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Miss Travel calls itself "The #1 Travel Dating Site." But I'm not sure how many other travel dating sites there are. Is it the only one?

The premise is that if you're an attractive person (but most likely a woman) who likes to travel, they'll pair you with a "generous" traveler who wants a traveling companion (a rich guy). So it's like a high-class escort service, trading travel for "companionship."

The concept seemed a bit dubious to me, but as far as I can tell the site is legitimate. It's registered to InfoStream Group Inc., which is in the business of "millionaire & fantasy dating." They've had the site registered since 2001.

If you're an unattractive wannabe traveler, I guess you're out of luck.

Categories: Exploration/Travel, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 24, 2012
Comments (1)
If you're a woman, don't expect much help from men during a shipwreck. In fact, the men are likely to be shoving the women out of the way in their eagerness to save themselves. That's the general message of a new study by Swedish economists Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson, "Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters."

Women fare worst on British ships — contrary to the tradition of British chivalry. The one exception to this rule was the Titanic, where Captain Smith announced, 'Women and children first.' And he enforced this rule at gunpoint. But apparently, during disasters it hardly ever occurs to captains to insist that women and children should be saved first. The recent Costa Concordia disaster demonstrated this.

The abstract of Elinder and Erixson's study:

Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of 'women and children first' gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew give priority to passengers. We analyze a database of 18 maritime disasters spanning three centuries, covering the fate of over 15,000 individuals of more than 30 nationalities. Our results provide a new picture of maritime disasters. Women have a distinct survival disadvantage compared to men. Captains and crew survive at a significantly higher rate than passengers. We also find that the captain has the power to enforce normative behavior, that the gender gap in survival rates has declined, that women have a larger disadvantage in British shipwrecks, and that there seems to be no association between duration of a disaster and the impact of social norms. Taken together, our findings show that behavior in life-and-death situation is best captured by the expression 'Every man for himself'.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 14, 2012
Comments (0)
France's tourism agency has been embarrassed after it's been revealed that a whole series of photos it's been using to promote French beaches don't actually show French locations at all. They're stock photos, taken in Hawaii and South Africa, in the background of which the tourism agency sometimes photoshopped sections of French coastline. It seems stupid since France has some great scenery, but the tourism agency was apparently too cheap to hire a photographer to take photos of any of it. (link: Daily Mail)

This is hardly the first time tourism agencies have been caught pulling this trick. In Hippo Eats Dwarf I noted some examples, including a 2003 brochure for Bermuda that showed sunny beaches that were in Hawaii, and a Kentucky tourism brochure that featured a covered bridge actually located in New Hampshire.

Looks like France

But it's really Hawaii
Categories: Advertising, Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 12, 2012
Comments (0)
The BBC has an interesting article about myths associated with the Titanic. The five myths they list, summarized, are:
  1. The unsinkability of the Titanic: "the White Star Line never made any substantive claims that the Titanic was unsinkable - and nobody really talked about the ship's unsinkability until after the event"
  2. The band played Nearer, My God, To Thee: The band probably did play on deck as the ship sank, but there's no good evidence that their final song was 'Nearer, My God, To Thee.'
  3. The Heroic Captain Smith: Captain Smith really wasn't that heroic. In fact, his inaction meant that there wasn't a more orderly evacuation.
  4. The Villainous J Bruce Ismay: Ismay, present of the company that built the Titanic, is traditionally portrayed as a villainous businessman who bullied Captain Smith into going faster, and then jumped into the first available lifeboat to save himself. But he probably wasn't that villainous in real life. He actually helped a lot of people into boats.
  5. Forcibly barring third-class passengers from the lifeboats: There was no deliberate attempt to prevent third-class passengers from reaching lifeboats. However, "Gates did exist which barred the third class passengers from the other passengers. But this was not in anticipation of a shipwreck but in compliance with US immigration laws and the feared spread of infectious diseases." As a result, only one-third of steerage passengers survived.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 06, 2012
Comments (3)
The Little Cardiff Giant recently wound up his travels through New Zealand. Some pictures are below.

As you may remember, his world tour started in Southern California, then he went to Perth, and then NZ. His next stop, if all goes according to plan, is Melbourne.

My administrative duties as the coordinator of his tour went a little awry at first. I should have created a master list of everyone who volunteered to host him, but instead I just let emails accumulate. So now I'm trying to piece together a list retroactively. This is what I have -- but if I missed someone, or you want to be added to the list, let me know.

