Saturday, September 29, 2007

David Bowie Tries To Attract UFOs

Christopher Sandford, Bowie: Loving the Alien, rev. ed. (Da Capo Press, 1998), p. 70.

By 1969 Bowie was contributing to a UFO magazine in London. 'I made sightings six, seven times a night for about a year,' he told *Creem*. 'We had regular cruises that came over. We knew the 6:15 was coming in and would meet up with another one. They would be stationary for about half an hour, and then after verifying what they'd been doing that day, they'd shoot off.' Bowie's star-gazing may have amounted to little more than buying a telescope and occasionally standing on the roof of Haddon Hall aiming a wire coat-hanger at the skies. (He came down one evening and complained to [Mick] Ronson he felt like 'a pillock' when a golfer on the next-door course had shouted up at him, 'Do you get BBC2?')

Friday, September 28, 2007

Texas Road Leads Nation in DWI Arrests

The Bryan-College Station Eagle [TX]
27 September 2007

Rumor has it: Does Harvey Road top the nation in DWI arrests?

Eagle Columnist

[...] Which leads me to my next rumor: Harvey Road is the No. 1 location in the United States in terms of the number of driving while intoxicated arrests.

According to the College Station Police Department, that is not true. [...]

Hammer Man

21 September 2007

Killer hammer man strikes C Delhi colony

Express news service

New Delhi, September 20 -- The blow returned sometime last night for residents of Baljeet Nagar in central Delhi: on Thursday morning, the locals found a woman dead, her skull hammered beyond recognition.

This was the fourth such mysterious attack — and the third fatal case — on the area’s women in the past few months, residents said.

Locals, who have dubbed the mysterious attacker “hammer man”, said the strikes have a routine of sorts: all of them have come past midnight, and all on women staying alone. [...]

Times of India
21 September 2007

'Hammer Man' strikes in Delhi

Harsh Vardhan Sahni , TNN

NEW DELHI: Call him Delhi's Jack the Ripper or the Hammer Man. He rips but doesn't rape. Neither does he rob. He just kills unsuspecting women in the wee hours of the morning, tears their clothes and disappears into thin air. [...]

Express India
22 September 2007

Mohalla police takes up sticks against hammer man

Sahim Salim

New Delhi, September 21 The men of Baljeet Nagar in West Delhi have picked up their sticks again, trying desperately to shake off the spectre that is the hammer man — a serial killer stalking the narrow lanes of this colony for the last two years, killing three women and grievously injuring one. Newsline on Thursday night joined the party of vigilant men, spoke to the area’s women and got a glimpse of their compelling fear; their insecurities with the law. [...]

Another patrolman, Mohan Kumar, said the attack on Savitri Devi was slightly different — “He had hammered a nail into her head. But the man has become more savage now, hitting at the head till his victim is dead.” Newsline tracked down Savitri Devi, who recalled that horrible night. “I was sleeping in the house with my two children. Suddenly, I felt a cloth pressed on my face. I passed out and awoke in a pool of blood; the blood was oozing out of a wound in my head where a nail had been hammered in.”

Khaleej Times
25 September 2007

Granny held for murder, police rebuff 'hammer man' theory


NEW DELHI An 80-year-old woman and her relative have been arrested in West Delhi for allegedly killing her granddaughter over money, and the police Monday refuted speculation of a 'hammer man' or psychopath killer behind a series of murders in the same locality.

"There is no hammer man or psychopath killer in Baljit Nagar area of Anand Parbat. These are media generated idioms. All nine incidents in which three women were killed and seven sustained head injuries are not interlinked or connected," Deputy Commissioner of Police (West Delhi) Robin Hibu said. [...]

The Hindu [India]
28 September 2007

Delhi's "hammer man" strikes again
The mystery murder victim this time round is a newly married woman

Hindustan Times
28 September 2007

Murder revives psychopath rumours


New Delhi: A young woman was found murdered with severe head injuries early yesterday, taking the toll of such incidents in west Delhi's Baljit Nagar this year to eight, reviving the "hammer man" theory police sought to refuse last week.

Even after the latest murder, police maintained there was no psychopath killer behind the series of murders.

"There is no hammer man in the area - the victim this time was attacked with a brick. The residents have seen the culprit and he will be arrested soon," said Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat. [...]

