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August 2006

Milk-Sipping Stone Idols
Hindus in Uttar Pradesh have been enthusiastically pouring milk on stone idols, encouraged by a rumor that the idols were "sipping" the milk. Experts have dismissed the "milk-sipping" phenomenon as a hoax: "Lucknow University Geology professor M.P. Singh said: 'It is very natural for any stone idol to absorb any liquid - and the older the stone, the more it absorbs.' V.K. Singh of King George's Medical University here termed it as 'nothing other than capillary action'."

Women Strip Naked For Rain Gods
Nepal is desperate for rain, and so Nepali women are taking drastic rain. They're stripping naked and ploughing fields. They figure this should appease the gods and bring rain. Lubbock, Texas should take note.

Prayer Antenna
image Need some help getting God to listen to your prayers? Try the prayer antenna, created by artist Paul Davies. Results, I assume, are not guaranteed. (via Cynical-C)


Haunting As Grounds For Divorce
Madam Tan of Singapore claims that her husband is causing evil spirits to haunt her in order to get her to divorce him. Lawyers say she may actually have a case against him: "Whether or not the flat is haunted, if Madam Tan can prove that her husband's actions relating to the occult are threatening and intended to cause her harassment, alarm or distress, she can sue him under Section 13A of the Miscellaneous Offences Act."
Categories: Paranormal, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 21, 2006
Comments (8)
image
Odd Chickens
This site includes a rare photo of Mike the Headless Chicken.
(Thanks, Dethcheez.)

Women send private emails to the world
Yep, it's another case of someone hitting the wrong button, and things taking a turn for the embarrassing.

Chicken or rat?
Could you tell chicken from rat when it's been properly prepared and cooked? (Perhaps not suitable for those of a nervous disposition.)
Categories: Animals, Food, Sex/Romance, Technology
Posted by Flora on Mon Aug 21, 2006
Comments (10)
In Hippo Eats Dwarf I note the prevalence of stories about secret codes that various subcultures are said to use to indicate their sexual preferences to each other. For instance, there was a scare a few years ago that high school girls were wearing colored jelly bracelets to indicate the sexual favors they were willing to perform. And objects hanging on powerlines are supposed to have secret meanings (such as sex or drugs nearby) to those in the know. And the Toothing hoax drew on the idea of people using bluetooth technology to send clandestine sexual propositions to those with similar technology in their immediate vicinity.

Apparently one set of codes that I missed are "hanky codes." Someone just posted about these on alt.folklore.urban. Gay men supposedly had an elaborate set of codes constructed around the color of their handkerchiefs and where on their body, on their right or left, they were wearing them. These codes could be used at clubs to signal their sexual preferences. A full list of these codes can be found at pendorwright.com (the list is not in any way 'safe for work').

I doubt these codes were ever widely used, simply because they seem too elaborate to easily memorize. You'd need to bring a chart along to remember what each code meant. However, I do think it's possible that some people used them simply to say that they had used them. As I note in my book: Reality Rule 3.4. If unusual sex claims are physically possible there is a high probability they will become true—even if they aren't initially so.

Update: I've received a few emails assuring me that simplified versions of the hanky code are indeed quite popular in gay clubs. Bandanas worn in jeans pockets are apparently frequently substituted for hankys.
Categories: Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Sun Aug 20, 2006
Comments (12)
The following pictures of an extreme roller-coaster have been circulating around via email. Yes, the roller-coaster is real. It's the Top Thrill Dragster at the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. On their website they've got some cool point-of-view videos of the ride in action.

image image image
image image image


Appended to the pictures of the rollercoaster is this next one, with the caption: "And this last picture says it all..."

image

I'd be willing to bet that isn't really a picture of someone who just rode the Top Thrill Dragster. It's probably just a random picture that someone tacked on.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Sun Aug 20, 2006
Comments (16)
image An Irish company, Steorn, has been making some pretty bold claims lately. They claim to have developed "revolutionary free energy technology," and last week they published an ad in The Economist challenging the scientific community to test their technology. Their ad reads:
Imagine
A world with an infinite supply of pure energy.
Never having to recharge your phone.
Never having to refuel your car.

