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January 2008
I don't check out CollegeHumor.com very often, but I came across this short movie they put together called "Urban Legend ER," which I thought was amusing. It imagines what an ER might look like if all the most popular urban legends were real. Warning: It's a little gory in a few places.



Update: Posted previously in the forum by Tobester.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 31, 2008
Comments (8)
Last month a lot of blogs posted about a "micro nuclear reactor" supposedly developed by Toshiba. It promised to provide dirt-cheap energy, and was also small enough to fit in a basement. The story was first posted on nextenergynews.com:

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.


The idea of everyone putting a nuclear reactor in their basement sounded a bit dicey, and a lot of people were suspicious. Sure enough, the story has turned out to be a hoax. Rod Adams, of the Atomic Insights Blog, contacted Toshiba, who confirmed that they're not building an apartment-sized nuclear reactor. However, it's not clear who was the source of the hoax. Next Energy News perhaps?
Categories: Free Energy, Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 30, 2008
Comments (12)
This ad, which has been running on digg, seems like a particularly egregious example of false advertising. Of course, if anyone would challenge the company in court they could say, "we never actually claimed our product could make an old lady look like a young model. That picture, as the disclaimer indicates, is merely simulated imagery."

The grammar cop in me also has to point out that it should be "fewer wrinkles," not "less wrinkles."

(via adrants)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 30, 2008
Comments (6)
Russian election draws eccentric candidates
Four empresses are running, as well as a tsar.

Fake tickets offer strange message
Police in Boulder are warning drivers to be on the lookout for fake parking tickets that bear this cryptic message: "The foregoing is falsely alleged upon personal initiative. This ticket hereby notes discredibility. Remember: Things could be worse. Get over yourself."

I'm Not Dead Yet
Polish resident Piotr Kucy is trying to convince officials that he isn't dead, but the bureaucrats are proving hard to convince.

Con Artist Poses as Heath Ledger's Dad
Soon after Heath Ledger died, a man claiming to be his father contacted Tom Cruise and John Travolta, seeking emotional support and free plane tickets. Why he contacted Cruise and Travolta, I don't know. Was Heath Ledger a scientologist?
Categories: Death, Identity/Imposters, Politics
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 30, 2008
Comments (2)
Yahoo! Games has an article about urban legends involving video games. Though half the legends they list are true. Here's a summary:

Donkey Kong was a mistranslation of Monkey Kong.
False. Donkey Kong was the original title. "Donkey" was apparently meant to indicate stubborn stupidity. "Kong" was a reference to King Kong.

Saddam Hussein tried to build a supercomputer out of Playstation 2s.
False. The rumor was offered as an explanation for a shortage of Playstation 2s, but if an evil dictator did want to build a supercomputer, using game consoles would be a bad way to do it.

Sony first developed the Playstation for Nintendo.
True. Back in the late 1980s Nintendo and Sony were considering a partnership, but negotiations fell apart and the two went their separate ways.

Million of Atari games are buried in the New Mexico desert.
True. Atari buried millions of games it couldn't sell.

A video arcade game called Polybius was actually part of a military mind-control experiment.
False. I posted about the Polybius legend back in 2004.

A man died by playing video games nonstop.
True. Apparently this has happened more than once. Technically, they died of exhaustion.
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 29, 2008
Comments (8)
In 2006 I posted about the road of non-starting cars in the town of Gosport, England. An unknown force on this road was preventing cars from starting. I don't know if Gosport ever solved its problem, but it seems that the neighborhood around the Empire State Building in New York City is experiencing the same issue.

The New York Daily News reports:

In the shadow of the Empire State Building lies an “automotive Bermuda Triangle” - a five-block radius where vehicles mysteriously die. No one is sure what’s causing it, but all roads appear to lead to the looming giant in our midst - specifically, its Art Deco mast and 203-foot-long, antenna-laden spire...

The Empire State Building Co., which refused to provide the Daily News a list of its antennas, denied it has created any “adverse impact” on automobiles.
“If the claim were indeed true, the streets in the vicinity of the building would be constantly littered with disabled vehicles,” the building’s owner said.
According to many doormen in the area, they often are.

