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|•||Chilis Narrowly Avoids Funding Anti-Vaxxers 04/08/2014|
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|•||Iran building fake aircraft carrier 03/20/2014|
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Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storgé. Could this be the title of the next book in the Harry Potter series? It sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but over at Mugglenet, a site for Harry Potter fans, someone calling themselves HPstorge claims to have found a way into a secret area of J.K. Rowling's site where this new title was supposedly revealed. The new title is apparently going to be officially announced on July 1 (we'll just have to wait and see what happens). HPstorge placed screen shots of his/her discovery on a geocities site , but the site promptly exceeded its bandwidth limit, so the shots are no longer viewable. The claim is being treated with skepticism over at Mugglenet, but anything to do with Harry Potter is such a big deal that the BBC is even reporting about this possible find. (via Ozymandias in the Hoax Forum)
Update (June 28, 2004): A spokesman for JK Rowling has confirmed that this book title is definitely a hoax.
Update (June 28, 2004): A spokesman for JK Rowling has confirmed that this book title is definitely a hoax.
Liwwat Bocke was a German woman who moved to Ohio as a young woman during the nineteenth century. From the 1820s until the 1880s she kept a journal of her experiences... a journal that eventually spanned 1100 pages, all of which is written in a dialect of northern Germany known as Plattdeutsch. When historians discovered her journal during the 1970s they thought it was a remarkable find, sure to shed valuable light on the history of the settlement of Ohio. But now they're not so sure. Analysis of the document has revealed that it's a fake, plagiarized from other sources and containing numerous anachronisms. What no one can figure out is who created this forgery, and why they did it. As this article in The Plain Dealer notes, why would someone "go to such great effort to fake a journal about life in the 19th century and then attribute it to a German-speaking farm woman who is buried in a rural church cemetery in Auglaize County... Who would go to the trouble of hand-writing more than a thousand pages in Plattdeutsch - a low German dialect spoken mostly by older, rural people - to describe the settlement of Ohio?"
The news that Microsoft has produced a 'messenger speak' translation of Homer's Iliad has been all over the wire services, but is it true? I thought it must be a joke when I first read it... another example of satire being treated as news. But I should have known better. It's Microsoft, after all (they're good at taking great things and making crappier versions of them... sorry, as an Apple user I couldn't resist the obvious joke). So yes, they really did do it... though they only 'translated' the first five books and condensed them down to a few lines each. In other words, it's a cute little publicity stunt, rather than a major linguistic undertaking. I took a couple years of ancient Greek in high school, but never got good enough to read Homeric Greek. But I doubt the pr people at Microsoft bothered to read the original Greek either in order to produce lines like, "Ur right to still be ngry, Anchilles has m’ssed things up 4 da Grks wiv his rage."
Emily Chesley was a "speculative fiction writer of the late Victorian period (who lived for some time in the London, Ontario region), who has been long-overlooked by Canadian literature." She was also a "poet, social activist, explorer, aviatrix, and 92-year-old pole vaulter." The Emily Chesley Reading Circle is a "group of 'scholars' and bon-vivants" who get together to study and help promote her work. So far, they've been quite successful. They've even managed to get an abridged collection of some of her writings published. However, I think the key word in all these descriptions of her was that she was a very 'speculative' writer... i.e. speculative as in nonexistent.
Roman Kingsley is an Australian man who has trained geese to do skywriting, or 'birdtyping' as he calls it. Impossible, you say? Not at all, according to Kingsley. As he says in this interview, "It normally takes about three months to train the birds to spell out a word. Once each bird knows the letter, they have to know where in the word that letter occurs. But I’m hoping to speed it up more in the future. The curved letters, you know, like o, c, and b take the birds a bit longer. But it’s early days." His plan is to have his birds spell out various corporate logos. Volvo is his first client (Volkswagen passed on the offer). He's going for clients with straight letters in their name. In the future he even hopes to have the geese squawk on cue, to add a sound element to the skywriting. Okay, I wouldn't bet a lot of money on the reality of Kingsley and his skywriting geese, but maybe he is real. I'll let you decide for yourself. He's described in a new book by Australian writer Stephen Banham called Fancy that mixes together factual and fictional stories about typography
I'm a few days late noting this story, but I had to mention it anyway. One volume of the forged Hitler Diaries was recently sold at auction in Berlin, fetching around $7700. If there really was such a thing as a brick-and-mortar Museum of Hoaxes, I would have definitely put in a bid for it.
Over at whitehouse.org (which is not the website of the whitehouse), there's a page describing a novel, titled Sisters, written by the notoriously prudish Lynne Cheney back in 1981. This must have been in Lynne's wilder days because the book is apparently a sexy tale set on the American frontier involving brothels, attempted rapes, and lesbian love affairs. According to this news report, a publisher was going to reissue the book, but was blocked from doing so by Ms. Cheney. 'Goo' sent me the links to these pages and asked if the book was real. At first I was suspicious because I couldn't find it listed in any library catalogs, or on used book sites such as abebooks.com. But then I found it listed on Amazon (no copies are available, but some of the reader comments are quite amusing). So I'm assuming it's real.
Naked Came the Stranger, the hoax novel penned in 1969 by 24 reporters from Newsday, is being re-released by Barricade Books as a 'cult classic.' The movie rights to the book have also been bought.
Computer Scientist Gordon Rugg may have proven that the mysterious Voynich Manuscript (the famously untranslatable medieval book full of pictures of naked women) is a hoax. He theorizes that it was created by a sixteenth-century Englishman named Edward Kelley in order to con Emperor Rudolph II. Kelley could have created the book by using an encryption device called a Cardan Grille. Voynich scholars are still undecided about Rugg's theory, but whether or not Rugg is right, it should now just be a matter of time before he lapses into insanity, as many other scholars who have spent too long obsessing about the Voynich Manuscript have done.
The Guardian, inspired by the recent publication of Peter Carey's My Life As a Fake, is offering a Short History of Literary Hoaxes. If you want a slightly longer history of literary hoaxes (as well as every other type of hoax) you could, um, buy my book.
A review of Peter Carey's new book, My Life as a Fake, based on the story of Ern Malley, the Australian literary hoax.
A legal battle erupts over who owns the copyright to the poems of Ern Malley. If you don't know who he is, Malley is Australia's most famous hoax poet. My favorite line of his continues to be, "I am still the black swan of trespass on alien waters." Brooding, eerie, and completely nonsensical. (I don't have anything about him on the website, but I've got a blurb about him in my book).