25 seconds of infinite hand fingers

A deceptive view of a common human body part

Hand Fingers by Cyriak

Freelance animator: Cyriak>>

The "robot" called Radiana

Here, she shaves an audience volunteer.

Radiana, called a "mechanical man" by the press, was exhibited by Professor John Popjie in the 1920s and 30s. This "queer figure" could fly an airplane, drive a car while the professor was blindfolded, do conjuring feats, make a cake, shave a man from the audience and "extract teeth at the Professor’s will."

The most sensational Electrical 
Novelty in the World.
(Click to enlarge)

I like the Professor's deceptively-worded guarantee on his poster:
£1,000 REWARD WILL BE PAID - to any person who can explain or demonstrate how it is electrically possible to work this scientific masterpiece as shown - The most bewildering demonstration of modern times!
His money was safe - you can't "explain or demonstrate how it is electrically possible" because Radiana didn't work electrically.

The magic works on the same principle as the Gollem effect, or the automaton called the Mechanical Turk. The secret is that Professor Popjie's female assistant was hiding inside.

"Nothing in here!"

Read more at Cybernetic Zoo>>

- Found at BoingBoing: Great aunt Kathleen was an automaton>>
- BoingBoing links to Radiana, 1925, at Retronaut>>
- Retronaut links to 1925 – Radiana – Professor J. Popjie (Dutch/British) at Cybernetic Zoo>>
- Interested in Pseudo-Automaton? Take a look at more posts on robots with people inside. Cybernetic Zoo>>

A private prank prompts panic

This was not what he left,
but it had the same effect.

During a meeting of the Legislative Council's committee meeting in Hamden, Connecticut, a man wearing a turban and a long robe walked in, set down a covered two-foot tall object and whipped off the cloth.

It was a statue of a chef.

Nobody knew what it meant. Could it be a bomb? The room quickly cleared in a panic.

The police chief, who was in the audience, dashed out to look for the man.

It had all been a misunderstanding.

The man was leaving the chef statue as a joke for a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, but he was at the wrong meeting. That meeting had been cancelled and replaced by the council meeting.

No charges have been filed.

The significance of the small chef has not been reported.

This was the actual chef statue used, 
with a spoon and no dynamite.

Prank Prompts Panic at Council Meeting, Hamden Patch>>

He invents puzzles and magic

Mark Setteducati

Read a profile and watch a video of the magician and puzzle / game / magic trick inventor Mark Setteducati at The Trickster Behind the Magic>>

- The Trickster Behind the Magic Tricks, The Wall Street Journal>>
- Mark Setteducati>>
- Photo from Tanya Thompson's post "Oh the people you meet!" at Puzzle Hunter>>

Stealing a dinner in 17th Century France

This ornament adorns the Pont Neuf, 
the oldest bridge still standing across 
the River Seine in Paris, France.

Read this short excerpt from the facetious book Lessons of Thrift by Robert Cruikshank, published in 1820, where you will learn that a thrifty thief benefits from a great bon mot.
Lesson XXIII - How to steal a dinner

A like ingenious device was exerted by a brother of more ancient times. The Pont Neuf, the most important bridge of Paris, was begun by Henry III but not finished till the reign of Henry IV was considerably advanced. When this edifice of so many years was at length completed, skilful commissaries were named on the part of the king, and on the part of the city, both conjoined in the expense, to inspect the whole, and estimate the accounts. One gentleman was observed to be very busy with his measure and note-book. Each party had no doubt that he was of the other set. This ceremony was followed by the only object of our brother's solicitude, a magnificent dinner, to which he did ample justice, and pocketed enough of the dessert (a common custom in France) to serve his sobered appetite for three days. After dinner, a warm conversation arose on a difficult topic of architecture, when one of the company addressed our brother: "Sir, as you seem, by your great attention to the various parts of the edifice, to be a most skilful judge, what may be your opinion?" Our hero filled his bumper of champagne, and rising up, thus replied: "Gentlemen, my opinion is that your dinner was excellent. As to your bridge, I can only say that you acted very wisely in placing it across the river; for if you had put it down on the side of the river, it would have been of no use." He then emptied his bumper and disappeared.
- Lessons of thrift: Published for general benefit, by a member of the Save-all club, by Robert Cruikshank, 1820
- Mascaron (architecture), Wikipedia>>

8 steps to get free phone calls in jail

How to charge others for your collect phone calls.

