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Miscellaneous
I decided to add a few visuals to the top of the page. I thought it was looking a bit too plain before. I wonder if anyone can identify all the figures without looking through the museum to find out what they are. (There's no prize. I'm just curious if anyone can do it.)

At some point I'll make the figures clickable, so that they'll link to whatever they represent, but that's a bit of work. I'll save that project for later.

Also, from time to time I might change them around. Take some out, put in a few new ones. It's quite easy to do. I can even have special ones for holidays like Christmas, Halloween, and April Fool's Day, like Google does.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 23, 2007
Comments (17)
After a couple days of fussing with the design of the site, I've decided to put everything back to almost the way I had it when I started -- except for a few minor tweaks. I decided I couldn't stand having the google ads smack in the middle of the weblog, even if they do generate more money there. (It's probably a trade off anyway between making more money and driving off readers, so it comes out even in the end.) You can all carry on as if nothing ever happened.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 16, 2007
Comments (10)
Once again, I've redesigned the look of the front page. What prompted the redesign was that quite a few people had mentioned to me that they didn't realize the site was anything more than the blog. So I've put links to the entire contents of the site right up top where they're harder to miss. This also allows me to feature the hoax forum more prominently, and increase the width of the column for the blog. One of these days, after I win the lottery, I'll get a professional to design the site. But until then, we'll see how this format works out.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 14, 2007
Comments (20)
The first review of Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments is in. It's from Kirkus Reviews:
The author of Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. (2006) enters the realm of reality, albeit from an odd angle.
Boese is a student of the weird. An inquisitive (read: obsessive) sort, he seems to be the sort of guy who, once he gets a superb idea, sees it through to the end and then some. Here, he offers a compilation of weird (there’s that word again) scientific and sociological experiments performed over the past two centuries. Some of the many highlights: a 1931 test to determine whether it’s possible for a chimp to raise a human baby; a 1977 examination on the validity of scratch-’n’-sniff paper; a gentleman who, in 1928, proved males could be multi-orgasmic to the tune of six ejaculations in 36 minutes; and, of course, the titular experiment to determine what happens when elephants are dosed with large quantities of LSD. Boese structures the book in such a manner that it can be read comfortably either front-to-back or at random. Very well-researched and delivered in an engaging, breezy, wink-wink tone similar to that of Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg’s Why Do Men Have Nipples?, this will likely be enjoyed equally by science buffs and casual aficionados of the curious.
One the finest science/history bathroom books of all time.
Then again, it may be the only science/history bathroom book of all time.
The part of the review in bold is what appears on Amazon. The review botches the details of most of the experiments it mentions, but that's a minor matter. What I really like is that line, "One [of] the finest science/history bathroom books of all time." But, of course, while good reviews are nice, what really matters is that people buy the book. (Hint, hint.)
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 08, 2007
Comments (8)
I'm back! The return flight from Africa took almost 30 hours (and with layovers it basically was two entire days of travel), but I made it. I got back late Monday night and then spent Tuesday decompressing, trying to shake off the jet lag.

After a quick glance around, it looks like the site survived my absence. Thanks to Cranky Media Guy for filling in as the Guest Curator while I was gone. He did a great job. I guess this means I'm pretty much expendable around here!

Africa was incredible, but I had no internet access while I was there (and often no electricity either), so my apologies to anyone who tried to contact me while I was gone.

The trip consisted of a week in Malawi and two weeks in South Africa -- two very different countries. Malawi is a very rural society. In many places the lifestyle doesn't seem to have changed much there in hundreds of years. You still see numerous villages dotting the countryside, consisting of a handful of thatch huts. Women walk around with huge bundles of sticks on their heads. South Africa, by contrast, is much more modern. Many areas of it look almost exactly like America, with malls and office buildings... but down the road from the malls you find vast, sprawling shanty towns where people live in pretty wretched conditions.

