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Business/Finance
Last week the Daily Mirror reported that 67-year-old singer Tom Jones had insured his chest hair for £3.5million:

With tough tour schedules and big money at stake, It's Not Unusual for stars to insure their bodies. So it should come as no surprise to learn that Sir Tom Jones, 67, whose mop of luxurious curly brown hair has made him a hit with the ladies, has had his chest hair insured - for the princely sum of £3.5million!
Top insurance house Lloyd's of London was approached about the deal and, after initial concerns that it might prove too much of a risk, went ahead.
"Like a vintage wine, Tom just gets better with age," says our body hair mole.
"Even at the grand old age of 67, the ladies love his hip-thrusting moves and catching a sneaky peak of his famously rugged chest hair."

The story was soon picked up by other media outlets including AOL, Fox News, and the Miami Herald.

I remember seeing the headline and thinking it sounded odd, but I figured it was a publicity stunt. Turns out it's not even that. David Emery of About.com has debunked the report. He writes:

I contacted Lloyd's of London and they said no such policy has been issued. A note from Tom Jones' management on the singer's official website confirms: "No such insurance policy exists or has ever been considered." The story is based, in fact, on years-old scuttlebutt about a policy drafted for an anonymous male celebrity who never actually purchased the coverage.
Categories: Business/Finance, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 12, 2008
Comments (2)
The Unrecognised States Numismatic Society (USNS) describes itself as a "group catering to numismatists whose collecting interests largely focus on coins minted by groups purporting, pretending or appearing to be sovereign states, but which are not recognised as such by established governments."

They've got examples of coins from a bunch of unrecognized nations, including the Principality of Sealand, Atlantis, the Confederation of Antarctica, and the Dominion of West Florida, which apparently is "an internet-based micronation created on 29 November, 2005... founded on an eccentric interpretation of actual historic events." The Dominion has a website!

My favorite coin is that of the Ultimate State of Tædivm (the thumbnail image).
Categories: Business/Finance, Places
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 25, 2008
Comments (3)
Jeremy Clarkson, host of Top Gear, (which you can see in America if you get BBC America on cable) publicly mocked a story about some computer discs being lost that held the bank details of 25 million people. He claimed that there was no way hackers would be able to use the information to withdraw money from people's accounts. To show how certain he was of this, he published his own account code and routing number.

A few days later, according to Clarkson:

"I opened my bank statement this morning to find out that someone has set up a direct debit which automatically takes £500 from my account. The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again. I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake."

The money from his account was being debited to the charity Diabetes UK.

I've often wondered what prevents criminals from withdrawing money from bank accounts in the same way businesses can when you set up automatic payment plans with them. All that's needed is the account and routing number -- which is at the bottom of every check. But I assume there must be some system to prevent this happening.
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 08, 2008
Comments (8)
Back in 1994 Linda Katz created a website which she named the Prairie Tumbleweed Farm. At the time it was just a joke. She didn't really have a tumbleweed farm. She had dreamed it up as something to do while teaching herself web design. But it turned out that there really are people out there who want to order tumbleweeds. For instance, movie studios or people hosting wild-west parties. And they started to place orders for tumbleweeds with Linda. Now, according to Yahoo! News, Linda is earning over $40,000 a year selling tumblweeds. I find this quite inspirational, and I've been racking my brains trying to think of ways to duplicate her success. But the only idea I've been able to come up with so far is to start a San Diego Street Trash Farm. I don't think it would enjoy the same success. (Thanks to Cranky Media Guy for the link).
Categories: Business/Finance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 29, 2007
Comments (8)
Qamar Mohammed Malik, a Pakistan-born engineer, submitted his CV to the Amec Group construction company, but was told that the company had no suitable vacancies. He then submitted a similar CV with inferior qualifications, but using a fake Welsh name, Rhyddir Aled Lloyd-Hilbert. This time he was told there was a job vacancy and was offered an interview.

