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June 2008
The Telegraph reports that Guinness World Records has awarded stripper Maxi Mounds the record for the "World's Largest Augmented Breasts."

I gather this is a new category for Guinness, and it surprises me they would create it since they usually avoid awarding records for anything that might cause physical harm. For instance, they don't award a record for World's Largest Cat, because they're afraid people will overfeed their cats to gain the record. Nor do they award a record for sleep deprivation, so as to discourage people from staying awake for weeks.

Maxi Mounds gained the record thanks to her 36MM bust, which she achieved by inserting polypropylene string into her breasts. This augmentation technique was developed by Houston surgeon Gerald Johnson during the late 1990s, but has since been banned by the FDA.

Update: Via metro.co.uk: Maxi Mounds before and after. Too bizarre not to share. (Thanks, Nona)
Categories: Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 05, 2008
Comments (26)
Another case of an impostor is in the news. A woman in Somerville, Mass. thought she was dating Jeff Turner, a former basketball player for the Washington Seattle Sonics. Turns out she was actually dating an impostor named Ronnie Craven. Craven's cover was blown when the woman became suspicious, tracked down the real Jeff Turner, and called him. Craven admits to the hoax, but says he only did it to impress the woman. In other words, he claims he was only trying to benefit sexually, not financially, from the scheme. However, it appears he had also been telling friends and even his hometown newspaper that he worked for the Sonics. From seattlepi.com:

"I'll admit, it was a hoax," Craven said Monday. "It was all a put-on. But somebody who I met on a dating site is trying to sabotage me. This is some broad that I lied to who said I did identity theft, (and) I am not going to know what hit me. There was no intimacy in the relationship. I never tapped her."...
Craven insisted he would stop lying about his identity. He said this situation would damage his reputation in Somerville. He said he was merely lying to impress a woman, nothing more. But this time his game went too far.
"To be honest with you, this whole thing has already taken its toll," he said.
"I know my credibility doesn't look so great right now. This is embarrassing for me. At this point, I don't know what to do. I will say this is very, very disturbing."

You gotta love how guys like Craven (which is a perfect name for him) rationalize their deception. He figures it was okay to lie to the woman because he hadn't "tapped her."

Impostors often pose as sports stars. Just a few months ago I posted about a guy who, for decades, pretended to be Red Sox's pitcher Bill Henry. Not even his wife knew the truth. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sex/Romance, Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 05, 2008
Comments (7)
This story is a great example of the truism that no security system can be better than the people operating it. Thieves broke into a museum at the University of British Columbia and stole gold artwork worth over $2 million. They got around the security system simply by calling the guards, pretending to be from the alarm company, and telling them to ignore any alarms that might go off that night. From cbc.ca:

Four hours before the break-in on May 23, two or three key surveillance cameras at the Museum of Anthropology mysteriously went off-line. Around the same time, a caller claiming to be from the alarm company phoned campus security, telling them there was a problem with the system and to ignore any alarms that might go off. Campus security fell for the ruse and ignored an automated computer alert sent to them, police sources told CBC News.
Categories: Con Artists, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 04, 2008
Comments (4)
I've previously noted a few cases where extreme shock tactics were used to teach a lesson. (See Fake Attack at Elementary School and Fake Terrorism Drill.) The following case isn't as bad as those earlier examples, but it still comes across as creepy for officials to trick students into believing their classmate had died in order to teach a lesson about drunk driving. From signonsandiego.com:

Many juniors and seniors were driven to tears – a few to near hysterics – May 26 when a uniformed police officer arrived in several classrooms to notify them that a fellow student had been killed in a drunken-driving accident. The officer read a brief eulogy, placed a rose on the deceased student's seat, then left the class members to process their thoughts and emotions for the next hour.
The program, titled “Every 15 Minutes,” was designed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Its title refers to the frequency in which a person somewhere in the country dies in an alcohol-related traffic accident.
About 10 a.m., students were called to the athletic stadium, where they learned that their classmates had not died. There, a group of seniors, police officers and firefighters staged a startlingly realistic alcohol-induced fatal car crash. The students who had purportedly died portrayed ghostly apparitions encircling the scene.
Categories: Death, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 04, 2008
Comments (22)
Gill forwarded me the following email and wrote in the subject line, "pukey sentimental hoax (I hope it's not real)."

Will you give this to my Daddy?
Last week I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen.
Moving thru the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering.
When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families.
Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal.
Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women, a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said 'hi.'
The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her.
The young soldier, who didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.
The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter's name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up.
When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other service men pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it.
After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, 'I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.' He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying 'your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.'
The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event.
As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.
We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's good to be an American.

This one has been going around for a couple of years. Snopes covered it back in 2006, listing it as undetermined. They note that two additional versions of the story have been spotted in circulation -- one placing the touching scene in Trenton, Ontario, the other in Melbourne, Australia. Snopes suggests that the Atlanta version is probably the original, and this is almost certainly correct.

When I first read the email, I had the same reaction as Gill. It's over-the-top schmaltz. It's too corny to be real. But now I'm not so sure.

