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Pranks
It's hard to tell how much of this story is genuine. Stuart Slann supposedly learned the hard way part of the truth of the old joke that on the internet the men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents. In Stuart's case, Emma, the woman he thought he met on Facebook, was actually two guys playing an elaborate prank on him. Apparently they lured him into driving nine hours to meet Emma in Aberdeen, and then they revealed the truth to him.

And since this is the age of YouTube, the pranksters also created a video (now widely viewed) to celebrate the humiliation of their victim.
Categories: Pranks, Sex/Romance, Social Networking Sites
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 17, 2009
Comments (6)
In 1963 Paul Krassner included a poster that said "Fuck Communism" in his magazine The Realist. The poster was very popular with counter-culture types. Kurt Vonnegut described it as a "miracle of compressed intelligence nearly as admirable for potent simplicity, in my opinion, as Einstein's e=mc2" because it demonstrated "how preposterous it was for so many people to be responding to both words with such cockamamie Pavlovian fear and alarm."

Krassner himself often told this story about the poster:

At a midwestern college, one graduating student held up a FUCK COMMUNISM! poster as his class was posing for the yearbook photo. Campus officials found out and insisted that the word FUCK be air-brushed out. But then the poster would read COMMUNISM! So that was air-brushed out too, and the yearbook ended up publishing a class photo that showed this particular student holding up a blank poster. Very dada.

I wanted to add this yearbook photo to the Hoax Photo Database. I thought it would make a great addition, particularly to the Deleted Details category. However, I can't locate a copy of it anywhere, and I'm beginning to suspect it's existence is an urban legend. After all, why was Krassner so vague about the exact college?

I'd love to be proven wrong, but what I suspect happened is that someone held up a copy of the poster during graduation, and then people started to speculate about what campus officials would do if a picture of this stunt made it into the yearbook, and eventually this turned into what campus officials had done.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 05, 2009
Comments (6)
The Idaho Statesman has an article about nineteenth-century prankster George Washington Stilts, who was a native of Boise. Apparently he was the leader of a group that called itself the "Hornique-qui-bri-niques." This was usually shortened to "Hornies" or "Horrible Hornies." This group was known for painting their faces and dressing up in costumes on July 4th, then parading through the city streets, after which they would go on a three-day bender until they had to be carried home. The article relates one of his pranks:

When Stilts was summoned for jury duty before a judge who did not know him, he feigned total deafness until the judge excused him... Of the 200 people present, at least 199 knew that Stilts was no more deaf than the judge. They were speechless at the impudence of the action. When Stilts left the courtroom, the spectators "roared with delight."
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 03, 2009
Comments (0)
The University of British Columbia students given the responsibility for pulling off their traditional prank of hanging a Volkswagen bug from a bridge screwed it up this year. The cabling they were using broke, and the bug fell into the water below. Kids these days! Can't they even pull off a prank properly! Link: Vancouver Sun.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 03, 2009
Comments (1)
Pranksters have placed signs in various places around Nottingham stating: "Public Urination Permitted After 7.30pm".

The Nottingham City Council wants everyone to know that the signs are not telling the truth: "It is an offence to urinate in public and these signs have been put up illegally, for whatever reason."

This prank is basically the opposite of one I reported on over a year ago in which pranksters placed signs in public lavatories that read: "Think Green. Think Safe. Do you really need to go?"
Categories: Gross, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 24, 2008
Comments (3)
How to play the "pimping" game: Print a fake license plate on glossy paper using license-plate-like fonts downloaded off the web. Tape this fake license plate over your real license plate. Then purposefully speed in an area where you'll get photographed by speed cameras. Whoever owns the license-plate-number you faked will then get mailed a ticket.

If you really want to get fancy, make sure the car you're driving is similar to the car you want to prank.

Police report that kids are increasingly using this technique to get tickets sent to parents, teachers, and other victims. Says one unnamed parent: "This game is very disturbing."

I don't know why it's called the "pimping" game.

Link: Daily Tech
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 22, 2008
Comments (5)
John Brady has been charged with second-degree aggravated harassment for calling random people and trying to convince them to perform a rectal exam over the phone. He got at least one person to do this.

His modus operandi: "I would go through the phone book and pick random numbers and make telephone calls." Then he would ask them personal questions about their digestive system, and try to get them to follow his instructions.

