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April 2005
Every day when my wife drives home from work (here in San Diego) she tunes in to radio station Star 100.7 to listen to a show called 'The Daily Dirt' (which is basically entertainment gossip). Today she was surprised to discover that the station had abruptly switched to a 'classic rock' format that randomly plays songs from the 80's, 90's, and the present. Plus, it was no longer Star 100.7. It was now Jack 100.7. Even the DJs were different. She thought it might be some kind of belated April Fool's Day prank. But when she got home we did some research and learned it was no prank.

Apparently this is happening to radio stations across the country (and in Canada). Suddenly the management will fire all the staff, rename the station something like Jack or Bob or Doug FM (it's always a guy's name), and switch to a random-play format. Audiences aren't given any warning, so they often think it's a prank.

I think this is a scheme cooked up by marketers to maximize profits. The management tries to spin the random-play thing as them being daring enough to 'play whatever they want', but in reality they're just saving money by having a computer in shuffle-mode pick the songs. Then they fire all the staff (except for the morning show usually), and replace them with lower-paid substitutes who mumble phrases from a corporate script in between the songs.

I never listened to Star 100.7 that much, so the change won't affect me in any way. But it does seem strange that all these stations are being renamed Jack or Bob or Doug and transformed into glorified iPods on shuffle mode. I figure that it must be one company behind it all, but I don't know who it is.
Categories: Radio
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 07, 2005
Comments (87)
Richard Brown was under house arrest after posing as a sheriff's deputy in 2002, but even from his home he still managed to get into trouble. The news article describing what he did is a little confusing, but from what I can gather he called up restaurants and told the employees that he spoke to that he was a DJ, and that if they came to his home they could win $50,000. Once they arrived he told them that they had to pass a challenge to win the money. They had to strip naked, then walk out to their car and drive away. He got two people to do this. The third person noticed he was wearing a home detention bracelet. A court has now charged Brown with three counts of criminal confinement and three counts of identity deception. I just find it amazing that he could talk people into doing this stuff so easily.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Comments (7)
image It's already well known that Michelangelo dabbled in art forgery. That's not disputed. For instance, there's his famous forgery of the Sleeping Cupid. However, Lynn Catterson of Columbia University thinks that a much more high-profile forgery should be attributed to him. She believes that Michelangelo forged The Laocoon, which has long been regarded as one of the most important pieces of ancient Greek sculpture in existence. She points out that Michelangelo was present when The Laocoon was unearthed in 1506. She has promised to provide further proof to back up her allegation at a lecture today, as well as in a book she's submitted for publication. (thanks to Jelena for the link)
Categories: Art, History
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Comments (19)
I just received these pictures in my email. The subject line read: Latest fashion craze ---- think I'll pass!!!!!!!!!!!!! YIPES!
Looking at them definitely makes me cringe, but I see no reason to think they're not real. They remind me of the sport of meathook dangling that I posted about last year.


imageimage
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Categories: Body Manipulation, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Comments (96)
image Was the Nike Swoosh (which is perhaps one of the most famous corporate logos in the world, second only to McDonald's golden arches) really designed by a graphic design student who got paid only $35 for it? It sounds like an urban legend playing off of Nike's use of cheap Asian sweatshop labor. But apparently the story is true. At least, the Nike website confirms it. The swoosh was designed in 1971 by design student Carolyn Davidson, and she did only receive $35 for it. However, in 1983 the company gave her a gift of stock as a token of their appreciation.
Categories: Business/Finance, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Comments (7)
I got an email from Enio asking me: I would like to know your opinion about Masaru Emoto's "Crystal Water Photos".

First, some background. Masaru Emoto's book The Hidden Messages in Water is currently #66 in sales rank on Amazon. That means A LOT of people are buying it. Here's the blurb from the cover that pretty much explains what Masaru Emoto and his crystal water photos are all about:

The Hidden Messages in Water is an eye-opening theory showing how water is deeply connected to people's individual and collective consciousness. Drawing from his own research, scientific researcher, healer, and popular lecturer Dr. Masaru Emoto describes the ability of water to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystal structure. Emoto theorizes that since water has the ability to receive a wide range of frequencies, it can also reflect the universe in this manner. He found that water from clear springs and water exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns, while polluted water and water exposed to negative thoughts forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors. Emoto believes that since people are 70 percent water, and the Earth is 70 percent water, we can heal our planet and ourselves by consciously expressing love and goodwill.

