The Hoax Museum Blog
The Dominion of Melchizedek
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 09, 2005
On my next vacation I'm going to the Dominion of Melchizedek. It looks lovely. But actually, I might have trouble finding a flight there since there's no such place. I found it mentioned in a book I was browsing through, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Frauds, Scams, and Cons. The author of this book, Duane Swierczynski, says that the Dominion of Melchizedek "was solely the invention of an American swindler, who created it as a front for a multitude of scams. If you're near a computer, go log on to www.melchizedek.com, and you can tour the entire nation, made up of Pacific islands. Fairly realistic, huh? That's what those 300 investors thought, too."
Mt. St. Helens at Sunrise
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 12, 2005
I got this picture in my email, sent by Edna who's wondering if it's real. It looks real to me. The picture is accompanied by the following text, which also sounds accurate to me (as a non-meteorologist): MT. St. Helens, which sits about 30 miles from Vancouver, as the crow flies, continues to spew ash, while it is forming a lava dome in the crater and still having minor tremors. In this sunrise shot, she appears to be blowing smoke rings (and anything so benign is welcomed, given recent history.) What forms the "smoke rings" is the air flowing over the mountain getting pushed up higher as it goes up and over the top. The moisture content…
Wageningen Liberation Monument
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 01, 2005
Here's a strange story. I'm not sure whether or not it's a joke. Supposedly the Dutch village of Wageningen commissioned the construction of a war memorial shaped like "a giant copper obelisk that rises and falls depending on the level of sunlight, and spurts flames out of the top during important festivals." Only after they built it did they realize it looked exactly like a giant penis and hastily decided to scrap it. There are two reasons I'm skeptical about this. First, the source is listed as Ananova. Second, there already is a National Liberation Monument war memorial in Wageningen that's been there since the 1950s.
Find A Gay Neighborhood
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 16, 2005
A search engine called NeighborhoodScout claims that it will locate the top gay-friendly neighborhoods in any area: "NeighborhoodScout's patent-pending search engine will reveal and richly describe the top gay-friendly neighborhoods in your chosen area and price range." So how exactly does it do this? According to the site: NeighborhoodScout® applies an exclusive, patent-pending algorithm to measure the similarity of neighborhoods based on customer-specified criteria, such that exact matches to what the customer wants are delivered instantly. This revolutionary approach is applied to the nearly 200 characteristics used to describe each of the more than 61,000 neighborhoods (i.e. census tracts) in America to create blazingly accurate matches, no matter what the customer is looking for in…
Atlantis Off The Coast of Cuba
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 09, 2005
Back in December I posted a list of some of the places where Atlantis has been found: off the coasts of Spain, Cyprus, and Tampa, Florida. Add Cuba to this list. Sonar images taken off the coast of Cuba show "massive stones in oddly symmetrical square and pyramid shapes in the deep-sea darkness." And as we all know, anything mysterious on the ocean floor must be Atlantis.
Swiss Hygiene Inspector
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 07, 2005
Before you move out of a home in Switzerland do you have to have it examined by a hygiene inspector who makes sure everything has been dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed, and polished? According to this BBC article, that's true, though it sounds a bit bizarre. Here in America people can, and do, leave their houses in any condition they want. So maybe we should have hygiene inspectors. But making sure that people dust inside the fuse box before they move out sounds a little extreme. (thanks to Susanne for the link)
Deadly Underwater Gnome Garden Returns
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 15, 2005
In past entries I've written about gnomes that have mysteriously disappeared from gardens and peepshows. Now I think I know where the gnomes have gone. They've travelled to the secret gnome garden that lurks beneath the waters of Wastwater in the Lake District. Authorities report that a gnome garden (which even had a tiny picket fence) was removed from the bottom of the lake a few years ago after some divers died while spending too long searching for it. Now the gnome garden has reappeared, but even deeper beneath the lake, beyond the reach of police divers. Obviously the police are worried that once again divers will be unable to resist the siren call…
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…
Chawama: The Town That Hoaxes
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 02, 2005
Here's a strange article about a town in Africa full of people who love to perpetrate hoaxes. Sounds like a charming, quirky place, until you learn that almost all the hoaxes involve accusing people of being spawns of Satan. Such as the time last week when a large crowd turned out to hunt down a 15-year-old girl they thought had turned into a satanic pig. The author of the article argues that all these hoaxes actually serve a serious purpose: "to bring people together to appreciate the seriousness of a particular problem". But I'm really not following his logic.
Trying To Leave Haugesund
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 27, 2005
A curious bug in Microsoft's MapPoint site has been getting a lot of attention. If you ask for driving directions from Haugesund, Norway to Trondheim, Norway it will send you on a very strange route. Instead of going the direct route between the two cities, it will tell you to first cross the North Sea, drive down through England, cross the Channel, go east across Europe, and up through Sweden and Norway, until you finally arrive at your destination. Playing around with this a bit, I discovered that this weirdness doesn't apply only for directions from Haugesund to Trondheim. If you want to go almost…
The Legend of Midgetville
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 02, 2005
For Christmas I received a great book, Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman. Immediately I flipped through it to find anything about San Diego, and soon came across the legend of Midgetville. Midgetville refers to the legend of a town consisting of scaled-down houses built for little people. Midgetville is said to exist in various places throughout America. As Moran and Sceurman note, the most credible rumor locates such a town in Jefferson Township, New Jersey, on the former estate of circus mogul Alfred T. Ringling. There really is a collection…
Christmas Lights Webcam Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 28, 2004
Alek Komarnitsky claimed that his christmas lights were web-controlled. Visitors to his site could turn them on and off, and view their work via a webcam. So people with visions of inducing epileptic seizures in his neighbors were busy clicking away. Alek even took a helicopter ride with a local TV station and showed them the lights on his house madly flashing as thousands of visitors to his site supposedly turned the lights on and off. But an article in today's issue of the Wall Street Journal reveals that the web-controlled christmas lights were just a hoax. The mad flashing seen from the helicopter was caused by his…
The Hoax Paper Birds of Thailand
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Last week 100 million paper birds were airdropped in southern Thailand. The airdrop was supposed to be the Thai government's symbolic peace gesture towards the Muslim separatists who live there. Billionaire Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra personally signed one of the paper birds, promising that whoever found this autographed bird would win a university scholarship (sounds like he has ambitions to be a modern-day Willy Wonka). A few days later a young girl came forward saying that she had found the bird. Provincial authorities checked it out and said that it looked genuine. But alas, it now appears the bird was a hoax. Shinawatra has indicated that he might give her a free scholarship anyway. But nobody knows…
Emperor Norton Bridge
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 15, 2004
According to the San Francisco Chronicle there's serious consideration of renaming the Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton I, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico who lived in San Francisco during the 19th Century. The Board of Supervisors approved the idea yesterday. Now it just has to be approved by the Mayor, the Oakland City Council, and the California Legislature. Personally, I think it's a great idea. But will this inspire Los Angeles to follow suit and name something after HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Buonaparte, the present-day Emperor of the United States?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 10, 2004
A lot of people lately seem to be finding the lost city of Atlantis. Back in June a researcher said he located it off the southern coast of Spain by studying satellite images. Then last month US researchers said they found the city off the coast of Cyprus by using sonar technology. But my favorite is the discovery of Atlantis announced yesterday by the Hawaiian Phonics tutor Dennis Brooks. He's studied the issue deeply and has concluded that Atlantis is, in fact, Tampa, Florida. He points out that the dimensions of Atlantis as described by Plato pretty much match up with the dimensions of Tampa and Harbor Island (in Tampa Bay). So…