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|•||Authorities are leaning more toward zero tolerance of teenagers 05/06/2013|
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|•||ET's Visit Earth, aid US Government 05/05/2013|
|•||Happy Birthday, Robin Bobcat! 05/03/2013|
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|•||World's Smallest Movie 05/01/2013|
|•||UFOs now available in blue and yellow 05/01/2013|
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Status: Identified as a rattailDavid Emery forwarded me the link to this creepy looking fish that washed up on the beach on Cayman Brac over the weekend. The local paper there is trying to figure out what in the heck it is:
It is roughly thirty inches long, more than half of which is a long, eel-like tail attached to a fish body. It has pale pink scales, pectoral fins, a dorsal fin and a small feathery fin on its belly. Local fishermen say they have not seen a creature quite like this before. It has boney bristles all along its spine, right down to the tip of its tail and small sharp teeth, which curve slightly inward.
If you have any idea, let them know. I assume it is a real fish. Kentaro Mori speculates that it's a deep-sea creature, like these. (Remember them? They're the fish that supposedly washed up on beaches after the Asian tsunami.)
Update: According to the Cayman Net News, in an article posted January 20, 2006, the mystery fish has been identified: "Croy McCoy, a research scientist at the Department of Environment, told Cayman Net News that, based on the description and photos provided, he believes the fish is a member of the Family Macrouridae (Coryphaenoididae), better known as grenadiers or rattails." (Thanks to Rswilson for posting this link in the comments. And let it be noted that Nemo was right.)
Status: FakeCheck out this video of Monk Hai-Tank (wmv file). He's 90-years-old, but he still has "finger skill." Which means that he can stand upside-down supported by only one finger. The video obviously has to be fake. I assume they're supporting him with invisible wires. Special effects like this are pretty standard in kung-fu movies. (via Ceticismo Aberto)
Status: Fake tans in the newsDeprived of natural sunlight by geography, students in Glasgow high schools have taken to popping down to the tanning salon between classes. This has become such a problem (with school officials worrying about students damaging their skin) that some high schools have begun offering lessons on how to get a fake tan:
In the first of a series of such sessions, Lisa Fulton, a training expert with Fake Bake, will give pupils tips on how to apply fake tan next week. Ms Fulton also plans to tell the pupils about her celebrity clientele, in the hope that stars will have influence where health experts do not.
The reaction of the students to this seems mixed. The Daily Record reports:
MORE controversy at the Glasgow school that's called in a fake tan firm to stop pupils going for sunbeds. A fourth-year girl has been suspended for disrupting the home economics class by stripping down to her underwear and lying under the grill.
What kind of grill are they talking about? A sunbed grill? (Which means they have a sunbed in the school itself?) Or was this some kind of protest on her part? We never had anything as exciting as a girl stripping down to her underwear during class at my high school, if only because it was an all-male school.
Status: PrankHere it is. The best blonde joke ever.
(If you ever find out what it is, let me know)
Status: ScamHere's an offer that has scam written all over it. The GTC Group (I'm kind of reluctant to link to their website, on the off chance that I'll help send a victim their way, but here it is) claims that if you agree to establish a trading account in their name (no money or fees required!), they will pay you, and 5000 other lucky volunteers, $24,000. They're circulating this claim via email. Here's how they explain the deal on their website:
Our client is a family trust with $1B to invest. We recently presented them with an investment opportunity to make a return of 18% without risk. Unfortunately, this opportunity involves the purchase of certain restricted financial instruments in the Asian markets. Due to regulation, the purchase of these instruments is restricted to $200,000 per person (or trust or any other entity). We are therefore unable to invest any more than $200,000 of our client's funds. We presented our client with a possible solution, to which they were agreeable. Our solution is very simple, as I'm sure you may have preempted already. We require 5,000 people who would like the opportunity to earn a share of the return WITHOUT any investment required. Once we reach this number, each person will have a trading account established in their name. Each account will be funded with $200,000. The trading cycle will then begin, which lasts for just over one month. At this stage, the profit will be split between our client and the participants. Of the 18% return our client will receive 5%.
