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September 2006
Back in July I posted about a bicycle-eating tree in Washington state. That tree is real. Now here we have a motorcycle-eating tree. I don't have much information about it. According to the site I found it on, the picture was taken in Thailand. I'm inclined to think it's real. After all, there are trees that grow quite fast, and this motorcycle does look rusted.
image
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 21, 2006
Comments (9)
imageA man identifying himself as Rob Valenti claimed to have been the guitarist for REO Speedwagon and managed to con two men out of hundreds of dollars.

On Saturday, he contacted real estate agents, saying he was interested in purchasing property as a tax investment. After they'd showed him properties from $800,000 upwards, he started preliminary paperwork on at least two properties, before the agents bought him dinner and arranged for him to have a room for the night.

That evening, he met with two men and two women at a local restaurant and managed to persuade them he wanted to buy them cars, which he'd use as a tax write-off.

He took the two men to several car dealerships and started the paperwork on three cars. He then persuaded the men to give him $300 apiece for 'documentation fees'.

On Sunday, both the car dealerships and the real estate agents began to get suspicious of Rob's identity when they failed to be able to contact him, and called the police. The two men learnt, on the Monday, that the cars had never been paid for. They, too, contacted the police.

Only at this point did they think to check up on the story 'Rob' gave. Band websites for REO Speedwagon showed no band members, previous or current, with the name 'Rob' or 'Valenti'.

The suspect is described as about 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with a thin build and gray hair. He walks with a distinctive limp and told at least one witness it was due to hip replacement surgery. His photo is being distributed by investigators.

Police are seeking any information on the suspect’s identity or whereabouts or information from anyone else who may have had contact with the suspect.
Categories: Con Artists
Posted by Flora on Wed Sep 20, 2006
Comments (4)
It took me a while to decide whether or not this photo had been photoshopped, perhaps because I really wanted it to be real. But eventually I grudgingly decided it had to be photoshopped. (I was thinking an artist may have placed cardboard cutouts on the scaffolding.) I found the photo on hot-potato.org, which identifies the building as McCarren Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The photo was taken by Steve Ingkavet.

image
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 20, 2006
Comments (12)

Murdered goat turns into man
Here's an original alibi: What I killed was a goat, Officer. Then that goat magically transformed into my brother. I'd like to see this excuse appear in an episode of CSI.

Man, 29, passes for toddler
Mark Coshever flew from Britain to Amsterdam using his two-year-old daughter's passport. Airline staff never noticed. He must have a babyface.

Fifth grader generates glass pieces from her head
"The phenomenon started when Sarita fainted one day after which she began to bleed from the forehead and a sliver of glass came out. However, the wound healed soon after that, leaving no scars." She's a sure bet at the school talent show.

Blind man claims Hitler paintings are fake
It's not the controversy I'm interested in as much as the idea of a blind art critic. He decided the pictures were fake by getting "somebody to write the signatures from the Jeffery’s paintings on a bit of paper, with my hand gently leaning over theirs."

Germany's Declaration of Surrender for sale
Chuck Loesch claims to have the first official declaration of Germany's surrender. And he's trying to sell it on eBay for $100,000. It's a teletype message that reads "Germany has just uncoditoinally surrendered." (Spelling mustn't have been their strong suit.) Just one problem. The message is dated April 28. Germany surrendered on May 7.
Categories: Art, Body Manipulation, History
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 20, 2006
Comments (15)
The First Amish Newsletter is a fake website with this introduction:
Hello! My name is Eli Lapp and I'd like to welcome thee to the first Amish Newsletter, made by the American Amish for the American Amish. Now that we've hit the 21st Century, our church elders have decided that we will try to not be so "technologically impaired". We are discovering electricity, computers, and other modern wonders. I'm especially enjoying this thing called Internet!

Throughout the site are many nice little touches - I particularly like the buggy safety page with its 'buggy test'.