It turns out that the Atlanta airport has a tradition of applauding the troops. I don't know if it still happens, but as late as 2007 it definitely was. Youtube has plenty of videos of troops being applauded at the Atlanta airport. The description attached to one of these videos notes that, "Several times a day the Atlanta airport gives thanks to the troops that are protecting our freedom as they march through the terminal."

The Atlanta tradition even inspired the famous Anheuser-Busch "Applause" ad that aired during the 2005 Super Bowl and the 2005 Daytona 500.

So given that the part about applauding the troops at the Atlanta airport checks out, it's not that implausible that the Courtney scene might have occurred. Yeah, it could be the invention of someone who had seen the Anheuser-Busch ad, but I'd say the probability of the scene being real is pretty good. Of course, that makes it no less cloyingly sentimental.
Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 04, 2008
Comments (37)
Big Gary writes: "Don't we see this story about 2 or 3 times a year? Only the country and the broken object causing the injury change." From Yahoo! News:

UTRECHT, Netherlands - Utrecht police say a 21-year-old Dutch man is recovering after a "mooning" that went horribly wrong. A police statement says the man and two others had run down a street in Utrecht with their pants pulled down in the back "for a joke." It says that at one point the 21-year-old "pushed his behind against the window of a restaurant" that broke and resulted in "deep wounds to his derriere."

Here in Southern California we have the annual "Mooning of Amtrak" tradition. Every year patrons of the Mugs Away Tavern in Laguna Niguel set aside a day to moon passing Amtrak trains. This has been going on for almost 30 years. It'll occur this year on July 12. I've never heard of any injuries occurring at this event, but I'm sure someone doing something stupid will get hurt eventually.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 04, 2008
Comments (5)
This is a little sad, but odd. There's a bus stop located outside the Benrath Senior Centre in Dusseldorf. People occasionally walk up to the stop and stand there, waiting for a bus, but a bus never comes. In fact, the stop is on no bus route. It's a faux bus stop, purposefully created by the local department of transportation as a lure designed to deceive Alzheimer's patients from the senior centre. From telegraph.co.uk:

“It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, “but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.
“We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later today and invite them in to the home for a coffee,” said Mr Neureither. “Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave.” The idea has proved so successful that it has now been adopted by several other homes across Germany.

Update: I added an image of the fake bus stop. Thanks to Mikkel for finding it.
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 04, 2008
Comments (11)
Tammi Parteet was worried since she hadn't heard from her husband. So she decided to call him at Piedmont Hospital, where he worked as a doctor. WSBTV.com relates what happened next:

She called him on his Piedmont cell phone, the one he told her was for emergencies. A staff member picked up. "I said, 'I'm trying to locate my husband, Dr. Perteet.' And she said, 'Dr. who? We don't have a Dr. Perteet.' And she says, 'Are you talking about the guy that had this cell phone?' And I said 'yes.' And she says, 'Oh, he was arrested last night for impersonating a doctor,'" Tammi Perteet said.

Although her husband is now in jail, he still maintains he really is a doctor... and an electrical engineer as well. Sounds like he's also a skilled actor. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Health/Medicine, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 03, 2008
Comments (9)
An email doing the rounds in Alaska tells of a boy who was abducted by "ircenrraat" -- which (from what I can gather) are the Alaskan equivalent of leprechauns. The email is written by Nick Andrew Jr., who says that he found the boy standing in the middle of a field. From Anchorage Daily News:

The boy said he was "brought into" Pilcher Mountain, a site often associated with ircenrraat encounters. There, he was questioned and saw other "little beings."
"He said he made contact with a little girl abducted over 40 years ago," Andrew said. "She told him who she was and she wanted help."
After that the ircenrraat decided to release the boy. "And that's when he came to, I guess, a few minutes before I found him."
Andrew maintained calm perspective about the experience. "Is this kid telling the truth?" he said, leaving the answer open-ended.

Being a skeptic, I'd say that someone is either inventing a tall tale or is letting their imagination run wild. But the real reason I posted this story is that it reminded me of my late great uncle who (so I've been told) once designed a camera that could photograph "the little people that live on plants." I never saw this camera nor any of the pictures taken with it. But I wish I had. (via The Anomalist)
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 03, 2008
Comments (4)
An article about "tornado oddities" on Yahoo! News leads off with this one:

As residents in Hugo begin to move on from last week's tornado, some say they noticed a few bizarre things amid all the damage. Jason Akins said the twister unwound a roll of toilet paper in his bathroom — draped it across the countertop, then rewound it in the sink. The toilet paper didn't even rip.
"All I could say was, 'You have got to be kidding me,'" Akins recalled.

'You've gotta be kidding me' is my reaction also. An article on twincities.com provides a few more details about this unlikely event:

In the bathroom, something unwound a roll of toilet paper. Without ripping it, it unspooled the paper across the countertop, then neatly rewound it in a sink — like a poltergeist making a soft white nest.

So the toilet paper didn't rewind into a perfect roll, which is what I thought when I first read the Yahoo! article. It just collected in the sink. Weird, but I'm willing to accept this could have happened. (Thanks, Big Gary)
Categories: Journalism
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 03, 2008
Comments (10)
Eric writes: "Alex, please look into this one" -- Al-Qaeda's terrifying vision of a devastated America in the wake of a nuclear attack.