Malik has now filed a lawsuit against the Amec Group, accusing the company of racism. The company defends itself, saying that, ""Mr Lloyd-Hilbert" was contacted for interview with regard to the quality inspector vacancy and not Mr Malik because the former indicated he was about to move to Wales whereas the latter had a Reading address."

Regardless of who's in the right, Malik's experiment represents a variation on what I'm calling the spurious submission hoax. (I made up this term for it, but if anyone can think of a better name, let me know.) Spurious submission hoaxes usually involve the submission of a disguised piece of work (typically the retyped text of a famous work) to a publisher, who inevitably rejects it. The most famous example of such a hoax was when Chuck Ross submitted the manuscript of Casablanca to over 200 movie agents, many of whom rejected it, saying the script needed work.
Categories: Business/Finance, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 06, 2007
Comments (7)
Police in the Philippines have found a chest in a banana grove that contains $3 trillion in Federal reserve notes and certificates. However, they're warning that the notes could be counterfeit. From Cebu Daily News:
The chest which is 27.3 inches long, 10 inches wide and 14.4 inches in height has the markings of Federal Reserve Bank, Cleveland,Ohio, series of 1934. Total Face Value: three trillion USA.” On top of the markings was an engraved seal of the United States. The opened compartments contained seven film clichés, 12 bank certificates, 12 redemption act certificates, 12 treasury certificates, 12 inventory lists, 12 gold reserve act certificates, 11 insurance certificates and 12 gold bullion certificates. The fourth compartment contained 200 pieces of US federal bond interest coupons, with each coupon stating it was worth $1 billion.

I like the fact that the police are only willing to say that it "could" be counterfeit. Apparently they're not sure yet, despite the grammatical errors on the certificates and the lack of an embossed seal on the documents.

With $3 trillion you could buy an entire country somewhere. But where would you cash the certificates?
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 16, 2007
Comments (4)
imageA Cape Town property developer, Brett Jolly, is claiming that a mine he owns shares in has found what could be the largest diamond ever, weighing in at 7000 carats. Plus, it's green.

By contrast, the largest diamond found to date is only 3106.75 carats. And the largest green diamond only 40.7 carats.

Initial reports said that this new diamond was as big as a soccer ball, but a photo of it has now been released, and in the photo it doesn't look quite that large. I'd say it looks only about as big as a softball. Which is still pretty big. In the photo it's sitting on a table next to a cellphone.

However, most experts are extremely skeptical of the find. No one is being allowed to examine it. So far, the photo is the only proof of its existence, and in the photo, as News24.com notes, "it looks conspicuously smooth on top, almost like a paperweight."

Experts also note that it comes from an area not known for producing large diamonds.

It all sounds very fishy to me. (Thanks to Eric Laurence)
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 29, 2007
Comments (12)
Damon Armagost probably thought he had a pretty good scam going. He had printed up some fake $100 bills from an image he downloaded off the internet. He was then using this counterfeit money to pay for lap dances at a strip club. He must have thought the strippers would never notice the money was fake. Unfortunately for him, they did and alerted the police, who arrested Armagost and charged him with manufacturing and passing counterfeit currency.

Carl Sifakis, in his book Hoaxes and Scams, reports on a similar scam called "tishing a lady." It involves paying a prostitute with tissue paper instead of real money. The con artist flashes a large bill at the prostitute and makes a show of stuffing it into her stocking. But in reality he palms the bill and stuffs in tissue paper instead.

Sifakis writes that the con-artist Count Victor Lustig frequently used this scam. He would "warn the female that he had given her trick money, and if she removed it before the following day it would turn to tissue paper. The lady would promise to comply with the rules, but as soon as Lustig left, she would remove her reward; alas, it had indeed turned to tissue paper."
Categories: Business/Finance, Con Artists, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 27, 2007
Comments (7)
Fergus Frater told everyone he had won the Euro lottery jackpot. His son was so pleased, believing that his dad would cut him in on a share of the winnings, that he quit his job. Frater's sister also looked forward to getting some of the money. But then the REAL winner of the lottery stepped forward with the winning ticket, and Fergus promptly did a runner, skipping town to avoid the wrath of his relatives.

