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March 2006
Status: Fake (I think)
Dethcheez saw the picture of the fur-bearing lobster, and emailed me these pictures of a fur-bearing crab. I assume it's fake, with the fur glued on, though I could be wrong. (I would have thought the picture of the furry lobster was fake also, if the creature wasn't written up in a scientific journal.) As Dethcheez points out, the furry crab looks a lot like one of those troll figurines with the wild Don King hair. Whether real or fake, I'd like to get my hands on one. It would look cool sitting in my office. I'd also like to buy a mounted fur-bearing trout. I've been searching for one for ages, but haven't been able to find any for sale.

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Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 10, 2006
Comments (22)
Status: Movie planned about a recent hoax
image Variety reports that the JT Leroy hoax is already heading to the big screen. The Weinstein Company has committed to making a film about Laura Albert's elaborate deception. (Laura Albert was the woman who invented the JT Leroy character.) The time between the hoax being exposed and a movie deal about it being inked seems to have occurred incredibly fast. What is it... a month or two since the hoax was confirmed? The dust has barely settled.

I hope the movie is good. In its favor is that hoaxes seem to translate pretty well to the big screen. Shattered Glass (about the journalistic deceptions of Stephen Glass) was a great movie. And Princess Caraboo, starring Phoebe Cates, (about the Princess Caraboo hoax, obviously) was decent, as a kid's movie. I've read that a movie called The Hoax, starring Richard Gere, about Clifford Irving's fake autobiography of Howard Hughes, is coming out soon. That also sounds good.

In other JT Leroy news, a movie version of one of his (her?) books, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, is about to debut. The movie was made under the assumption that the story it told was true. Now that story has been exposed as a lie, prompting a rapid switch in how the movie is marketed. My guess is that most people still have never heard of JT Leroy, so the hoax shouldn't have much impact on the movie.

Related Posts:
October 10, 2005: Is JT Leroy A Hoax?
January 9, 2006: JT Leroy: An Update
February 6, 2006: Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax
Categories: Entertainment, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 09, 2006
Comments (6)
Status: Real
image Science has long recognized the existence of the fur-bearing trout, which lives in the rivers and lakes of North America. Now its Pacific cousin has been found: the fur-bearing lobster (scientific name Kiwa hirsuta). According to the BBC, "A US-led team found the animal last year in waters 2,300m (7,540ft) deep at a site 1,500km (900 miles) south of Easter Island, an expert has claimed. Details appear in the journal of Paris' National Museum of Natural History."

So what is the purpose of the fur? Scientists speculate that "the 'hairy' pincers contained lots of filamentous bacteria... The bacteria detoxify poisonous minerals from the water, allowing K. hirsuta to survive around the vents."

An interesting theory, but it seems to me more logical to assume that its luxuriant coat developed to protect it from the cold waters of the depths, as is the case with the fur-bearing trout.

[Note: Despite what the above text might imply, fur-bearing trout are a tall-tale. Furry lobsters are real.]

(Thanks to Kathy for the link)
Categories: Animals, Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 08, 2006
Comments (14) has started shipping copies of Hippo Eats Dwarf. So anyone who pre-ordered it should be receiving it soon. This also means that people can now post customer reviews of it on Amazon. Obviously there are no reviews of it yet, and the book looks kind of lonely without any. This has given me an idea for a contest.

I point out in Hippo Eats Dwarf that a significant number of the customer reviews on Amazon are fake (glowing reviews posted by friends of the author, or by the authors themselves). I also point out that it's quite common for reviewers to never read the books they're reviewing. As the Scottish reverend Sidney Smith once said, "I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so."

Given this (my general skepticism about Amazon reviews), I'd like to have some fun with the reviews of Hippo Eats Dwarf. Here's my idea. I'll send a signed copy of the book to whomever posts the most creative customer review of it on Amazon by the end of this month. (This may produce some interesting stuff, or it may not. We'll see how it goes.) You'll need to acknowledge your review here in the comments section if you want to win the prize (unless your Amazon screen name is the same as your Museum of Hoaxes screen name... or I believe it's also possible to send reviewers email through Amazon). You'll also need to have an Amazon account (which, I believe, requires a credit card I was wrong about the need for a credit card. You can create an Amazon account with an email address alone... and Amazon doesn't verify the address).

