Why is this a scary plastic girl?

What were her intentions?

Was this young woman using makeup to try and look fake, or was she using makeup to try and look fashionable and sexy, and looking fake was only a side effect?

Know your Bat Boy!

One of these is the Real Bat Boy,
and the other is... an imposter!

I love this article in the Mar 5, 2002 issue of the Weekly World News, a tabloid magazine, no longer printed, that published weird fictional stories as if they were true. In an issue from 1992, they first spoke of Bat Boy, a strange half boy / half bat creature the newspaper invented and wrote about for years. (In fact, he was so popular he spawned an actual musical, called, predictable enough, Bat Boy, The Musical.)

In this article, they talk about someone having the audacity to impersonate Bat Boy:
Angry law-enforcement officials are warning the public not to be fooled by a cunning Bat Boy imposter -- a 3-foot-tall former circus midget who has already hoodwinked at least 46 people coast to coast!
I love the idea of a tabloid reporting a fake story about a fake midget character impersonating a fake Bat Boy character.

I'm sure glad the real news media never resorts to this kind of chicanery...

Do not confuse this with actual journalism.
(Click to enlarge)

2 deceptive uses of thread by Ana Teresa Barbosa


Artist Ana Teresa Barbosa uses sewing, embroidery and needlework to make her point.


The reveals:

Mantel - side view

Mantel - reverse view

Makeup - reverse view

Ana Teresa Barbosa>>

"Lucky you, here's a watch for cheap"!

"The watch hasn't been released to the market yet..."

From user Kojaxs on Livejournal, writing from Japan, who explains how he was approached to participate in a "watch scam":
So I was taking a walk near the station this evening, when a guy in a small sedan starts talking to me. I couldn't hear what he was saying since I had my headphones on, but I assumed he wanted to ask me for directions. Being the nice guy that I am, I took off my headphones to hear the man out. The man wasn't asking for directions after all, he was offering to give me a watch for free. His story went something along the lines of... He and his partner, the driver of the car, were promoters of some kind and they had just finished an event unveiling this new watch. Apparently due to some mix up they ended up with an extra watch, and if they took it back to their company they would get in trouble. So rather than throwing it away to avoid trouble, they figured they'd give it to some lucky passerby. While he was telling me this story, the guy took the watch out its gift bag and box to show me. He went on to say that the watch was worth around $5800, and he showed me a handmade booklet with a bunch of watches with pictures and their prices. I suppose this booklet was supposed to look like some sort of insider catalogue. I must have been making a surprised/confused face since the guy kept telling me how surprising this must be for me and how it was my lucky day. The guy kept repeating the short version of the story, adding things like how he didn't want to exchange information, and that I could do whatever I want with the watch, but if I wanted to sell it to wait a few days since the watch had not been officially launched yet...
This scam is a technique to get someone to spend money on a cheap imitation watch. Supposedly, at least in a crook's mind, it's not an illegal act because the person being defrauded is not actually directly paying for a fake watch, so it's not technically a fraud. Just more of a sleazy sales technique.

This reminds me of the prostitution scam I wrote about that took place in Las Vegas (How to run a fake prostitution "clip joint" in Vegas, Deceptology>>) where con artists set up a bordello in a massage clinic, with all the signs that it was a real whorehouse pretending to be a massage clinic, and when the customers spent lots of money and tried to claim their happy sex endings, bouncers tossed them out and claimed that the customers were mistaking the place for a brothel. No, see, we really aren't a whorehouse!

And no, see, we weren't selling them the watch, just asking for a donation!

Read the rest of the story: A Short Story About Fraud in Japan, Kozo's Thoughts, Livejournal>>

A smart guy explains how to escape from a country

Remember, you're only paranoid 
if they're not out to get you.

John McAfee, the founder of McAfee, a security software company, lived in Belize. When his neighbor died from a gunshot wound, Mr. McAfee was wanted by police as a "person of interest". Although insisting he had nothing to do with the death, he didn't trust the police, so he fled the country.