One of my favorite sights in Malawi was the guys who stand by the side of the road selling mice-on-a-stick. Apparently many Malawians quite enjoy this dish. The vendors catch the mice by starting a fire in the brush to scare the rodents out. Then they spear about four or five of the critters on a stick and cook them -- fur, bones and all -- until they're charcoal black. Although I didn't sample this delicacy, I'm told that the proper way to eat a mouse on a stick is by beginning with the tail and working your way up to the head. You simply spit out the bones, much like you would do when eating chicken wings. I wanted to get a picture of a mouse-on-a-stick vendor, but I never had a chance. My sister, who lives in Malawi, promises me that she'll take a picture of one and send it to me. (In the meantime, I found some pictures of mice on a stick on a blog called Misadventures in Malawi and Beyond.)

I also spent a couple of days at Lake Malawi, where I kept an eye out for any sign of a Lake Malawi Monster. Lake Malawi is also known as Lake Nyassa, so it's monster, if it has one, would, I suppose, be called Nyassie. Unfortunately I didn't see a monster, though I did see a couple of otters, which I thought was pretty exciting at the time.

In South Africa, I got to visit Kruger Park where I saw elephants, rhinos, giraffe, and hippos. However, I saw no elephants on acid, nor any hippos eating dwarves.

While in South Africa, I also got to take a trip down a platinum mine, an experience which made me resolve never to quit blogging in order to become a miner.

Here's a few pictures of me from the trip. From left to right: taking a nap in a hammock at Lake Malawi, very cautiously petting a cheetah at the De Wildt Cheetah Park in South Africa, and 500 meters beneath the ground in a platinum mine (you can tell from the expression on my face that I'm feeling a little claustrophobic).

image image image
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 18, 2007
Comments (26)
Unlike a lot of people, I actually tend to like modern art. I can understand, however, why people think that some of it isn't really art, though. It seems that the way to become an art world sensation is to come up with what more accurately be called a publicity stunt, do it in a gallery, perhaps, call it A*R*T and find a super rich guy like Charles Saatchi (a patron of the modern art world in Great Britain) to pay you an enormous sum of money for whatever physical manifestation of it you can whip up.

Lian Sifuentes is an artist who is spending 72 hours getting ready for a date. She is doing this in a tent in Union Square Park on the northern edge of Greenwich Village in New York City. She's being filmed or videotaped as she does this and eventually her "date prep" will be turned into a movie. Every hour she takes will be condensed into a minute of screen time so that she will appear to be moving at normal speed while everything around her will look like it's moving at light speed. Oooookay. Hey, it beats working the fry station at Burger King.

I guess my point in putting this up on MoH is for you guys to collectively discuss whether "art" like this really IS art. Is it just a publicity stunt or a hoax or is it a legitimate form of artistic expression. Have at it.

It must be art 'cause I can't understand it

["It must be art 'cause I can't understand it" is something my old friend Guy Ennis once said when we went to see some pretentious movie I can no longer remember the name of.]
Categories: Art, Miscellaneous
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Wed Jul 11, 2007
Comments (16)
Net Authority is a site that claims to be...well, I'm not completely sure WHAT it's claiming to be. Something about being the controlling authority over the Internet. That sounds vague, but if you look at the site, you'll see what I mean. I'm very sure this is a hoax, based on how just-outside-of-credible the writing is, but it's very well done.

"Net authority" hoax?

OK, I just found this by the guy who claims to have come up with Net Authority:

"Net authority" revealed?

OK, I looked a little further into Net Authority. It's not really that they're claiming to be in charge of the Internet; it's more like they saying they SHOULD be.

OK, I have to stop saying "OK" so much.

UPDATE: This guy got a "cease and desist" letter from Net Authority. He knows it's a joke, but he doesn't think it's funny:

Not amused by Net Authority

Categories: Miscellaneous, Technology, Websites
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Wed Jul 04, 2007
Comments (6)
Takeru Kobayashi, six-time world record hot dog eater, is claiming to have a jaw injury which may hamper his competition today at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. Some think the champ is faking, playing head games with Joey Chestnut, who beat Kobayashi's record of 59 1/2 franks and buns two weeks ago. The two are the favorites in this year's event at Nathan's.

Would Kobayashi really pull such a stunt, potentially tarnishing the great sport of competitive eating?

As an aside, this article I'm linking to refers to the governing body as the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). I thought I had read that they changed their name to Major League Eating recently. I'll have to check.

Scandal in professional gluttony?