If you're a prisoner, here's how to work the ruse:
  1. Call a random phone number.
  2. Lie (and lie with authority.) Tell the person answering the phone that you work for a hospital, or the police. Say that a relative has been hurt in an accident, or has been arrested.
  3. Tell them that if they want more information, they must dial another number.
  4. Give them the other number. This is your friend's phone number, with *72 added to the beginning. For example, tell them to call: *72-303-555-1234. (*72 and then 303-555-1234.)
  5. Hang up.
  6. Hopefully you were persuasive enough. If the victim obeys you and dials your friend's number but begins it with *72, they'll activate the call forwarding feature on their phone. Now any calls to their phone will go to your friend's phone number.
  7. Make a collect call to the victim's number. Your call will be forwarded to your friend's number, but the bill will go to the victim.
  8. Talk as long as you want. You're not paying for it!
The scam was discovered when the Sheriff's Department kept getting complaints that the jail phone number was appearing on their phone bills.

- Authorities warn consumers about telephone scam run from L.A. County jails, Los Angeles Times>>
- Telephone Scam being used by Inmates and others, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department>>

The most horrifying truth about investment fraud

"The fellow had a very pleasant personality..."

Harry Gross writes a column on personal finance for the Daily News in Philadelphia. Here, he responds to a man who was scammed by a Ponzi scheme. In the last two sentences, he reveals an important truth about deception.  
Dear Harry: About three years ago, my boss recommended that I put my savings into an account with his investment guru. The fellow had a very pleasant personality, and referred me to a list of his clients. He suggested that I contact any two I chose. I did, and they were happy as a dog with a bone. He said he was investing only in U.S. securities, but with his own technique of using puts, calls, options and who knows what else to generate higher returns. I gave him $50,000. His statements showed a return of nearly 10 percent. They went up and down very little. Last week, I got a notice that my account was frozen because the SEC was on to a Ponzi scheme in which he seemed to be involved. My boss told me that it was a Ponzi scheme. There were no investments. The statements we received were all fakes, and it is uncertain what, if anything, we'll get back. I thought I did everything by the book with the recommendations from my boss and the others. What else can I do to protect myself in the future?

What Harry says: Bernie Madoff was perhaps the biggest of the schemes, but there are still plenty more that have not come to light. Every investor must follow certain ways to protect himself from unscrupulous advisers. You did the right thing by asking to contact clients. However, no adviser should have custody of your funds. Use a well-known broker as custodian. This way, you get a clear statement each month from someone who is independent. Although others may not agree, I do not want anyone to have independent control of my investments. They may suggest, but I want to make the final decision. And remember, the only person who can steal from you is a person you trust. If you don't trust me, you won't let me close to your assets.
Only people you trust can steal from you. That's the toughest lesson about being deceived by any investment fraud. We tend to forget the reason they're called "con games" run by "con artists" is because the person gains your confidence. And who can you be more confident of than someone you trust?

- Harry Gross: Some words to the not-so-wise on investing, Philadelphia Daily News,>>
- The photo is of  Scott Rothstein, unrelated to the letter above except for his own Ponzi scheme - How Scott Rothstein rode $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme to wealth and power, The Christian Science Monitor>>

Now police dogs can identify the evil twin

Closeup of "Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967" 
by photographer Diane Arbus

Identical twins can be deceptive because they are identical, but not to police dogs:
In a new study, researchers instructed a group of children, including two sets of identical twins and two sets of fraternal twins, to swab the insides of their cheeks and place the swabs in glass jars. Working with ten police German shepherds and their handlers from the Czech Republic police, the researchers then ran a mock crime scene investigation. The handler presented one twin’s scent to the dog and then told it to go find the matching scent in a lineup of seven jars, which included the other twin’s scent. In twelve trials per dog, none of them ever identified the wrong twin as a match, the researchers report online this week in PLoS ONE, even though the children lived in the same home, ate the same food, and had identical DNA.
ScienceShot: Police Dogs Can Distinguish Identical Twins, Science AAAS>>

Creating optical illusions with human bodies

Two dancers create this impossible 
illusion of negative space.

Momix is a dance company that combines muscular physical grace, live optical illusions, sensuality and humor.

From the work "Momix reMIX"

Momix reMIX - Momix Dance Company

Parts of their work Lunar Sea - Sun Flower Moon remind me of visions you might see during a seance, especially if you're watching a seance created out of luminous fabric in the dark.

Momix Lunar Sea - Sun Flower Moon


Could the jasmine plant lead to unrest in China?

 Let a hundred flowers bloom... 
but not jasmine.

Because Tunisian revolutionaries called their uprising the “Jasmine Revolution,” the Chinese government was worried about the Jasmine flower, so they blocked references to it on the internet, and tried to ban the flower as contraband:
In the absence of concrete information, fantastic rumors have taken root. One wholesale flower vendor at the Jiuzhou Flower and Plant Trading Center in southern Beijing said he heard the ban had something to do with radiation contamination from Japan. A young woman hawking floral bouquets at Laitai, a large flower market near the United States Embassy, said she was told jasmine blossoms contained some unspecified poison that was killing people. “Perhaps you’d like some white roses instead?” she asked hopefully. 

Wu Chuanzhen, 53, a farmer who tends eight greenhouses of jasmine on the outskirts of the city, said other growers had insisted that adherents of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement deemed an “evil cult” by the authorities, might use the flowers in their bid to overthrow the governing Communist Party. “I heard jasmine is the code word for the revolution,” she said. Her laughter suggested she thought such concerns were absurd.
Read the article: Catching Scent of Revolution, China Moves to Snip Jasmine, The New York Times>>

Chinese propaganda poster "Man works hard, flowers are fragrant" from Chinese>>

Why were 30,000 pigs floating down the river?

Because you believed what you read in the newspaper.
(Photo from "The Morning Bulletin", 
Rockhampton, Australia)

Quotes can be taken out of context, or they can be in error. In this case, the Morning Bulletin newspaper in Australia interviewed a man who said his pig farm had been devastated by flooding in Australia:
30,000 pigs swept away in flood
Pigs float down the Dawson
Flood has devastated piggery's livestock

More than 30,000 pigs have been floating down the Dawson River since last weekend, with a piggery at Baralaba paralyzed by flooding which has killed most of its bred livestock.

Baralaba Butchers' Sid Everingham owns and runs the piggery near Baralaba.

Mr. Everingham said: "We've lost about 30,000 pigs in the floods. we tried to get as many weaners and suckers out by boat, but we could save only about 70 weaners, and the suckers didn't survive long, because they needed their mother's milk, and all the sows have been washed away."
The next day, the newspaper ran a correction:

There was an error printed in a story titled "Pigs float down the Dawson" on Page 11 of yesterday's Bully.

The story, by reporter Daniel Burton, said "more than 30,000 pigs were floating down the Dawson River."

What Baralaba piggery owner Sid Everingham actually said was "30 sows and pigs", not "30,000 pigs".

The Morning Bulletin would like to apologize for this error, which was also reprinted in today's Rural Weekly CQ before the mistake was known.
Lots of comments on this and other misheard language errors here: Correction of the Year? Language Log>>
- A correction saved their bacon, Media Watch>>
- PDF of the actual newspaper (opens directly) The Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Australia>>

A sinking lamp

It's slowly being submerged.

The Titanic Lamp was designed by Charles Trevelyan.

Viable London>>

The quick change artists David and Dania

A visible transformation, hidden by a shower of confetti

David and Dania are quick change artists who performed on the first season of the TV show America's Got Talent. They have been regular performers at NBA halftime shows.

In the video - if you want to count - Dania does seven costumes changes and a hair style/color change in less than two minutes. And David's tux changes color.

I know very little about the methods for performing a quick change act. The best compliment I can give David and Dania is that I do not want to know they did it.

I do know they're varying the methods (both what you see and what they're secretly doing) of each change, so you don't know exactly when (or how) the change will occur.

The secrets of the art of quick change are more closely guarded than other variety arts. Many have been passed down from Russian circus acts. It's a challenging art, since performers must have many types of skills: dance, acrobatics, gymnastics, pantomime, magic and costuming.

 David and Dania, Quick Change Artists

David and Dania>>

Why a bad ant disguise can be good

Is this an ant or a spider?

Why do animals mimic other animals? They disguise themselves so they won't be eaten. But some animals have disguises that aren't so deceptive. Why doesn't natural selection create more perfect disguises for these guys?

