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|•||Pretend chef on five morning TV shows 03/04/2014|
|•||Image of "Aurora from Space" going viral is a hoax 02/28/2014|
|•||Supposed Ghost Caught on Securtiy Cam at Britain Pub 02/22/2014|
|•||Anyone up for a challenge? 02/20/2014|
|•||Bruno Gröning Documentary Film 02/15/2014|
|•||Science, Pseudoscience, and Crap 02/04/2014|
|•||Fake Snow 02/03/2014|
|•||Tapeworms ≠ Weight Loss 02/01/2014|
|•||NASA sued for failing to investigate Martian Fungus 01/30/2014|
|•||Jan. 25th--A Room of Ones Own Day 01/25/2014|
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Status: Real (weird news)If standing on a wooden platform as people hurl giant dead eels at you is your idea of a good time, then sorry, it's too late. The giant dead eel tossing contest held in the English village of Lyme Regis for the past 30 years has been cancelled. A lone animal-rights activist spoiled everyone's fun by complaining that the contest was disrespectful to the dead eel. It sounds to me like the guy may have been joking. (He sent his complaint via an anonymous email.) But still, the town decided not to use dead eels this year. Instead they used boat dock fenders as surrogate eels. But everyone agreed that it wasn't quite the same. Yahoo News reports: Big Gary, who submitted this story, notes that a) nobody respects traditions anymore, and b) "a conger is a type of eel. The main distinguishing feature of congers is that they have pectoral fins, which are lacking or underdeveloped in most other eels (e.g. morays)."
Status: HoaxThe Butter Trough, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a great concept for a restaurant. First of all, the menu is simple. They only serve bread, butter, and sweet tea. But best of all, it's all free! It's the world's first advertiser-supported restaurant: Is this place real? I don't think so. Clues that it's fake include the google ads on the website (though this would make sense given that the restaurant is advertiser supported), and the obligatory CafePress t-shirts they're selling. But the biggest clue is the address: 6346 Lynch Avenue, Atlanta GA. There doesn't appear to be such a place. At least, nothing comes up on Google Maps when I type in that address.
I'm guessing that the Butter Trough site was created by Joseph Donaldson, because a) Joseph Donaldson's homepage is hosted on the same server as The Butter Trough site and b) he links to the Butter Trough. A few other sites (all of which link to the Butter Trough as well) hosted on that server include: Circus of the Damned, and the Just Ducky Guild. (Thanks to Doug Nelson for the link)
Status: Weird newsFive years ago the City of Paris trucked in sand to create a two-mile long fake beach along the banks of the Seine. Now, despite the fact that women go topless on all the real beaches in France, Paris has made it illegal for women to be topless on this fake beach. Nor can they fake being topless: I understand that merkins are used to simulate the fake bottomless look. But I was less aware of a fake topless look. They must be talking about flesh-colored pasties. Or flesh-colored bikinis? Or are they talking about those stupid t-shirts people sometimes wear that have a fake naked upper torso (of a man or woman) printed on them?
Status: Weird newsThe picture on the left shows the former group photo of Cary, North Carolina's town council. Then representative Michael Joyce resigned. Instead of taking a new group photo, the city simply deleted Joyce from the photo. The new photo is on the right (and you can also check out the photo on the town's website). There's nothing wrong with this. I suppose it was easier to do than getting everyone together for another photo. Still, it seems a bit like something out of The Commissar Vanishes. At least he was "disappeared" from the photo only after he resigned. It would be kind of creepy to notice yourself vanishing from official group photos while you're still working there. Incidentally, anyone interested in filling Joyce's position can get a $10,859.34 annual salary, plus a travel allowance of $8,100.
Status: The miracle of plumbingDue to the honesty of Wadowice's mayor, the town has lost out on a great opportunity to profit from a phony miracle. When water began to gush out of the base of a statue of Pope John Paul II, located in this Polish town, the devout (and gullible) thought it was a miracle. They declared it a "miracle fountain" and eagerly started filling up bottles with the water. Unfortunately for them, the water had a far more mundane source: What the article doesn't mention is that the statue was apparently just installed last month, which explains how the plumbing work was done without anyone noticing.
Status: Publicity stuntWhen I first read this article I thought it was an example of satire masquerading as news. Now, however, I think it's just a publicity stunt:
Status: Real place (fake beach)A couple of people have sent me these pictures of an artificial dome-covered beach.... located a few yards away from a real beach! Yes, it's a real place. This is Ocean Dome, located outside of Myazaki in Japan. Its motto is "Paradise within a paradise." David Boyle, author of Authenticity: Brands, Fakes, Spin and the Lust for Real Life (which is a pretty good book, by the way), has an article about it on his website. He speculates that it's possibly the most artificial place on earth. Here's a short clipping:
Status: Highly questionableA company called Aquiess, led by David Miles, claims to have developed technology that can bring rain to drought-ridden areas. Sounds a bit dubious to me, but Miles has managed to convince some farmers in Geelong, Australia that this is the real deal. The farmers have hired him on the agreement that they'll pay him if it rains. So if it doesn't rain, they remain out of luck. And if it does rain, they're going to pay some guy for something that is probably due to natural causes. According to the Aquiess homepage the technology somehow works via blasting weather systems with electromagnetic pulses: Oh, and it can prevent hurricanes too: Chris Sounness, a climate specialist for the Department of Primary Industries, issued a press release recently blasting the Aquiess weather modification claims, calling them a cruel hoax and saying that: But Aquiess seems to have its supporters in the government, such as federal Member for Mallee John Forrest who has stated that: Personally, I think the farmers would be better off praying for rain like the residents of Lubbock are doing. At least that's free.
