An erotic Easter egg optical illusion postcard

A girl, an Easter egg, the backside 
of a pig... what's not to like?

I found this vintage postcard being sold on eBay. Here's the complete postcard, in all its original glorious faded tones:

Holy Saturday, indeed

The saying underneath the happy egg girl is:
"Le marche du samedi saint
Voici mes beaux aufs de Paques"
This roughly translates as:
"The march of Holy Saturday
Here are my beautiful Easter eggs"

Here's the back of the postcard, 
for any sleuths to decipher.
(Click to enlarge)

The painter who could paint the future

Rene Magritte's 1936 painting "La Clairvoyance"

A photograph of Rene Magritte painting 
his 1936 painting "La Clairvoyance".

This is not a Magritte.

Thanks to Momotaro.

Why digital maps killed the town of Argleton

As you can see, Argleton is merely
 a bunch of fields in rural England.

Here's why you can never travel there:
As recently as 2009, in the rural English county of Lancashire, a small town called Argleton could easily be found on Google Maps, just east of the A59 motorway. A cursory online search for the town was replete with websites for businesses, real estate listings, local weather, and even ways to find yourself a hot Friday-night date.

There was one problem, though. If you drove through the English countryside trying to find Argleton, you'd quickly find yourself confused and lost. There were no buildings, street signs, or townspeople — just open fields of untouched grass.

The town never existed anywhere other than cyberspace, where it was represented visually by one of Google's teardrop-shaped pins.

Argleton was a phantom town.


At the time, Google said Argleton's inclusion in its mapping software was the result of human error, and the "mistake" was soon deleted. The more likely story, though, is that Argleton was an example of a copyright trap, which cartographers have long used to catch would-be thieves from stealing their hard work. In this case, either Google was laying the bait for a competitor (hey, Bing?) or the mystery town was inserted in analog form long ago by Tele Atlas, the Netherlands-based company that supplied Google Maps with its initial framework.
Read more: Trap streets: The crafty trick mapmakers use to fight plagiarism, The Week>>

See the same technique used elsewhere: Lillian Virginia Mountweazel never existed, so why is she in my encyclopedia?>>

Africans unite! Save the freezing Norwegians!

Confronting the problem by singing the right song.

The group Radi-Aid confronts stereotypes about Africa with their music video, which is an excellent example of sustained irony.

Africa For Norway

The video was created by the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund.

 - Radi-aid: Spoof charity single asks Africans to donate radiators to Norway, The Guardian>> 
- RadiAid>>

The sexual perversions of a private school teacher

Robert Berman, genius pedophile

Mr. Berman was a teacher at Horace Mann, one of the top prep schools in the country. He loved the finer things in life, which included sexually conquests of certain special boys:
One group of boys stood apart; they insisted on wearing jackets and ties and shades, and they stuck to themselves, reciting poetry and often sneering at the rest of us. A few of them shaved their heads. We called them Bermanites, after their intellectual and sartorial model, an English teacher named Robert Berman: a small, thin, unsmiling man who papered over the windows of his classroom door so that no one could peek through.

Assigned to Berman for tenth-grade English, I took a seat one September morning alongside sixteen or seventeen other boys. We waited in silence as he sat at his desk, chain-smoking Benson & Hedges cigarettes and watching us from behind dark glasses. Finally, Mr. Berman stood up, took a fresh stick of chalk, climbed onto his chair, and reached above the blackboard to draw a horizontal line on the paint. “This,” he said, after a theatrical pause, “is Milton.” He let his hand fall a few inches, drew another line, and said, “This is Shakespeare.” Another line, lower, on the blackboard: “This is Mahler.” And, just below, “Here is Browning.” Then he took a long drag on his cigarette, dropped the chalk onto the floor, and, using the heel of his black leather loafer, ground it into the wooden floorboards. “And this, gentlemen,” he said, “is you.”


Berman could be mercilessly critical. He called boys “fools” and “peons” and scoffed at their vulgar interests in pop culture, girls, and material things. He was a fastidious reader of students’ work and a tough, sometimes capricious grader. He noted carefully who accepted his authority and who resisted. After he overheard one boy imitating him in the hallway, he covered the boy’s next paper with lacerating comments: “You used to be better.” On the rare occasion when a student earned his praise, he would be celebrated. Now and then, Berman would ask for a copy of a particularly well-wrought paper, which the boys took as the highest compliment; they called it “hitting the wow.”