From Wired magazine:
The former software executive describes an operation that was heavy in advance planning and trickery. He says he planted a lookalike (“my double — a man I have known for over 30 years and who years ago legally changed his name to John McAfee”) and had him picked up by authorities in the northern Belize-Mexico border, while he and a group of friends and reporters loaded up a truck and headed in the opposite direction, to a southern town called Punta Gorda. With the news that he’d been arrested broadcasting on a local news station, McAfee figured that checkpoint security would relax.

McAfee followed another friend who was driving one of his pickup trucks to avoid checkpoints on the highway. This was another decoy, McAfee said. “If they stopped the truck, I knew the checkpoint officers would be swarming all over it. Subsequent traffic would be likely to be waved through.”

But then, he also had a secret weapon: the weather. McAfee made sure that his dash happened on a rainy day. “In Belize, no checkpoint officers will ever stop a car in the rain,” he wrote.
Read more of his subterfuges: John McAfee Tells World How He Fooled Cops and Escaped Belize, Wired>>
In his own words: The Escape - Part One, Who is McAfee>>

The topless tattoo illusion

I'd say this only works as 
deceptive from a distance.

Women's Tiger Full Body Tattoo Shirt, BeWild>>

How a "guru" stole $6.6 million from one family

He was described as "a rare mix
of Rasputin and Machiavelli."

Thierry Tilly brainwashed 11 members of an aristocratic family in France into giving him all of their wealth, worth about $6.6 million, by convincing them that he was a secret agent protecting them from a conspiracy of Freemasons, pedophiles and Jews.

Said lawyer Daniel Picotin:
"Tilly touched their subconscious and drove the entire Védrines family to the threshold of insanity... He is to mental manipulation what Leonardo da Vinci was to painting. Like Leonardo, he constructed a huge painting and could cue in different elements at his leisure."
Sex, psychological torture, rich people, castles... this story is so odd, and so many details unanswered, I wonder how long before it becomes a book, and then a movie?

Read more: 'For us, it was a guru accident'.  Described as the Leonardo da Vinci of mental manipulation, "guru" Thierry Tilly duped a reclusive French family out of more than $6 million, including their chateau. The Sydney Morning Herald>>

The hands of God restore a playing card

Start with a cut-up card in a petri dish.

This magic trick being sold by the Japanese company Tenyo is called God Hand or Card Surgery. I suppose the name depends on whether you're a magical scientist or a magical deity. This illusion was invented by magician Lubor Fiedler, and is performed here by Ponta the Smith.

It will cost you about $33 to possess your own hands of God.

God Hand | ゴッドハンド

Here's a video of Mr. Fiedler performing more of his creations - in the 1980s I presume, due to the feathered hairstyles - on German television.

Magician Lubor Fiedler

SEO Magic>>

A tiny man mounts a woman - an optical illusion

What did you think it was going to be?

It's a real photo with an unreal result.

The longer you look at the man riding that woman, the funnier it gets... Imgur>>

Ride a carnival ride disconnected from reality

Buildings in many cities are available for a ride.

Director Fernando Livschitz created these videos celebrating Luna Park in Coney Island, New York and Inception Park in Buenos Aires.

(If the Vimeo videos below are borked, look for the YouTube videos below.)

Luna Park - New York (Vimeo version)

NEW YORK PARK from Black Sheep Films on Vimeo.

Buenos Aires - Inception Park (Vimeo version)

Buenos Aires - Inception Park from Black Sheep Films on Vimeo.

Luna Park - New York (YouTube version)

Buenos Aires - Inception Park (YouTube version)

Black Sheep Films (Fernando Livschitz)>>

There was an old woman who won a big prize...

I think I know why she won a big prize...

Last year, someone wrote to me and asked what he could to do to convince someone that they were being scammed. This person didn't believe him, and he wanted to know what he could say to make her believe him.
I didn't have an easy answer, and here's why:

In Green Valley, Arizona, an old woman went to her bank and tried to withdraw $17,000. She said she needed it as a down payment on winning the lottery.