One scientist, Stano Pekár, who studies spiders, has a possible explanation. He thinks that the mimicking animals might be trying to avoid multiple predators.

Some spiders imitate ants because ants are avoided by many predators. But other predators like to eat ants, so spiders who are too good at pretending to be ants will get eaten as ants. So if there are multiple ant predators in an environment, a spider might develop a sloppy disguise. That way, at certain times it can blend in with the ants, and other times it can be a spider.

An animal might be developing a disguise depending on the mix of predators in its environment.

This might be true for other animals, too. Such as humans.

The photo is of a mimic ant from the jumping spider family, Salticidae.

- A Cheap Imitation Is Sometimes Best, Science>>
- Abstract only - Is the Evolution of Inaccurate Mimicry a Result of Selection by a Suite of Predators? A Case Study Using Myrmecomorphic Spiders, The American Naturalist, JStor>>
- Ant mimicry, Wikipedia>>

Don't drink from the light socket

The Glassbulb Light is either a wine glass 
disguised as a light bulb, or a light bulb 
in the shape of a wine glass.

The Glassbulb Light by OOOMS>>
Found thanks to bookofjoe>>

The deceptions of catching online pedophiles

Did this man's behavior blur the line 
between truth and fantasy?

In an online chat room, the truth is not so simple. Pennsylvania Detective Michele Deery's job is to catch sexual predators by pretending to be someone she's not. But was her ruse entrapment? One man looking for sex with her thought that she wouldn't have sex with him unless he also wrote about having sex with her kids. But Detective Deery thought he knew too much about child rape in his explicit conversations and was a potentially dangerous predator.

A Crime of Shadows by Mark Bowden in Vanity Fair magazine:
Her parents sent her to Catholic schools, and her mother, a retired district judge, now jokes that she wants her money back. Her daughter’s beat is in the vilest corners of cyberspace, in chat rooms indicating “fetish” or various subgenres of flagrant peccancy. One of the many false identities Deery has assumed online is something truly rare, even in this polluted pond—that of a middle-aged mother of two pre-pubescent girls who is offering them up for sex. Baiting her hook with this forbidden fruit, she would cast the line and wait to see who bit.

It usually didn’t take long. Men began vying for her attention the minute she logged on, night or day. Deery would begin a dialogue, dangling the illicit possibility, gauging how serious her mark was. There were “players,” those who were just horny and despicable, and there were doers, or at least potential doers, the true bad guys. The goal was to identify the latter, hook them, and then reel them in, turn them into “travelers.” Once a traveler took that all-important step out of fantasy and into the real world, his behavior went from the merely immoral to the overtly criminal. When they delivered themselves for the promised rendezvous, instead of meeting a mother and her young daughters they would find a team of well-armed, cheerfully disgusted Delaware County police officers. As a fantasy, her come-on seemed overbaked—not one daughter, but two! It is doubtful that such a woman exists anywhere, and yet men fell for it. Her unit had a near-100-percent conviction rate. The bulletin board over her desk displays mug shots of her catches, very ordinary-looking men, facing the camera wide-eyed with shock, staring at the fresh ruin of their lives.
Read the complete story: A Crime of Shadows, Vanity Fair>>

- Q&A: Mark Bowden Talks About "A Crime of Shadows" in Vanity Fair>>

It's the Lego car prank

"I was wondering why my employees 
were working so much overtime lately."

Legoland employees pranked their general manager by replacing his car with a replica made of over 200,000 Lego bricks.

Legoland car prank

A nightime ruse to deceive the enemy

"...and then the cannon fired upon them,
and made a terrible slaughter among them."

From the 1855 book The Battles of the Crimea:

 ...The Russians came on us several times in the middle of the night, and we all had to turn out. But the French laid a plot for them, and they have never disturbed us since in the night. The French made it up with some of our riflemen and Highland regiments; and they moved from their camps about a mile nearer the Russians, and kindled a great many fires. So the Russians thought to have a fine grab when they saw the fires. They came up as usual. The French retreated a certain distance from the fires. Upon which the Russians came up, and saw nobody there. They then came on further from the fires; the French could see them quite plainly between them and the fires. The French now went to work, and fired into them, and shot a great many as they retreated. The Rifles, and Highland regiments then came up behind them, and gave them a great beating, and then the cannon fired upon them, and made a terrible slaughter among them.