IBN [India]
28 September 2007

'Hammerman': Is the serial killer for real?

Arunoday Mukharji /CNN-IBN

[...] There are some older voices who think it is someone out to create unnecessary panic in an area already burdened with many problems. They rubbish claims of any serial killer.

"Some say he jumps from roof to roof, some say he disappears. This is all this believable!" says a resident, G D Aggarwal.

The dark alleys of Baljeet Nagar appear even darker in the present circumstances.

Earlier people tried to be brave and dispel rumours of the hammerman. But now, with repeated deaths around them, they have no choice but to start believing in a so-called serial killer.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

When It Snows, Babies Follow

26 September 2007

When it snows, babies follow
Winter blizzards credited for current upsurge in births

By Betsy Lehndorff, Rocky Mountain News

The forecast for early fall: warm and sunny, with an occasional flurry of babies.

About nine months ago, the Blizzard of '06 brought Front Range communities to a halt, and apparently romance blossomed. [...]

Condoms Deliberately Infected with HIV

26 September 2007

Shock at archbishop condom claim

The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately.

Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio claimed some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected "in order to finish quickly the African people". [...]

Book Examines Confederate Rumors

26 September 2007

Historian Loves a Good (Civil War) Rumor

A Civil War historian and professor at Mississippi State University says that rumors perpetuated by Confederates during the War Between the States boosted morale and kept soldiers from deserting. [...]

The actual reality of Confederate rumors is the topic of a new book by Jason K. Phillips. An assistant history professor at Mississippi State University, his "Diehard Rebels: The Confederate Culture of Invincibility" is scheduled for November release by the University of Georgia Press. [...]

Chinatown Tunnels Under Fresno

27 September 2007

Archeologists probe secret tunnels coursing underneath Chinatown

By JULIANA BARBASSA Associated Press Writer

FRESNO, Calif. -- Tunnels run beneath Chinatown: brick-walled passages that were once home to people and activities that couldn't be mentioned aboveground. [...]

Local lore holds, though it still hasn't been proved by research, that a tunnel one time extended beyond the railroad tracks into the traditionally white part of town, possibly allowing "respectable" citizens access to the illicit charms of Chinatown. [...]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Not Now, Frank!

Don Rickles with David Ritz, Rickles' Book. New York & London: Simon & Schuster, 2007, pp. 3-5.

The Sands was swanky, the hottest spot in town. Frank Sinatra was headlining at the Sands. In those days, the place had strolling violinists and hors d'oeuvres in the lounge. We sat in a corner and I ordered champagne. (You can bet it wasn't Dom Perignon.) You could hear the clinking of glasses. You could see this was class. My date could see that Sinatra and his entourage had just arrived and were seated in a roped-off section.

"My God," she said. "There's Frank Sinatra! Do you know him?"

"Do I know him? We're like brothers."

"I don't believe you."

"Wait here, hon," I said, trying to sound suave. "I'll be right back."

I got up and approached Frank's party. He was with Dinah Shore and some other celebrities. His security boys took one look at me and turned to the boss. "It's Rickles," they said.

Frank was hitting his favorite, Jack Daniels, pretty good.

"Bullethead!" said Frank. That was his term of endearment for me. "Bullethead," he repeated, "how you doing?"

"Can I talk to you for a second, Frank?"


I leaned over and whispered, "Frank, I need your help. I'm with this gal and I could impress her big-time if you'd come over and just say, 'Hello, Don.' That's it, Frank. Two words, 'Hello, Don,' and everything will be beautiful."

"For you, Bullethead, I'll do it."

"Gee, thanks, Frank, you're a pal."

I walked back to the table and, filled with confidence, raised my glass of champagne to toast the lady. "You are something special," I told her. "You have real class." I thought she bought it.

Meanwhile, I was praying, God, let this thing happen.

It didn't happen right away. A minute passed. Then five. Then ten. My heart was beating fast. My right leg was vibrating. Finally, Frank got up and made his move. Slowly he walked over to our table.

My date was beaming. I was beaming. Frank was beaming.

"Don," he said. "How the hell are you?"

I took a deep breath, counted off a beat, turned to him and, in my loudest voice, said, "NOT NOW, FRANK -- CAN'T YOU SEE I'M WITH SOMEBODY!"