A bank manager was suspicious. She talked to the old woman and didn't want her to withdraw the money. After the woman left, the manager called the police and asked if they could talk to her.

A police deputy and a volunteer went to her home and spoke with her. The volunteer knew the old woman since she had talked her out of a previous scam.

The old woman said she had won $5.5 million and a new Mercedes in a lottery. She spoke to a Mr. Jones on the phone, who said she just needed to pay a fee of $17,000 to collect her prizes. Mr. Jones said she shouldn't tell anybody else about her good fortune. He said he'd be by in a few days to give her a check.

While the deputy was talking to the woman, the phone rang. It was Mr. Jones. He said he couldn't talk to her while the police were there.

The old woman argued with the deputy and the volunteer. The old woman said she knew this lottery was not a scam.

The deputy gave her his number and told her to call him when she knew Mr. Jones would be visiting.

Some days later, a police detective stopped by her home to convince her that this lottery was a scam and that she was going to be the victim of a con game.

The old woman got mad. She said it wasn't a scam. She didn't want all you people coming by her house and harassing her. She thought she might need an attorney to stop all the harassment from all you people bothering her about all the money she was going to win.

She told the detective to leave.

As he was leaving, she asked him if he wanted her to call him after her new car and prize money arrived...

Deputies told to butt out by angry scam victim, Arizona Daily Star>>

I think Santa Claus has gone insane

"I've had it!"

In this video, prankster Mr. Gaillard has confederates, like the guy whose car is stolen, but others are innocent bystanders to his madness.

(By the way, his cardboard sign says "to buy toys.")

Santa Claus (Rémi GAILLARD)

Rémi Gaillard>>

A cartoon on fakes in the snow by Dan Piraro


A skull optical illusion for the holidays

"Oh my! It's..."

Usually, ambiguous image skull optical illusions are composed of women, who are sometimes naked. In this case, in honor of the holiday, things are different.

(Does anyone know the original artist?)

The optical illusion collection blog let me know who the artist is - it's Russian cartoonist Valentine Dubini>>

A gay man explains why we shouldn't lie

Dan Pallotta says: "Your ability to stand up 
for your truth is a muscle, and the more 
you exercise it the stronger it gets."

Dan Pallotta says we should never lie about who we are, and explains how this relates to business.
People have the misconception that a gay person comes out once. It's not true. If you're gay and you're authentic, you're coming out constantly. You're on a business trip, for example. A cab driver asks if you have kids, and you say that you do. Then he asks about your wife. Even though you may be exhausted, you find yourself summoning the energy to have a transformative conversation with a total stranger on whom you are depending to get to the airport and whose reaction you have no way of predicting. It takes a few tablespoons of courage. Every time. But you do it. Because it's who you are, and you've learned long ago not to deny who you are or who your partner is. Because to deny who you are is a betrayal of yourself and the man you love and the children you have together. So you never, ever skirt the issue, no matter how tired or busy you are. You become a Jedi with your truth. Not just the truth, but your truth.
Read more: Never Lie About Who You Really Are, Harvard Business Review>>

- Dan Pallotta is "an expert in nonprofit sector innovation and a pioneering social entrepreneur." >>

Want to walk on top of a rainbow?

Walk across this bridge.

It's a very simple idea with a spectacular result. Neon lights reflect off the water from this pedestrian bridge, the Xiying Rainbow Bridge in Penghu, Taiwan.

I suppose you could also ride your bicycle.

Taiwan's Breathtaking Rainbow Bridge, My Modern Met>>

These subway stairs are trying to kill you

They lead to the street. Do you feel 
you can get there without incident?

Dean Peterson noticed something odd about the subway stairs near his place in Brooklyn, New York.

One of the stair steps is just a fraction of an inch higher than the other, and when stair climbers get used to their rhythm when walking up the stairs, even that small of a difference can cause people to stumble.

Mr. Peterson made a short film about it.

(Vimeo sometimes acts a bit flaky when a video is embedded. If the embedded video doesn't appear, just click the link "New York City Subway Stairs" below.)

New York City Subway Stairs

New York City Subway Stairs from Dean Peterson on Vimeo.
There’s something very unique about my subway station.

Dean Peterson's blog>>

The story of a bank fraud by Rudyard Kipling

Some frauds are not about money.

In 1887, the author Rudyard Kipling wrote a short story called A Bank Fraud, about a deception an English bank manager in India commits against an arrogant employee.

The story is below. It's short and you should read it.

I found it out on the internet. Yet the difficulty in using public domain words is that they might not be accurate. In the poem that begins the story, the line in the version I found said:
"He struck a trusting junior with a horse,"
This seems to mean that he hit one of the employees he managed with a horse. I read this and thought that the main character - Reggie Burke - was riding a horse and somehow struck one of the employees he managed, and then perhaps was callous about it and never apologized.

But the actual line reads:
"He stuck a trusting junior with a horse,"
This means that he "stuck" someone with a horse that wasn't what was advertised. In other words, he cheated someone who trusted him, which seems to be a better fit for the story, although I suppose either word works.

The title of the story might also have multiple meanings.

Here are some notes on some of the more obscure words, from the Kipling Society>>

A Bank Fraud by Rudyard Kipling

He drank strong waters and his speech was coarse;
He purchased raiment and forebore to pay;
He stuck a trusting junior with a horse,
And won Gymkhanas in a doubtful way.
Then, 'twixt a vice and folly, turned aside
To do good deeds and straight to cloak them, lied.

The Mess Room.

If Reggie Burke were in India now, he would resent this tale being told; but as he is in Hong-Kong and won't see it, the telling is safe. He was the man who worked the big fraud on the Sind and Sialkote Bank. He was manager of an up-country Branch, and a sound practical man with a large experience of native loan and insurance work. He could combine the frivolities of ordinary life with his work, and yet do well. Reggie Burke rode anything that would let him get up, danced as neatly as he rode, and was wanted for every sort of amusement in the Station.

As he said himself, and as many men found out rather to their surprise, there were two Burkes, both very much at your service. "Reggie Burke," between four and ten, ready for anything from a hot- weather gymkhana to a riding-picnic; and, between ten and four, "Mr. Reginald Burke, Manager of the Sind and Sialkote Branch Bank." You might play polo with him one afternoon and hear him express his opinions when a man crossed; and you might call on him next morning to raise a two-thousand rupee loan on a five hundred pound insurance-policy, eighty pounds paid in premiums. He would recognize you, but you would have some trouble in recognizing him.

The Directors of the Bank--it had its headquarters in Calcutta and its General Manager's word carried weight with the Government-- picked their men well. They had tested Reggie up to a fairly severe breaking-strain. They trusted him just as much as Directors ever trust Managers. You must see for yourself whether their trust was misplaced.

He's in a computer printer jam

Dennarius J. Barnett forgot something.

Mr. Barnett, a 19-year-old guy from Richmond, Kentucky, bought a printer at Walmart and then returned it.

It's unclear why he brought it back, but when an employee examined it, there was a counterfeit $20 bill inside the printer, as well as two other fake bills which had fallen out of the printer.

Mr. Barnett had already left the store, but when employees saw him in Walmart again, they called police.

He was arrested.

Man charged in connection with counterfeit bill found in returned printer, The Richmond Register>>

Iya Traoré, the ball magician

He says what he does is not magic.

In this video, Iya Traoré, originally from Guinea, performs freestyle juggling soccer / football magic in France. He's not an unknown - he won second place on the "France's Got Talent" TV show and is looking for a team to join.

There are other videos of him, but I think this one is the most amazing. You're strolling down the street in Paris and "Hey look it's a street performer. I wonder what he does?" He begins performing, and you wonder: "How can he top that trick?" And then he does.

This Guy Is Absolutely Incredible

Iya Traoré>>

Spinning disks illusion (now with animation!)

If you think this static 
image hurts your eyes...

(Only the black / white color change is animated.)