One afternoon in 1969, Berman announced that a tenth grader named Stephen Fife had written a paper that indicated he could be the next Dickens. Soon afterward, Berman asked Fife to see him after class. This was the ultimate invitation: personal attention from the master, who would go over a student’s writing line by line, inquire about problems with his parents, and perhaps tutor him privately in art history or Russian...
Read the entire article: The Master. A charismatic teacher enthralled his students. Was he abusing them? The New Yorker>>

Previous Deceptology post on Horace Mann abuse>>

- Horace Mann Survivor>>

The quasicrystals optical illusion

 (Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

- Quasicrystals as sums of waves in the plane, main is usually a function>>
- Via Boing Boing>>

2 chairs in 1: some very odd places to sit

"(a)typical windsor form"
by Christopher Kurtz

Mr. Kurtz based his design on the bow-back Windsor side chair, originally created hundreds of years ago in England.

"King Chair"
by Shao Fan

Mr. Fan combined two types of chairs, which makes an ironic comment on how many art dealers take new furniture and pass it off as antique.

by Thomas Loeser

You can flip this chair over and use it to either sit, or to sit and rock. The chair's title - "LadderbackkcabreddaL" - can be read backwards or forwards.

- Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design, Museum of Arts and Design, New York>>
- Chairs by Designer Shao Fan, VAM>>

Gypsy shoplifters not helping to dispel stereotypes

This team of four retail thieves stole millions.

They've described themselves as a "Gypsy family" from Poland, and it seems they were not in the U.S. to help dispel myths about Gypsies. Instead, they were perpetuating them.

In one year, the "family" (Adeliya Nassybullina, 30; Austra Bauzinskaite, 34; Lukasz Karasinski, 37; and Przemyslaw Skiba, 31) shoplifted items worth about $3 million.

They focused on high-priced hard drives from electronics stores in California, Colorado, Washington and Florida.

The two men would block employees from seeing the two women, and then the men would select an item from a shelf and pass it to the women, who hid the item in a purse or clothing. Then they all left the stores.

They were only in the store for about three minutes.

After they stole an item, they would mail it to Chicago and fence it for cash.

They told authorities they needed to pay off a $2 million debt.

When they were caught shoplifting in California, the "family" said they had flown into the area from Chicago for a court appearance, which was due to an earlier arrest for shoplifting.

- California police crack nationwide electronics shoplifting case, Daily News, Los Angeles>>
- KTLA News Report on YouTube>>

8 oddly divided girls - an optical illusion dance

The entire routine

Illusions of merging with the landscape

"As a child, I often thought about being very huge, 
being able to see everything from above."

Below are three fragments of paintings by German artist Moki.

And the full paintings:

- Moki>>
- Interview at Erratic Phenomena>>
- Her book, "How to Disappear">>

The home-squatting frauds of a hypnotic con artist

Jessica Carde

She's a wealthy hypnotherapist, counselor, life coach, fortune-teller, trainer, consultant, mediator, international motivational speaker, health educator, and neurobiofeedback technician / brain wave specialist.

So she has said.

She's filed for bankruptcy seven times, been married five times, and has been a defendant in 27 civil cases.

Her name is Jessica Hartman, Juanita Hofseth-Lammer, Juanita Frye or Jessica Carde.

She squats in expensive homes and doesn't pay the rent, and if you try to make her pay, she'll accuse you of a crime.

She's 58 years old, and she's one hell of a con-woman.

From an article in Seattle Weekly:
According to her alleged victims, Lammer—now going by the name Jessica Carde—has left a wake of destruction in both Snohomish and King County. Years after a 14-month, cross-country fugitive flight from justice first brought her to Washington, victims say that they fell prey to an incredibly charming woman willing to say or do whatever it takes to get what she wants, and to intimidate and threaten anyone who stands in her way. Carde's purported modus operandi, according to her alleged victims, is to present herself as a buyer of their million-dollar homes, sign a lease even though she can't come up with the money to close, and then squat without paying rent for months—sometimes more than a year. Six homeowners over four years claim to have come under her spell. Court documents and interviews paint a picture of a manipulator who with the help of a background in hypnotherapy, some victims say, literally hypnotized them. Irate home-owners, one of whom is accused of threatening to kill Carde, claim she's cost them (and one elderly stroke survivor) hundreds of thousands of dollars, their homes and businesses, and in one case their will to live.

