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August 2008
McCain announced his decision yesterday (Friday) that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be his running mate, and already the photoshopped pics of Palin are starting to circulate.

Actually, this picture of Palin in a miniskirt seems to predate Friday's announcement, but now that she's on the ticket with McCain it's begun to appear everywhere.

It definitely is photoshopped -- a case of head transplantation. The real picture of Palin, from which her head was lifted, seems to be the one below, posted on Flickr by "marymary81" on Feb. 1, 2007.

Update: I added the image to the Hoax Photo Database.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Sun Aug 31, 2008
Comments (14)
It's time for the monthly pareidolia roundup:

Toronto Virgin Mary
Christopher Moreau was having a beer in his garden, when he realized that scarring on a tree limb in his yard looked kind of like the Virgin Mary. His neighbor is a bit skeptical, but doesn't really care as long as the religious sightseers stay out of her yard.

JC in Cell Phone
Pensacola resident Linda Square thinks an image stored on her cell phone shows her in silhouette with Jesus Christ beside her. She swears that no one sent her the photo, and she didn't take it herself. The phone created it! Congratulations to anyone who can see ANYTHING in this image.

Jesus Wood
Nadine Ostroff calls this round slab of sycamore her "Jesus Wood." She's had it for 12 years but only recently decided to go public with it. Back then people might have thought her a bit odd for having a Jesus Wood, but nowadays it's no big deal.

Rockwell Jesus
Members of Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Rockwell, North Carolina think there's an image of Jesus in a knot on an oak tree in front of their church.

Knotty Virgin Mary
Antonina Filipertis of Lockport, New York heard a voice in her head telling her to "Look in your tree." She did and, lo and behold, saw images of the Virgin Mary in the knotholes of the tree. She's still hearing the voices in her head. People tell her that she's blessed.

Basswood Jesus
At first David Reed of Birch Run, Michigan couldn't see the Jesus face in the tree in his front yard, though his girlfriend kept pointing it out to him. But now it's clear as day to him. He says, "If the price is right, I might be willing to part with it."
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 28, 2008
Comments (13)
The website of Fosh Automotive appeared a few weeks ago, promising that the company was soon going to unveil an unlimited mileage electric car that would sell for under $25,000. A lot of people were skeptical.

Fast forward to a few days ago, when Fosh unveiled something, but it wasn't an electric car. Instead, it was a bizarre anti-Obama, anti-abortion diatribe. Turns out the whole "electric car" thing was a bait-and-switch to lure eco-liberals to their site and then hit them with pictures of dead babies.

More evidence that conservatives basically have no clue how to pull off a good hoax. (via Ecorazzi)
Categories: Politics, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 27, 2008
Comments (4)
There was an interesting post on alt.folklore.urban discussing several examples of Muslim hoaxes alleging there have been people who were recently cursed by Allah, for one reason or another, and transformed into bizarre animals.

For instance, Arabic newspapers ran one story about a girl who threw the Quran at her mother and was transformed into a large, rat-like creature. (The story became a popular video as well.) An image (below) accompanied the story, showing what the girl had become.

In reality, the image of the rat-like creature was lifted from an art exhibit titled "Leather Landscape" by Patricia Piccinini. Piccinini posted a statement online disavowing any knowledge of how the 'cursed' story originated and expressing sympathy for anyone disturbed by it.

Leather Landscape by Patricia Piccinini

Piccinini's statement disavowing the hoax

A second story circulating in Arabic-language communities (via a youtube video) details the case of a girl who kicked the Quran and was transformed into an ugly mermaid-like creature. In reality, the creature shown is a guitar fish.

If the punishment for kicking or throwing the Quran is to be transformed into an animal, then what's the punishment for making bizarre stuff up to scare people?
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 27, 2008
Comments (41)
Real or Photoshop quizzes are becoming pretty common on the web. Here's another one. My criticism of this one is that it's using the term "photoshop" to refer to any fake photo, including ones that have been staged or falsely captioned. I've noticed this usage becoming increasingly common.

However, if you're going to call falsely captioned photos fake, then you need to at least include the caption. Otherwise, the photos aren't making any claim, true or false. For instance, the quiz includes a photo of a clay model of a diplocaulus that was circulating online back in 2004 (discussed here in the hoax photo database). It's not photoshopped at all, but if you can remember that some people were briefly claiming that it was a real diplocaulus, then you might realize that you're supposed to say the photo is "photoshopped."