Email Warns of Car Park Attacker

Get Reading [UK]
26 September 2007

Oracle `scam email' probe

AN email spreading rumours about an alarming incident which allegedly took place in The Oracle car park is being investigated by police as a possible scam. [...]

"She went to the nearest police station and reported the incident. She handed the briefcase to the police.

"What they found when they opened the case shocked both her and the police. They found syringes, date rape drugs and a length of rope." [...]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Corpse in the Cask (Nova Scotia, 1874)

Crystal Fulton & Glen C. Phillips, Four-Foot Cucumbers, Juvenile Delinquents & Frogs From the Sky! Snippets of Life in Victorian Canada. London, Ont.: Cheshire Cat Press, 1997, pp. 93-4.

A Startling Story for Pictou Rum Drinkers -- We are credibly informed that last summer a corpse preserved in liquor was sent home from the United States to a certain place in this County. The man to whose care the corpse was sent, being somewhat economical in his disposition, and opposed to anything like extravagance, drew the liquor off the corpse and retailed it by the glass to customers who doubtless considered it first rate liquor. Those who got the liquor can reflect over the story at their leisure. -- [New Glasgow] Eastern Chronicle.

Halifax [N.S.] Morning Chronicle, January 3, 1874

Pencil in Ass = Knife in Back

Albany Times Union [NY]
25 September 2007

A game of telephone gone awry

by Scott Waldman

A Guilderland student who sat on a pencil has apparently turned into a stabbing victim. [...]

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sinking School

"Close to Home," 21 September 2007. Syndicated comic panel by John McPherson. "The entire building has settled seven inches since the first day of school due to the weight of the students' backpacks." Cf. "sinking library" legend. [Via David Delaney post to A.F.U.]

Future Perfect Tense

20 September 2007

The Southern Drawl: Is It Spreading?

Some Linguists Say 'Yes' as More Northerners Move South, but Others See Stiff Resistance to 'Y'all'

Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Atlanta -- True story: A North Carolina teacher gave an example to his class of a statement by the school's football coach: "I'll be done drove there by 3 o'clock." Now, the teacher said, give the correct future perfect tense of that sentence. A boy's hand shot up. "I'll be done drive," he said proudly. [...]

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Origin of "Dogtown" Name

Suburban Journals [St. Louis]
22 September 2007

Men think they have found true origin of "Dogtown" name

By Shawn Clubb

Bob Corbett calls it "the sheerest nonsense, claptrap, hogwash." Tom Haller says simply "that rumor is not true."

What they are talking about is theory that Dogtown got its name because Philippine natives, the Igorots, who visited the area as part of the 1904 World's Fair, would hunt dogs there for food. [...]

Finger in Wendy's Chili Scam: Update

22 September 2007

Reduced sentence sought by woman in finger case

By Howard Mintz
Mercury News

A state appeals court Friday gave the woman responsible for the infamous Wendy's finger-in-the-chili scam an opportunity to shave some time off her nine-year prison sentence.

In a 31-page ruling, the 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose upheld much of the stiff punishment imposed last year against Anna Ayala, who pleaded guilty to concocting a scam that turned her into a tabloid celebrity and made Wendy's chili the butt of national jokes. But the appeals court also found that Ayala is entitled to a new hearing on one of her arguments to reduce her overall sentence. [...]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Virtue in Hyperinflation

Malcolm Cowley's Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s was first published in 1934. This excerpt from the essay "Valuta" is taken from the 1995 Penguin edition, p. 81.

Exchange! It happened that old Europe, the continent of immemorial standards, had lost them all: it had only prices, which changed from country to country, from village to village, it seemed from hour to hour. Tuesday in Hamburg you might buy a banquet for eight cents (or was it five?); Thursday in Paris you might buy twenty cigarettes for the price of a week's lodging in Vienna. You might gamble in Munich for high stakes, win half the fortune of a Czechoslovakian profiteer, then, if you could not spend your winnings for champagne and Picasso, you might give them the day after tomorrow to a beggar and not be thanked. Once in Berlin a man was about to pay ten marks for a box of matches when he stopped to look at the banknote in his hand. On it was written, "For these ten marks I sold my virtue." He wrote a long and virtuous story about it, was paid ten million marks, and bought his mistress a pair of artificial silk stockings.

