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In June 1959, reports surfaced of a monster seen in the woodlands of Central Florida, near Brooksville, about forty miles north of Tampa.

Witnesses described seeing a giant creature with glowing eyes that towered over 9-feet-tall and moved rapidly through the trees with massive strides. The creature was active at night.

Monster hunters went out to search for it. Some of them were armed with guns, and a few claimed to have spotted it and took a shot at it, but no creature was bagged.

The reports aroused the curiosity of two Tampa Tribune reporters, Harry Robarts and Bob Fellows, who decided to track down the monster. They camped out for a few nights in the woods around Brooksville, but never saw anything.

Then they started interviewing locals. Finally, they got a good lead when one of these locals suggested they might want to talk to Mrs. Peggy Thomas, a young housewife who lived in the area.

The reporters found Mrs. Thomas, and when they confronted her she quickly confessed that, yes, the "monster" was her creation.


Mrs. Peggy Thomas showing off her "homemade spook".

She explained that she had created it by tying one small pinetree across another to form its body, which she had covered in a sheet. She used a cow's skull lit from the inside with a flashlight for its head. And she draped some moss over the creature for added effect.

In order to make her "monster" appear to be walking through the woods, she had tied it to a 100-foot rope between two trees and pulled it from side to side with a fishing line.

She made the creature as a joke during a camping trip with her family and was rather pleased that she had fooled not only her relatives but also many members of the general public.

The woods and swamps of Florida would eventually become known as the reputed home of the "Skunk Ape" — a large, foul-smelling, ape-like creature. However, Skunk Ape sightings only began to become common and attract the attention of the press in the late 1960s. So Mrs. Thomas's monster would not have been a reference to that creature.

Incidentally, the city of Brooksville has a curious history (in addition to its monster hoaxes), having been named in honor of Preston Brooks, a congressman infamous for having nearly caned abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner to death in 1856 on the floor of the Senate. In 2010, there was some debate over whether the city's name should be changed, but the suggestion was overwhelmingly opposed by locals.

References
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 02, 2014
Comments (0)
On the night of Feb. 27, a geomagnetic storm caused Northern Lights to be visible in Europe at unusually low latitudes. And lots of photos of the lights soon began to appear online.

So thanks to Marco for giving us a heads up about this fake image that's begun circulating, purporting to show the aurora from space (with some tweets claiming it's a photo taken from the International Space Station).


The quick summary is that this isn't a photo at all. It's an artist's conception of what an aurora would look like from space.

But as Marco points out, this isn't how an aurora would actually look like from space, since there's no atmosphere visible in the image (no clouds). And the aurora is incorrectly positioned over the true Pole rather than the Geomagnetic pole.

Read Marco's article for a fuller debunking.

The original source of the image isn't known. Marco notes that some sources say it's a graphic from an unidentified "NASA video". But the scientific errors in the image cause Marco to doubt that.

Doing a Google image search, the earliest appearance of the image online that I could find is in a March 30, 2013 posting on the "Astro Bob" blog. That blog is run by Bob King, a photo editor for the Duluth News Tribune and amateur astronomer. He also credits the image to NASA, captioning it as an "Artist illustration of the northern auroral oval on planet Earth."

King doesn't provide a link to the NASA source, but he seems to know what he's talking about. So if he says it's a NASA image, I'm willing to take his word for it (in the absence of any other credible source info).

Perhaps the image used to be on a NASA site, but has since been deleted.
Categories:
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 28, 2014
Comments (4)
Since today is the first day of Error Day, this story seems appropriate. Assuming that the story was accurately reported, it demonstrates that the difference between sanity and insanity is often just a matter of context.

