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May 2005
There's an interesting Q&A in today's Stuart Elliott column in the NY Times:

A Reader Asks: I have a question regarding Wal-Mart's advertising. Do you know if Wal-Mart actually uses employees in its ads or does it hire actors?

I've wondered about this myself. Are there really all these happy people working at Wal-Mart? Elliott's response:

The people appearing in the television commercials and print advertisements for Wal-Mart Stores are actual employees, according to Wal-Mart and its agencies. Such ads have been appearing more frequently as part of efforts by Wal-Mart to counter critics who charge the company does not offer its employees adequate health care or other benefits.

So they're really employees. But I'm still not buying that Wal-Mart is such a great place to work.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (41)
image Stop The Presses! The Creationists have disproven evolution! How? Because they found a fishing reel in a rock.

The 'reel in a rock' seems to have been around for quite a while, but I've only heard of it now. What a treat I've been missing. Dan Jones says that he found this thing twenty-five years ago while trout fishing. It was lying right out in the open. It's a chunk of Phyllite rock with an old fishing reel embedded in it. It's pretty obvious that someone has drilled a few holes in order to insert the reel into the rock, but the Creationists are claiming that the rock itself must have formed around the reel. To their minds, this is the only solution. They then argue that since modern geological science says this would be impossible, that Geology must be wrong. And therefore evolution is wrong! It's all so logical. The fragile edifice of modern science brought down by a fishing reel in a rock.

You can find some debunking of the 'reel in a rock' over at the Creation versus Evolution site. A geologist, Ann Holmes, who had a chance to examine the rock says:

The phyllite had saw marks in it where the flattish plate of the reel had been imbedded. Sharp-edged saw marks that would have surely weathered rounder had it been wallowed out by water around the reel. I also suspect a drill hole to hold the one round reel support imbedded as well.

The only real question is who created this hoax. (Thanks to Donald Simanek for sending me the link).
Categories: Religion, Science
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (34)
The Black Spider Club bills itself as "the worlds most exclusive club".

"We are not listed on any search engine, and we do not publicise ourselves, for you to have found this site means you were referred by one of our illustrious members."

I haven't been able to find any info about what this 'club' actually is. It indeed doesn't appear in any search engines. So maybe it's really a club, or maybe it's an alternative reality game. I don't know. But if it is a club, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't accept me as a member. (thanks to Steve Combe for the link)
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (13)
Some photos of the mural paintings of Eric Grohe have been doing the rounds. The coolest ones, I think, are the ones where people are standing and looking at the paintings, and you can't quite tell if the people are part of the painting or not.

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Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (9)
I got an email from Mike Scofield asking about this odd thing that can be seen via Google's satellite map out in the middle of the desert around Nevada. Mike writes:

Assuming I did the link right, you should see a giant triangle with concentric circles in it. I did some poking around and it looks like this symbol is ~near~ Area 51. This leads me to think it's one of two different hoaxes. One is that it's a very good photoshop someone slipped into the satalite map that Google is referencing or, two, that it is a symbol out there in the desert someone did that isn't related to Area 51.

Honestly, I don't know what this is. I'm guessing it's some kind of military base. If you zoom in you can see that it hasn't been photoshopped in (at least, it doesn't appear to me as if it's been photoshopped). The triangle and concentric circles appear to be roads.
image
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (64)
A faux BBC news article describing a match between one lion and 42 unarmed midget fighters has been linked to by a lot of sites. However, the article is now clearly labelled as a fake. Apparently what inspired the article was a debate some guy was having with his friend about who would win in a hypothetical fight between one lion and 40 weaponless midgets. He created the fake BBC piece in order to convince his friend that the lion would win. Personally, I don't think it matters if it were 40 midgets or 40 pro-basketball players. The lion would still win, because a lion has claws and sharp teeth, and people don't. Plus, the lion is a lot stronger. Incidentally, I just learned that 'midget' is considered a derogatory term. But I don't think the author of the faux article was too concerned about being PC.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon May 09, 2005
Comments (29)
On my next vacation I'm going to the Dominion of Melchizedek. It looks lovely. But actually, I might have trouble finding a flight there since there's no such place. I found it mentioned in a book I was browsing through, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Frauds, Scams, and Cons. The author of this book, Duane Swierczynski, says that the Dominion of Melchizedek "was solely the invention of an American swindler, who created it as a front for a multitude of scams. If you're near a computer, go log on to www.melchizedek.com, and you can tour the entire nation, made up of Pacific islands. Fairly realistic, huh? That's what those 300 investors thought, too."
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Mon May 09, 2005
Comments (1)
I'm a little late on this one, but better late than never. On May 4 Caltech students transformed the Hollywood Walk of Fame into the "Illustrious Scientists Walk of Fame": Students literally covered over 500 of the celebrity stars on Hollywood Blvd. with prestigious scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, David Baltimore, Richard Feynman, Madame Currie... The prank was meant to coincide with the Commemorative U.S. Postage Stamp of preeminent Caltech physicist Richard P. Feynman.
Categories: Pranks, Science
Posted by Alex on Mon May 09, 2005
Comments (8)
eBay has become like the internet's funhouse mirror for popular culture. Any widely reported event immediately gets reflected back in the form of strange eBay auctions. So with the Runaway Bride being the latest story in the news, it was inevitable that Runaway Bride stuff would soon show up on eBay. Here's a round-up of the most prominent of it:

image Runaway Bride on Toast
Jennifer Wilbanks found on my morning breakfast toast. I still think her fiance did it !!! This is the one and only Toast Depicting The Scam Artict of the year Jennifer Wilbanks. Look at the eyes its her. Dont be fooled by others. Sold to high bidder shipping priority$3.85 Ebay tossed me off but im back!!! Just like Jen.

