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|•||Sovereign Citizens - a legal dissection. 11/30/2013|
|•||Well, there goes your neighbourhood 11/29/2013|
|•||Ottowa to parents: Vaccinate or else! 11/19/2013|
|•||I Know How Much Everyone Here Loves Real Pictures of Aliens 11/12/2013|
|•||Grandfather of the Year!! 11/12/2013|
|•||Happy Birthday, Boo! 11/12/2013|
|•||Awesome dad 3-D printed a prosthetic hand for his son 11/07/2013|
|•||Remember, Remember the 5th of November 11/05/2013|
|•||April Fools Day PRANKS (defined) 11/02/2013|
|•||The music that is better than itself 10/29/2013|
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Status: Hoax (mockumentary)Mary Woodbridge, from Greenfield, Great Britain, plans to climb Mount Everest, and she's taking her dachsund, Daisy, with her. Some might think her age will prove an obstacle (she's 85), but Mary is very confident in herself and has set herself some real challenges. She writes:
I'm not really into this whole camping thing. So Daisy and I will choose a direct route from the Base Camp to the Top... We have decided to go without Sherpas. Poor guys! I can certainly carry my own food (I have prepared a solid Irish Stew and Power Crunchies!) and the few cans of dog food for Daisy. Since we are training very hard, we don't expect to need additional oxygen on our ascent. (There are no oxygen masks for Daisy anyway!)
Yes, Mary's Everest expedition is just a joke. Her site was created by Mammut, a seller of mountain sports gear. However, EverestNews.com reports that a 74-year-old Japanese woman really is planning to climb Everest. And they swear it's not a hoax.
Status: ParodyThe website of the Ann Arbor Public School system can be found at http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/. A parody version of it (created by an unknown author) is at http://annarborpublicschools.org/. Apparently the school district doesn't find the parody amusing, because they're sending its domain host a cease-and-desist letter claiming infringement of their intellectual property. The two sites do look very similar, but I don't think their case would hold up in court. After all, parody relies upon copying elements of whatever it's making fun of, and parody has always been a "fair use" exception to copyright that the courts have strongly defended. However, the question will be whether the case ever gets to a court. Often domain hosts see a cease-and-desist letter and immediately take down the material in question rather than risk any kind of legal action. We'll have to wait and see what happens here. But I took a screen shot of the parody site, just in case it does disappear.
Status: HoaxJesus Pets points out a serious problem that born-again Christians must face if they own a pet: Many Christians believe that animals do not go to heaven. So when Jesus comes back and you return with him to heaven, will there be somebody to take care of your dog or cat?
Happily, they offer a solution: We are assembling a community of heathen pet-lovers to care for pets that are “left-behind.” We are coordinating with feed mills and kennels in preparation for your post-apocalyptic pet care needs.
Clearly this is tongue-in-cheek, though it's a clever idea. (I'd happily agree to look after someone's animal for a fee in case of rapture, since I anticipate being left behind.)
If you poke around the JesusPets site a bit more (follow the Jesus Links link), you'll find hundreds of pages full of links to religious sites. Each of these link pages runs google ads. So what I think is going on is that someone created the JesusPets page as a ploy to get lots of people (like me) to link to it, thereby increasing its pagerank. This, in turn, will increase the pagerank of all those link pages running the ads and, in theory, generate plenty of ad revenue. Whoever dreamed up this scheme is definitely going to be around post-rapture. (via J-Walk)
Status: A few hoax sitesAfter getting the first season of Lost on dvd for christmas, I've become hooked on the show. Although I'm beginning to suspect that the writers of the show are simply going to introduce one mystery after another without ever offering an explanation for anything. But anyway, here are some hoax websites related to Lost: Oceanic World Air (the airline that the Lost passengers were flying on), Dharma Industries (the mysterious project that was being conducted on the island), and The Hanso Foundation (The philanthropic foundation funding the Dharma Initiative. This page is part of an alternate reality game, as is the Dharma Industries site). If you know of any other Lost-related hoax sites, let me know.
And here's something that isn't a hoax, but is rather curious. If you type the mysterious numbers from Lost (4 8 15 16 23 42) into google maps, they correspond to the approximate latitude and longitude of an island in the middle of the Pacific. My guess is that this probably isn't an accident.
Update: A few more hoax websites of Lost:
http://www.driveshaftband.com (the website of Charlie's band. Thanks to Nordan for this link.)
http://www.mrcluck.com or http://www.mrclucks.com (websites of the fast-food restaurant that Hurley used to work in, before he won the lottery. As far as hoax websites go, these aren't very fully developed. The front page simply links to a podcast about the show.)
