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Ask The Fiddler #12: Everybody Discovered America!

Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Urban Legends, You Decide

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.

Dear Fiddler:

Much as I appreciate a holiday in honor of Columbus, I’ve seen reports that he may be getting undeserved credit. So, who discovered America?

Annie in Montpelier

Dear Annie:

This is a subject steeped in considerable controversy.


There are those who contend that the real problem is, the whole thing is taught back-asswards. The truth of the matter is, as these contrarians see it, Native Americans discovered Europe. We’ll delve deeper into that matter in a bit, but first let’s have a look at some other contenders for the exploit attributed to Columbus.

It might be worth noting that boats without motors can be unpredictable vehicles. Over the vast expanse of human time, wouldn’t you suspect that a great many drifiting boats from afar inadvertently “discovered” America?

Further, there is the factor that might be called the macho double-dare. “Buddy, I’ll bet you ten conch shells and a bucket of whale blubber the world ain’t flat.” How many reckless young sailors set off to see what lay beyond the horizon?

And we can’t discount greed, the search for riches.

Lastly there is the incentive provided by barbaric hordes coming over the hill. How often in the violent history of mankind was it time to pack your shit and git, possibly sailing off for parts unknown?

The thing is, dang near everybody discovered America. A bit of research will reveal that, whatever your heritage, you can probably make a claim of relatedness to a discoverer of America. (more…)

“Pixie Dust” Regrows Finger

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From Sarah:

Horse Jockey, Paul Halpern, Regrows Bitten-Off Finger With Help Of Powder Made From Pig Bladders by Anthony Rivas
September 17, 2013

lost-finger-200Besides the initial pain, losing a finger may soon be a lot less distressing and debilitating, if one South Florida doctor has his way. That’s because he used a powder, known in the media as Magic Pixie Dust, to regrow one horse jockey’s digit — both tissue and bone — after it was bitten off by his horse while feeding.

“It’s a certain powder, a dust that you sprinkle on your finger every other day, you wrap it up, and long story short, it grew back — the majority of it,” Paul Halpern, the New Jersey-based horse jockey, who spends some of his time in Florida, told NBC6. “I’m quite happy.”

The procedure is a form of xenotransplantation, more commonly known as cross-species transplantation, during which animal organs or tissue are transplanted into humans, and it’s non-surgical and painless. ACell, a producer of the MatriStem powder, says that it is made from tissue of pig bladders because the “protein scaffold” is “nearly identical to that of human tissue.” (more…)

East German Performance Enhancing Music Authenticity Questioned

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Urban Legends, You Decide

From Marcy LaViollette: It wasn’t until I was telling someone else about this album created to inspire the Olympic athletes of East Germany that I began to doubt the validity of the back story. Great premise and great music!

Olympic-Sized Hoax? ‘Lost’ Krautrock Warm-Up Tapes Mysteriously Surface
by Philip Sherburne
June 10 2013

Does a new compilation provide the missing link between cosmic synth music and athletic doping?

a2392005402_200As any runner can tell you, there’s a fine art to selecting the right music to keep you going, mile after mile. As a result, a whole mini-industry has sprung up to supply athletes with performance-enhancing playlists, from websites like Jog.FM and Rock My Run to Nike’s Original Run series of asphalt-friendly mixes from A-Trak, Cassius, and LCD Soundsystem. Yay, capitalism! But, as it turns out — and is so often the case where sports are involved — the Communists were way ahead of us. In the 1970s and early ’80s, the East German Olympic program employed the electronic composer Martin Zeichnete to create workout soundtracks for the GDR’s teams — shimmering, motorik pulse-music that, in combination with a top-secret doping program, would aid the athletes in their goal to become the ultimate Menschen-Maschinen. (more…)

Newsjacking Defined: Same Old Story, New Name

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“Newsjacking” With a Dark Twist: When Hoaxes Infiltrate the News Cycle
by Mandy Nagy
July 10, 2013

There is a term known as “newsjacking,” and it refers to the takeover of a news story or narrative and using it for other purposes. See the example in that link about when Oreo took over the power outage during the Super Bowl 2013, and you’ll understand exactly why such a term was ever coined. It’s typically seen as a positive term – the creative pairing of media savvy and perfect timing, resulting in a viral news success.

But there is a more sinister likeness to newsjacking that is increasingly employed today, especially given the advent of social media. And this is a version that comes with a dark twist.


