Hoax Museum Blog: Places

Pertannually Insubdurient — EU bureaucrats are a perpetual target for humor. Here's the latest one. Supposedly they decided to remove the word 'pertannually' from the EU constitution, having decided that it was incomprehensible and meaningless. And what did they replace it with? The much clearer term 'insubdurience'. One source for this story is John Humphrys, a political journalist who's just written a book Lost for Words, about "the demise of the language." The tale also pops up in this Guardian article. The story could very well be true, but it also sounds suspiciously like one of those Euromyths that have become so popular. For instance, there's the Euromyth about the supposed new EU law that forbids bananas from being "too excessively curved." Or the one about how the EU has classified kilts as 'womenswear'. To fact check the 'pertannually insubdurient' story I tried to check the EU constitution itself. It's available online, but having looked at it, I'm now not sure how to find "clause 82, paragraph 17, subsection (b)".
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004.   Comments (10)

Surf Rage — image Last week British journalists were all abuzz about the 'surf rage' phenomenon: vigilante Cornish surfers waging a kind of guerrilla war against out-of-town surfers. One group calling itself Locals Only! had a website in which it proclaimed it would use harassment and force to defend its surfing spots. But now a bunch of marketing and journalism students have declared that they invented the whole 'surf rage' concept to hoax the media (which, of course, willingly took the bait). The media is now backpedaling, admitting that the Locals Only! group may have been a hoax, but insisting that the surf rage phenomenon itself is real.
Posted: Tue Nov 23, 2004.   Comments (2)

Club Med, Croatian-Style — This is probably not a hoax. Just a really bad idea. Croatia is hoping to strike it rich by luring in tourists curious to see what it would be like to spend a couple of days in a hard-labor camp. So they're considering reopening a communist-era prison on a barren island in the Adriatic Sea, and offering it as a tourist destination. They envision "tourists being issued convict uniforms, pounding large stones with a sledgehammer and hauling the pieces on their backs to quarries around the prison." Sounds like fun.
Posted: Thu Nov 18, 2004.   Comments (8)

Weird City Names — Here's an amusing list of weird city and town names. Of course, I immediately wondered if all these names were real, so I checked a random sample in Mapquest. Nothing came up for Hornytown, North Carolina (a google search didn't turn up any offical website for it either, though there is a widespread report, probably false, that Hornytown has banned massage parlors). Nor was there a Love Ladies, New Jersey in Mapquest. That doesn't mean Hornytown and Love Ladies don't exist. It's just that I can't find them. However, according to Mapquest it would be possible to take a road trip from Intercourse, Pennsylvania to Hooker, Arkansas, with a quick stop in Hot Coffee, Mississippi, and finishing up in Climax, North Carolina.
Update: Apparently there is a 'Love Ladies' in New Jersey, but it's spelled all as one word: Loveladies, NJ. However, I've still found no evidence that there's a Hornytown in North Carolina, although there is a Hornyhead Mountain.
Update 2: By randomly typing words into Mapquest it turns out to be quite easy to come up with weird place names. In just a few minutes I came up with these: Shite Creek, Idaho; Trash Branch, Alabama; Weird Lake, Minnesota; and Dork Canal, Oregon.
Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2004.   Comments (88)


You Are Being Watched — image From the Flickr Photo Sharing site: "On a road in the middle of nowhere there are signs posted every few hundred yards warning that you are being recorded on CCTV. This is apparently an effort to stop illegal fly tippers from dumping their rubbish along the road. I had a look around for some cameras, but couldn't see any. I think it's a hoax." Although maybe there really are cameras hidden in the trees. There are speakers hidden in the trees at UC San Diego. You'll be walking along through the forest and suddenly, as if out of nowhere, music will start playing.
Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2004.   Comments (8)