Welcome to our world
At Steorn we have developed a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy. Our technology has been independently validated by engineers and scientists--always behind closed doors, always off the record, always proven to work.

The Challenge
We are therefore issuing a challenge to the scientific community: test our technology and report your findings to the world.
We are seeking a jury of twelve--the most qualified and the most cynical.
My first reaction to this is that it's yet another perpetual-motion-machine fantasy. Often the inventors who dream up these devices truly believe they work. They want so badly to cheat the laws of physics that they convince themselves that they have. They remind me of gamblers who convince themselves that it's possible to beat the odds.

Steorn isn't being specific about exactly how their technology works, but Sean McCarthy, the CEO, gave this description of it on Ireland's RTE Radio:
"What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy. The energy isn't being converted from any other source such as the energy within the magnet. It's literally created. Once the technology operates, it provides a constant stream of clean energy."
So it's got something to do with magnets. Perpetual-motion fanatics love magnets!

The one unusual aspect of Steorn's claim is their active recruitment of independent scrutiny of their claims. They're probably going to end up wasting the time of everyone involved, but at least they're putting on a good show of wanting to be open and honest about the process. Though I'm wondering if this whole thing is an elaborate publicity stunt.
Categories: Free Energy
Posted by Alex on Sun Aug 20, 2006
Comments (28)
image Back in 1998 Psychic Dorothy Allison drew a sketch (on the left) during an appearance on the Leeza Gibbons show of what she thought JonBenet Ramsey's killer looked like. The sketch was posted online and distributed via flyers. Now that John Mark Karr has been arrested for the murder of JonBenet, some people are saying that the sketch looks an awful lot like him. Is this a case of a psychic making an accurate prediction?

First of all, the sketch looks vaguely similar, but not exactly like him. Her drawing would match up pretty well to any skinny, white guy. Second, although the guy has confessed, there seems to be some doubt about whether he's telling the truth, so he may not be the killer. Third, as the Amazing Randi always points out, only psychic's hits ever get counted. Never their misses. So how many completely bogus predictions did Dorothy Allison make? That needs to be considered in any evaluation of her ability as a psychic. However, in her favor, it seems that she really did produce this sketch in 1998. So this isn't a case of a Tamara Rand style prediction.
Categories: Future/Time, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 18, 2006
Comments (20)
imageIf the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich wasn't to your taste, how about the Virgin Mary discovered in chocolate drippings? Cruz Jacinto discovered the Holy Mother in drippings she was cleaning from a vat of chocolate in the kitchens of chocolatier to the stars, Martucci Angiano.

I can sort of see the shape of a cowled figure, I suppose, but that's about it.

"When I come in, the first thing I do is look at the clock, but this time I didn't look at the clock. My eyes went directly to the chocolate," Jacinto said. "I thought, 'Am I the only one who can see this? I picked it up and I felt emotion just come over me.

"For me, it was a sign."


For me? Not so much.
Categories: Food, Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Flora on Fri Aug 18, 2006
Comments (25)

The following links are all "safe for work." I had a bunch of breast-related links accumulating in my bookmarks folder, so I figured I would lump them all together.

Bare-Breasted Statue Gets Cover-Up
image Police speculate it was a prankster who put a bra on the statue of "Mother Iowa" outside the Iowa Capitol. Though, to be specific, it was a faux bra: "'It's not really a bra; it's just two shirts designed to look like that,' said Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Ted Wright. The "bra" was cut off by government workers and thrown away." I'm wondering if John Ashcroft was seen anywhere in the vicinity.


How to spot a boob job
Advice from the Korean chosun.com: Augmented breasts are less flexible, bounce less during exercise, too symmetrical, do not flatten when lying down, etc.

Breasts Implants Stop Shrapnel
Weird, but apparently true: "An Israeli woman's breast implants saved her life when she was wounded in a Hizbollah rocket attack during Israel's war with the Lebanese group, a hospital spokesman said on Tuesday. Doctors found shrapnel embedded in the silicone implants, just inches from the 24-year-old's heart."

