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Surf around the web enough and you'll notice a lot of sites that have announced they're the recipients of a "Brillante Weblog Premio" award. (Google "Brillante Weblog" and you'll see what I mean.)

Just to clue in anyone who might be confused -- this is not a real award. It's a viral nuisance. The gimmick is that you receive this award from a friend. Accompanying the award are these rules:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link to the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you have nominated.

In this way, the award keeps circulating endlessly.

There are real "Brillante Awards for Excellence" awarded by the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, but they're not related in any way to the "Brillante Weblog Premio" award. (via Heart and Hands)
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 24, 2008
Comments (6)
Derrie-Air claims to be the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline. From its website:

Welcome to Derrie-Air, the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline, where you don't have to choose between living the high life and saving the planet. Nine out of ten scientists agree—we need to reduce our carbon emissions or perish from the face of the earth. Air travel is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions and global warming. Derrie-Air will be the only airline that plants trees to offset every pound of carbon that our planes release into the atmosphere.
But not only will we do our part to protect the environment, we will expect you, our passengers, to do your part as well. The magic comes from our one of a kind "Sliding Scale"—the more you weigh, the more you'll pay. After all, it takes more fuel—more energy—to get more weight from point A to point B. So we will charge passengers based on how much mass they add to the plane. The heavier you and your luggage are, the more trees we'll plant to make up for the trouble of flying you from place to place.

The reality is that Derrie-Air doesn't exist. It's a fake company dreamed up by Philadelphia Media Holdings, owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. In addition to creating the Derrie-Air site, they also ran Derrie-Air ads in their papers as a marketing test "to demonstrate the power of our brands, in print and online, to drive traffic awareness -- in this case for a brand that doesn’t exist and is fictitious." More details in Editor & Publisher, and on MSNBC.

I predict this will become a case of satirical prophecy, in that it won't be long before airlines actually are implementing measures such as charging by the pound. (Thanks, Rebecca)
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Journalism, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 06, 2008
Comments (7)
KaleCoAuto offers a variety of automobile parts and accessories you're unlikely to find anywhere else. For instance, they sell "seasonal air" for your tires, so you can make sure the air inside your tires is at the correct temperature for the season outside.

Other products include porcupine seat covers, a car-to-tank kit, and (my favorite) the "Round Tuit" (pictured) -- a multi-functional tool that is "a requirement to finish all those hard jobs that you keep putting off."

According to uwhois.com, the KaleCoAuto.com site is registered to Ronald McPothole who lives on 1986 Corvette Lane. I'm sure that's a real name. (Thanks, Jerry)
Categories: Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 02, 2008
Comments (6)
Ai Robotics claim to have developed the "Perfect Woman." Her face is shiny and her movements jerky, but she does housework. From perfect-woman.com:

The company AI ROBOTICS was founded 2 years ago by Etienne Fresse and Yoichi Yamato, both robotics specialists working on developing cutting-edge technologies. During the last 3 years the two founders have dedicated all their time and energy to their project “robot woman LISA” which thanks to the support of numerous foreign investors will be presented to the public on June 11 2008. The company’s philosophy is to enhance the conditions of human life and to give as many people as possible access to new technologies. The company AI ROBOTICS is based in Kobe, Japan.

Also:

Lisa can cook you a meal based on what is in the fridge (visual recognition). She can go shopping, do household work or give you a hydraulic massage, but she can also play chess and video games (over 390 are available) and even learn to do certain sports...
We have designed Lisa to be a true companion. She is there to serve you. She dresses herself and recharges herself automatically. You can talk to her about news, travelling, culture and music. Lisa has an IQ of 130. She is even able to satisfy your desires in the bedroom. For this we have cooperated with a renowned sexologist whose expertise has been integrated into Lisa’s configuration.

Check out this video of "Lisa" on YouTube:



I would call Lisa "creepy" rather than "perfect." I would also call her "an actress pretending to be a robot" rather than a "robot."

The absence of google ads on the perfect woman site suggests to me that it's some kind of art project. The site is registered to Etienne Fresse, so he, at least, might be real. (via dvice.com)
Categories: Sex/Romance, Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu May 29, 2008
Comments (18)
If you're tired of your kid, why not swap him or her for another? Childtrader.com makes this possible. From the site:

Child Trader is now the nations 4th largest child exchange network and as such, has brought happiness to more than 1623 American households who otherwise had very few options in creating a more loving family and home life when realizing their child wasn’t the right fit for them.
Child Trader Child Exchange Network isn’t about not loving childing [sic]. Its about finding a family that can love them more.
Get started today with this exciting new way to love your children.