I also appreciated the disclaimer.
This website is not meant to offend anyone or disrespect the Amish people. In fact, it's just the opposite. I admit, it started out only as a joke but as I did research on the Amish I discovered what a rich and wonderful culture that the Amish people have. With strong work ethics, wholesome family values and deep rooted religious beliefs, the Amish culture and religion are very admirable. I've come to the conclusion that if everybody shared these beliefs, the world may be a better place.

(Thanks, Nathan.)
Categories: Websites
Posted by Flora on Tue Sep 19, 2006
Comments (15)
If you feel deprived because you've never had a vision of Jesus, here's your chance to see him float before your eyes. Just look at the image below and follow these instructions (via somareview).

1. Relax and concentrate on the four small dots in the middle of the image for roughly 30 or 40 seconds.
2. Then, stare at a blank wall near you (any smooth, single-colored surface will do).
3. You will see a circle of light developing—the onset of a holy vision.
4. Blink your eyes a few times as the figure begins to emerge.
5. What do you see? Or rather, who do you see?... Congratulations. You just had a religious sighting!

image

Once you've had your fun with that, consider this link (getbehindjesus.net) sent in by Phred who writes: "I suspect this was done with Photoshop and that its perpetrators firmly have their tongue in cheek but, see for yourself." I also think "get behind Jesus" was more than slightly enhanced by Photoshop (the superimposed image of Jesus helps to clarify the miracle). The link may not be safe for work (if a picture of a dog's posterior would offend your boss) or for people whose religious sensibilities would be easily offended.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 18, 2006
Comments (15)
image Alex from Colombia sent me this picture. He writes:
This is supposed to be a PAKISTAN AIRLINES ad, posted on the newspaper LE POINT on March 19, 1979. It announced nonstop voyages from Pakistan to New York. I saw it on this page. Interesting coincidence.
This image has been circulating widely around the internet during the past week. For instance, it appeared on Digg four days ago. The question is, is the image really an ad from 1979? Following the link chain back, you soon arrive at 11sep.info, where they have a larger scan (see below) of the entire page of the March 19, 1979 edition of Le Point in which the ad is said to have appeared. The scan looks legitimate, and I see no reason to doubt that it's real. But I also don't think the image is surprising or meaningful in any conspiracy-theory kind of way. Images of the World Trade Center appeared in many ads, and were a common symbol of New York. So it's not surprising that an airline combined an image of them with airplane imagery.
image

Update: The advertisement is definitely real. This has been verified by a reference librarian at UCLA's Charles E. Young Research Library (which, apparently, is the only library in America that has back copies of Le Point). The advertisement appeared on p.143 of the March 19, 1979 issue, #339. The ad also ran in other issues, such as April 2, 1979, p.163. (Thanks to J Fontane for tracking down and verifying the authenticity of the ad.)
Categories: Advertising, Conspiracy Theories, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 18, 2006
Comments (14)
image Marco sends along this photo of a baby supported by a Victoria amazonica, a giant waterlily from South America. He writes:
The Leiden Hortus Botanicus grows Victoria amazonica in one of their greenhouses. So what better way for the Hortus Botanicus to get some publicity than to organize a photoshoot for mothers with their babies, having the latter posing on one of such Victoria amazonica leaves?
Apparently however, they were not so sure themselves about the myth that the leaves can support the weight of a child. Take a careful look at the attached photograph from the local newspaper "Leids Nieuwsblad" reporting on the photoshoot. What's that under the leaf? Doesn't it look like a hidden support?
Yes, based on this picture it does look like they placed a support beneath the lily to distribute the weight of the child, which seems to be cheating. After all, the weight of the lily is now being supported by the piece of foam board (or whatever it is) rather than vice versa. They should have placed the board on top of the lily.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 18, 2006
Comments (11)
image I've been guilty of ignoring LonelyGirl15. For months I've been getting emails asking me whether or not she's real. I checked out her YouTube videos, and I'll admit that I found it hard to care whether or not she was real (maybe because I'm getting old), so I never posted about her. (Though there has been a thread in the forum about her for over a month.) But I evidently misjudged her appeal, because this week there have been hundreds of articles about her following the revelation that she was a fake.

