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April 2005
I've commented on weird rental services before, but this is easily the weirdest yet. It's Rent a Dildo. It's like Netflix for sex toys. Not something many people would want to use second-hand. The site is very well designed and professional looking (though the topic itself makes it not safe for work). However when you try to sign up you read that "Though we are not yet signing up paying customers, we are testing the service with a limited number of beta users." This is code for "This is a hoax". (Thanks to Iain for the link)
While I'm on the subject of sex hoaxes, also check out Abstinence Only, a site that "offers abstinence-only education based on the strictest most literal interpretations of the Bible" (it's also NSFW). Turns out you can do quite a lot while remaining 'abstinent'.
Categories: Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 19, 2005
Comments (15)
The latest nugget of fake news from the world of journalism concerns a seal hunt that never took place. A Boston Globe writer, Barbara Stewart, described the slaughter of baby seals off the coast of Newfoundland in great detail. What she didn't know was that the hunt had been delayed, and so hadn't begun yet. Oops.
Categories: Journalism
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 18, 2005
Comments (12)
image The latest 'face seen in food' on eBay is the Pope Chicken Breast. The seller even has their own website devoted to it already. The real question is how much Golden Palace is going to pay for this thing. Here's the description of the item:

As I was about to dig into my usual lunch of my dorms "baked chicken," I quickly stopped in my tracks as my eyes met this wonderful relic. I have the utmost respect for Pope John Paul II and I could not believe the resemblance I saw between my piece of chicken breast and him. I am deeply touched that I was chosen to receive this possible visit from the Holy Father. I would now like to share this beautiful likeness of Pope John Paul II with you. And unlike all the unoriginal grilled cheese and Pope hat chips, this is the Only celebrity chicken breast on eBay at the time of listing.
Categories: eBay, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 18, 2005
Comments (19)
There's a rumor going around that a sequel to the '80s movie Pretty In Pink will come out next year, starring all the original cast: Molly Ringwald, John Cryer, and Andrew McCarthy. It will supposedly revisit the characters from the original movie twenty years later, to find out where they are now. I know the rumor must have spread pretty far because I heard it from my wife last week, and she thinks she heard it on the radio, or somewhere like that. However, the rumor is just a hoax. There is no sequel. The source of the rumor was an April Fool's Day hoax perpetrated by ComingSoon.net. From there it got picked up by the British press, who failed to realize that it was a joke, despite some obvious clues (such as the sources for the story leading to pages that said 'April Fools Day'). The No True Bill blog has the full details.
Categories: April Fools Day, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 17, 2005
Comments (15)
As a representative of Westchester Cable Services, Mark Sabia has been allowed into press boxes at sports games for years. The one problem is that Westchester Cable Services doesn't exist. The teams finally figured out he didn't belong there (but it was a good scam while it lasted):

Sabia, who lives in Ossining, was arrested Monday when he showed up to cover Opening Day at Shea and was charged with scamming season passes for almost all of New York's professional teams, as well as for several World Series and League Championship Series dating to 1998. He was charged with five felony counts of falsifying business records and 16 misdemeanor counts ranging from petit larceny to criminal impersonation.
Categories: Journalism, Sports
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 17, 2005
Comments (5)
Big Gary sent me this story, knowing that it would be a suitable contribution to the fast-growing Garden Gnome Wing of the museum (one of these days I'll actually get around to creating a gnome category):

LONDON - A grandmother stopped an intruder from entering her home by lobbing a heavy garden gnome at him, police said Friday. Jean Collop was woken early on Tuesday morning by the sound of an intruder on the roof of her home in Wadebridge, southwest England.
"I grabbed the first thing that came to hand — one of my garden gnomes — and hurled it at him, and hit him," she recalled.
"He lay there and I began to scream. I went back into the kitchen and found a rolling pin in case he came down. I didn't want to break another gnome."
A neighbor alerted police who arrived shortly afterward and arrested the intruder.
Categories: Gnomes, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 17, 2005
Comments (10)
What is it with this thing about begging for money to pay for plastic surgery? It's become the new online phenomenon, as if the most deserving people in the world are those who need a tummy tuck or boob job. As it happens the guy who created Upgrade My Wife is hoping to get both those surgeries for his wife. And he wants internet surfers to pay for them. He writes:

I created this web site because my wife has been considering a tummy tuck and breast augmentation for quite a few years, but neither of us knew how much it would cost. She made the appointment to see her doctor and went through the consultation. Her surgery quote from the doctor is only good for 30 days and is a whopping. $12,750. All I need to do now is pay for it!

Unlike Caias Ward, this guy isn't even willing to do anything to earn the money. Plus, as is always the case with such things, there's no guarantee the money will go towards the stated purpose. The likelihood is that he'll never raise $12,750, so after a few months he'll probably take whatever money he's raised and spend it on something else.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 17, 2005
Comments (14)
A study conducted by Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire and the Edinburgh International Science Festival has found that women may not be as intuitive as they think they are. In fact, men may be more intuitive than women. Study participants "were asked to look at ten pairs of photographs showing smiling faces. One of the smiles in each pair was genuine and the other was fake, and people had to spot the genuine smile." You can take this fake-smile test yourself and see how intuitive you are. I only scored 5 out of 10, so I must not be intuitive at all. However, I have a few doubts about the study. First of all, how do they judge the difference between a fake smile and a real smile? In all the sets of photos the people are obviously posing, so what makes one posed smile real and another posed smile fake? Also, I'm not sure how much you can tell about intuition by looking at pictures, because body language, which isn't conveyed in these still images, has a lot to do with intuition.
Categories: Psychology
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 17, 2005
Comments (31)
image Big Gary pointed out this AP photo to me. I don't doubt the photo is real, but the caption explains the irony of the scene:

