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May 2008
Fake road signs have been popping up around Frankston, Australia, amusing some and outraging others. The signs are said to be the work of a "mystery artist." From the Frankston Leader:

The mystery Frankston signs have been carefully made to look like official road signs. Drivers have reported seeing them in Cranbourne-Frankston Rd, Langwarrin. Some think they are funny while others - and officials - aren't laughing...

Although VicRoads' media department thought the signs were "very amusing", its regional director Steve Brown was not laughing. The placement of inappropriate signs such as these was unsafe and illegal, he said. "VicRoads has arranged for them to be removed immediately and may request police to assist in identifying who was responsible."

It reminds me of the Fake Road Sign Project that artists conducted in Lyon, France back in 2004 (with the official endorsement of the Lyon city government). The Lyon Sign Project used to be online at, but that link now appears to be dead. A few of the Lyon signs can still be seen here, here, and here.

Related post: Welcome to Detroit.
Categories: Art, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed May 07, 2008
Comments (3)
This looks like it would be a great place to visit.

It's Cinque Terre in Italy. Unfortunately, it's not quite so colorful in real life. (via City Comforts)

Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Wed May 07, 2008
Comments (6)
Local 6, an Orlando news station, recently conducted a "missing child experiment." They plastered posters all over a mall claiming that 8-year-old Britney Begonia was missing. Then they had Britney herself sit down alone a few feet from some of the signs. The question was: would anyone notice the poster and offer to help Britney?

The predictable result: Of the hundreds of people who walked past and saw the posters, only two stopped to ask Britney if she was OK. Many people, questioned later, said they noticed Britney's resemblance to the girl in the poster, but were "fearful of getting involved."

It's the unresponsive bystander effect, well known to social psychologists. People don't like sticking their neck out to get involved in a potentially uncomfortable situation, especially if no one else seems to be doing so.

I just realized that Local 6 is the same station that ran a similar experiment back in February that I posted about, in which they had an actor pretend to be a criminal breaking into a car, and filmed the non-response of bystanders on the streets. They evidently think unresponsive bystanders make for compelling news. And luckily for them, social psychologists have devised all kinds of situations in which to test the phenomenon, including the bystander response to arterial bleeding. So Local 6 shouldn't run out of material anytime soon.
Categories: Psychology
Posted by Alex on Tue May 06, 2008
Comments (11) (the newspaper of Snohomish County) recently ran this story:

Mom appalled at racy books in store for teens at Alderwood mall
By Scott Pesznecker
Herald Writer
LYNNWOOD -- Marci Milfs went to Urban Outfitters to find clothes for her teenage son. She was surprised to find sexually charged books that she believes have no place in a clothing store for teens and young adults. On one end of the spectrum was "Porn for Women," a photo book showing men doing housework. On the other was "Pornogami: A Guide to the Ancient Art of Paper-Folding for Adults," a guide for making anatomically correct artwork. "When I saw it, I was shocked," Milfs said... Milfs was so appalled that she is preparing to file a complaint with the city of Lynnwood, and has already aired her frustrations to State Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, and organizations including Morality in Media, Concerned Women of America and the American Family Association.

When I saw this story I assumed either it had to be a joke, or the reporter had fallen for a prank. Kind of like when reporters are tricked into quoting "Haywood Jablome" as a source.

A "MILF" (for anyone unfamiliar with the term) is popular internet slang for any attractive older woman. By internet standards, that means any woman over the age of 25. It stands for "Mom I'd like to f***".

So a story about "Marci Milfs" being appalled by racy books has to be a joke. Right? Apparently not. It's just another example of an unfortunate last name. Marci Milfs seems to be a real person.
Categories: Literature/Language, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue May 06, 2008
Comments (10)
Officials at the Houston Zoo report that they're being inundated with thousands of phone calls as a result of a prank text message circulating via cell phone. From

"It's an enormous annoyance," zoo spokesman Brian Hill said. Thousands of people have received a message that someone has been talking about them. Some of the messages read: "Hey y is someone calln me and lookn for u n askn me where r u at n where u live heres tha # 713 555 650 tell then to stop calln me"
"It's scaring a lot of people," the switchboard operator told a caller. "We are working with the FBI and the major cell phone providers." Hill said that anyone who receives a similar message should trash it instead of calling the zoo.
"Chances are that if you get a text message, 'somebody's looking for you,' or 'I'm getting calls from somebody looking for you,' and our phone number is at the bottom of it, you'd be pretty safe to just ignore it and delete it," Hill said.

I think the message, translated from text speak into english, says: "Hey, why is someone calling me and looking for you and asking me where are you at, and where you live? Here's their number: 713 555 650. Tell them to stop calling me."

This is a new variant of the classic "phone the zoo" prank, which is one of the most popular April Fool's Day pranks of all time. Usually the prank involves tricking someone into calling the zoo and asking for "Mr Lion" or "Mr Fox". The prank used to be so popular that many zoos would have to shut down their switchboards on April 1st.

The prank is as old as telephones themselves, and actually traces back much further, deriving from the even older prank of fooling people into going to the Tower of London to see the "washing of the lions."
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue May 06, 2008
Comments (2)
About two weeks ago a story started going around alleging that an Adolf Hitler doll, marketed to children, was being sold in the Ukraine. From the Daily Mail:

One saleswoman said: "It is like Barbie. Kids can undress fuhrer, pin on medals and there's a spare head in the kit to give him a kinder expression on his face.
"He has glasses that are round, in the manner of pacifist Jon Lennon".
The doll will also come with accessories like a miniature Blondi, Hitler's faithful Alsatian who died alongside the Nazi in his bunker in Berlin in 1945.
The doll is dressed in long light-brown cloak, military uniform and jackboots.
According to the saleswoman, should the demand be high, manufacturers will go further and launch a series of themed Third Reich toys, including interiors of Hitler's chancellery, toy concentration camps with barbed wire, barracks and operating models of gas chambers and crematoriums.

But now it seems that the reports of the Hitler Doll were a hoax. WikiNews reports:

The hoax first appeared two weeks ago and was spread rapidly, when a journalist found a model of Asian origin aimed at adult collecters in a specialist shop in Kiev, and misrepresented the find by failing to give basic details of the facts of the case when he publicised his find. The story propagated and expanded from there.
Categories: Journalism
Posted by Alex on Mon May 05, 2008
Comments (10)
In this video a surfer hitches a ride behind a shark, after getting the shark to swallow some chunks of meat attached to a fishing line. It looks like it was shot in southern California, and we do get some big sharks around here occasionally. Just last week a guy was killed off the coast of San Diego by a great white. But this video looks obviously fake. As many of the youtube comments point out, you can see the wake of a boat off camera in front of the shark fin.

I don't have any information about who made the video. At the end, the word "Notorious" appears on the screen, but I don't know who or what that is.

Categories: Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon May 05, 2008
Comments (13)
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