Ms. Frick's awesome graduation prank

She commented:
"It worked!:) GO out 
with a bang I say."

Kelsie Elise Frick celebrated her graduation as a Bachelor of Arts in English from Grand Valley State University in Michigan by making a little addition on the namecard she handed the announcer. Watch the video.

For her prank, 
Ms. Frick received this 
seal of approval from 
Mr. Barney Stinson.
GVSU Commencement 2012

Comedy magic by Abbott and Costello

How did he do that?

The comedians Bud Abbot and Lou Costello performed the bottle and glass trick, known among magicians as the Passe-Passe Bottles, live on TV on the 1950's Colgate Comedy Hour.

Most competent magicians will tell you that it's not the magic trick that's important, but the presentation, and these guys prove that's true. In fact, even though they exposed the "real" method of the trick, it's still being performed today.

A comedy magic act by Abbott and Costello

Here's an earlier version of the same routine, this time from their 1944 movie Lost in a Harem.

Abbott and Costello in "Lost in a Harem"

This trick was old even when those guys were performing it. The trick was fully explained in the book Modern Magic: A Practical Treatise on the Art of Conjuring, by Professor Hoffmann, published in 1876. Here's a set of the bottles and covers from the 1880s:

 The Passe-Passe Trick

Other versions of the trick have the bottles multiplying. See this post (the bottle trick is the last video): Magician Tommy Cooper won by failing>>

3 Christmas tree optical illusions

Bursting with joy

Patrick Kruger's 14-foot Christmas tree didn't fit inside his Seattle home, so he cut off the top and attached it to his roof. He said: "Little kids walk by and they'll stare and cover their mouths in disbelief".

A video game Christmas tree

Ryan Kelly created this Christmas tree which imitates a scene from the video game Portal. Said Kelly: "It was done by myself and my two business partners as a nice, stress-relieving break."

Greig Howe from the UK expanded on his son's wishes.

Mr. Howe's 11-year-old son Harry said: "I think it looks wicked. Last year we had a tree that was about the same size as me so I asked Dad if he could get a bigger one this year. But I didn't think it would be this big. I came home and couldn't believe it when I saw it. I couldn't speak. I really thought the tree had gone through the roof."

- Photo: Christmas tree breaks through Seattle home's roof, MyNorthwest>>
- Portal Xmas tree, Boing Boing>>
- Christmas tree prices ARE going through the roof but this is just ridiculous. DailyMail on Facebook, Mail Online>>

A golden eagle tries to snatch a baby in Montreal!

Or does it?

This video of an eagle trying to make a baby its prey was shot at a Montreal park and posted online. It quickly went viral and within a day or two got over millions of views.

Take a look.

Golden Eagle Snatches Kid


As many suspected, it's a fake. It was made by three students in a class in 3D animation and digital design at a Canadian school called Centre NAD, which issued a statement:
"Both the eagle and the kid were created in 3D animation and integrated in to the film afterwards".
What's amazing is how fast and accurately the video was debunked - with viewers examining the video frame-by-frame and critiquing incorrect shadows, a missing eagle wing, the child not being properly grasped by the bird, the unlikelihood of seeing that kind of eagle in a Montreal park and other flaws.

You know, students in future classes are going to hate this video:
"These are my grading standards. To get an A in this class, you're expected to create an animation that goes viral and gets over 16 million YouTube hits..."
Here's some critical thinking about the video at the magazine Popular Science: The Eagle-Snatching-Baby Video Is Insane, But It's Also Fake>>

Centre NAD reassures Montrealers: no danger of being snatched by a royal eagle, CentreNAD>>

As if one spider is not scary enough...

This is not a spider.

From Wired:
A spider that builds elaborate, fake spiders and hangs them in its web has been discovered in the Peruvian Amazon.

Believed to be a new species in the genus Cyclosa, the arachnid crafts the larger spider from leaves, debris and dead insects. Though Cyclosa includes other sculpting arachnids, this is the first one observed to build a replica with multiple, spidery legs.

