Monday, June 30, 2008

Indian Newspapers Fall For Nazi War Criminal Prank

Reuters India
30 June 2008

Indian newspapers fall for baroque Nazi war criminal hoax

Posted by: Jonathan Allen

You would think a press release about a German Nazi war criminal named Johann Bach being caught in the jungles of Goa after trying to sell a stolen 18th-century piano would be worth double-checking.

Nonetheless, the press release has been regurgitated on the front pages of the Deccan Herald and the Indian Express and inside the Telegraph, citing Perus Narkp, "the intelligence wing of the Berlin-based German Chancellor's Core (sic)", as the source. [...]

Reuters India
2 July 2008

Baroque Nazi war criminal hoax - an update

Posted by: Jonathan Allen

[...] It's interesting to see how different victims of the hoax are reacting. As far as I can see, only Goa's Herald has published a straightforward mea culpa. Other papers have shifted some of the blame onto hapless local police and intelligence officials, who had earlier been gently criticised for not knowing the details of the case. [...]

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Valerie Singleton & Joan Armatrading

Mail on Sunday [UK]
22 June 2008

The truth about all those men in my life and those lesbian rumours

By Valerie Singleton

[...] If the truth about my private life remained hidden from the wider world, I was not so fortunate with an outright lie: the claim that I had been in a relationship with the lesbian singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading.

It is nearly 30 years since this piece of misinformation started circulating.

At first I thought the rumour was so ludicrous it would die a natural death. The opposite happened, though, and it gained such a foothold that many people see it as the truth. [...]

The Guardian [UK]
24 June 2008

Here's one they made up earlier

Julie Bindel

With Valerie Singleton's revelation this weekend that she is the "opposite of gay", another lesbian icon bites the dust. I will no longer sigh with longing when seeking out the sticky-back plastic, or throwing an empty washing-up bottle away. Singleton has disappeared as an icon as swiftly as she arrived.

How did the rumours begin about Singleton being one of us? There was a time when you only had to be seen with a suspected lesbian to be thought of as one yourself. [...]

Sunday Telegraph [UK]
29 June 2008

Valerie Singleton has not slept with Joan Armatrading

By William Langley

How long should a rumour be tolerated? To what depths of scurrility must it sink before someone has the decency to put it down?

Take poor Joan Armatrading, dogged for 30 years by the story that she was in a gay relationship with Valerie Singleton. What serious cred can a rock singer expect if the fans think you go home after the gig and make periscopes from Pringles packets? [...]

Can a Catfish Eat a Human?

The Birmingham News [AL]
29 June 2008

Just another wild (cat)fish story

News staff writer

[...] The question, though, is could there really be a catfish in Alabama big enough to eat a human? [...]

UA Professors Study Campus Tales

Tuscaloosa News [AL]
29 June 2008

UA professors study campus tales

By Adam Jones
Staff Writer

[Jones' article is based on following article.]

Innovative Higher Education, vol. 32, no. 5, 2008, 237-50.

Claire Howell Major and Nathaniel Bray, “Exam Scams and Classroom Flimflams: Urban Legends as an Alternative Lens for Viewing the College Classroom Experience”

[Abstract:] Campus-based urban legends have the potential to convey and construct student culture in higher education. Basic qualitative and humanistic research methods were used to collect, analyze, and interpret legends related to the academic experience of collegiate life.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Obama Is a Muslim" Rumor

Washington Post
28 June 2008

An Attack That Came Out of the Ether
Scholar Looks for First Link in E-Mail Chain About Obama

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, June 28, 2008; Page C01

[Political theorist Danielle Allen tried to track down the origins of the rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim. She found that an important vector was the Free Republic Web site.]

[...] Allen set her sights on dissecting the modern version of a whisper campaign, even though experts told her it would be impossible to trace the chain e-mail to its origin. Along the way, even as her hunt grew cold, she gained valuable insight into the way political information circulates, mutates and sometimes devastates in the digital age. [...]

Washington Post
30 June 2008

In Flag City USA, False Obama Rumors Are Flying

By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, June 30, 2008; Page A01

[Many residents of Findlay, Ohio, believe false rumors about Barack Obama.]

[...] On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor's house, at his son's auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate's background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. [...]