"I have a lot of mental issues because of this woman, and attempted to take my life," says Kevin Roberts, a builder in Snohomish County for 35 years who claims he filed for bankruptcy and lost five homes to foreclosure because of his failed business relationship with Carde. "You gotta trust me, man—she destroyed me."

Carde insists it's all one big misunderstanding. In fact, she claims she's the victim. Yet an extensive search into her past shows that there's hardly ever been a time in her life when the truth wasn't up for debate.
As of March 2013, she faces 12 felony charges.

She's still at large.

The short story: Charges: Posing as fat cat, woman squatted in mini-mansions, Seattle PI>>

The longer story: Homewrecker. The unbelievable past of the area's most feared tenant. Seattle Weekly>>

Robert-Houdin's ethereal magic illusion

Was it the magician's son floating in the 
illusion called "Suspension by Ether"?
(Click to enlarge)

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (1805 - 1871) was an influential French magician and inventor of magical illusions and clockwork automata.

William Manning, who was friends with Robert-Houdin and his sons, gave a talk on Robert-Houdin which was later published as a book. This short excerpt describes the performance of one of Robert-Houdin's famous illusions:
Eugène was the younger son, and appeared at St. James Theatre in the trick known as the "Suspension by Ether," the latter drug being then only recently in vogue as an anesthetic.
Manning's illustration of the trick
Houdin led his handsome boy by the hand to the footlights to make the most mechanical of bows to his audience. The two slowly retired backwards, when the father fixed an upright rod under each arm of the son, who had ascended three steps for the purpose of raising himself from the stage. The father then expatiated gravely upon the marvels of ether, and pretending to administer it to the youth, a simulated slumber followed, and the steps being suddenly removed, the boy remained supported by the two rods only, his body retaining its vertical position, the feet eighteen inches from the stage. Houdin then very carefully raised the body to the horizontal line without disturbing the slumber of the boy, and to the terror of many a spectator, the father suddenly kicked away rod number two, leaving Eugene’s outstretched body apparently without a support, his right elbow only just in contact with rod number one. My illustration represents a further development of the experiment which appeared to defy the laws of nature. This was always the final trick of the performance, and when the curtain fell, and was raised again in obedience to the recall, [the encore] father and son came walking most gravely forward, and the effect of this slow movement was to make half the world believe that the boy was not flesh and blood at all, but a marvelous automaton!
How clever was Robert-Houdin?

He had invented a secret mechanical device which allowed his own son to seem to be suspended against the laws of gravity, but his ingenuity did not stop there.

He used ether to make the audience believe he was performing a novel and possibly harmful medical experiment.

He then surprised his audience by suddenly kicking away a support, and his son did not fall.

And when the trick was over, he created perverse doubt in his audience. Since his son was moving mechanically, was it possible that he was actually a clockwork automaton the entire time? But if that was true, how did the amazing Robert-Houdin create such a lifelike automaton of his own son?

This illusion is still being done in some form by magicians today, yet I have never seen this illusion performed the way Mr. Manning has described it being performed by Robert-Houdin.

Here's a version from 1966, attempting a recreation.

Suspension ethéréenne-extrait

You can download the entire book on Robert-Houdin: Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata (Electronic Download), Leaf PDX>>

How not to return a computer printer

When attempting a scam, it's always best 
if you draw less attention to yourself.

Jarad S. Carr tried to return a computer printer to a Walmart in the Village of Lake Hallie, Wisconsin, but he didn't have a receipt.

He also didn't have the printer tray.

Or the installer CD.

He also left a sheet of paper inside the printer with two $100 bills printed on it.

He continued to argue that he wanted a refund, and when the employees said no, he asked if maybe he could get half the price.

When store employees said they could not take back the printer, he kept insisting and refused to leave the store.

That's when police were called.

Mr. Carr was arrested.

At the jail, they found he possessed three more fake $100 bills.

And he had outstanding warrants for felony armed robbery and burglary.

He was charged with attempted theft by fraud, forgery and resisting arrest.

