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September 2006
Itsy Bitsy Imposter
Paul Vance, co-writer of the song 'Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini' was slightly startled to read his own obituary - the result of an imposter.

Robot Art Goes On Display
A Portugese artist has devised a robot that creates its own paintings.

Teddy Bear Causes 2,500 Trout Deaths
A teddy bear that fell into a pool at a Fish and Game Department hatchery earlier this month clogged a drain, and suffocated a large number of trout in New Hampshire.
A written warning has been given: "RELEASE OF ANY TEDDY BEARS into the fish hatchery water IS NOT PERMITTED."

(Thanks, Accipiter.)
Categories: Animals, Art, Entertainment, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Flora on Thu Sep 28, 2006
Comments (15)
Alex from Colombia forwarded me these pictures of microscopic art. The pictures come with this caption:
Willard is a resident of Birmingham, England. The show is in Manchester. He has a learning disability, Dyslexia, but has talented hands. He makes the sculptures out of dust particles, sugar crystals, etc. He works only around midnight, and can do some of the work only between heartbeats.
Yes, it's all true. The artist's full name is Willard Wigan. You can check out his website.

Incidentally, Wigan is not the only micro-sculptor around. The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles has, for quite a few years, had a display of the microminiatures of Hagop Sandaldjian. Worth checking out if you're ever in the area. The MJT website notes that Sandaldjian also developed a technique for working between heartbeats:
Born of obsessive devotion, an individual figure could take as many as fourteen months to finish. Each sculpted micron represented not only endless hours of toil, but exacting travail fraught with peril, as his work could so easily be destroyed or lost. An unexpected sneeze or misdirected breath could blow away a microminiature with hurricane force, while a casual movement could sabotage the work of months. Since even a pulse in his fingers could cause an accident, Sandaldjian ultimately learned to apply his decisive strokes only between heartbeats.

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Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 28, 2006
Comments (17)
Laura Albert, the writer behind J.T. LeRoy, has finally confessed to the hoax.

She says that her psychiatrist encouraged her to write when she was in therapy.
In terms of her attitude to perpetrating a hoax, the article says: When asked if she felt any shame about misleading people, she replied: "I bleed, but it's a different kind of shame... If knowing that I'm 15 years older than (LeRoy) devalues the work, then I'm sorry they feel that way."

Although it was fairly clear that the young man was fictional, even when Geoffrey Knoop (the partner of Laura Albert, and half-brother to LeRoy's 'public face', Savannah Knoop) confessed to his part in the scam, he said he doubted Albert would ever admit it, and was quoted as saying:"For her, it's very personal. It's not a hoax. It's a part of her."

Seems he was wrong.

Previous posts on J.T. LeRoy:
February 07 2006 Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax
October 10, 2005: Is JT Leroy A Hoax?
January 9, 2006: JT Leroy: An Update

(Thanks, J.)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Literature/Language
Posted by Flora on Thu Sep 28, 2006
Comments (3)
imageMy Twinn is a legitimate website selling dolls which look like the child you're buying them for.

First you pick an outfit, skin tone, and hair and eye colour. You send in a photograph of your child, and the artists craft the doll to resemble the photograph, including painting on such things as freckles or birthmarks. You can also buy matching outfits for the doll and child, and matching accessories.

The dolls do seem very well made - they really do look like the children they're made for. One of the testimonials from previous customers states that "Over the years many people have mistaken the doll as a real child!"

I think that is my trouble with them - they look very creepy to me.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Flora on Wed Sep 27, 2006
Comments (32)
imageHenrietta the Four Legged Chicken
Henrietta had been living peacefully among 36,000 other chickens for 18 months when her owners noticed that she had four legs.

Separation Agency Takes the Stress Out of Breaking Up
A German agency will break up with your partner for you, if you are too scared to do it yourself. The client gives the agency three reasons why they want to break up, which are then passed on to the dumpee. The service costs 20 Euros by phone, or 50 Euros in person.