  • Alex -- San Diego
  • Nettie -- Perth
  • Sean -- New Zealand
  • G Beattie -- Melbourne
  • C Barrett -- Melbourne
  • M Anto -- Brisbane
  • J Scharff -- Japan
  • C Morgan -- British Columbia
  • Oppiejoe -- Michigan
  • Tah -- Idaho
  • dbrunker -- Portland
  • Crafty Dragon -- Montana
  • G Pylant -- Texas
  • K O'Brien -- Philadelphia
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 03, 2012
Comments (7)
The author of "Ghetto Hikes," which is a twitter feed and accompanying website, offers this description of it:

I'm 28. I have a full time job leading urban kids (of all races) on nature hikes. I simply write down shit they say.

It's kind of obvious that it's a parody in the style of "Shit My Dad Says," but the Village Voice confirms it isn't real:

Looks like Ghetto Hikes is a parody account -- and an unfunny one at that. According to a just-released tweet, Men's Humor and Ghetto Hikes were registered by the same person.

The most surprising thing about Ghetto Hikes is that it has over 430,000 followers!

Categories: Exploration/Travel, Social Networking Sites, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 24, 2012
Comments (0)

Source: eBay

In 1941, Tommy Graham employed a clever, but slightly duplicitous, technique to get rides as he hitchhiked from Maryland to California. He used an oil can as a suitcase, so that drivers thought his car had broken down and stopped to help him out. I wonder if this technique would work today. Do people even pick up hitchhikers anymore?

from The Bradford Era, Nov. 4, 1941
Categories: eBay, Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 13, 2012
Comments (4)
Here are some pictures, courtesy of Nettie and Smerk, of the Cardiff Giant enjoying the sights in Perth. (Nettie sent me the pictures about three weeks ago, but Thanksgiving and the moon hoax distracted me. At least, that's the excuse for my slowness that I'm going with.)

So where should the Cardiff Giant go next? Any volunteers to host him? I'm hoping it might be possible to send him somewhere in the general neighborhood of Australia. Japan, maybe? I'll wait a week for responses, and in the meantime I'll also see if I can find any volunteers through non-MoH channels.
Categories: Art, Exploration/Travel, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 16, 2011
Comments (6)
I use Google news alerts to find out whenever various keywords I'm interested in appear in news stories or on websites. One of these keywords is "Cardiff Giant". This particular keyword search doesn't usually generate many results. Perhaps one or two a week. But on friday night my patience was rewarded when I got a google news alert about the creation of a new site:

The site is the creation of a Pasadena-based artist who chooses to remain anonymous, using the alias "Cardiff1869". Inspired by the Cardiff Giant of 1869 (which I posted about just a few days ago), he (or perhaps she) is creating a limited series of small-scale replicas of the Cardiff Giant. And he's leaving these miniature giants at various public locations around Pasadena. He explains:

These Cardiff1869 art installations are meant to be found at random by lucky passers-by (known as “Finders” on this web site) who then become a special part of the Cardiff1869 Free Art Project by discovering their own little “Cardiff Giant”.

The primary goal/intent of the Cardiff1869 Project is to allow people to experience the unique joy and wonder of discovering a free and anonymous gift of hand sculpted art, and to allow them the rare opportunity to ponder its mysterious origins and significance, just as the public did back in 1869 when the original Cardiff Giant was discovered.

In the past, I've actually searched quite extensively to find out if anyone had ever created small replicas of the Cardiff Giant, because while it would be impractical for me to keep a full-scale, ten-foot stone giant in my house, I very much wanted to have a smaller version of the giant to call my own. So to find out that little Cardiff Giants were being placed around Pasadena, which is only 2 hours away from where I live, seemed too good to be true.

I briefly wondered whether it was all a hoax. I also wondered whether it would be cheating to purposefully look for the statues. So I emailed Cardiff1869 who assured me that, "Purposefully looking for an installation is common in Street Art. No worries. There is a large sub-culture of Street Art fans who are always on the lookout for new works by their favorite artists - especially the 3D/Sculpture type 'Street Installations' they can actually take and keep."

So early the next morning I dragged my wife out of bed (she was quite willing to humor me and go along, which is one of the reasons I'm so lucky she married me), and we headed up to Pasadena to search for Cardiff Giants.

According to the Cardiff1869 site, six giants had been placed, and four of them had already been found. That left only 2. We quickly confirmed that one of these was also gone, and then spent a fruitless hour-and-a-half searching for the other one, which was supposed to be somewhere on Magnolia St.

