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Donate your sperm and get a ticket to a music festival. That's the deal offered by Sperm for Tickets.

Or rather, that was the deal. If you visit their site now, they state that the response far exceeded expectations, so they're temporarily calling a halt to the invitation.

But I'm pretty sure the offer never was for real. Not that the idea of giving tickets in exchange for sperm is that outlandish. Instead, it's the delivery method that seems bogus. The site claimed donors could send their sperm via mail:

we have set up an alternative method for donations by using specially developed donation containers combined with a fast courier network to offer a mail system. The patented container is a new discovery that was made by our research and development team, which allows samples to to stay fresh for up to 3 days. We offer a worldwide courier service using DHL and UPS that guarantee delivery times.

Yeah, right.

The SciencePunk blog has traced the site to a Dublin-based marketing firm called Area52. Evidently it's some kind of publicity stunt.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 17, 2008
Comments (1)
Detectives in Sarpy County, Omaha are warning local stores of a new shoplifting technique being used by a group of women. The women enter a store, fill up a cart with items, and then walk out. If stopped, they claim that they're giving birth. KETV reports:

Detectives said that on Dec. 13, three women walked into the Bellevue Wal-Mart, filled a cart with items, then started to leave. Surveillance video shows a store officer stopped them at the door and asked for a receipt. That's when one of the women said she was going into labor, according to Detective Fran Gallo of the Bellevue Police Department. "All three were heavyset. The loss-prevention officer couldn't tell if this person was pregnant or not. She offered to call for a squad for her, but they said no," Gallo said. The women swore at the officer, then left the store with more than $1,000 in items, Gallo said.

Apparently they tried the same thing at a second Wal-Mart, but didn't get away with it there.

It reminds me of that Jane's Addiction video for "Been Caught Stealing". Though in the video a guy, pretending to be a woman, hides items in a fake belly. The Omaha women brazenly walked out the door with the stolen goods. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 18, 2008
Comments (6)
Last week this story was EVERYWHERE. A pair of twins in Britain, who had been adopted into different families, met and fell in love... without realizing they were twins. They then got married, only to discover the terrible secret they shared. Their marriage was promptly annulled.

When I first read about this, it sounded pretty fishy to me -- very much like an urban legend being reported as news -- but on a cursory reading of the story I also got the impression that there were officials involved who knew about the case but couldn't disclose the identity of the twins. So I accepted the news as true. I think the paragraph in the BBC report linked to above that got me was this one:

Mo O'Reilly, director of child placement for the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said the situation was traumatic for the people involved, but incredibly rare.

To me, this sounded as if Mo O'Reilly actually knew about the case first-hand. Unfortunately, I didn't read the article closely enough. Apparently the only person who knew about the case was Lord Alton who used it as an example during a House of Lords debate on the Human Fertility and Embryology Bill. Lord Alton had heard about the case "from a judge who was involved." In other words, the source is a FOAF (friend of a friend), one of the classic signs of an urban legend.

Jon Henley of the Guardian summarizes the situation:

Here's the thing: it all came from a single remark more than a month ago by the vehemently anti-abortion Roman Catholic peer and father of four, Lord Alton, in favour of all children having the right to know the identity of their biological parents.
He had heard about this particular case, he said, from the judge who handled the annulment. Or perhaps (he later admitted) a judge who was "familiar with the case". Britain's top family judge, Sir Mark Potter, has never heard of the story. And, as the excellent Heresy Corner blog notes, the whole thing is statistically improbable, procedurally implausible (for 40 years, adoption practice has been to keep twins together) and based on the equivalent of a friend in the pub saying, "Hey, I heard the most amazing story the other day."

So it looks like this piece of news needs to be categorized as an urban-legend-reported-as-news until proven otherwise. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Journalism, Sex/Romance, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 15, 2008
Comments (15)
Sextuplet husband gets three years
Remember that couple who pretended they had sextuplets last year? The guy has now been sentenced to three years in prison for violating the terms of his probation. His wife is still at large.

Pregnant lawyer made up abduction
"pregnant Ohio attorney Karyn McConnell Hancock confessed Monday to fabricating a story about being kidnapped by three people at gunpoint in Toledo last week." I'm going to start keeping track of these fake abduction cases. There are so many of them!

Fake office assumed role of government
A fake government office in northern India was collecting taxes, providing civic services, and even issuing birth and death certificates. Sounds like a good scam. Some say there's also a fake government here in the States, installed in the White House -- but unlike the one in India, it just collects taxes and doesn't provide any civic services.

Fake Poo Crisis Hits UK
A global shortage of quality providers of fake poo has led to a crisis that has affected more than just the comedy market.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Gross, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 13, 2007
Comments (4)
When a Russian woman recently gave birth to quintuplets, it made news around the world. But BBC viewers who watched the footage of the babies might have thought something was a little odd. Why were the babies crying, even though they had respirators in their mouths? It turns out the cries were dubbed in:
The BBC has admitted that it added the sound of crying to a report yesterday on the birth of a set of quintuplets. It is the latest in a series of rows over fakery to hit the corporation in recent months...
Footage of the infants was distributed by the hospital, but it was silent. Yet when the BBC ran the story on its website, the images were accompanied by the sound of babies crying, even though the quintuplets had respirators in their mouths...
Other television networks broadcast the clips without the sound of crying...
A BBC spokesman said: "We received the film without sound and, although we do not believe viewers were materially misled, we should not have added sound to these pictures."
Categories: Birth/Babies, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Sun Nov 18, 2007
Comments (7)
A commercial for Kleenex that aired in Japan during the 1980s became the focus of an urban legend. Derek Bassett last year described the legend on his blog Mohora:
So the story is this commercial for Kleenex tissues was shown on Japanese TV back in 1986 or so. It features an actress in a white dress sitting next to a child made up to look like a baby ogre. There is a really creepy song in a foreign language that when researched, is actually an old German folk song with the words “Die, die, everyone is cursed and will be killed.” Soon after the debut of the commercial, alot of people complained that it was creepy, or 気持ち悪い, and it was quickly pulled off the air. Soon after though, accidents started to befall the actors and crew of the commercial, including the child playing the baby ogre dying of sudden organ failure, the actress being committed to a mental institution where she is either still there, or at some point hung herself (depending on the version of the story).

Here's the commercial, which Derek uploaded to YouTube.

The ad is kind of creepy, but as you can hear, the song is not an old German folk song, but rather "It's a fine day" by Jane & Barton. Derek also notes that there were no strange deaths associated with the commercial. The woman in the ad, Keiko Matsuzaka, is still working as an actress.

There was also an "angel version" of the commercial that aired at the same time as the "demon version," and Derek has uploaded this to YouTube as well. (via The Home of Ads)
Categories: Advertising, Birth/Babies, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 01, 2007
Comments (8)
This image appears to have been circulating on the internet for almost a year, but it was new to me. It's an ultrasound of a fetus displaying a peace sign. Cute. And apparently real.

The ultrasound was taken on December 13, 2006. It shows the baby of flickr user pkoczera. (I don't know his real name.)
Categories: Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 01, 2007
Comments (5)
A website called Is My Baby Gay offers to inform you of your child's sexual preferences for a fee of only $19.99. They direct customers to print out a circle on a piece of paper. You're then supposed to apply the tongue of your baby to the center of the circle for 15 seconds. You mail this piece of paper to the "Is My Baby Gay" testing center, and they promise to get back to you with an answer within two weeks. If they turn out to be wrong, they promise that they'll refund 150% of your purchase price.

At first I thought this had to be a joke, but apparently they really will take your money. They've set up a paypal payment system to do so. Which transforms this from a joke into something more like a scam. [Note: I didn't actually try to pay them anything, so perhaps at the last minute they decline to take your money... but somehow I doubt it.]

On their front page they've included a phrase which is apparently their legal escape clause: "Results are intended for entertainment purposes only."

I'd like to think that no one would actually take this site seriously and mail in their baby's saliva sample. But there's probably someone out there dumb enough to think this might be for real.