Dog Starts Car
After George the dog swallowed the immobiliser chip out of his owner's electronic key fob, the only way to get the car started (until the chip was... passed) was to put the dog in the front seat.
Categories: Animals, Sex/Romance, Technology
Posted by Flora on Wed Sep 27, 2006
Comments (3)
Gerrit forwarded links to radar maps showing some extremely unusual cloud activity over the Netherlands. I managed to visit the radar sites myself in time to see the unusual clouds. However, the maps have since updated and are no longer showing the same activity. But I can vouch that, for a while, they really were displaying the sudden appearance of a mysterious ring of clouds around the Netherlands. Screenshots of the radar image have been posted here and here. Has anyone checked that the Netherlands are still around?

Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 27, 2006
Comments (28)
Here we go again. Yet another ad circulating around that features a plane flying towards two tower-like structures. Wilson Bryan Key would probably claim that it's done deliberately as a form of subliminal seduction, like the skulls hidden inside ice cubes in alcohol ads. I, on the other hand, am willing to give the advertisers the benefit of the doubt. Although I'm not sure exactly what those tower-like structures are. Stereo speakers, I'm guessing. (Submitted anonymously)


Update: Looks like American Airlines pulled the ad and replaced it with this version (that omits the speakers).
Categories: Advertising, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 25, 2006
Comments (25)
image Biologists at the University of Manchester were on a field trip to the French Alps when they found a duck egg in a small pond. Noticing its movement, they cracked it open, to discover three live minnows inside.

The scientists, despite their combined knowledge of the natural world, are at a loss as to how the fish got inside the visibly uncracked egg.

Dr Matthew Cobb, a lecturer in animal behaviour at the university, said: "As 21st century scientists rather than 17th century antiquarians we think it's unlikely this represents a hitherto unknown mode of fish reproduction."

Dr Cobb and his colleague have written to the magazine New Scientist to see if any reader can come up with the solution.

(Thanks, Iridium and Yashca.)
Categories: Animals
Posted by Flora on Mon Sep 25, 2006
Comments (19)
image The weatherman in this clip is Justin Mosely, meteorologist for Sarasota station SNN6. He has a rather over-the-top reaction to the appearance of a cockroach (which remains off camera). The clip looks staged, but it isn't. However, neither did it appear on-air. The St. Petersburg Times reports:
Contrary to what people may think, the footage never aired, said station general manager Lisa DesMarais. Someone anonymously posted the clip on YouTube without SNN6's knowledge or authorization.
"It was basically something that happened during a pretaping," she said.
Mosely did not respond to interview requests. "He wants to get past this," DesMarais said. "It's not who he is."
Also, when the clip claims that there was a 3-hour delay between the first and second appearance of the cockroach, that's not true: "There was no 3-hour delay," DesMarais said. "Somebody, I don't know who, altered that video. It all happened within 20 seconds or less. The bug didn't go and come back."
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 25, 2006
Comments (7)
Was Robin Hood Welsh?
American historian claims Robin Hood was Welsh, not English. Also that his real name was Bran. "He claims Robin would not have been able to hide out in Sherwood Forest because it would have been too small and well chartered." The Nottingham City Council says: "We laugh at this suggestion."

Pastor Indicted For Faking Raffles
We've learned not to trust internet lotteries. It looks like church lotteries are going the same way: "Rev. Robert J. Ascolese... would call out the names of fictional people as grand prize winners, then pocket the money or divert it to pet charitable projects. Either way, it meant nobody had a real chance to win."

Fake John Meets Fake Cop
An undercover cop solicits a prostitute, who then (falsely) claimed to be a police officer. She even pulled out a two-way radio and asked for reinforcements. "We believe these people were going to rob people or extort money," the police said after arresting her.

Man Fakes Son's Illness By Keeping Him Thin
Michael Bradway claimed his son had cystic fibrosis and managed to raise $38,000 from sympathetic relatives. He "put the child on a severe diet to make him thin." What is wrong with the human race that it produces people like this?
Categories: Con Artists, History
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 25, 2006
Comments (6)
Man Bites Panda
A drunken tourist climbed in with Gu Gu the panda at Beijing zoo. When the startled panda bit him, he bit it back.
"I bit the panda on its back but its fur was too thick," Mr Zhang recalled.
He went on: "No one ever said they would bite people. I just wanted to touch it."

