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Seven years ago Dan Baines created a mummified fairy as an April Fool's Day hoax. Now he's taken to Kickstarter to raise money so that he can produce a "Mummified Fairy Kit" that will contain everything a person needs to create their own mummified fairy.

He hoped to raise £5,000, and he's already raised more than that: £8,106 as I write this, with six days left before the funding period closes. So it seems like he's discovered a strong market demand for mummified fairies!
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 24, 2014
Comments (0)

My mother noticed that the AARP Bulletin had a short feature about "Great Hoaxes," so she sent it to me. It's a somewhat random selection of six hoaxes, but that's no surprise. These short list-type features in magazines often seem like they choose things to list at random. The six hoaxes are:

Left-Handed Whopper (1998) --
Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist (1964) --
The Hitler Diaries (1983) --
The Masked Marauders (1969) - wikipedia link --
Sidd Finch (1985) --
The Autobiography of Howard Hughes
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 24, 2014
Comments (0)
The Scotsman has a brief feature about Nessie's lesser-known cousin, Morag, who inhabits Loch Morar, seventy miles away from Loch Ness. I wonder how much more tourism Loch Ness gets compared with Loch Morar, just on account of having a better known beastie.
Categories: Cryptozoology, Nessie
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 24, 2014
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Laura "Mom" Bedford, owner of a roadside barbecue stand in Miami, Fla., made headlines in March 1937 when she announced what appeared to be a biological miracle. Her maltese cat had given birth to three kittens and two puppies (aka "kuppies").

Bedford explained, "I didn't pay them any mind when they were born. I was too busy. I just looked in the box under the kitchen sink and saw what I thought were five black kittens. I figured they would be all right."

But two days later, she heard something that "sounded like a dog crying." She examined the litter more closely and discovered that two of them were actually puppies, but they were all being nursed by the cat.

All five of the litter looked very much alike, being mostly black with a few white patches. The kittens were female and the puppies were male. Also, the three kittens each had seven toes.

Reporters called veterinarians to ask their opinion about this unusual birth and encountered immediate skepticism. "Impossible," one veterinarian declared. "It never happened."

However, a local veterinarian who examined the animals was more circumspect. He conceded that the birth of kuppies was "very irregular," but admitted that all five animals looked enough alike to be of one family and appeared to be of the same age. "If it is a hoax," he said, "somebody certainly went to a lot of trouble to match them up."

But within days, three local residents (Paul Dickerson, Lester Womsley, and Valeria Nobles) had come forward to contradict Bedford's story.

Dickerson, who was a plumber, said, "I was right there when the old cat was having 'em. She had five kittens, the three black ones you saw and two gray ones. Someone gave Mom the puppies for the cat to mother two or three days after the kittens were born. She got rid of the gray kittens a few days later."

Veterinarians accepted Dickerson's version of the tale and decided there was no need to do a blood test to determine if the animals were siblings.

Related: "Cat gives birth to puppies" (Nov 2006). -- "Dog gives birth to a kitten" (June 2007),

  • "Cat declared mother of 2 puppies and three kittens." (Mar. 16, 1937). Berkeley Daily Gazette.
  • "Cat can't have kuppies, it seems, so another good story blows up." (Mar. 17, 1937). Nevada State Journal.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 24, 2014
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Foreo, a cosmetics company, has announced an initiative to brighten the moon. It argues that this will provide the world with a huge savings in money spent on lights at night. And by reducing nighttime energy consumption, it will also be good for the environment.

So how exactly does Foreo intend to brighten the moon? It kind of glosses over that detail, but the basic idea will be to make the surface of the moon more reflective, so that it will reflect more of the sun's light.

Perhaps this could be done by painting sections of the moon, or by smoothing out the lunar surface. Who knows! Foreo doesn't say. However, the company claims that it already has over $52 million in investment funds that it's going to use to study the "exact methodology of the process that will transform the moon's surface."

Is all this a hoax? Of course it is.

We can surmise this simply from the fact that what Foreo is proposing is COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE. (I don't believe for a second that it really has $52 million that it's going to use to study the issue.)

So if Foreo doesn't actually intend to brighten the moon, then what is it up to? Is this all some kind of marketing stunt? That would be my guess.

I notice that Foreo has a product called the LUNA facial cleaner, which promises to deliver "cleaner, fresher, more radiant skin". So I assume that Foreo is hoping to position itself in people's minds as the company that makes things brighter and more radiant... things such as the moon, or your face.

A related hoax from the past is 'moonvertising' (the idea of projecting advertisements onto the surface of the moon), which has had a couple of different incarnations over the years.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 21, 2014
Comments (1)

Users of Apple's map app have spotted something in Loch Ness. Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, told the Daily Mail, "It looks like a boat wake, but the boat is missing... the size of the object would make it likely to be Nessie."

The image I've posted here is a detail-enhanced image, because in the original Apple map image, it's difficult to see much of anything at all.