However, he might have a possible defense for a portion of his crimes - he could claim that the counterfeit bills were not his because he had stolen the printer.

- Would-be counterfeiter tries to return printer ... with fake money still inside, NBC News>>

- Was he friends with this guy? He's in a computer printer jam, Deceptology>>

(Thanks, Simon!)

Card player uses security system to rip off casino

Cameras are everywhere.

A wealthy gambler at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia turned a casino's own surveillance system against itself.

The gambler was a "whale", or someone who gambles huge amounts of money. An accomplice got access to the casino's high-resolution security cameras and sent the information to the player, who was playing a high-stakes card game.

I assume the camera was trained on the dealer to prevent the dealer from cheating, and instead helped the player.

In eight hands of cards, the player won $32 million.

After the scam was uncovered, the player was kicked out of the villa where he and his family were staying.

The casino believes it can recover the money.

Crown casino hi-tech scam nets $32 million, Herald Sun>>

These little babies might creep you out

Reborn dolls are hyper-realistic,
lifelike representations of babies.

Says photographer Rebecca Martinez, who has taken many photos of these dolls and their owners:
“These dolls are very powerful objects,” she said. “If I bring one of these dolls out, there’ll be a group of people around me very, very fast. They soon know it’s not real, but people have very strong reactions. I’ve seen people who will hold them, and their bodies will start responding and they’ll be rocking them. And then they realize and feel a little embarrassed.”

Click to enlarge to see the detail

Just as model train building attracts men, this hobby attracts women, except that there's more passionate emotion for these dolls. Some women ask artists to make dolls that look exactly like their own babies who have died. These are called "portrait babies".

Levels of unreality

This "living statue" performer holds one of the dolls. He's a real guy holding still and pretending to be a statue, holding a fake doll which looks like a real baby somehow holding still and pretending to be a statue...

Lifelike baby dolls and the people who love them, Kottke>>

More fake baby posts from Deceptology:

- Which of these babies is real? Which baby is reborn?>>
- 6 uncannily fake baby videos>>

The dangerous doughnut con game

Guess what these two found in their doughnuts?

When Carol Lee Leazer-Hardman and Michael Condor bit into doughnuts they bought at Smith's Food Store in Draper, Utah, they found pieces of sharp metal.

It was razor blades.

One of their co-workers also bit into a doughnut that contained a razor blade, but luckily didn't swallow it.

The store immediately pulled those doughnuts off the shelf and called police.

However, when police interviewed the couple, something didn't quite add up, and police figured out that the couple were the ones who had placed the razor blades in the doughnuts.

The couple had come up with what they thought would be a good scheme to get out of debt by pulling a con game and suing the store.

Unfortunately, they were somewhat unclear on the concept of how to pull off a scam without getting caught... or seriously injured.

Maybe they thought it would make their fake claim seem more realistic, because both of them had actually eaten small pieces of broken razor blades.

Hospital x-rays discovered fingernail- and thumbnail-sized pieces of metal inside their stomachs.

News reports didn't say whether either of them was injured.

Both were arrested.

Couple put razor blades in doughnuts, police say, Deseret News>>

How a secret plan involving hats almost failed

It was a plan of "childish simplicity"

From the blog Futility Closet:
The Treaty of Berlin was drafted in secrecy, so its framers were astonished to find it published in the London Times. Journalist Henri de Blowitz at first refused to reveal his source, but at last relented near the end of his life. Well before the congress started he had attached a confederate to the clerical staff, but the man felt he was being watched, so the two could not dare to meet or talk. Finally de Blowitz noticed that they wore hats of the same type and color, and he hit on a plan of “childish simplicity.”
Read how their devious plan was almost foiled at Futility Closet>>

Watch 54 film clips "break the fourth wall"

She knows you're watching...

As we watch a film we get used to the convention of not acknowledging that we're watching a film, which is deceptive in and of itself, since we are watching, and the filmmakers know that we will be watching, so we are succumbing to the film's illusion. And then sometimes the illusion gets broken, in a good way.

Watch this eight-and-a-half minute clip from extreme movie-lover Leigh Singer.
A compilation of scenes and moments from films that all "break the fourth wall" - that is, acknowledge (usually directly to the camera, and therefore the audience) that they're part of a movie. The term comes from the imaginary "wall" at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play.

