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July 2007
An anonymous correspondent emailed me a link to Arr, the Kraken, where I found this picture of a very curious creature. Arr, the Kraken speculates that it might be a kangahippopossumouse. Perhaps, though it could also be a Tasmanian Dwarf Hippo. Anyone out there able to positively identify this thing?

Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 23, 2007
Comments (23)
Could it be the second coming of Chris Farley? She's certainly got his eyes. Or did Chris Farley, perhaps, have a daughter?

Eric Schucard forwarded me this photo while I was in Africa (that's the same Eric Schucard who's responsible for the pictures of the MoH on the About the Museum page). This picture has appeared on quite a few blogs within the past month, but I don't see that anyone has come up with a definitive answer to the real question: photoshopped or not? Also, I can't find any clue as to the source of the photo.

My hunch is that it's not photoshopped. But that's just a hunch.

If you don't know who Chris Farley is, you can check out the wikipedia page about him -- and you can also consider yourself lucky for never having had to suffer through Beverly Hills Ninja.

Related topic: Baby Adolf

Categories: Celebrities, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 22, 2007
Comments (18)
image China's food industry, already reeling from reports of toxins in pet food originating in China, took another blow when Beijing TV recently reported that snack vendors in eastern Beijing were selling "steamed dumplings stuffed with cardboard soaked in caustic soda and seasoned with pork flavoring." Yuck! In this case, however, the accusation appears to have been unwarranted. CNN reports that:
Beijing authorities said investigations had found that an employee surnamed Zi had fabricated the report to garner "higher audience ratings", the China Daily said on Thursday. "Zi had provided all the cardboard and asked the vendor to soak it. It's all cheating," the paper quoted a government notice as saying.
So this appears to belong to the genre of the "gross things found in food" hoax. Assuming, that is, that the Beijing authorities are telling the truth, and that the cardboard buns were actually the invention of a rogue reporter. I wouldn't put it past the Beijing authorities to cry hoax to cover up a real problem.

Also, it's worth noting that even if Beijing vendors aren't supplementing their buns with cardboard, reports of Chinese manufacturers using human hair to make soy sauce continue to appear to be true. So I wouldn't put much past the Chinese food industry. (Thanks Cranky and Joe)
Categories: Food, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 20, 2007
Comments (3)
Could Jane Austen, one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the English language, get published today? To find out, David Lassman, director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, typed up some opening chapters of her books, added a cover letter with plot synopses, and sent them off to publishers. He changed the titles of the works, renamed the characters, and called himself "Alison Laydee," but otherwise he didn't change Austen's prose. Here's the rather predictable result of Lassman's experiment, as described by the Guardian:
the deception was not spotted and the rejection letters thudded on to Mr Lassman's doormat, most notably one from Penguin. Its letter read: "Thank you for your recent letter and chapters from your book First Impressions. It seems like a really original and interesting read." Only one person appeared to have spotted the deception, Alex Bowler, of Jonathan Cape. His reply read: "Thank-you for sending us the first two chapters of First Impressions; my first impression on reading these were ones of disbelief and mild annoyance, along, of course, with a moment's laughter. "I suggest you reach for your copy of Pride and Prejudice, which I'd guess lives in close proximity to your typewriter, and make sure that your opening pages don't too closely mimic that book's opening."
If Lassman's prose was not original to himself, neither was the hoax itself. This type of hoax has definitely been done before. It's periodically perpetrated by disgruntled authors hoping to reveal the superficiality of the publishing industry. Lassman, for instance, is nursing a grudge because his novel Freedom's Temple, "a modern take on the story of Theseus and the Minotaur," has failed to find a publisher. But though the hoax has been done before, the lesson it teaches is one that's worth repeating -- namely that relying on talent alone is probably not enough to guarantee getting published. A little bit of luck is also necessary (and having contacts inside the publishing industry doesn't hurt either).

Some recent examples of this genre of hoax, reported here: The Wraith Picket Experiment, in which chapters from the award-winning Australian writer Patrick White's novels were submitted to publishers and rejected; and Booker Prize Winners rejected, in which chapters from the works of V.S. Naipaul and Stanley Middleton were rejected by 20 publishers.
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 20, 2007
Comments (11)
I'm back! The return flight from Africa took almost 30 hours (and with layovers it basically was two entire days of travel), but I made it. I got back late Monday night and then spent Tuesday decompressing, trying to shake off the jet lag.

After a quick glance around, it looks like the site survived my absence. Thanks to Cranky Media Guy for filling in as the Guest Curator while I was gone. He did a great job. I guess this means I'm pretty much expendable around here!