Just to clarify: I'm not looking for phony glowing reviews. Instead, I'm looking for imaginative reviews in the spirit of great Amazon reviewers such as Henry Raddick. Post a review that accurately describes what the book is about. Or imagine what a book called Hippo Eats Dwarf might be about (ignore the subtitle), and write a review of that. Write your review as a limerick, or a haiku. Whatever you want. Just make it interesting. Points definitely go for humor. Hopefully I won't get in trouble with Amazon for this.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 08, 2006
Comments (29)
Status: Prank
image Pranksters at MIT struck again last week. On Tuesday morning school officials discovered a massive Olympic gold medal hanging from the MIT dome. News reports state:

MIT officials said the medal was likely a prank, but they did not know how it was done or who did it. The school also said it never gave permission for the building to become a gold medal winner. The school has not said how long the medal will stay.

The MIT dome, of course, has been the focus of many, many pranks over the years. The first dome decoration dates back to 1961 when a giant Happy Birthday banner was hung from it. In 1962 it was made to look like a grinning jack-o-lantern. In 1979 it became a giant breast with a large nipple protruding from the top of it. Also in 1979, a fiberglass cow was placed on top of it. In 1986 a prefabricated house appeared atop it. In 1998 it grew a pair of giant Mickey Mouse ears. And in 2003, the Wright brothers plane mysteriously landed on top of it.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 08, 2006
Comments (8)
Status: Hoax
image The Plastic Assets credit card company is making an attractive offer: free breast implants if you sign up for their card. They promise that "With a low APR and bigger breasts, you will be ready for anything!" And you also get free lip injections for every friend you refer.

The site is well designed — well enough designed to plausibly pass for an actual credit card company site. But it's a hoax. The site is part of the Huffington Post Contagious Festival (as you can find out if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of it), which is a contest to create a high-traffic site. There have been contests like this before. Remember the Contagious Media Festival, which produced Forget-Me-Not Panties (panties with a built-in GPS device so that jealous lovers could track the whereabouts of their wearer)? (Thanks to David for the link.)

Related Posts:
May 5, 2004: Invest In My Breast
Categories: Body Manipulation, Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 08, 2006
Comments (6)
Status: Hoax (mockumentary)
image Mary Woodbridge, from Greenfield, Great Britain, plans to climb Mount Everest, and she's taking her dachsund, Daisy, with her. Some might think her age will prove an obstacle (she's 85), but Mary is very confident in herself and has set herself some real challenges. She writes:

I'm not really into this whole camping thing. So Daisy and I will choose a direct route from the Base Camp to the Top... We have decided to go without Sherpas. Poor guys! I can certainly carry my own food (I have prepared a solid Irish Stew and Power Crunchies!) and the few cans of dog food for Daisy. Since we are training very hard, we don't expect to need additional oxygen on our ascent. (There are no oxygen masks for Daisy anyway!)

Yes, Mary's Everest expedition is just a joke. Her site was created by Mammut, a seller of mountain sports gear. However, reports that a 74-year-old Japanese woman really is planning to climb Everest. And they swear it's not a hoax.
Categories: Sports, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 08, 2006
Comments (1)
Status: Interesting theory
image Accipiter beat me to this story, posting it in the forum earlier today, but it's worth reposting here for the benefit of those who read the site via RSS (or those who don't check out the forum). Scottish paleontologist Neil Clark has come up with a new theory about Nessie's true identity. He suggests that Loch Ness's most famous resident is (or rather was) an elephant.

His theory goes like this: A number of circuses visited the Loch Ness area in the early 1930s (when Nessie mania began, as I note on my Loch Ness hoaxes page). The circuses let their elephants swim in the Loch. So perhaps some people saw these swimming elephants and mistook them for sea serpents.

It's an interesting theory, and plausible. Though it still seems a bit more likely that the rise in Nessie sightings during the 1930s had more to do with the completion of the road along the loch's north shore, and consequent rise in tourism to the area.

And let's not forget the rival theory that sea serpents are really whale penises. (Although the whale-penis theory can't explain Nessie, unless a whale got loose in the loch.)
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 07, 2006
Comments (4)
Status: Real (unfortunately)
A series of pictures showing a woman crushing a kitten to death with her stiletto heels is causing an uproar over in China. The pictures first appeared on the internet and have recently been published by some Chinese newspapers. The woman in the photos has been dubbed the Kitten Killer of Hangzhou, because the background scene has been identified as Hangzhou. I've been able to locate four of the pictures in the series, but I think there are a few more (far more graphic) ones. Here are the ones I found (I don't have larger versions):

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Image 3
(possibly disturbing)
Image 4
(possibly disturbing)

The big question is: Who is this woman? One theory is that the images come from a Japanese shoe advertisement. Another theory identifies the kitten killer as a "37-year-old woman from Hubei province with the internet identity 'Gainmas.'" The London Telegraph elaborates:

She had registered a website in Hangzhou and - the ultimate evidence - had bought a pair of stilettoes on eBay last year. She was also registered with QQ, a popular Chinese message service, where she wrote of herself: "I furiously crush everything to do with you and me." Before her QQ address went dead, its owner had several conversations. In one, she is coy, saying "So what?" when asked if the pictures are of her, and then, when asked again, replying: "In theory." When confronted by a reporter, she became defensive, saying: "Suddenly hundreds of people are on my QQ and cursing me. What's the problem if I crush cats? It's a type of experience. You wouldn't understand."

