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August 2006
image Katie Couric recently shed about twenty pounds, thanks to a magic mouse diet (i.e. the click of a mouse did the reducing for her). A CBS magazine distributed a photo of her in which she looked dramatically slimmed down. But the original photo reveals her slightly more plump, actual self. Of course, magazines doctor the photos of celebrities all the time to make them look better. I suppose the only reason this instance is attracting attention is because she's now a news anchor. But regardless, I always find it entertaining to see before and after photos like this. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 31, 2006
Comments (24)
British papers have been reporting details of a literary hoax. The characters involved aren't that well known (at least to me), but the punchline is kind of amusing.

Two years ago A.N. Wilson, biographer of poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, found a love letter written by the poet. Or, at least, he thought he had. Turns out the letter must have been deliberately planted to embarrass him because a journalist found a coded message inside of it. The Guardian reports:
The telltale sign that the letter is a joke is that the capital letters at the start of each sentence spell out "A N Wilson is a shit". A journalist drew the biographer's attention to the coded message last week, and after rereading the letter he admitted that it was a hoax. "Of course I saw the funny side - I laughed about it a lot when I found out," Wilson told the Guardian yesterday. "It is quite childish of somebody and I have absolutely no interest in who wrote it."
Here's the love letter, with the code highlighted:
Darling Honor,
I loved yesterday. All day, I've thought of nothing else. No other love I've had means so much. Was it just an aberration on your part, or will you meet me at Mrs Holmes's again - say on Saturday? I won't be able to sleep until I have your answer.
Love has given me a miss for so long, and now this miracle has happened. Sex is a part of it, of course, but I have a Romaunt of the Rose feeling about it too. On Saturday we could have lunch at Fortt's, then go back to Mrs H's. Never mind if you can't make it then. I am free on Sunday too or Sunday week. Signal me tomorrow as to whether and when you can come.
Anthony Powell has written to me, and mentions you admiringly. Some of his comments about the Army are v funny. He's somebody I'd like to know better when the war is over. I find his letters funnier than his books. Tinkerty-tonk, my darling. I pray I'll hear from you tomorrow. If I don't I'll visit your office in a fake beard.
All love, JB
I guess the odds of the message being there accidentally aren't very good.

This hoax falls into the category of jokes made at the expense of academics. The most famous example of this was the 1725 case of the Lying Stones of Dr. Beringer, in which Johann Beringer thought he had found some remarkable fossils on a local mountain, until he discovered that one of the supposed fossils had his name inscribed on it. The 17th-century scholar Athanasius Kircher was also the victim of a few jokes like this. One time he labored for days over a strange message he thought might be in Chinese, only to realize that the message was simply a latin phrase, written in reverse, that said "Do not seek vain things, or waste time on unprofitable trifles."
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 31, 2006
Comments (6)

Beijing Fake Smile Campaign
Beijing residents are being urged to practice their best fake smiles, in preparation for the 2008 Olympics: "We hope Beijing residents will join in the smile campaign to turn the city into a city of smile," Liu Jian, one of the committee members, was quoted as saying on Monday. What happens to those who refuse to smile?

Clown Crushed To Death, Audience Applauds
No reason to doubt this story isn't true, but it does seem like a real-life version of the Hippo Eats Dwarf tale (minus the dwarf and hippo), particularly the way the audience thinks the accident is all part of the act: A hot-air balloon caught fire during a circus stunt, killing a clown acrobat as dozens of children watched, police said Tuesday... Witnesses said the man, dressed in a clown outfit, was hanging from a cage suspended by ropes and a hot-air balloon inside the canvas tent. When the balloon exploded in flames, the cage fell on top of the man... many people in the audience initially thought the falling cage was part of the act.

'The Hoax' Trailer
The movie version of Clifford Irving's Autobiography of Howard Hughes hoax will be in theaters in November, and a trailer is online now. Looks like it may be pretty good. Richard Gere actually looks kind of like Clifford Irving. I think I've said before that stories about hoaxes often make very good movies.