Jerusalem - There's No Such City!
According to a mistranslated sightseeing brochure, at least. The pamphlet, translated from Hebrew, should have read "Jerusalem - there's no city like it!".

Dog With Knicker Obsession Gets Surgery
Deefer, a Bull Mastiff has eaten at least ten pairs of knickers over the last year. Embarrassing surgery was required recently when the last two pairs became lodged in Deefer's intestine, costing his owners more than £1,000.

Sudanese Man is Forced to 'Marry' Goat
When Mr Tombe was caught having sex with his neighbour's goat, he was taken to a council of elders, who ordered him to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars, and gave him the goat. The neighbour is quoted as saying "They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife."

(Thanks, Accipiter.)
Categories: Advertising, Animals, Places
Posted by Flora on Fri Sep 22, 2006
Comments (17)
imageSnouts are cups that look like pig snouts, causing 'hilarity' when you raise the cup to your mouth.

However, the website selling them is remarkably bare, featuring very little information and only two pictures. The online order form asks for rather a lot of details for a site that in itself gives none, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be happy giving my credit card information to them.

It may be just bad web design, or it may be a scam, but I don't think I want to risk it.
Posted by Flora on Thu Sep 21, 2006
Comments (18)
Fake Steve Irwin Death Videos
Unsurprisingly, several videos have popped up on YouTube portraying Steve Irwin's death. They're pretty unconvincing.
(Thanks, Nai Art.)

IT Skills in Return For Gropes
The mirror of a now deleted post from Craigslist, the title really says it all. I particularly liked: "I have a lot of tech knowledge in my life and regrettably no boobs."
(Via BoingBoing, thanks Cranky Media Guy.)

Building Using Recycled Paper
"Papercrete [is] a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and recycled newspapers/magazines, which can be used as a building material."
Looks reasonable to me.
(Thanks, Sharruma.)

Australopithecus Afarensis Discovered in Ethiopia
The bones of the 3.3 million-year-old girl have finally been recovered from a block of sandstone originally discovered in 2000. She has now eclipsed 'Lucy', found in 1974, as the girl lived more than 100,000 years earlier.
(Thanks, Tah)
Categories: Animals, Death, History, Miscellaneous, Sex/Romance
Posted by Flora on Thu Sep 21, 2006
Comments (8)
image Outside a William Ashley store in downtown Toronto a Lamborghini Gallardo has been posed on top of four china cups. Autoblog writes: "The Gallardo was hoisted up with a crane and delicately set atop four tea cups beneath each wheel. There's literally nothing holding up this car's curb weight of 3,153 lbs. except four tiny tea cups." Is this real? Can four tea cups really support the weight of a car? After all, that's 788 lbs of pressure per cup. I'd feel a little nervous standing on top of a tea cup, and I only weigh 180 lbs. I understand that ceramic has very high compressive strength, but I didn't realize that the design of a teacup would maximize that strength. This seems like an experiment for the Mythbusters.

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Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 21, 2006
Comments (34)

Yet Another Traveling Gnome
Back in the Spring Allen Snyder's gnome disappeared from his garden. Now he's learned that it's been attending Pittsburgh Steelers' games. Next stop an airplane to somewhere far away. Submitted by Big Gary who notes: "Predicatable, but I thought you'd want to keep your gnome section up-to-date."

Pretends to be mentally ill to get a grope
This is pathetic. William Mucklow has been accused of pretending to be mentally ill so that he can hire nurses to take care of him. He then grabs their breasts as they try to do their job. A pretty elaborate strategy to get a grope.

Jigsaw Prodigy
3-year-old "Mikey" Lorhan can put together "300- to 500-piece puzzles in less than 30 minutes or less -- and sometimes with the pieces flipped over, working blind." If this is real, he evidently has some kind of savant abilities.

image Man Shows Back of Head For Obituary
Jim Schinneller's death notice in the Sunday paper included a photo of the back of his head. Why? Because "He liked to buck the system. He enjoyed showing people how absurd life was." This would be an even better idea for a high-school yearbook photo, if you could get away with it.
Categories: Death, Gnomes, Psychology, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 21, 2006
Comments (5)
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