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|•||Happy Birthday, Hulitoons! 05/23/2013|
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The Scotsman has published an article on a number of slightly bizarre (well, very bizarre) myths about Scotland, ranging from Jesus holidaying in the Hebrides to Jerusalem actually being Edinburgh. Mostly avoiding the Da Vinci Code furore, the newspaper has given each theory their own marks out of ten on the probability scale.
YouTube video of a well performed card trick. I think it's a version of the "ambitious card" trick, in which one card keeps coming to the top again and again. I don't know how it's done, but I'm guessing it involves double-lifting cards and using a false shuffle to keep certain cards at the top (or bottom).
Tom Dundee Condoms Banned in Thailand
Thai authorities have banned a line of condoms named Tom Dundee, since Dundee in Thai means "Good Penetration," a phrase that they regard as "ambiguous, boastful and provocative." Big Gary notes: The only interesting thing about this story is that country singer Tom Dundee's real name is Puntiva Poomiprates, but "Dundee" is the name the authorities thought was "too suggestive."
Dalai Lama Moon
People throughout India and Tibet have been reporting seeing "the reflection of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the halo of the moon." The Dalai Lama's office would not confirm whether he was really the man in the moon.
The St. Petersburg Times visited 11 restaurants featuring grouper on their menu, and found that 6 of them were surreptitiously serving cheaper fish instead. "One Palm Harbor restaurant charged $23 for "champagne braised black grouper" that actually was tilapia." This doesn't surprise me at all. As I noted in Hippo Eats Dwarf, snapper is another often-faked fish. PoynterOnline writes that the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory found, after testing samples from random vendors, that "80 percent of the red snappers tested have been mislabeled.
In Sri Lanka millions of people have been flocking to temples, and causing massive traffic jams, after the local media reported that images of the Buddha were emitting "miracle rays." I'm not sure what miracles these rays are supposed to have caused (or is it their mere existence that's miraculous), but apparently you need to stare real hard before you're able to see them, and the rays only come out of colored Buddha pictures: Or maybe it'll turn out to be monks with laser pointers.
Status: Stupidity in the newsJust a week ago there was a town in Texas praying for rain. Before that we saw prayer as a treatment for cancer. Now a town in England is going to encourage local residents to pray for less crime. I'm sensing a trend: I assume this is like a Christian version of the Maharishi Effect. And doubtless just as effective!
Status: The miracle of plumbingDue to the honesty of Wadowice's mayor, the town has lost out on a great opportunity to profit from a phony miracle. When water began to gush out of the base of a statue of Pope John Paul II, located in this Polish town, the devout (and gullible) thought it was a miracle. They declared it a "miracle fountain" and eagerly started filling up bottles with the water. Unfortunately for them, the water had a far more mundane source: What the article doesn't mention is that the statue was apparently just installed last month, which explains how the plumbing work was done without anyone noticing.
Status: SuperstitionIt's been a hot summer, and a lot of areas really need some rain. The town of Lubbock, Texas is taking a pro-active approach by organizing everyone in the town to pray for rain. Mayor David Miller says: If the City Council approves the rain-prayer resolution, residents of the town will be asked to pray and fast for rain this Sunday.
Sounds like quite a plan. But Lubbock would do well to take heed of San Diego's troubled history with government-sponsored rain-making projects. Back in 1915 San Diego hired Charles Hatfield, who promoted himself as a "moisture accelerator," to brew up some rain for the city. Hatfield set up his equipment in December 1915, and in January 1916 it began to rain. But it rained so hard that it produced one of the biggest floods San Diego has ever seen, causing millions of dollars of property damage.
So if Lubbock goes ahead with its plan it should take some precautions in case God responds with a flood of Biblical proportions.
Status: Clever marketing schemeKathleen McGowan claims to be a descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. That belief would make her no different than all the other people in this world suffering from delusions of grandeur, except that she's managed to leverage her extraordinary claim of ancestry into a major book deal. Simon & Schuster will soon be publishing her novel, The Expected One, with a print-run of 250,000 copies. The book is a loose fictionalization of her claim. She wanted to publish it as nonfiction but explains that she couldn't do so because "she couldn't make public the sources she developed while researching and writing her book."
Many might view McGowan's novel and ancestry claim as an extraordinarily brazen Da Vinci Code rip-off. But not so, she says. And she's quite right. I think it's actually a Holy Blood, Holy Grail rip-off (as was the Da Vinci Code itself). And I have to hand it to her that it is a clever way to cash in on the religious thriller mania that Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the Da Vinci Code have inspired.