The Telegraph goes on to note:

No one seems to have suggested the serious possibility that the photographs could be a hoax - created by picture-altering computer software. But in the face of tight control of self-expression, young Chinese are seeking wildly different forms of sensation or satire on the state of society.

Without having seen all the pictures (and better quality ones), it's hard to judge whether or not they're real. But it certainly seems like this has already become the Chinese version of Bonsai Kitten (with the added twist that it may be real... in which case it's definitely disgusting).

Update: A "Crush" video is circulating around (you can find links to it in the comments, if you're interested) that makes it pretty clear the woman really did step on a kitten. Also, an article in the Shanghai Daily reports that the lady, and the guy who produced the video, have been identified. The producer, who is a camera operator at a TV station, has apologized. However, the woman, who works as a nurse at a hospital, has disappeared, leading to concerns that kitten commandoes may have abducted her (or something along those lines).
Categories: Animals, Gross, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 07, 2006
Comments (237)
Status: Undetermined (but there's no reason to doubt it's true)
Thanks to Adam Downs for forwarding me these images that are doing the rounds. I haven't been able to find out any information about them (such as who the woman is, or when the pictures were taken), but they're accompanied by this caption:

This lady, who lives just on the outskirts of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has a friendly Bull Moose who has become her friend. He likes to stick his head into her house and is very friendly.
Pictures taken at her home last week. He wants in. Helping himself to a drink. Come on in and have a snack.
Also she took a picture of a Buck [male deer] in her Backyard by the apple trees in the morning at her house. For anyone who thinks living in a big dirty city is the best.. "THINK AGAIN SHE SAYS".

I don't see any reason to doubt that the information in the caption is correct.
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Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 06, 2006
Comments (18)
Status: Civil Disobedience Prank
image In order to demonstrate the stupidity of the 55 mph speed limit, four Atlanta students pulled a dangerous stunt: they all drove exactly 55 mph on the highway, in a line, thereby blocking the flow of traffic and creating an enormous traffic jam. Check out the video of it. I realize the students thought they were doing something clever, but as I watched the video I found myself getting more and more angry at them. It was like experiencing road rage while sitting behind a computer. I kept imagining the people in the blocked traffic who probably had to get to work, or wanted to get home, and who were instead being held up by these idiots and their road block.

Anyway, their argument — that their experiment proves the absurdity of the 55 mph law — is flawed. It didn't prove that at all. All it proved is that if you form a rolling blockade, it's going to create a traffic jam. It would have had the same effect at 65 mph. Plus, it's definitely against the law to form a blockade like they did. Only the police are allowed to do that. So they weren't actually obeying the law.

I realize that pranks are supposed to be obnoxious and annoy some people. But delaying innocent commuters, and creating a situation in which people could easily have gotten hurt as anger escalated, just doesn't seem quite right to me. Though this is probably the angry driver inside of me feeling that way. (One more thing: at the beginning of the video they misspell the word obedience.)

Update: Some quick googling, and I found the section of Georgia law (code 40-6-40, section D) that applies to what they did:

No two vehicles shall impede the normal flow of traffic by traveling side by side at the same time while in adjacent lanes, provided that this Code section shall not be construed to prevent vehicles traveling side by side in adjacent lanes because of congested traffic conditions.

So it was illegal, and they made a video of themselves doing it. Not too smart.

Update 2: David Spear, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department, has been quoted as saying that what the students did was legal:

David Spear, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said if the students weren't blocking emergency vehicles and were going the speed limit, "they didn't do a thing wrong." Spear added that the speed limit was lowered to 55 because it saves lives. "In Atlanta, the actual effect of it is we expect the people going 75 to move over so the people going 95 can have the right of way," he said.

So I guess I was wrong. Though I'm still having a hard time understanding how it can be legal, when the code referenced above seems to state that it's not legal.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 01, 2006
Comments (145)
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