Vanishing Hitchhiker on Mount St. Helens — The Tacoma Washington News Tribune reports on a Vanishing Hitchhiker legend local to Mount St. Helens. (in case you're not familiar with it, the Vanishing Hitchhiker urban legend goes like this: a guy picks up a hitchhiker who then mysteriously vanishes from inside the moving car. He realizes that the hitchhiker was a ghost.) Following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, many drivers in the area swore they saw a woman dressed in white thumbing a ride by the side of the road. She would get in the car and eventually say "The volcano is going to erupt again between Oct. 12 and 14." Then she would disappear. Sure enough, lava did emerge from the volcano on Oct. 12 of this month. Spooky!
Posted: Fri Oct 29, 2004.   Comments (3)

Real-Life Truman Show — According to the Guardian, RTL2 TV in Germany is constructing an entire fake town outside of Hamburg which will provide the setting for their version of the Big Brother Reality TV show. It'll be just like a real-life version of The Truman Show. Residents of the artificial town will be filmed 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In addition, fans of the show will be able to visit the town "to see the residents just as if they were visiting a zoo." The German broadcasters say that the only difference between the premise of The Truman Show and their planned show, is that in their show "contestants will be willing participants in this next-generation leap into voyeurism." Then, in the next breath, they say, "We hope couples will get pregnant and family groups will interact with all the usual family frictions." So if a couple gets pregnant, will the child be given any choice about whether it wants to grow up monitored by TV viewers 24 hours a day?

Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2004.   Comments (10)

The 77 Water Street Roof Runway — image Is there really a building in New York City that has an airplane runway on its roof, with a biplane sitting at the end of the runway? Yup. It's the 77 Water Street Building. Here's a fuzzy satellite image. However, the biplane isn't real. It's just a mock-up. Metafilter has a thread on this unusual landmark. (via Things Magazine)
Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2004.   Comments (5)

Was That An Earthquake? — This should be filed under perfect timing: yesterday California State University, Monterey Bay had organized an earthquake drill complete with police, rescue workers, and actors to play victims. Five minutes into the drill a real earthquake hit. Reportedly "it didn't appear that anybody who took part in the drill was noticeably frightened by the real quake." Probably because they figured it was all part of the simulation.
Posted: Wed Sep 29, 2004.   Comments (6)

Fake Onsen Scandal — The Japanese love to soak in Onsen... hot springs that bubble up from the ground, often milky white or green in color, tinted by minerals in the earth. But now many have been dismayed to discover that some of the springs don't owe their color to natural minerals, but instead to far more mundane ingredients. Namely, bath salts. Japan Today notes, "In Kagoshima Prefecture, a hot spring famous for its unusual green color was revealed to be the result of dissolving household "Bath-Clean" bath salts into the water. Further claims of "fake onsens" have been surfacing continuously over the country."


Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2004.   Comments ()

California As An Island — image The Philadelphia Print Shop has a great online collection of ancient maps that contain mythical geography. Mythical geography describes "geographic features that appear on the map but not on the earth; cities where none ever were, islands where there are but waves, lakes and rivers where there is dry land, and kingdoms of non-existent kings." (I have some more information about this topic in my Medieval Travel Lies Gallery). My favorite ancient maps in the Print Shop's collection are the ones of California as an island. Of course, it remains to be seen whether these were actually geographic myths, or astute predictions of the future. Being in San Diego, I'd love to be able to hang a map of California as an island in my living room, but since their prices range from $500 all the way up to $7000, that's not going to happen anytime soon. (via J-Walk)
Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2004.   Comments (4)

Phony Sold Signs — A British Real Estate Agency has been fined for placing phony 'sold' signs up outside the houses of its own employees. It's not quite clear to me what they gained by doing this. I assume it made them look like they were doing more business than they actually were. Still, it's odd to think that as you drive around a neighborhood and see all those 'for sale' and 'sold' signs, that the signs might bear no relationship to reality at all.
Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2004.   Comments (3)

A Few Nonexistent Places — According to reliable information that can be found on the internet, Idaho doesn't exist. Nor does Wyoming, Wisconsin, Vermont, North Dakota, France, and England. Oh, and the Moon doesn't exist either.
Posted: Mon May 24, 2004.   Comments (7)

