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December 2005
Status: Real
Photos are doing the rounds (especially in Australia) of a large shark that was caught with another shark in its mouth. According to abc.net.au, the shark was caught at Tannum Beach:

Apparently the smaller fish was caught on Tannum's shark lines. While being pulled in, the movement attracted the attention of its larger colleague. The tiger shark was so reluctant to let go of its free meal, it was eventually pulled in to shore. These photographs depicting the shark, and its last meal, have since been doing the rounds - and perhaps persuading a few people to think twice before dipping a toe in around the Tannum area.

image image image
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 06, 2005
Comments (17)
Status: Undetermined (but I'm guessing fake)
image Nike has a new ad featuring Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho Gaucho. In the ad Ronaldinho puts on a pair of Nikes, juggles the ball a few times, and then kicks the ball towards the goal so that it hits the crossbar and bounces directly back to him. He does this four times in a row. And it's all shot in a single take. This has inspired a lot of discussion on the net, because it's hard to believe anyone could be skilled enough to do this. In an article posted on the BBC (in Portuguese... I read it via AltaVista Translate) Ronaldinho swears that the scene is real, although the reporters interviewing him refuse to believe him. Given that it's an ad, I would assume it's fake, since one should always assume that what you see in ads is bogus, unless it's proven otherwise.
Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Comments (56)
Status: Undetermined (but I'm pretty sure it's not a sasquatch)
image The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization has posted pictures of a weird figure recently spotted by a hiker on Silver Star Mountain in Washington state. To me the figure looks like another hiker. But the Bigfoot believers are convinced it's a sasquatch. As they note:

The photos are inconclusive, but they are potentially relevant. The figure you see could be a sasquatch. The silhouette is comparable to the lanky silhouette in the Marble Mountains footage. It also looks similar to some eyewitness sketches. As in the Marble Mountains footage , there's nothing in the outline to indicate that it's another person (except for the upright posture).

Maybe it was a guy walking around up there in a Bigfoot costume. In which case, I would have to add it to my list of Bigfoot hoaxes.
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Comments (18)
Status: New Holiday
Here's a new holiday to add to your calendar. It's Monkey Day on December 14:

Monkey Day is an annual holiday celebrated on December 14th that offers people a reprise from the traditional religious holidays permeating the month of December. Monkey Day is a fun way to celebrate all things simian, an excuse to hang out with friends and family dressed as monkeys and grunt at one another, and at the same time promoting knowledge and awareness of monkeys and their simian kin in a healthy manner. Monkey Day began five years ago as a practical joke left scribbled on a friend's calender, when the anointed date of December 14th came around a Monkey themed party gathered at the local bar and Monkey Day was born. Each year since, Monkey Day has grown in popularity, especially among the college crowd, falling dangerously close to the end of semester final exam week. Popular ways of celebrating Monkey Day include throwing a monkey themed party and dressing up as your favorite simian, grunting like a chimp all day long, and throwing feces on passers-by ( for legal purposes, monkeyday.com in no way supports the latter form of celebration ).

You can find more info at monkeyday.com. It sounds like as good an excuse for a party as any. But I worry that people will spend Monkey Day "grunting like a chimp," not realizing that chimps aren't monkeys. (Though I realize that Simian Day, while more accurate, wouldn't have quite the same ring to it.)
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Comments (13)
Status: Urban Legend
I had never heard this urban legend before, but the gist of it is that a young boy managed to steal a penguin from the New England Aquarium by carrying it out in his backpack. Last week the Aquarium held a press conference to officially deny the rumor:

"This week, I got a call from Fayetteville, Ark., about the penguin abduction," said aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse. "I even got a call from California. We figured we had to do something." LaCasse speculated that the myth was hatched close to the release of the documentary March of the Penguins, which became a summer hit. With the release of the DVD this week, calls about the myth poured into the aquarium again, LaCasse said. All 61 penguins residing at the aquarium are safe and accounted for, LaCasse said. They waddle around an ocean tank with steep walls and zip through water, kept at a chilly 50 degrees, so fast they appear to be flying. No child could scale the tank railing, LaCasse said, drop 6 feet into the water, scoop up a penguin, and leave, at least not without being noticed.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Comments (17)
Status: True
image Virginia Voiers, a 70-year-old grandmother, has been charged with stealing baby Jesus from a nativity scene in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

"It was a lark, it wasn't any serious stealing,'' Voiers told the Lovely County Citizen newspaper of Eureka Springs. "My granddaughter commented that no one had taken the baby Jesus this year and said, 'Grandma?' I said, 'Oh, what the heck.''' Usually, the baby Jesus is returned by the thief. Voiers said her Saturday caper was the first time she'd taken anything from the nativity. "I didn't know we had a tattletale downtown,'' said Voiers, who is also a Sunday school teacher at a Methodist church.