The island in the Pacific mentioned above is Kosrae Island (Thanks to Eric Schucard and Tim for this info).
Status: HoaxPherotones are ringtones that will make you "irresistible to the opposite sex." They're basically like pheromones, but they work via sound rather than scent. They're also a hoax. According to NewsTrend.com, the website promoting them is part of a viral marketing campaign dreamed up by the McKinney-Silver ad agency. NewsTrend writes:
The first mentions of Pherotones began around December 30, on "Dr. Vanderhood's" Pherotones blog, where the good doctor began posting "an ongoing diary of the life of a scientist on the verge of a major breakthrough." The JoniMueller blog caught wind of the Pherotones blog and posted about it on January 16. The real story began to break on January 18th with an Oreilly interview with Vanderhood.
The strange thing is that no one knows what this stealth marketing campaign is for. It seems a bit useless to attract all this attention, and then blow it by not revealing what you're advertising. (Thanks to Thilo for the link.)
Status: Hoax Website (political satire)We've already seen W Ketchup, so why not Baby Bush Toys? Their website states:
Sure, we all want what's best for our kids, but let's face the truth: not every child can grow up to be Einstein! At The Baby Bush Toy Company, we offer an exciting range of products for the resoundingly average child.
Products include a "Twisty Thing, That is Red" (shown in the thumbnail), and a "Terror Alert Xylophone." Unfortunately, none of these products seem to actually be for sale.
Status: Hoax websiteBanner of Heaven is (or rather was) a weblog run by a group of mormons who wrote about their experiences trying to balance the pressures of daily life with the demands of their religion. The cast included:
Jenn: "a perky, 20-something Mormon, seeking an eternal mate in the Big Apple"
Mari: "the shyest character, got her neighbor's package by mistake and was afraid to deliver it to him in case he got mad"
Miranda: "the feminist who is disappointed in her husband's ambitions."
Septimus: "a divorced returned missionary with social anxiety and sweaty hands"
Aaron: "a wannabe prophet who sees God's hand in everything"
and Greg: "who isn't Mormon but hangs out with them."
The blog attracted quite a following in the Mormon community, but as an article in the Salt Lake Tribune reveals, it was a hoax. All the characters were fictional:
The storytellers were planning to out themselves by Thanksgiving. But two weeks ago, a group of readers got suspicious. Folks at ninemoons.com offered a free T-shirt to anyone who correctly identified the real people behind Banner's six characters. On Oct. 28, Gibson, Evans and the rest of the Banner gang came clean, publishing groveling mea culpas, apologizing to readers, acknowledging they got carried away. They are sorry for tricking and hurting people or fueling opponents of the LDS Church... Some critics of the LDS Church grabbed onto the Banner of Heaven episode as a parallel for the church's own founding, saying that it was like founder Joseph Smith claiming invented revelations. That is most upsetting to Banner creators who are all believing Mormons, Evans says. "Religion is more than telling a beautiful story, it's about truth."
Status: Hoax WebsiteBy-Accident.com claims to be a company that will "deliver customized accidents such as rape, assault and past traumatic experiences. All personally tailored to suit your special needs." The idea is that you can fake a traumatic experience in your past, and thereby get all kinds of attention as a victim. The company will even provide (optional) Aesthetic Scar Surgery to make your past "accident" more believable: "You can have any physical damage you want, our trained surgeons promise it won't hurt and the result will be exactly as you wish."
By-Accident.com is a hoax. Satirical elements such as the Christmas Mugging Special make this fairly obvious: "Your chance to avoid stress and become the center of attention during the holiday season!... Get mugged and make sure to have a warm and happy winter!" In addition, the creator of the site didn't do much to hide their identity. The site is registered to someone called Barbara Nordhjem. A quick Google search finds a poster called Malach on pixelex.com stating that: "the page is a prank.. girl making it is a danish artist. Was working for me as a production assistant some time ago."
Of course, even though the site is a hoax, it does have a core of truth to it in that a company offering such a service definitely would find customers. Witness all the fake victims that popped up after 9/11. Victimhood is very appealing to a lot of people. (Thanks to Bob Pagani, aka Cranky Media Guy, for the link.)
Status: Hoax (probably an art project)I've received a couple of emails calling my attention to the Human Upgrades website. This group claims to be some kind of futuristic outfit offering bizarre DNA modification procedures such as Simplenose (giving people one large nostril instead of two), Simpletooth (fusing all the teeth into one long, continuous row), and other more sexually explicit modifications (some of the images are not safe for work). The site states that:
Human Upgrades was founded in 2001 by Doc. MUDr. FaVU. Petr Skala CSc. and his team from Institute of DNA Modification in Brno in Czech Republic. Since the contacts around the world and first class expiriences of the team Human Upgrades was able to offer unprecedented portfolio of surgeries based on the newest discoveries in the field of DNA manipulation.
