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April 2012

It would be cool if there really was a tunnel entrance somewhere in the world that looked like this. But this is one of those brought-to-you-by-photoshop images. The original is an image showing a billboard created in March 2007 by the Austrian ad agency Demner, Merlicek & Bergmann for the restaurant chain Oldtimer. (link: adsoftheworld.com)



What's puzzling me is whether the original image is itself photoshopped? Did this Oldtimer billboard ever exist in real life, or is the photo just a concept piece?

I can't find any pictures showing the Oldtimer billboard from a different angle. I can't find any sources that list the specific road where it was placed. Nor can I find news sources from 2007 that discuss the billboard. I also think it's strange that this was an Austrian campaign, and yet the writing is in English.

All of which make me suspect that the original image is a photoshopped concept piece. Though I'm not sure. It could be that I can't find any more info about the ad because all the info is in German.
Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 30, 2012
Comments (8)
From Mexico, last week, came news of a multiple-birth hoax. (posted by Smerk in the forum).

Thirty-two-year-old Karla Vanessa Perez of Coahuila claimed she was pregnant with nonuplets (six girls and three boys) and would give birth on May 20. This was dutifully reported by Mexico's main broadcaster Televisa as well as various newspapers. She gave welfare officials some kind of ultrasound video (not clear where she got that), so her claim wasn't entirely without evidence. But when Mexican newspapers investigated, they quickly learned she wasn't pregnant. Sounds like it was her own mother who outed her. From msnbc.com: "Her mother, Francisca Castañeda, told El Diario de Coahuila that Perez has three children, ages 15, 12 and 4 and after the last was born, had an operation to prevent her from getting pregnant again."

Motive is always a bit of a mystery in cases like this, because you have to wonder how the woman thought she could get away with it. Perhaps it was a welfare scam. And she probably had some psychological issues. Again from msnbc.com:

José Salvador Gallegos Mata, a member of the Mexican Society of Gynecology and Urology told the newspaper that someone who would make such false claims "needs to urgently say 'I'm here. Please look at me, I exist.'" He added, "That woman needs urgent psychological treatment."

Here's a quick refresher on some of the other multiple-birth hoaxes that have occurred over the years:
  • September 1726: Mary Toft, of Godalming, England, not only claimed she gave birth to 18 rabbits, but actually gave birth to a few of them in the presence of physicians. The hoax unraveled when she was placed under constant supervision, at which point she failed to produce any more rabbits. When Sir Richard Manningham suggested that he should surgically examine her to determine where the rabbits were coming from, she confessed that she had been putting them there herself when no one was looking.
  • April 1936: A French newspaper claimed that a woman in the South of France had given birth to sextuplets, and it ran a picture of the proud parents posing with their six new children. London newspapers picked up on the story and ran it as fact. It turned out to be an April Fool's Day hoax inspired by the recent birth of the Dionne Quintuplets in 1934.
  • April 1938: American newspapers announced that a woman in San Salvador was giving birth to sextuplets, thereby one-upping the famous Dionne quintuplets. The next day the papers realized they had been taken in by an unknown hoaxer.
  • August 1941: The Chicago Herald-American ran a headline announcing "Mother Here Expects 5 or 6 Babies." For six months it continued to promise that this local mother would give birth soon. Its source for this news was a single reporter, Hugh S. Stewart, who staunchly refused to disclose who this very pregnant woman was. As the expected delivery date neared and then passed, Stewart offered various reasons for why she hadn't given birth yet. For instance, he explained that medication had complicated her pregnancy. Finally, Stewart's editors grew impatient, and under pressure he confessed that he had made up the entire story.
  • November 1952: Newspapers in Santiago, Chile ran headlines announcing that a local woman had just given birth to septuplets — seven children at once! Soon international papers also picked up on the story. But eventually the news was traced back to a group of students who had dreamed it up as a way of advertising their upcoming spring festival.
  • March 2006: A Missouri couple, Sarah and Kris Everson, solicited donations after telling news organizations that Sarah had given birth to sextuplets. They supplied the Associated Press with a photo of Sarah looking very pregnant, as well as sonograms of the kids. But the hoax was discovered after local authorities became suspicious and checked with local hospitals, all of which reported they had no knowledge of the Eversons.
Categories: Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 30, 2012
Comments (1)
Late last week a strange story emerged alleging that Egypt's parliament was considering a 'Farewell Intercourse Law' to make it legal for Egyptian husbands to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after death. Why six hours? I assume to make sure the tender last moments are wrapped up before rigor mortis fully sets in. Though according to Wikipedia, rigor mortis begins after 3 to 4 hours, so that might be a bit awkward.

Naturally a lot of news orgs ran the story without bothering to do any kind of fact-checking. Then they had to backpedal after it became apparent there wasn't any kind of truth to the report.