For anyone who has somehow missed all the hoopla, LonelyGirl15 (aka Bree) was the screenname of a young woman posting confessional-style videos on YouTube. She was attractive and there was a good amount of drama in her life. (Always a winning formula.) A lot of the drama focused around tension with her extremely religious parents, especially since it was not clear what religion they were. Allusions to Satanist occultist Aleister Crowley suggested they weren't your run-of-the-mill religion.

Many people suspected LonelyGirl15 to be a fake. Some of her videos seemed too self-consciously amateur while others displayed professional editing touches.

The issue came to a head when internet sleuths linked the ip address of her emails to a Hollywood talent agency. Then, early in September, a message appeared on the LonelyGirl website from its "Creators" declaring that they were filmmakers and that the entire video blog series was fiction. Their identity remained unknown until a few days ago when LonelyGirl was revealed to be Jessica Rose, a 19-year-old graduate of the New York Film Academy, and "The Creators" were Ramesh Flinders and Miles Beckett.

So is there anything new or never-before-seen about the LonelyGirl hoax? Well, the fake confessional format certainly isn't new. Examples of that can be found as far back as the 18th century with Benjamin Franklin's Silence Dogood letters. Fake confessional blogs aren't new either. Remember the Plain Layne hoax from a few years back? The only novel aspect of LonelyGirl is that it's the first major fake blog in a video format. In other words, it's not all that new.

The other question is: Will people continue to be interested in LonelyGirl now that they know it's fiction. The LonelyGirl creators certainly hope so, but I'm not sure. People display very different attitudes towards what they believe to be real versus what they know to be false, and it's usually not easy for them to change their attitudes. Specifically, people tend to be forgiving of rough edges in reality, whereas they're more demanding of fiction. (Which is one of the reasons why Reality TV shows can get away with being so low-budget.) So now that they know LonelyGirl was fiction they may think back and say, 'Well, it wasn't really all that great.' However, if the story is good, the audience might stay.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Sun Sep 17, 2006
Comments (23)
Sheep Rescued from Tree
Firemen were called to rescue a sheep, later nicknamed 'Tarzan', from seven metres off the ground.
(Thanks, Gerrit.)

Oldest New World Writing Discovered
A stone slab discovered in Mexico in the 1990s shows the oldest example of New World writing, new evidence suggests.
(Thanks, Dave.)

Pierce Your Ride
As far as I can tell, a non-hoax website selling vehicle piercings. They look pretty cool, and I have to say that, if I drove, I wouldn't mind them on my car...
(Thanks, Big Al.)
Categories: Animals, History, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Sep 15, 2006
Comments (10)
In the period of time since Steve Irwin was killed after being attacked by a stingray, at least ten stingrays have been found dead on the East coast of Australia, news sources report.

Many of the stingrays have had their tails cut off. Government officials are investigating, and say there could be prosecutions.

There is no proof that the incidents are related to Mr Irwin, but a quote from a spokesman for the Fisheries Department said that fishermen who inadvertently caught stingrays sometimes cut off their tails to avoid being stung, but such a practice was uncommon.

Michael Hornby, executive director of Mr Irwin's Wildlife Warrior fund, condemned any revenge killings.

"We just want to make it very clear that we will not accept and not stand for anyone who's taken a form of retribution. That's the last thing Steve would want," he said.

"I hope everyone understands we have to protect wildlife now more than ever. This is what Steve was all about."

(Thanks, Dave.)
Categories: Animals
Posted by Flora on Thu Sep 14, 2006
Comments (11)
imagePeople have been crowding around a seven-metre betel nut tree in Kuala Lumpur. The tree has developed what looks like a human face on one of its fronds, the reports say. The owner, Miah Majid, told reporters that the tree had previously sported the shape of an eye.

"Superstitious village elders have advised onlookers not to make any comments when they pass the tree, reports said. Other enterprising villagers are selling photographs of the face for 2 ringgit (US$0.55)."