You don't really need to read any further than "a return of 18% without risk" to know it's a scam. There's no way to make an 18% return on anything, let alone $1B, without risk. There's also the fact that they claim to be a billion-dollar trading outfit, but they can only afford a rinky-dink website. And we're expected to believe that some "family trust" is going to entrust them with $1B? Even though they claim no fees are required, I'm sure people who sign up will be asked to pay 'unanticipated fees' somewhere down the line. I'm also sure no one will ever see that $24,000. According to the registration info for the domain name, the GTC Group is run by some guy named George Davies out of Stanbrook House, 2-5 Old Bond Street, London. (Thanks to Harvey Wharfield for forwarding me the link to this thing.)
Status: ScamAccording to the Arab News, the Nigerian bank scam has taken on a new twist. The scammers no longer tell you that they want to transfer $30 million into your bank account, or that you've won the European lottery. Now they inform you that you've been cursed, and you need to pay up to have the curse lifted. They bypass email and phone you directly to tell you this:
Abdul Rahman, sociology professor at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University, said he received one of these calls from an Arabic speaker who informed him that he had been cursed by a colleague. The caller then claimed that he could neutralize the evil spell provided a specified sum of money was transferred to a bank account in Mali. The operator even claimed he would reveal the identity of the colleague if payment were sent.
Actually, I don't think Arab News is correct to identify this as an evolution of the Nigerian bank scam. I've definitely heard of fake curse scams before, though I can't find a link to another example.
Status: UndeterminedWhat is the meaning of a two-mile line of paint that stretches through central London? No one knows who put it there or why. The BBC reports:
It begins on the pavement at a bus stop in Euston and only stops for roads, starting again on the pavement on the other side... Camden Council, Transport for London and electricity suppliers say they did not put it there. Theories include it being a drunken prank or street art.
Maybe it's a message from aliens. But seriously, how could someone paint a two-mile line of paint through a major city without anyone noticing who did it?
Status: Bizarre ExcuseLast year Jacques Pluss was fired from his position as a history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University after the school became aware that he was an active member of the American Nazi Party. Now Pluss is saying that yes, he was a Nazi, but he was only pretending to believe all that stuff. It was all part of an effort to go undercover to collect information for a book. So far undercover that no one was aware of his true feelings, except for his mother, who's now dead. Inside Higher Ed reports:
Told that the links among various white power groups have been well documented by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, [Pluss] said, “I became a Neo-Nazi because when I was thinking of applying my historical method last year, I wanted to find the most hard-hittingly obnoxious group that I could come up with.” He stressed that he finds Nazi ideology offensive. He said that he realizes his approach upset his former colleagues and students at Fairleigh Dickinson; at William Paterson University, where he previously was a tenured professor of history; and at the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D. Pluss said that he couldn’t tell anyone about his deception as that would have disturbed his “method acting approach.”... Asked if we can know with confidence that he’s not engaged in another hoax, he said, “you don’t know,” but insisted that he was telling the truth — this time.
I think this guy goes beyond simply being full of it. He sounds full-blown delusional.
Status: Possible prankForty years after stealing a "Sami Fleshscraper" from a Norwegian museum, the contrite thief has mailed the item back. Problem is, the museum has no idea what the object is. From the article on Yahoo News:
"For 40 years I have enjoyed this rare tool in my home. In my old age ... I have now decided to return it to the descendants of those who imagined it, built it and used it," the anonymous thief wrote in a typed letter sent to the embassy just before Christmas. The letter was posted from Biarritz in southwestern France and signed by "an ex-thief who was less a thief and more a man passionate about authenticity and real life"... The repentant thief called it a "scratcher", a word he then crossed out and replaced with "Sami fleshscraper" followed by a question mark. Sami refers to the indigenous people of northern Europe, also known as Lapplanders.
This sounds to me like a prank: mail an inexplicable object to a museum, leaving them wondering what in the world it is. Maybe they'll even decide it really is a fleshscraper and place it in the museum.