The Economist [UK]
23 Dec 1998

Millennium issue: German hyperinflation
Loads of money

"FOR these ten marks I sold my virtue," were the words a Berliner noticed written on a banknote in 1923. He was buying a box of matches, all the note was worth by then. [...]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Old Joke

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
19 Sept 2007

Column 8

[...] The last word on this one goes to Neville Cohen, of Randwick: "I can well understand why restaurants don't serve boiled eggs. I tried to explain the process to my newly married son many years ago, but he replied that he had boiled an egg for nearly two hours, and it still didn't go soft."
P. M. Zall, ed., A Nest of Ninnies and Other English Jestbooks of the Seventeenth Century. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1970, p. 137.

A Man was very angry with his Maid because his eggs were boiled too hard. "Truly," said she, "I have made them boil a long hour. But the next you have shall boil two hours, but they shall be tender enough." --John Taylor, Wit and Mirth (1629).

Woman charged with ethnic intimidation

The Republican & Herald [Pottsville, PA]
19 September 2007

Woman charged with ethnic intimidation


TREMONT - Charges were filed against a former employee of the Tremont Super Market, Main Street, for making false statements to a police officer, disorderly conduct and ethnic intimidation.

Charges were filed through Magisterial District Judge Carol A. Pankake's office on Monday.

Amber J. Wolfgang, of 135 W. Laurel St., Tremont, was charged with the misdemeanor offenses, which could carry a jail sentence of two to seven years, according to Tremont police Chief Michael Conway.

Store owner Sam Singh, 27, of Pine Grove, a native of India, said he fired Wolfgang Aug. 3 for poor job performance. Shortly after, Wolfgang began perpetuating an e-mail rumor that said Singh told a person wearing military clothes to leave the store. [...]

Monday, September 17, 2007

Japanese Bestiality Restaurant

18 September 2007


The Cook, the Beast, the Vice and its Lover

A disgusting and twisted restaurant in the Tokyo entertainment district of Roppongi is enticing warped rich folk with the opportunity to figuratively have their cake and eat it, too -- with animals, according to Jitsuwa Knuckles (9/25).

Roppongi's bestiality restaurant is being regarded by its main nouveau riche patronage of young company presidents and venture capitalists as a decadent practice only possible among the wealthy. [...]

[An unnamed "bestiality restaurant" is restricted to members who have a salary of at least 20 million yen. After all, says an anonymous source, rich people, after they have done everything else, "turn toward bestiality." Patrons first select the animal they want to have sex with -- prices are dependant upon the size of the animal, its sex, and its degree of activity. Then, after having sex with it, they send it to the kitchen to be cooked. An unidentified lawyer describes how he chose a sow as his sexual appetizer, then a little later was presented with it as roast pork. Suddenly finicky, he chose to have a salad instead. -- bc]

Couple divorce after online 'affair'

Ananova [UK]
17 September 2007

Couple divorce after online 'affair'

A Bosnian couple are getting divorced after finding out they had been secretly chatting each other up online under fake names.

Sana Klaric, 27, and husband Adnan, 32, from Zenica, poured out their hearts to each other over their marriage troubles, and both felt they had found their real soul mate.

The couple met on an online chat forum while he was at work and she in an internet cafe, and started chatting under the names Sweetie and Prince of Joy. [...]

Times of Oman
6 Feb 2005

Budding Jordan cyber love ends in divorce

AMMAN (AFP) - A budding romance between a Jordanian man and woman turned into an ugly public divorce when the couple found out that they were in fact man and wife, state media reported.

Separated for several months, boredom and chance briefly re-united Bakr Melhem and his wife Sanaa in an Internet chat room, the official Petra news agency said.

Bakr, who passed himself off as Adnan, fell head over heels for Sanaa, who signed off as Jamila (beautiful) and described herself as a cultured, unmarried woman -- a devout Muslim whose hobby was reading, Petra said.

Cyber love blossomed between the pair for three months and soon they were making wedding plans. To pledge their troth in person, they agreed to meet in the flesh near a bus depot in the town of Zarqa, northeast of Amman.

The shock of finding out their true identities was too much for the pair.

Upon seeing Sanaa-alias-Jamila, Bakr-alias-Adnan turned white and screamed at the top of his lungs: "You are divorced, divorced, divorced" -- the traditional manner of officially ending a marriage in Islam.

