It's almost a perpetual motion machine, and is absolutely a source of infinite amusement! (via JWZ)
I love Richard Wiseman's "10 Amazing Bets You Will Always Win" videos. Here's #12 in the series!
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Shardcore, who gave us the programatically generated Hipsterbait tees, had advanced the art of autonomous, self-perpetuating Internet memes, with @factbot1, a bot that creates true-sounding, viral-ish lies ("Indonesians always turn left when exiting a cave", "In just one drop of Sesame seeds, 50 million bacteria can be present", "Morels were used as a Sesame seeds substitute during the Norwegian Civil War"). Here's an essay that explains the project:
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Bitelabs wants you to tweet your favorite celeb and ask them to submit to a biopsy so that they can culture salami from their muscle tissue, allowing you to experience celebs in a way you never have before. "The Franco salami must be smoky, sexy, and smooth... The Franco salami’s taste will be arrogant, distinctive, and completely undeniable." Nutritional information: "coming soon."
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From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Attorney fined for zapping witness with trick pen at dairy cow trial
In an order released this week, 4th District Judge James Brady wrote that electricity expert Athanasios Meliopoulos was testifying against dairy farmers who claim that "stray" currents from Intermountain Power Plant in Delta were harming cattle.
As part of his testimony, Meliopoulos claimed that 1.5 volts, the equivalent of a AAA battery, could not be felt by a person. Los Angeles-based attorney Don Howarth, who represented the dairy farmers, gave a child’s gag pen to Meliopoulos. According to the package label, the retractable pen zaps the user with "a harmless powerful shock," Brady wrote.
Howarth told Meliopoulos that the pen contained a 1.5-volt AAA battery and challenged Meliopoulos to "go ahead and push the back of the pen and tell the jury whether you feel it or not," Brady wrote.
Meliopoulos, a Georgia Tech professor, pushed the pen and "received a strong electric shock, which caused his body to jerk and to drop the pen," Brady wrote.
Every year, Cards Against Humanity gives away a limited edition "PAX Pack" to attendees at PAX East, making the giveaway as surprisingly awesome as they can. This year, they outdid themselves with an epic prank that involved created an elaborate, fake "extreme oatmeal" brand called "PWNMEAL" (complete with a long-running, perfectly obnoxious marketing campaign), producing three tons' worth of FDA-approved instant oatmeal packs, and hiding the PAX Packs inside these packets and waiting for the attendees to discover the truth.
Max Temkin's lavishly illustrated, gleeful recounting of the prank might just be the most triumphant story of a business doing what is most awesome because doing awesome things is awesome that you will read all year.
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[Ed: I'm a huge fan of Kembrew McLeod, a writer, nerdfighter, media theorist and hoopy frood. From epic pranks like Freedom of Expression (R) to genius analysis like Creative License, Kembrew always amazes. Here's an excerpt from his latest: Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, with an introduction just for us -Cory]
Since I was a kid, I have been fixated on trickery, which played a role in why I grew up to be an occasional prankster (my dad recalls that, as an adolescent, I would surprise him by placing my Sesame Street Ernie doll in grim situations, such leaving him in a noose hanging from a shower head or pinned to the kitchen wall with a knife). Now that I am an adult, I spend most of my time as a teacher and professor being a bit more serious -- enough to take the subject of pranking seriously, which is why I wrote Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, published by NYU Press on April 1 this year. The word prank is more often used today to describe stunts that make people look foolish and little more. I'm not interested in celebrating cruelty -- especially the sorts of mean-spirited practical jokes, hazing rituals, and reality television deceits that are all too common in today's popular culture. Although "good" pranks sometimes do ridicule their targets, they serve a higher purpose by sowing skepticism and speaking truth to power (or at least cracking jokes that expose fissures in power's facade). A prank a day keeps The Man away, I always say. Nevertheless, I should stress that this book is not solely about pranking. Many of the characters who populate its pages aren't driven by noble impulses, and even those who are more pure of heart can muddy the ethical waters with dubious tactics. With this in mind, Pranksters examines everything from political pranks, silly hoaxes, and con games to the sort of self-deception that fuels outlandish belief systems. The following is an excerpt from Chapter Nine of Pranksters, about the exploits of a married couple named Jeanne and Alan Abel who began as professional pranksters in the late 1950s, and are still at it today.
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By photoshopping a pair of mirror-flipped profile-shots of your face onto either side of a full-on shot, you can make a gimmicked photo that, when curled and placed in a jar of water, creates a convincing illusion of your head in a jar. Mikeasaurus's Instructable has easy-to-follow instructions for making your own.