Thus far we have faithfully detailed the Battles of the Crimea, with all their terrible and singular incidents. But the end is not yet. We may be called upon to add another chapter to the great War Drama now being enacted in that region.
- The Battles of the Crimea; Including an Historical Summary of the Russian War, from the Commencement to the Present Time, written by an unknown author in 1855, on Google Books>>
- Cannon fire photo found at "My year of living Rangerously," Mannie Gebtle's online journal>>

The sappy yearbook ad prank

Some parts of his ad were very nice

At Aliso Niguel High School, parents can place ads in their soon-to-be graduating kid's senior yearbook. One dad, George Somogyi, and his daughter, Rianna, a senior, used to make fun of all the sappy tribute ads placed in the yearbook by parents.

I can imagine his daughter, 17, saying: "Dad, don't ever even think about an ad like that for me!"

Her dad did not place an ad like that.

Instead, he paid $500 for an ad that said:
Rianna - You are a complete waste of valuable space. You have the intellectual capacity of a lemon meringue pie. Your mere existence can be used to disprove Darwin's "survival-of-the-fittest." Your teachers all agree you are as bright as a 3 watt bulb. Your friends have voted you "most likely to accidently staple your eyelids closed." Wheras most parents quote the Bible, I will leave you to go forth in life with this ancient Yiddish saying, "Chandkah led hezmokah a frotz tov amin dada" which loosely translates to "Camel patties attract flies, hummus attracts pita chips." You are the former.

The entire ad, with humor
(Click to enlarge)

His daughter laughed at the ad. Some people, however, were upset. They emailed their concern to the principal. What kind of dad was he to do that?  If it was meant to be joke, maybe he should have included a disclaimer - some sort of "just kidding" or smiley face indicating it was just a gag. Why didn't he do that? Responded the dad:
"Because a handful of people are going to think this is real, and I thought that would be very funny. I had no idea it was going to be like this. But more important than any of this is that my daughter thinks it is funny. It wasn’t meant for anyone else.  And if you are angry and bent out of shape about this ad, you walked right into being the butt of our joke. To those people I say, 'Thank you—you proved our point.' "
He did concede, however, that some of the photos might have been a bit embarrassing.

Mr. Somogyi also said that the "ancient Yiddish saying" is "just some nonsense" he typed. But did you note the sneaky inclusion of the word "dada" at the end of his Yiddish? Could this be a possible reference to Dada, the early 20th Century art and literary movement that thumbed its nose at convention and celebrated nonsense?

Dad Says His Controversial Yearbook Prank Was Done out of Love, An Aliso Niguel High School yearbook advertisement was supposed to be a father's personal joke to his daughter, but it has some shaking their heads, Laguna Niguel Patch, Viejo, CA

The wooden sofa with a secret

Innocently nestled among the pine trees, 
this chunky wooden sofa is not what it seems to be.

Pine is considered a soft wood.

The Swedish design group Front designed these wooden sofas for the Italian company Moroso. Of course, since they're deceptive, they're not exactly what you think they are, which you might only discover when you sit down. They're made not out of hard wood, but out of soft fabric. I like that the supposed pine sofa is shown among pine trees to further the illusion.

 The secret is revealed in a closeup of the seam.

You can also get the illusion in a bench or a chair.

Softwood bench

Softwood chair

- Front Projects>>
- Front designers for moroso: 'moment' collection at milan design week 09, Designboom>>
- Moroso turns Paris into a "temple of design" Moroso>>

Real bedroom or fake bedroom?

This is not a real bedroom.

It's a behind-the scenes shot 
from the 1987 horror film "The Gate."

Can you tell what's actually happening in the photo above?

Here's the set, as seen in the movie trailer.

 From the movie trailer for "The Gate"

The Gate (1987) Trailer

- The Gate, 1987, at IMDB>>
- Image found at imgur>>

The gay girl in Damascus hoax

Amina Arraf and Tom McMaster

Amina Arraf called herself "Gay Girl In Damascus" and wrote a blog as a gay Syrian-American woman. When a cousin reported on her blog that she was arrested by police during the unrest in Syria, others became concerned and began looking for her. What they found led them to a white American man named Tom MacMaster.

Amina was not a real person. Mr. MacMaster had invented her.