"You are a liar," Sanaa retorted before fainting, the agency said.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Diplomat's Necktie Caught in His Fly

Edward Gross, Embarrassment in Everyday Life: What To Do About It! Palm Springs, CA: ETC Publications, 1994, p. 7.

Are all the embarrassments reported to me genuine? Some persons have asked me that and I can only reply that I do not know. A few seem so unlikely that I wonder. If the doubts are strong, I have not used the report. But human behavior is so full of unlikely events that it takes a certain amount of arrogance to toss anything out. I can only testify to those I have witnessed myself. On the other hand, where an incident is reported with details that could not be fabricated, then there seems little doubt.

Gross, Embarrassment in Everyday Life, p. 32.

A woman whose husband had served on the staff of a United States foreign aid program told of a diplomatic reception to which she found herself seated next to a foreigner. He sat stiffly, every inch the diplomat in his dark gray suit, with perfectly matched conservative tie and black patent leather shoes. At last, after a long silence in which no one stopped by the couch he stood up to leave only to notice that his fly was open. He quickly sat down, and in hurriedly trying to zip up unnoticed, caught both ends of his tie in the zipper.

He tried to shoo his hostess away when she offered help but in raising his head, he only tightened the tie around his neck. He slowly began to turn blue. By the time the hostess returned with a pair of scissors, everyone in the room was focused on the unhappy diplomat. In his hurry to escape, he snipped the tie in half and ran out of the room, the long ribbons of his tie waving from his fly.

Unfortunately, his troubles were far from over. Within hours everyone in the diplomatic community had heard of the incident and relayed it to friends elsewhere. When persons met him, their eyes would drift down uncontrollably to his famous fly. He had become a figure of fun, his reputation as a serious diplomat destroyed. His country had to call him back to a bureaucratic job where he'd not be noticed and the incident forgotten. I doubt if people did ever forget. The woman who told me about it certainly hadn't.

[Endnotes, p. 222: On the zipper-fly report, Professor Jan Harold Brunvand, an urban folklorist and author of several books on urban legends wrote me that he has encountered variations of this story from several sources. He finds the stories told not by a first person witness but by a "friend of a friend."

I replied that the story was told me by the wife of a former graduate student who did his graduate research under my direction. She and my student served in low level positions in the United States foreign services. Since I know both of them well and have for many years, I simply cannot believe she made up the story. She provided too many details of the event, the date and place (which I have deliberately left out) to cast doubt on the story's credibility.

It is my belief that occasionally urban legends are based on some actual happening which is then taken up, embellished and rendered as a commentary on human foibles by others. In any case, it is a good story and does illustrate not just a human foible but the frailty of reputations and identities.]

Are suspended sneakers sign of drugs? Gangs?

The Star-Ledger [Newark, NJ]
16 September 2007

Shoe mystery hangs over city
Are suspended sneakers sign of drugs? Gangs?

Star-Ledger Staff

George Williams has no doubt that the gray suede tennis shoes dangling from the telephone wire high above his house on 18th Avenue in Newark signify that drugs are sold there. [...]

Friday, September 14, 2007

Accidental Cannibalism

The 14 September 2007 edition of the syndicated one-panel comic, "Chuckle Bros.," by Brian Boychuk, Ron Boychuk, and Ronnie Martin, shows a man with a startled expression sitting at a kitchen table and holding a coffee cup to his lips. A woman standing at the sink says over her shoulder, "Honey, have you seen the coffee can? I had to put Nana's ashes in it until the urn is ready." The open coffee can sits on the table.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dihydrogen monoxide [New Zealand]
13 September 2007

National MP falls victim to water hoax


National MP Jacqui Dean has been caught out by a long-running hoax that seeks to trick gullible MPs into calling for a ban on "dihydrogen monoxide" -- or water.

Ms Dean, the MP for Otago, a leading proponent of a ban on party pills, appears to have been duped by a letter from a constituent asking her to raise the issue of dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO).

A letter, signed by Ms Dean and sent to Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton, the minister in charge of drug policy, last month, asked if the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs had a view on banning the "drug". [...]

New Zealand Herald
14 September 2007

MP tries to ban water

By Megan Gnad

Otago MP Jacqui Dean felt like a bit of a "wally" yesterday, after it was revealed she tried to ban North Otago's most precious commodity -- water. [...]
Don't Worry - Jacqui will save you from DHMO.