A Pregnant Man
image 36-year-old Sanju Bhagat of India certainly looked pregnant, but while he did have a fetus growing inside him, he wasn't pregnant in the conventional sense: Bhagat, they discovered, had one of the world's most bizarre medical conditions — fetus in fetu. It is an extremely rare abnormality that occurs when a fetus gets trapped inside its twin. The trapped fetus can survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cordlike structure that leaches its twin's blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene. So the world still waits for a true male pregnancy. (Thanks, Kathy)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Death, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 30, 2006
Comments (17)
imageInfants-Blood is a website that claims: "Our uncompromising approach to quality means we offer simply the best infant's blood on the market today. Independent lab analysis proves it. And your taste buds will know the difference! "

They offer products in a number of categories - Bath & Beauty, Health & Nutrition, Premium Blood and Virgin's Blood.

It's pretty obviously a joke website. There are some wonderful quotes on it, including:
If Virgin's Blood provides us such wonderful benefits, what can we salvage from a failed virgin? Infant's blood! It seems so simple, so obvious, so right to us now – but in the 16th century this idea was nothing short of revolutionary! For all virgins are not infants, but all infants are virgins; and while it is true infants provide us much less blood than a fully-grown virgin, how much more potent and delicious that blood is! And thus began production of what today is Infants-Blood.info's most popular product line! Truly, as Professor Basarab notes, "It is no exaggeration to say that Elizabeth Bathory is the Newton of the blood sciences!"

The 'Did You Know?' section is pretty funny, too.

For anyone who is still concerned, it's worth noting that if you attempt to log in or 'view cart', you (unsurprisingly) get a page that says: Due to overwhelming customer response, we are currently experiencing extremely high traffic. Online ordering is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
To place an order, please contact one of our Customer Care Specialists at
infantsblood@yahoo.com.
We appreciate your business and thank you for letting us serve all your baby-blood-related needs. Please accept our apologies and a complimentary pint of fresh Virgin's Blood.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Food, Gross
Posted by Flora on Wed Aug 30, 2006
Comments (10)
imageI received links to two different pages featuring a series of pictures showing what is described as a 'monster' and an 'unknown creature'.

On one of the sites, this description is given:

This creature was found by Russian soldiers on Sakhalin shoreline. Sakhalin area is situated near to Japan, it’s the most eastern part of Russia, almost 5000 miles to East from Moscow (Russia is huge). People don’t know who is it. According to the bones and teeth - it is not a fish. According to its skeleton - it’s not a crocodile or alligator. It has a skin with hair or fur. It has been said that it was taken by Russian special services for in-depth studies, and we are lucky that people who encountered it first made those photos before it was brought away.

Ignoring the unverified description, I'm fairly sure it's a beluga whale.
A site describes them as: "... a small white whale measuring 9 to 15 feet in length (Seems about right, sizewise). Belugas are found throughout the Arctic Ocean and in a few other isolated populations. Belugas were once heavily hunted for their meat, hide (for leather) and oil.

(Thanks to Sarah and Gerrit for the links, and Charybdis for his excellent googling skills.)
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Flora on Mon Aug 28, 2006
Comments (17)
imageI'm posting a lot of these lately. I guess it's Religious Icon season or something.

Shirley McVane believes her two-year-old turtle is developing an image of the Virgin Mary on its belly.

"I told some of my friends, you know, 'I got a turtle,' and I said it has the image of the Virgin Mary on it, and I said it's getting plainer and plainer, and they said 'Yeah, Shirley, you're 81 years old. You think we believe that?' I said it's the truth, so now they all believe it," said McVane.
She has since renamed the turtle and its mate (you guessed it!) Mary and Joseph.

Is it just me, or are these getting weaker and weaker?
Cute turtle, though.
Categories: Animals, Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Flora on Mon Aug 28, 2006
Comments (24)

Do you want to be a gigolo?
Malaysian men promised that, for a fee, they can become well-paid gigolos. It's the old dream job scam. One sucker "was told to meet a client at a city hotel. He waited for hours until he spotted a Western women who seemed to be searching for someone. 'I thought she was my client so I approached her and introduced myself. To my surprise, instead of receiving words of welcome, I got cursed and insulted,' he told the daily."

