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March 2013
Slightly in advance of April 1st, Scope is introducing Bacon Mouthwash. From their product info page:

Scope Bacon is the newest addition to our line of products. It tastes like bacon, while still killing 99.9% of bad breath germs. And, it keeps your breath minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing alone.

Does Scope Bacon make my breath smell like bacon?
No. Scope Bacon just tastes like bacon while you swish, but leaves your breath smelling minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing alone.

Is Scope Bacon a sufficient replacement for my breakfast?
No. Scope Bacon contains zero nutritional value and does not serve as an acceptable substitute for food.

Should I use Scope Bacon before or after breakfast?
We recommend using Scope Bacon after breakfast.

Does Scope Bacon contain real bacon?
No. No pigs are harmed during the making of Scope Bacon. The bacon taste you’ll find in Scope Bacon is a perfectly healthy synthetic flavoring.

How is Scope Bacon made?
A synthetic bacon flavoring is infused in the unflavored mouthwash formula at a specific time in the manufacturing process.



Categories: April Fools Day, Food
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 31, 2013
Comments (2)
Fred Freer sent in the following press release. I'll let everyone form their own conclusions about this "roosterfish."

Fossil Find of the Century?
Local artist and stonescaper, Fred Freer, discovers unique fossil in Chena Ridge hills. While teaching his sons the art and process of hand-splitting stone (for landscaping purposes), Freer Uncovered what seemed to be fossil remains of a birds head and beak. But upon further examination and cleaning the tail and fins of a fish also began to appear. Coined "roosterfish", and an amazing find it is, Freer states that "this is really gonna mess with the 'chicken and the egg hypothesis'".
Unveiling of "the fossil" and artistic renderings of "the creature" will be presented at Well Street Art Gallery, Fairbanks, Alaska on April 5th from 5-8pm. (Alaska time).







Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 31, 2013
Comments (2)
Back in the 19th century, food pranks were very popular on April Fool's Day. And one of the most popular forms of trick food was the "cotton cake." Instructions for how to make this delicacy were reported by Jane Eddington in the Chicago Daily Tribune on Apr 1, 1929:


One of the older American cooking jokes of the days was the cotton cakes. I heard a woman tell how to do this in an up to date way, imitating what her great grandmother did who made cotton cakes and sent them around to her neighbors on April Fool's day. This woman has had fame as a cook, and this is what she said:

"Make a batter for fried cakes — that is, what people used to call doughnuts, often — of one egg, two tablespoons of sugar, three tablespoons of milk, one tablespoon melted shortening, one-half teaspoon salt, two teaspoons baking powder, one cup of flour. Take four pieces of absorbent cotton, enclose them in the batter, made by this formula, and fry them in deep fat."

She made only four of these cheats, and fried the rest of the batter — dropping same sized portions into the fat — in the normal way, and the plate of fried cakes could be served so that the one who was fooled did his own choosing.
Categories: April Fools Day, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 29, 2013
Comments (0)
Thanks to Joy for sharing this:

After college, I took a job as a legal secretary at a law firm in Atlanta, GA. At the time, we all used Selectric III typewriters (PCs weren't around, and WANGs had just come on the market). We had a very nice, intelligent associate who had started about a month or so before April 1st, and although he was extremely smart at law, he was also a little too trusting and pretty naive. I clued the attorney I worked for into my plan, gave him some lines, and asked him to please call the associate and ask him to come to his office to receive a research assignment. The firm had a glass elevator that ran between the floors, and I sat at the very end of the building with a straight line of sight view of the elevator, so I could see when the associate was about to get off at our floor. As soon as the elevator door opened, I popped a smoke bomb into my Selectric typewriter and began to type madly (I typed about 100 wpm at that time), and acted intense and focused on what I was doing, while black smoke streamed up toward the ceiling! As he began walking toward me and drew near, I looked up at him and said, "Go on in. We have a Supreme Court brief due in just over an hour," and then looked down and kept going. He walked into my attorney's office and said, "do you see that?" My attorney answered, "yes, she's really fast, and in fact, we had to modify that typewriter because it wasn't fast enough for her to use her Dvorak typeball on it. Did you know that she can type 300 words per minute?" The associate was completely in awe - until my attorney started laughing.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 29, 2013
Comments (1)
Chinese consumers are being warned to watch out for fake walnuts. Scam artists are apparently taking empty walnut shells, stuffing them with bits of concrete and paper, gluing the shells back together, and then selling them as real walnuts. [treehugger.com, ministryoftofu.com]

It seems like a very labor-intensive way to make what can't be a lot of money. But I guess it's enough money to make it a profitable scam.

