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March 2005
The Guardian has an April Fool's Day quiz that lets you test your skills at separating real news stories from April Fool's Day jokes. I got 9 out of 9, so I did very well. However, I also spotted a mistake in their test. Question Five asks: Telescopes belonging to the Chicago Times discovered a penal colony on the moon in 1876 (True or April Fool). The correct answer, according to the test, is that it's an April Fool. That's not totally accurate. The story was a hoax, but it wasn't an April Fool. It was published in February 1876, as I have noted here on my site (scroll down to the paragraph titled 'Prisoners of the Moon'). I figure that for finding the mistake on the test I really scored 10 out of 9. I also figure that I deserve a prize.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Comments (7)
Has the government been monitoring and recording your telephone conversations? A government contractor was able to copy 1 terabyte worth of phone calls recorded by the government. Enter your phone number to find out if they've been spying on you!
Categories: April Fools Day, Conspiracy Theories
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Comments (19)
image Wikipedia has a brief blurb about the Garden Gnome Liberation Front. This is a political movement dedicated to liberating gnomes from the gardens in which they are imprisoned. Members of the liberation front remove gnomes from gardens and either take them out to the woods to set them loose, or smash them to set their spirit free (personally I think taking them out to the woods sounds like the more humane option). I wonder if they've ever considered taking them to the underwater gnome garden. Anyway, this is an international movement. The American group calls itself Free The Gnomes. The Italian group calls itself MALAG, or the Independent Movement for the Liberation of the Garden Gnomes. One of those days I'm probably going to have to create a new category for gnomes.
Categories: Gnomes, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Comments (40)
The site seems to be loading very slowly today, and a few people have reported not being able to access it at all. This is the beginning of the April Fool's Day effect. Traffic to the site increases and causes the performance of the site to nosedive. I'm guessing this will last until April 2nd. There's absolutely nothing I can do about it.
Categories: April Fools Day, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Comments (10)
image As an April Fool's Day prank Maxim magazine has printed a photo of the Bush twins doctored to make it look like they're decked out in lingerie. Of course, Maxim has also plastered a number of disclaimers on the image, just to make sure that no one thinks the picture is real. Most of the media avoids focusing on the twins too much, for fear of incurring the wrath of the White House. But Maxim evidently figured that the attention it would get by printing the picture would offset anything the White House could possibly do to it.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Comments (30)
Hundreds of blogs have linked to this in the past week, so I might as well pay it some attention, even though I'm doubtful that it's a hoax. The basic story is as follows: Some guy was contacted out of the blue via IM by a college student who wanted to know if he would write a paper on Hinduism for her. She had searched for people who mentioned the word 'Hindu' in their AOL profile and came up with him. To make a long story short, he agreed to write the paper for $75, but all he did was slap together a paper by shamelessly plagiarizing texts found on the internet, and then he blew the whistle on her by posting what he had done on his blog. Boing Boing initially cried hoax, claiming that the story had been cooked up to promote the comedy troupe whose site the story is posted on. But then Boing Boing backed off this claim. Personally I have no idea whether or not it's a hoax. Nor can I think of any good way to find out. But it seems plausible enough to me that something like this could happen.
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Comments (13)
The website of the Pacific Northwest Medical Journal contains an article titled, "Curing Obesity through Sterility: California's Controversial Program Under the Microscope". According to this article San Francisco has a publicly funded program to allow obese men to get free vasectomies. The idea is to stop them breeding in order to eliminate the gene for fatness from the population. This cannot be real. I've never heard of such a program and can't imagine it getting funded. But if it's a hoax (which I assume it is), it's a curiously elaborate one. All the other articles on the site appear to be quite serious. Why go to so much trouble for one hoax article? When I did a search to find out who the website was registered to, it listed KLAF Television in Shreveport, Louisiana as the owner. That doesn't really help explain anything.
Categories: Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 30, 2005
Comments (63)
I'm a pretty loyal 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' viewer. It usually comes on after I'm done with dinner and I'm too lazy to get up, so I just sit there watching it. I've seen some viewers get some very easy questions wrong on the show, but I'd find it hard to believe that anyone would really need help on this question. I'm guessing that either the question has been changed in this screenshot, or answer B has been altered to make it the obvious choice.
Categories: Entertainment, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 30, 2005
Comments (42)
This image has been floating around the internet for at least two years. It usually is accompanied by the caption: "In 2003 the US Navy initiates its new 'Terrorist Catch and Release Program.'" Obviously the caption is a joke, and I'm guessing that the car has been photoshopped in. But what would the crowd be standing there for? Would it be safe for them to stand there as a plane was taking off?
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 30, 2005
Comments (49)
April Fool's Day is usually the day when this site gets the most visitors. In the past this has caused the site to crash... so if nothing on the site seems to be working on April 1st, it's not me playing a prank. It's just the server melting down. Though hopefully that won't happen this year since I upgraded to a better server.

