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October 2013
This is a bit odd. The Pentagon has admitted that many of the "arrival ceremonies," in which the remains of fallen soldiers are carried in flag-draped coffins from the planes that brought them home, are actually an elaborate bit of funereal theater. In many cases, the remains have already been in the country for months. But for the benefit of the soldiers' family and loved ones, the remains are loaded onto a grounded plane, and then, a few hours later, are carried back off again.

Revealed: How Pentagon FAKED repatriation of fallen soldiers for years with phony ceremonies, decommissioned planes and bodies that had spent months in labs
Daily Mail

Until now, [the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command] has allowed the public to believe that flag-draped boxes pulled from C-17 military planes contained the rediscovered dead from those countries. But the Pentagon acknowledged to NBC News Wednesday that, in fact, the remains had only just been removed from a lab at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu. Now, the events will be known as 'honor ceremonies.' 'The name changed because they've already arrived, technically,' Army Staff Sergeant Andrew Smith told NBC...

Helping further dupe attendees is the use of an airplane that many believed had actually just flown the remains home. A plane is towed to where the ceremony will take place prior to doors opening to the public. It is often a plane that can no longer even fly.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 11, 2013
Comments (0)
The Cowichan Valley Citizen has dug into its archives for a story about a 1909 hoax that caused a small army of housekeepers to descend upon Victoria, British Columbia, in response to a want ad that turned out to be a prank:

'Hoax' goes too far: Victoria's invasion of the housekeepers
Cowichan Valley Citizen

First to become aware of the invasion of foreign domestic help was V.C. Maddock, a city realtor. For days, he'd had to explain to job applicants, some of them very insistent, some of them in tears, all of them frustrated and mystified, that he wasn't the "H. Maddock" who'd placed an ad in the Seattle Times. A steady stream of women to his office, all seeking the position so glowingly advertised, had finally driven him to distraction - and the police.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 11, 2013
Comments (0)
In April 1941, a London newspaper pulled off a minor hoax/publicity stunt. They dressed a young man in the uniform of a German officer — after having removed the Nazi cap badge, belt, and insignia of rank — and had him walk around through central London, directly past the Houses of Parliament. They claimed to be trying to prove that "Londoners wouldn't know a German soldier if they saw one."

Sure enough, the young man attracted no attention.


The photo of the "German officer" posing in Central London ran in a lot of papers, both in the UK and America. (For instance, the Lewiston Morning Tribune - Apr 29, 1941).

But I think the experiment would have been a lot more interesting if he had walked through London wearing a uniform with all the Nazi insignia still on it. That would probably have elicited a different reaction.
Categories: Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 11, 2013
Comments (0)
The Washington Post reports that the Azerbaijan Central Election Commission accidentally released, via a smartphone app, the results of the country's presidential election a day before the election took place. Oops. The commission is saying that the app's developer accidentally sent out the 2008 election results as a test. But no one is believing this since a) the results show candidates from this year, not 2008; and b) it's Azerbaijan, and everyone assumes the election there is totally rigged.

This seems to deserve a place in the annals of outrageous election fraud, alongside such classics as the 1927 election in Liberia, in which Charles King was elected president with 240,000 votes cast for him, in a population with only 15,000 registered voters.

As Stalin maybe said (or maybe didn't), "It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes."


The vote totals that the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission sent out via its official smartphone app -- before voting started.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 10, 2013
Comments (0)
I haven't seen anything on English-language sites about this, but according to dichtbij.nl (with a little help from Google translate), a site calling itself "Green Light District" appeared online several months ago.


It claimed that the municipality of Haarlemmermeer in North Holland was going to put small green windmills on top of 30,000 lampposts in order to generate power for the lights, thereby creating a "green light district". Any excess power would be routed to the electrical grid.

But it turns out that Haarlemmermeer didn't actually have any plans to put up these lamppost windmills. The site was a publicity stunt designed to promote the "Greenest Idea of 2013" campaign.
Categories: Places, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 10, 2013
Comments (1)
"Is Sparky a sex addict?" the website petcondoms.org asks visitors. "Spot the signs!" The site also offers advice on "how to put on a pet condom".


A few clicks on some of the links soon reveals that, no, this site isn't really selling pet condoms. It was recently launched by the San Francisco SPCA as a way to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering your pet. The point being that trying to put a condom on your pet is an ineffective way of preventing unwanted births.

It's actually not the first time the internet has seen a website about condoms for pet. Back in 2005 the site dogcondoms.com launched, followed in 2008 by doggycondoms.com (which now seems to have gone belly up).
Categories: Sex/Romance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 10, 2013
Comments (0)
A brief news-wire story that ran in many American papers in late 1940 claimed that due to an error in an English-Greek language book, the people of Cyprus thought that 'Goodbye' was the word used to say 'Hello' in English. Which must have caused some confusion to English-speaking tourists on the island.

Here's the story as it appeared in the Milwaukee Journal - Dec 17, 1940:


Since no source was offered for this claim, and I can't find any other documentation of such a mixup, I have a hard time believing it was true. Surely any English teacher would have known enough to catch such an error, and wouldn't have taught it to students simply because it was in a textbook.

This must have been an early variant of the "mixed-up phrase book" urban legend, in which a foreign-language phrase book offers outrageously incorrect translations.

Monty Python has a well-known skit based on this idea.


And back in 2003, a story circulated online claiming that a prankster had inserted incorrect translations into a Japanese-English phrase book, causing numerous Japanese tourists in America, in their attempts to find a restroom, to approach strangers and say, "May I caress your buttocks."

The bogus Japanese-English phrase book story actually originated as a satirical piece in the Weekly World News. But this info wasn't included in the versions of the story that circulated online.
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 08, 2013
Comments (1)
Yesterday, rememberthe13th.com revealed the "big discovery" it had promised. It turned out to be some guy rapping "I'm a purple ninja and I'm so cool." I wasted a minute of my life watching it.

Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 07, 2013
Comments (3)
A report of a scientific hoax appears in the latest issue of Science. Researcher John Bohannon wrote a purposefully bad scientific paper — one with glaringly bad errors that any peer reviewer should be able to spot. He then submitted versions of that paper to 304 open-access journals, using aliases such as "Ocarrafoo M.L. Cobange," supposedly a biologist at the Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara. The result: "More than half of the journals accepted the paper, failing to notice its fatal flaws."

Bohannon says this raises "questions about peer-review practices in much of the open-access world."


But defenders of the open-access system (such as here and here) point out that Bohannon didn't submit the article to any subscription-based journals, which makes it impossible to know whether his experiment shows something uniquely bad about the open-access system, or whether it reveals a problem endemic in peer review as a whole.

Bohannon's experiment recalls a similar one conducted by Douglas Peters and Stephen Ceci back in 1980, in which they took ten already published scientific articles, changed the name of the author and title of the article, and then resubmitted the articles to the same journal in which they had previously been published. The majority of editors rejected the articles without recognizing they had already been published in their own journal.
Categories: Science
Posted by Alex on Sat Oct 05, 2013
Comments (1)
Last August, a Loch-Ness-Monster-sighting picture was published that some declared to be the best picture of Nessie ever taken. Now (in a shocking revelation!) the photo turns out to be a fake. The picture really only shows a fiberglass hump that had been created for a 2011 National Geographic documentary, The Truth Behind the Loch Ness Monster.


The photo was taken by George Edwards, who operates a Loch Ness tour boat, the Nessie Hunter. There's some relevant Museum of Hoaxes history here, because back in 2005 the Museum's first-ever Loch Ness expedition took a ride in the Nessie Hunter — with video to prove it! I remember we were all very impressed by how much Edwards sounded like Sean Connery. You can hear a bit of Edwards narrating the tour in the video below.

Edwards is entirely unrepentant about his photo hoax. He's quoted as saying: "Why should I feel guilty for having a bit of fun? Where would Loch Ness be without the world’s best known forgery, the Surgeon’s Photograph? These so-called experts come along with their theories about big waves and big fish, and their visitor centre, but I’m sick to death of them. People come here for a holiday and a bit of fun. I’m one of the people who has brought thousands of people to the Highlands over the years, and I can tell you they don’t come here for the science." [Daily Mail, Express]

The Wall Street Journal notes that Edwards' photo hoax reveals a deep divide within the community of Loch Ness over how to deal with Nessie. One faction, represented by the Loch Ness Exhibition and Center (operated by Adrian Shine), feels that visitors to Loch Ness should be given the scientific facts about the legendary monster (i.e. that there's no evidence for her existence). The other faction, represented by Edwards, feels that Nessie is basically fantasy and should be treated as such. In other words, that visitors to Loch Ness want the fantasy, and that's what should be given to them.

Categories: Nessie
Posted by Alex on Sat Oct 05, 2013
Comments (2)
Students at London's North Harringay Primary School arrived at school to find a UFO had crashed in their playground. Police were on their scene, and the students spent the rest of the day discussing and writing about the mysterious craft. The UFO had actually been built by a parent as part of an event "designed to promote creative writing."

Shock and awww... 'UFO crashes' into London primary school playground
independent.co.uk

Pupils at a London primary school were shocked after a UFO appeared to have crashed into their playground. An officer guarded the 'crash site; at North Harringay Primary School while an apparent forensics officer took samples behind a police cordon.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 04, 2013
Comments (0)
According to the website rememberthe13th.com, NASA is going to announce something BIG on the 13th of November:

NASA has made a historic discovery that will shake the entire planet. This announcement will be released to the media on November 13th, 2013. It will be a day to remember and One for the history books. Spread the word to your family & friends and sign up to stay updated.

However, a recent update to the site now says that the date of the big reveal has been moved forward to October 6th "Due to change in plans."


A post on abovetopsecret.com gives some of the (alleged) backstory about this site:

So this is the story... This site was sent to Alex Jones anonymously by an alleged Nasa Employee yesterday Oct 1st (Day One of Gov Shutdown) who was frustrated by the gov shutdown. The website is supposebly unreleased and isn't supposed to be released to the public yet due to the gov shutdown. The site is counting down to Novermber 13th and a HUGE earth shaking announcement is expected to occur on that date by NASA.

I don't think many people are buying the idea that NASA really is going to make a major announcement, either on Nov 13th or Oct 6. There are a number of good reasons for this skepticism:
  • rememberthe13th.com is registered in Panama and doesn't appear to have any legitimate connection to NASA.
  • The site was made by pasting NASA's logo onto widely available clip art.
  • Whoever made the site, isn't great with grammar.
So what's the real purpose of rememberthe13th.com? The main theories are that it exists to harvest email addresses for spammers, or that it's a viral marketing scheme. We should find out which it is on Sunday.
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 04, 2013
Comments (4)

This image has been circulating since March of this year. Many sites (including dornob.com) report that it shows "an actual piece of carefully carved furniture, not a photo file gone wrong."

The oak furniture was supposedly created by furniture designer Ferruccio Laviani using CNC processes (computer-aided machine tools) in order to make it appear as if it had been deformed by a "digital glitch". (Yes, that should be an "analog glitch," but "digital glitch" is the phrase that's caught on to describe it.)

There is some truth to this. Laviani did create "glitch" furniture for a 2013 Furniture Exhibition in Italy. His aim, according to mocoloco.com, was to make furniture "which seems to have been 'deformed' by a strong jolt or by swaying movements." He called it his Good Vibrations collection.

However, the final product was the cabinet below. The picture above was a photo mock-up of the concept for the piece. In other words, it wasn't real.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 04, 2013
Comments (0)
In order to show how excited they are about their new french fries, Burger King recently announced on their Facebook page that they were changing their name to Fries King. They even posted photos of some of their restaurants sporting the new name.





The name change is a joke. Although time.com notes that not all of Burger King's facebook followers realized this: "Some are genuinely confused about whether or not the name change is real and have written passionate posts decrying Burger King’s decision to turn its back on 'a well known family name.'"

It's actually not the first time Burger King has pretended to change its name. Back on April 1st, 2002 they announced they were changing their name to "Chicken King," supposedly owing to the success of their Chicken Whopper Sandwich.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 03, 2013
Comments (0)
A video recently uploaded to YouTube claims to document the living arrangements of "Dave," an artist who supposedly lives inside the Astor Place Cube in New York City. It doesn't take a lot of critical thinking skills to realize this is a joke. (The cube, in reality, is welded shut.) But it's an amusing concept.

The video is a viral marketing stunt for a site called Whil.com, which is mentioned at the end of the video. Honestly, I'm not sure what whil.com does. They claim to be "a brand about nothing" and encourage meditation. Whil was created by the guy who founded the Lululemon clothes company. So maybe it's all a roundabout way of promoting Lululemon.

Categories: Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 03, 2013
Comments (0)
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