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November 2008
I've heard of photo editors airbrushing out navels on swimsuit models (see the case of the vanishing belly button from 1964), but I hadn't heard of navels being inserted into photos. But that appears to be the case with Victoria's Secret model Karolina Kurkova.

Fashion watchers have recently noticed that Kurkova doesn't appear to have a full belly button. Instead she only has a "smooth dimple". Wikipedia speculates that the lack of a belly button is due to an abdominal operation in infancy. Nevertheless, in some photos she sports a full belly button, which means that photo editors must be creating one for her.

Or maybe it's all just an effect of different lighting conditions, and the debate is an excuse to examine photos of her. (via

Below: with belly button (left), without belly button (right).

Update: Some more photos of her via underwearqueen. Again, with belly button (left), and without (right).

Categories: Body Manipulation, Fashion, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 18, 2008
Comments (13)
A quick and easy solution to hair loss: Kotula's FlairHair visor.

This cool little item will keep you covered and its built-in visor will protect your eyes from the sun, all while giving you a distinctive, 1970s, Bjorn Borg-at-Wimbledon look.

Also available in a white-hair version!
Categories: Body Manipulation, Fashion
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 17, 2008
Comments (9)
When the Obamas recently announced they were searching for a dog to have in the White House, they noted that one of the criteria was that it would need to be hypoallergenic, since Malia is allergic to dogs. The media quickly raised the possibility of a White House poodle, since poodles are supposedly a hypoallergenic breed.

Skeptics have quickly pointed out that the idea of a hypoallergenic dog breed is a myth. Individuals dogs may produce less of the protein that causes the allergic reaction (and this protein can be found in the dander, urine, saliva, and fur of dogs). However, there is no dog breed as a whole that produces less of the protein. And if someone is very allergic to dogs, they're going to react to all dogs.

So, assuming that Malia's allergies are relatively mild and manageable, instead of focusing on certain breeds, the Obamas should test individual dogs for their compatibility with Malia. However, it is true they should avoid long-haired dogs because such dogs trap more allergens in their fur, in the same way that a shag carpet traps more allergens than a hardwood floor.

Links: Yahoo! News video, How Stuff Works. (Thanks, Big Gary!)
Categories: Animals, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 17, 2008
Comments (9)
University of Memphis psychologist Rick Dale used a Nintendo Wii in an experiment to show that the human brain is wired to believe before it doubts. I don't think this is a new finding. It makes sense that the brain has to assume all incoming info is true, in case a quick reaction is needed. For instance, it wouldn't be wise to stand around debating with yourself whether the tiger leaping out of the jungle is real or fake. Doubt, therefore, takes second place in the brain's hierarchy of information processing. Which is one reason (among others) why people fall for hoaxes.

The particular design of Dale's experiment (via Silicon Republic):

Participants in the experiment used the Wiimote to answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to questions such as ‘Can a kangaroo walk backwards?’ The results showed that it took longer for participants to decide that a statement was false, rather than true.

In many cases, the cursor travelled first toward the yes, and then curved over to no.

For the researchers, this indicated two things. Firstly, the body was in motion before the cognitive processing was completed.

Secondly, the participants really wanted to believe most of the statements were true, even though they decided quickly that some of them were not.
Categories: Psychology, Science
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 17, 2008
Comments (3)
Darren asks, is this real?

I can't name the species (any ideas, Big Gary?), but it doesn't look implausible to me. So I'm going to say, Yes, it's probably real. But I won't upgrade that to definitely real until someone can identify the species.


Update: It's a model of an ancient sea scorpion (a eurypterid from the Ordovician era) made by Crawley Creatures for the BBC show Sea Monsters. The man posing with the model is the founder of Crawley Creatures, Jez Gibson-Harris.

I should note that the picture, in its original context, was not fake. It only became misleading once it was removed from this context and the creature was mistaken for a living specimen.

Thanks to Aryn, Andrew, and Big Gary for the quick identification.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 13, 2008
Comments (9)
Here's the claim, with accompanying picture:

ASU Track Team Convinces George W. Bush to Give the Shocker. For those of you who don't know what The Shocker is, Wikipedia explains:

The shocker is a hand gesture with a sexual connotation. The ring finger and thumb are curled or bent down while the other fingers are extended. The index and middle fingers are kept together (touching) and the back of the hand faces outwards (away from the gesturer). The gesture refers to the act of inserting the index and middle fingers into a vagina and the little finger into the unwitting anus, hence the "shock". Because of its explicit sexual connotation, the shocker is sometimes considered vulgar. Occasionally, the thumb may be positioned so that it may stimulate the clitoris. Mnemonic rhymes are used in order to remember its meaning, including "two in the pink, one in the stink."

