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August 2006
Status: Stupidity in the news
Just a week ago there was a town in Texas praying for rain. Before that we saw prayer as a treatment for cancer. Now a town in England is going to encourage local residents to pray for less crime. I'm sensing a trend:
The Lincolnshire branch of the Christian Police Association is setting up a "Prayer Watch" scheme to alert Christians to local crimes. As well as encouraging worshippers to keep an eye out on their churches and each other, the police said the scheme would allow Christians to use prayer to help catch criminals. "It's largely geared to protecting congregations and church properties which are pretty vulnerable places, but with the added bolt-on aspect of prayer," a Lincolnshire police spokesman told Reuters Wednesday.
I assume this is like a Christian version of the Maharishi Effect. And doubtless just as effective!
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 04, 2006
Comments (7)
Status: Joke product
image is offering a "Poodle disguise kit for Dobermans" for people who worry that they'll be criticized while out in public for having a dangerous breed of dog. The kit includes: Fake fur pieces (4 leg pieces, one body piece, and head piece), Black face paint (safe for dogs), Safe suit fitting method statement and instructions. However, they warn that "dressing your dog like this will increase the chance of it biting you." They promise that other kits are coming soon, such as "Golden Retriever disguise kit for German Shepherds" and "Old English Sheepdog disguise kit for Mastiffs." (And no, I don't think they're really selling any of these kits.) (Thanks to LaMa for the link)

On a related note, check out artist Hung-Chih Peng's Dalmatian disguise for his dog.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 02, 2006
Comments (20)

image: bastet
The Xenna Corporation has issued a press release in which they detail a number of widely circulated myths about feet. These include:

• If a person's second toe is longer than the others, they are dependable, conservative and keep their emotions in check.
• If a person's third toe is bigger than the others, they're hot-headed and have a temper.
• If a person has long toes, they're among the thinkers of the world.
• If a person's feet are wide, they're a hard worker and have strong family values.
• If a person's feet are narrow, they're shy and quiet.
• If a person has webbed feet (a hereditary trait), they're the life of the party and would make a good salesperson or entertainer.

I have incredibly wide feet (size quadruple E), which makes it very hard for me to find shoes that fit. For instance, New Balance are the only brand of sneakers I can wear. None of the other sports-shoe manufacturers, such as Nike, make shoes that will fit mutant feet like mine. According to the myths, this would make me hard working, which I'm reluctant to say is false, though I do have a strong tendency to procrastinate. This entire website is the product of my procrastination.

Of course, Xenna coyly omits the greatest foot myth of all: that there's a relationship between foot size and penile length. This myth was actually investigated by Canadian researchers Jerald Bain and Kerry Siminoski, who published their results in the Annals of Sex Research (vol. 6, no.3, 1993. p.231-5). Using a sample size of 63 men, they determined that there was only a very weak relationship between foot size and penis length. They concluded "there is no practical utility in predicting penis size from foot size or height." Their research won them a 1998 IgNoble prize in the field of Statistics.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 02, 2006
Comments (25)
Status: News
Toilet-papering a house isn't a very original prank, and if it causes property damage (such as in the case below where the vandals smeared dog food and flour before covering it up with toilet paper), it's just plain obnoxious. So I totally support what California woman Katja Base did after waking to find her home TP'ed. She used some smart sleuthing to track down the people who did it and turned them in to the police:
She began by canvassing area stores asking them to look through records for unusually large purchases of toilet paper. She had luck at one store, where two days before the vandalism, someone bought 144 rolls of toilet paper, cheese, dog food, and flour. Using the store's security videos and a high school yearbook, she came up with names and went to police last week.
The one thing that surprises me is that the stores were willing to share their records with her.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 02, 2006
Comments (4)
Status: Dumb criminal
German police report an encounter with a master criminal who, when caught in the act of stealing a computer, tried the old "pretend you're dead" act to elude capture:
The 51-year-old sneaked into a company in the town of Hildesheim late Monday and tried to make off with a computer when the owner discovered him and called the police. The man had fled into the boiler room, where they found him lying on the floor, police said in a statement. He had a pulse, but was not responding to their commands, so they called an ambulance. Only after a doctor tried to insert a tube into the burglar's trachea to reanimate him, did he suddenly open his eyes and begin speaking.
Maybe he thought that if it works for opossums, it might work for him.
Categories: Death, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 02, 2006
Comments (3)
Status: Dubious product
image This seems like it should be a joke, but I don't think it is. Reference Audio Mods is selling wooden knobs for Silver Rock stereo equipment (to replace the standard metal knobs). They claim these knobs will greatly improve sound quality:
The point here is the micro vibrations created by the volume pots and knobs find their way into the delicate signal path and cause degradation (Bad vibrations equal bad sound). With the signature knobs micro vibrations from the C37 concept of wood, bronze and the lacquer itself compensate for the volume pots and provide (Good Vibrations) our ear/brain combination like to hear... way better sound!!
And they're asking $485.00! I refuse to believe that wooden knobs would make any difference in the sound quality of stereo equipment.