So what is it? The Southern Fried Science blog argues that it's almost certainly a boat wake. It explains the lack of a boat by the fact that the image was taken by a satellite:

"Satellites travel along an orbital path, taking pictures that are then stitched together. Just like when you take a panoramic picture with your phone.
Stitched photos aren’t perfect. For example, if one picture has a boat that’s totally washed out (like almost every boat is when photographed from space) and another picture is just blue water, then you’ll be left with the ghostly blue outline of a boat, which is clearly visible on the “Nessie” picture."

So this wouldn't qualify as a Loch Ness Monster hoax. Just Loch Ness Monster pareidolia.

The original, unenhanced image, as seen on Apple Maps
Categories: Pareidolia, Nessie
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 20, 2014
Comments (3)
A new book by Ed Sherman examines the question of whether Babe Ruth actually called a shot in the 1932 World Series. It's one of the greatest legends in baseball. But is it actually true? From the book:

These are the facts. On Oct. 1, 1932, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs played Game Three of the World Series at Wrigley Field. In the fifth inning, Ruth at the plate faced the Cubs' Charlie Root, two strikes on him. Ruth, jawing with the Cubs dugout, held out two fingers. Ruth sent the next pitch soaring toward Lake Michigan. The ball whizzed just to the right of what now would be the iconic scoreboard in center field. The "Ruthian" blow, if ever there was one, traveled nearly 500 feet.

No one disputes that he hit one of the most majestic homers in World Series history. But the question is this: Did he call the shot, or was he merely gesturing in response to the Cubs' bench jockeys? It remains one of the greatest debates in sports history, holding us captive as only Ruth can. Sports historians continue to look for clues that might reveal a true answer. From the moment it happened, opinions polarized.

Based on the reviews, it sounds like Sherman never definitively answers the question. But then, for many historical questions, there are no definitive answers.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 18, 2014
Comments (0)
In 1954, Syed Hassan Osman Mustapha was a young man from Pakistan studying in London. One day he was invited to attend a "knighthood" ceremony at a Rover Scout Group meeting, and while he was there he mentioned that he happened to be part of the royal family of Afghanistan. In fact, he was a prince.

He later said that he had intended the remark as a joke, but everyone took him at his word, and he enjoyed the attention so much that he decided to continue the ruse.

Soon word of his princely status had spread around the affluent London district of Osterley where he was living, and he found himself being feted as visiting royalty.

"Prince" Syed Hassan of Afghanistan

The Rotary Club made him guest of honor at a luncheon. Sir Rob Lockhart, former British military attache to the Kingdom of Afghanistan, called upon him to pay his respects. And finally the mayor received him with an elaborate ceremony at the town hall.

But after he had been living eight months as a prince, the Afghan embassy got word of him and sent an inquiry to find out exactly who he was, and which branch of the former royal family he came from, since they had never heard of him. At which point, Syed Hassan confessed that he was no prince.

Scotland Yard briefly looked into the matter, but decided to let him off with a fine of 25 pounds.

  • "Pakistan student poses as prince," (May 29, 1955). Pacific Stars & Stripes.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 17, 2014
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There's some controversy over the Daily Mirror's recent cover showing a crying child. The context implies it's a British child crying because of a lack of food, but (as blogger Dan Barker uncovered) it's actually an American child who was crying because she lost an earthworm.

Turns out it was a stock photo that the Daily Mirror acquired from Getty Images. But the Daily Mirror is defending itself. Its editor Lloyd Embley writes, "Imagine the stink if we'd used a pic of an actual child who had received food parcels." []
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 16, 2014
Comments (1)

A statue of the Virgin Mary outside a church in Griffith, Indiana has recently attracted attention because a stain on the statue's face looks like a tear. A water mark from rain would be the obvious explanation, but a young girl interviewed for the news broadcast says it's "A sign from God and shows us that Jesus actually did sacrifice his life for us." [ABC 6]
Categories: Pareidolia
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 16, 2014
Comments (0)

If this was just a random unsourced picture on the Internet I would probably suspect that it had been manipulated to create the dragon effect. However, it comes from a professional photographer, Noel Celis of AFP Photo, and is hosted on Getty Images. And these sources provide no indication that the photo was manipulated in any way. So I have to conclude that it's real. In other words, that it's a case of pareidolia, rather than photo fakery.

Getty Images offers this caption:
"A fire breather performs in Chinatown in Manila a day before the Chinese New Year on January 22, 2012. The Lunar New Year falls on January 23 and is the begining of the Spring Festival holiday."
Categories: Pareidolia, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 16, 2014
Comments (1)

This sign appeared on a road in the town of Cambridge, UK on April 1st. There was some speculation that it might have been a joke, but the Cambridge News confirms that it actually was a genuine sign for a temporary road closure. Just a case of strange British road names. And pure coincidence that the sign went up on April 1. [Cambridge News]
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 15, 2014
Comments (0)
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