True? I don't think so. Yes, there is a hand gesture known as the Shocker. And yes, that's Bush with the ASU Track Team displaying a gesture that resembles the shocker. But everyone (well, almost everyone) in the picture has their index and middle finger spaced apart, which makes the gesture "the pitchfork," which is the sign of the ASU Sun Devils.

Categories: Pranks, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 13, 2008
Comments (7) told Anthony Michaels that former classmates were looking for him. If only he would upgrade to a premium membership, they would put him in touch with his school buddies. So Michaels paid the money. Then he discovered that no one was looking for him. Now he's brought a class-action suit against for deceptive advertising.

There's a fine line in advertising between what's legal and what's not. "Puffery," which is defined as making exaggerated claims that the average consumer would never take literally, is legal. Example: "You'll love it!" However, making specific, factually misleading claims is illegal. For instance, you can't claim that a product regrows hair if it doesn't. seems to be on the illegal side of that line, so I predict they'll end up paying out money in this suit.
Categories: Advertising, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 13, 2008
Comments (15)
Martin Eisenstadt, who describes himself as a former campaign adviser to John McCain and a Senior Fellow of the Harding Institute, has been in the news a lot lately. First it was for outing himself as the guy who leaked the story about Palin not knowing Africa was a continent. Now it's for being non-existent.

The NY Times has the details. Turns out that Eisenstadt is a fictitious character created by two filmmakers, Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish.

Media outlets fooled: MSNBC, The New Republic, the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

Additional details at the Huffington Post.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 13, 2008
Comments (8)
If you were lucky enough, you might have been able to get your hands on one of the approximately 1.2 million fake copies of the New York Times that were handed out today, mostly in NY and LA. Otherwise, like me, you'll have to try and buy a copy on eBay.

The paper, dated July 4, 2009, declared "IRAQ WAR ENDS" on its front page. Articles inside described the repeal of the Patriot Act, and the indictment of Bush on high treason, among other things. There was also an accompanying website.

The size of the print run was impressive. Must have cost a lot of money. The Yes Men are taking credit for it.

The NY Times, on their City Room blog, quoted Alex Jones, author of a history of the family that controls The Times, as saying, "I consider this a gigantic compliment to The Times."

Also from the City Room blog:

There is a history of spoofs and parodies of The Times. Probably the best-known is one unveiled two months into the 1978 newspaper strike. A whole cast of characters took part in that parody, including the journalist Carl Bernstein, the author Christopher Cerf, the humorist Tony Hendra and the Paris Review editor George Plimpton.

And for April Fool’s Day in 1999, the British business executive Richard Branson printed 100,000 copies of a parody titled “I Can’t Believe It’s Not The New York Times.” Also that year, a 27-year-old Princeton alumnus named Matthew Polly, operating a “guerrilla press” known as Hard Eight Publishing, published a 32-page spoof of the newspaper.

Links: Yahoo!, BBC
Categories: Journalism
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 12, 2008
Comments (6)
This photograph, which supposedly shows Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his wife, has been circulating online for a few months. It's often linked to with teasing, tongue-in-cheek phrases such as "Ahmadinejad's wife is a hottie!" or "Ahmadinejad's wife is hotter than Palin!"

But is the image real? Is that really his wife? If so, why and when did Ahmadinejad pose for the photo? It hasn't been easy to find any answers to these questions.

One source claims the image came from the German magazine Bild, though I can't find any confirmation of this. Instead, I think the source might have been the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, though I have no idea what the text accompanying the picture says, and Google doesn't offer Turkish to English translation.

The only other pictures of Ahmadinejad's wife that I could find were taken when she accompanied him on a state visit to Kuala Lumpur in 2006. They were posted on

IranFocus also provides this small piece of info about Iran's First Lady:
Iranians have hardly caught a glimpse of Mrs. Ahmadinejad, and her first and maiden names rigorously resisted exposure after an hour of determined Googling in Persian and English. In the President’s official biography and website, there is no reference to Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being married, let alone to his wife. One ultraconservative website reports in Persian that the President married a mechanical engineering student in Tehran’s University of Science and Technology in 1980, when he was 24 - you would have to guess her age - and that he has three children.

The woman in the top picture and the Kuala Lumpur pictures does seem to be the same, though it's interesting that she's showing more of her face in the Kuala Lumpur photos. So I'm going to say that the photo of Ahmadinejad and his wife is real. However, I still have no idea when the photo was taken or why.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 11, 2008
Comments (17)
The Chicago Tribune (via the Huron Daily Tribune) offers a retrospective on 1958's Little Blue Man hoax.