Motorcycle Trip Through Chernobyl — image A month or two ago a woman named Elena posted a travelogue on the web about her solitary motorcycle ride through the deserted area around Chernobyl. With all the eerie pictures she took of the abandoned, irradiated 'ghost town,' her travelogue quickly became one of the most linked-to sites on the net. Now there are accusations that her travelogue wasn't completely honest. Apparently she didn't go around alone on a motorcycle. She went in a car with her husband and a friend. Elena defends herself, admitting that much of her story was 'more poetry' than reality, but noting that most of it was still reality. I'm inclined to side with her. The pictures of Chernobyl, and what it's become, were real. How much does it really matter that she made them more interesting by wrapping them in a tale about a solitary motorcycle ride? (via JohnFord.net)
Posted: Fri May 21, 2004.   Comments (43)

The Nullarbor Nymph — image Thirty-two years ago the tiny town of Eucla, Australia, on the edge of the Nullarbor plain, became famous when a few of its residents first sighted the Nullarbor Nymph. The Nymph was a blonde, feral, half-naked woman who lived in the bush and ran wild with kangaroos. News of this wild woman quickly spread around the world. President Nixon was asked his opinion of her (reportedly his reply could not be repeated over the air), and the Loch Ness monster sent her a telegram. Sooner or later I'll have to put a fuller account of the Nullarbor Nymph in my 'Hoaxes Throughout History' Gallery, but for now you can read all about her at Dora Dallwitz's excellent site.
Posted: Tue May 18, 2004.   Comments (1)

Little-Known Attractions of Lynchburg Virginia — image I've actually been to Lynchburg, Virginia, but somehow I missed the little-known attractions that it offers, such as the Fletcher Farm Rhino, the ABC Cemetery in which all the graves are in alphabetical order, Mags the headless cat (pictured), and the world's only car that runs on Kool-Aid.



Posted: Mon May 03, 2004.   Comments (5)

Bad California Weather — image This picture is going around via email. It's not really a hoax at all. Just a joke. But since it's about Southern California, I couldn't resist sharing it. Here's the text that accompanies the email:

With all the news on TV lately about the subzero weather and snow that the east coast and upstate NY areas are experiencing, we shouldn't forget that Southern California has it's share of devastating weather also. I've attached a photo illustrating the excessive damage caused to a home from a west coast storm that passed through the Los Angeles area a couple of days ago. It really makes you cherish what you have, and reminds us not to take life for granted!!! Warning: The attached picture is quite graphic and may not be suitable for younger viewers.
Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2004.   Comments (18)

Princess Juliana Airport — image This is a pretty amazing picture, and it screams 'Photoshop!' After all, where in the world would planes really land that close to sunbathers on a beach? It looks like the plane is landing right on top of them. Well, the place is Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten. And the airplanes really do come in that close to the beach. A collection of shots of planes landing at Princess Juliana is circulating as a powerpoint file via email. Jozee V sent the file along to me (Thanks, Jozee!). At first I couldn't believe that the shots were real, but after a little research I was convinced. The thumbnail shot was taken by the photographer Justin Cederholm. You can see more shots of planes landing at Princess Juliana Airport here, and here, and here. And if you don't believe this is a real airport, then check out it's website. Trust me, it's real. But personally I think those people sunbathing there are crazy. It seems to me like it would be a good way to shatter your eardrums.
Posted: Fri Feb 20, 2004.   Comments (97)

Buy Land on the Sun — There's a scam business that's been in operation for years that offers to sell land on the moon. But a new group is raising the ante by offering to sell you land on the sun! Thankfully, all money they collect goes to aid the American Cancer Society.
Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2004.   Comments (2)

How Much For That State? — In the latest hoax to hit eBay, someone attempted to auction off the state of West Virginia. Bidding hit $100 million before the auction was yanked.
Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2004.   Comments ()

Page 7 of 8 pages ‹ First  < 5 6 7 8 >