[Michael Earley's blog describes the motives behind the prank.]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Store Refuses to Serve Soldier

The Republican and Herald [Pottsville, PA]
12 September 2007

Internet rumor harms Tremont grocery


TREMONT - The owner of the Tremont Super Market on Main Street asked the borough council Tuesday for support in dispelling rumors circulated via an e-mail that he says is the cause of a dramatic drop in sales.

"I'm planning to shut down," said Sam Singh, who has owned the store since February.

The e-mail makes allegations that Singh denied service to an individual wearing military clothes. He denied the allegations. [...]

The Republican & Herald [Pottsville, PA]
13 September 2007

E-mail could lead to charges


TREMONT - Borough police Chief Michael Conway said Wednesday charges will be filed against a former employee of the Tremont Super Market on Main Street for making a false statement, harassment and possibly ethnic intimidation.

Store owner Sam Singh, 27, of Pine Grove, a native of India, said he fired the employee on Aug. 3 for poor job performance. Shortly after, the ex-employee began perpetuating an e-mail rumor that began sometime in July, which said Singh told a person wearing military clothes to leave the store. [...]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chef Gordon Ramsay Burns Genitals

Daily Record [UK]
6 Sept 2007


By Donna Watson

GORDON RAMSAY had to go to hospital after he got too close to his cooker and burned his privates.

The Scots super-chef rushed to a private London clinic for treatment to his meat and two veg. [...]

10 September 2007

Ramsay burnt genital claim was lie

By Alex Fletcher

Gordon Ramsay's wife has revealed that the chef's claim last week that he burnt his testicles on a hob was a lie.

Tara Ramsay, speaking on ITV's This Morning, refuted press rumours that her husband had singed his genitals while cooking, insisting that he made the story up. [...]

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mormon Missionaries Encounter a Naked Woman

Jan Harold Brunvand, "Modern Legends of Mormonism, or, Supernaturalism is Alive and Well in Salt Lake City." In Wayland Hand, ed., American Folk Legend: A Symposium (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971), pp. 197-8.

Another example was heard by a student at a Stake Conference a couple of years ago; it was told by a missionary just returned from Brazil. It is a form of story that crops up repeatedly in the archive, usually attributed to a missionary in a Catholic country and sometimes told to explain why missionaries are required to work and travel in pairs. Clearly, I think, we can recognize here one effect of cutting young men off from normal female companionship for two years at a time in a foreign country; where reality is lacking, fantasy enters:

My companion and I were walking through a town one day when we decided to knock on one door, and a beautiful nude woman appeared at the door. We got out of there as quick as possible, but this woman kept calling up my missionary companion to come over and see her. [In some versions she locks them in with her and pursues them around the apartment until they manage to escape.] He became very upset about it, and we decided to go back there and see if this woman was possessed by evil spirits. My companion and I commanded the evil spirits to leave her body. Her body became limp and she fell on the floor. She came back to consciousness, but she almost seemed to be an imbecile. So we took her to the police to find out her identity, and later it was discovered that she had escaped from a mental hospital and her family had been searching for her for two weeks. We told our mission president and he told us that many evil spirits took possession of the bodies of the mentally ill.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Gang Initiation Rumors, Alabama

Sand Mountain Reporter [Albertville, AL]
8 September 2007

Officials act to quash rumors

By George Jones
The Reporter

A series of “e-mail hoaxes” and a variety of “false rumors” has caused widespread concern for citizens through out Marshall, DeKalb and other surrounding counties.

One of the rumors is based on a hoax e-mail alleging an initiation requirement for Hispanic gangs requiring the rape of anywhere from one to four white women.

Another rumor involves women being attacked at a Wal-Mart store. [...]

Friday, September 7, 2007

Government Releases Dragonflies to Eat Mosquitoes

The Daily Observer [Pembroke, ON]
7 September 2007

Cougar spotted on Meath Hill?


A Meath Hill couple is certain that the animal they saw in their field on Saturday morning was a puma, also known in Ontario as a cougar, mountain lion, or eastern panther. [...]

One of her neighbours suggested that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) may have released pumas to control the deer population in the Lanark area.