His hoax brings up numerous issues. Did a media hungry for news rely too much on sources that can easily be faked? Was the fact that his fictional woman was gay galvanize an already marginalized community? What does it say when a hoax about real events gains so much attention while real events are occuring?

Why did he create an alternative online identity? Mr. MacMaster explains:
It started innocently enough without any intention whatsoever of creating a massive hoax or duping the world. Ever since I was a child, I’ve wanted to write fiction but, when my first attempts met with universal rejection, I took a more serious look at my own work and I realized that I could not write conversation in a natural way nor could I convincingly write characters who weren’t me. I tried to get better and did various exercises (such as simply copying overheard conversations). Eventually, I would set up a number of profiles on dating sites with identities that were not my own as ways of interacting with real people in conversation but with a different personality than my own.

I was also very involved in issues surrounding the Palestine and Iraq struggles. Ever since my childhood I had felt very connected to the cultures and peoples of the Middle East. It’s something that I came by naturally. My mother had taught English in Turkey before I was born and my father had been involved with Middle East refugee issues when they met. They are both people whom I admire immensely and have continued to do many wonderful works that I can only aspire to.

I’m also an argumentative sort and a bit of a nerd. I was involved with numerous online science-fiction/alternate-history discussion lists and, as a part of that process, I saw lots of incredibly ignorant and stupid positions repeated on the Middle East. I noticed that when I, a person with a distinctly Anglo name, made comments on the Middle East, the facts I might present were ignored and I found myself accused of hating America, Jews, etc. I wondered idly whether the same ideas presented by someone with a distinctly Arab and female identity would have the same reaction.

So, I invented her. First, she was just a name. Amina Arraf. She commented on blogs and talkbacks on news-sites. Eventually, I set up an email for her. She joined the same lists I was already on and posted responses in her name. And, almost immediately, friendly and solicitous comments on mine appeared. It was intriguing. That likely would have been the end of it; I’d just keep her as a nearly anonymous handle for commenting on issues that mattered to me but …
"Amina Araf's" fake blog:
Damascus Gay Girl>>

The comment section on a story at BoingBoing has multiple opinions. Some excoriate him as an asshole for putting real bloggers in danger, while others attack the media for not realizing she was fake. Mr. MacMaster also earns praise for being a type of performance artist. One commenter thinks this is part of the "reality is less real than fiction phenomena."
White man from Georgia is "Gay Girl from Damascus" Boing Boing>>

The Washington Post has the best overall explanation of the whole affair.
‘A Gay Girl in Damascus’ comes clean, The Washington Post>>

NPR has a good explanation of how sleuthing solved the mystery.
'Gay Girl In Damascus' Turns Out To Be An American Man, NPR>>

The hot and steamy computer error message

A young man invaded the privacy of his customers.

A technician for a computer repair company in California was arrested for secretly taking naked pictures of women. Trevor Harwell, age 20, loaded a spy program onto his customer's laptops so he could snap nude pictures of them.

He stored the photos on a remote server and then downloaded them to his computer. Police found hundreds of thousands of pictures on his PC.

One customer became suspicious when an odd system error message popped up on his daughter's computer. It said there was a problem with an internal sensor, and further advied:
"If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor."
Many of the victims then brought their laptop into the bathroom while they showered, which gave Mr. Harwell a better opportunity to take naked photos.

"Mr. Harwell pleaded guilty to six felony counts of computer access and fraud, and was sentenced to one year in Anaheim County Jail and five years of probation. Additionally, he is required to complete a Sex Offender Treatment Program, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office." 
Source: Former Biolan convicted of illegally spying on women through computers, Biola University Chimes>>

Man accused of planting spyware to photograph women, Reuters, Yahoo News>>

The HIV medication scam

"Oh damn, you mean I don't have HIV...
But I can still get the drugs, right?"

A doctor in Manhattan may have been running a nice scam.

Dr. Suresh Hemrajani is charged with having associates recruit people off the street and bring them to his office. Without examining them, he would say they have the AIDS virus, and prescribe them HIV medication.

The doctor would bill Medicaid for their treatment, including future office visits that never happened.

The patients would use a government health program to buy the drugs they didn't need.

Then the patients would sell the drugs back to the doctor's associates, who sold the drugs illegally.

