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July 2008
This has already been posted in the forum, but I've received too many emails about it to ignore it. "Faceless aliens" have been spotted attending various high-profile events in the UK, including Wimbledon and the Harrods summer sale. The "aliens" are people wearing masks. So why are they doing this? According to the Mail Online, theories include:

the possibilities that they are limelight-seeking pranksters, performance artists or that they are at the centre of a viral marketing campaign for an as-yet unknown product of forthcoming horror film.

I'm putting my money on a viral marketing campaign, but for what, I don't know. Maybe the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, coming out in December, which stars Keanu Reeves as an expressionless alien? (Some would say Keanu Reeves has played an expressionless alien in every movie he's ever been in.) But that's just a wild guess. And the problem with that theory is it doesn't explain why the faceless aliens are appearing specifically in the UK.

Update: So it was a viral campaign for Lotus Eagle. Mystery solved before I even posted about it.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 07, 2008
Comments (11)
This news is about a month old, but it's new to me! Russian curator Elena Basner thinks she might have developed a foolproof way of determining whether a work of art was made before or after 1945. She tests the paint for radioactive isotopes. From the Times Online:

The first nuclear bomb was successfully tested in July 1945 in New Mexico. On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and three days later a second, more powerful bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. About 550 further explosions were carried out by the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and France before most countries signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963. China tested its first Bomb the next year.
Dr Basner’s team argue that this activity released isotopes into the environment that do not occur naturally. Tiny traces of these isotopes, caesium-137 and strontium-90, permeated soil and plant life and ended up in all postwar paintings through the natural oils used as binding agents for paints.
Any work of art purporting to be more than 63 years old that registers trace amounts of the two isotopes can therefore be definitively declared a fake, Dr Basner said.

The article goes on to point out that it would be possible for a forger to circumvent this method of detection by using paints and canvasses from the relevant period. I can understand how a forger could obtain an old canvas, but where would they get old paint?
Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 01, 2008
Comments (12)
NPR's Storycorps gave the air this week to 94-year-old Betty Jenkins, who tells the tale of an inflatable bra her mother gave her when she was younger. She decided to wear the bra on a plane trip to South America. Unfortunately, as she sat in the unpressurized cabin, her bra started to get bigger and bigger:

"As the thing got bigger, I tried to stand up," Jenkins said, "and I couldn't see my feet."
The instructions said that the bra's pads could be inflated up to a size 48.
"I thought, 'What would happen if it goes beyond 48?'" Jenkins recalled.
"I found out what happened," she said. "It blew out."
Only one of the cups burst, Jenkins said. But the noise was loud enough to seize the attention of everyone on the plane.
"The co-pilot came into the cabin with a gun, wondering what had happened. The men all pointed to me."

Next week Betty will be telling the story of how she once accidentally microwaved her poodle. But seriously, I wonder if NPR realized that Betty's story is the classic urban legend of the exploding bra? As David Emery points out, you can find variants of it dating back to the 1950s. And was Betty just pulling everybody's leg, or does she actually believe this happened to her? Who knows. But David makes a good point:

chivalry forbids calling Ms. Jenkins out on her embellishment of this well-known urban legend, especially since, as the StoryCorps website clearly states, its mission is to collect "the stories and legends of everyday America" (emphasis added).
Categories: Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 01, 2008
Comments (4)
I came across another picture of a horse in a sewer. I guess when it rains sewer horses, it pours. The previous sewer horse was pretty implausible. After all, you had a horse sticking its head out of a sewer, and no one was even looking at it.

This sewer horse is more believable. I could imagine a horse wandering around in an open field, which happens to back into an open hole. And at least the firemen are looking at this horse.

However, the shadows seem wrong. The angle of light hitting the firemen looks slightly different than the angle of light hitting the horse. And based on the length of the mens' shadows, shouldn't the horse's shadow be longer? But I'm not good enough at interpreting shadow angles to call this one a definite fake.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 01, 2008
Comments (21)
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