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Today's Featured Topic:
The Great Turkey Drive of 1866

My mother noticed that the AARP Bulletin had a short feature about "Great Hoaxes," so she sent it to me. It's a somewhat random selection of six hoaxes, but that's no surprise. These short list-type features in magazines often seem like they choose things to list at random. The six hoaxes are: Left-Handed Whopper (1998) -- Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist (1964) -- The Hitler Diaries (1983) -- The Masked Marauders (1969) - wikipedia link -- Sidd Finch (1985) -- The Autobiography of Howard Hughes

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Scotsman has a brief feature about Nessie's lesser-known cousin, Morag, who inhabits Loch Morar, seventy miles away from Loch Ness. I wonder how much more tourism Loch Ness gets compared with Loch Morar, just on account of having a better known beastie.

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014.   Comments (0)

Laura "Mom" Bedford, owner of a roadside barbecue stand in Miami, Fla., made headlines in March 1937 when she announced what appeared to be a biological miracle. Her maltese cat had given birth to three kittens and two puppies (aka "kuppies"). Bedford explained, "I didn't pay them any mind when they were born. I was too busy. I just looked in the box under the kitchen sink and saw what I thought were five black kittens. I figured they would be all right." But two days later, she heard something that "sounded like a dog crying." She examined the litter more closely and discovered…

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014.   Comments (0)

Foreo, a cosmetics company, has announced an initiative to brighten the moon. It argues that this will provide the world with a huge savings in money spent on lights at night. And by reducing nighttime energy consumption, it will also be good for the environment. So how exactly does Foreo intend to brighten the moon? It kind of glosses over that detail, but the basic idea will be to make the surface of the moon more reflective, so that it will reflect more of the sun's light. Perhaps this could be done by painting sections of the moon, or by smoothing out the lunar surface. Who…

Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2014.   Comments (1)


Users of Apple's map app have spotted something in Loch Ness. Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, told the Daily Mail, "It looks like a boat wake, but the boat is missing... the size of the object would make it likely to be Nessie." The image I've posted here is a detail-enhanced image, because in the original Apple map image, it's difficult to see much of anything at all. So what is it? The Southern Fried Science blog argues that it's almost certainly a boat wake. It explains the lack of a boat by the fact that the image was taken by a satellite:

Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2014.   Comments (3)

A new book by Ed Sherman examines the question of whether Babe Ruth actually called a shot in the 1932 World Series. It's one of the greatest legends in baseball. But is it actually true? From the book: These are the facts. On Oct. 1, 1932, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs played Game Three of the World Series at Wrigley Field. In the fifth inning, Ruth at the plate faced the Cubs' Charlie Root, two strikes on him. Ruth, jawing with the Cubs dugout, held out two fingers. Ruth sent the next pitch soaring toward Lake Michigan. The ball whizzed just to the right of what now…

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014.   Comments (0)

In 1954, Syed Hassan Osman Mustapha was a young man from Pakistan studying in London. One day he was invited to attend a "knighthood" ceremony at a Rover Scout Group meeting, and while he was there he mentioned that he happened to be part of the royal family of Afghanistan. In fact, he was a prince. He later said that he had intended the remark as a joke, but everyone took him at his word, and he enjoyed the attention so much that he decided to continue the ruse. Soon word of his princely status had spread around the affluent London district of Osterley where he was living, and he…

Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014.   Comments (0)

There's some controversy over the Daily Mirror's recent cover showing a crying child. The context implies it's a British child crying because of a lack of food, but (as blogger Dan Barker uncovered) it's actually an American child who was crying because she lost an earthworm. Turns out it was a stock photo that the Daily Mirror acquired from Getty Images. But the Daily Mirror is defending itself. Its editor Lloyd Embley writes, "Imagine the stink if we'd used a pic of an actual child who had received food parcels." [theguardian.com]

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014.   Comments (1)

A statue of the Virgin Mary outside a church in Griffith, Indiana has recently attracted attention because a stain on the statue's face looks like a tear. A water mark from rain would be the obvious explanation, but a young girl interviewed for the news broadcast says it's "A sign from God and shows us that Jesus actually did sacrifice his life for us." [ABC 6]

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014.   Comments (0)

If this was just a random unsourced picture on the Internet I would probably suspect that it had been manipulated to create the dragon effect. However, it comes from a professional photographer, Noel Celis of AFP Photo, and is hosted on Getty Images. And these sources provide no indication that the photo was manipulated in any way. So I have to conclude that it's real. In other words, that it's a case of pareidolia, rather than photo fakery. Getty Images offers this caption: "A fire breather performs in Chinatown in Manila a day before the Chinese New Year on January 22, 2012. The…

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014.   Comments (1)

This sign appeared on a road in the town of Cambridge, UK on April 1st. There was some speculation that it might have been a joke, but the Cambridge News confirms that it actually was a genuine sign for a temporary road closure. Just a case of strange British road names. And pure coincidence that the sign went up on April 1. [Cambridge News]

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

The rock-rolling whitefish is a little-known species of fish, whose existence has only ever been reported (as far as I know) in the June 1932 issue of Montana Wild Life magazine. Discovery of this creature was credited to Jack Boehme, a manufacturer of fish tackle. Here's the information that Montana Wild Life offered about this unusual creature: It seems that this rock-rolling Montana whitefish extolled by Jack Boehme, and organized by a taxidermist of no mean versatility, is endowed with horns. Boehme declares, to all visiting dudes, that the specimen on display was caught in…

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

Steve Feltham has spent 23 years looking for Nessie. In all that time, he's only seen her once, 21 years ago. He says, "I was sitting on the shore near the Fort Augustus end of the Loch when something went past the bay, through the water. It was like a torpedo shot and it had some weight behind it, hitting through the waves. Nothing in Loch Ness could create a disturbance like that – apart from Nessie. I just sat there in amazement." Unfortunately, that was also the day he forgot to bring his camera. So, he's got no pictures of Nessie to show for his long search. [dailystar.co.uk]

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

Speakerphone Pregnancy Call Terrifies Teacher — The video of this April Fool's Day prank, played by students at Aquinas College on their Macroeconomics professor, now has over 25 millions views on YouTube, which has to make it one of the most popular April Fool pranks this year (if not the most popular). It's nice to see that a low-budget prank by amateurs still can overshadow all the April Fool marketing efforts of the advertising professionals. The premise of the prank is that a female student receives a call on her cell phone…
Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2014.   Comments (1)

The Travel Channel show "Mysteries at the Museum" recently filmed an episode at the Salida Museum in Colorado, where they dug into the history of the fur-bearing trout. Back in the late 1930s, a Salida resident, Wilbur Foshay (who was a bit of a con artist, as well as being a member of the Salida Chamber of Commerce), brought a lot of media attention to the town by claiming that fur-bearing trout could be found in the nearby Arkansas River. But he complained that the fur-bearing trout could never be caught because fishing wasn't allowed in Colorado rivers during January, when the…

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2014.   Comments (0)

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