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You know that awkward moment when you think you're getting your photo taken but the shooter accidentally has their camera set on video? From the Nottingham Trent Students Union, "here's a super awkward montage of lots of students mistaking our video camera for a stills camera."
Did you know that one inspiration for Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club was the author's time in the Cacophony Society? You can hear about that this evening (9/23) at 7:30pm PT during "Chuck Palahniuk and the SF Cacophony Society: Creating Culture from Mayhem," a live event at San Francisco Castro Theatre that will also be streamed live here. What the hell is the Cacophony Society, you ask? Don't fret, you may already be a member. Launched in 1986, the Cacophony Society is a highly-influential, "randomly gathered network of free spirits united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society." This underground collective of pranksters, culture jammers, and thrill-seekers birthed Burning Man, pioneered urban exploration, and freaked out the squares with their proto-flash mobs of SantaCon. BB pal John Law, Carrie Galbraith, and Kevin Evans have finally revealed the hidden history of this (semi-)secret society in a beautiful new book, "Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society."
Tonight, join Palahniuk, Law, and Galbraith for a panel moderated by my old friend Brad Wieners, and plenty of other shenanigans.
Jeremy sez, "Flagger is a browser add-on that automatically puts red flag keywords (like bomb, Taliban and anthrax) into the web addresses you visit. Install Flagger and help us send a message: government surveillance has gone too far."
This is one of those ideas that sits on the threshhold between clever and dumb. You decide which for yourself.
James Broughton (1913-1999) was an icon of San Francisco counterculture and the Bay Area's Beat scene. A poet, filmmaker, and prankster, Broughton was one of the original Radical Faeries and a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. His gravestone reads: "Adventure – not predicament." I can't wait to see this new film about Broughton, titled Big Joy, that's currently on the film festival circuit! "Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton"
Here's some fodder for concern trolls! (Via Uproxx)
This horrifying clown mannekin was reportedly placed on a hiking trail deep in the Oleta River in Aventura, Florida by a park employee who got it from the Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park in North Miami.
Ry4an sez, "Today's maker project was a pair of bedside lamps that switch one another. The effect is really jarring because the switches are so near the bulbs they'd normally control." I love this -- it's just annoying enough that you can imagine it appearing unintentionally in, say, a hotel room (the most notorious source of terrible lighting controls in the developed world), and yet perversely pleasing.
Alan sez, "The makers of Dove have taken their 'Real Beauty' campaign against P-shopped models into the realm of hacktivism. As the video explains, they sneaked out a Photoshop plug-in (called an Action) that supposedly added a fake skin glow but in fact restored the initial appearance of a model prior to the usual sort of Photoshoppification."
The history of sneezing powder is unexpectedly fascinating, a tale of an obsessive prankster, whose burning passion to make people sneeze drove him to out-and-out chemical warfare:
No one's entirely sure what Adams used to make Cachoo. It depends on what he had easy access to. He worked for a company that made coal tar products, specifically dyes. Coal tar is what gets leftover when coal is made into more purified fuel. It's a viscous black substance that can be used to pave roads, but is also added to medicated shampoo, and used as a base for clothing or even food dye. There are plenty of by-products in the process that can - but probably shouldn't - be used as nasal irritants. These would be easily accessible, and, if they were by-products, cheap to acquire.
But more recent chemists think that to make Cachoo, Adams was actually pilfering one of the dyes that he was supposed to be selling. Dianisidine is a chemical that, with coal tar, makes a beautiful blue dye. It's also carcinogenic and, according to the CDC should be flushed from every part of the body it makes contact with. A sneeze response would certainly help with that. Dianisidine was first discovered in 1894, when people noticed that it, in combination with copper salts, made a pretty color on fabrics that set in faster than indigo. People would have been using it a great deal, especially in the manufacturing centers, testing out new products.
Unfortunately, over a few years they found out that it ran when exposed to acid, or even heavy perspiration, bleeding blue on anyone who wore clothing dyed with it. Its color might have worked for soap products, but it was useless in clothing manufacturing. The repeated testing, would have given Adams ample opportunity to see people sneezing. The eventual abandonment of it as a potential clothing dye may have given him the ability to pick it up at a good price for his initial stock of Cachoo. But is that what he did?
And this is why the FDA banned sneezing powder in 1919 [Esther Inglis-Arkell/IO9]
(Image: Archie McPhee)
Artist/prankster Phil Lucas puts up fake "planning notices" around Brighton, England, announcing his plans to radically improve the cityscape and inviting people to comment via the local government's planning authority.