We see it in more primitive fashion when big stories break on social media: The trolls who post fake photos or fake reports of sharks swimming in the streets during a hurricane, or the Sandy Hook child who was (not) killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, or false reports of the NYSE being under three feet of water during Hurricane Sandy – the posts that trick mainstream media and leave them backtracking on their stories in the midst of the flurry.

And then there are those who craft their own narratives in a much more savvy way – some out of whole cloth, some mixed in with a little truth – and inject them into the news to achieve a particular gain, often a politically motivated one.

Read the rest of this article here.

Sasquatch Genome Sequenced?

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Urban Legends, You Decide

From Larry C.:

Bigfoot Is Real, And We Have DNA To Prove It: Researchers
by Lee Rannals
February 14, 2013

sasquatchscience-200We thought the first evidence would emerge from some backyard video footage, or a smartphone photo, but the real proof of the existence of Bigfoot actually lies in the DNA.

A team of scientists has published the results of a five-year study of DNA samples from Sasquatch in the journal DeNovo Journal of Science.

Researchers claim they have sequenced three whole Bigfoot nuclear genomes, helping to prove that the legendary creature exists in North America, and is a human relative that arose 13,000 years ago.

The scientists hypothesize that the Bigfoot creature is a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens, with a novel primate species, giving it the species name Homo sapiens cognatus. (more…)

Heartbreak Hoax?

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, You Decide

Notre Dame Football Star Manti Te’o Says Dead Girlfriend Was Hoax
ABC World News
by Colleen Curry and Dan Harris
January 16, 2013

The star of Notre Dame’s championship football team said the widely-reported death of his girlfriend from leukemia during the 2012 football season was apparently a hoax, and said he was duped by it as well.

Manti Te’o, who led the Fighting Irish to the BCS championship game this year and finished second for the Heisman Trophy, said in a statement today that he fell in love with a girl online last year who turned out not to be real.

He said during the season that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia in September on the same day Te’o’s grandmother died, triggering an outpouring of support for Te’o at Notre Dame and in the media.

“While my grandma passed away and you take, you know, the love of my life [Kekua]. The last thing she said to me was, ‘I love you,'” Te’o said at the time, noting that he had talked to Kekua on the phone and by text message until her death. (more…)

Please Move the Deer Crossing

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

From Linda: Fact or fiction? You decide…

This audio clip is from Y94 Playhouse Fargo, ND radio station, courtesy of tutufunny4u:

Here’s Part #2, The Rest of the Story, where Donna professes to be surprised by all the hub-bub.

Cheetah the Chimp Death Hoax?

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Cheetah the chimp is dead? Maybe not
by Bryan Alexander
December 27, 2011

Cheetah the chimpanzee is dead. But whether the suddenly celebrated primate really was the co-star in Johnny Weissmuller’s classic Tarzan films will remain a Hollywood mystery.

On Christmas Eve, Cheetah died of kidney failure at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla., setting off a flurry of international headlines mourning the loss. Debbie Cobb, 51, the sanctuary’s outreach director, claims that the chimp was a stunning 80 years old and had been the star of the 1930s Tarzan movies.

Many are skeptical. (more…)

Fact or Fiction? Islamic Cleric Bans Phallic Food

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From Robert F:

Islamic Cleric Bans Women From Handling Bananas, Cucumbers & Other Phallic Produce
by Jim Hoft
Gateway Pundit
December 7, 2011

They could arouse women and make them think of sex.

An Islamic cleric in Europe says that women should avoid bananas, cucumbers, zucchini and other phallic fruits and vegetables. They may arouse sexual thoughts and that would be horrible.
Bikamasr reported, via ROP:

An Islamic cleric residing in Europe said that women should not be close to bananas or cucumbers, in order to avoid any “sexual thoughts.”

The unnamed sheikh, who was featured in an article on el-Senousa news, was quoted saying that if women wish to eat these food items, a third party, preferably a male related to them such as their a father or husband, should cut the items into small pieces and serve.

He said that these fruits and vegetables “resemble the male penis” and hence could arouse women or “make them think of sex.”

He also added carrots and zucchini to the list of forbidden foods for women.

The sheikh was asked how to “control” women when they are out shopping for groceries and if holding these items at the market would be bad for them. The cleric answered saying this matter is between them and God.