As proof of her ancestry, McGowan says that she's had visions of Mary Magdalene. She also claims to have genealogical records passed down through her family during the past two thousand years. But, of course, she's not sharing these documents with anyone.
What I find interesting (though not surprising) are the comments in support of her ancestry claim from the editor-in-chief of Touchstone and her literary agent. Her editor says, "Yes, I believe her. Her passion and her mission are so strong, how can she not be?"
And her agent says, "She spent 20 years of her life researching this subject. You have to give her any benefit of the doubt because she's totally rational. I believe her absolutely. She had total credibility with me from the very beginning."
In other words, her editor and agent seem to be arguing that as long as someone is fanatical enough about what they claim, then they must be right, even if they offer no evidence to support what they're saying. Unfortunately, most of the people in the world probably would agree with this sentiment.
Status: Strange NewsInside the Amarnath Cave, located in Indian-administered Kashmir, can be found the ice Shiva Linga, one of the holiest objects in the Hindu faith. Basically it's a large, naturally occurring, phallus-shaped ice stalagmite. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to visit it each year, despite a high amount of terrorist activity in that area. (Wikipedia has an entry about it.) But this year the pilgrimage has been marred by allegations that the Shiva Linga has been faked. The BBC reports: Now that the Shiva Linga has gone fake, I figure it's only a matter of time before it starts appearing on grilled cheese sandwiches.
Status: Strange NewsEarlier this month the Secret Service raided the offices of the Great News Network (a Texas ministry) and seized 8300 inspirational tracts. The problem with the tracts? They were printed on million-dollar bills. I would say fake million-dollar bills, but since there's no such thing as real million-dollar bills, there can't exactly be fake ones either. However, the Secret Service felt they looked a little bit too much like real currency for comfort. Reportedly someone had tried to deposit one at a bank. Meanwhile, the Great News Network isn't happy and is threatening to sue the government. But they should realize the government has an extremely low tolerance for any kind of fake currency. Witness the case of J.S.G. Boggs (whom I write about in Hippo Eats Dwarf). He's an artist who creates counterfeit currency as art, though his bills are single-sided, so they're not likely to be mistaken for actual money. Nevertheless, the Secret Service raided his studio back in 1992 and seized thousands of his works, and haven't returned them to this day.
Incidentally, here's the tract that was written on the million-dollar bills. (You can try to purchase the bills here): (Thanks to Joe for the link)
Status: Strange but truePoor Prince Philip never seems to get that much attention, overshadowed as he is by his famous wife, the Queen. But he can console himself with the knowledge that the residents of Tanna, a volcanic island in the Pacific, worship him as a god. UPI reports: It's the line about wrinkle removal that gets me. Are the Yaohahnen especially concerned about their wrinkles? And why would they think Prince Philip would be able to remove them, given that he's not exactly the smoothest-faced person in the world?
On the subject of cargo cults, Smithsonian Magazine ran an interesting article a few months back about them, specifically a group of South Pacific islanders who worship an American named John Frum.
Status: UndeterminedDo you believe God belongs in government? Do you believe President Bush is doing The Lord's Work? If so, then step up and buy a BushFish car magnet. There's been speculation that this is some kind of parody, along the lines of BushIsLord.com. It does seem a little over the top. But I'm guessing that the creator of these things doesn't care whether people interpret them as a parody, or as a serious statement, as long as they buy plenty of them. (And yes, as far as I can tell, purchases really can be made via the site... though I wasn't about to actually buy one to make sure.)
On Daily Kos there's been speculation that BushFish is a satire based on the fact that some of the photos of BushFish on car bumpers seem to have been photoshopped. I'm not seeing this. In fact, it seems to me that it would be more work to photoshop a BushFish onto a bumper than it would be to simply slap one onto a bumper in real life and take a picture of it.
Personally I think that if anyone feels a burning need to buy a Bush Fish, they should buy one of the aquatic kind instead.
Status: UnlikelyAn article has begun to circulate around the internet warning of a secret government plan to enlist pastors in an evil plan to create a submissive populace: And it goes on and on in this style. The article originally comes from prisonplanet.com, which is a conspiracy-theory site. Tellingly, the article doesn't provide any verifiable source for its claims. The story relies solely upon the word of "Pastor Revere". Of course, as Marx said, religion is the opium of the masses, so such a plan wouldn't be all that farfetched, but it seems a bit unnecessary. After all, isn't pacifying and brainwashing the populace what Fox News is for?