Gummy Bear Implants
A new form of breast implant may soon be available to women in the US: gummy bears. "You have probably heard of saline and silicone implants. Now, there's the "gummy bear." That's the name many give to the new cohesive gel implants. "You can literally cut across the implant, squeeze it, and it kind of bulges out just like gummy bear candy would do," said Dr. Mike Zwicklbauer"
Categories: Body Manipulation, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 17, 2006
Comments (13)

$3 Million Bounty For Elvis
Seen Elvis lately? If you have you might be eligible for a $3 million reward. Filmmaker Adam Muskiewicz "is offering $3 million to anyone who can provide legitimate proof that The King didn't die." It's a publicity stunt for a movie about Elvis he's releasing next year. For details check out his website: elviswanted.com. I believe that LaMa has been lobbying for quite some time to add an Elvis Sighting Report Page, interfaced with a Google earth map, to the Museum of Hoaxes. Maybe it's time to do it. We'll track him down and win that $3 million!!!

David Copperfield Finds Fountain of Youth
David Copperfield claims to have found a spring on his private resort in the Bahamas that brings dead leaves, bugs, and insects back to life. He thinks it can also vanish away wrinkles. I think it sounds like he's cooking up a scheme to vanish away people's money.

Woman Sues Weather Forecasters
The weather forecast said it was going to be sunny. Instead it rained during Alyona Gabitova's camping trip. That's as good a reason as any to sue.

SlimCam Helps You Shed Weight
imageThe new HP Photosmart R727 digital camera has a "slimcam" setting that allows people to pretend to be skinnier than they really are: "The 'slimcam setting' on the gadget uses high-tech digital trickery to shave a few inches off its subject. Marketed at women, the feature squeezes the picture in the middle, so the main object in focus looks thinner - but its surroundings are left unchanged." Yet another excuse not to diet (as if any more were needed).
Categories: Body Manipulation, Celebrities, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 17, 2006
Comments (12)
image Quite a few people have emailed me this story. Seems that some kind of ugly beast looking like a "hybrid mutant of something" has been found dead outside of Turner, Maine, apparently hit by a car while chasing a cat. People are speculating that the creature is "Maine's own Chupacabra." Others suggest it might have been either a wolf-dog hybrid or a deformed coyote. Here's a description of it:
What was found dead in Turner over the weekend was described as charcoal gray and weighing between 40 and 50 pounds. It had a bushy tail, an extremely short snout and short ears. There were also curled fangs hanging over the lips.
Unfortunately we'll never know for sure what it was since no DNA tests were done on it. Local animal control officers didn't think it was worth driving all the way out to Turner to inspect it. My guess: It was a Hodag.
Categories: Animals, Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 17, 2006
Comments (22)
Teddy Tour Berlin, run by Karsten Morschett and Thomas Vetsch, cater for those who can't themselves afford to tour the German capital, but want the next best thing.

Expatica.com reports that customers send their teddies and the payment details to the company, who then take the bears around sites such as Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Olympic Stadium, and remnants of the Berlin Wall.

At each site, the visiting teddy is photographed in a snappy pose.

"They aren't photo-montages either," Morschett stresses. "We actually take the teddies to these places and pose them as stylishly as possible, just as their owners would want us to do."

If you want to send your ursine friend to Berlin, it will set you back between $25 and $150 for the deluxe tour.

Morschett and Vetsch say they both admire teddies as "a kind of soft art form" and that they take pains to ensure that their travelogue photos are stylish and not simply vacation snapshots.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Flora on Wed Aug 16, 2006
Comments (10)
Much to my surprise, I came across this page of "Alex Boese Quotes" on thinkexist.com. I was kind of flattered to find it, even though I'm sure the page was created by a computer trawling newspaper articles, and despite the fact that the three quotes (which I do recognize, and which I did say) are completely unmemorable. I think I've said some better things in my life. For instance, the first sentence of Hippo Eats Dwarf is better: "We live in a hippo-eats-dwarf world."

And what about this quote from page 12 of Hippo Eats Dwarf: "The fact is that men possess all the biological equipment necessary to produce breast milk." That's a quote worth committing to memory.

Or from page 79: "Drinking your own urine is said to help improve your immune system, give you nice skin, prevent aging, and fight gum disease. And that's just for starters."