The story: in early 1958 sightings of a "little blue man" running along the side of Michigan highways began appearing in the news. It turned out that what motorists were seeing was actually a young man named Jerry Sprague, dressed in a costume that included: long underwear, a football helmet, gloves, combat boots, a bedsheet with two holes cut out for the eyes and a button sewed on for the mouth and blinking lights on the helmet -- all of which had been spray painted a shade of blue that glowed faintly in the dark. He would jump out of the trunk of his friend's car, run along the highway a bit, and then jump back in the trunk.

The mysterious little blue man soon became national news. The pranksters eventually turned themselves in to the police and were let off with a warning.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 10, 2008
Comments (7)
Sleazy scam artist trick: Find a picture of a dead soldier. Post the picture in a craiglist ad for a used car. Say the soldier is your dead son. "All I want is to find the right person... who'll love and take care of this car in the same way he did. I'd like to make a person very happy and to light a candle for my son once in a while." From

It is common for scam artists to pair photos of real soldiers, police and firefighters with fake stories, said Larry Gamache, communications director for CARFAX, a company that collects vehicle histories.
"The story is what pulls you in," Gamache said.
The ads are designed to try to get people to blindly send money to the supposed seller, he said.
"They combine motivators for two different things — our desire to get a great deal and our desire to help somebody out."
But in many cases, the alleged vehicle doesn't even exist, he said. "The car is just the bait."

An ad like this showing a picture of "Sgt. Anderson Shipway Bruce" is currently popping up throughout Canada and New York State. The soldier in the photo is really Sgt. Prescott Shipway who was killed in Afghanistan.
Categories: Scams
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 10, 2008
Comments (3)
There's quite a bit of news to report about the activities of MOHers throughout the world.

First, and most amazingly -- belated congratulations to Smerk and Accipiter who got engaged while I was in Germany. The two met in the MOH forum, making this the very first MOH marriage! That's quite a milestone. I can't quite get over the idea that this site, which I created as a way to procrastinate while I was supposed to be working on my dissertation, has played a role in allowing two people to meet, fall in love, and get married. That's incredible. More details about the engagement are posted in the forum.

Second, Scottish MOHers WaveOfMutilation, Boo, and Madmouse recently visited Aussies Nettie and Smerk in Perth. Nettie sent this great picture of the whole gang.

Tah and Oppiejoe met up in Hell, Michigan.

And finally, Nettie (subsequent to the Perth get-together) traveled to North America where she had the chance to meet up with Tah and Transfrmr in Seattle.

Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sat Nov 08, 2008
Comments (12)
A recently released photograph of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il was supposed to prove that he's alive and well. Instead, it's raising even more suspicions about his health because the photo seems to be doctored. As the Times Online notes:

While the legs of his soldiers cast a shadow at a sharp angle, the shadow of the “Dear Leader” is dead straight. In addition, there is a black line running horizontally behind the soldiers’ legs, but it mysteriously disappears behind Mr Kim.

The lack of the black line behind Kim Jong-Il is what confuses me. Why would it have been deleted? The shadow of the soldier to his left falls across that section of the step, and yet it falls at the angle one would expect. If that section of the step was deleted, the photo forgers must have recreated the shadow of the soldier. But it's strange they would have placed the shadow of the soldier at a correct angle and screwed up the Dear Leader's shadow. So perhaps that's how the step behind him really looks. (Thanks, Hudson!)

Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Fri Nov 07, 2008
Comments (19)
The most well-promoted story about the invention of baseball is that Abner Doubleday invented it in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. This story was given the official stamp of approval in 1907 by Albert Spalding, who was head of a Special Baseball Commission established by President McKinley, charged with determining the true origin of the game. This is the reason the Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown.

In Can We Have Our Balls Back, Please? (published in Great Britain this month) Julian Norridge argues for the British origin of baseball, pointing out that British references to baseball can be found as far back as 1755, and that even Jane Austen mentioned the game 40 years before its "official" invention in America.

Actually the Doubleday story about the invention of baseball has long been considered incorrect by historians. Even the Baseball Hall of Fame admits that it's dubious. Spalding was desperate that baseball have an American origin and therefore gave credence to a statement submitted by an old man named Abner Graves, who remembered Doubleday inventing the game in Cooperstown in 1839 -- even though Doubleday was living in West Point in 1839, not Cooperstown.

Cooperstown might be a good location for a real Museum of Hoaxes. It's in a nice location. The town itself owes its fame to Spalding's hoax. Plus, the Cardiff Giant is housed there at the Farmer's Museum. (Thanks, Joe!)
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 06, 2008
Comments (4)
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