However, Terry McLeish, a senior lands and waters technician with the MNR, was quick to debunk that theory.

"That's an urban myth we've been hearing for the last five years or so," he said. "It's the same as the one that says we release dragonflies to catch mosquitoes."

"We have a hard enough time keeping fish hatcheries going - how would we ever raise dragon flies? It's ludicrous," Mr. McLeish said[.] [...]

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Bricklayers Leave Penny in Mortar,1,5951177.stor

Chicago Tribune
6 September 2007

Case of the missing penny

By Colleen Mastony Tribune staff reporter

As they were building the left-field wall at Little Cubs Field,
bricklayers pressed a penny into the mortar between two bricks.


They had heard that there's also a penny in the outfield wall at
Wrigley Field. [...]

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Students' Tandem Writing Assignment

The Globe and Mail [Toronto]
4 Sept 2007

The English assignment


[...] I gave my Grade 12 English students a memorable assignment in the late 1990s, one that I used again several times. [...]

[See ]

The Corpse in the Cask (James Pattle)

Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London: Chatto & Windus, 1996), p. 87.

'Oh the old Pattles! They're always bursting out of their casks.'[19] The reference is to the sensational end of Julia Jackson's grandfather, James Pattle, notorious liar and drinker and member of the Bengal Civil Service, who reputedly drank himself to death and whose body, sent back to England in a cask of rum, exploded out of its container during a storm. The shock drove his widow mad and she died on the journey home; the sailors drank the rum. This Pattle story was always popping up: on a visit in 1918 to the redoubtable Lady Strachey Virginia and Leonard heard 'how old Pattle shot out of his tank, & thereby killed his wife, who thought him come to life again'.[20] There was an even more sensational version of the same story in the reminiscences of Ethel Smyth, which Virginia read in 1919, long before they met. Virginia relayed it with relish in her essay on Julia Margaret Cameron, and it's there again, a family heirloom, in Quentin Bell's biography -- though a less sensational and possibly truer version does not mention the widow's insanity, and maintains that it was James Pattle's brother, Colonel William (known as 'Jemmy Blazes', and leader of a famous charge against the Amirs of Sindh in 1843), who drank himself to death.[21]

19. VW to Violet Dickinson, [13 Apr 1937], The Letters of Virginia Woolf, 6 vols., Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, eds. (Hogarth Press, 1975-80), VI, 3235, p. 120.
20. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, 5 vols., Anne Oliver Bell and Andrew McNeillie, eds. (Hogarth Press, 1977-84), 18 Jan 1918, I, p. 107.
21. For the two versions, see Boyd, pp. 14, 143. [I couldn't find in the notes and bibliography any further details on the Boyd reference. --bc]

Quentin Bell, Virginia Woolf: A Biography (NY: Harvest Books, 1974), p. 14.

James Pattle [...] was, we are told, a quite extravagantly wicked man. He was known as the greatest liar in India; he drank himself to death; he was packed off home in a cask of spirits, which cask, exploding, ejected his unbottled corpse before his widow's eyes, drove her out of her wits, set the ship on fire and left it stranded in the Hooghly.

The story has been told many times. Some parts of it may be true.

Birth Control Pill Contains Placentas

Yahoo! News

Abortion in the Philippines: a national secret

By Carmel Crimmins
Reuters 5 September 2007

[...] Ignorance and rumors, sometimes spread by pro-life groups and members of the clergy, have led some Filipinos to believe that the contraceptive pill is made from placenta and the tablets accumulate in the abdomen and cause cancer. [...]

Soldiers Refused Service in Restaurant

The Munster Times [IN]
5 September 2007

E-mail rumors lead to harassment

Times Staff Report

CROWN POINT An unsubstantiated rumor claiming U.S. military personnel were denied service at the Dunkin' Donuts on Main Street led to outrage on Internet message boards, e-mails to Congress and even reports of harassment Tuesday at the restaurant. [...]
CBS 2 [Chicago]
4 Sept 2007
Donut Shop Owner Allegedly Snubs Military Members,davich.article
Post-Tribune [Gary, IN]
5 September 2007
E-mail: Red, white and untrue
JERRY DAVICH,davich.article
Post-Tribune [Gary, IN]
6 September 2007
Readers' responses to alarming e-mail running the gamut
By Jerry Davich Post-Tribune staff writer

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Denials Contribute to Resiliency of False Beliefs

Washington Post
4 September 2007

Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer

[...] The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths. [...]