According to the Daily Mail article, a computer-generated image of what Washington DC would look like after a nuclear attack was recently posted on an Islamic extremist website. Simultaneously, there have been rumors circulating suggesting that "the FBI was warning that an Al Qaeda video was about to be released urging militants to use weapons of mass destruction to attack the West."



Turns out that the FBI hasn't issued such a warning. Nor is the picture of Washington in ruins an Al-Qaeda creation. It's actually a piece of concept art that was used to promote the game Fallout 3, from Bethesda Softworks. Shacknews.com reports:

The artwork was released as part of Bethesda's early promotional campaigns for Fallout 3, which takes place in and around the Washington, D.C. area decades after a nuclear catastrophe. The image appeared on the Daily Mail's website under the headline "Al-Qaeda's terrifying vision of a devastated America in the wake of a nuclear attack."...
The image also appeared on the Australian news outlet News.com.au, citing terror watchdog organization SITE Intel as having released the image "which reportedly appeared on an Islamist forum."
Though several members of the press have since pointed out the gaffe, neither the Daily Mail nor News.com.au have updated their stories with corrections or retractions of the claim.

What occurs to me, when I look at the picture, is how unlikely it is that the Capitol Building would survive a nuclear attack. Growing up in DC, I always heard that the one building in the city most likely to survive a nuclear bomb would be the National Cathedral since its walls are massively thick.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 02, 2008
Comments (12)
Two hundred years ago General Ignacio Alvarez, commander of a South American region that would later become Argentina, sent James Madison a pair of duelling pistols forged from the iron of a meteorite. It was a pretty cool gift -- assuming the guns were real. But recent tests performed at the ISIS neutron source in the UK have revealed that the guns were cheap fakes. From BBC News:

The machine was used to compare Monroe's pistols to a fragment of a meteorite from the Campo del Cielo crater in Argentina; the supposed origin of the metals from which they were forged. The results were conclusive. "They were completely different," Dr Godfrey told BBC News. "There were differences in microstructures, there were differences in carbon content, there were differences in chemical composition. We can say for sure they weren't made from meteoritic iron."

Even worse, the silver handles of the pistols turned out to have been made from a cheap brass alloy. Researchers aren't sure whether General Alvarez knew the guns were fake, or if he himself was duped. In fact, researchers aren't even sure if the guns are the original ones given to Madison. It's possible someone at some point in time may have switched the real ones for fakes. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: History, Military
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 02, 2008
Comments (2)
Laura Albert created the character of JT Leroy, and wrote the books that appeared in his name. However, Albert's sister-in-law, Savannah Knoop, played the part of JT whenever he was required to make an appearance in real life. Now Knoop has authored an account of what it was like to play JT. It'll be published in October by Seven Stories Press. From the publisher's website:

In January 2006, The New York Times unmasked Savannah Knoop as the face of the mysterious author JT LeRoy. A media frenzy ensued as JT’s fans, mentors, and readers came to terms with the fact that the gay-male- ex-truck-stop-prostitute-turned-literary-wunderkind was really a girl from San Francisco, whose middle-aged sister-in-law, Laura Albert, wrote the books. Girl Boy Girl is the story of how Savannah led this bizarre double life for six years, trading a precarious existence as a college dropout for a life in which she was embraced by celebrities and artists... and traveled the world.

Laura Albert isn't happy about the forthcoming book. She's quoted by the New York Post as saying, "I am not in any way connected with this book and it disgusts me. Just because you play a writer doesn't mean you are a writer. I think Savannah is being motivated by money and attention. Now that she's had to go back to being a civilian, this is her way of getting back to it. It's sad and it's sleazy. She's really stepping on my feelings."

Gawker comments: "just because you slap the label 'non-fiction' on your otherwise mediocre 'art' to build buzz doesn't mean you have to refrain from calling anyone else a sell-out."

I'm wondering when the movie about the JT Leroy saga will appear. IMBD.com lists it as being in development, but has no info about its release date. (Thanks, Joe)

Previous posts about JT Leroy:
Oct 2005: Is JT LeRoy a Hoax?
Jan 2006: JT LeRoy: An Update
Feb 2006: Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax
Mar 2006: JT Leroy: The Movie
Sep 2006: Writer Behind J.T. LeRoy Comes Clean
Jun 2007: JT LeRoy, phantom author (Updated!)
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 02, 2008
Comments (6)
KaleCoAuto offers a variety of automobile parts and accessories you're unlikely to find anywhere else. For instance, they sell "seasonal air" for your tires, so you can make sure the air inside your tires is at the correct temperature for the season outside.

Other products include porcupine seat covers, a car-to-tank kit, and (my favorite) the "Round Tuit" (pictured) -- a multi-functional tool that is "a requirement to finish all those hard jobs that you keep putting off."

According to uwhois.com, the KaleCoAuto.com site is registered to Ronald McPothole who lives on 1986 Corvette Lane. I'm sure that's a real name. (Thanks, Jerry)
Categories: Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 02, 2008
Comments (6)
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