I said it back in 2006, and I'll say it again. Problems like these are obviously the result of inner-earth dwellers and their infernal electromagnetic pulse machines. When will people wise up?
Categories: Places, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 29, 2008
Comments (11)
A kidney transplant ring has been busted in India. Hundreds of poor people were forced into having their kidneys removed. ABC News reports that victims were promised a job, then taken to a private house and forced at gunpoint to sell their kidneys.

One victim's story sounds just like the kidney-transplant urban legend:

"I was approached by a stranger for a job. When I accepted, I was taken to a room with gunmen," Mohammed Salim told India's local NDTV television channel. "They tested my blood, gave me an injection and I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I had pain in my lower abdomen and I was told that my kidney had been removed."

The kidney transplant ring was found out when suspicious neighbors "noticed blood running out of the house's gutters." Yeah, that would kind of be a giveaway. (Thanks, Stephen)
Categories: Health/Medicine, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 29, 2008
Comments (4)
This eerie photo of four cats has been attracting attention online. (It recently made it to the front page of digg.) It's the cat in the car that gives it that extra creepy twist.



There's been some speculation about whether it's photoshopped. Unfortunately, the photographer, Ivan Capraro, hasn't posted any info about the image. But my guess would be that it's not photoshopped. I'd say it was either a lucky shot, or a cat was purposefully put in the car for the shot. (via A Welsh View)
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 29, 2008
Comments (8)
A poster created by the German Green Party in Saxony and Hesse shows a cat that looks like Hitler with the tagline "you can't always recognize Nazis at first glance." The poster is meant to be a swipe at their extreme-right opponents.

But the poster has provoked criticism from an unlikely source. Catsthatlooklikehitler.com has given it a paws down, complaining that it shows a photoshopped Hitler-resembling cat, instead of a real one. They write:

the German Green Party have elected to use Kitlers in their latest electoral literature... It's a shame they had to use a Photoshopped Kitler - there are lots of resident furry Furhers on here who would have loved, I'm sure, to be a model for the Greens!

(via third party watch)
Categories: Animals, Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 29, 2008
Comments (3)
A 14-year-old student at Killian Middle School in Lewisville picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer from the desk of his reading teacher, rubbed the gel on his hands, and then smelled it. According to the teacher, he "inhaled heavily."

The student said he sniffed it because it "smelled good." But the school authorities claimed he sniffed it because he was trying to get high. They gave him an in-school suspension, and then proceeded to file criminal charges against him. WFAA.com reports:

Joni Eddy, assistant police chief in Lewisville, said Friday that hand sanitizer has become a popular inhalant. "That is the latest thing to huff," she said.
She said officers felt they were acting properly when they pursued the case against Mr. Ortiz's son under a complex state statute governing volatile chemicals that could be abused.
"The charge said he was using the product other than its intended use," she said. "Huffing hand sanitizer is certainly using it for something other than its intended use."
Hand sanitizers usually contain a high percentage of ethyl alcohol, a flammable liquid used in a wide range of industrial products and alcoholic beverages.

Thankfully, common sense eventually prevailed and prosecutors dropped the charges. As far as I know, it's not possible to get high by "huffing hand sanitizer." Unless, perhaps, you were to do it to the point that it deprived you of enough oxygen. I'm not sure what strange rumors the police were believing when they pursued this case. The WFAA article includes a statement from the National Institute on Drug Abuse debunking the hand-sanitizer-huffing rumor:

Shirley Simson, a spokeswoman for the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington, said in an e-mail that the agency had no data about hand sanitizers being abused as inhalants. She noted, however, that there have been news reports of some people drinking hand sanitizers for their alcohol content.

It reminds me of the recent Jenkem scare, in which Florida police issued a bulletin warning that local kids were getting high by sniffing the fermenting gas from human sewage.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 28, 2008
Comments (22)
Dr. James L. Carter has a weird job. He manufactures fake moon dirt. His company, ETSimulants, produces tons of it every year. His primary customer is NASA, who needs fake moon dirt to test machines that might need to operate on the moon. In an interview with Pegasus News Dr. Carter explains:

"When you land on the moon, all this dry, dry dust blows into the space craft’s engines. The astronauts’ safety rests on this substance being correct. There can be no mechanical failures once you’re parked on the moon’s surface.”

