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Demon Coin Sold
image A Winnipeg coin collector has sold an American penny for $170 on eBay. He claims the coin bears the image of the devil. Personally, I'm having a hard time seeing it. But at least it's not another image of the Virgin Mary.
Pretend To Be An Illegal Immigrant
Experience all the thrill and danger of illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the United States... without really being in any danger at all. A Mexican park is offering tourists the opportunity to pretend that they're an illegal immigrant crossing the Rio Grande: Advertising for the mock journey, which takes place at a nature park in the central state of Hidalgo, tells the pretend immigrants to "Make fun of the Border Patrol!" and to "Cross the Border as an Extreme Sport!"

Bacon Wallet
image Who hasn't wished, at some time in their life, that their wallet was made out of bacon? Now that dream can come true, without actually having to carry a slab of rotting meat around in your pocket.
Jesus Pan
image I have a suspicion this has already been posted somewhere on the site, but if so, I can't find it. This handy device allows you to place the image of Jesus on all your food. Or, at least, to place an image resembling the medieval interpretation of what Jesus may have looked like on your food.
Categories: eBay, Exploration/Travel, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 23, 2006
Comments (13)

Milk-Sipping Stone Idols
Hindus in Uttar Pradesh have been enthusiastically pouring milk on stone idols, encouraged by a rumor that the idols were "sipping" the milk. Experts have dismissed the "milk-sipping" phenomenon as a hoax: "Lucknow University Geology professor M.P. Singh said: 'It is very natural for any stone idol to absorb any liquid - and the older the stone, the more it absorbs.' V.K. Singh of King George's Medical University here termed it as 'nothing other than capillary action'."

Women Strip Naked For Rain Gods
Nepal is desperate for rain, and so Nepali women are taking drastic rain. They're stripping naked and ploughing fields. They figure this should appease the gods and bring rain. Lubbock, Texas should take note.

Prayer Antenna
image Need some help getting God to listen to your prayers? Try the prayer antenna, created by artist Paul Davies. Results, I assume, are not guaranteed. (via Cynical-C)

Haunting As Grounds For Divorce
Madam Tan of Singapore claims that her husband is causing evil spirits to haunt her in order to get her to divorce him. Lawyers say she may actually have a case against him: "Whether or not the flat is haunted, if Madam Tan can prove that her husband's actions relating to the occult are threatening and intended to cause her harassment, alarm or distress, she can sue him under Section 13A of the Miscellaneous Offences Act."
Categories: Paranormal, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 21, 2006
Comments (8)
imageIf the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich wasn't to your taste, how about the Virgin Mary discovered in chocolate drippings? Cruz Jacinto discovered the Holy Mother in drippings she was cleaning from a vat of chocolate in the kitchens of chocolatier to the stars, Martucci Angiano.

I can sort of see the shape of a cowled figure, I suppose, but that's about it.

"When I come in, the first thing I do is look at the clock, but this time I didn't look at the clock. My eyes went directly to the chocolate," Jacinto said. "I thought, 'Am I the only one who can see this? I picked it up and I felt emotion just come over me.

"For me, it was a sign."

For me? Not so much.
Categories: Food, Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Flora on Fri Aug 18, 2006
Comments (25)

Mr. Changes Name
Last year Christopher Garnett officially changed his name to "Kentucky fried". (It was a PETA publicity stunt.) Now he's had enough and is changing it back. Anyone feel like changing their name to "Museum of"? I'll give you a free book if you do. (Thanks, Beverley)

Thames Town, China
image The cobbled streets, Georgian houses, and Tudor-style pub might make you think you're in England. But you're really in Thames Town, a faux British village being constructed in China. I've heard of faux English towns in Korea also, but the Korean ones are used for English-language instruction.

Imitation French Fries
In response to a ban on fried food in school cafeterias, some Arizona schools are now serving "imitation fries." Or so claims the headline of the article. In reality, they're just fries that have been baked rather than fried. I don't think that really makes them imitation fries. Baked fries can taste pretty good, especially the curly ones seasoned with chili powder.

Religion-Related Fraud Worsens
Scams targeting churchgoers are on the rise. One passage from this article caught my eye: "Leaders of Greater Ministries International, based in Tampa, Fla., defrauded thousands of people of half a billion dollars by promising to double money on investments that ministry officials said were blessed by God." Instead of Sunday school, maybe churches should offer classes in critical thinking. Just an idea.
Categories: Food, Identity/Imposters, Places, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 16, 2006
Comments (19)
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.

0/10 - This whole theory seems as thin as extra-thin, thin crust pizza, that has been cooked very thin. It is hard to believe that the ancient Scots were busy sailing around the world sharing religion and genes when back home everything seems so, well, primitive. Wouldn’t Scotland have been a very different place if we were indeed being subject to such a wealth of world culture?

(Thanks, Dave.)
Categories: History, Places, Religion
Posted by Flora on Thu Aug 10, 2006
Comments (6)

image Card Trick
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.

Fake Fish
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.
Categories: Food, Photos/Videos, Religion, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 09, 2006
Comments (4)
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:
A white line could be seen running along the point where Buddha's saffron robes met the lighter shade of the right open shoulder after gazing into the image for a few minutes. This was explained by experts as an optical illusion and not a miracle.
Or maybe it'll turn out to be monks with laser pointers.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 07, 2006
Comments (0)
Status: Stupidity in the news
Just 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:
The Lincolnshire branch of the Christian Police Association is setting up a "Prayer Watch" scheme to alert Christians to local crimes. As well as encouraging worshippers to keep an eye out on their churches and each other, the police said the scheme would allow Christians to use prayer to help catch criminals. "It's largely geared to protecting congregations and church properties which are pretty vulnerable places, but with the added bolt-on aspect of prayer," a Lincolnshire police spokesman told Reuters Wednesday.
I assume this is like a Christian version of the Maharishi Effect. And doubtless just as effective!
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 04, 2006
Comments (7)
Status: The miracle of plumbing
image Due 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:
their belief in what they thought was a "Godly experience" was shattered by town mayor Eva Filipiak. She admitted the local council had installed a pipe beneath the statue, reported the Daily Dziennik. "We didn't mean anything by it, it was just supposed to make the statue look prettier," said Filipiak.
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.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 31, 2006
Comments (6)
Status: Superstition
It'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:
"Nobody is going to tell God what to do and what not to do, but we are in a serious drought in West Texas and since he is the man who controls the rain clouds, we're asking him for his mercy and his help."
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.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 26, 2006
Comments (27)
Status: Clever marketing scheme
Kathleen 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.
Categories: Literature/Language, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 21, 2006
Comments (26)
Status: Strange News
image Inside 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:
Governor SK Sinha - who is also the chairman of Amarnath Shrine Board - said on Thursday that he had asked a retired high court judge to investigate allegations that a man-made stalagmite was placed in the cave after the naturally occurring one failed to materialise. The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says that this has been blamed on a shortage of snow combined with the wrong temperatures. Our correspondent says that a naturally-occurring ice stalagmite has now begun to appear, but it is far smaller than in recent years.
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.
Categories: Places, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 30, 2006
Comments (3)
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