The Hoax Museum Blog
Seize The Day, Then Die
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 19, 2004
I thought I had some strange teachers in my time, but none as strange as this Manchester teacher who told her students that a meteor was going to hit the earth in a week and they were all going to die. Her point: to motivate them to 'seize the day'. The logic seems to be 'make them think they're going to die so they appreciate what they have.' Kind of like that guy who tried to save his marriage by electrifying his wife in the bathtub. On a completely unrelated note, the widespread use of the phrase seize the day (from the latin carpe diem) is a pet peeve of mine, since…
Who’s Buried in Yeats’ Grave?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 27, 2004
William Butler Yeats is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern poets. He's also my favorite poet (and we happen to share a birthday!). When I spent a semester studying in Ireland fifteen years ago I made a special trip to visit his grave located just outside of Sligo. It's well worth a visit, even if you couldn't care less about Yeats, because the scenery there is stunning. But now I find out that Yeats may not occupy that grave. Instead, it may be a random Englishman named Alfred Hollis who's buried there. According to this article on Eircom.net it's very likely that a mix-up occurred when Yeats' remains were moved from France to Ireland in 1948.…
The Klingon Hamlet
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 07, 2004
Great literature always is best read in its original language. No matter how good a translation is, it will never be able to perfectly capture the nuances of the original. I realized this when I read the Aeneid in Latin during high school, and that's why I'm now going to have to bone up on my Klingon so that I can read Hamlet in its original language. "taH pagh taHbe." Doesn't that sound better than 'To be or not to be?'
Weird Amazon Reviews
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 04, 2004
Stephen Eckett's book on Online Investing is full of practical info such as "how to import web data into a spreadsheet - quick ways to copy text from a web page - using more than one ISP - minimising connection charges - speeding up browsing - improving download speeds." Which is why it seems odd that the reviewer for The Daily Telegraph would declare this "the funniest book I have read for ages." Or that The Scotsman reviewer would declare "I laughed out loud on every page." Hmm. I think Amazon got their reviews mixed up. Specifically, I think they mixed up the reviews for The Life & Death of Rochester Sneath with Stephen Eckett's investing…
Anne Rice on Amazon
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 28, 2004
Did Anne Rice really post an angry, rambling message on Amazon slamming those who have written negative reviews of her latest book, Blood Canticle? The post in question (you may need to scroll down a bit to find it... it's the one posted by 'Anne Obrien Rice') appeared on Sep. 6, and it truly is a piece of work. It starts off by denouncing the "sheer outrageous stupidity" of the negative reviews, then informs the reviewers that they're simply projecting their own limitations onto her work, and ends up assuring them of the "utter contempt" she feels for them. Oh, and the message also challenges anyone who doesn't like the book to send it to her…
Phony Honor Killing?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 24, 2004
Norma Khouri's bestseller Honor Lost (published in Australia where Khouri now lives as Forbidden Love) tells the story of a Jordanian 'honor killing.' Dalia, a young woman, falls in love with a Christian man and is murdered for this transgression by her father in order to defend the 'honor' of the family. It's a shocking story, and Khouri has always insisted that it's entirely true. She claims that she lived in Jordan for many years and personally knew Dalia. But the Sydney Morning Herald has done a lot of investigative work into Khouri's background and is now alleging that Khouri's story is far more fiction than fact. They put it…
Harry Potter Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 27, 2004
Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storgé. Could this be the title of the next book in the Harry Potter series? It sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but over at Mugglenet, a site for Harry Potter fans, someone calling themselves HPstorge claims to have found a way into a secret area of J.K. Rowling's site where this new title was supposedly revealed. The new title is apparently going to be officially announced on July 1 (we'll just have to wait and see what happens). HPstorge placed screen shots of his/her discovery on a geocities site , but the site promptly exceeded its bandwidth limit, so the shots are no longer viewable. The…
The Journal of Liwwat Bocke
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 15, 2004
Liwwat Bocke was a German woman who moved to Ohio as a young woman during the nineteenth century. From the 1820s until the 1880s she kept a journal of her experiences... a journal that eventually spanned 1100 pages, all of which is written in a dialect of northern Germany known as Plattdeutsch. When historians discovered her journal during the 1970s they thought it was a remarkable find, sure to shed valuable light on the history of the settlement of Ohio. But now they're not so sure. Analysis of the document has revealed that it's a fake, plagiarized from other sources and containing numerous anachronisms. What no one can figure out is who created this forgery, and why they did it.…
Has Microsoft translated the Iliad into Messenger Speak?
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 27, 2004
The news that Microsoft has produced a 'messenger speak' translation of Homer's Iliad has been all over the wire services, but is it true? I thought it must be a joke when I first read it... another example of satire being treated as news. But I should have known better. It's Microsoft, after all (they're good at taking great things and making crappier versions of them... sorry, as an Apple user I couldn't resist the obvious joke). So yes, they really did do it... though they only 'translated' the first five books and condensed them down to a few lines each. In other words, it's a cute little publicity stunt, rather than a major linguistic undertaking.…
Emily Chesley Reading Circle
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 25, 2004
Emily Chesley was a "speculative fiction writer of the late Victorian period (who lived for some time in the London, Ontario region), who has been long-overlooked by Canadian literature." She was also a "poet, social activist, explorer, aviatrix, and 92-year-old pole vaulter." The Emily Chesley Reading Circle is a "group of 'scholars' and bon-vivants" who get together to study and help promote her work. So far, they've been quite successful. They've even managed to get an abridged collection of some of her writings published. However, I think the key word in all these descriptions of her was that she was a very 'speculative' writer... i.e. speculative as in…
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 19, 2004
Roman Kingsley is an Australian man who has trained geese to do skywriting, or 'birdtyping' as he calls it. Impossible, you say? Not at all, according to Kingsley. As he says in this interview, "It normally takes about three months to train the birds to spell out a word. Once each bird knows the letter, they have to know where in the word that letter occurs. But I’m hoping to speed it up more in the future. The curved letters, you know, like o, c, and b take the birds a bit longer. But it’s early days." His plan is to have his birds spell out various corporate logos. Volvo…
Hitler Diary sold
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Did Lynne Cheney really write a racy novel in her youth?
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 05, 2004
Over at whitehouse.org (which is not the website of the whitehouse), there's a page describing a novel, titled Sisters, written by the notoriously prudish Lynne Cheney back in 1981. This must have been in Lynne's wilder days because the book is apparently a sexy tale set on the American frontier involving brothels, attempted rapes, and lesbian love affairs. According to this news report, a publisher was going to reissue the book, but was blocked from doing so by Ms. Cheney. 'Goo' sent me the links to these pages and asked if the book was real. At first I was suspicious because I couldn't find it listed in any library catalogs, or…
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 23, 2004
The Voynich Manuscript Solved?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 17, 2003
Computer Scientist Gordon Rugg may have proven that the mysterious Voynich Manuscript (the famously untranslatable medieval book full of pictures of naked women) is a hoax. He theorizes that it was created by a sixteenth-century Englishman named Edward Kelley in order to con Emperor Rudolph II. Kelley could have created the book by using an encryption device called a Cardan Grille. Voynich scholars are still undecided about Rugg's theory, but whether or not Rugg is right, it should now just be a matter of time before he lapses into insanity, as many other scholars who have spent too long obsessing about the Voynich Manuscript have done.