Okay, I checked. From Wikipedia:

The IFOCE, which first established eating as a sport in the 1990s, has recently launched Major League Eating to serve as an umbrella for competitive eating worldwide while also providing a recognized brand for licensing of t-shirts and other products. The Major League Eating website, www.majorleagueeating.com, is considered the most dynamic website in this sport. It features videos of contests and eaters and offers a complete online community similar to MySpace, for eating fans.

UPDATE: Sore jaw or not, Kobayashi lost to Joey Chestnut, meaning the Mustard Yellow Belt has returned to American, where it belongs, damn it! NO ONE outeats us. USA! USA!

Categories: Food, Gross, Miscellaneous
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Wed Jul 04, 2007
Comments (9)
OK, with Alex on his way to Africa, the substitute teacher is officially in charge. That doesn't mean you can throw spitballs or run in the hallway, though.

I'll have some stuff up in a little bit. I'm still figuring out how all this works.

Behave.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Sun Jun 24, 2007
Comments (12)
imageimage
Flowers growing from a steel pipe (NEO)
A Chinese man has found what he believes to be a patch of white flowers growing from a steel pipe in his vegetable garden.
Ding has consulted his neighbours, who believe the flowers are the legendary Youtan Poluo flower, which blossoms only once every 3,000 years.
“No soil, no water. These flowers can bring me good luck,” he added.

Forum members suspect, however, that the 'flowers' are lacewing eggs (see pictures to compare.)

Make your bad grades disappear! (Accipiter)
A student worried about re-taking a year at school because of his bad exam results talked two friends into entering a classroom wearing masks, threatening the teacher with an iron bar, and attempting to steal the report cards. Sadly for the sixteen-year old and his accomplices, the other students in the class defended the teacher, and they fled without the reports. The associates, aged 14 and 15 respectively, were arrested near to the school.

Herman Munster's Identity Stolen (Tah)
Internet thieves on an underground chatroom were offering the personal identification data of Herman Munster. Apparently unfamiliar with the television series The Munsters, the thieves were offering information such as his address - 1313 Mocking Bird Lane - and his Mastercard number. The theory is that a fan of the programme deliberately provided the bogus data.

A horror movie come to life (Iridium)
Three families in Fircrest claim to have been victims of harassment for four months now. The families say that the mysterious stalkers are tracking their moves, controlling their cell phones, and sending death threats.
Somehow, the callers have gained control of the family cell phones, Price and Kuykendall say. Messages received by the sisters include snatches of conversation overheard on cell-phone mikes, replayed and transmitted via voice mail. Phone records show many of the messages coming from Courtney’s phone, even when she’s not using it – even when it’s turned off.
Whilst the phone company claims this is impossible, the Department of Commerce says that there is such thing as a 'roving bug', which will work whether the phone is on or not, and can pinpoint its location to within a few feet.
Categories: Con Artists, Identity/Imposters, Law/Police/Crime, Miscellaneous, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Jun 22, 2007
Comments (7)
On Sunday I leave for Africa. I'll be there for three weeks. I'm spending a week in Malawi, where my sister lives, and two weeks in South Africa, where members of my wife's family live. I probably won't have many chances to connect to the internet while I'm there.

As it turns out, Flora is also leaving for a vacation in Wales at the same time. Which could mean a sudden absence of Curators at the MoH, and not much blog content being produced.

To prevent that I've arranged for a guest blogger while Flora and I are gone. It's someone quite familiar to many people here -- none other than Cranky Media Guy (aka Bob Pagani). He has perfect credentials for the position. He's a media hoaxer, radio personality, warden of the Abu Ghraib Fantasy Prison Camp, and winner of the $365M Powerball Lottery. He'll be blogging from up north in Oregon.

So please give him a warm welcome. And if you want to help him out by giving him tips about links or news stories, just use the site's contact form. I've configured it so that he'll receive messages sent through it.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 21, 2007
Comments (20)
Test your knowledge of hoaxes. David Emery, About.com's Urban Legends and Folklore guide, has posted a pop quiz about Historical Hoaxes and Fallacies. I got 15 out of 15, a perfect score. Woo Hoo! (It would have been kind of embarrassing if I had gotten any wrong, though there was one question about what Neil Armstrong said when he first stepped onto the surface of the moon that I had to think about for a while.)
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 14, 2007
Comments (18)
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