And Keep Your Hands on the Table

[Or: ]

Rabbi Weiss's Page [Blog by Houston rabbi]
28 June 2008

Jews and Sex on Campus

[...] One story, though it could be another urban Jewish myth (and there are lots of them), professes that at a synagogue parent bar/bat mitzvah meeting the leaders of the meeting tell the parents not to have long table cloths draping the tables at the parties because the girls are "servicing" the boys under said table and tablecloth.

The parents all wig out when that story surfaces every once in a while.

Tablecloth lengths aren't going to change a kid's behavior, guaranteed.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Little Man on the Cross

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
28 June 2008

Column 8

[...] "The item about a coin 'with a lyrebird on one side and a woman on the other', reminds me of the experience of a woman in Brisbane a decade or so ago," writes John Stubbs, of Rosebank (Column 8, Tuesday). "She was in an upmarket jewellery shop inspecting some simple gold crosses, to select one as a gift for a favourite niece as a gesture to mark her confirmation. A smiling young shop assistant approached her and offered the helpful advice: 'We've got some others like that, with a little man on them."' [...]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Who Are You Gonna Believe?"

The New Yorker
30 June 2008

The Brass Ring
A multibillionaire's relentless quest for global influence.

by Connie Bruck

[...] In the late nineteen-eighties, one of [casino owner Sheldon Adelson's] closest friends from childhood, Alan Rice, was the show director for a Las Vegas festival, Cinetex, that was organized by Interface in collaboration with the American Film Institute. Rice taped Adelson at one meeting when he was issuing orders. "About a month later, Sheldon came back and said, `You guys have done this all wrong, you didn't follow my directions!' " [Jason] Chudnofsky recalled. "Alan Rice said, `Stop for a second, Shel -- I'm going to play a tape of the meeting for you.' And Sheldon said the following: `What are you guys, crazy? Who are you gonna believe, me or the tape?' " (Rice declined to comment on the incident.) [...]

"Do You Know Who My Father Is?"

Sydney Morning Herald
27 June 2008

Column 8

Another fine contribution to our search for acid replies to "Do you know who I am?", this time from Sue Thomson, of Kirribilli. "Some years ago, a friend who worked on the 000 number had an irate call from the son of an eastern suburbs politician, about a very minor matter which was not an emergency. She politely explained to him that he would have to contact his local police station, but he refused to accept this and became increasingly angry, finally shouting 'Do you know who my father is?' My friend replied, in a concerned tone, 'No sir, I don't. Have you thought of asking your mother?' " [...]

Snow Walkers

San Francisco Chronicle
25 June 2008

Nah, dude, they weren't cranes, they were garbage trucks

Peter Hartlaub, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic

One of the greatest Bay Area moviemaking urban legends involves the Port of Oakland container cranes and the AT-AT snow walkers that invaded the ice planet Hoth in George Lucas' "The Empire Strikes Back." [...]

[George Lucas and animator Phil Tippett deny that the snow walkers were inspired by the cranes.]

Corpse in Town Water Tank, Vietnam

Thanh Nien Daily [Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam]
26 June 2008

Officials deny rumors of corpse in town water tank

Officials in Bac Ninh Town near Hanoi have denied rumors circulating since the middle of this month that an HIV-infected woman had died in a tank in the local pumping station. [...]

The Pope Doesn't Wear Prada

The Associated Press
26 June 2008

Vatican paper says pope does not wear Prada

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The devil may wear Prada - but the pope does not. According to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the bright red loafers that Pope Benedict XVI wears are not designed by the Milanese fashion house, as has long been rumored. [...]

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Child Abducted in Scunthorpe Store

The Scunthorpe Telegraph [UK]
24 June 2008


Police have dismissed speculation about an attempted child abduction.

The Scunthorpe Telegraph newsroom has taken several calls recently relating to an alleged incident in a supermarket.

The story, dismissed as an 'urban myth', is believed to have originated in America.

It gives details of a child being snatched while a parent is looking at products on a supermarket shelf.

The child is then said to have been found with the abductor, in the store's toilets.

Some versions of the alleged events also include the child having its head shaved. [...]

Kent News [UK]
27 June 2008

Police scotch child-snatch hoax

Police are urging people not to pass on the urban myth currently circulating that there has been an attempted abduction of a young girl at the Manston Tesco store in Thanet. [...]