I was feeling pretty downbeat, thinking I wasn't going to find a giant. But then my wife and I checked the Cardiff1869 site again and discovered that, just that morning, two more giants had been placed. We must have looked like contestants from the show Amazing Race as we sped toward the new locations. I jumped out of the car at an intersection and sprinted across the road to the WWI Veterans Memorial where one of them was placed. It was still there, placed on a piece of slate surrounded by a circle of stones!


Within half an hour we had located the second one, which was placed on the Colorado St. Bridge. Here I am, moments after finding it. Note that I wore my Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum t-shirt for the hunt, since Marvin's Museum has a Cardiff Giant replica on display. (Kind of nerdy, I know, but I was having fun.)


So I'm now the proud guardian of two little Cardiff Giants. Here's a photo of one of them meeting some of the other residents of the Museum of Hoaxes.


Cardiff1869 tells me that one of the giants — the one on Magnolia St. that I searched for but couldn't find — is still there waiting to be found! Plus, he'll soon be placing more giants. So if you live in the LA area and you're interested in a treasure hunt to find a Cardiff Giant, now's your chance. Keep watching his site to find out the new locations. I had great fun searching for the giants, and I want to thank Cardiff1869 for taking the time to put together such a great project!

So what am I going to do with my giants? One of them I'd like to send on a round-the-world tour — like a traveling gnome adventure. A while back Nettie tried to organize a MoH traveling gnome project, but I completely botched the project. She sent me the gnome, Bumpkin, which I then passed on to a friend of mine here in San Diego who was doing a driving tour of the midwest. Unfortunately my friend lost Bumpkin's legs somewhere in the midwest. So that ended Bumpkin's adventures. I've felt responsible for killing Bumpkin ever since.

So anyway, to partially make up for that previous disaster, I'm happy to send you the Cardiff Giant first, Nettie, if you're interested. And anyone else who wants to participate in the Cardiff Giant's world tour, let me know. We'll put together an itinerary for him.

As for the second cardiff giant — I plan eventually to relocate him somewhere. When I find him a new home, I'll post the details.
Categories: Art, Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Sun Oct 09, 2011
Comments (9)
It's official. American Express's Travel and Leisure Magazine has chosen the Museum of Hoaxes as one of America's Kitschiest Roadside Attractions. We're honored to be recognized in this way!

kitschy attraction

Categories: Exploration/Travel, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 01, 2011
Comments (9)
Looks like another case of the old Message in a Bottle hoax.

Two years ago 4-year-old Libbi Wallace threw a bottled message into the Kennebec River, inspired by her dad's tales of doing so as a kid. According to Maine's The Times Record, she recently received a reply from someone who claimed to have found her bottle while kayaking on Lake Erie. Her correspondent chose to remain anonymous, identifying themselves only as "Surprised in Cleveland."

But as Brian Bienkowski of the Great Lakes Echo points out, it would be physically impossible for a bottle to float from Maine's Kennebec River to Lake Erie.

For a start, the Kennebec flows into the Atlantic Ocean. To get to Lake Erie, the bottle would have to float up to the St. Lawrence River, head upstream for hundreds of miles, and somehow get over Niagara Falls.

Perhaps someone carried it to Lake Erie. Or, as Bienkowski asks: "Is 'Surprised in Cleveland' really 'Loving Father in Bath, Maine?'"
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 31, 2011
Comments (5)
The premise: According to, a giant helicopter (a Soviet-made Mil V-12) has been transformed into a flying hotel:

The Hotelicopter features 18 luxuriously-appointed rooms for adrenaline junkies seeking a truly unique and memorable travel experience. Each soundproofed room is equipped with a queen-sized bed, fine linens, a mini-bar, coffee machine, wireless internet access, and all the luxurious appointments you’d expect from a flying five star hotel. Room service is available one hour after liftoff and prior to landing.

Reasons to think it's a hoax: a) it's a strange idea (how long it could fly before it would have to be refueled?); b) all the photographs of it are computer-rendered; c) the site is registered anonymously (what are they trying to hide?); d) no contact info; e) the site made its debut suspiciously close to April Fool's Day.

Probable perpetrator: It mentions Yotel, the mini-sized hotel rooms you can check into at Heathrow or Gatwick airports. So that would be my guess.
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 30, 2009
Comments (10)
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