The clipping comes from The Sydney Morning Herald - Dec 26, 1884. But I first saw the story over at Brian Chapman's Legends & Rumors blog.
A correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette writes: — "An Oxfordshire woman met with an experience a few days back which should act as a warning to intending visitors to lunatic asylums. The person in question journeyed to Littlemore, a village four miles distant from Oxford, where there is an asylum, with the intention of visiting a female patient. The porter having admitted her, is said to have duly passed her on to one of the matrons with the words 'To visit a female patient;' but the nurse appears to have caught only the last words of the sentence; and a mistake resulted which cost the visitor a good deal of unpleasantness, to say the least of it. The stranger was taken to the top of the building, under the belief that she was going to see her friend, and then she was suddenly shut into an empty room. Shortly afterwards, a nurse entered, and, to the consternation of the visitor, at once proceeded to undress her. Protestations and remonstrances were alike unavailing, and firmly, though not unkindly, the poor woman was stripped and put in a bath, after which she was forcibly put to bed. By this time the mistaken lunatic was of course in a frantic state of alarm, which only favoured the belief that she was really a mad woman. Where this gruesome farce might have ended it is not pleasant to contemplate; but by a lucky accident the mistake was discovered later in the day, and the unfortunate woman was set at liberty with profuse apologies. It is satisfactory to hear, under the circumstances, that no complaint has been made as to undue severity on the part of the nurses, though their victim is very naturally aggrieved at a mistake which could only have resulted from grave carelessness on the part of the officials. The story is of value as pointing out how easily a very serious mistake may occur in a large lunatic asylum.
Categories: Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 28, 2014
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In August 2011, hundreds of cats were rescued during a hoarding case, and then a team of veterinary students volunteered their time to spay and neuter the cats in order to prepare them for adoption.

A photo of this mass spaying/neutering event (named Operation Cat Nip) ran in the Gainesville Sun.


But about a year later that same photo began appearing on Twitter, stripped of any explanatory context, and accompanied by the caption: "Retweet if you say NO to animal testing."

The photo also had a watermark added, "Cause Animale Nord,"which is the name of a French animal welfare society.


Thousands of people obediently retweeted the photo, many of them adding messages expressing their disgust and disapproval, unaware that the photo had nothing to do with animal testing.

Like many viral photo fakes, this one has gone through cycles of being debunked, disappearing for a while, and then suddenly resurging in popularity. Right now, it's again in a popular phase.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 28, 2014
Comments (2)
One problem is that the planned hoax is too late in the day. According to the rules of April Fool's Day, pranks have to be done before noon! If you do it after noon, then you become the fool. (Does no one care about the rules any more???)

So it would be better to do this early in the morning on the 1st, rather than in the evening.

RC Group Plans UFO Hoax
A Group of RC enthusiasts plan a April Fools Day UFO hoax.

This group of RC enthusiasts seem to have a secret plan to create an apocalyptic UFO doomsday hoax on April Fools Day. I not sure how long this big secret can be kept seeing that the entire plan is posted on their public forum.
The group plans on getting as many people as than can to rig their flying RC quadracopters
(or anything else they can get in the air) with lights and release them to the skies on April 1st at 8 pm. The preferred color is blue but they say any color will do. The plan is to get them in the air while it is dark but early enough that people are still out and about.
Categories: April Fools Day, Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 27, 2014
Comments (2)

A Tumblr blog titled "Today is the Day Marty McFly Went to the Future" posts a new photo every day, indicating that today is the day McFly arrives in the future, as indicated by the Delorean's onboard time monitor in Back to the Future Part II (1989).

It's the latest take on the perennial return of Future Day (an ongoing internet prank in which people claim that the date of McFly's arrival is closer at hand than it really is).

The actual date of McFly's arrival is October 21, 2015.
Categories: Entertainment, Future/Time
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 27, 2014
Comments (0)

A new website has many people slightly puzzled. It claims to be producing artisanal salamis made from lab-grown meat from celebrity tissue samples. So it's kind of like a celebrity version of Manbeef.com (from way back in 2001) — except that it's celebrity beef and the human meat is grown using in-vitro meat production.

Salon.com got a response from "Kevin" on the BiteLabs team who explains that "the site is partly a commentary on food culture, the ethics of meat, and 'the way celebrity culture is consumed.'"

So yes, it's a parody site. However, Kevin also insists that they do actually plan to make salami from celebrity meat.

I'm not sure about the current state-of-the-art of in-vitro meat technology. But I'm doubtful that the technology is good enough to make salami that tastes appetizing. Even if it is meat from Jennifer Lawrence of James Franco.

The idea of celebrity salami recalls an idea PETA proposed a few years back of making George Clooney-flavored tofu.
Categories: Celebrities, Food, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 27, 2014
Comments (1)

The Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna is hosting a 3-day festival that will celebrate and explore the human propensity to screw up. They're calling it Error Day. Festivities begin on Feb. 28 and continue until Mar. 2.

