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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
Fake Bulletproof Vests
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 08, 2005
Apparently the latest fashion with kids is fake bullet-proof vests. They're called 'Raid Vests'. According to the Boston Globe, "Some parents are even buying the $50 faux vests for their toddlers and their dogs." The vests come in suede, nylon, and denim. Personally it wouldn't make me feel very safe to wear one, because I would worry that someone would think they could take a shot at me.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (32)
Wal-Mart Cracks Down on Parody
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 29, 2005
Wal-Mart has threatened to sue a student who designed a parody web page that used some images from the Wal-Mart Foundation's website. The student has taken the images off his page. He's just 20 years old. What is he going to do to fight off Wal-Mart? However, I don't think he should have removed the images. He's in the right. The law gives very specific protections to parody, since parody inevitably depends upon borrowing elements of the original. I think the guy should put the images back up and counter-sue Wal-Mart for fraudulent claim of copyright. Well, he probably wouldn't get away with that. But put the back images up, at least. By removing…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (5)
Give Me Whatever’s In The Bag
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 28, 2005
This comes via News of the Weird. The incident occurred in San Diego, but somehow I missed hearing about it on the local news: Urban Legend Come to Life: A San Diego Union Tribune report of a March 28 attempted robbery seems accurate, though reminiscent of reports that have been hoaxes (including one, from The Dallas Morning News, that News of the Weird fell for in 2002). A 32-year-old woman reported that a robber accosted her and her dog in an upscale San Diego neighborhood that night, demanded her money, grabbed a bag she was holding but quickly threw it down, and in frustration, tried to shoot the dog (but the gun failed to fire).…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (3)
The Case of the Stolen Laptop
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 21, 2005
A video is going around that shows a UC Berkeley professor detailing the mess a student got into by stealing his laptop (Boing Boing links to various copies of the video). The student thought he was just going to be stealing a copy of an exam. What he didn't know was that he was also stealing industrial trade secrets, which will send various federal agencies searching for him. It's a great speech by the professor. The question is, how much of it is real, and how much of it is bluff? The professor in the video is Jasper Rine. Google his name and you come up with all kinds of links between him…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (16)
Gnome Defense
Posted by The Curator on Sun Apr 17, 2005
Big Gary sent me this story, knowing that it would be a suitable contribution to the fast-growing Garden Gnome Wing of the museum (one of these days I'll actually get around to creating a gnome category): LONDON - A grandmother stopped an intruder from entering her home by lobbing a heavy garden gnome at him, police said Friday. Jean Collop was woken early on Tuesday morning by the sound of an intruder on the roof of her home in Wadebridge, southwest England. "I grabbed the first thing that came to hand — one of my garden gnomes — and hurled it at him, and hit him," she recalled. "He lay there…
Categories: Gnomes, Law/Police/Crime Comments (10)
Mushroom Licenses
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 05, 2005
Are you soon going to need a license to pick wild mushrooms in Illinois? That was what an email press release that circulated around last week stated. The email claimed that mushroom hunters would have to get a license from the same vendors that sell hunting and fishing licenses, and that revenue from the license sales would benefit biological and archaeological research in Illinois. The email prompted dozens of people to call the Illinois Natural Resources Department to complain. Today a Department spokeswoman, Gayle Simpson, denied that any such licenses were going to be required. In other words, the email was a hoax.