TheAmericanMuslim.org tried to find the source of the story and traced it to a fringe Moroccan sheikh, Zamzami Abdelbari, who suggested (a while ago) that Islam might allow the practice. This recently inspired an Egyptian talk-show host to mention the idea. Then a pro-Mubarak columnist for Al-Ahram picked up on it, claiming it was an actual law that was being considered by the Islamist parliament. This provoked a TV commentary on the channel ON TV, which was then reported by the English website of Al-Arabiya. And this, finally, brought it to the attention of English-language news orgs that promptly ran the story. The whole thing was like an extended game of telephone.
Categories: Death, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 30, 2012
Comments (2)

An ad for a product called the "AB-hancer" appeared online back in March 2011 and quickly went viral. The text of the ad made it pretty obvious that this wasn't a real product — specifically where the text says, "Recommended by pseudo-athletes." There's also the fact that the product isn't available for purchase anywhere. Though inevitably a few people seemed to think the AB-hancer was real.

But the mystery is: Where did this ad come from? Who created it? No one seems to know.

Paul Lucas at infomercial-hell.com theorizes that the image came from an old, out-of-print "prank box." Prank boxes are gag gift boxes that look like they contain ridiculous items such as a "Pet Petter" or a "Wake & Bake Dream Griddle." The gift recipient thinks they got a really stupid gift, until they open the box and find the real gift inside.


This is a good theory. The problem is that there's no evidence an AB-hancer prank box ever existed. If it did, you'd think a picture of it would exist somewhere. So for now the origin of the AB-hancer image remains a mystery.

But although the AB-hancer may not be a real product, there apparently are real products on the market similar to it. Singapore Seen reported the existence of this strange tummy-flattening product, for sale somewhere in Asia.


And if you've got a hairy stomach, you can always create six-pack abs by taking a cue from this guy.

Categories: Advertising, Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 29, 2012
Comments (4)
Ginny Stein reports for Australia's ABC News on the mermaids of Zimbabwe. Although Zimbabwe is landlocked, it's apparently home to many mermaids. And these aren't the friendly Disney kind of mermaids. These are evil, nasty creatures that live in ditches and creeks, kidnap people, and hold them prisoner for years.

No Myth - Scourge of mermaids in Zimbabwe
abc.net.au

A mermaid is very mysterious creature. You can't really say what complexion it is, what colour it is. It can be like a white person, or an Arab, but one distinguishing factor is that they have long hair; very, very long hair, it is metres long."
GINNY STEIN: Around these hills, Mr Manyonga is known as the man who not only survived being seized by mermaids but as someone who had spent two years being tutored by them. Under their tutelage at mermaid school he became a traditional healer.
As far fetched as this may sound, there's no denying Mr Manyonga's belief in his past, or that many Zimbabweans believe that mermaids exist in the dams and creeks across the country today.
JUSTICE MANYONGA (Translation): Once they take you there, you live like them. You wear something that does not show your feet. You eat what they eat. You eat fish, rice and chicken only. On the first day you are taken into the water, you are given millet or sorghum meal and two silver fish. The fish will be rotten but you are told to eat them. If you show any sign of disgust, the mermaids won't be happy with your ancestors and you could be killed.
Categories: Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 28, 2012
Comments (1)

The "Fast-Food Tattoo Guy" image has been floating around the internet since 2009, at least. It's not a very good fake. Which is to say, it doesn't appear that many people have been led to believe, on the basis of this photo, that some large, cheeseburger-loving man actually decided to tattoo himself with the logos of fast-food restaurants.

Nevertheless, I'm always curious about where these fake photos originally come from. In the case of this photo, I tracked down the original to a series of photos taken by photographer Philip Greenspun at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2005. He took several shots of this guy sitting on the beach, eating his food, and listening to the music. He titled them, "fat shirtless guy eating cheeseburger."

Greenspun seems to have an ongoing interest in taking pictures of overweight Americans eating. For instance, he has a series called Fat People Eating in Epcot. And here he describes why he's interested in photographing fat people eating:

Most of it is that I think that better diet pills will be developed some time within the next 100 years.... The photos will then become a curiosity for people in the year 2100.

I don't know who added the tattoos to Greenspun's Newport Jazz Fest picture.

Categories: Food, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 28, 2012
Comments (0)

This is one of those photos that looks so surreal you'd think it has to be photoshopped, but it's real. It was taken earlier today in Colorado. Although it looks like the bear might be bouncing on a trampoline, it's actually falling onto a thick mat:

Bear tranquilized in tree near Williams Village
cuindependent.com

The bear managed to climb up a tree near the dorms where it stayed for about two and a half hours. Wildlife officials were able to safely tranquilize the bear at 10:17 a.m. and the bear fell onto mats provided by the Recreation Center at approximately 10:28 a.m.
"[The bear] was tranquilized by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department and it fell onto some mats that the Rec Center provided," Huff said. "It is now in a cage and it will be relocated at a higher elevation."
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (3)
The NY Daily News is reporting (via the Tages-Anzeiger) that a Swiss woman died after deciding to embrace the philosophy of breatharianism and live on sunlight alone:

Swiss woman dies after attempting to live on sunlight; Woman gave up food and water on spiritual journey
nydailynews.com

The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.
Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia.
The prosecutors' office in the Swiss canton (state) of Aargau confirmed Wednesday that the woman died in January 2011 in the town of Wolfhalden in eastern Switzerland.