Even dumber would be someone knowing there is no such thing as a saliva test for sexual preference, but paying $19.99 anyway just for the fun of getting some bogus results.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Sex/Romance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 18, 2007
Comments (17)
image Bullet Proof Baby is an online store that claims to sell "all sorts of light weight heavily tested military standard body armor for babys and toddlers." For instance, it offers bullet-proof strollers, bullet-proof cribs, infants 'my first' gas mask, baby bomb blankets, toddler tasers, baby riot helmets, and ultra light kiddie riot shields. Here's the description for the baby flak jacket.
Smart multi-role protection for your baby in a style that is duplicated throughout the world. Velcro adjustable shoulders and side closures which allow a smooth comfortable fit for babies of any age. Bullet proof baby armor will protect your child from Ballistics, Knife, Spike, Syringe & Slash as well as bomb blasts to 400 m/s.

It's all a thinly disguised promotional site for the new Clive Owen movie, Shoot 'Em Up, as evidenced by the numerous ads for the movie throughout the site. If you actually try to order anything, you discover that it's all out of stock.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Military, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 06, 2007
Comments (3)
Could it be? So claims this email:
The pictures below are Japanese dolls which are created by using real human corpse skin and hair! Seeing these pictures are enough to freak anybody out! I am not sure how authentic these Japanese dolls are but if you were to look closely at the pictures, you will notice some red blood lines around the nose, eyes and mouth area. This means if they really used human corpse skin, they actually sliced the face out to be put on these dolls!
image image image image image

Two reasons why these dolls are obviously not made out of human skin:

a) Human skin would not be a good material to use for dolls. Like leather, it would turn brownish and grow hard. Not that I have any experience working with human skin, mind you.

b) These dolls are the creations of Japanese sculptor Yoshiko Hori. (Credit goes to Spluch for tracking this down.) And even though she calls them "dolls in the flesh," I can't find any report of her fashioning the dolls out of human tissue.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 22, 2007
Comments (22)
Dog Gives Birth to Kitten
A dog in a Chinese village has allegedly given birth to a litter that included what looks like a kitten.
“Local residents have been flocking to his house to see the 'kitten' which local vets say is really a puppy which looks like a cat because of a gene mutation. It apparently yaps like a puppy.”
Whether or not the photo that accompanies the article is actually a picture of the litter is uncertain.
(Thanks, Sarah.)

Is Des a Feline Record Breaker?
Des, a cat belonging to Alison Thomas of South Wales, boasts an impressive 26 toes. Polydactylism is not uncommon in felines, and there are reports of cats with 24 toes, but Mrs Thomas is trying to find out whether 26 may be a new UK record. Unconfirmed reports from North America mention cats with 28 toes.
(Thanks, Beasjt.)

It has been reported that a pig in Croatia has been born with six legs and two penises. As Sarah pointed out in her email, the ‘Octopig’ should more accurately be called ‘Hexapig’.
Categories: Animals, Birth/Babies
Posted by Flora on Wed Jun 13, 2007
Comments (16)
image Le Petit Singly (it's a French-language website, but here's a translated version) claims to be a French farm that specializes in producing cheese out of "the mother's milk of woman." According to the blurb on their site, they've been doing this since 1947. They say that the breast-milk cheese has a caramel color and has a hint of hazelnut taste.

Of course, I think it would be technically possible to make cheese out of breast milk. (Although this woman in Indonesia reports that she tried to use her own breast milk to make some cheese and failed. Link via The Stranger. But she was doing it on her stove top. I think if a commercial producer really put their mind to it, they would have better success.)

I actually briefly discussed this question in Hippo Eats Dwarf, in the context of debunking a site that claimed to produce cheese from lactating rats. I wrote that, "The problem is that the cheese's flavor is influenced by whatever the milk producer eats. So you would want vegetarian milk donors, unless you like cheese that tastes like rotting milk."

The Le Petit Singly site mentions nothing, that I can find, about the diet of the female milk donors. This is one sign that it's a hoax. Another sign is the ads they have on their site, and the fact that it's hosted on a lycos account. A real company would presumably at least shell out the $20 to get their own domain name. (via Why Travel To France)

Update: Looks like Le Petit Singly does discuss the diet of the milk donors. (Thanks, penny!) But I still think it's a hoax.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Food
Posted by Alex on Sat Jun 09, 2007
Comments (21)
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