The montage includes 54 different films (some used more than once) from perhaps the very first example of breaking the fourth wall right up to today. There were so many other great examples I couldn't find room for (sadly, The Dude and The Big Lebowski's narrator don't abide here), I'd love to hear which 4th wall breakers you'd also include.
See the list of films, here>>

Watch below, or better yet, go to Vimeo and watch it even bigger. (NSFW if bad words be bothersome.)

Breaking the 4th Wall Movie Supercut
Breaking the 4th Wall Movie Supercut from Leigh Singer on Vimeo.

Fake "Bishop Basilius" tries to crash the Vatican

To be a bishop, it's important that you dress the part.
(Click to enlarge and see fashion faux pas)

Ralph Napierski (on the left in the photo above) claimed to be "Bishop Basilius" and mingled with religious officials before trying to sneak into a meeting of Catholic cardinals. He'd passed through one level of security and had his photo taken with at least one real cardinal before he was caught by the Swiss Guards.

Supposedly, they stopped him for his numerous religious fashion mistakes: his cassock -  which should have been ankle-length - was not long enough, he wore black sneakers instead of dress shoes, his cross and chain were not official, he wore a black fedora hat instead of a skull cap, and his purple sash was merely a normal store-bought scarf.

Would he have made it if he had a better costume designer?

Authorities were unsure of his intentions, but Mr. Napierski claims to lead the "Catholic Order Corpus Dei", which is not an official Catholic organization. He's also posed as a priest at erotic trade shows to advocate the use of sex toys by Catholics.

- Phony Bishop: German Imposter Sneaks into Vatican, Spiegel Online>>
- Father phony: Man tries to sneak into pope talks, USA Today>>

How to earn a fake Ph.D. in Russia

Meat, chocolate... what's the difference?

Aleksey Navalny fights political corruption in Russia. His allies recently looked at the amazing academic accomplishments of Russian politicians, and discovered a much simpler way to write a Ph.D. dissertation:
One of the most recent reports, posted this week, has to do with a United Russia member Igor Igoshin, who entered the Duma in 1999 and has been reëlected several times since. In 2004 Igoshin was awarded the Russian equivalent of a Ph.D. (kandidat nauk) in economics. His dissertation was titled “Increasing the competitiveness of enterprises by realizing their market potential (a case study of food industry).”

Using specially designed software, the dissertation muckrakers spotted a source for Igoshin’s academic work. It was a dissertation defended two years earlier by a certain Natalia Orlova (who is not a lawmaker). Hers is titled “The competitive strength of confectionery enterprises based on market potential.” Igoshin’s hundred-and-eighty-seven-page dissertation overlaps by about eighty per cent with that of Natalia Orlova—with one major difference.

While Orlova’s original dissertation is about chocolate, Igoshin’s is about meat. Throughout the text “chocolate” was replaced by “meat,” “confectionery” became “meat-processing,” “white chocolate” was converted into “Russian beef,” “regular milk chocolate” became “imported beef,” and “dark chocolate” turned into “beef on bone of any origin.” In addition to copy-paste, the work of dissertation writing seemed to involve applying another basic word-processing function: batch replacement. As the investigation revealed, statistics, graphs and diagrams cited by Orlova in her research of sweets and chocolate were left unchanged in Igoshin’s “study” of beef and pork.
Read More: Russia’s Dissertation-Fraud Muckrakers, The New Yorker>>

How deception gave a ball player his nickname

Mike Trout

Here's how baseball player Mike Trout, who plays for the Los Angeles Angels, got his nickname.

A baseball fan who likes colorful baseball nicknames from the past decided to dub Mr. Trout with the name "Millville Meteor", because Mr. Trout grew up in Millville, New Jersey. This was a takeoff on "Commerce Comet", the nickname of the famous baseball player Mickey Mantle, who grew up in Commerce, Oklahoma.

The fan posted his thoughts on the forum pages at the website Something Awful.

Pranksters from the website then decided to update Mr. Trout's Wikipedia page with this new nickname, and to "prove" it really was his nickname, they linked to various real articles, even though none of them actually mentioned the nickname. Nobody noticed these fake sources.

Soon, sports journalists and bloggers who read Wikipedia began using the fake nickname, and pranksters quickly updated Mike Trout's Wikipedia page with new links to articles by those journalists and bloggers who mentioned the nickname, which of course proved that the nickname was legitimate.

Then mainstream sites such as added the nickname "Millville Meteor" to its well-researched statistics and facts about Mike Trout.

Finally, Mr. Trout heard about it and said:
"I don't know where they got that."
Yet later, a baseball, signed by Mr. Trout, appeared with the following words:

A signed Mike Trout baseball, with 
the words "The Millville Meteor"

- The phenom, ESPN>>
- Mike Trout, Baseball Reference>>

43 seconds in a room of illusions

Richard Wiseman messes with your assumptions.


Creepy RATs use software to spy on women

It's not good to be an unknowing "slave"

The software called "Remote Administration Tools" ("RAT) allows a user to control another computer from far away. But when used secretly, the "RAT" software can be used for a darker purpose - it can let others secretly take over a remote computer, find and steal private files and spy on women via their webcams.

An article at Arts Technica illuminates the subculture of "RATters" who frequent forums and trade tips on how to play with their "slave" victims:
“i enjoy messing with my girl slaves”

"Man I feel dirty looking at these pics," wrote one forum poster at Hack Forums, one of the top "aboveground" hacking discussion sites on the Internet (it now has more than 23 million total posts). The poster was referencing a 134+ page thread filled with the images of female "slaves" surreptitiously snapped by hackers using the women's own webcams. "Poor people think they are alone in their private homes, but have no idea they are the laughing stock on HackForums," he continued. "It would be funny if one of these slaves venture into learning how to hack and comes across this thread."

Whether this would in fact be "funny" is unlikely. RAT operators have nearly complete control over the computers they infect; they can (and do) browse people's private pictures in search of erotic images to share with each other online. They even have strategies for watching where women store the photos most likely to be compromising.

"I just use the file manager feature of my RAT in whatever one im using and in [a RAT called] cybergate I use the search feature to find those jpgs [JPEG image files] that are 'hidden' unless u dig and dig and dig," wrote one poster. "A lot of times the slave will download pics from their phone or digital camera and I watch on the remote desktop to see where they save em to and that's usually where you'll find the jackpot!"
Read more: Meet the men who spy on women through their webcams. The Remote Administration Tool is the revolver of the Internet's Wild West. Ars Technica>>

The wise / foolish pipe tamper - an optical illusion

What's the story behind this object?

I found this vintage item for sale on eBay. It's an old pipe tamper, used to pack or "tamper" tobacco in a pipe. The end that you hold shows an ambiguous optical illusion portrait.

If you view the portrait one way, you can barely make out the words "aliquando sapientes", which is Latin for "sometimes wise".

One way - "Sometimes wise"

When you view it the other way, it reads "stulti aliquando", for "sometimes foolish" or "sometimes a fool".

Upside down - "Sometimes a fool"

So what does that mean? Is it referring to man being either wise or foolish depending on how he looks at things? That would make sense, but that's not it.

I discovered that the design on the side of the round emblem shown above is similar to the one on the right side of this English print from 1689 in the collection of the British Museum. (The other side of the pipe tamper emblem, which I haven't shown because it was so worn, matches the figure on the left.)

Ecclesia Perversa
(click to enlarge)

The Latin words "Ecclesia Perversa Tenet Faciem Diabloi" next to the left figure mean:
"The Church subverted takes on the appearance of the Devil".
The "Church subverted" is the Catholic church. These optical illusions are not benign; they're satirical anti-Catholic propaganda. The reversible portrait on the left is of the Pope and the Devil, and the one on the right is of a Cardinal and a Fool.

That means the optical illusion pipe tamper was originally created to be used by an anti-Papist.

- Ecclesia Perversa ...., The British Museum>>
- Examples of satirical coins by Sergio Rossi contains some optical illusion examples>>

Why was a giant condom on this senator's house?

It was a political statement.

Peter Stanley explains his prank, committed during the height of the AIDS epidemic:
On September 5th, 1991, I put a giant condom over Jesse Helms’ house.

Why? Because, as the condom said, “Helms is deadlier than a virus.” Senator Jesse Helms was one of the chief architects of AIDS-related stigma in the U.S. He fought against any federal spending on HIV research, treatment or prevention. He once said, referring to homosexuals, “it's their deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct that is responsible for the disease.” Here’s another choice one: “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”

By saying words like this on the floor of the Senate, Helms gave a veil of legitimacy to every parent who threw their HIV positive kid out of the house. ACT UP New York was filled with angry young men who experienced this kind of Helms-related hatred.
That's why Mr. Stanley and his fellow activists decided to have a good laugh and make a political point at Mr. Helm's expense.

Read more: The Condom on Jesse Helms' House, Actipedia>>

The elevator murder experiment

How would you react if you saw someone 
being murdered in an elevator?

Murder in an elevator

What would I do?

The first thing I would do is react, then ask the director if that was what he wanted.

I think this video is another in a line of videos meant to look real so they will go viral in order to promote something, in this case a movie.

What do you think? Did they really set up a fake murder in an elevator and open the doors to anonymous people and film their reactions? Did they not worry about the potentially catastrophic consequences if someone decided to go medieval on the potential killer? (Like the guy wielding the fire extinguisher who might decide to bash in a skull.)

Or was everyone involved an actor working for a PR agency?

(And to those who enjoy meta land: The image above shows a still photo from a short fake film using "hidden" cameras to film a guy who pretends to film a fake murder to promote a real film.)

The vanishing train video illusion

It might not be quite as impressive as the 
"Back to the Future" train, but no CGI was involved.

This trick train video is from neuroscientist Al Seckel, who says that it's of an actual model train going into a tunnel, without the benefit of any computer tricks. So what's really happening in this optical illusion?

Vanishing Train

Friday Illusion: Vanishing train defies space and time, New Scientist>>

The theoretical physicist blinded by boobs

Professor Paul Frampton dreams
of his future wife Denise Milani.

How could anyone be so stupid? Unfortunately, we learn, a very smart man can, in this article from The New York Times called The Professor, the Bikini Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble:
In November 2011, Paul Frampton, a theoretical particle physicist, met Denise Milani, a Czech bikini model, on the online dating site She was gorgeous — dark-haired and dark-eyed, with a supposedly natural DDD breast size. In some photos, she looked tauntingly steamy; in others, she offered a warm smile. Soon, Frampton and Milani were chatting online nearly every day. Frampton would return home from campus — he’d been a professor in the physics and astronomy department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 30 years — and his computer would buzz. “Are you there, honey?” They’d chat on Yahoo Messenger for a while, and then he’d go into the other room to take care of something. A half-hour later, there was the familiar buzz. It was always Milani. “What are you doing now?”

Frampton had been very lonely since his divorce three years earlier; now it seemed those days were over. Milani told him she was longing to change her life. She was tired, she said, of being a “glamour model,” of posing in her bikini on the beach while men ogled her. She wanted to settle down, have children. But she worried what he thought of her. “Do you think you could ever be proud of someone like me?” Of course he could, he assured her.

Frampton tried to get Milani to talk on the phone, but she always demurred. When she finally agreed to meet him in person, she asked him to come to La Paz, Bolivia, where she was doing a photo shoot. On Jan. 7, 2012, Frampton set out for Bolivia via Toronto and Santiago, Chile. At 68, he dreamed of finding a wife to bear him children — and what a wife. He pictured introducing her to his colleagues. One thing worried him, though. She had told him that men hit on her all the time. How did that acclaim affect her? Did it go to her head? But he remembered how comforting it felt to be chatting with her, like having a companion in the next room. And he knew she loved him. She’d said so many times.

Frampton didn’t plan on a long trip. He needed to be back to teach. So he left his car at the airport. Soon, he hoped, he’d be returning with Milani on his arm. The first thing that went wrong was that the e-ticket Milani sent Frampton for the Toronto-Santiago leg of his journey turned out to be invalid, leaving him stranded in the Toronto airport for a full day. Frampton finally arrived in La Paz four days after he set out. He hoped to meet Milani the next morning, but by then she had been called away to another photo shoot in Brussels. She promised to send him a ticket to join her there, so Frampton, who had checked into the Eva Palace Hotel, worked on a physics paper while he waited for it to arrive. He and Milani kept in regular contact. A ticket to Buenos Aires eventually came, with the promise that another ticket to Brussels was on the way. All Milani asked was that Frampton do her a favor: bring her a bag that she had left in La Paz.
Read the rest of the story: The Professor, the Bikini Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble, The New York Times>>

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