Likewise with this photo of a Bush lookalike trying to solve a Rubik's cube, taken by artist Alison Jackson (Here in the HPD.) It's not photoshopped, despite what the quiz claims. But it is misleading. Those are two different things.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 25, 2008
Comments (12)
MSNBC reported a case a few days ago of a confused prankster. A delivery woman showed up outside the house of Joe Biden with a pizza:

After determining that no one inside had placed the order, the officer placed a call to "Chris," whose name was on the tag. "It's a prank?!" the officer asked incredulously. He then walked out of range of reporters to get some information from the pizza villain. There was a credit number on file, but no telling if it was valid. Or why anyone would target the Delaware senator at this time.

What "Chris" apparently failed to understand is that if you've paid for the pizza, it's not a prank to send it to someone's house. It's then a gift. I'm happy to accept all free pizzas people want to send me.

Related posts:
Pizza Delivery Prank Goes Wrong.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 25, 2008
Comments (3)
There probably is some sound marketing psychology to the idea that if people are seen lining up for something, other people will assume it's desirable. I've often suspected that those people who line up to buy Sony Playstations (or whatever the product might be) are getting paid. From

A POLISH mobile phone operator said yesterday it had hired actors to stand in line to buy Apple's iPhone as the device went on sale for the first time in the eastern European country. The company, Orange, said it hired the fake customers as a way to stimulate interest.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 25, 2008
Comments (8)
Osteria L’Intrepido, a restaurant in Milan, Italy, was recently awarded Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence for its wine list. Problem is, Osteria L'Intrepido doesn't exist. It was a hoax restaurant created by Robin Goldstein (author of The Wine Trials) which he created to test the validity of Wine Spectator's award program.

Goldstein's description of the hoax can be read here. Wine Spectator's response is here.

If you don't know much about Wine Spectator's award program (as I didn't) this article in the NY Times provides some good background. Basically, the awards have long been recognized as a bit of a joke within the restaurant industry. Almost everyone who sends in the $250 application fee along with a copy of their menu and wine list gets the award. It's the restaurant equivalent of getting a Brillante Weblog Premio Award.

However, most restaurant goers don't know that. (I didn't.) And they're likely to be impressed by seeing a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence plaque hanging on the wall. That's the whole idea. It's a marketing scheme masquerading as an award program.

For Wine Spectator and their awardees it was a cozy little arrangement. I'm sure they never figured that someone would pay the $250 application fee just to poop on the party. (Thanks to Joe Littrell and Cranky Media Guy)
Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 22, 2008
Comments (9)
Gawker has reported a rumor -- the tale of the pooping intern -- that has all the earmarks of an urban legend. The rumor, about an unnamed person, comes from an unnamed source, and it details the kind of too-awful-to-be-true scenario that's the stock-in-trade of urban legends. Which isn't to say that the story isn't true. I have no idea. I'm just saying it sounds like an urban legend.

The story, to summarize: A young woman had recently taken a trip to Israel where she caught a stomach bug. After the vacation she shows up at NBC for the first day of her summer internship. But disaster strikes when she's overcome by sudden-onset diarrhea. She rushes to the bathroom... only to discover that NBC locks its bathrooms, and she doesn't have the key. Therefore, the contents of her intestines end up all over the hallways of NBC.

Most people might decide to not show up for work again, after that. But she shows up the next day... and no one ever says anything about it because they're all too embarrassed. But the rumor about it ends up all over the internet.
Categories: Gross
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 21, 2008
Comments (14)
From YouTube: A Boeing 747 being struck by lightning. It's been circulating around for a while, but it's new to me, and apparently it's real. (No reason to doubt it's not.)

I haven't been able to find out exactly where and when this video was taken, but some versions of the video on YouTube state that it was an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight leaving Osaka, Japan.

Update: Accipiter tracked down some info about this video (see the comments). The plane was taking off from Kamatzu Air Force Base on the coast of the Sea of Japan during the winter sometime before 2003. According to the article Accipiter found, this video helped to demonstrate to researchers that "the vast majority of lightning strikes to aircraft are initiated by the aircraft, as opposed to the aircraft’s intercepting a discharge already in progress."
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 21, 2008
Comments (4)
Last week I predicted that the discovery of Bigfoot's body was bound to be a hoax. Score one for me. I also said the "body" looked like a Bigfoot costume. Score another one for me.

