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February 2008
Quite a few blogs are linking to these fake eyeball stickers, though I haven't been able to track down if any company is actually selling them. Nevertheless, they're a good idea if you want to take a nap at work while pretending to be working. Just place the stickers over your closed eyes, and no one will be the wiser. (via J-walk).



Update: If you really want to buy some eyeball stickers of your own, Roylco sells them. They're not exactly the same as the eyeball stickers in the picture above, but they're close. (Thanks to Becca for the heads up about this.)
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 14, 2008
Comments (22)
Here's an ad, apparently created by a Brazilian extermination company, that is placed inside pizza boxes. The ad shows a photo of a dead roach, but it's only revealed as the pizza is removed from the box.

I'm sure the ad would attract people's attention, but I find it surprising that a pizza company would agree to place an ad like this beneath their food.

No word on if it's a real ad campaign, or just a mock up. (via nulovka via adrants)



Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 14, 2008
Comments (9)
Guy convinces girl he's a vampire-werewolf hybrid
An unusual, but apparently effective pickup strategy. The guy was later charged with statutory sexual assault since he was 19 and she was 15. To prove to police that he was a genuine vampire/werewolf, he showed them his canine teeth. The police pointed out to him that "all mammals, including humans, have canine teeth."

German museum discovers its Monet is a fake
The clues: a retraced signature, it was painted over a drawing that was clearly not a Monet, and a "colourless substance" had been applied to make the painting look older.

Boston man receives postcard from 1929
Could this be the work of the Lost Postcard Rescue Department?

Kid who spotted the Titanic hoax photos nominated for journalism award
I posted about the hoax Titanic photos back in Aug 2007. It's nice for the kid to get an award.
Categories: Art, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 14, 2008
Comments (11)
Flickr user vasiliumihnea has uploaded pictures of a Bigfoot he spotted in Romania. He writes:

Photos taken friday, February 8th 2008, in Romania, Vrancea Mountains. A tall strange humanoid crossing the road, that's what I saw.

Normally I'm quite skeptical of Bigfoot sightings. But wow! These photos are convincing. They look nothing like a guy in an ape suit. Though maybe it's Cain.



Related article: Bigfoot Hoaxes
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 12, 2008
Comments (16)
Here's another "Jesus Image in a Tree" for my collection. This one was found by Pennsylvania resident Craig O'Connor. MyFoxColorado.com reports:
By counting the tree rings, O'Connor believes the tree was at least 40-50 years old. As a furniture maker of 25 years, O'Connor has worked with wood and seen plenty of different stains and marks. He says this one is radically different from all the others. O'Connor is a Catholic and believes it's a sign from God. When asked what the message is, he replied that it's like Jesus saying, "Believe in me. I'm still here.  Have faith in me."

This image is a lot easier to see than many of the Jesus-in-a-tree images. But it looks like Jesus has lobster claws.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 12, 2008
Comments (10)
Last week the Daily Mirror reported that 67-year-old singer Tom Jones had insured his chest hair for £3.5million:

With tough tour schedules and big money at stake, It's Not Unusual for stars to insure their bodies. So it should come as no surprise to learn that Sir Tom Jones, 67, whose mop of luxurious curly brown hair has made him a hit with the ladies, has had his chest hair insured - for the princely sum of £3.5million!
Top insurance house Lloyd's of London was approached about the deal and, after initial concerns that it might prove too much of a risk, went ahead.
"Like a vintage wine, Tom just gets better with age," says our body hair mole.
"Even at the grand old age of 67, the ladies love his hip-thrusting moves and catching a sneaky peak of his famously rugged chest hair."

The story was soon picked up by other media outlets including AOL, Fox News, and the Miami Herald.

I remember seeing the headline and thinking it sounded odd, but I figured it was a publicity stunt. Turns out it's not even that. David Emery of About.com has debunked the report. He writes:

I contacted Lloyd's of London and they said no such policy has been issued. A note from Tom Jones' management on the singer's official website confirms: "No such insurance policy exists or has ever been considered." The story is based, in fact, on years-old scuttlebutt about a policy drafted for an anonymous male celebrity who never actually purchased the coverage.
Categories: Business/Finance, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 11, 2008
Comments (2)
Following up on my post three months ago about "Brazilian Invisible Fish" (also see the hoaxipedia article), it looks like scientists have engineered a real transparent fish. It's not quite an invisible fish, because the internal organs are visible, but it's close. The Telegraph reports:

[Dr. White] created the transparent fish by mating two existing breeds. Zebrafish have three pigments in their skin-reflective, black, and yellow. Dr White mated a breed that lacks reflective pigment, called "roy orbison", with one that lacks black pigment, called "nacre". The offspring had only yellow pigment in their skin, essentially looking clear. White named the new breed "casper", after the ghost.

If displayed in a store window, these transparent fish could probably draw as large a crowd as Reichenbach's invisible fish.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 11, 2008
Comments (4)
With the Martian Bigfoot recently making headlines, Dr. Charles Lintott wrote an article for the BBC that traces the long history of Martian pareidolia.