Dumb Robber #1
Forgets to bring bag for money as he robs bank. Consequently ends up dropping most of the money during the getaway.

Dumb Robber #2
Man attempts to hold up bank. Finds out the building he's in is not a bank. He thought it was because of the presence of an ATM machine.

Lost Candy Bars
If you're a fan of Lost, you might want to try some Apollo Candy Bars, being distributed at events across the country. The Apollo Candy Company is a subsidiary of The Hanso Group, which should be familiar to Lost fans. I should add Apollo Candy to my list of Lost-related hoax websites.

Church ponders possible balloon hoax
On July 23 the Gibbsville Reformed Church in Wisconsin released 600 balloons into the air. Attached to the balloons were tags saying, "When you find me, please send a note to my church." The Church soon received word from Indiana and Kentucky of found balloons. Then a tag was returned to them from China. The pastor is suspicious: "We're thinking it may be just somebody's idea of a joke, which puts us in a little bit of a bad spot. Just the fact that it wasn't signed was somewhat suspicious. There's probably some good sermon (material) in here somehow."
Categories: Con Artists, Entertainment, Law/Police/Crime, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 28, 2006
Comments (11)
image When I came across this page descriping puppet lending libraries—one in Boston and another one in New York— I thought it had to be a joke. Especially given the New York puppet library's location: inside a memorial arch. But apparently these are real. A google search brings up quite a few articles about the New York puppet library, including this one from Time Out New York Kids:
A different kind of lending library makes its home in Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza Arch. A small flock of birds occupies the fourth-floor landing inside the Grand Army Plaza Arch. One flight below, a grinning cat keeps watch over the spiral staircase. Walk down, and you'll see a swarm of insects and four sweet-faced ponies. There are usually eight ponies, but four are out on loan. Welcome to the New York Puppet Library.
It's nice to know there's a place to go if you ever need to borrow a puppet.
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 25, 2006
Comments (5)
image Jane Magazine is getting a lot of publicity from a feature they're running about Sarah, who's supposedly a 29-year-old virgin who wants to lose her virginity by her 30th birthday. And, of course, she's appealed to Jane Magazine readers to help her find the guy for that special moment. Sure, she could be for real, but it all seems highly doubtful. After all, we pretty much have to take her word for it that she is what she claims to be. (Though maybe she'll offer a fake virginity certificate as evidence.) Right away the stunt reminded me of ourfirsttime.com, the 1998 hoax involving a so-called "internet deflowering". Personally, I wouldn't choose any of the guys Jane Magazine has selected for her. Instead, I'd select Marc of devirginizeMarc.com. I think they'd be perfect for each other. (Marc's website is no longer up, but you can still see it via the Wayback Machine.)

Related Posts:
Jun 06, 2006: 7.9% of Japanese Men Over 40 Are Virgins
May 25, 2006: A Virgin’s Plea
Apr 25, 2005: Buy my Virginity!
Categories: Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 25, 2006
Comments (10)
image This has to be a publicity stunt, because how could anyone actually use this thing? It's a Giant Swiss Army knife, featuring 85 tools, including a flashlight, golf divot repair tool, fish scaler, cigar cutter, toothpick, and a key ring. It weighs 2 pounds, 11 ounces and measures 8.75 inches. Wenger is selling it for $1200. But you have to special order each one.
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 25, 2006
Comments (22)

Woman Avoids Falling Cow
If Sally Brown hadn't moved when she did, she would have been hit by a cow that had tumbled 50ft off a cliff above her.

Man Claims Penis Pump is a Bomb
Madin Azad Amin really didn't want his mother to know he'd packed a sex toy for his trip to Turkey. So he told officials it was a bomb.
(Thanks, Big Gary C)

Cows Have Accents
A group of British farmers claim that their cows moo with regional accents.
(Thanks, Beverley.)