What do I think of this theory? Well, at the risk of giving off a lot of negative energy that's going to make a whole bunch of water crystals get all bent out of shape, I think it's complete baloney. But then, I'm not very 'open minded' about things like this. So I would think that.
(but I have to add: since when has the earth been 70 percent water? Do they mean the surface of the earth? That might make sense. But the earth itself ain't 70 percent water)
Categories: Photos/Videos, Science
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Comments (123)
image Would this thing actually work? It's described as an ultrasonic stain remover that "will remove virtually any clothing stain, no matter how stubborn." The fact that the ad copy keeps repeating the phrase 'utilizes ultrasonic technology' without actually explaining how or why it's supposed to work makes me skeptical. I guess the ultrasonic sound waves are somehow supposed to break up stain particles? If it did work as advertised, it would be useful. (via Red Ferret)
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Comments (28)
In September 1939 the fledgling BBC television service was shut down because of the start of World War II. According to legend, transmission was ended in the middle of a broadcast of a Disney cartoon called "Mickey's Gala Premiere." When transmission resumed six years later an announcer came on the air and said, "Well now, where were we?" The Disney cartoon then began to play from the exact spot in which it had left off all those years ago. Is this story true? Almost, but not quite. According to imdb.com, "Mickey's Gala Premiere" was the last thing shown on the BBC in 1939 and the first thing it aired when it started back up in 1946. However the cartoon was restarted from the beginning. Not from where it had left off in 1939.
Categories: Entertainment, History
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Comments (7)
Here are a few more April Fools that I missed on Friday:
  • What April Fools prank should you play? (This is actually a quiz, not a hoax. It told me that based on my personality type I should play the stink bomb prank).
  • The MINI Always Open Contract: a detail in the contract requires owners of the MINI Cabrio to always keep the top down, no matter what the weather conditions are.
  • MINI Pullman Edition: MINI also announced the release of a special new model "adapted to ride on all domestic gauge rail lines throughout North America."
  • King Kong Sequels: Peter Jackson announced that he was going to be making back-to-back sequels to his upcoming remake of King Kong. In the sequels the son of Kong would battle Nazis. (See Peter Jackson's Production Diary: Day 123)
  • Maple Woes: NPR's All Things Considered announced that less demand for maple syrup means that New England maple trees are going untapped, leading to disastrous results (exploding maple trees, etc.)
  • Orchestra Steroid Scandal: NPR also reported on a steroid scandal involving classical musicians.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 05, 2005
Comments (28)
About a year ago 'Toothing' was the hot new thing everyone was talking about (well, okay, that a few people were talking about). It was the idea that people were using bluetooth-equipped mobile phones to find sexual partners in public places such as commuter trains. Toothers would beam messages to other people with mobile phones, 'Hey, wanna hook up?'... and if the answer was affirmative then off the two would go. This practice got a lot of media attention, but it's turned out that it was all a hoax dreamed up by Ste Curran and friends. He tells the story here. He decided to spill the beans after people on Slashdot (Jim Hanas in particular) started wondering what had ever become of the toothing craze. Jim contacted Curran, who was the creator of the original toothing forum, and got the confession. Curran states that: Despite all the made-up ramblings on websites across the globe, despite the forums and the fan-fiction, the tabloids and the broadsheets, the perverts and the simply curious, no-one has ever ever, ever toothed. There's always the possibility that toothing was real and Curran is lying when he now says that it was a hoax, but given the two options I think it seems more plausible that toothing was always a hoax.
Categories: Sex/Romance, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 05, 2005
Comments (20)
Are you soon going to need a license to pick wild mushrooms in Illinois? That was what an email press release that circulated around last week stated. The email claimed that mushroom hunters would have to get a license from the same vendors that sell hunting and fishing licenses, and that revenue from the license sales would benefit biological and archaeological research in Illinois. The email prompted dozens of people to call the Illinois Natural Resources Department to complain. Today a Department spokeswoman, Gayle Simpson, denied that any such licenses were going to be required. In other words, the email was a hoax.
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 05, 2005
Comments (4)
Here's a strange faux-celebrity blog that delves into the imagined sex life of George Wendt, who played the character Norm on Cheers. Includes posts such as: Crying yourself to sleep doesn't get you sympathy sex if you're alone. Need to remember that.That's one of the tamer posts. (Not safe for work because of language)
Categories: Celebrities, Sex/Romance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 05, 2005
Comments (1)
Given that I've posted periodically about various forms of urine therapy, I was intrigued to come across this slate.com article alleging that many professional baseball players regularly pee on their hands in the belief that the urine will toughen their skin:

"In a recent interview with ESPN's Gary Miller, Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou revealed that during baseball season he urinates on his hands to toughen them up. Alou, one of the few major leaguers who doesn't wear gloves while batting, is backed up by Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who says, "You don't want to shake my hand during spring training." Even Cubs hurler Kerry Wood mentioned on a local radio show that he's tried the technique to remedy blisters on his pitching hand."

The article goes on to argue that urine probably would work well to soften your skin since urea is an ingredient in many commercial moisturizing lotions, but it's very doubtful that it will do anything to toughen up the skin. Slate.com figures that this hand-peeing fad is just another one of the many superstitions that baseball players get hooked on to try to improve their game.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 04, 2005
Comments (27)
image This should appeal to all H.P. Lovecraft fans. It's Springtime in Arkham, a collection of scents inspired by the world of Lovecraft. For only $155 you can buy the entire set, sold together as the 'Gibbering Madness Pack: More eternal evil than you can shake a stick at'. The fact that these are only available from April 1 to June 1 makes it all seem a little like an April Fool's day joke, but I think they're quite real. I'm actually tempted to buy the CTHULHU scent: A creeping, wet, slithering scent, dripping with seaweed, oceanic plants and dark, unfathomable waters.
Categories: Literature/Language, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 04, 2005
Comments (20)
image Last month I posted about a man in Hong Kong who claims that he was able to lift a dumbbell weighing 165lbs with his penis. What I didn't know then was that there's an entire martial art based around penile weight lifting. It's called Jiu Jiu Shen Gong. For only $56.95 you can get a video that will teach you the secrets of this ancient skill. The video is titled Iron Crotch:

"You heard the stories, now experience the reality! Iron Crotch is the most talked about ancient Chinese practice! Called Jiu Jiu Shen Gong (99 Power Practice) this ancient skill unleashes your untapped potential and allows you to achieve your peak performance! Grandmaster Tu's students have lifted hundreds of pounds with their privates, even students in their 70s! Dramatically enhances your potency and helps with sexual response dysfunction or lack of interest in sex."

I believe this video is real, in the sense that the Martial Arts Mart really is offering it for sale. However, I'm not willing to believe that anyone is actually going to learn how to lift hundreds of pounds with their penis by watching it.
Categories: Sex/Romance, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 04, 2005
Comments (29)
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