Africa was incredible, but I had no internet access while I was there (and often no electricity either), so my apologies to anyone who tried to contact me while I was gone.

The trip consisted of a week in Malawi and two weeks in South Africa -- two very different countries. Malawi is a very rural society. In many places the lifestyle doesn't seem to have changed much there in hundreds of years. You still see numerous villages dotting the countryside, consisting of a handful of thatch huts. Women walk around with huge bundles of sticks on their heads. South Africa, by contrast, is much more modern. Many areas of it look almost exactly like America, with malls and office buildings... but down the road from the malls you find vast, sprawling shanty towns where people live in pretty wretched conditions.

One of my favorite sights in Malawi was the guys who stand by the side of the road selling mice-on-a-stick. Apparently many Malawians quite enjoy this dish. The vendors catch the mice by starting a fire in the brush to scare the rodents out. Then they spear about four or five of the critters on a stick and cook them -- fur, bones and all -- until they're charcoal black. Although I didn't sample this delicacy, I'm told that the proper way to eat a mouse on a stick is by beginning with the tail and working your way up to the head. You simply spit out the bones, much like you would do when eating chicken wings. I wanted to get a picture of a mouse-on-a-stick vendor, but I never had a chance. My sister, who lives in Malawi, promises me that she'll take a picture of one and send it to me. (In the meantime, I found some pictures of mice on a stick on a blog called Misadventures in Malawi and Beyond.)

I also spent a couple of days at Lake Malawi, where I kept an eye out for any sign of a Lake Malawi Monster. Lake Malawi is also known as Lake Nyassa, so it's monster, if it has one, would, I suppose, be called Nyassie. Unfortunately I didn't see a monster, though I did see a couple of otters, which I thought was pretty exciting at the time.

In South Africa, I got to visit Kruger Park where I saw elephants, rhinos, giraffe, and hippos. However, I saw no elephants on acid, nor any hippos eating dwarves.

While in South Africa, I also got to take a trip down a platinum mine, an experience which made me resolve never to quit blogging in order to become a miner.

Here's a few pictures of me from the trip. From left to right: taking a nap in a hammock at Lake Malawi, very cautiously petting a cheetah at the De Wildt Cheetah Park in South Africa, and 500 meters beneath the ground in a platinum mine (you can tell from the expression on my face that I'm feeling a little claustrophobic).

image image image
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 18, 2007
Comments (26)
A young Indian boy is claiming to be the reincarnation of an American scientist. According to the article linked below, he speaks mostly gibberish with a few "scientific" words mixed in. Proof enough for me! I especially like the next-to-last paragraph of the article. [Thanks to the reader who submitted this story]

Indian boy claims to be reincarnation of American scientist
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Identity/Imposters, Mass Delusion, Religion
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jul 17, 2007
Comments (18)
On the heels of the "American troops eat babies" myth comes the story of the Giant, Man-eating Badgers of Basra:

Ferocious British badgers an urban myth in Iraq
Categories: Animals, Cryptozoology, Mass Delusion, Military, Urban Legends
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Sat Jul 14, 2007
Comments (7)
I got an email from a MoH reader with the story I link to below. His question was whether the article is a hoax. It's about super-rich people having private submarines. We're not talking about itty-bitty things like in a James Bond movie, but BIG subs for their private use. My sense is that it's legit, since it cross-references other stories I've seen recently about Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen owning a literal Yellow Submarine, but that, of course, is not proof that this is real. God knows hoaxes sometimes spawn news stories which get used to "verify" subsequent stories. If I was betting, though, I'd put my money on "real."

Luxury subs for the super-wealthy a hoax?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Fri Jul 13, 2007
Comments (14)
In my role as fill-in for Alex while he's visiting his sister in Africa, I've developed a new appreciation for what it takes to curate the MoH.

Some days, I get dozens of emails, pitching story ideas or asking questions about some aspect of the site. That's to be expected, but what do you do with something like this:

Iam really intrested in joining the nigerian navy i have ND in architectural
technology but i dont know when the forms will be out and also wan to know
the requirments

Any Nigerian Navy veterans in the house?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Wed Jul 11, 2007
Comments (8)
Unlike a lot of people, I actually tend to like modern art. I can understand, however, why people think that some of it isn't really art, though. It seems that the way to become an art world sensation is to come up with what more accurately be called a publicity stunt, do it in a gallery, perhaps, call it A*R*T and find a super rich guy like Charles Saatchi (a patron of the modern art world in Great Britain) to pay you an enormous sum of money for whatever physical manifestation of it you can whip up.