All the text on the site is written in broken English, complete with misspellings. It seems that someone paid a lot of money to design the site, but never bothered to run the text past someone who can speak English. Anyway, the whole thing is obviously a hoax. The Institute of DNA Modification doesn't exist. The question is, who created the site? The main clue I can find is that all the contact information provides the addresses of European offices of the Bosch Group (makers of automotive and industrial technology). So either the contact information is a deliberate red herring. Or Human Upgrades is part of a strange marketing campaign created by Bosch's PR company.
Update: Another theory (because I find it hard to believe Bosch is responsible for Human Upgrades): There's a Czech film director named Petr Skala (same name as Human Upgrades supposed founder, and the registrant for humanupgrades.com). Perhaps he or one of his students created the site. Or perhaps this is yet another red herring.
Status: Hoax (supposedly a magic trick, but it doesn't work)I received this polite request this morning:
Dear web master ,
Please review this website that is able to determine a persons sex just by four visual questions.
Name : Gene Guess .com
Link : http://www.geneguess.com
Thank you ,
So here goes: it worked for me, correctly guessing my gender. I suppose it was an interesting ten-second time waster. I don't know why it worked. Obviously it has a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right (unless you're a hermaphrodite, which might trip it up a bit). My theory is that the color choice question must be an important clue, since guys probably tend to pick darker colors than women.
Update: Based on everyone's comments, the gender guesses it makes appear to be totally random. The trick is apparently that it will be right half the time, thus half the people will think it works. And yet it did fool me into wasting time with it.
Status: ParodyPanexa is a drug you need to take, no matter what may, or may not be, wrong with you. As the Panexa site states:
No matter what you do or where you go, you're always going to be yourself. And Panexa knows this. Your lifestyle is one of the biggest factors in choosing how to live. Why trust it to anything less? Panexa is proven to provide more medication to those who take it than any other comparable solution. Panexa is the right choice, the safe choice. The only choice.
Now, Panexa is pretty obviously a parody of pharmaceutical advertising. For those to whom this isn't immediately clear, the Important Safety Information listed on the site should remove all doubts. (Side effects include: shiny, valuable feces composed of aluminum and studded with diamonds and sapphire... everything you think you see becomes a Tootsie Roll to you... inability to distinguish the colors 'taupe' and 'putty.') The Panexa site was created by Jason Torchinsky, who's a member of the comedy group the Van Gogh-Goghs and a contributor to Stay Free! Magazine (which interviewed me a couple of months ago, though I don't know if the interview ever ran in the magazine).
However, the parody was apparently lost on CafePress, which Stay Free! Magazine was using to sell Panexa t-shirts. Carrie McLaren, the editor of Stay Free!, reports that:
After a reader sent me a note wondering what happened to our Panexa merchandise, I noticed that Cafepress has removed it due to copyright and trademark infringement!... Apparently, one of the genuises in Cafepress's police division thinks Panexa is an actual product and that we are infringing. I sent Cafepress an email about this and am awaiting a response.
Maybe there are new copyright laws that prohibit anyone from making fun of pharmaceutical companies. Wouldn't surprise me a bit. (via J-Walk)
Status: Art ProjectMindbending Software claims to offer programs that will insert subliminal messages into the favorite computer games of your kids, thereby reprogramming them, as they play the games, to do as you wish. Their website states:
Mindbending Software Inc. is a company specialized on psychological conditioning software packages for children. With the newest technologies our products infiltrate the computer games of your kids and mingle various subconscious or conscious conditiong messages and images in the game contents. The technology can be compared with the subconscious pictures in the TV program, and if you don’t know about them, ask yourself why are you buying all those things you don’t need. You see it works ! Our software uses the same and some other patented methods to condition your kids. Try it out, if you aren’t satisfied you’ll get your money back!
Their subliminal control programs include the Tranquilizer™, Intellectualizer™, Selfesteemizer™, and Professionizer™. So is this real? Not really. It's an art project created by Robert Praxmarer. But what gets me is that he actually will allow people to buy the products listed on the site. Or, at least, he'll take their money. Click on the 'Add to Cart' button, and you'll be taken to a PayPal screen that will transfer money to his account. Most hoax sites, by contrast, carefully avoid taking anyone's money, because if they do take money and don't deliver what they've advertised, that's fraud. So maybe Praxmarer really will send some kind of "subliminal" software to people who pay for it. (He wants, on average, over $1000 per program.) But he could still be opening himself up to charges of fraud if the software doesn't work as advertised.