I live in Hackney, which boasts England's "worst performing planning authority" (as one MP recently put it in Parliament), so I sympathise with these shenanigans. I've been through multiple planning petitions for permission to put a glass box on my disused balcony to grow plants in and use as a dining room in warm months, and have been turned down because it would "disrupt the street-scene" on my manky, dogshit-strewn, tumbling-down road in east London.
Planning Notices in Brighton (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money is a new eBook charting the strange journey of prankster musicians/artists Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty at the birth of acid house. The KLF (aka The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu aka The Timelords) emerged from a similar countercultural milieu of high weirdness that inspired bOING bOING, from Robert Anton Wilson and Discordianism to Dada, punk, and Alan Moore. Of course, The KLF are best known for either burning one million British pounds for a music video or their 1988 melding of Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll (Part Two)" with the Doctor Who theme. Drummond and Cauty's connections to Doctor Who run much deeper than that though. Over at the Daily Grail, Greg Taylor explores the KLF/Doctor Who synchronicities in his article, "The Regeneration of Doctor Who."
Here's footage of a vicious and terrifying prank from a Brazilian candid-camera show, in which victims were put in an gimmicked elevator whose lights went out, allowing a small girl in horror-makeup to sneak out of a hidden compartment and "appear" when the lights came back on, ready to scream at them.
The peer-reviewed journal Advances in Pure Mathematics was tricked into accepting a nonsense math paper that was generated by a program called Mathgen.
To be fair, the journal did note several flaws in the paper, such as "In this paper, we may find that there are so many mathematical expressions and notations. But the author doesn’t give any introduction for them. I consider that for these new expressions and notations, the author can indicate the factual meanings of them," and requested that they be corrected prior to publication.
However, the "author" of the paper replied with a set of pat rebuttals ("The author believes the proofs given for the referenced propositions are entirely sufficient [they read, respectively, 'This is obvious' and 'This is clear']" and these were seemingly sufficient for the editors.
Sadly, the paper wasn't published, as the "author" wasn't willing to pay the $500 peer-review fee.
On August 3, 2012, a certain Professor Marcie Rathke of the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople submitted a very interesting article to Advances in Pure Mathematics, one of the many fine journals put out by Scientific Research Publishing. (Your inbox and/or spam trap very likely contains useful information about their publications at this very moment!) This mathematical tour de force was entitled “Independent, Negative, Canonically Turing Arrows of Equations and Problems in Applied Formal PDE”, and I quote here its intriguing abstract:
Let ρ=A. Is it possible to extend isomorphisms? We show that D′ is stochastically orthogonal and trivially affine. In , the main result was the construction of p-Cardano, compactly Erdős, Weyl functions. This could shed important light on a conjecture of Conway-d’Alembert.
This is a nice follow-on from the Sokal hoax, wherein a humanities journal was tricked into accepting a nonsense paper on postmodernism. Goes to show that an inability to distinguish nonsense from scholarship exists in both of the two cultures.
On Monday, the Burger King burst into a McDonald's restaurant in Rome, Georgia, handed out free hamburgers to customers, danced, and posted for photos with children. Managers called the police, but the Burger King escaped in a white Acura before the fuzz arrived. "Man dressed as Burger King visits West Rome McDonald’s"
Brett Cohen pranked NYC on the night of July 27th, 2012, and he has video proof: he "came up with a crazy idea to fool thousands of pedestrians walking the streets of Times Square into thinking he was a huge celebrity," and succeeded.
He is not a celebrity—or at least, he wasn't before this video went viral. He's a 21 year old SUNY New Paltz student. Snip from the project description:
Robin Cooper is the phone-pranking, letter-pranking alter-ego of British writer/producer/funnyguy Robert Popper. I've blogged about his sillywork before ("Look Around You," "Friday Night Dinner," "Timewaster Letters"), but this new stunt is pretty great.
I interviewed him last year for Jesse Thorn's podcast: Listen here.
- Robin Cooper (aka Robert Popper) vs. Telemarketers
- Twitters: Robin Cooper phone pranks Apple store
- Robin Cooper Urdu talk show phone prank: "My only friend"
- Looking back at Look Around You with Popper and Serafinowicz ...
- Markets of Britain, a short film by Lee Titt (via Serafinowicz and ...
- Xeni interviews Robert Popper on "The Sound of Young America ...
- Robert Popper's greatest prank yet: Tangerinegate