You can view the profiles of kids available for trade. For instance, Jacob (pictured) is described as, "Not a particularly impressive boy. He hasn’t much been into sports, but he does have a great smile and likes to sit around the house, so he is very quiet."

I'm willing to go out on a limb and declare this a hoax. I'm not even going to do any research into who the site is registered to, etc., because it's obviously a joke. In other words, you're stuck with your kids, even if you don't like them. It's not legal to swap them for another.

Links on the child trader site indicate it was created by the same person responsible for two other spoof sites: medicaladoptions.com (adopt a kid who is a perfect match for an organ transplant you need), and puppyprofits.com (make money from illegal dog fighting).

Childtrader.com does, at least, highlight that children aren't always a constant source of joy to their parents. It reminds me of a study conducted in 1931 by Dr. Mandel Sherman of the Child Research Centre in Georgia. Sherman asked thirty-two parents to keep track in notebooks of all the ways their children annoyed them. He found that there were 2,124 ways in which children annoyed their parents. The most common source of annoyance was disobedience, but other annoyances included being too slow, too quick, and spending too much time primping.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu May 15, 2008
Comments (15)
Charlotte Paru writes in an email:

"Please let's leave the dead be."

A fascinating comment turned up on a new web site by Nicole Zapruder, who has been "communicating with the dead since she was 4 years old." People aren't disputing her ability; they're asking her not to share the technique on the internet.
http://www.talktothedead.org/
"All peoples of earth posess this natural ability," Nicole counters, adding that her site comes with a detailed warning. ("Do not contact any dead person who may have negative feelings toward you...")

Nicole Zapruder's technique of talking with the dead involves something called the "Grey Walter - Berger Construct." Based on the video on the site, this entails looking into a stroboscopic light while a guy with a British accent repeatedly says "Look into the light."

But based on the high number of references the site makes to the recent movie The Orphanage, I'm guessing the entire site is, in fact, guerrilla marketing for that movie. So I'm playing right into their hands by posting about it, but I like horror movies, so I'm willing to give them some free publicity.
Categories: Paranormal, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon May 12, 2008
Comments (4)
FairDeal Homeopathy promises it won't lie to its customers. They only guarantee that their remedies are "as effective as all other homeopathic remedies."

They also won't promise that their products can help you if you're ill. Although they do note that if you believe in their remedies they might help, because of the placebo effect. But they caution that if you're "actually ill" you shouldn't expect their products to cure you. "Homeopathy of any sort," they note, "is not a medical treatment, neither is it a substitute for evidence-based medicine and proper medical opinion."

On the testimonials page you find comments from "Miss Emily B. Leiver" and "Mr C. Lumsey." At which point it becomes obvious that the entire site is a parody. (Thanks, Terry!)

Update: I just received this email.

Dear Sir,
I just happened across your website entry on FairDeal Homeopathy.
I actually developed the site for the guys at FairDeal, and can assure you
that while the site is very unlike all other homeopathy websites, the firm
itself is anything but a hoax, and does sell homeopathic remedies* (payment
by PayPal only, dispatch to UK only) to anyone who wishes to buy one.
I'm sure the guys will be grateful if you could clarify this in your entry.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any more information, or
if you wish to get information "from the horse's mouth" as it were, you can
contact FairDeal direct on info@fdhom.co.uk
Best regards,
Richard Lockwood.

*remedy is in no way meant to imply curative properties, guaranteed as
effective as all other homeopthic products


To which I replied:

Thanks for your email.
So let me see if I understand. FairDeal Homeopathy will sell people something. Customers will receive a product in the mail. But FairDeal tells their customers straight up that the product is basically a bottle of water.
Is that an accurate summary?
-Alex

And received this response:

Hi Alex,
Almost.  Their remedies are in pill (lactose tablet) form sourced from the UK's biggest supplier of homeopathic products.  They are identical to any other homeopathic remedy you can buy; they're just a lot more honest about what they do. 
Best regards,
Richard.

So I suppose FairDeal Homeopathy is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it is real, in so far as it will sell people something.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Websites
Posted by Alex on Sat May 10, 2008
Comments (10)
Donate your sperm and get a ticket to a music festival. That's the deal offered by Sperm for Tickets.

Or rather, that was the deal. If you visit their site now, they state that the response far exceeded expectations, so they're temporarily calling a halt to the invitation.

But I'm pretty sure the offer never was for real. Not that the idea of giving tickets in exchange for sperm is that outlandish. Instead, it's the delivery method that seems bogus. The site claimed donors could send their sperm via mail:

we have set up an alternative method for donations by using specially developed donation containers combined with a fast courier network to offer a mail system. The patented container is a new discovery that was made by our research and development team, which allows samples to to stay fresh for up to 3 days. We offer a worldwide courier service using DHL and UPS that guarantee delivery times.