I'm sure he could make some good money if he put his product in little glass bottles and sold it on eBay. After all, if eBay shoppers will buy genuine air from Loch Ness, they'll also buy fake dirt from the moon.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Science
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 28, 2008
Comments (5)
In order to educate the bus-riding public about the physics of sneezing, Science World created a Sneezing Bus Stop. Watch the video to understand:



They also created posters that can be wrapped around trees to demonstrate how much beavers can eat.



Categories: Pranks, Science
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 28, 2008
Comments (6)
An email going around implies that there's some significance in the fact that, if you search hard enough, you can find numbers associated with Benazir Bhutto's life that add up to nine.

Benazir Bhutto:-
Born in 1953. 1+9+5+3 = 18 = 1+8 = 9
First suicidal attack on her on 18 Oct. 1+8 = 9
Second Suicidal attack in which she died. 27 Dec. 2+7 = 9
She died in the year 2007 2+0+0+7 = 9
And the Total Period from 1953 to 2007 is 54 years. 5+4 = 9
She got married on 18 Dec. 1+8 = 9 &
She went Out of pakistan for 9 years in 1998 1+9+9+8 = 27 = 2+7 = 9 &
Came back in 2007 2+0+0+7 = 9
Her Brother Shahnawaz bhutto has been murdered in 1980 1+9+8+0 =18 =1+8 =9
& if you write Benazir Bhutto in urdu langauge (urdu text) it contains 9 alphabets!

My name, Alex Boese, has nine letters in it. Surely this too has some significance! (via Funny Emails)
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 28, 2008
Comments (6)
In the article about the Loch Ness Monster in the hoaxipedia, I've posted some Nessie haiku contributed by readers. I'm quite proud of my own contribution:

Lurking in the deep,
centuries old. Addicted
to tourist sushi.

But far more accomplished poets have also been inspired by Nessie. Glasgow's poet laureate, Edwin Morgan, included a poem, "The Loch Ness Monster's Song," in his 1970 collection Twelve Songs. Here it is:

Sssnnnwhufffffl?
Hnwhuffl hhnnwfl hnfl hfl?
Gdroblobblhobngbl gbl gl g g g g glbl.
Drublhaflabhalflubhafgabhhafl fl fl -
gm grawwwww grf grawf awfgm graw gm.
Hovoplodok-doplodovok-plovodokot-doplodokosh?
Splgraw fok fok splgrafthatchgabrlgabrl fok splfok!
Zgra kra gka fok!
Grof grawff gahf?
Gombl mbl bl-
blm plm,
blm plm,
blm plm,
blp.

According to a Rice University webpage, in 1991 the poem was reprinted in 100 Poems on the Underground, and had this explanation appended to it:

"The author explained in conversation that the lonely monster rises from
the loch and looks round for the companions of his youth -- prehistoric
reptiles -- and, finding nobody he knows, he descends again to the depths
after a brief swearing session. This was confirmed by a nine-year-old boy
in a workshop, who said the monster was 'looking for a diplodocus'. When
asked how he knew that, he said, 'It says so.' It does."

Sure enough, if you read the poem closely, you can tell that the monster is looking for a diplodocus, and does then start swearing.
Categories: Cryptozoology, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 26, 2008
Comments (8)
According to James Sroden, the popular Blue Man Group attacked him when he went to see their show in October 2006. He says they forced him on stage, circled him, held his neck and arms, forced his head back, and then inserted an "esophagus cam" down his throat, projecting an image of his throat onto a large screen.

Sroden says he subsequently bled from the nose, had nightmares, and lost fillings in his teeth.

The Blue Man Group's version of events is quite different. From msnbc.com:

The Blue Man Group's Chicago general manager said the stunt is just an illusion.
"Essentially, we have a piece in the show where an actor holds a camera to an audience member's mouth, doesn't enter their mouth, and then we play a video," Kori Prior said. "We have been performing this show in this theater for 10 years and have never had this issue before."

So it seems that Sroden is expecting a jury to believe that the Blue Man Group's illusion is actually real. Maybe he's hoping the Blue Man Group will pay him something in order to avoid going to court. (Thanks, William)
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 26, 2008
Comments (5)
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