Or from page 83: "To produce rat-milk cheese, you would need an awful lot of rats."

I notice that thinkexist has a "submit a new Alex Boese quote" link. So if anyone is interested, be my guest. Maybe you can even think of some things I should have said.
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 16, 2006
Comments (15)

Mr. KentuckyFriedCruelty.com Changes Name
Last year Christopher Garnett officially changed his name to "Kentucky fried cruelty.com". (It was a PETA publicity stunt.) Now he's had enough and is changing it back. Anyone feel like changing their name to "Museum of Hoaxes.com"? I'll give you a free book if you do. (Thanks, Beverley)

Thames Town, China
image The cobbled streets, Georgian houses, and Tudor-style pub might make you think you're in England. But you're really in Thames Town, a faux British village being constructed in China. I've heard of faux English towns in Korea also, but the Korean ones are used for English-language instruction.

Imitation French Fries
In response to a ban on fried food in school cafeterias, some Arizona schools are now serving "imitation fries." Or so claims the headline of the article. In reality, they're just fries that have been baked rather than fried. I don't think that really makes them imitation fries. Baked fries can taste pretty good, especially the curly ones seasoned with chili powder.

Religion-Related Fraud Worsens
Scams targeting churchgoers are on the rise. One passage from this article caught my eye: "Leaders of Greater Ministries International, based in Tampa, Fla., defrauded thousands of people of half a billion dollars by promising to double money on investments that ministry officials said were blessed by God." Instead of Sunday school, maybe churches should offer classes in critical thinking. Just an idea.
Categories: Food, Identity/Imposters, Places, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 15, 2006
Comments (19)
The stardust spacecraft spent seven years collecting outer-space dust in large sheets of aerogel. Now it's back on Earth and researchers have enlisted the help of internet users to find microscopic specks of dust in the aerogel. They taken 1.6 million images of the gel with a scanning microscope and are distributing these to volunteers. Already some people have found signs of life. Unfortunately it's not extraterrestrial life:
On its first day, the website shut down due to heavy traffic. And a few hours after re-opening, it had a stranger problem. In among the speckled grey aerogel pictures appeared photos of weddings, bike riders, sunbathers and more. As the Stardust team put it: "Random images of unknown origin appear in the focus movies. We do not yet understand their origin, but they are not images of the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector." Amused volunteers speculated about hackers, mischievous team members or problems with the server.
And things get worse, because a lot of the internet volunteers are cheating:
The system randomly checks volunteers' efforts by occasionally throwing in a 'test' photo, where the Stardust team already knows there is or isn't a sign of a dust particle. The volunteer's performance on these gives them a skill rating, which determines how seriously a claim to find a real dust particle is taken. As was quickly documented on the website's forums, however, it is easy to cheat by simply looking carefully at the URL associated with each picture in order to distinguish 'test' pictures from the real ones that have yet to be analysed. Some users have cracked the trick admirably, boosting their skill ratings astronomically in a short period of time.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Science
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 15, 2006
Comments (11)
If you park your car on Percy Road in Gosport, don't expect to be able to start it again. Residents of this road claim that "unknown forces" are preventing their cars from starting. They have to push their cars a few yards up the road before they'll start:
Wayne Dobson, 38, first discovered the problem when he came home from work, parked up as usual and tried to use his remote immobiliser to lock his V-registered Land Rover Freelander, but got no response.
When he later tried to start the car, he found it was completely dead. However, when he pushed his car a few yards up the road, it started again without complaint. After talking to his neighbours, he discovered they had experienced exactly the same problem. Mr Dobson said: 'It's all a bit Mulder and Scully. It's just these few car lengths outside our houses, and it started only at the end of last week. None of us can think of anything that would cause it.'
To me the problem is so obvious. Inner earth dwellers must be directing an electromagnetic pulse beam at exactly that spot, thereby causing any electrical system, such as a car starter, to become inoperative. What else could it be? Well, maybe it's just coincidence that their cars haven't been starting. But that theory isn't nearly as interesting. (via Fortean Times)
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 15, 2006
Comments (13)
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