Authentic Wedding Invitation
Authentic Wedding Invitation for the wedding of Jennifer Wilbanks (the runaway bride) and John Mason.  the wedding was supposed to be on Saturday, April 30th.  Before she fled to New Mexico, we have this because we were invited to the wedding and are friends of the family.

Runaway Bride Kit
This kit will help any nervous Bride who wants to get away from all the pressure of getting married... Talking to your closest friends and family about your wedding day "cold feet" is a thing of the past! Get on that Bus and head out on a multi state joy ride across the country.
Categories: eBay, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Fri May 06, 2005
Comments (11)
A woman has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after faking her husband's death (with the help of her husband). The two of them dug up a corpse from a grave, put it in their car, and lit it on fire. The police weren't fooled. Apparently the husband had been sentenced to jail, and the scheme was an elaborate way to get out of having to go. Now they're both going to jail. So the plan really didn't work. My impression is that forging a death certificate is, by far, the easiest way to fake your death. Staging an accident with a substitute corpse is pretty hard because the police have much better ways of identifying bodies nowadays.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Thu May 05, 2005
Comments (3)
I never realized that coin stacking was a sport, nor that people could create such intricate stacks. Some of these things really seem to defy gravity. But I see no reason to believe that any of the images aren't real. It reminds me of rock balancing, which I posted about last year. Check out some of the other coin stack pictures here. (via Reality Carnival)
image
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu May 05, 2005
Comments (11)
Ananova reports that an entrepreneur down in Mexico has started selling a line of semen moisturizer:

Porn star Lyn May, who is in her sixties, is behind the company producing the cream.
Mrs May swears that the Semen moisturizer is capable of erasing wrinkles and leaves skin soft.
She told Las Ultimas Noticias: "I select attractive young man and pay them for their semen that is mixed with honey and oats to create the moisturiser."


Okay, despite the fact that it's gross to be selling this stuff, I believe that it's an urban legend that semen would work as a moisturizer. A quick google search reveals that someone has tested this out (maybe NSFW because of the general content, but all the images are SFW) and found that semen is indeed NOT a good moisturizer.
Categories: Gross, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu May 05, 2005
Comments (26)
Apparently cow urine is the hot new drink in India. I'm not sure what people believe to be the health benefits of it, but there's a brisk market in sales of the stuff. The only problem is the nasty smell:

A few suppliers even have suggestions for battling the odour. "You can kill the smell if you add some essence while consuming it. But if you store it in a bottle again, the odour returns," says Lakshmanananda of another ashram in Gandipet, on the outskirts of the city.

Demand is so strong that it's even spawning a market for fake cow urine:

As cow urine does booming business, can the fakes be far behind? The city has a supply of about 500 litres a day, but now buffalo urine and that of other animals are being passed off as the real thing. "Spurious products have sprung up from nowhere," says Prashant Kumar Vyas, a supplier from Siddiambar bazaar.
Categories: Animals, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu May 05, 2005
Comments (15)
Seems like people are suddenly finding all kinds of things in their food. A boy in England just found a two-foot long snake in the box of his breakfast cereal:

Ms Willett, who was eating breakfast with her son at the time, said she first thought the snake was a free gift.
Describing the incident, she said: "My lad, he went to open his cereal and luckily enough I was behind him because a snake popped out.
"I just screamed. I grabbed the box off him and found some Sellotape." ...
An expert called in to examine the corn snake, which is non-venomous and feeds on mice and birds, said he was sure the animal had been kept as a pet in England and had been well looked after.


She thought it was a free gift? That would be an unusual surprise toy: a Happy Meal with a free snake! (thanks to Iain and Melanie for the links about this)
Categories: Animals, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu May 05, 2005
Comments (2)
Laura Bush has been getting rave reviews for her comedy routine at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, but not everyone was pleased. The Coalition for Traditional Values issued a press release (pdf file) denouncing her performance.

We saw our President undermined, mocked and emasculated by his own wife on the most public of stages, and at a time when his manliness is already under attack. We saw the leader of the free world seemingly unable to lead his own family. Mr. President, as God's elected represented here on earth, you owe it to every American to live your life as an example to us. And that example extends to the behavior of your wife, Mrs Bush, as well.

But actually, there is no 'Coalition for Traditional Values'. The name is a parody of the Traditional Values Coalition, who has now denounced the satirical press release. The fake news release was created by the Swift Report.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue May 03, 2005
Comments (15)
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