Related Posts:
Nov 08, 2005: Altmann Tube-O-Lator Lacquer
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 02, 2006
Comments (34)
Status: Weird News
Mrs. Broomfield of Colchester has a serious problem. Her neighbor, Gnome Magic, has placed a gnome on top of a pole so that it stands higher than the hedge dividing their property. Mrs. Broomfield feels that the gnome is "peering" at her, and she's filed a complaint. EADT reports:
Tourism attraction Gnome Magic, which features 750 of the ornaments in various scenes, created some heightened debate when it raised one of its characters up on a pole to attract visitors.
Following an objection, a Colchester Borough Council planning officer decided the display needed planning permission and the Dedham-based attraction submitted an application to keep the gnome on high...
Yesterday Peter Chillingworth, chair of the committee, said: “The gnome, which is on a pole, was put up without planning permission and one of our officers decided it needed to be considered formally.”
"There were speakers for and against the gnome. A neighbour objected and was really quite rude about it. She said it peered over her hedge and spoiled her view."
I know how she feels. There's a jackalope head hanging on my wall that's giving me funny looks right now.
Categories: Gnomes
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 01, 2006
Comments (9)
Status: Mystery Moose (existence undetermined)
image Curtis MacDougall, in his 1940 work Hoaxes, briefly mentions a creature named the Specter Moose. He writes:
Recent additions to unnatural history, all of which received space on press association wires, include:... a "specter moose" reported to have appeared again in the woods of Maine after having previously been seen in 1901, 1917, and 1932. (p.15)
Unfortunately that's all he says about the Specter Moose. But I've always been intrigued by this mysterious creature, and recently when I decided to expand and improve my Gallery of Tall-Tale Creatures, I resolved to find out once and for all what the Specter Moose is.

A web search turned up nothing except one other person who had also come across MacDougall's mention of the creature and was similarly intrigued. A search through various library research databases didn't turn up anything. Google Book search also came up dry. But finally I got some results when I tried, which is an archive of old newspapers.

The Specter Moose appears to have been a moose version of Moby Dick. It was a huge, whitish-gray moose, apparently immune to bullets, who terrified hunters by chasing them around. As such, it's probably less of a tall-tale creature and more of a cryptozoological legend.

On November 14, 1900 the Minnesota Freeborn County Standard reported:
The enormous moose that has been the wonder of the sportsmen in northern Maine since 1891 has again been seen, and this time under rather different circumstances from ever before. A bicyclist came close to the monster in the road between Sherman and Macwahoe, and was obliged to abandon his wheel and climb a tree for safety. So he had a near view of the animal, reports the New York Sun.
Every story that comes from the north woods concerning this moose makes him a little bigger than before. It is generally believed that no moose ever killed in Maine, or, so far as is known, anywhere else, has approached in stature or weight, much less in spread of antlers, this specter moose of Lobster lake. He is called the specter moose because of the weird appearance he presents at night, his color being a dirty gray...
The average weight of moose shot in maine is from 800 to 900 pounds, with antlers spreading from 4 to 4 ½ feet, and rarely having more than 8 to 12 points on a side, while the bell, as the appendage under the animal's neck is called, is generally eight to nine inches long. All who have seen the big moose of Lobster lake aver that he must weight at least 2500 pounds, that his antlers spread not less than ten feet, while the bell is declared to be not less than 18 inches long. It is supposed that this monster wandered into Maine from British Columbia, as none approaching his size has ever been seen in Maine before. He is a great traveler, having been reported in almost every part of northern Maine. The hunter who brings him down will win fame and a big pot of money at the same time.
The Specter Moose returned to the headlines on November 19, 1911, at which time the Texas Galveston Daily News gave this summary of reports coming out of Maine:
The moose has always been described as of immense size and of a dirty white color, from which latter characteristic it became known as the "specter moose." As often as the stories have been told they have been denied and set down as the fabric of an excited imagination or the result of too much whisky. One skeptic even declared that it was not a moose at all but an old gray woods horse that had been turned out to run at large. Still, the story of the "specter moose," be it fact or fiction, survives, and only this week it was related by an Indian guide who has been piloting a party around Lobster Lake.
Finally he reared his antlers again in 1938 when news wires carried this blurb (which appeared on March 15 in the Pennsylvania Charleroi Mail):
Always hunters get near enough to be appalled by this gigantic beast, but seldom within range for an effective shot. In the accumulating lore of the forest he is described as ten to fifteen feet high, "dirty white" in color, brandishing immense antlers. Not only his ghostly hue but also his keen scent, acute hearing and seemingly magical power of instant disappearance have built up the legend of a wraith. Skeptics say there "ain't no such critter," but a man named Houston brings the story of the latest visitation.
After that the Specter Moose never again seems to have been seen. At least, no sightings made it into papers. Perhaps the big guy died of old age. It's quite possible, of course, that a white moose (or more than one) was wandering around Maine. The size of the creature is the real question. My guess is that Maine hunters may really have seen a white moose, but then exaggerated its size, as hunters have a tendency to do.

Update: To put the Specter Moose in perspective, reports that the largest moose on record was an Alaskan bull moose that weighed 1,697 lbs. Other sites report that this record moose had an antler spread of 6 ½ feet. The Specter Moose, at 2500 lbs and with an antler spread of over ten feet, would easily have beaten this record.
Categories: Animals, Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 01, 2006
Comments (10)
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