Lian Sifuentes is an artist who is spending 72 hours getting ready for a date. She is doing this in a tent in Union Square Park on the northern edge of Greenwich Village in New York City. She's being filmed or videotaped as she does this and eventually her "date prep" will be turned into a movie. Every hour she takes will be condensed into a minute of screen time so that she will appear to be moving at normal speed while everything around her will look like it's moving at light speed. Oooookay. Hey, it beats working the fry station at Burger King.

I guess my point in putting this up on MoH is for you guys to collectively discuss whether "art" like this really IS art. Is it just a publicity stunt or a hoax or is it a legitimate form of artistic expression. Have at it.

It must be art 'cause I can't understand it

["It must be art 'cause I can't understand it" is something my old friend Guy Ennis once said when we went to see some pretentious movie I can no longer remember the name of.]
Categories: Art, Miscellaneous
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Wed Jul 11, 2007
Comments (16)
Among the many difficulties American troops are encountering in Iraq (I won't get all political here by listing them), one is a little bit more bizarre than others. It seems that some Iraqis believe that American soldiers carry poison-tipped bullets and eat babies. Kinda tough to win hearts and minds when you're dealing with people who think you dine on infants, I would imagine. I wondered if this story itself was a hoax until I followed the link I found and saw that it lead to Stars and Stripes, the newspaper of the U.S. Army. Again, I'm not being political here, I'm just saying that I think Stars and Stripes is a more credible source for something like this than, say, Ananova. Anyway, it's a weird one for sure.

American troops eat babies?
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Hate Crimes/Terror, Mass Delusion, Military, Urban Legends
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jul 10, 2007
Comments (17)
I guess with over one billion people, it's inevitable that China would produce its share of kooks, quacks and crazies. This 71-year-old man who claims to let 220 volts flow through his body as a form of exercise and says he can cook fish in his bare hands in two minutes fits into at least two of those categories. Oh, he can cure arthritis, too. I just upped him to all three categories.

Chinese man cures arthritis with electricity
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Health/Medicine, Paranormal
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jul 10, 2007
Comments (7)
My wife says this isn't a hoax so she doesn't think it belongs on MoH. She may be right, but it's just so damn wacky, I felt I should share it with you all.

The city of Keizer, Oregon, a suburb of Oregon's capital, Salem, spent $20,000 to install some run-of-the-mill concrete pillars, designed to keep cars from killing pedestrians should drivers lose control and veer onto the sidewalk. So far, so good.

The trouble started when some unspecified people decided that the pillars looked too much like erect penises. I'll give you a moment to ponder that last sentence.

They want them removed or altered. The city is actually considering this, at additional expense to taxpayers, of course.

I'm thinking I can justify posting this to MoH by utilizing the "Mass Delusion" category, a MoH staple.

Giant penii invade Oregon town

Can you stand more about this subject?

More on the giant penii of Keizer

Categories: Mass Delusion
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Fri Jul 06, 2007
Comments (32)
Steorn is an Irish company which has announced that it's developed a "free energy" machine. "Free energy" is another name for "perpetual motion." As you may recall from high school physics, perpetual motion is theoretically impossible according to the known laws of physics. "Pshaw" says Steorn (figuratively, anyway).

So, time for the Big Unveiling came...and went. "Technical problems" says Steorn. Gee, you'd think that a company which has a paradigm-shattering technology would make sure that everything was ready to go before announcing a demo, wouldn't you? No worries, though, they're going to unveil it on the Fifth. I'm sure that every oil company executive will be anxiously sitting in front of his computer, terrified of the machine that will inevitably put him out of work. And then pigs will fly like 747's above the landscape.

Perpetual motion at long last?


Per mo no go


Steorn device linked to Intelligent Design

MORE: Smirk as a Steorn exec "explains" their device's failure:


UPDATE: Let the lying begin!

Steorn CEO tries to explain

Gaze upon the Orbo, disbelievers!
Categories: Con Artists, Free Energy, Technology
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Thu Jul 05, 2007
Comments (13)
I was unaware of this, but apparently a bunch of what appears to be previously-undiscovered photos of the attack at Pearl Harbor has been found. The article I'm linking to here (and the article IT links to) makes the claim that they aren't new at all, but are merely photos that have been around since the time of the attack, some altered to look new.

So, if this is a hoax, what's the point? Why would someone go to this length?

"New" Pearl Harbor photos a hoax?
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Military, Websites
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Thu Jul 05, 2007
Comments (6)
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