Pretending to win the lottery is, of course, not a new hoax. Our own Cranky Media Guy has done it before. But what I find odd is that Fergus made his own family the primary victims of the hoax. His son said:
"I could kill him ... but he's gone to ground and I've no idea where he is. He's never done anything like this before. We just can't work out what possessed him but he was telling everybody and the whole town thought he'd won. When I find him, we'll have words but at the end of the day he's my dad."
Fergus's friends are explaining it as a "prank that went too far."
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 20, 2007
Comments (2)
Well, after my holiday, my laptop went down, and it's only this week that I'm back online. I do extend my apologies for the lack of 'Best of the Forum' posts for the last few weeks.

Receive the Holy Oil! (Transfrmr)
Forum member Transfrmr found a rather... interesting advertisement in a local free newspaper.
The advertisement (see above link) shows the text:
"I heard voices calling my name but saw nobody. Sometimes the voices told me to throw
myself under a car. To top it off I also suffered with terrible nightmares...I had no peace
at all!
I did a chain of Prayer, used the Holy Oil and fight for changes in my life. Gradually,
the grudges and pain were replaced with peace, forgiveness and joy."

The holy oil comes absolutely free, apparently. If I lived nearby, I'd have been tempted to go along and pick some up.

Man says hold the cheese, claims McDonalds didn't, sues for $10 million (AussieBruce)
Jeromy Jackson, who is allergic to cheese, claims that a local McDonalds made a mistake in his order, causing him to have to be rushed to hospital. He's now suing the chain.
A friend says that Jackson at least five times checked they had his order correct, but when he ate the burger, the reaction was instantaneous. He allegedly ate the burger in a darkened room, causing him to not notice the cheese.
As many people in the forum have noted, surely someone with such severe food allergies would make sure to check his food for himself before consuming it. Whilst this story may be what it seems, it does tingle my spidey-sense somewhat.

CIA behind Wikipedia entries (Smerk)
A new identification program on the popular site Wikipedia has shown that, amongst others, frequent users include CIA, the British Labour Party, and the Vatican, all of whom edit and update not only their own entries, but others besides.

We Have Broken Speed of Light (Tah)
Two German physicists have broken the speed of light, they've told New Scientist magazine.
Doctors Nimtz and Stahlhofen claim to have completed an experiment wherein microwave photons have travelled up to three feet instantaneously.
Categories: Advertising, Business/Finance, Food, Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Aug 17, 2007
Comments (10)
image C.P. Smith, an editor at the Orange County Register, has accepted a buyout and will soon be leaving his job. And during his final days at work he's decided to become a prankster. After all, what can management do? Fire him?

When interviews are being filmed in the paper's offices, he becomes "loud, disruptive, and performs antics for the camera." Here's one of his antics, as described by the KOCE-TV news director:
During an interview, which will air tonight, with Register reporter John Gittelsohn another Register employee [Smith] walked over to the interview area, intentionally stood behind John, faced the camera, picked his nose, and wiped it on his shirt. Unfortunately, this was part of our live-to-tape 30 minute broadcast which airs tonight at 6:30 for all to see.
I'm guessing there's more to this story than we're being told.
Categories: Business/Finance, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 09, 2007
Comments (5)
I found this news story from India intriguing:
Farmers in and around Ooty have expressed concern over the sale of fake organic manure in some fertilizer shops and also by some private parties involved in the fertilizer trade. KN Bhudhi, a farmer of Nanjanad village near here said, "Some fertilizer traders from Thiruchengode area came to our village and sold organic manure. I bought it with the hope that it would enhance yielding capacity. I spent Rs 36,000 to purchase that manure, but it failed to give desired results. This happened with other farmers also."
So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that these farmers are complaining about fake bullshit. Obviously they're in the wrong country. They should come to America, because no country mass produces truer bullshit than us. It's one of our country's leading exports.

But what exactly is fake manure? How do you produce such a thing? I'm confused.
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 03, 2007
Comments (8)
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