Man Survives 1000m Fall
A South African man survived a 1000m fall almost uninjured when his parachute failed to open on his first ever jump.
Categories: Animals, Law/Police/Crime, Sex/Romance
Posted by Flora on Thu Aug 24, 2006
Comments (6)
imageFollowing hot on the heels of the chocolate Virgin Mary (which, as many people pointed out, looked more like the Maltese Falcon) comes: Jesus as seen on an ultrasound picture.

Seven months through her pregnancy, Laura Turner went for a routine ultrasound. She already knew that her son had a cleft lip, and she and her partner had been told there was a possibility of the child having Down's Syndrome. She says that she didn't notice anything particularly odd about the scan until a friend pointed it out once they got home.

'The pregnancy has been fairly difficult so to see a likeness of Jesus in the picture gives me a lot of comfort.

'It's as if someone is watching over Joshua. It's helped make us feel more at ease and although I'm not very religious, seeing the picture does reassure me that things are going to turn out okay and that Joshua will be our little miracle.'

I suppose that, what with the difficult pregnancy, it's a very heartening sign for her.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Health/Medicine, Pareidolia, Photos/Videos, Psychology, Religion
Posted by Flora on Thu Aug 24, 2006
Comments (12)
A story got out on the news wires claiming that a prankster had released two diamondback rattlesnakes in a theater during a showing of Snakes On A Plane. The source of the story appears to have been AMC spokeswoman Melanie Bell, which gave the story some credibility. But now the police are saying that the report isn't true:
There is some shred of truth to the story, Phoenix police Sgt. Joel Tranter said. A 10-inch-long rattlesnake was found Friday in a hallway at AMC Desert Ridge 18, near Tatum Boulevard and Loop 101. But it likely slithered inside on its own, Tranter said. A security guard swept the snake outside and held it in a Tupperware container until a member of the Arizona Herpetological Association could take it away. Snake handlers had been called earlier in the day to retrieve a rattler from outside the theater.
Well, it was a good story while it lasted. And incidentally, I haven't yet seen Snakes on a Plane. It's getting decent reviews, but I think I'm going to wait until it comes out on DVD.
Categories: Animals, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 23, 2006
Comments (6)

Demon Coin Sold
image A Winnipeg coin collector has sold an American penny for $170 on eBay. He claims the coin bears the image of the devil. Personally, I'm having a hard time seeing it. But at least it's not another image of the Virgin Mary.
Pretend To Be An Illegal Immigrant
Experience all the thrill and danger of illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the United States... without really being in any danger at all. A Mexican park is offering tourists the opportunity to pretend that they're an illegal immigrant crossing the Rio Grande: Advertising for the mock journey, which takes place at a nature park in the central state of Hidalgo, tells the pretend immigrants to "Make fun of the Border Patrol!" and to "Cross the Border as an Extreme Sport!"

Bacon Wallet
image Who hasn't wished, at some time in their life, that their wallet was made out of bacon? Now that dream can come true, without actually having to carry a slab of rotting meat around in your pocket.
Jesus Pan
image I have a suspicion this has already been posted somewhere on the site, but if so, I can't find it. This handy device allows you to place the image of Jesus on all your food. Or, at least, to place an image resembling the medieval interpretation of what Jesus may have looked like on your food.
Categories: eBay, Exploration/Travel, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 23, 2006
Comments (13)
I received this in my inbox from an unnamed correspondant:
"I've been sent this photo by several people in the past few days. Looks too perfect to be real."

(ETA: After comments, I've removed the image from the page, but you can view it here.)

Well, it's certainly been posted to the BridalBloopers website, but all the information with it states is that it has been posted by a woman named Amanda Sell from Mount Vernon, WA.

As to whether it's real or not, it's hard to say. The description on the website says: "If you can laugh after flashing 200 guests, you'll be able to handle anything in marriage right?" Of course, given the shot, it's impossible to tell whether or not this is a photograph from a real wedding or some sort of photo shoot, or whether the alleged 'flashing of 200 guests' occurred (isn't the bride usually facing away from the wedding party when throwing the bouquet?)

The photograph doesn't appear to be photoshopped, but the muscle structure and colouration of the bride's chest seem a little odd.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Flora on Tue Aug 22, 2006
Comments (55)
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