Bombing
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 24, 2005
I've heard that there's a new internet fad called 'Bombing' which involves internet users getting together to phone in fake emergencies to the police. I have no idea whether or not this is really happening (though it did immediately make me think of the Not-So-Great Internet UFO Hoax, which involved an internet community trying to coordinate calling up authorities with a phony UFO sighting). Has anyone ever heard of this new fad? Is it real? Update: This question arises because a Texas woman who phoned in a fake emergency call is using 'bombing' as her excuse. She claims it's an internet game, in which the winner is the person who can get…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (24)
Welcome to the World of AIDS
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 17, 2005
Here's an old news story (from Dec. 2003), but it's still interesting from an urban legend perspective. An 18-year-old youth in South Africa claims that three women forced him at gunpoint to have sex with them. "The youth claims that after this the women said welcome to the world of Aids." It seems like the police didn't believe his story. They just laughed at him, which isn't surprising considering that his story is exactly like that urban legend about someone who wakes up after a one-night stand to find the person they slept with has disappeared and written 'Welcome to the world of AIDS' on the bathroom mirror. But just imagine if the kid is telling the truth.…
Hitman Professional Killings
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 14, 2005
Status: Hoax website If you're ever shopping around for a contract killer, look no further than HITMAN, "The most trusted name in professional killings." They conveniently take Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Plus, they offer "discounts for packages of three hits or more, as long as the marks are all grouped together in one geographic location, and as long as our services have to be rendered all within the same timeframe." I'm impressed by their list of 'greatest hits' that includes: "Olympic Medallist Dies in Failed Suicide Attempt;" "Used-car Dealer Drowns in Public Restroom;" "Chef Found Roasted (With Stuffing) Inside Own Oven;" "Surgeon Dies in Apparent Self-surgery Attempt;" and "Poet Commits Suicide by Firing Two Rounds into…
Categories: Death, Law/Police/Crime Comments (37)
No Cell Phones While Pumping Gas
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 10, 2005
A Connecticut senator, Andrea Stillman, has introduced a bill into the state legislature to impose a $250 fine on anyone who uses a cell phone while pumping gas. She sees it as a public health issue. Here's her reasoning: Stillman said there are already warnings pasted on gas pumps informing people that a cell phone in the proximity of a gas pump could cause an electrical charge that might ignite the pump. However, she said, there are no penalties. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that whole thing about cell phones making gas pumps blow up was just an urban legend. Engadget agrees, pointing out that "there’s no evidence that…
MPAA Ratings Crackdown
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 17, 2005
Archives of fanfiction on the net have traditionally grouped stories according to rating (i.e. X, R, PG-13, PG, and G), so that everyone knows what to expect before they read a story. But it turns out that their use of the rating system may be illegal. A few fanfiction writers have apparently begun receiving cease-and-desist notices from the MPAA demanding that they stop using the rating system since it's the intellectual property of the MPAA. The people receiving these notices can hardly believe they're real. And other people are puzzled as well. Riba Rambles summarizes: Some are wondering if this isn't a hoax. Not only has this practice [i.e. rating fanfiction] been going…
Is the Eiffel Tower Copyrighted?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 03, 2005
Has the city of Paris really copyrighted the Eiffel Tower as it looks lit up at night, meaning that anyone (including a tourist) who takes a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night has to get permission and pay a fee before publishing that picture? As bizarre as it sounds, apparently this is true. Even if you wanted to post your holiday photos of the 'Eiffel Tower by night' on the web, you would technically have to get permission first. The Eiffel Tower itself was built in 1889, and therefore its likeness entered the public domain long ago, but the Parisian authorities sneaked around this fact by…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Places Comments (14)
Connecticut Evacuated
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 02, 2005
Residents of the entire state of Connecticut were ordered to evacuate yesterday, after someone in the state emergency management department accidentally "pressed the wrong button" and sent out the evacuation message to broadcasters (thanks to Gary for forwarding the story). Even though TV and radio listeners were told that the state was being evacuated, nobody paid any attention. The police didn't even receive any calls about it. Obviously Connecticut needs to revise its emergency evacuation message. Something more along the lines of 'the state has been invaded by Martians' proved quite effective in nearby New Jersey in 1938. Yesterday's incident recalls the time on February 20, 1971 when the National Emergency Warning Center…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (12)
Happy Slappers
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 26, 2005
The Sun reports that British rowdies have embraced a new hobby: happy slapping. Here's what the Sun says: A VIOLENT craze in which thugs slap strangers across the face and record it on video phone is sweeping Britain. The so-called "happy slappers" attack while an accomplice captures it to post on the internet or send to another mobile. But what started as a schoolkids' prank has escalated into more serious assaults - including fly-kicking strangers' spines - and robberies. This sounds suspiciously like an urban legend. I can definitely believe the part about random street attacks, but the part about recording it all on video and posting it on the internet sounds…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (29)
Aural Policing
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 11, 2005
According to an article in the Economist, quoted here by the Washington Monthly blog, a British grocery store chain has been successfully deterring rowdy youths from hanging around their stores by playing classical music. Mozart and Pavarotti appear to be especially potent at warding off juvenile delinquents. The same technique has been working in underground stations. Something about this strikes me as a bit odd. Why would it work? Just because the kids don't like having to listen to classical music? Could it really be that easy? Perhaps it is.
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