? Are these coyotes, or dogs that look coyote-like, or real coydogs?
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 21, 2004
Comments (230)
Here's a story that ranks about as high in the weirdness category as that story about the sleep-sex woman. Stephen Hill invites four guys over to his house to have sex with a woman named Dawn. This goes on for three years. Finally, it occurs to the guys: 'are we really having sex with Dawn... or is that just Stephen pretending to be Dawn?' Three years to figure this out! With a story like this you know there's got to be a lot more to it than you're getting in the news report.
Categories: Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 21, 2004
Comments (15)
Time Magazine is running an article titled "10 Things We Learned About Blogs". One of the things they learned was that "Bloggers Can Be Fakers." They write:
Plain Layne, a highly personal blog supposedly belonging to a Minnesota lesbian named Layne Johnson that drew thousands of fans over 3 1/2 years before mysteriously disappearing, was revealed to be a hoax. Hundreds of fans helped track down the real author, Odin Soli, 35, a male entrepreneur from Woodbury, Minn. Later in the year, fake Bill Clinton and Andy Kaufman blogs became hits.
Congratulations to Odin for getting his name in Time Magazine. But I've also got to point out that Time has one of its facts wrong. Neither the Andy Kaufman nor the Bill Clinton blog became a hit 'later in the year'. They were both around well before the unmasking of Plain Layne's identity. (Nit-picky, I know).
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 20, 2004
Comments (7)
I've created a year-end list of the top hoaxes of 2004. Actually, I've chosen ten hoaxes that I think might be worthy of making the list (my basic criteria was the hoaxes that received the most media and public attention), but I haven't ranked them yet. Instead, I'm opening it up to voting. I think that's a more democratic way of doing it. Check out the list and vote here.


Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 19, 2004
Comments (0)
The About.com urban legends forum has a thread going about auto-urine therapy, which translates into 'drinking your own urine'. Is there really a thriving urine-drinking subculture? Well, yes. As the poster points out, all you have to do is google 'drinking your own urine' and you get all kinds of hits. The reason urine-drinking has so many fans is that it's supposed to offer numerous health benefits, including improving the immune system, giving you nice skin, acting great as a gargle if you have gum disease, and having very powerful anti-aging properties. I think I've mentioned before somewhere on my site that I have personal experience with this urine-drinking subculture. NOT that I've ever drunk the stuff myself (and I definitely never plan to). But I do have a relative who, according to family scuttlebutt, used to do it. She was into all the new-age, alternative medicine stuff like that. In her defense I have to say that she's now approaching 90 and is still in excellent health. In fact, she could probably pass for a sixty-year old. So maybe there's something to it (though I've still got no plans to try it out). I'm actually going to her house on Christmas day for dinner. I don't plan to sample the apple juice in her fridge.
Categories: Food, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 18, 2004
Comments (72)
According to an email urban legend, certain models of Nokia phones have built-in radar detector that you can activate via secret code. Obviously this can't be true. But what I'm curious about is if a radar sign actually will appear on certain models if you follow these instructions. I could imagine bored engineers programming this in as a joke. Since I don't have access to a Nokia phone I can't test it out. Here's the email:

Nokia Speed Trap Detector
The settings for radar speed traps detector.
Your Nokia cell phone can be programmed to pick
up radar speed traps, when programmed your cell
phone picks up the radar and alerts you on the
message alert tone. ( Doesn't work with Nokia
7110! )

1. Enter your menu
2. Select settings
3. Select security settings
4. Select closed user group
5. Select on
6. Enter 00000
7. Press ok
8. Clear back to normal, within a few seconds
your phone will display a radar sign with five
zero's next to it. It is now activated.