Prank calls of this nature (and victims dumb enough to fall for them) are definitely a recurring theme. Remember the strip-search prank caller from a few years ago? He would call restaurants, pretend to be a detective, and convince managers to strip-search female employees. There's also the Satellite Medical Exam Scam, in which a caller convinces their victim that if they stand outside naked a satellite flying overhead will provide them with a free medical scan.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 18, 2008
Comments (4)
Yesterday (Tuesday) there was a helicopter buzzing around in the sky outside my window for about half an hour. I was speculating what it might be: bank robbery, accident, men in black? No, turns out it was just a local, neighborhood hoax. (I live about 2 blocks from Helix High School in La Mesa, a San Diego suburb):

A report of an armed man at Helix High School that prompted a lockdown on the campus Tuesday was a student hoax, police said.
An investigation by school staff and the La Mesa Police Department determined that the student who reported seeing a man with a gun had fabricated the report, La Mesa police Lt. David Bond said Wednesday.
The school and two neighboring schools were locked down for about an hour while about 15 officers and and a police helicopter searched the campus and surrounding neighborhood.
It is not yet known why the student lied, Bond said.

This is the same school that can boast that, within the past two years, four teachers have been accused of sexual misconduct with students. Let's hear it for the La Mesa educational system!
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 18, 2008
Comments (5)
Pranksters at Cambridge University recently succeeded in placing a Santa hat on top of two seemingly inaccessible roof spires. Ten firemen and three fire engines spent an hour getting them down. From the Daily Mail:

The culprit currently remains a mystery, but it is thought to be a student playing a practical joke. It is also not known how anyone managed to scale the buildings, particularly the spire of Humility, which is thought to be impossible to climb. One suggestion is that the person used the famous book The Night Climbers of Cambridge, originally published in 1937, which offers a guide onto the roofs of the city's ancient buildings.

I hadn't previously been aware of the Night Climbers book. Here's what Wikipedia says about it:

The Night Climbers of Cambridge is a book written under the pseudonym "Whipplesnaith" about nocturnal climbing on the Colleges and town buildings of Cambridge in the 1930s. "Whipplesnaith" is apparently a pseudonym for Noel Howard Symington, although the book is the work of several contributors. One of them, Eric Wadhams, a choral scholar at King's, either took or was featured in most of the photographs...
The book is now highly sought after, especially in Cambridge itself where it is still regarded as one of few "guidebooks" to the routes onto the roofs of the town's ancient buildings.

The book may be highly sought after, but if you do a search of used bookstores on abebooks.com, quite a few copies of it are available. Plus, the entire book (with pictures) can be read online.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 02, 2008
Comments (8)
Time magazine offers a roundup of what it describes as "the biggest pranks in geek history" -- limited to pranks perpetrated by MIT and Caltech students.

The usual suspects are there: the great rose bowl hoax, Caltech relettering the Hollywood sign, etc.

Except, uh, some of the items in the list clearly aren't pranks. For instance, creating a program that allows DVDs to play on any operating system may be a useful hack, but it's not what I would consider a prank. And I don't think MIT student Star Simpson intended to cause a security scare when she wore her "socket to me" sweatshirt to Logan Airport.

One more complaint: Time omits one of my favorite Caltech pranks -- the sweepstakes caper in which they hacked a McDonald's sweepstakes by creating a computer program to flood it with millions of entries.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 02, 2008
Comments (0)
The Daily Mail offers a short biography of Horace de Vere Cole (1881-1936), a man who made pranks his life work. His most famous prank was the Dreadnought Hoax of 1910. Here are a few of his others:
  • He "once stood in the street handing out free theatre tickets to a series of extremely bald passers-by with the result that, when viewed from the dress circle, the assembly of shiny bald heads in the carefully chosen seats clearly spelt out an expletive - complete with a dot over the 'i'."
  • He used to "wander the streets with a cow's udder poking through his flies. At the moment of optimum outrage, he would then produce a pair of scissors and snip off the offending protrusion."
  • "More adolescent pranks ranged from organising a large party where all the guests were called Ramsbottom or Winterbottom to driving around London in a taxi with a naked tailor's dummy. Whenever he saw a policeman, he would stop the cab, open the door and beat the dummy's head on the ground, shouting: 'Ungrateful hussy!'"
Odd fact: he was Neville Chamberlain's brother-in-law.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 26, 2008
Comments (8)
Apparently this started with a character on South Park who described redheads as "evil" and "soulless". This gave a fourteen-year-old boy the idea of starting a Facebook group dedicated to the idea of promoting November 20 as "National Kick a Ginger Day". The group soon had over 5000 members, and unfortunately some people decided to take the idea literally.

Redheaded students at schools throughout Canada reported being kicked and punched by other students on Nov. 20. One student, Aaron Mishkin (pictured), felt so traumatized that he skipped school the next day.

Things like this just confirm my most pessimistic feelings about the human race. Sometimes people really suck.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 26, 2008
Comments (65)
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