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May 2007
Here's a youtube video of a guy who catches sunglasses on his face. The sunglasses are dropped from a house, from a bridge, and thrown at him as he passes by in a car. Yeah, it's obviously fake. But it's kind of amusing.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed May 09, 2007
Comments (10)
image One of the stranger rumors I encountered in the course of writing Elephants on Acid was the suggestion that Hillary Clinton participated in a menstrual synchrony study while she was a student at Wellesley College during the 1960s. Stranger still, I haven't been able to disprove this.

Here are the facts. In 1968, Martha McClintock, while a senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, convinced all 135 of her dormmates to participate in a study of the phenomenon of synchronous menstruation. She recorded the date of onset of their menstrual cycles three times during the academic year. Her hypothesis was that their cycles would synchronize as the year progressed, and this is what her data showed. She published an article about her study in a 1971 issue of Nature (1971, 229: 244-245). It remains a highly regarded study.

Hillary Clinton (then Hillary Rodham) was also a senior at Wellesley in 1968. This raises the possibility that she participated in McClintock's study. There were about 400 students in the senior class, which make the odds pretty good that Hillary participated in the study. (A third of the class participated.) The question is: Did the two women (Rodham and McClintock) live in the same dorm?

In her autobiography, Clinton writes, "During my junior and senior years, Johanna Branson and I lived in a large suite overlooking Lake Waban, on the third floor of Davis." McClintock, however, has never revealed what dorm she conducted her study in. I emailed her and asked, thinking that maybe she could say that she didn't conduct the study in Davis, even if she couldn't reveal where she did conduct it. She simply replied, "I cannot answer this question due to privacy regulations."

This leaves open the possibility that Hillary did participate in McClintock's study. I emailed the Clinton campaign, but they never responded to me. My hunch, however, is that she didn't participate in it. It seems like the kind of thing that would be more widely publicized if it were true.

Of course, it doesn't really matter whether she did participate in the study or not. Although if she did, it would be interesting as a piece of biographical trivia. Hillary Clinton herself would seem to be the only person who can confirm or deny the rumor.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Celebrities, Science
Posted by Alex on Wed May 09, 2007
Comments (7)
The latest trend among teenage girls is, apparently, to have a "prom baby." The idea is that girls try to get pregnant on prom night. This sneaky tactic allows them to avoid the pressure of going to college. Instead they substitute the pressure of raising a child.

This trend was reported by a "Worried Dad" who recently wrote in to Dear Abby. He writes:
I first heard about it while driving my teenage daughter to a lacrosse meet with several of her girlfriends. One girl in the car, "Carrie," said she hoped this year she could have a prom baby. The girls were discussing two former classmates from last year's lacrosse team who had been unable to begin college because they had both become mothers at 17. Both had deliberately planned to get pregnant on prom night -- hence the term, "prom baby." Abby, both of the girls were studious and hard-working with bright futures ahead of them. One had been accepted to several Ivy League schools. Needless to say, their parents were devastated, and many adjustments had to be made for the new babies.
I'm thinking that either the letter writer was deliberately trying to start a new urban legend, or his daughter's friends were pulling his leg. I have a hard time believing anyone would be stupid enough to think that raising a kid is easier than going to college.

And as one blogger points out, "If they really wanted to sabotage their own chances of going to college, wouldn't they just submit a poor application?"

I think "prom babies" should be classified as an urban legend of the "shocking sexual behavior of teenage girls" variety, along with other legends such as Jelly Bracelet Sex Codes and Rainbow Parties.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue May 08, 2007
Comments (23)
Some gnome stories that have been in the news lately:

image Gnome Abuse
On April 13 more than twenty gnomes were found around the town of Seaford, taped to lamp-posts, covered in fake blood, with macabre messages written on them, and some with forks and axes embedded in their heads. Police have now identified those responsible for this gruesome scene. The police sergeant said, "We have established that the little fellows were bought by some high spirited youngsters who disfigured them with some rather gruesome messages before attaching them to posts around the town. We are attempting to re-gnome them in the hope that they will recover from their ordeal and strike a more traditional pose with fishing rods, ponds and flowers."

Derby Gnome
The Queen of England recently attended the Kentucky Derby. And so did the Derby Gnome. Here his Myspace page. But I don't think the gnome got invited to the White House Dinner.