A car bomb explodes, detonated by U.S. troops after it was discovered at the scene of the double car bombing in Baghdad, Iraq Thursday, April 14, 2005. The initial attack killed 18 and wounded three dozen, but no one was injured in this controlled explosion. The sign at left reads 'Keep Your City Clean' in Arabic.(AP Photo/Samir Mizban)
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 15, 2005
Comments (4)
A group of MIT students wrote a computer program capable of creating "random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations." They then used this program to create a paper that they submitted to an academic conference: the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, which sounds like a thrill a minute. The paper was accepted, which isn't really surprising since as the students point out conferences such as this are really 'fake' conferences "with no quality standards, which exist only to make money." The students hope to travel down to the conference (if they're still allowed to attend) and deliver a "completely randomly-generated talk."
Categories: Literature/Language, Science
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 15, 2005
Comments (5)
Want to be a best-selling author making millions of dollars? Then sign up to be on Book Millionaire and your dreams could become reality!

Here's your chance to finally become America's next Best Selling Author and Reality Show TV Celebrity!  We are scouting for the next group of candidates for America's hottest new reality show. Act now. Picture yourself featured on national television sharing your story, writing, book-to-be or book with millions of people showing you have what it takes to be America's next Best Selling Author and Book Millionaire.

John Ordover brought this to my attention, noting that it looks like a scam, and I have to agree with him. On Book Millionaire's website they claim to be producing a new reality show, but nowhere can I find what studio or network they're working with, or where they're getting their funding from. Plus, they don't even require contestants to be published authors. You only have to have an idea for a book. But how can you become a bestselling author without a book? Maybe they'll help you sell your idea to get a huge advance. Could happen, so it's not impossible that it's legitimate. And maybe they don't list any partners because they haven't sold the idea to any networks yet. I don't know. But right now it looks kind of shady.
Categories: Entertainment, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 14, 2005
Comments (16)
More pictures from my inbox. The pictures themselves aren't fake. I'm pretty sure of that. But they show a hoax of a kind. This is the caption that accompanies them:

This woman is actually walking down the street with no "real" clothes -- only those painted on her. The passersby didn't give her a second look because the paint looked so much like clothing. YES, she is naked!

I'll give links to the photos, not thumbnails, so that I can continue to claim this site is only 'R' rated. The pictures probably aren't safe for work since the woman is naked (except for her shoes), though she does look like she's wearing clothes, which is the entire point. I was trying to figure out what city she's in, but nothing looks familiar.
naked1.jpg | naked2.jpg | naked3.jpg | naked4.jpg
Categories: Photos/Videos, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 14, 2005
Comments (31)
Cranky Media Guy sent me a link to this interesting product: BIOPRO Chips. BIOPRO describes itself as a leader in the field of EMF harmonization devices. You see, you may not have realized it but, as BIOPRO tells you on their website, virtually all electronic devices emit dangerous electromagnetic frequency (EMF). Phones, microwaves, computers... You name it. So what's a person to do? Simple. Get some BIOPRO Chips. These amazing chips are designed to defend against EMF. Apply some of them to your electronic devices, and EMF emissions will be 'harmonized', thereby rendered harmless. It took me a while before I figured out exactly what these 'chips' were. But then I figured it out. 'Chips' is a euphemism for 'stickers'. BIOPRO is selling little stickers that are supposed to protect people against 'electro-pollution'. Of course, the website contains no explanation of how or why these stickers would work. Obviously that's because these stickers won't do anything but lighten your wallet by a substantial amount.
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 13, 2005
Comments (75)
image The TV commercials for a new chocolate bar called M'azing show people doing amazing things in order to earn a bar of M'azing chocolate. In one commercial a guy balances a washing machine on his jaw. In another one a girl twists her legs all the way around her body in a way that really doesn't look possible. You can see all the ads here (quicktime and wmv format). Someone wrote in to Stuart Elliott's advertising column in the NY Times asking if the movie with the girl doing the thing with her legs was real. Elliott says it is. This is his exact response:

Stuart Elliott: The gymnast in the commercial is really performing what you see on screen, according to the Masterfoods division of Mars in Hackettstown, N.J., which markets the new M'azing line of candy. The spot, called "Mystic Pixie," is indicative of the direction of the campaign, which is to celebrate people whose talents enable them to perform feats that are truly amazing. The performers are, of course, meant to personify the amazing taste of M'azing. The campaign is created by the flagship New York office of BBDO Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group.
Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 13, 2005
Comments (33)
image Luc emailed me a link to this clip of an octopus camouflaging itself, wondering if the footage is real. The camera approaches what looks like an underwater bush, and then out of nowhere this octopus appears, squirts ink, and races away across the ocean floor. I actually remember this clip doing the rounds a year or two ago, and although the octopus's camouflage seems to be some kind of Hollywood special effect, I believe that it's real. According to a version of the clip that can be found on efootage.com, the footage was taken by biologist Roger Hammer (I think I'm hearing that last name correctly, but the sound on the efootage clip is awful). I have no idea who Roger Hammer is, but it might be the same Roger Hammer who works at the Miami-Dade Parks Department and is a specialist on Florida plants (author of Everglades Wildflowers). I'm trying to find a picture of the Miami-Dade Roger Hammer to compare him with the guy in the news clip.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 13, 2005
Comments (32)
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