This isn't the first fake food product we've seen from China. In the past we've heard about fake pig ears made out of gelatin, steamed dumplings stuffed with cardboard instead of pork, soy sauce made from human hair, and fake eggs (although the egg story turned out itself to be a hoax).





Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 19, 2013
Comments (3)

The above picture has been doing the rounds in recent months, often with the caption "Very Tall Bride."

The bride in the photo is Allyssa DeHaan, a collegiate basketball player at Michigan State University from 2006 to 2010. In real life DeHaan is very tall — 6 ft 9in. So could this photo be real?

Well, no. When I first saw it, I thought perhaps she was standing on a box, perhaps for a gag photo. But some more investigation revealed her height in the photo is a result of good, old-fashioned photoshopping. The manipulation was done by a DeviantArt member going by the username lowerrider, who enjoys creating fantasy photos of giant women.

I found the original, unaltered photo of DeHaan at her wedding (below) over at Flickr.


Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 19, 2013
Comments (1)
This is all over the news. [oregonlive, csmonitor] Some girl scouts in Portland, Oregon thought they had landed a massive sale of cookies when they received an order via email for 6000 boxes — a $24,000 order.

Whoever was handling the order (a scout's mother, I assume) exchanged some emails with the buyer, and everything seemed legitimate. The buyer was even an acquaintance of the troop. So the girl scouts went ahead and processed the order, committing themselves to receiving 6000 boxes.

And then they discovered the mega-order was a fake. The buyer was actually a young girl using her mother's email address. The girl was apparently young enough that she didn't fully understand the signficance of what she was doing. She just thought it was a funny joke. The Portland troop can't return the cookies, so it's now holding a special sale to try to unload all 6000 boxes. So far, half have been sold. (Which, already, is way more than the troop usually sells.)

My first thought, when I heard this story, was, "Wouldn't it be clever if the hoax order was itself a hoax... a ploy to drum up sales." But my next thought was, "No, I seriously doubt a bunch of girl scouts would be cynical enough, or brazen enough, to pull off a stunt like that." So I'm going to accept that everything here happened exactly the way it's being reported.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 18, 2013
Comments (1)
Word got out this week that the Ukrainian military had lost three dolphins in the Black Sea after the dolphins swam away from their trainers, apparently to search for mates. The problem: these were trained attack dolphins "equipped with firearms."


The source of the story was a document that appeared online that seemed to be a scan of a letter from the head of a Ukrainian military research institute to naval command warning of the dolphin escape. The story took off when it got picked up by RIA Novosti (the Russian International News Agency) and from there spread to the western media.


However, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has denied the story is true, pointing out that the scanned document wasn't on letterhead and lacked an official stamp. And, more importantly, it points out that Ukraine doesn't have a military dolphin program. The Soviets used to have one, but that ended long ago. [links: en.ria.ru, alaskadispatch.com
Categories: Animals, Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 15, 2013
Comments (0)
I found the following story posted in the March 3, 1944 issue of the Carteret Press (scanned and hosted by the Woodbridge, NJ Public Library):


MOTOR TRIP HOAX
Los Angeles — A new kind of hoax was pulled when four men answered an ad asking for passengers on a trip to Raleigh, N.C. The driver picked them up, collected $50 from each and then stopped at the post office. He went inside and that was the last the passengers saw of him. The car had been rented.