This fraud wins the trifecta for deception. It ensnared:
  • 150 fake patients. Thirty have been caught and charged with crimes.
  • A New York program that subsidizes the cost of the HIV medication.
  • Medicaid, which paid out $700,000 for the fake care.
The scam was revealed when many of his fake patients tried to get more prescriptions from a hospital, and were discovered to be HIV negative.

- HIV drug scam: NYC doctor busted for doling out meds patients didn't need, prosecutors say, New York Daily News>>
- DA: NY doctor prescribed unneeded HIV meds in scam , The Wall Street Journal>>

Creepy deceptive second skin hair removal ad

Is getting rid of unwanted hair 
as easy as removing a shirt?

Does peeling off fake hairy skin work to sell the American Laser hair removal service? Ad was created by the Ogilvy advertising agency in Tel Aviv, Isreal.

American Laser: Hair Removal, Ads of the World>>

Is it deceptive for Chinese developers to copy an entire Austrian village?

 Will a copy enhance or detract from the original?
Residents of the Austrian mountain town of Hallstatt, population 800, are scandalized. A Chinese firm has plans to replicate the village - including its famous lake - in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Austrian media reported this week. 
The mayor said he's stunned but not outraged, and has alerted authorities. But it might have a positive effect on tourism - already at 800,000 visitors yearly - because the duplicate town could act as an advertisement in the Chinese market.

Another Chinese copycat town

In 2006, Thames Town opened near Shanghai. This recreation of a London village, copied after elements from many English towns, is a popular background for many Chinese wedding photos, but has been less successful as an actual town.

- Link found thanks to Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution>>
- Xeroxed Village - Chinese Secretly Copy Austrian UNESCO Town, Spiegel Online>>
- Life in a Carbon-Copy Town, Utne Reader>>

Did the cop lie about seeing a beating?

 Even if you think you're looking, you don't always see.

An examination of inattention blindness, where attention to one thing blinds you from seeing something else:
Two months ago, on a wooded path in upstate New York, a psychologist named Chris Chabris strapped a video camera to a 20-year-old man and told him to chase after a jogger making his way down the path.

For close to two years Chabris, who teaches at Union College, had been conducting this same experiment. He did the experiment at night, in the afternoon, with women, with men. All were told to run after the jogger and watch him.

The goal of all this was to answer a question: Is it possible to see something really, really obvious and not perceive it?

But for Chabris and his co-researcher, psychologist Daniel Simons at the University of Illinois, this wasn't just some abstract scientific inquiry. They wanted to know for a reason. Chabris and Simons were trying to understand whether a Boston police officer named Kenneth Conley had been wrongly convicted of lying.
Read or listen: Why Seeing (The Unexpected) Is Often Not Believing, NPR>>

How to destroy counterfeit products

You might need robust, 
high-torque shearing technology.

What do you do if you have fake goods and you need to destroy them so they don't get to market? Or you have computer storage media and you want to render it completely unreadable? If you've got just one hard drive to destroy, you can take it out back and smash it with a sledgehammer. But if you have lots to get rid of, here's your solution.

Shredding clothing, hard drives, shoes, 
media, toy guns, and soda and sauce cans

Shredding fake Nike products in the Philippines

Shredding a copy machine (just because)

SSI Shredding Systems>>

She gave her Dad three beers he could not drink

Rouvelee Ilagan gave three beers 
in an ice bucket as a gift to her dad.
(Click to enlarge)

It's her dad's birthday cake. Her business, Rouvelee’s Creations, makes many types of cakes, and some look like other things. In this cake, some of it is cake, while the beer bottles and the ice are molded hard candy.

Dad's Birthday Cake, Rouvelee’s Creations, Flickr>>

An angry victim confronts his pranksters

Calvin Kemp is a real estate agent in Florida.

Calvin Kemp, a 54-year-old man living in Pasco, Florida, had had enough. Vandals had rung his doorbell, banged on his garage door, thrown dirt, smashed his mailbox, looked into his windows and opened the valve on the propane tank of his outdoor grill. Two years ago, someone stuffed a piece of shirt into the gas tank of his Ford F-150 and lit it on fire. Luckily it did not explode.

One night, his doorbell rang. When he answered, nobody was there. He called the neighborhood's security guard. The second time his doorbell rang, his wife saw a silhouette on the porch. Again, nobody was there, so Mr. Kemp grabbed a wooden baseball bat and waited outside in the bushes.