Going Out in a Blaze of Glory

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From Erin: Hunter Thompson, who had his ashes shot from a cannon, would have loved this…

Turn Your Cremated Remains into Live Ammunition with Holy Smoke
by Brit Liggett
October 10, 2011

With all the talk these days about the destructive and toxic nature of modern day burials, sustainable ways to honor your deceased loved ones are popping up left and right. Now with the help of Holy Smoke, an Alabama-based company started by Clem Parnell and Thad Holmes, you can turn your loved one’s ashes into live ammunition and honor them with a bang. The founders actually started the company partially because of personal issues with the ecological costs of burials and are offering their services for just $850 — plus shipping and handling.

Read the rest here.

Alessio Rastani – Fact or Fiction, Reality Bites

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

BBC’s ‘Goldman Sachs Rules the World’ Trader: Hoax or Our Worst Nightmare? [Updated]
New York Magazine
by Joe Coscarelli
September 27, 2011

A trader by the name of Alessio Rastani told a shocked BBC News reporter yesterday, “The governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.” He warned, “The savings of millions of people are going to vanish,” and said viewers should “get prepared” because the “economic crisis is like a cancer, if you just wait and wait thinking this will go away, just like a cancer it’s going to grow and it’s going to be too late.” He added, “I have a confession: I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession, I dream of another moment like this.” Such frank (psychopathic?) language earned Rastani attention from news outlets like the Huffington Post, the Guardian, and the Daily Mail, but the chatter on Twitter is crying hoax. (Update: It appears to be legit! See below for more info.)

BBC Business Editor Robert Peston wrote this morning on Twitter, “BBC (& I) may have been hoaxed by YesMen,” referring to the culture jamming group that touts itself as, “impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.” Peston and the Internet’s doubters pointed to this Yes Men stunt, which features a fake Dow Chemical spokesman who bears some resemblance to Rastani, the trader.

Peston has since defended the BBC guest: “We spoke to the trader again this morning, & as far as we can tell he is a genuine independent trader, not a member of YesMen.” (more…)

Court Jesters Plan to Be a Royal Pain in the Ass

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Anarchists Target Wills and Kate
by Nick Francis
The Sun
31 January 2011

Hate-filled anarchists are plotting to wreck William and Kate’s royal wedding by posing as well-wishers and hiding among the crowd, The Sun can reveal.

Extremists plan to wreak havoc around Westminster Abbey for a month before the big day and aim to ambush royal cars with roadblocks, diversions and smoke bombs on April 29.

A secret email obtained by The Sun shows a satellite photo of the royal route – with arrows marking several locations where the mobs plan to strike.

Leading anarchist Chris Knight revealed details of the campaign in a message to activists.

He outlined a two-pronged approach, with extremists causing havoc around Westminster Abbey for a month before carrying out further attacks on the day of the wedding. (more…)

About Joaquin Phoenix’s New Doc: If It Walks Like a Duck…

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Joaquin Phoenix documentary: Even buyers aren’t sure if it’s a prank
by John Horn
The Los Angeles Times
May 7, 2010

It’s far from the Joaquin Phoenix you’re used to seeing onscreen: snorting cocaine, ordering call girls, having oral sex with a publicist, treating his assistants abusively and rapping badly. And not, apparently, playing a role — or was he?

Even after seeing the documentary “I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix” in a private screening earlier this week, film buyers still aren’t sure of its genuineness. Was the “Walk the Line” and “Gladiator” star, who said more than a year ago that he was quitting acting to become a musician, playing a sophisticated prank, or did he really ditch his Oscar-nominated career to become a disheveled rapper?

Agents at William Morris Endeavor, the sellers of the Casey Affleck-directed film, have started showing the movie to potential distributors, and while some were apparently interested in bidding for “I’m Still Here’s” distribution rights, the shoppers left the screening perhaps even more mystified by Phoenix’s behavior than when they walked in. (more…)

Improv Everywhere: No Underwear Subway Ride

Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:

No Underwear Subway Ride

For our latest mission, over 1,000 people rode the subway without underwear or pants in New York City. Our annual No Pants Subway Ride has been a tradition for years, and we decided it was time to up the ante. Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos. (We have blurred out the private parts of all the riders but keep in mind it still might not be considered “safe for work.”)

Tech Crunch List 2010

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The April Fools 2010: The TechCrunch definitive list will be updated all day.

In the meantime, DO NOT go to the College Humor web site until they work out the kinks…