Something about Mars makes us see things that aren't really there. It began with early astronomers believing that the surface of Mars was covered with canals. During the 1960s, some astronomers reported seeing signs of vegetation on the planet's surface.

The image below shows (on the top row) the Martian canals. The bottow row (from left to right) is the "face on Mars" taken by NASA's Viking spacecraft in the 1970s; the fossils that NASA researchers claimed to have found in a Martian meteorite in 1996; the recent Martian bigfoot; and the Martian smiley face (also recently photographed).

Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Pareidolia, Science
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 11, 2008
Comments (14)
Jane has declared that in ninety days she's going to kill herself, and she's keeping a daily blog to share her experiences during her final months. She writes:

I am going to kill myself in 90 days. What else should i say? This blog is not a cry for help or even to get attention. It's simply a public record of my last 90 days in existence. I'm not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision. But, does it really have to? I mean, as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose.

As of today, February 11, she has 84 days left.

I can't predict the future, so I can't say with certainty whether Jane will or will not kill herself at the appointed time, but my hunch is that her blog is complete b.s. There are a couple of reasons for suspecting this. First of all, this is not the first suicide blog to have appeared on the internet, and they invariably end up being fake. Remember the "Countdown to Oblivion" blog, in which Jerry Romero declared he was going to kill himself on January 13th, 2005? When the date arrived, he posted a single-word message for all his readers: PWNED.

Second, her comment that "as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose" strikes me as phony. It sounds like what a religious person imagines that an atheist would say. Most atheists, I think, would say that they don't need a deity to have a fulfilling, meaningful existence... thank you, very much. Our relationships with other people and what we do with our life is what gives it meaning.

In fact, I suspect that religious people are far more likely to commit suicide, since they view death as not being final. They might imagine killing themselves as a way to start over, either through reincarnation or by becoming a spirit. For instance, you don't often hear of atheist suicide bombers.

In this vein, there have been recorded cases of people who have committed suicide as an experiment, in the belief that they would be able to find out what life after death was like, and find a way to communicate that knowledge back to the living. For instance, the Jan 24, 1927 issue of the Chicago Tribune records the case of W. Cassels Noe, a medical student at the University of Wisconsin, who "shot and killed himself today, leaving a note saying he wanted to learn what was beyond the grave. The note, addressed to a Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity brother, promised him that Noe would communicate with him from the beyond as soon as possible and tell what death is and what it brings."

There's no evidence that Noe ever found a way to send his friend a message.

Update: I should revise what I said above. Having thought about it for a few minutes, I don't actually think that a person's religious beliefs (or lack of them) has any predictive value of whether that person is likely to take their own life. So I'll take back that line about religious people being more likely to commit suicide. It was a knee-jerk response to "Jane's" suggestion that she might as well commit suicide since she's an atheist. I'll simply point out that, just as there are certainly depressed people who commit suicide and declare that they don't believe in God, there are also plenty of people who kill themselves because they think they're going on to some kind of afterlife. The Heaven's Gate cult here in San Diego was one of the most famous examples of that here in America.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 11, 2008
Comments (75)
The Patry Copyright blog has posted details of an interesting copyright case: United States v. Chalupnik. It doesn't, strictly speaking, have anything to do with hoaxes, except that it raises the question of whether there actually was a crime committed, or whether it's an example of a big corporation trying to invent a crime. Here are the facts, as summarized by William Patry:

defendant was an employee for the U.S. Postal Service. BMG Columbia House is a mail order operation selling CDs and DVDs by mail. Many of these discs are undeliverable. Rather than pay the postage to have them returned to it, BMG Columbia House instructed the Postal Service to throw them away. The Postal Service did throw them away. Defendant then retrieved them from the trash and sold them to area stores, netting $78,818. A surveillance camera showed defendant retrieving the items and he was arrested; he was originally charged with felony mail theft, but then pleaded guilty to misdemeanor copyright infringement. The trial court sentenced defendant to two years probation and ordered him to pay $78,818 to BMG in restitution. Chalupnik appealed.

So the guy took the CDs out of the trash and resold them, prompting BMG to complain that he had caused them lost sales. Does this mean that if I threw away a box full of my books, I could sue anyone who found them in the trash and sold them? That doesn't seem to make sense. After all, I threw them away, presumably forfeiting my ownership of them.

The court overturned the defendant's sentence on appeal -- but it sounds as if he still might face some other form of sentencing.

The complicating factor here is that he was a post office employee, and thus was obligated to honor the post office's promise to BMG that it would actually throw away the material.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Music
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2008
Comments (24)
Last week high-school football player Kevin Hart announced at an assembly at his school, Fernley High, that he had been recruited to play at UC Berkeley, a Pac-10 school. It was exciting news for his school and was publicized by the local media. But then Hart's story began to unravel.