Scientists suspect the fake spiders serve as decoys, part of a defense mechanism meant to confuse or distract predators.
The real spider is above its doppelganger.

Phil Torres discovered the spider, which might be a new species.
In September, Torres was leading visitors into a floodplain surrounding Peru’s Tambopata Research Center, located near the western edge of the Amazon. From a distance, they saw what resembled a smallish, dead spider in a web. It looked kind of flaky, like the fungus-covered corpse of an arthropod.

But then the flaky spider started moving.

A closer looked revealed the illusion. Above the 1-inch-long decoy sat a much smaller spider. Striped, and less than a quarter-inch long, the spider was shaking the web. It was unlike anything Torres had ever seen. “It blew my mind,” he said.
More: Spider That Builds Its Own Spider Decoys Discovered, Wired>>

Jesus Christ, where's your face?

In these shapes there is 
the face of Jesus.

This relates to my recent shadowy John the Baptist post.

If you'd prefer not to combine religion and optical illusions, disregard Jesus and search for a bearded hippie.

Please fill this out right now

The mistletoe kissing prank

"Do you see what I see?"

Some students at Brigham Young University asked strangers to answer a quick survey on Christmas. But they actually had another agenda...

Mistletoe Prank

An earlier version of the prank, from 1870.

John the Baptist - an optical illusion shadow

This piece of paper casting the shadow of "John the Baptist" was being offered for sale on ebay.

haiku 2, ebay>>

Impossible objects that will fry your brain

This roof is impossible, and more.

Your mind will be fried by these optical illusions built by Sugihara Kokichi, an engineering professor at Meiji University in Japan.

This is what happens when you look at things from one point of view.

Impossible Motions 2

The impossible roof

Sugihara Kokichi>>

Do they ever catch Nigerian con men?

Well, they did catch
Patrick Bamboi Emuh.

Mr. Emuh, a very persuasive man from the UK, who may or not be Nigerian, called and emailed people all over the world, saying they had won a lottery or inherited money from a relative.

He told his victims that before they could claim the money, they had to pay advance fees, taxes and handling charges. A "lawyer" might contact the lucky winners to help them get their money, or they might be asked to travel to the UK to work with various "businessmen".

Mr. Emuh earned over £788,297 (1.2 million U.S. dollars) with his business.

His mistake was getting caught carrying £10,000, which led police to check his bank account, which contained a huge amount of money that he said was from, um, a Nigerian oil business?

Said investigator Doug Ferns:
"Emuh tricked people into believing they had struck it lucky and when he was caught out he had the audacity to claim that the victims were in fact business customers. A thorough investigation of his bank accounts, mobile phones and computer combined with the many witness statements allowed us to see right through his story."
Mr. Emuh was convicted of 19 counts of acquiring criminal property.

- Greenwich con man convicted of £800k inheritance dupe,>>
- Mottingham lottery conman bagged £788,297, News Shopper>>

Surprise! Her nude photo is posted via Twitter

A star's Twitter account is hacked
and a naked photo exposed.

With so many stars taking candid shots of themselves with their phones, and so many others wanting to see photos of their favorite stars without clothes, this type of thing is happening more and more.

Demi Lovato, a 20-year-old singer, actress and "X Factor" judge, revealed that in the middle of December, her Twitter account had been hacked and a nude photo of her posted.

Yet in the "if you can't beat em, join em" spirit of pranking, her big reveal was less revealing than some had hoped:

 Ms. Lovato's caption: 
"BAHAHAHAHA!!! Gotcha ;)."

Thousands of metal balls make a moving sculpture

It's not just the sight, but the sound.

A simple idea by Finnish artists Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen combines a tilting platform and thousands of metal ball bearings to create an amazing kinetic sculpture.

Click on the links and watch these videos full screen and high definition if you can:

Grönlund-Nisunen - Wave of Matter 2012, Vimeo>>

Grönlund-Nisunen - Flux of Matter - 2012, Vimeo>>

Via Hearing the Ocean in a Metallic Kinetic Sculpture, My ModernMet>>