Marseilles: Anti-Roma Rumor Leads to Two Attacks
24 June 2008

Marseille: une rumeur contre les Roms entraîne deux agressions

«Attention: Les Roumains enlèvent petits et grands, filles et garçons, pour des trafics d'organes. Ils ont déjà agi dans plusieurs endroits à Marseille (…). Ils ont plusieurs camionnettes bleues et blanches avec les vitres teintées noires. (…). Il faut agir maintenant. Fais tourner à tous tes contacts (…).» Cette folle rumeur circule depuis plusieurs jours, voire plusieurs semaines, à Marseille, via SMS et mails entre ados. Et se propage d’autant plus vite qu’une jeune femme de 20 ans, Fatima, est portée disparue depuis le 7 mai à Malpassé (13e). Les services de police reçoivent même des appels de quelques parents inquiets. Jusqu’à la surchauffe. [...]

[Marseilles: Anti-Roma Rumor Leads to Two Attacks

"Warning: Romanians are abducting young and old, girls and boys, for organ-trafficking. They've already struck in several places in Marseilles. [...] They have several blue and white vans with black-tinted windows. [...] Act now. Forward this message to all your contacts. [...]" This is the crazy rumor that has been circulating for several days or weeks in Marseilles via teenagers' text messages and e-mails. It has spread even more quickly since a 20-year-old woman, Fatima, went missing on May 7 in Malpassé (13th arrondissement). The police are even getting calls from worried parents. The situation is getting out of hand....]

La Provence [France]
24 June 2008

Enlèvements d'enfants : la folle rumeur qui incite à la haine

Trois Roumains ont été lynchés ce week-end à la Bricarde (15e) par une soixantaine d'habitants. Un acte odieux, conséquence d'une psychose infondée autour d'un trafic d'organes.

Par Sophie Manelli

[Articles spotted by Rob Chambers and Jean-Luc Rivera.]

Depeche du Midi
25 June 2008

Trois Roumains ont été lynchés ce week-end victimes d'une rumeur tenace.
Marseille. Trois Roumains lynchés, victimes d'une rumeur


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sinking Jail

The Times-Herald [Port Huron, MI]
24 June 2008

Dispelling the rumors

Times Herald

Whatever else you might have heard, St. Clair County's new jail is not slowly disappearing into the muck and mire of a Port Huron Township swamp.

"The building is not sinking," County Administrator Shaun Groden replied when asked about the often-heard rumor. [...]

[Obviously the architect forgot to take into account the weight of the prisoners. -- bc]

Terrorist Can't Drive a Car

The Guardian [UK]
24 June 2008

Karachi calling

Mohammed Hanif

[...] There is the urban legend [in Pakistan] of the suicide bomber who gets a lift from a family in a car, asks them to drive around looking for a target, all the while trying to convince them that they will go to heaven with him. He fails to find a target and the car runs out of fuel. As the bomber leaves them, the head of the family tells him that if he wants to carry out God's mission he should at least learn to drive. [...]

Monday, June 23, 2008

One private member damaged (slightly bent)

Michael Gilbert, ed., The Oxford Book of Legal Anecdotes (Oxford & NY: Oxford U. P., 1986), pp. 5-6.

Dined last night with an old Manchester friend. He vouches for the authenticity of this letter from a native of Lagos to the owners of the vessel which he was helping to load:


My statement to you about my speech to my lawyer when he came to demand as per legal orders the sum of £50 for my poor damaged body by falling in Company's lighter while doing my honest due on account of which I might have gone to heaven that day. Praise the Lord I did not go. But, Sir, when you said to my legal adviser:

1st that I was drunken

2nd that cause of drunkenness was stealing gin from lighter

Well, Sir, those two speeches, 1st and 2nd, proved that you are a son of the father of lies i.e. Devil because said gin had been freely drunk at 8.00 a.m. prompt. I fell headlong into lighter at 11.00 a.m. prompt. At 11.00 a.m. gin had passed through body, so cause of top-heaviness had finished. Therefore you are the very first-born of the father of lies, to wit the Devil. Because 2nd charge of stealing gin is libel. Beware Sir do not take away my poor character beside thousand pounds are often lost legal by libel, as legals cost plenty money. Now Sir, for God's sake try and sign for £50 for damage to poor frame of mortality as follows:

Fell down in lighter on tons of metal

One head splitten

One nose useless (very grave)

One shoulder broken (blood extracted)

One arm bent (blood ditto)

One thick leg dashed (ditto ditto)

One private member damaged (slightly bent)

One leg half broken (blood freely)

General conditions (breakings -- dashings -- all blood freely etc)

Now Sir this hurts are cheap at £50....I will come for book re £50 to morning, meantime may God watch and protect your slumbers tonight so as to keep you safe till morning and I get my £50.