Status: Weird NewsChicago's transportation department has announced that they're going to try an interesting experiment to try to get people to slow down on a notoriously hazardous curve. They're going to use an optical illusion: Unfortunately there's no video of what this optical illusion effect looks like (the new stripes haven't been painted yet), but when I read this I immediately thought that if you combined the speeding optical illusion with randomly moving yellow lines, you could really mess with people's minds.
Status: Weird NewsAs a long-time Doctor Who fan, I couldn't resist posting about this. It seems there's some phony British currency circulating around on which the Queen has been replaced by Doctor Who. The faux £10 notes bear the inscription "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of 10 satsumas." Apparently the notes were created by the BBC for use during a scene in which the Doctor causes an ATM machine to start spewing money out into the street. Instead of using real money, which would have been a bit expensive, they printed up some phony notes. But, of course, fans quickly grabbed the loose notes that were floating around. An article in the Western Mail quotes an onlooker who says: "From a distance they almost look like real notes but you'd never be able to use them in the pub." Well, you might be able to if the bartender was a Doctor Who fan. I'd give someone a beer for some Doctor Who currency (but maybe no change). I found scans of the notes on Doctor Who Online.
Status: Real (I think)Check out this video that shows a bunch of kids casually tossing empty soda cans into trash bins. They make perfect shot after perfect shot, from behind their back, thirty feet away, beneath their legs, etc. And always as if they're not even trying to make the shot. You can watch the video either on their website, vietnam-26.skyblog.com (scroll down to the link that says The Caca Cola Company), or on youtube. The question is, how did they manage all these perfect shots? Was it through some kind of cgi or digital special effects, or did they simply do repeated takes until they made the shot and then edited the successful shots together?
Most of the commenters on youtube seem to think it's all fake (i.e. digitally manipulated). Many of them point to a scene at 1:32min where the can appears to bounce off of air.
Status: Gross newsBack in January 2004 I posted a short entry about a factory in China that had been caught making soy sauce out of human hair. I also mentioned the incident in Hippo Eats Dwarf (p.76). Now more gruesome details have emerged, published in the Internet Journal of Toxicology (link via Boing Boing): An investigation led by TV journalists then revealed why the soy sauce was so cheap. It was being manufactured from an amino acid powder (or syrup) bought from a manufacturer in Hubei province: Lovely. But what the article doesn't mention, but which I believe to be true, is that soy sauce isn't the only food product made out of this cheap hair-made amino acid powder. The stuff is also sold in large quantities to the bakery industry which uses it as a source of L-cysteine to make dough softer and more elastic. Think about that next time you're chewing on a bagel.
Status: Real (but species unknown)This video of an alien-looking bug has already been posted in the forum, but I wanted to repost it here to give it a bit more attention (i.e. for those who read the site via RSS and never check out the forum). Hopefully someone will be able to identify this thing.
I should note that I do think it's a real bug and not something mechanical (as one emailer speculated), but what kind of bug is it? I'm leaning towards it being a variety puss moth. For more bug types to choose from check out: hag moths, and stinging caterpillars. (Thanks to hulitoons for the links)
Status: Seems to be realA guy was out digging in an irish bog recently when, purely by chance, he found a book buried in the mud. Turns out that it could be a book of psalms over 1000 years old. Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, points out that this discovery was highly fortuitous: The book is probably real. It would be difficult to fake something that old. (There was recently a discussion about faking old manuscripts in the forum.) But it did strike me as odd that "The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the name of Israel." This seems to tie-in neatly with recent political events. Though I'm going to chalk it up as a coincidence. After all, the odds of any random psalm mentioning Israel are pretty good.
Update: Well, it looks like it was all a mistake. The National Museum of Ireland has issued a statement saying that while Psalm 83 was the psalm they said was visible, this doesn't mean what people immediately thought it meant:
Status: Undetermined (but unlikely)A Canadian rancher claims that one of his mares has given birth to a horse-moose hybrid. His main evidence for this is that the mare has a funny looking head. Also, he says that his stallions were both sterilized shortly before the mare got pregnant, and there are no other male horses in the region. So who could the father be but a rogue moose that happened to be wandering by?
Biologists, naturally, are skeptical. Gilles Landry, a biologist with Quebec's parks and wildlife department, says: Lou emailed me a bunch of links to articles about this strange hybrid (Thanks, Lou!) and writes: I agree with Lou and the biologists. A horse-moose hybrid seems unlikely. Although I suppose it would be biologically possible. But we'll know for sure once the genetic tests are done.
I should start a new gallery devoted to strange hybrids, since it seems like there's been a lot of them reported recently (i.e. the cumato and the cuculoupe.) The strangest hybrid of all would, of course, be a human-ape hybrid, but there remains no evidence that such a creature has existed in modern times (as opposed to prehistoric times), despite the efforts of Russian scientist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov.