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December 2013
On April 1, 1961, Milan's La Notte newspaper reported that city authorities had passed a new law making it mandatory for horses to be outfitted with signaling and brake lights while being ridden through the streets or neighboring countryside. Back then, quite a few people in the area still rode horses, so the law was going to have quite a broad impact. And, so the story goes, many people subsequently brought their horses into car mechanics to have them outfitted with the necessary lights.


This is considered to be one of Italy's classic April Fool's Day hoaxes. And, as is so often the case, it's only a matter of time before reality eventually catches up with satire.

No city has passed a law requiring horse tail lights. However, over on KickStarter Sami Gros is trying to raise money for what she describes as the "world's first LED lighting system for horses," aka Horse Tail Lights. Unfortunately, it looks like the lights are only designed to increase visibility. They can't be used to indicate turning or braking. But perhaps future versions of them will!



Categories: Animals, April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 07, 2013
Comments (0)
I posted yesterday that Dayna Morales (the "I received a homophobic note and no tip" woman) had been suspended from the restaurant where she was working. Now, the consumerist reports that someone got the idea of checking to see if she actually donated the money she received to the Wounded Warrior Project, as she promised she was going to. The news (kinda predictably) is that no donation was given under her name, or from the zip code where she lives, or from the restaurant. So unless she made the donation under a different name, it looks like she reneged on the one positive thing that people were giving her credit for.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 05, 2013
Comments (1)
Satire mistaken as news. Gawker reports that an obviously satirical Onion video about a nonexistent NYPD "stop-and-kiss" policy has sparked some real-life outrage — from people who apparently have never heard of the Onion. (Thanks Bob!)

"Stop and kiss ? NYPD need to chill," tweeted one of the many rock-dwellers who took to social media to actually protest a parody video about a fake protest.
"i dont understand the stop and kiss program..its taking it a little too far," tweeted another concerned citizen.


Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 05, 2013
Comments (0)
Forrest Swan, a 22-year-old waiter and Auburn fan, says he got stiffed by a customer who was an Alabama fan. The customer also wrote a note on the receipt: "don't talk about being proud of Auburn to an Alabama Fan!" Naturally a photo was quickly snapped of the offending receipt and uploaded to twitter. [huffpost]


Mr. Swan hasn't revealed what restaurant this happened at. So details are impossible to verify. But I have a hunch that this case actually is real, unlike the other recent zero-tip-receipt cases that have been in the news.

Speaking of which, last Friday Gallop Asian Bistro announced it was suspending Dayna Morales, pending further investigation. She's the waitress who recently claimed a customer left a homophobic note (and no tip) on a receipt. So this makes it seem more likely that her story about the zero-tip receipt was indeed a hoax.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 04, 2013
Comments (0)

This is their response to Amazon's recent announcement that by 2015 it hopes to be using drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes of being ordered.

Drone-delivery seems to be the hot new thing. Less than two months ago, I posted about an Australian textbook rental service that hopes to soon be using drones to deliver books. But as I pointed out then, drones have also been a popular theme in the world of hoaxes. For instance, there was TacoCopter (drones delivering tacos) as well as Parrot Air Drone Postal from the French postal service.

I'm among the drone skeptics. Having thousands of drones flying around cities seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Then there's also the issue raised by this image circulating on Twitter:


Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 04, 2013
Comments (0)

This isn't a photo. It's a painting. Or so claims UK artist Kyle Lambert who says he made it using a fingerpainting iPad app called Procreate. He's posted a video showing the creation of the painting from start to finish.


Lambert based the painting on an existing photo (below) of Morgan Freeman. This has led skeptics (of which there are many) to suggest that Lambert simply traced over the photo, which doesn't take a lot of skill. But Lambert denies this. He sent an email to Gizmodo stating:

at no stage was the original photograph on my iPad or inside the Procreate app. Procreate documents the entire painting process, so even if I wanted to import a photo layer it would have shown in the video export from the app.


Headshot photo of Morgan Freeman (source: moviepilot.de)

But this hasn't satisfied the skeptics, who point out that the photo and the "painting" appear to be pixel-by-pixel identical. How can anyone achieve that kind of accuracy without having traced over the photo?

Another theory is that Lambert didn't create a painting at all, but rather used Procreate to reverse engineer or 'deconstruct' the photo, and then ran the video of himself doing this in reverse, to make it look as if he was painting it rather than slowly erasing it.

I don't know exactly what Lambert did, but I have to agree with the skeptics that it's hard to believe he could have created this without, at the very least, tracing over the photo.

To prove he did it, I suppose he could post a time-lapse video of himself actually working on the iPad. Rather than just a video export from Procreate.
Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 04, 2013
Comments (2)

There's not a lot of info on where this photo comes from. It's listed on the website of the French National Library as having been created in 1911 by the "Agence Rol." photo agency. For 1911, it's a pretty good example of photo fakery.

Also included in the same series is "Cat peers through binoculars" and "cat looks through a telescope."




Found these over at retronaut.com.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 03, 2013
Comments (0)

This image shows Soviet pilot Valentin Privalov flying a MiG-17 under the central span of the Communal Bridge over the River Ob in Novosibirsk on June 4, 1965.