Yeah, right.

The SciencePunk blog has traced the site to a Dublin-based marketing firm called Area52. Evidently it's some kind of publicity stunt.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 17, 2008
Comments (1)
The latest hoax website doing the rounds is IBuyStrays.com. I posted a page about it in the hoaxipedia.

The site purports to be a business that buys people's unwanted pets and resells them to research labs. Animal lovers, of course, are up in arms about this.

It's pretty obvious the site is a fake. Its over-the-top tone, if nothing else, gives it away:

You can enjoy their wonderful puppy / kitten stage and then reap a cash reward for having grown such a fine specimen. Start over with a new kitten every six months! Win, Win, and Win!


The business the site describes is perfectly legal, and there are companies that do it... for now, at least. Legislation has been proposed to make this kind of practice illegal, because the companies involved in this business seem to be a pretty shady bunch who do things like acquire pets from "free-to-good-home" ads, or even steal them out of people's backyards, and then resell them to labs. Kind of like the nineteenth-century "resurrection men" who used to steal corpses from graves to supply medical labs.

Apparently the larger goal of the site is to raise awareness of the stray-animal trade and to encourage people to contact their congressmen and encourage them to pass the Pet Safety and Protection Act. For which reason, the site falls into the genre of Modest-Proposal-style hoaxes (i.e. hoaxes that, like Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, seek to shock people by seeming to advocate outrageous ideas).

Or whoever created the site could just be hoping to make a quick buck from the ads he's running on it.
Categories: Animals, Gross, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 08, 2008
Comments (1)
Blogissues.com has posted a list of the Top 15 Hoax Websites. And guess which site comes in at #11? Cranky Media Guy's Tom's Girl hoax! Congratulations, Bob!

One of these days I need to post my own list of the top hoax websites. It's one of those things I've been meaning to do for ages, but haven't gotten around to it.

Also, virtualhosting.com has a list of the Top 20 Hilarious and Creative Internet Scams. Some of their choices seem highly debatable. For instance, they include the question of whether, during the final episode of The Sopranos, "the man standing at the counter was Nikki Leotardo, Phil’s nephew who had been on the show before and who could have been out to kill Tony." How does that count as a creative internet scam? But it's their list. They can put whatever they want on it.
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 12, 2007
Comments (6)
SellMyDna.com offers to help you sell a sample of your DNA to a research company, New Line Genetics, who will then obtain a patent for it. They pay $5000!

Better yet, you can even sell your friend's DNA, because once a cell leaves their body, it no longer belongs to them. From their website:
SellMyDNA.com does not condone the patenting of other’s DNA without their permission. However, what better way to surprise your loved ones for a birthday or holiday event than giving the gift of $5,000 and the knowledge that their genetic material is helping to enhance scientific research!

However SellMyDna.com is not a real company, as you can find out if you dig deep enough into it's site and come across the disclaimer: "these sites are a satirical “what if” pertaining to something that, for all intents and purposes, could be a reality in the not-so-distant future."

Wired's science blog reports that SellMyDna.com was created by Anthony Martin, whose myspace profile states, "I am striving to make the world a better place and usher in the new era of human evolution with the use of accelerated genetics techniques."
Categories: Science, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 05, 2007
Comments (0)
Tickle Me Counterfeit
Authorities are warning consumers to be on the lookout for fake Tickle Me Elmos showing up on store shelves this Christmas. How can you tell the difference between the real and the fake? For a start, the fake Elmo is called "The Laughing Doll." Also, oddly enough, the fakes are more expensive than the real thing.

Phony Doo-Wops
Doo-wop groups from the 1950s and '60s, such as the Drifters, Coasters and Platters, are complaining that they're going broke. They can't compete against all the phony groups pretending to be them who perform for less.

Underwater Scottish Gnomes
At the bottom of Loch Fyne can be found a secret garden inhabited by 40 gnomes. Apparently underwater gnome gardens are popping up all over the world. I last posted about one at the bottom of Wastwater in the Lake District.

Ingenious Disguise
After police pulled Robert Sadlon over for a broken taillight, Sadlon fled the scene on foot. He later reported his truck as stolen. The same cop who had pulled him over went to his house to investigate. There he found Sadlon, who now claimed to be a different man. He had disguised himself by shaving his mustache and changing his clothes.

Climate Change Culture Jamming Hoax
It appeared that a group of major corporations, including Chrysler and Dow Chemical, had gotten together to pledge to eliminate all their emissions in the next 50 years. It turned out that the pledge was an elaborate hoax engineered by a grassroots activist group called the International Rising Tide Network.
Categories: Gnomes, Law/Police/Crime, Music, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 04, 2007
Comments (0)
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