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August 2013
That was the name of the faux merchandise that artist Plastic Jesus placed in Los Angeles-area Best Buy stores last week. He priced it at $99.99.

It took a couple of days for the Best Buy staff to realize the Useless Plasticboxes were there, and then they were removed. I wonder where they are now? (I checked eBay, but they weren't there yet.)

Comments left on Plastic Jesus's site:

— OMG Apple is coming out with one? I'm getting on line right now!

— Yes, but it'll be white, cost twice as much and be incompatible with the version currently available.

Categories: Products
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 20, 2013
Comments (0)
A video posted to youtube about two weeks ago shows a strange light in the sky near Stamford in the UK. Then it pans down to show a herd of cows, and then one of the cows kind of jumps up in the air.

So the cow must be jumping for one of these reasons:
  1. it's really happy
  2. it's being lifted up by the tractor beam of a UFO
  3. it's a CG effect
The answer, according to video analysts that the Huffington Post talked to, is that it's a CG effect. The Stamford Mercury speculates that the video was created to build buzz for an upcoming TV show.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 20, 2013
Comments (1)
The New York Department of State recently ruled that it's illegal to use corporate honorifics if you're not actually part of a corporation. Sounds logical, unless you're a real estate agent. Because it's long been the practice for real estate agents to use fancy titles like "Senior Executive Vice President" or "Managing Director," even though technically they work as independent contractors for firms. They're not on the staff.

Now all their business cards have to go in the shredder, or they face a fine of $1000 per violation. Naturally, they're not taking this change lying down. Instead, they're busy inventing new titles for themselves, such as Nikki Field who now calls herself a "Senior Global Real Estate Adviser." []

Of course, the love of important-sounding titles is nothing new. Here's a relevant passage from Paul Tabori's The Natural Science of Stupidity (1959):

The title the rulers of Burma wore proudly was "The King of Kings Whom all other princes obey; Regulator of the Seasons; the Almighty Director of Ebb and Flow; the Younger Brother of the Sun; the Proprietor of the Twenty Four Umbrellas."

The Malayan princes of Sumatra called themselves "The Master of the Universe Whose Body shines like the Sun; whom God hath created as perfect as the Full Moon; Whose Eyes shine like the North Star; Who, rising, casts a shadow upon His whole domain; Whose Feet smell sweetly" — and so on.…

The Shah of Persia, the Great Turk, or the Indian Maharajahs all demanded that their names should be followed by a flowery trail of pompous titles.

The mania for titles was Asia's gift to Europe. It flourished most luxuriantly in the courts of the German princelings. Strangely enough, it wasn't exactly the person of the ruler that promoted this obsessional fever; it fed most richly on the vanity of the lower nobility and the burghers. The ruling princes were satisfied with the title of Durchlaucht (Serene Highness), though later this developed into the more impressive Allerdurchlauchtigster (Most Serene Highness). Kings demanded in addition to be addressed as Grossmächtigster (Most All Powerful), which was somewhat tautological.

A Book of Titles (Titularbuch) published in the reign of the Hapsburg Emperor Leopold II declared that the Emperor of Austria was also entitled to be called Unüberwindlichster (Most Unconquerable). His Imperial Majesty enjoyed this title for a brief two years; since he died just before war was declared against revolutionary France he never saw his title made a mockery by the Corsican.

About the middle of the fifteenth century, counts were called Wohlgeboren (Well-born), but they had to wait two centuries before they advanced to Hochgeboren (High-born). Strangely enough, when the two titles were united in Hochwohlgeboren (High-and-well-born), they denoted a lower rank — that of the baron. But if he was an "imperial baron," his title was stretched to the more impressive Reichsfreyhochwohlgeborner (Imperial, free, high and well-born).

By the way, I've decided to change my title. I used to be the Curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. But henceforward my title will be the Senior Most Magnificent and Exalted Curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. At least, that's what it'll say on my résumé.
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 19, 2013
Comments (2)
Never fails to amaze that there are super-rich people out there willing to shell out millions of dollars for "newly discovered" works by famous artists, even when the providence is so shaky. In this case, they were told the paintings came from an anonymous private collector referred to as "Secret Santa" or "Mr. X."

Of course, now the artwork of Pei-Shen Qian, who's alleged to be the actual painter, should go up dramatically in value.