Unfortunately only Nokia phones have this
function. Cell info display needs to be de-
activated. Settings -> Phone Settings -> Cell
Info display
Each time you turn off your phone, or even each
time you loose contact with your carrier, you'll
have to activate it again... It is done by steps
1 through 5, but the number (00000) will be
already on the field as default.
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 18, 2004
Comments (58)
image In the same vein as the crucified Santa urban legend, here's an odd statue that would look great in any front yard. It's the Santa Kneeling by Baby Jesus
Outdoor Statue
. I wonder if they realize that Santa wasn't actually one of those three wise men that the Bible talks about? (via Bifurcated Rivets)
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 17, 2004
Comments (26)
image Duct Tape Bikes seem to be popping up on the streets of New York. Here's one. And here's another one. I'm assuming it's some kind of prank. Somebody leaves their bike locked up in one place for too long and eventually they return to find it covered in duct tape. Or perhaps the bikes are some kind of weird art project. (via New Yorkish)
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 17, 2004
Comments (15)
image Bailey is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. On November 8, 2004 he was stolen from a locked car located in a Beverly Hills parking structure. Bailey's owner, Elizabeth Hart, is desperate to get him back. And to aid in this effort she's created the most elaborate, slickly designed website you'll ever see for a lost dog. She's also issued a press release about Bailey, and is doing radio and TV interviews. I feel bad being suspicious about all this. After all, the poor woman probably really has lost her dog and is just trying to do everything she can to get him back. I know I'd go to quite extreme lengths to get my cat back, if she ever went missing. But still, the skeptic in me keeps saying 'Can this possibly be real?' It's how perfectly media-friendly the whole situation is that gives me pause. You've got a cute dog, an attractive woman, a christmas sob story, press releases, a professionally designed website. Could this be someone (maybe an aspiring actress) inventing a story to get some media attention? I have absolutely no evidence for this at all (though most people who lose their dog don't issue a press release), and I'm probably wrong. I just can't stop myself from asking the question. Anyway, I figure that even if my suspicions are misdirected, I'm helping her out by linking to her site and giving her more publicity.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 16, 2004
Comments (46)
image My wife is a big fan of fruitcakes, though only of the British variety. She tells me that American fruitcakes have too much weird stuff in them (maraschino cherries, etc.). But fans of American fruitcakes can find people of a like-mind at the Society for the Protection and Preservation of Fruitcakes. "The Society's goal is to protect and preserve fruitcake, not in the pouring on more brandy or rum type of preservation but in the 'spread the gospel' way. By providing information and links about fruitcake, it's hoped we can provide safe haven for fruitcake lovers and some encouragement for others to give it a try." Unfortunately the Fruitcake Society is only a society in spirit, not in fact, since it doesn't appear to have ever had an actual meeting. But still, for those who love fruitcake it's a start. In other fruitcake news, those who don't look forward to this holiday treat, but who have fruitcakes forced upon them anyway as gifts, will be disappointed to learn that Buffalo, New York does not seem to be repeating its Fruitcake Amnesty Campaign. Last year this campaign provided a home to hundreds of unwanted fruitcakes, no questions asked.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Comments (2)
image Paul Stender has built a jet-powered outhouse. He calls it the Port-O-Jet. No it doesn't run on natural gas (the obvious joke). But it can reach speeds of 46 mph with a good tailwind. The hoax is that it doesn't actually function as a toilet. Pity. Now if he could make the toilet work, and then outfit it with wireless internet access, it could be the world's first jet-powered iLoo.
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Comments (3)
Last week 100 million paper birds were airdropped in southern Thailand. The airdrop was supposed to be the Thai government's symbolic peace gesture towards the Muslim separatists who live there. Billionaire Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra personally signed one of the paper birds, promising that whoever found this autographed bird would win a university scholarship (sounds like he has ambitions to be a modern-day Willy Wonka). A few days later a young girl came forward saying that she had found the bird. Provincial authorities checked it out and said that it looked genuine. But alas, it now appears the bird was a hoax. Shinawatra has indicated that he might give her a free scholarship anyway. But nobody knows how many more hoax paper birds are floating around out there.
Categories: Con Artists, Places
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Comments (9)
image In 1889 a curiously engraved stone was found in an Indian mound near Bat Creek, Ohio. The discoverer of the stone was John Emmert, who was working for the Smithsonian's Mound Survey Project. Emmert thought (or said he thought) that the inscription was written in Cherokee and sent the 'Bat Creek Stone' off to the Smithsonian, which accepted the stone as authentic. The Smithsonian then included a reference to the stone in its final report on the Mounds--the report in which it concluded that the mounds had been built by ancient American Indians, not by an ancient tribe of world-wandering Europeans or Israelites (the origin of the Indian mounds was a huge debate back in the 19th century and spawned numerous fanciful theories). Fast-forward to the 1960s when Hebrew scholar Cyrus Gordon realized that the Bat Creek Stone was actually inscribed with an ancient form of Hebrew, not Cherokee. Then in the late 1980s artifacts discovered alongside the stone were radiocarbon dated and found to be over 1500 years old. Some saw this as dramatic evidence of the presence of 'Hebrew sailors' in North America way back when. Perhaps a lost tribe of Israelites really had built the mounds? Or perhaps not. In the most recent issue of American Antiquity, Robert Mainfort and Mary Kwas (archaeologists at the University of Arkansas) expose the Bat Creek Stone as a forgery (The Columbus Dispatch has an article about this, but won't let people see it for free). Mainfort and Kwas discovered that the inscription was copied from an illustration that appeared in a widely available book titled General History, Cyclopedia, and Dictionary of Freemasonry, published in 1870 (nineteen years before the finding of the stone). As for who the forger was, the obvious suspect is John Emmert, since he was alone when he dug the stone out of the mound. So much for those Hebrew sailors in ancient America.
Categories: History
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Comments (43)
The latest weirdness on eBay involves a woman, Janet Schoenberg, who put Judge Jerald R. Klein of the New York City Housing Court up for sale, free worldwide shipping included. Why did she do this? Because he had been involved in the legal process whereby she was evicted from her East Village apartment, and this was her way of getting back at him. She listed his sale under "Sporting goods, archery, arrows, shafts" (shafts... get it?). The hoax auction wasn't caught by eBay until bidding had already reached $127.50. Now Judge Klein is considering whether he should pursue legal action against Ms. Schoenberg. But the question is: would listing him for sale be considered as libel, or would it be protected as a form of parody? The NY Times got an opinion from a lawyer who thinks it's potentially libelous.
Categories: eBay
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Comments (3)
image According to the San Francisco Chronicle there's serious consideration of renaming the Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton I, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico who lived in San Francisco during the 19th Century. The Board of Supervisors approved the idea yesterday. Now it just has to be approved by the Mayor, the Oakland City Council, and the California Legislature. Personally, I think it's a great idea. But will this inspire Los Angeles to follow suit and name something after HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Buonaparte, the present-day Emperor of the United States?
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Comments (11)
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