Here's the trailer of the documentary she was inspired by:

Categories: Food, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (3)

This image has been circulating online since February with the caption:
Romney's family misspell their last name in the greatest Freudian slip in history.

The Hill reports that it's fake. However, I don't yet know any further details — such as where the picture was taken. Nor have I seen the original yet.

But I've got to say, assuming this is a fake image, it's a really good one. Both because it's very believable (it's easy to imagine that two kids could momentarily stand in the wrong place), and because it makes its point very clearly: That Romney is incredibly rich, and that he seems to prioritize the interests of the rich.

Update: Some investigation reveals the original picture was taken by Reuters photographer Brian Snyder at a Romney campaign rally in Elko, Nevada on Friday, Feb 3, 2012. And that's not Romney's family wearing the t-shirts. It's the Fisher family. (csmonitor.com). Below is another picture in the series:

Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (1)

At first glance, this appears to be a vintage ad by the "Soda Pop Board of America" extolling the virtues of drinking cola at an early age. It's been circulating around the internet for quite a while, during which time many sites have angrily responded to the claims made in the ad.

For instance, the Queen Anne Chiropractic Center declared that the ad demonstrates "just how wicked the Mad Men of yesteryear were." The parenting blog babble.com wrote: "We all know that, on occasion, advertisements can offer some fairly crappy advice. Back in the day, though, ads had no shame." And NaturalNews.com offered the ad as evidence that, "Soda companies, much like drug companies, have relentlessly tried to convince parents that forcing their products onto their children is a smart thing to do."

I could go on, but I'll cut to the chase: the ad isn't real. It's just a very successful vintage-ad parody created in 2002 by RJ White, who explains its full provenance on his blog Ice Cream Motor:

About seven or eight years ago, I made this fake ad, exhorting parents to give soda to their babies. It was done on a bored afternoon when J.D. Ryznar asked for someone to make that very specific thing on his livejournal. I whipped it together, posted it to the web, joke over.

THEN. A couple of years later- it started showing up online, in those weird lists that pop up every so often with a "Oh man, ads sure were strange back then, weren't they?" theme. Thing is, those ads are largely real and mine is not and very obviously so.

White links to the original livejournal post that inspired him to create the ad. His ad seems to be currently enjoying a fresh wave of popularity thanks to tumblr and pinterest which are presenting it to new audiences, many of whom (once again) seem to be accepting it at face value as a genuine vintage ad.
Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (11)
Exhibit A:


This image has been floating around the internet for quite a while. Over four years, I would guess, which is a lifetime in internet years.

I don't know why it caught my attention, but it did, and I decided to see if I could find any information about it. Or rather, although it's obvious the picture has been photoshopped, I was curious how much it had been altered.

I soon dug up a second (seemingly earlier) version of the picture. Exhibit B:



The girl's tongue is shorter here, but it's still very long. So is this the original photo? Or has it also been shopped? I don't know, but my suspicion is that it's the original. Which means the girl in the picture really does have a very long tongue. Who this girl is, I have no idea. But I wonder if she's aware that she's famous on the internet as 'long-tongue girl'?
Categories: Body Manipulation, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (4)
Miss Travel calls itself "The #1 Travel Dating Site." But I'm not sure how many other travel dating sites there are. Is it the only one?

The premise is that if you're an attractive person (but most likely a woman) who likes to travel, they'll pair you with a "generous" traveler who wants a traveling companion (a rich guy). So it's like a high-class escort service, trading travel for "companionship."

The concept seemed a bit dubious to me, but as far as I can tell the site is legitimate. It's registered to InfoStream Group Inc., which is in the business of "millionaire & fantasy dating." They've had the site registered since 2001.

If you're an unattractive wannabe traveler, I guess you're out of luck.

Categories: Exploration/Travel, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 24, 2012
Comments (1)
The Fake Science Blog has been around for over two years, but I just found out about it. It describes itself as being "for when the facts are too confusing." Lots of great stuff! Seems to be a new post about once every 4 or 5 days. Here's a few samples:







Categories: Science
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 24, 2012
Comments (1)
Posted by "klove614" on reddit: "Going through pictures from the other night...holy shit"



Reddit users quickly pointed out that the ghost in the background bears a strong resemblance to this poster of Janis Joplin:

Categories: Paranormal, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 24, 2012
Comments (1)
This is a bit like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel -- The Dream Park El Janoob Zoo in the Gaza Strip can no longer afford to display live animals. And it's difficult to import animals into Gaza. So the zoo owner has decided to display taxidermied animals. An advantage of this is that zoo visitors can pet the animals, without having their limbs torn off, as might happen with live animals. Link: Al Arabiya



Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 23, 2012
Comments (3)
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