April Fool's Day is also a time when this site gets some media attention (because I don't think any other site on the web has as much info about April Fools). Big Gary told me he saw something about the site a few days ago in the Dallas Morning News (aka the Boring Snooze). I also did an interview with Andrew Jacobs of the NY Times this morning. His article should appear in the Times on Thursday or Friday. The Times of India is publishing a summary of the top 5 of my Top 100 April Fools. The Toledo Blade will have an article about the site (that includes a picture of me) on Friday. Family Circle Magazine was supposed to have something about the site in their April issue, but I haven't heard from them in a few months so I don't know what became of that (and I don't read Family Circle so maybe it is there and I don't know about it). Finally, I did a one-hour radio interview last night with Morgan White, Jr. on WBZ radio (out of Boston), and I'll be on BBC Radio on April 1st (4 pm London Time) being interviewed by Vanessa Feltz.

Oh, and then there's the off chance something might appear in USA Today, though I have no idea what (I'm very curious to see if they do print anything). That's all the stuff I know about, but sometimes papers print things about the site without telling me (like the Dallas Morning News did), so there may be more.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 29, 2005
Comments (19)
Zug's Credit Card Prank was widely linked to a few years ago. This is the prank as he describes it: Every time you make a credit card purchase, they're supposed to match your signature against the one on the back of your card. Nobody seems to check anymore, so I tried to see how far I could push it with wacky signatures like "Mariah Carey" and "Zeus". Now Zug has posted a sequel to the Credit Card Prank in which he makes his signatures even wackier and tries to discover what he can get away with. He draws pictures of Shamu, diagrams of the large intestines, and musical notes. They're all happily accepted.

Zug's prank is amusing, but I think the reality is that signing the card and receipt only secondarily serve the purpose of verifying your identity. The primary purpose of the signatures is to demonstrate that you've agreed to the terms of the contract with the credit card company. As long as you sign something (doesn't really matter what it is), the credit card company can say that you've acknowledged and agreed to the terms of the contract, and therefore you have to pay them back. I found this out a couple of years ago when I got into an argument with a post-office employee who refused to take my credit card that had 'See ID' written on the back of it. Turned out that the post-office employee was in the right. If you haven't signed the back of the card, then technically you haven't finalized your contract with the credit card company, and the card shouldn't be accepted.
Categories: Business/Finance, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 29, 2005
Comments (16)
A video (in quicktime) shows a group of Japanese girls (members of the pop group Morning Musume) watching a video of the horror movie Ringu. There's a lot of shrieking, so definitely turn your speakers down. But wait until the end for the prank that's played on them. The video can also be found on other sites in wmv format.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 29, 2005
Comments (15)
FamilyFun has a list of thirteen pranks that can be played on family members on April Fools Day. The list includes:
  • Wake the kids up at 3am and tell them it's time for school
  • Sew shut the fly on Dad's underwear
  • Create a fake coffee spill (includes a recipe for doing this: mix together equal parts white glue and brown puff paint and let the mixture dry on wax paper... I have no idea what 'puff paint' is)
  • Fasten a rubber band around the spray attachment on the kitchen sink
Categories: April Fools Day, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 27, 2005
Comments (27)
The website of the British firm Health and Safety Management Consultants offers a list of 'hidden dangers'. For instance, did you know that 10,700 people in the UK are injured every year while putting their socks on? That two women have been killed by lightning hitting the underwiring of their bras? That more people are injured by flowerpots every year than by hedge trimmers? And that "the number of injuries inflicted by vegetables remains unacceptably high, at 13,132"? Most of these statistics seem to come from the Home and Leisure Accident Statistics Report produced by the Royal Sciety for the Prevention of Accidents. So they're probably fairly credible. But obviously the figures don't give any indication of how serious these injuries were... or the context in which the accidents occurred.
Categories: Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 27, 2005
Comments (13)
The Guardian reports that numerous pregnant women have been seen lurking around branches of the UK store Harvey Nichols. Why? Because the women heard a rumor that Harvey Nichols gives out £500 gift vouchers to women who go into labor in the store. Supposedly one woman who was going into labor in the back of a car even took the time to phone the store to find out if the rumor was true. I guess she would have directed the driver to make a beeline to the store. However, the rumor is not true.
Categories: Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 27, 2005
Comments (6)
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