But I'm having trouble understanding exactly how the scam would have been profitable. First, if the car was a rental, wouldn't it have been easy to find out the identity of the scammer? Unless, of course, he used a fake ID to rent the car. Second, some kind of deposit must have been required by the rental agency. By abandoning the car, the scammer would have lost this deposit. But if he took in more from the victims than he lost on the deposit, I suppose this wouldn't matter.

Perhaps I just answered my own questions!
Categories: Scams
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 12, 2013
Comments (4)
File this under Low Threshold of Belief. Several Southeast Asian news sites have recently published photos that supposedly document the presence of "extra terrestrial beings" here on Earth. For instance, the Visayan Daily Star ran a picture (below) of "Emily Santodelsis" posing with a small alien. Strangely, she insisted that she hadn't noticed the alien while the picture was being taken. She only spotted it later, when she looked at the photo.


And back in January, the Bangkok Post ran a picture of an alien supposedly spotted on a beach in Thailand.


The Open Minds UFO investigation site explains that the appearance of these alien photos coincides with the addition of new special effects to the Camera360 app for Android phones. These special effects allow the easy addition of UFOs, extraterrestrials, or lightning to photos taken with the Android phone.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 08, 2013
Comments (2)
The latest issue of Chemical & Engineering News has an article that reviews the history of how the crystal "Aztec" skulls that began showing up in the mid-19th century were eventually found to be fake. The take home is that the following pieces of evidence led researchers to conclude the skulls were modern forgeries:
  • The skulls didn't come from documented archaeological sites.
  • The skulls' teeth were suspiciously linear and perfect, whereas the teeth in other Aztec art reflected the lack of Aztec dentistry.
  • Microscopic analysis revealed that the crystal skulls had regular etch marks, such as would be made by modern rotary wheels and hard abrasives, not ancient hand-held tools.
  • Spectroscopic analysis showed that the rock crystal had "green, wormlike inclusions" characteristic of rock crystal from Brazil or Madagascar, not Mexico.
  • And finally, X-ray diffraction revealed that some of the skulls were coated in deposits of silicon carbide, "a synthetic abrasive used in stone-carving workshops only starting in the mid-20th century."

Crystal Skulls Deemed Fake
C&EN

Humans seem to have a predilection for fake quartz-crystal Aztec skulls. Since the 1860s, dozens of skull sculptures have appeared on the art market purporting to be pre-Columbian artifacts from Mesoamerica, that is, created by the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America prior to Spanish exploration and conquest in the 16th century. Three such skulls have graced the collections of major museums on both sides of the Atlantic: the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the British Museum in London, and the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.
As early as the 1930s, some experts began to have doubts about the authenticity of the skulls, says Margaret Sax, a conservation scientist at the British Museum. But for a long time researchers "didn't have the scientific means to follow up" on their hunches, she adds. Over the past two decades researchers at all three museums have capitalized on analytical science innovations to show that these peculiar skulls are not unusual Aztec artifacts but post-Columbian fakes.
Categories: Art, History
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 08, 2013
Comments (1)
On Monday, a man calling himself "Basilius," wearing a cassock, black fedora and purple sash, tried to gain access to the pre-conclave meeting of cardinals at the Vatican. He made it through one level of security before being stopped by the Swiss Guard. Spiegel Online has a profile of the guy, whose real name is Ralph Napierski. Apparently Napierski has a history of posing as a Catholic bishop, though Spiegel isn't quite sure what to make of him, debating whether he's "a joker, a church critic or simply an eccentric with strong leanings toward esotericism."

Napierski's history includes: Claiming to be the leader of the "Catholic Order Corpus Dei" (a non-existent order, but perhaps a play on the real "Opus Dei"); conducting a fake auction on eBay that "drove the price of a small digital photo to €10 million" (he said he did it to highlight a security loophole); and attending Berlin's "Venus" erotic trade fair, dressed as a priest, in order, so he said, to promote the use of sex toys by Catholics.

In the thumbnail below, Napierski is the guy on the left. You can also check out Napierski's website.

