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June 2009
The small French town of Xertigny, in the Vosges Mountains, thinks it may have its own Loch Ness Monster. Though instead of being a sea serpent, it's a crocodile, and it's in a pond instead of a loch.
The village of Xertigny, which has 3,000 inhabitants, has been stunned by the unexplained sightings and sightseers have gathered by the water to follow the hunt. A chicken has been left by the water to attract the animal but has so far remained unscathed and local authorities are considering draining the pool.
"We have been around the pond several times and you can't really say if anything is there," said Bruno Aime, whose anglers' association had used a sonar device to investigate the pool.
[Clitheroe Advertiser]
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 24, 2009
Comments (2)
Apparently there's a tradition of past employees of Jiffy Lube breaking into the store and stealing the bleeder valve on the compressor, thus rendering the machine useless. It's called the "Jiffy prank." At least, that's the excuse Paul Marvella is giving to explain why he took the valve. He later returned it, but nevertheless the store is charging him with felony commercial burglary. [Hernando Today]
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 24, 2009
Comments (3)
I've purposefully avoided watching "Jon & Kate Plus 8," and on a personal level I couldn't care less about what happens to Jon & Kate, but in recently filed divorce papers Kate Gosselin states that she and her husband have lived "separate and apart" for the last two years. [Link] This is interesting because, apparently, on last season's show they made a big deal out of renewing their wedding vows in Hawaii. Evidently the whole thing was staged.

And so they become another footnote in the ongoing history of fake reality TV. As I wrote in Hippo Eats Dwarf: "As long as there’s been TV, there’s been reality TV. And as long as there’s been reality TV, producers have been faking the reality portion of it."

Thanks, Bob!
Categories: Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 24, 2009
Comments (2)
Here's a question the world needs answered: Did Robert Pattinson (star of Twilight) have makeup artists use liquid body paint to make it appear as if he had six-pack abs for a scene in the forthcoming New Moon? Well, that's the rumor.

Given that it was for a scene in a movie, I think it would be more surprising if makeup wasn't used. But for chiselled abs it's actually more important to be really skinny than to workout a lot. And the guy looks like he's genuinely skinny.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Celebrities, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 24, 2009
Comments (5)
Posted by Peter in the forum:
TV station airs Lost as Air France crash footage
A BOLIVIAN television news channel has been left red-faced after falling for a hoax that saw it claim pictures from the hit TV show Lost were actually the last moment of Air France flight AF447 before it plunged into the ocean on June 1. Source

This confirms my theory that should a suitably dramatic picture of a major event not exist, one will be created. It's because our culture craves visual images. And hoaxers are always ready to supply what we crave.

For more examples of this phenomenon, see the gallery Imagining Disaster in the Hoax Photo Archive. In particular, the photos that circulated after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, supposedly taken by an Israeli satellite, but really screen shots from the movie Armageddon.
Categories: Entertainment, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 24, 2009
Comments (1)
A Belgian girl who claimed 56 stars were tattooed on her face while she slept has admitted she lied and that she willingly asked for the striking design. Kimberley Vlaeminck said she "initially adored" the tattoos, but when her father reacted furiously she had decided to lie about it and blame the tattooist, London's Telegraph said. Source
Related entry: Tattoo Horror Story
Categories: Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 23, 2009
Comments (0)
Shifa Patel wore a full-length robe and hijab to her job as a secretary at a Muslim Girls' school in Lancashire. This concealed her features. But when pictures of her dressed in a shirt and trousers began to circulate at the school, concerned parents thought she looked like a man and demanded she be fired.

Patel insisted she wasn't faking her gender, that she really was a woman, and even had a doctor's certificate to prove it. But to no avail. The complaints continued, and she eventually decided to resign.

I've only been able to find one picture that shows her face (at freethinker.co.uk). Yeah, she looks kinda masculine. Nice of the parents to show such tolerance toward someone who made the mistake of looking slightly different. Links: Daily Mail, Telegraph.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 22, 2009
Comments (4)
Punk rock is supposed to celebrate anti-commercialism and anarchy. Which makes a case of forgery in the market for punk-rock memorabilia somewhat ironic.

A flyer for a 1978 Sex Pistols show at Randy's Rodeo in Texas, which was being auctioned by Christie's, has been found to be fake. Sex Pistols fans noticed that the letters forming "land" in "England" were written with Microsoft Comic Sans font, which only became available in 1995 with the release of Windows 95. The fans notified Christie's who pulled the item from the auction. Emvergeoning.com



Thanks, Joe!
Categories: Music
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 22, 2009
Comments (0)
Catching up on all the stuff coming out of Iran in the wake of the election:

The Minister's Secret Letter
Photocopies of a letter allegedly from the Iranian minister of interior to Iran's Supreme Leader have been circulating throughout Iran. The letter discusses "your orders for Mr Ahmadinejad to be elected president," and states "for your information only, I am telling you the actual results." Supposedly, the actual results show that Ahmadinejad lost badly, getting only 5,698,417 votes, compared with 19,075,623 for Mousavi and 13,387,104 for Karroubi.

Assuming the election was fraudulent, this letter still doesn't seem plausible. Why would an official openly admit in a letter that the election was fixed? And as The Independent notes, "however incredible Mr Ahmadinejad's officially declared 63 per cent of the vote may have been, could he really – as a man who has immense support among the poor of Iran – have picked up only five-and-a-half million votes?"

