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February 2013
There's some monkey business going on in Iran's space program:

Iran's Space Agency Confirms Reports on Launch Used Images of Two Different Monkeys
thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

A senior official at Iran's space agency confirmed on Saturday that state media reports on the launching of a monkey into the thermosphere had used images of two different monkeys. The official insisted, however, that the monkey had survived the journey and that Iran was not trying to cover up a failed flight... doubts about Iran's claim that the monkey had survived the journey spread after journalists noticed that the monkey pictured in the first reports from state-run news organizations had a prominent mole over its right eye, before the launch, but had clear skin when it showed up at postflight celebrations broadcast on Iranian television the next day.


Iran insists there's an innocent explanation for this. You see, the monkey with the mole was acting nervous, and so they substituted another monkey at the last minute. However, as the NYT points out, "The space agency did not, apparently, offer to disprove rumors that one of the monkeys had died by showing them both to the A.P. reporter on Saturday."
Categories: Animals, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 05, 2013
Comments (1)
In April 1944, the University of Southern California held its annual Campus Queens beauty contest. Each dormitory and sorority was allowed to put forward one candidate. Several "non-org" (or non-affiliated candidates) were allowed to enter the contest as well. This made for a total of 20 contestants vying for the title. Six winners would be selected by an all-university vote. Their prize was that their full-length portrait would appear in the university yearbook. (Not much of a prize, but I suppose it's something they could show their grandkids later in life.)

However, that year an imposter appeared among the candidates. Can you spot who it was?


The odd-woman-out, or odd-man-out as it were, was Sylvia Jones. She was actually a he — Cal Nixon, a male USC student who had dressed up as a woman as a prank in order to enter the contest.


What made this slightly more than just your average campus prank was the involvement of Max Factor, the famous makeup artist for the Hollywood stars. Factor had agreed to do Nixon's make-up, decking him out in a "gossamer-gold wig" and half-inch eyelashes. He also supplied a professional glamour photographer to take the picture used for the contest.

Unfortunately, Jones/Nixon never got a chance to see if he/she could win the title of Campus Queen, because a co-conspirator told the administration about the prank before the final vote could take place, and the Dean of the University, Francis Bacon, promptly declared that a male Queen wouldn't be allowed. So all the votes for Sylvia Jones were thrown out.

The prank, once it was revealed, made national news, thanks to a wire story that appeared in hundreds of papers.


Today what Cal Nixon did may not seem like a particularly noteworthy or shocking prank, but it was different times. Though, of course, we're still dealing with gender issues in beauty contests, such as that flap last year about whether Jenna Talackova, who was born a man but became a woman, could compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant [Daily Mail]. Talackova looks a lot more like a woman than Jones did!


Jenna Talackova

For what it's worth, the final winners of the USC Campus Queens contest were Mary Blake, Jean Glover, Muriel Gotthold, Colleen Phipps, Lynn Walker, and Virginia Zerman.

Categories: Identity/Imposters, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Sat Feb 02, 2013
Comments (1)
Honestly, I don't know why people made an issue out of this. Do we really expect that singers should be able to belt out perfect vocals in freezing weather?

Beyonce says sang along to pre-recorded track at inauguration
reuters.com

Singer Beyonce said she sang along to a pre-recorded track at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, but delivered a stirring a cappella version of the U.S. national anthem at a Super Bowl news conference on Thursday... "It was a live television show and a very, very important emotional show for me and one of my proudest moments, and due to the weather, to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking the risk. It was about the president and the inauguration and I wanted to make him and my country proud, so I decided to sing along with my pre-recorded track, which is very common in the music industry, and I am very proud of my performance," she said.
Categories: Music
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 01, 2013
Comments (0)
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