Famous Fake Bishop: Germany's Mysterious Vatican Gatecrasher
spiegel.de

In Rome, Napierski looked almost convincing in his smart black trilby, violet sash, and crucifix on a chain. Maybe the sneakers gave him away. He strode up to various eminences, shaking hands and smiling into cameras, telling people his name was "Basilius" and he was a member of the "Italian Orthodox Church" -- which doesn't actually exist.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 07, 2013
Comments (0)

This levitating computer mouse (aka "The Bat") is listed as a product in the "testing period and research" phase on the site of Kibardin Design. But it's raising a few skeptical eyebrows. Not that it wouldn't be possible to build a levitating mouse, but io9 notes, "to us it looks a little like someone took a Microsoft Arc Mouse, fixed it to a plastic ring, and added a few aesthetic details with the help of some carefully applied modeling clay and a couple coats of Krylon."


The Microsoft Arc Mouse

Even if it is real, what would be the point of a levitating mouse? The Kibardin Design site says the mouse is designed "to prevent and treat the contemporary disease Carpal tunnel syndrome," but as someone who suffers from Carpal tunnel syndrome, I don't see why this would help. It looks like you'd need to keep your wrist bent at a strange angle to use it, which would make the condition worse, not better. Also, would the mouse be able to support the weight of a hand?
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 07, 2013
Comments (1)
Remember Bonsai Kittens — the hoax about growing kittens in a jar? It seems that they've finally made their way from the internet into print, serving as the title for Lakshmi Narayan's new novel.


I would have expected that a novel titled "Bonsai Kitten" would be a work of gross-out fiction aimed at young men. But not so! Narayan was inspired by the idea of a Bonsai Kitten to write a work of serious literary fiction about the struggles of young brides in Indian society. Here's the book description on Amazon:

"I'm nothing but a bonsai kitten!" thought Divya despairingly. Bonsai kitten — a pervert's contention that just as plants can be stunted, so can living beings. And wasn't that the guiding principle behind procuring a suitable girl? Catch her young when she is malleable like playdough, so she can be twisted and mangled to your liking. This way, she knows her place and stays there. At the lowest stratum. But little does Divya suspect that the Cosmic Jester, that celestial imp who specializes in tripping up humans, has other plans for her. Plans that include a roller-coaster ride from Delhi to Mumbai to Singapore, with tears and laughter, betrayal and friendship, loss and rebirth, as her companions. And through it all, she would have to fence with that master puppeteer to reclaim her destiny. Lakshmi Narayan makes a spunky literary debut with a novel that will find... several echoes and resonances, not just with women but also from men who want to understand us a little better.

The Hindu has an article about the book, revealing that it took Lakshmi 17 years to complete the book, and discussing why she chose Bonsai Kittens as a metaphor:

Romance she wrote
The Hindu

The bonsai metaphor: "Once, my dog's vet sent me an email about a crazy thing she found on the internet called 'bonsai kitten'. Apparently, one could put a newborn kitten into a jar and inject it with some chemicals through a probe to soften its bones. Eventually, the cat takes the shape of the bottle. Later we found it was a hoax. But that title bonsai kitten stuck with me," says the author. Lakshmi used it as a metaphor to talk about the plight of young Indian brides. "This is what is required of an Indian bride. Catch the woman young, mould her to your liking, train her to be obedient and keep her at the bottom of the rung," says Lakshmi.
Categories: Books
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 07, 2013
Comments (1)
Artist Tracey Snelling has created an installation which she calls Last House on the Left. It consists of 4 miniature houses from horror films (The Birds, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and the Amityville Horror. It's the Amityville Horror Dutch Colonial that caught my eye. If I ever did have a brick-and-mortar hoax museum, it would make a great addition!


Snelling's miniature houses feature sound effects as well as tiny LCDs that play clips from the films when you look through the windows. The installation is currently on exhibit at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

The Stark Insider blog has posted a video of the Amityville house on display:



Update: According to Tim Farley, today (March 6th) is the 37th anniversary of Ed & Lorraine Warren investigating the Amityville Horror house with a TV news crew.
Categories: Art, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 06, 2013
Comments (0)
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