Status: PranksSingapore's Electric New Paper has an article about the burgeoning market for pranks among Russia's nouveau riche. People there are spending tens of thousands of dollars (roubles) to pull elaborate pranks on their friends. Staging fake arrests seems to be a popular gag. There's even a company that will coordinate intricate stunts. Jokes in the company's catalog include:
The Robinson Crusoe: "For 20,000 a group of up to five friends are invited on to a yacht and shipwrecked on an island with no food or shelter."
And this one: "Invite friends to a party at an isolated Russian country house or dacha on Moscow's outskirts. After a while the host vanishes, the phone lines are cut and the guests are locked in. For an extra fee, an actor posing as an axe-wielding maniac can break in." Sure, nothing could go wrong there.
Status: UndeterminedA photo has been circulating showing a scene from the recent Rose Bowl in which a USC cheerleader seems to be celebrating a Texas touchdown. Snopes has posted the picture, but is skeptical of the claim that the cheerleader was cheering after a touchdown by the opposing team. They write: "the image appears to represent not a brainless cheerleader who couldn't tell that the other team had just made a touchdown, but a play that resulted in a close scoring call, with the on-field Texas players signaling their belief that their team had scored, while from other vantage points (such as the cheerleader's sideline view, especially if the goalposts, referee, or other players had momentarily blocked her view) it might have looked at first glance as if USC had successfully stopped Texas short of the goal line."
I'd agree that it's very hard to tell when during the game this picture was taken, and without that information it's basically impossible to know why the cheerleader has her arms raised. Though it does seem odd that no one from USC is cheering, except for her (and the picture really doesn't look photoshopped). Plus, the two cheerleaders to her right do seem to be giving her a funny look. The cheerleader in question has been identified as Natalie. The image was first posted on a Bruin's message board (which makes it a pretty biased source).
Status: PhotoshoppedI found this picture on a Finnish-language website, but there was no information about it. However, I'd say it was definitely photoshopped, and not particularly skillfully. The ropes look fake. (The one thing that made me hesitate before saying it was fake, however, was the thought that it could be a picture of an attempt to tow away a beached whale, or something like that.)
Status: ImposterI kinda thought the posing-as-British-royalty scam had gone out of style with the end of the British Empire. But it seems con artists are still getting mileage out of it, as seen by this story in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press:
A group of Stillwater student journalists discovered [Joshua Adam] Gardner had been using a false identity when visiting the school in recent weeks. He'd been posing as "Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland" while staying with a Stillwater family for the past two months, investigators say.
Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland? People believed that? Though it seems his primary targets were teenage girls (who were probably pretty impressed to meet a Duke).
Update: CNN has published an article about this guy, who also called himself the "Earl of Scooby." It details how the students exposed him as a fraud. It also reveals how he came up with his name: ""Caspian" was a nickname he'd taken from the "Chronicles of Narnia" book series, he said, and Crichton is from author Michael Crichton."
Status: Undetermined (is it a joke or meant seriously?)David Mocknick has written a self-help book that describes a novel new form of stress therapy: Fredding. This involves saying the phrase "Fred! Who's Fred? Ha!" It's not clear to me whether he's serious about this, or if it's all an elaborate joke (in which getting people to think he's serious is part of the joke). An article about his book explains:
Fredding (which can be done in solitaire but works best in a group setting) begins when someone "baits" another person by getting him or her to say a word that rhymes with Fred. When the target -- a waitress in a diner who suggests bread when asked for an alternative to rolls, for example -- falls into the trap, the Fredder calls out, "Bread! Fred! Who's Fred, ha!"
Fredding strikes me as the kind of thing Alan Abel, or someone like him, would dream up. So I'm inclined to classify it as a hoax. But on the other hand, it might actually work as a stress reliever. Though if you actually did this, people would probably think you had Tourette's.
Status: Tall TalesI don't know when the Chuck Norris facts first appeared on the internet. Many of you might already be aware of them. But just in case you're not, they're worth a look. Here's a few of the facts:
• Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
• The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.
• If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.
Chuck Norris is aware of these "facts" being spread about him. So far, he has generously allowed their authors to live.