Gnome-Napping Catches On In U.S.
Police in the U.S. are reporting a steady increase in gnome-nappings. For instance, Chicago Ride, Illinois recently experienced its first kidnapped gnome. The Police Chief there said, "The truth is, it's a crime, a felony actually. We're gonna take it seriously."
Categories: Gnomes
Posted by Alex on Tue May 08, 2007
Comments (7)
PC World writer Steve Bass compiled a list of the Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks. Here's the list (minus Bass's commentary):
  1. The Accidental Tourist
  2. Sick Kid Needs Your Help
  3. Bill Gates Money Giveaway
  4. Five-Cent E-Mail Tax
  5. Nigerian 419 E-Mail Scam
  6. Kidney Harvesting Time
  7. You've Got Virus!
  8. Microsoft Buys Firefox
  9. The Really Big Kitty
  10. $250 Cookie Recipe
  11. Free Vacation Courtesy of Disney
  12. Sunset Over Africa
  13. Alien Autopsy at Roswell, New Mexico
  14. Real-Time GPS Cell Phone Tracking
  15. Apollo Moon Landing Hoax
  16. Sell It on eBay!
  17. Chinese Newspaper Duped
  18. The Muppets Have Not Already Won
  19. Chevrolet's Not-So-Better Idea
  20. Rand's 1954 Home Computer
  21. Microsoft Buys the Catholic Church
  22. Hercules the Enormous Dog
  23. Lights-Out Gang Member Initiation
  24. Hurricane Lili Waterspouts
  25. Pranks Shut Down Los Angeles Times Wiki
It's a decent list, though if I were to create such a list it would be very different. For instance, I would think that Bonsai Kitten would have to be in the Top 25. And what about Kaycee Nicole Swenson,, and the Blair Witch Project (after all, the Blair Witch Project spawned the whole genre of hoax websites created to promote movies)? I also don't think that hoaxes such as "Microsoft Buys Firefox" were really big enough to warrant inclusion in the top 25, and it's a bit of a stretch to count some of the entries, such as the Alien Autopsy and the Moon Landing, as web hoaxes. Well, it goes to show that lists usually say more about the preferences of the people who make them than anything else. One of these days I'll get around to making a list of my own.
Categories: Urban Legends, Websites
Posted by Alex on Sat May 05, 2007
Comments (3)
image David Sarno at the LA Times uncovers a web of deception surrounding a recent YouTube sensation called GreenTeaGirlie.

It all started in late March when a 10-second video of a young woman introducing herself became one of the most-watched videos on YouTube. Why was this video so popular, many people wondered. After all, it wasn't very remarkable. Was she another lonelygirl15?

Soon after, two related websites appeared: and

The first site,, contained a link to Seattle's Dragonwater Tea Co. (promoting suspicion that GreenTeaGirlie was a marketing ploy) and later to a site called, that claimed to be a marketing service using YouTube video stars to promote products.

The second site,, was all about the GreenTeaGirlie, whose real name, apparently, is Kallie.

So what was going on? The LA Times reporter figured out there were two different deceptions perpetrated by different groups.

Deception One: A friend of Kallie shot the video of her and then gamed the YouTube system by creating hundreds of fake MySpace profiles that linked to her video, artificially causing it to appear on YouTube's most watched video list, bringing her to the attention of YouTube viewers who then really did begin checking out her video. The same guy helped created

Deception Two: A separate pair of pranksters took advantage of the GreenTeaGirlie phenomenon to promote a hoax of their own -- Their idea was to create a fictitious company that was supposedly using YouTube stars to promote products. They created the site, and linked it to the Dragonwater Tea Co., as a way to make it seem as if GreenTeaGirlie was a marketing ploy. So it was a hoax within a hoax. All very complicated.

So to sum up, GreenTeaGirlie is an artificially hyped YouTube star, who has nothing to do with, which is a hoax website pretending to be a company that uses YouTube stars to promote products.

Or, at least, that's the way it seems for now. Unless it's all a hoax within a hoax within a hoax, engineered as a byzantine marketing stunt for Green Tea.

For those interested, here's GreenTeaGirlie's YouTube page that lists all of her videos.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri May 04, 2007
Comments (12)
Jesus on Google Maps
Brian Martin claims that he saw the shape of Jesus in the clouds above Mount Sinai.
(Thanks, Madmouse.)

Cat Gives Birth to 'Puppy'
Following on from the Japanese poodle scam hoax, this made me laugh.
A cat in Zhengzhou, China has supposedly given birth to a litter of four, one of which looks like a poodle. There are no pictures to accompany the article, however.
(Thanks, Robert.)

Sexism in Tetris
It seems a lot of people didn't realise the April 1st post on this computer site was a joke.
(Thanks, ponygirl.)
Categories: Animals, Literature/Language, Places, Religion, Websites
Posted by Flora on Wed May 02, 2007
Comments (6)
The Japanese poodle scam - wherein thousands of gullible buyers were sold lambs instead of the dogs they were expecting - was first reported in UK Sun newspaper. The story went that rich women were buying cut-price poodles from a company named Poodles For Pets, and were astonished to find later that they were sheep.

The story itself was immediately dubious (aside from being in The Sun, which tends to be somewhat lax in the fact-checking department), when you consider snippets like:

The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.
She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.

Then hundreds of other women got in touch with police to say they feared their new "poodle" was also a sheep.
One couple said they became suspicious when they took their "dog" to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.

The story unravelled when police in Sapporo, where the company was claimed to be based, said they had never heard of the scam. The talk-show story was not as it seemed, either. It appears that Kawakami had told a story about a lamb being sold instead of a poodle. However, she'd said that it had happened to a friend of hers.

It seems that nobody had heard of the scam - it hadn't been reported in any Japanese newspapers.

The final nail in the coffin? The original article claims that the scam "capitalised on the fact that sheep are rare in Japan, so many do not know what they look like."
In fact, Sapporo has had a sheep farm since 1848.

Forum thread here.
Categories: Animals, Business/Finance, Celebrities, Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Flora on Wed May 02, 2007
Comments (5)
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