Monday, September 3, 2007

No Serial Killer in La Crosse

The Associated Press
3 September 2007

FBI: No Serial Killer in River Drownings


LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - There is no serial killer, investigators insist, no boogeyman lurking in college-area bars, waiting to drown good-looking young men.

Since 1997, eight college-aged men have drunk heavily at local taverns, then turned up dead in one of the area's rivers.

Each death rekindled the killer talk, but FBI profilers and other investigators have all reached the same conclusion: The deaths were accidents. [...]

Burning Hyena Tails Knock Out Burglary Victims

Servamus [South Africa]
3 September 2007

The Tale of the Hyena Tail

Written by Annalise Kempen


Hyenas may come under threat for the most unlikely reason: several claims from different people who said that they were burgled after inhaling the hyena knock-out drug ("udonsi lwempisi"). [...]

Foot Size Equals Penis Size

Jamaica Observer
3 September 2007

Foot size equals penis size. Myth or reality?

CARL GILCHRIST, all woman writer

YOU know that argument some have, that a man's foot size is directly related to the size of his nether regions? That argument that would suggest that a fellow wearing a size 11 boot would be directly proportional in inches in the bedroom? [...]

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Commissioned Art Thefts

National Post [Canada]
1 Sept 2007

Art theft ranked as fourth-largest criminal enterprise

By Cameron Skene, CanWest News Service

[...] Hollywood portrayals of art theft perpetuate the idea that it's a non-violent, victimless crime, says Simon Houpt, author of The Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft.

So who really steals the stuff, and why? The prevailing myth of Mr. Big, the mysterious collector who commissions theft for the pure pleasure of ownership, is roundly dismissed by experts. Richard Ellis, a 10-year veteran of the Art and Antiquities Squad at the New Scotland Yard, is blunt: "I do not think they exist. It's a bit of nonsense.

Nobody has ever come across any evidence that such collections exist."

Mr. Houpt agrees: "I don't know any collector that doesn't like to show off his collection. And you can't do that if you've commissioned a theft." [...]

Chinatown Tunnels, Fresno

Fresno Bee [CA]
2 September 2007

Chinatown's urban legend
A tour will explore the rumored network of underground tunnels.

By Farin MontaƱez / The Fresno Bee

One of Fresno's best-known urban legends isn't just a legend anymore: There really are tunnels under Chinatown. [...]

Child-snatching in Guatemala

Sunday Telegraph [UK]
2 September 2007

Guatemala's child-snatching plague

By Philip Sherwell in Guatemala City, Sunday Telegraph

[...] In far-flung rural areas, meanwhile, so strong is the hysteria about child-stealing gangs that there have been dozens of lynchings of suspected baby thieves - although the victims have often simply been outsiders, not known in the remote villages.

Britain's ambassador, Ian Hughes, told The Sunday Telegraph that the Foreign Office now warns tourists not to approach or take pictures of children without a relative's permission, as foreigners have been caught up in the backlash. In July, two Americans were beaten up after they were seen talking to a boy on a riverbank in Quiche.

The anguish suffered by Ana Escobar, 26, is a painful testimony that reports of baby- snatching are more than myth. [...]

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Zoos Own Giant MRI or CT Scanners

Houston Chronicle
31 Aug 2007

Zoo always gets this big request


[...] But perhaps one of the most unusual and persistent requests comes from physicians, or patients, who hope to borrow the [Houston] zoo's MRI or CT scanners to examine obese people.

It's a long-standing urban legend that zoos have jumbo versions of such equipment to help diagnose illnesses in elephants and other huge creatures. But, to the disappointment of some doctors, zoo officials must tell them they have no such device. [...]

Gang Initiation Rumor Closes School

Ledger-Enquirer [Columbus, GA]
1 September 2007

Rumor swirls across city, school closes

Worry over threat leads to dismissal at Brookstone


Students at a Columbus private school were sent home early Friday afternoon after administrators heard rumors of possible gang activity that turned out to be a hoax.

Brookstone School on Bradley Park Drive went into lockdown around 1:15 p.m. after Columbus police informed school officials of a possible gang initiation at the school, headmaster Scott Wilson said. [...]