The story goes (as much as I can piece it together) that Privalov did this on his own initiative, as a stunt. The shore of the river was filled with vacationers, among whom were officers from the district headquarters, when suddenly the MiG came roaring out of the sky. Afterwards the crowd spontaneously started to applaud, but Privalov's superiors weren't happy, and they suspended him. He was threatened with disciplinary action, but Secretary of Defense Marshal Malinovsky (perhaps swayed by positive public reaction to the stunt) allowed him to return to service.

The photo found its way onto the internet fairly recently. It first appeared on various Russian-language forums, and then on sites such as Reddit. Unfortunately, I can't find any site that provides an original source for the image. I'm guessing that it must have run in a Russian newspaper or magazine, sometime circa 1965.

The photo is obviously fake. The plane wouldn't have created such a huge plume of water. And how likely is it that someone would have managed to capture a picture of the scene at exactly the right moment? And if you look closely, you can see several people in the lower-right corner who have their backs turned to the bridge. In real life, the noise of the jet would have caused everyone to look in that direction.

But I'm guessing this image was never presented to the public as a real photo. It was a photographer's recreation of the event, and nothing more.

The better question is, did this stunt really happen? As far as I can tell, it did. The story is referenced on the Russian-language wikipedia page about the Communal Bridge in Novosibirsk. (It says that the event happened on June 3, not June 4, so there seems to be some disagreement about the dates.)

Also, I found a reference to the stunt in an American news-wire article dated Aug 29, 1965, which discusses a recent spate of hooliganism in Novosibirsk, including "a drunk who stole a streetcar," "an aircraft mechanic who went on a joyride up and down runways in an Ilyushin 4 transport," and "a stunt flier who flew under bridges."


Albuquerque Journal - Aug 29, 1965

I haven't been able to find any definitive info about Privalov's subsequent career. But I did come across a reference to a Valentin Privalov in the Feb 21, 1993 issue of Stars and Stripes. He was described as being "deputy head of Russia's civil aviation air traffic control center in Moscow." So it could well have been the same guy.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 03, 2013
Comments (1)
Celebrity death hoaxes have become such a pervasive part of the internet that when a celebrity really dies, particularly a young celebrity, people legitimately wonder if the news is real or fake. And that's exactly what happened after actor Paul Walker died in a car crash on Nov. 30.

Adding to the uncertainty was the manner of his death. A lot of death hoaxes feature death-by-car-crash (that's the way Paul McCartney supposedly died back in 1966), so when the news came in that Walker (star of the Fast and Furious car-racing film franchise) had met his end in a crash, it did sound a bit hoax-like. But that's the way it actually happened.

And then the satirical news site MediaMass posted a spoof story claiming that the report of Walker's death was a hoax. A screenshot of this story soon began to circulate on Twitter, Facebook, etc. MediaMass eventually took down the story and replaced it with a note saying his death was confirmed, but too late.


So this is a "reverse death hoax" because the claim that the news was a hoax was itself a hoax.

Also, David Emery notes that an image has been circulating that's supposedly a gruesome postmortem shot of Walker. This is a hoax. The person in the photo is actually a Christian missionary who was "injured in a construction mishap two years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 02, 2013
Comments (0)
Assuming this story is true, it sounds like this woman has fallen for that urban legend about the gene for blonde hair being driven out of existence due to the greater percentage of dark-haired people in the world. According to the legend, the World Health Organization has predicted that in 200 years there will be no blondes left.

THIS ANGOLAN LADY WALKS AROUND LONDON CAMPAIGNING TO SAVE BLONDE PEOPLE
vice.com

Say hello to Maria de Jesus-Lucungo... Maria has made it her life goal to campaign for the protection of the UK's blonde population. She believes that England's flaxen-haired brothers and sisters are under threat of extinction and that, if they disappear, "the world will not be so attractive in beauty any more".


Maria de Jesus-Lucungo has a petition you can sign if you want to help her campaign to raise awareness of the disappearance of blondes.

Categories: Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 01, 2013
Comments (2)
I'm not sure whether or not this was an April Fool's Day joke. I found it in the Mar 31, 1934 issue of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, which contained quite a few April Fool spoof articles, such as the "Loch Ness Monster Captured" article that I posted about recently.

But this feature about a new starting gate for sprinters... I just don't know.


I've never heard of such a thing before. But on the other hand, it sounds kinda plausible. In fact, some googling revealed that the Ancient Greeks used a starting gate for sprinters, which they called a husplex.

However, I can't find any references to this 1934 invention other than this story in the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung. So I'm posting it here in the hope that others might weigh in with an opinion.

Here's a transcription of the German text:
Startmaschine jetzt auch für Menschen.

Bein den Kurzstrecken entscheiden Bruchteile von Sekunden. Um eine Kontrolle über gleichmäßigen Start zu haben, hat man jetzt in Stamford Bridge in England eine Bänderstartmaschine konstruiert. Im Augenblick des Startschusses schnellen die Bänder hoch... die Bahn ist frei. Geht ein Läufer zu früh vom Start, dann fängt er sich in den Bändern.

And my rough translation (with some help from Google translate):
Starting machine now also for people.

Short sprinting races can be decided by fractions of seconds. In order to ensure an even start, there has now been created a tape-start machine in Stamford Bridge, England. At the moment of the starting shot, the tape rises high ... the path is clear. If a runner starts too early, then he catches himself in the tape.
Categories: April Fools Day, Sports
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 01, 2013
Comments (3)
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