Good to see a slightly lower-tech way of making money off it, rather then using eBay...

(Thanks, naiart.)
Categories: Pareidolia, Photos/Videos
Posted by Flora on Wed Sep 13, 2006
Comments (23)

Q-Ray Made To Pay
Remember the Q-Ray bracelet? There was a thread about it in the old forum. This "miracle bracelet" could do everything from curing arthritis to helping you win a marathon. Now a judge has slapped its inventor with a $22.5 million fine for false advertising. Turns out it couldn't do any of that stuff after all. Who would have thought?

Woman Robs Bank With Toy Gun
Another Stupid Criminal. Or perhaps a criminal suffering from senile dementia. A 79-year-old woman "walked into the Bank of America branch Tuesday morning and told a teller that she'd just come from the dentist and could only speak quietly... As the teller leaned in, Cooke whispered a demand for $30,000 and brandished a gun that turned out to be a toy, the affidavit says. Instead of handing over any money, however, the teller triggered a silent alarm and walked away. Cooke left empty-handed after several minutes and then ducked into a nearby store, where she was arrested. Officials said Cooke was dressed for the attempted heist in a black trench coat, sunglasses and a white "Princess" visor."

image Fire Truck Tops Dome
MIT students commemmorated 9/11 by placing a fake fire truck on top of the university's Great Dome. I have a short list of other things that have topped the dome here.

Attacked By Naked Men
"Dallas - A former city official who is under investigation in an FBI corruption probe was arrested for public intoxication after claiming he was robbed by naked and scantily clad attackers at a male strip club... Police said he told them he was attacked by three men, one naked and another in only a towel." Big Gary comments: "Who says Dallas doesn't have class?"
Categories: Con Artists, Law/Police/Crime, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 13, 2006
Comments (11)
image I spent the weekend in a small town (King's Beach) on the coast of Lake Tahoe. While there I figured I would investigate the local legend of Tahoe Tessie, a monster that supposedly lives in the lake. However, the legend doesn't appear to be widely known, even in the Tahoe area. Most people whom I asked about it gave me a blank stare. Some details that I found on AmericanMonsters.com include that:
Legends of this creature first began to surface in the mid-1800's, when members of the Washoe and Paiute Indian tribes began to tell the white settlers about the "monster" dwelling in the depths of the Tahoe basin. As fascinating as those original testimonies may be, the most intriguing account surrounding this mystery-beast did not occur until the mid-1970's, when the renowned, French oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau, lead an expedition to explore the depths of lake Tahoe. While submerged Cousteau reportedly encountered something so terrifying that he refused to reveal what it was to the public. Sources credit Cousteau as saying, quote: "The world wasn't ready for what was down there!"
I managed to pick up a small Tahoe Tessie stuffed animal and a Tahoe Tessie keyring in a gift shop. Then I heard that there was an entire Tahoe Tessie Museum located in King's Beach run by a guy named Bob McCormack. And that it was just a few blocks down from where I was saying. So I took off to find it. Unfortunately I discovered that the museum closed a few years ago and that the building it was in was torn down. All that remains is an empty lot next door to a video store and a row of porta-pottys (see thumbnail). So much for Tahoe Tessie. I didn't venture into the porta-pottys to check if Tessie was hidden in there.
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 12, 2006
Comments (9)
Police Threaten Arrest Over Gnome
Police are unamused by Gordon MacKillop's glowing garden gnome. Apparently it is offensive to his neighbours.

Table of Condiments That Periodically Go Bad
A joke site that has pretty much what the title suggests.

Priest Confesses to Madonna Threat
"A 63-year-old Dutch priest has confessed to calling in a phony bomb threat last week before a pair of Madonna concerts in Amsterdam in a last-ditch effort to stop the singer from staging her mock-crucifixion act, officials said Friday."
Categories: Celebrities, Food, Gnomes
Posted by Flora on Mon Sep 11, 2006
Comments (7)
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