It became apparent that Hart hadn't been recruited by anyone at UC Berkeley. Hart initially explained that the recruitment had been conducted by a middleman named Kevin Riley, implying that the middleman must have conned him.

But yesterday Hart admitted that he had, in fact, made the entire thing up. In a statement he said, "I wanted to play D-1 ball more than anything. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I made up what I wanted to be reality. I am sorry for disappointing and embarrassing my family, coaches, Fernley High school, the involved universities and reporters covering the story."

Kind of sad in a way. Links here and here.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2008
Comments (9)
Nate Hill describes himself as a rogue taxidermist. He rummages through trash looking for dead animals: fish, dogs, cats, etc. Whatever he finds, he stitches together to form a bizarre new creature. From a recent AP article about him:

"I'm totally self-taught," he said. "To put it simply, what I do is cut up the animals, I sew them together in a different way, and then I submerge them in rubbing alcohol to preserve them."
He considers himself a member of a loosely defined group of "rogue taxidermists" who sidestep the traditional craft of taxidermy that aims to make lifelike replicas by preserving and stuffing animal skins. Along with the garbage cans of Chinatown, he said gets most of his animals from hunters, roadkill and taxidermists...
Hill said he felt more like a "folk" artist, given his lack of formal training in the arts. His intent, he said, is similar to "the guy who sits in his basement and has his train set, and he has all the people and he makes mountains ... that's the kind of thing that I want, but I want to make it with real flesh."

Nate is a star member of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists, which describes itself as: "a veritable rout dedicated to a shared mandate to advocate the showmanship of oddities; espouse the belief in natural adaptation and mutation; and encourage the desire to create displays of curiosity."

They have some interesting items for sale in their gift shop, such as a 2-headed chick, a skinned squirrel head fridge magnet, and a frog eating human toes.
Categories: Animals, Art
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2008
Comments (8)
Restaurant removes fake surveillance camera from bathroom
"A fake surveillance camera pointing into a bathroom stall of a Second Cup restaurant was taken down Monday after it sparked concerns from the chain's executives and the Quebec government. Second Cup franchisee Francois Turgeon recently installed the decoy camera in his downtown cafe hoping to ward off heroin users who reportedly left dirty needles in the men's bathroom."

Man complains that sex doll lost its moan
"Consumer officials in Romania have upheld a complaint from a man who said his inflatable doll had lost its moan... The man had also complained that the rubber doll deflated too quickly, local media said."

Masked robber forgets to keep mask on
Brian Waltermyer walked into a bank wearing a hood. "He handed a teller a note demanding money, and the teller told him to remove the hood. He did, giving the bank surveillance cameras a crystal-clear view of his face." He was arrested soon after.

Grandma hides cocaine in bra
Big Gary writes: "The only reason this is mildly interesting is it shows the Brassiere Brigade tradition is still alive in Florida."
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 06, 2008
Comments (2)
Engineering students at the University of British Columbia continued their pranking tradition of placing a red Volkswagen in an unusual location. This year they dangled it from Lions Gate Bridge. Canada.com notes that, "In years past, engineers have hung VWs from the Alex Fraser Bridge and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, and have even put one atop UBC's 15-storey Buchanan Tower."

In If At All Possible, Involve A Cow, Neil Steinberg provides a fuller description of UBC's tradition of college pranks:

The University of British Columbia engineers are famous for their pranks, a yearly tradition during winter engineering week. Some of their pranks are wonderfully subtle, such as wiring the lights on the Lions Gate Bridge to blink "UBC Engineers" in Morse code. They once changed the chimes of the UBC clock to sound out the engineers' theme song. The engineers have a ritual involving the shell of a red Volkswagen beetle, which is deposited at some challenging spot around Vancouver, such as atop the 15-story Buchanan Tower, at the summit of a downtown clock tower, or suspended under a bridge (in a tour de force, one year the bug was suspended between the Granville and Burrand bridges). In 1992, it was floated on empty beer kegs to the middle of Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon, and the fountain -- which had been activated for the occasion -- was redirected so it shot out the car's sunroof.

Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 06, 2008
Comments (3)
I did my civic duty and voted today in the California Primary. (I'm an Obama supporter.) I noticed that at my polling station they had gotten rid of the electronic voting machines used in previous elections and had returned to paper ballots. This meant I had to color in the bubbles with a bic pen that was given to me by a polling worker. I didn't get a chance to use one of those fancy new "invisible ink" pens that were seen in Chicago. KSLA reports:

A Chicago Board of Elections spokesman says voters filling out paper ballots at one precinct today were given styluses used for touchscreen voting instead of ink pens.
The spokesman says when the voters indicated they couldn't mark their ballots with the pens, they were told -- incorrectly -- that the pens used invisible ink.
The spokesman says after 20 people experienced the same problem, somebody noticed that there were 20 ballots on which nobody had voted for anything.

Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 06, 2008
Comments (8)
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