In all fairness, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. The Bigfoot Body farce was so obviously a hoax that I'm surprised it gained as much traction as it did. But then, the media can be relied upon to eat up a good Bigfoot story.

Meanwhile, Bigfoot promoter Tom Biscardi, who paid Georgia "Bigfoot trackers" Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer $50,000 for the body, is trying to pass himself off as the victim of a scam. And Whitton and Dyer are trying to portray themselves as clever pranksters. My sense is that they were all out to make a buck.

Links: Fox News, Yahoo! News.
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 21, 2008
Comments (20)
The 1988 radiocarbon results that dated the Shroud of Turin to the Middle Ages have long been a thorn in the side to the True Believers. But they may get the chance to have new tests conducted, thanks to the efforts of John and Rebecca Jackson of Colorado. From the LA Times:

Jackson, 62, is getting his chance to challenge the radiocarbon dating. Oxford University, which participated in the original radiocarbon testing, has agreed to work with him in reconsidering the age of the shroud. If the challenge is successful, Jackson hopes to be allowed to reexamine the shroud, which is owned by the Vatican and stored in a protective chamber in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

Some facts about the Jacksons: 1) They own a styrofoam model of Jesus's corpse which they call "Roger"; 2) John once suspended himself from a cross in order to learn how blood flows from a crucified body; 3) Rebecca, who used to be Jewish but converted to Catholicism, became interested in the Shroud "when it occurred to her that the image of the man's face looked like her grandfather's."

I'd like to have "Roger" as an exhibit in the someday-to-be-real Museum of Hoaxes. He'd fit in perfectly alongside the Cardiff Giant. (Thanks to Joe Littrell)
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 18, 2008
Comments (20)
Bidding ended today on eBay Australia for an "EMPTY CONDOM PACKET & A PHOTO OF 'THE TART'S' KNICKERS." The winning bid was US $303.00.

The story was that a woman was selling a picture of black lacy underwear she had found in her bed after catching her husband having an affair. From Reuters:

The woman says she returned from work after receiving a romantic text message from her husband of 22 years that was clearly misdirected to find him at home watching a DVD and discouraging her from entering their bedroom. In the room she found the empty condom wrapper under his pillow and "the Tart's knickers ... at the foot of the bed." The woman said this was not her last sale on eBay.
She says her husband's Harley motorcycle is "the next item that will probably be sold on eBay at a start price of 99c and, of course, with no reserve!"

Cranky Media Guy asks, "Why do I suspect that this woman's story is not entirely true?" And as I've noted before, "A good story, whether true or not, can sell anything."
Categories: eBay, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 18, 2008
Comments (9)
Kenyan men like women with large hips. So Kenyan women eager for male attention are flocking to beauticians who are selling artificial hips. The hips consist of foam padding held on by skin-tight bike shorts and covered by cotton fabric. The Kenya Standard reports:

Ready-made shape boosters (not their original name) go for as much as Sh250. Those who bring their own bikers pay Sh100 for hips only and Sh150 for all that goes on the backside.

However, the hips do have some potential problems:

The ‘hips’ were a closely guarded secret until men spotted a woman whose behind appeared un-proportional. "I looked at the lady and realized something was very wrong. It’s like one side of her hips was tumbling down," says a town resident Mary Auma who witnessed it. The foam material had apparently loosened up leaving her with an extraordinarily weird shape. Stories are told of men who get bewitched with the hips only to be shocked to reality when the women undress. The hips christened ‘please call me’ are not always as natural as they seem.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Fashion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 18, 2008
Comments (5)
Small, round, orange stickers are appearing on objects all over downtown Appleton, Wisconsin. The stickers are stamped with the phrase "art object" and a price (ranging from one cent to $10,000). They're appearing on park benches, fire hydrants, store windows, etc. No one seems to know who's responsible for the stickers or what their purpose is. From the Appleton Post-Crescent:

Police Lt. Steve Elliott said putting stickers on public or private objects without the owner's consent falls under the same local ordinances governing graffiti. "Definitely, it is against city ordinances. If we were to see someone doing it, we would cite them under the graffiti laws," Elliott said Friday...

"They are also supposed to clean up the stickers and residue or pay for the cleanup," Totzke said. Elliott said police have not received eyewitness reports of people placing the stickers.
Categories: Art, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 18, 2008
Comments (2)
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