The Photoshopped Crowd
The official state-run Iranian newspaper, Keyhannews, ran a picture of a crowd at a pro-Ahmadinejad rally. However, the picture appears to have been photoshopped to show a larger crowd than really was there. An image highlighting the cloned sections of the crowd has been circulating online. (PC Authority)

Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 22, 2009
Comments (2)
Cognitive psychologists have found that people have trouble inventing truly random numbers. Invariably their numbers will have more of some digits than others. Armed with this observation, a couple of political scientists examined the numbers from Iran's election and found that they aren't random. They found too many 7s and not enough 5s in the last digit.

Also, people have a tendency to prefer adjacent digits when creating strings of numbers (i.e. they prefer 123 to 926). Sure enough, the election figures from Iran contain a suspiciously high percentage of adjacent digits. Washington Post
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 22, 2009
Comments (0)
I've posted before about hymen repair, aka Virginity Restoration Surgery. Inevitably, someone has taken what was a stupid concept to begin with and made it even more ridiculous by taking it to an extreme. Mosnews.com reports that a Russian woman, "Natalia K", restored her virginity a total of six times. Only a life-threatening infection stopped her:

When the husband confessed he was upset about her losing her virginity before the wedding and with another man, Natalia decided to make things up for him.
To celebrate their first year together as a married couple, she went to a plastic surgery clinic and had a hymenoplasty operation.
The husband was so delighted with the present, that a year later Natalia wanted to give that joy to him again. And the next year, and the year after that.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 18, 2009
Comments (7)
As part of an ongoing effort to battle a culture of corruption, the Indonesian government is opening Honesty Cafes, designed to teach people the value of honesty. Snacks and drinks are available, and you pay on the honor system, putting your money into a clear plastic box. From the NY Times:

The attorney general’s office says the honesty cafes will nip in the bud corrupt tendencies among the young and straighten out those known for indulging in corrupt practices, starting with civil servants. By shifting the responsibility of paying correctly to the patrons themselves, the cafes are meant to force people to think constantly about whether they are being honest and, presumably, make them feel guilty if they are not.

It's a cute idea, but I think the reasoning behind it is flawed, because even if people behave honestly in the cafes, that doesn't mean the behavior is going to transfer to other contexts.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Psychology
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 18, 2009
Comments (5)
After receiving a complaint that some residents of a Houston apartment complex were barbecuing stray cats, the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control investigated but determined the complaint was a hoax. But their conclusion isn't that reassuring, because after analyzing bone fragments from nearby dumpsters, the bureau did find that "There are animals that have been consumed that are similar to the size and structure of a cat."

So, if not cats, what were these animals that were consumed? Small dogs? Giant rats? Chupacabras?

Also, this is news to me. According to Texas Penal Code 49.02, it's legal to cook and eat cats "as long as it's a wild or stray cat and was not killed in a cruel manner." But you're not allowed to cook your pet cat.
Categories: Animals, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 18, 2009
Comments (11)
Fidel Castro's son, Antonio Castro, has learned the hard way the truth of the saying, "On the internet, the men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents." A cuban exile, Luis Dominguez, created a fake online persona -- "Claudia, a 27-year-old Colombian sports journalist" -- and used it to conduct an online relationship with Castro's son. He did it, he said, to expose the opulent lifestyle of the Castros. From the BBC:

Claudia made contact with Antonio and they chatted on and off for an eight-month period.
Antonio shared details of his daily life in Cuba and his trips around the world with his uncle Raul, the Cuban president, but did not reveal any state secrets.
However, Mr Dominguez says that by showing what he describes as the opulent lifestyles the Castros live in a communist country like Cuba he has achieved his aim.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 17, 2009
Comments (3)
A news story (credited to the Chongqing Business Daily) is circulating about a recently apprehended burglar whose method of operation was to gain access to homes by chewing through steel window bars. From Ananova:

Detectives in Nanjimen region, Chongqing, were puzzled by continuous reports of break-ins through caged windows.
"Through our investigations, we found the grids had been cut but with deep tooth prints," a local police spokesman told the Chongqing Business Daily.
Eventually, their inquiries led them to interview a man who revealed he was sharing a hotel room with a man who could crack walnuts with his teeth.
Police brought in the man, Xiong, 23, for questioning and he confessed that he was behind the burglaries.
He revealed that he had turned to crime after failing to find a job and could not even remember how many houses he had broken into over the last two years.
Xiong told police he had grown up in a mountain town and had developed strong, sharp teeth by using them to open the walnuts which grew there in abundance.
He had found that he could chew open any steel bars up to 1cm in thickness, by prising open welding spots with his teeth.
"I only failed once in the past two years. Once I bit on a 2cm thick steel grid, and the first bite nearly dislocated my jaw," he said.
"I never take other tools with me when breaking in. That's why I never got stopped by patrolling officers at night."

Biting through steel bars was a stunt performed by strongmen back in the 1920s. Shorpy.com has a picture of Siegmund Breitbart, who claimed he could bite through steel chains. And steelworker Gust Lessis (pictured) claimed to be able to break a railroad spike with his teeth.

Still, Xiong's claim sounds pretty farfetched. I'm going to list it as undetermined.

Thanks, Ferret!
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 17, 2009
Comments (1)
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