Struggling Immigrant Artist Tied to $80 Million New York Fraud

Over a period of 15 years, court papers claim, the painter, working out of his home studio and garage, churned out at least 63 drawings and paintings that carried the signatures of artistic giants like Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn, and that Mr. Bergantiños Diaz and Ms. Rosales boasted were authentic. They were not copies of paintings, but were sold as newly “discovered” works by those artists.
Ms. Rosales told the dealers that the vast majority of the paintings came from a collector who had inherited the works from his father and adamantly refused to be identified. Over time, this anonymous owner came to be referred to as “Secret Santa” and “Mr. X.”
Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 19, 2013
Comments (1)
It's true that a South American pacu, sporting "big crushing teeth," was caught recently off the coast of Denmark. But Professor Peter Rask Moller said he was only joking when he warned that these fish often attack male reproductive organs, mistaking them for tree nuts, and he regrets that the news release featuring his warning generated such concern.

The reality is that pacus are vegetarian and there's no record of them attacking a human. But maybe Prof. Moller was only kinda joking, because he added, "I still will keep my swimsuits tied up, and I will never swim in an aquarium with these fishes."

Warning over testicle-biting fish in Denmark? It's all wet

(CNN) -- It is safe to go back into the water again -- at least in Scandinavia. A warning over the weekend for male swimmers off the coast of Denmark and Sweden to protect their private parts because of a testicle-munching fish appears to have been a joke that got out of hand.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 19, 2013
Comments (1)
Dan Townend, writing in the Express, discusses the surprising camaraderie that often existed between British and German soldiers during World War I. Prisoners of war were, many times, treated with great decency and compassion. Of course, this show of kindness could have ulterior motives. The Germans, for instance, liked to "soften up" their prisoners to get them to reveal military secrets. But the British prisoners weren't so easy to gull. Thanks to one British prisoner, the Germans seriously came to believe that the UK had a top-secret aircraft called the Crosse and Blackwell that had been developed by the engineers Huntley and Palmer. [Express]

Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Sun Aug 18, 2013
Comments (0)

via reddit
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 16, 2013
Comments (4)
The Canadian journalist Hector Charlesworth included the following story in the second volume of his memoirs (More Candid Chronicles) published in 1928:

A man designed by providence to add to the gaiety of nations was Charles Langdon Clarke, the cable editor [at Toronto's The Mail and Empire], a position he still holds as I write. Clarke, the son of an English rector, was the best educated of all the staff and had been a school mate of Lord Curzon. He had come to Canada originally as one of the engineering staff of the old Grand Trunk Railroad, but he could find no real content outside an editorial room…

A few years ago, when The Mail and Empire was publishing The Sunday World as a week-end publication, and the discoveries in the tomb of King Tut-Ankh-Amen were a newspaper sensation, I chanced upon an article on its front page relating to "King Tut's Golden Typewriter", with revelations as to the fresh sheet of papyrus which had been found inserted in the machine, an alabaster cuspidor near the desk, and the other details of sumptuous office equipment prophetic of our own times. When I glanced at the author's name "Charles Langdon Clarke, Special Correspondent of The Sunday World", I realized that my old friend's hand had not lost its cunning.

There was an amusing sequel. The newspaper came out on a Saturday evening, and bright and early on Monday morning the city editor of an evening newspaper despatched a reporter to see Dr. C.T. Currelly, Curator of the Royal Ontario Museum, and a renowned Egyptologist who had worked under Sir Flinders Petrie, and ask his opinion of the new discoveries. What passed between Professor Currelly and the reporter remains a secret but the retort of the savant is believed to have been vitriolic.

Curtis MacDougall repeated the story in his 1940 book Hoaxes, crediting it to Charlesworth, and after that it began appearing in quite a few collections of stories about hoaxes, such as here and here. Although no one ever added any more details, and typically no one credited it back to Charlesworth either. It become one of those classic stories of hoaxes, frequently repeated but short on details and totally unresearched.

So I decided to see if I could find out more about King Tut's golden typewriter, but unfortunately I've come up empty since I don't have access to back issues of the Toronto Sunday World (which ceased publication in 1924). The Toronto public library has it on microfilm, but I ain't in Toronto. Often librarians are willing to look up old newspaper articles upon request, but since Charlesworth didn't provide a specific date, I wouldn't be able to narrow the search down enough for a librarian to look it up.