She got caught because a security camera had been installed to catch pranksters in the act. In other words, the entire theft was filmed. I'd love to see that video.
Categories: Pranks, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Comments (13)
Status: Marketing gimmick
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when all the stores have their big sales. It's said to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Cyber Monday comes three days later, and (according to what I heard on many newsasts this year) is supposed to be the biggest day for online shopping, a phenomenon caused by millions of shoppers returning to work on Monday and looking for bargains online. But apparently Cyber Monday isn't the biggest online shopping day of the year. And the term itself is the very recent invention of marketers. Robert Hof debunks Cyber Monday in an article in BusinessWeek.com:

Contrary to what the recent blitz of media coverage implies, Cyber Monday isn't nearly the biggest online shopping or spending day of the year. It ranks only as the 12th-biggest day historically, according to market researcher comScore Networks. It's not even the first big day of the season. For most online retailers, the bigger spending day of the season to date was way back on Nov. 22, three days before Black Friday. What's more, most e-tailers say the season's top spending day comes much later, between around Dec. 5 and Dec. 15...
So what's up with this Cyber Monday idea? A little bit of reality and a whole lot of savvy marketing. It turns out that Shop.org, an association for retailers that sell online, dreamed up the term just days before putting out a Nov. 21 press release touting Cyber Monday as "one of the biggest online shopping days of the year." The idea was born when a few people at the organization were brainstorming about how to promote online shopping, says Shop.org Executive Director Scott Silverman... "It's not the biggest day," Silverman concedes. "But it was an opportunity to create some consumer excitement."


It's kind of sad to see how eagerly the media promoted this as if it was something real.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 02, 2005
Comments (9)
Status: Fake
Maybe some city really did sponsor the urban art project depicted below. But I doubt it. It definitely looks photoshopped to me. There must be an original David-free version of this picture floating around somewhere.
Update: The fountain is real. It's the Crown Fountain designed by artist Jaume Plensa in Chicago's Millennium Park. But the image of David is fake. The Millennium Park website explains:

The fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out. Plensa adapted this practice by having faces of Chicago citizens projected on LED screens and having water flow through a water outlet in the screen to give the illusion of water spouting from their mouths. The collection of faces, Plensa's tribute to Chicagoans, was taken from a cross-section of 1,000 residents.

In other words, it would be possible to project an image of Michelangelo's David onto the tower, but it doesn't sound as if this has ever been done.

Update: This image comes from a Fark photoshop contest. It was created by a Farker named gigglechick.

image
Categories: Art, Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 01, 2005
Comments (8)
Status: Real
image Here's an odd image that I found posted on a computer graphics forum, where it's the subject of debate about whether it's real or photoshopped. (They've even got a poll going about it.) I would vote that it's real, even though it's amazing that the kid could jump that high up on the wall. (Though with a running start, and being young and athletic enough, it's do-able.) If it's photoshopped, it's incredibly well done.
Update: It's been revealed as real. Apparently this guy (Ryan) has a talent for this kind of thing (jumping and seeming to stick to things).
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 01, 2005
Comments (47)
Status: Real (though difficult to accept as an excuse for criminal behavior)
I first reported about the phenomenon of sleep sex over a year ago. It's a rare disorder that causes people to engage in sexual behavior while asleep. It's also potentially one of the greatest excuses for sexual impropriety ever devised. Now there's a case in Canada in which a guy successfully defended himself against charges of sexual assault by arguing that he's a sexsomniac:

Jan Luedecke, 33, met his victim at a party on July 6, 2003, and both had been drinking, the Toronto Sun reported. The woman, who can't be named, fell asleep on a couch and said she awoke to find him having sex with her. She pushed him off, then called the police. Luedecke claimed he fell asleep on the same couch and woke up when he was thrown to the floor. Sleep expert Dr. Colin Shapiro testified Luedecke had sexsomnia, which is sexual behavior during sleep, brought on by alcohol, sleep deprivation and genetics. The judgment outraged women's groups, the newspaper said.

I'm willing to bet that as popular awareness of sexsomnia grows, it'll begin to be used as a defense more and more often. It'll be like the mirror image of the repressed memory mania (i.e. a mania of not remembering, instead of remembering). The phenomenon itself may be real, but it sure seems like it's a malady tailor-made for con artists.
Categories: Psychology, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 01, 2005
Comments (35)
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