From the website for the event (which is mostly in Italian, but has a few pages in English): "Welcome errors, blunders, mistakes, miscarriages, misunderstandings, omissions, faults, failures, inaccuracies, misapprehensions, oversights, misprints, howlers, wrongs, gaffes, lapsuses, goofs, betrayals, fails, falls: here is humanity's true common denominator!"
Categories: Celebrations
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 25, 2014
Comments (4)
The town of Bowen in Queensland, Australia is home to the world's largest mango statue. It's 33 feet tall, 26 feet wide, and weighs 7 tons. Yesterday, that mango went missing. Employees of the Bowen tourist information centre, adjacent to the statue, said they showed up for work and it was simply gone.


CCTV footage revealed a mobile crane backing up to the statue in the night and taking off with it.

Word quickly spread via social media of the missing mango.


source: Twitter


source: Facebook

However, people quickly suspected that the mango heist might be a publicity stunt since no theft report was filed with the police. And sure enough, a chicken restaurant chain, Nando's, has now owned up to the theft. It's some kind of promotion for its new mango sauce.

The mango never traveled very far. It was moved to a paddock behind the information center and covered with a tarp. Nando's claims to have further plans for it. But, in the meantime, they've posted a video showing how they managed to "steal" the mango. [link: npr.org]

Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 25, 2014
Comments (0)

After Justin Bieber reportedly looked at a few houses in the Buckhead community of Atlanta, Georgia, a group calling itself the Buckhead Neighborhood Coalition formed to protest him moving to the area.

And since the media loves to cover anything related to Justin Bieber, the protest group was soon making headlines, reported on by the BBC, CNN, Daily Mail, Time, Atlanta Journal Constitution, etc.

Harold White, leader of the group, told CNN: "We're concerned he'll bring the wrong type of element into a quiet, residential area. It is our position that a person with his means could certainly find a neighborhood more suited to his eclectic lifestyle."

On its Facebook page, the group further explained:
As a community here in Buckhead, we have worked hard to achieve our goals and get to where we are. Justin Bieber's relocation to Atlanta can be nothing but bad for our children, as well as the community. Some can't even let their children play in the driveway without fear; he has raced vehicles under the influence, before. What's to say he won't do it again? As a home owner down the street from this residence, one can assume many people will be contacting real estate agents soon enough.


When asked if the protest was excessive, given that Bieber hadn't actually bought a house in Buckhead, White replied: "This is sort of a warning to say 'We don't need you here we don't want yellow Lamborghinis driving around our roads at 90 miles an hour'."

The coalition staged a rally Monday in front of an on-the-market mansion.

But after the rally, an Atlanta morning show called The Regular Guys, broadcast on Atlanta station Rock 100.5, admitted that the protest was actually an elaborate joke engineered by them. The "protesters" were interns at their show. And 'Harold White' was actually one of the Regular Guys hosts, Tim Andrews.

An accidental victim of the phony protest was former Atlanta mayor Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition, which is a genuine neighborhood group, totally unaffiliated with the faux Buckhead Neighborhood Coalition. He had been receiving hundreds of phone calls from the media, inquiring about the Justin Bieber protest, about which he was entirely clueless. [link: accessAtlanta.com]
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 25, 2014
Comments (0)
Artist Prudence Straite makes works of art out of fish-and-chip shop food. Below is her version of the Loch Ness Monster.

It's a chip monster, and it looks like the banks of the Loch are made from fried fish. [via Yahoo! News]

Categories: Nessie
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 24, 2014
Comments (1)

Some of the new developments include a device called the "soul phone," which is described as "an instrument that works like a telegraph through which people in spirit communicate."

Also learn how to communicate with the dead via regular phones: "Brazilian researcher Sonia Rinaldi... has been helping people by making phone calls to the beyond since March 2001. The majority have been for parents who have lost their children. Sonia writes, 'With this technology controlled by the Beyond, the call is not from the Beyond. They enter our terrestrial phone calls.'"

I guess that means you can talk to the dead on your iPhone. I wonder if there's an app for that?

A lot of the other stuff at the conference seems to be old-fashioned mediumship.
Categories: Death, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Sun Feb 23, 2014
Comments (1)
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