Back then, stories would often get reprinted by other papers. So I searched through digital archives of papers from the early 1920s to try to find any references to King Tut's typewriter, but found nothing.

Which makes me wonder whether the story ever did appear in print. Or is it just one of those urban legends of journalism? For now, I'm willing to take the word of Charlesworth that it did appear, at some point, in the Toronto Sunday World. But if I'm ever in Toronto, I'd like to spend a few hours in the public library there and see if I can track down the original story myself.
Categories: Journalism
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 16, 2013
Comments (1)
Hello, this is KBS 2TV (Sunday 08:10) quizshow program in South Korea named ' 퀴즈쇼 사총사'.
We have made a couple of questions about the world's hoaxes and before we use this questions on the real show, we'd like to check whether this information is correct or not. We hope this page 'museum of hoaxes' can help us.

We've made two questions below.

<1> Every November, there is a unique contest named 'Biggest Liar in the World Competition' in England. This competition picks a man who lies best in limited 5 minutes. Except, they keep people who have 'this job' from participating this competition. What is this job?
(1) Lawyer (2) Doctor

<2> In 1962, It has been issue for a while that a Swede engineer in broadcasting company said every people in ordinary home could turn their monochrome television into color television by this way. What's the way that the Swede said?
(1) Paint their TV (2) Cover their TV with a stocking

We want to verify these questions are correct and have any errors.
We are wondering if the 'Museum of hoaxes' could answer our questions.

I checked with a Korean-speaking friend who tells me 퀴즈쇼 사총사' is a well-known quiz show in S. Korea. So I'm flattered they contacted the Museum.

I answered their questions. Would you be able to?
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 09, 2013
Comments (3)
Back in 1939, Lee M. Roberts won the University of California lying contest with the following discussion of the nation of Vinegaria:

The Vinegarians are a peculiar people whose government has existed largely on the income from a national pickle monopoly. Vinegaria is ideally situated for the support of this industry as it is entirely underlain with large subterranean caves. Pickle farmers plant cucumber seeds on roofs of caves and they grow through the surface, avoiding the necessity for plowing the ground for planting. Through a peculiar chemical disturbance in the ocean bed the sea has an unusual briny quality — exactly right for making pickles.

Until last year only sour pickles were produced. At that time, however, a dangerous group of radicals, claiming dill pickles were better than sour ones, gained control of the government, with the sour pickles in revolt against the new regime. Sour-picklers have nearly conquered all of the country, and except for a few government supporters or 'dillies,' as they are called in the capital, Gherkin-on-the-Brine, most of the radicals are dead.

All Vinegarians are characterized by a slight green complexion and are covered by small bumps. Supporters of old-style pickles are noted for a generally sour outlook on life. Radicals, in favor of dills, are considered dull, but this was due to a typographical error in the party platform. A near-sighted typesetter used a 'u' for an 'i.'

The national flag of Vinegaria is two crossed pickles on a field of hors d'oeuvres, symbolizing the hoped-for anschluss with that industry some day.

The country's motto is 'Preserve our national product,' and the usual answer to 'How are you?' is 'Oh, I'm feeling brine, thank you.'

I've always wondered how pickles are grown. Now I know!

There's a Lee M. Roberts, UC Berkeley grad, who currently teaches at Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Worth, but it can't be the same guy because he would have to be over 90 now. His son, perhaps?
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 09, 2013
Comments (1)
The "Mirro Dress" for "fatso figures" was one of a number of unusual items that Kaufmann's Department Store included in an ad that it ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 1, 1949. Other items included a "Sun-Tan Umbrella" that browned you with ultraviolet rays as you walked in the rain, and "Grow Cup" ceramic paste that could regrow handles on broken coffee cups.

The ad was an April Fool's Day spoof. Nowadays spoof ads are a dime a dozen on April 1st, but back in the 1940s they were nonexistent — except for this one. In fact, this is the earliest April 1st spoof ad that I'm aware of.

The practice of creating April Fool spoof ads only really took off in the 1980s, following the success of the Guardian's 1977 San Serriffe hoax. And it was only during the past decade that just about every company you could imagine jumped on the spoof ad bandwagon, resulting in the present situation, which is a flood of spoof ads every April 1st.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 06, 2013
Comments (0)
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