Mr. Kemp saw three others approach in the darkness. He chased them, caught one, and hit him in the chest with a baseball bat. He was going to hit him again, but the intruder screamed, and Mr. Kemp stopped. He ordered him onto the porch, where Mr. Kemp tied his legs together so he couldn't escape while he called police.

Mr. Kemp had stopped them from ringing his doorbells, or worse. Mr. Kemp, 5 foot 10 inches tall, and weighing 240 pounds, wanted to stop these hooligans from harassing his family. He didn't want to be afraid of them any more and be held a prisoner in his own home.

The victim of Mr. Kemp's attack was bruised in the chest.

Also, the victim of the attack was a 12-year old boy.

The boy was 5 foot 3 inches tall, and weighed 110 pounds. His prankster accomplices were two friends, aged 13 and 15. There was no indication they were involved in the other acts.

Mr. Kemp, who has no prior arrests, was charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment of a child under 13 years of age, and aggravated child abuse without great harm.

The majority of the comments about this story on two Florida news sites are in favor of his actions.

Calvin Kemp's mugshot

- Harassed homeowner says he swung baseball bat after years of pranks, ABC Action News>>
- Pasco man accused of whacking 12-year-old prankster with bat, St. Petersburg Times>>
- Florida Mugshots>>

That was one surprised catcher

If the player's got the baseball and you can't go 
underneath him, there's only one thing to do.

If you feel the need to further analyze this college baseball play, where Fordham player Brian Kownacki deceives Iona catcher James Beck by successfully jumping over him to make a home run, this video goes over it repeatedly (and backwards, and in slow-motion.)

To add to the amazing game, the Fordham team had been losing 9 to 1, but they rallied and eventually won the game against Iona, 12 to 9.

Baseball player jumps over catcher

See the original play-by-play video, with the manager angrily gesticulating at the umpire who called the leaping player safe, at SBNation>>

"The trouble with us in America isn't that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy."

Closeup of an ad from 1955 for Cashmere Bouquet soap
(See the complete ad below)

The quote is from Louis Kronenberger, a writer, and editor of many books on the theater, in his 1955 book Company Manners: a Cultural Inquiry into American Life. He wrote his book around the same year as the beauty ad below appeared. Some advertising copy from the ad:
"It's such wholesome beauty care for my dry skin! I never knew any soap could do so much so gently until Candy taught me to beauty-wash twice very day with mild Cashmere Bouquet, I just cream that fluffy, fragrant lather over my face with my fingertips. It leaves my skin looking wonderful - smoother, softer, with a lovely, fresh glow."

A Cashmere Bouquet Soap advertisement, 
featuring Candy Jones and Joan Fetherston.
(Click to enlarge)

Advertisement from 1955 swiped from Found in Mom's Basement>>

He came spreading God's word

He said he was a preacher man.

His name was Abdul Karim, and he arrived on an isolated island in Kenya in 2000. The Kenyan government didn't have much of a presence, and there were very few services. There was no piped water or an electric grid, for instance.

But Mr. Karim, a soft-spoken and generous man, was an Islamic missionary spreading God's word. He helped renovate a mosque, taught at a religious school, and set up two soccer teams. He eventually married a local girl from a prominent family.

Mr. Karim liked that the island where he settled was quiet and out of the way. Mr. Abdul Karim, whose real name was Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, needed a place where he could plan his next move. Two years ago, he had killed 214 people.

Read the article A master of disguise and forgery>>

- A master of disguise and forgery, Saturday Nation, Kenya>>
- A Blow Against African Terrorism, Voice of America News>>

3 illusionary artworks by Bauke Knottnerus

Phat Knits
(Click to enlarge)

Bauke Knottnerus is a designer from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Here are three of his designs.

The scale of the threads in his Phat Knits make humans look puny.

A very red room (Erika 3130)
(Click to enlarge) 

What would you seem to look like inside his room where everything is red?

An optical illusion curtain
(Click to enlarge) 

Many designers have posted his curtain design online as a creative way to make a room look bigger. I like the illusion that the transparent curtain might be somehow hanging in front of another room. This is a more artistic version of hanging a curtain in front of a windowless wall to create the impression that there's a window behind it.

Bauke Knottnerus>>