Yesufu Illorin

[Source: James Agate, Ego 2 (Gollancz, 1936).]

Sayonara WaiWai

[WaiWai was a great source of salacious urban legends from Japan. I'll miss it. -- bc]

Mainichi Daily News [Japan]
24 June 2008

WaiWai Notice and Apology

Explanation and Apology Regarding Mainichi Daily News WaiWai

Mainichi Daily News, the Mainichi Newspapers' English language website, contained a corner called WaiWai that attracted criticism for such things as being too vulgar and debauching Japan by sending around the world information that could be misunderstood. In the wake of this criticism, we decided to end this corner. [...] While explaining the process in both Japanese and English and apologizing, the Mainichi is poised to severely punish the head of the Digital Media Division, which is responsible for overseeing the site, the manager responsible for the corner and the editor involved with the stories. [...]

Thieves Focus on Pointless Chip Theft

Yorkshire Evening Post [UK]
21 June 2008

Thieves focus on pointless chip theft

Police in Leeds today issued a warning following a rise in thefts from vehicles across the city.

Thieves are targeting stereos inside Ford Focus cars and owners are being warned to take extra precautions.

Detective Inspector Nick Wallen from North East Leeds Division said: "There has been an ongoing rumour for a number of years now that a chip within a stereo from a Ford Focus can be put into a Sky box and you receive free Sky television." [...]

South Wales Echo
10 December 2009

Stupid thieves fall for Ford Focus urban myth

by Abby Alford, South Wales Echo

AN urban myth is driving thieves to target Ford Focus cars across the city [Cardiff].

A rumour that a microchip from the stereo can be inserted into a television digibox to access Sky channels for free has resulted in a surge in vehicle break-ins. [...]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lord Byron's Locks of Hair

The Sunday Times [London, UK]
22 June 2008

Why, Lord Byron -- you're a sly dog

Richard Brooks

He may have a reputation as England's greatest romantic poet, but Lord Byron had an unchivalrous way of fobbing off his female admirers.

The women would send him locks of hair with their fan letters. It has now been claimed that the clippings he sent them to swoon over in return were not from his own head but from his pet newfoundland dog. [...]

John Gross, ed., The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 102.

Drury had some dogs (two, I believe) sent him that had belonged to Lord Byron. One day he was told that two ladies wished to see him, and he found their business was to ask, as a great favour, some relic of Lord Byron. Expecting to be asked for some of his handwriting, or a bit of his hair, he was amused to find that it was a bit of the hair of one of the dogs they wanted. The dog being brought forward the ladies observed a clot on his back, which had evidently resisted any efforts at ablution that might have been exerted on the animal, and immediately selected this as the most precious part to be cut off; 'the probability,' they said, 'being that Lord B. might have patted that clot.' -- Thomas Moore, journal, June 1827

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rumors Abound on Five Feet

Times Colonist [Victoria, BC, Canada]
20 June 2008

Theories on feet running rampant around the world
Explanations for washed-up remains range from realistic to ridiculous

Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist

The flotilla of feet clad in sneakers that has washed ashore on the south coast since August 2007 has people talking -- and, apparently, trying to egg on the mystery. [...]

A common theme is it's the work of bored medical students or hospital workers who dissect cadavers and dress up the feet before tossing them in the sea. Or there's a crazed funeral home director who is playing fast and loose with the feet of the deceased. Or a serial killer is targeting people in running shoes.

Also being discussed: The limbs belong to suicide victims, or victims of organized crime, or stowaways who perished before getting to Canada.

A suggestion that we're seeing the remains of the 2005 tsunami victims come ashore after a voyage across the Pacific seems plausible. It makes sense that ocean currents might bring a cluster of floating shoes ashore -- but why just here in the Strait of Georgia and not the vast and well-travelled beaches of Tofino and Ucluelet, or the coasts of Washington and Oregon?

Even Freemasons are suspected by some who speculate the order has a secret ritual that involves hanging men from their right foot. Of course, there's no such ritual but anyone with secrets is under scrutiny. [...]

FOAFTale News Archive

All 70 issues of FOAFTale News, the newsletter of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, are now online:

Indian Newspaper's Crusade to Destroy English

The Business Standard [India]
21 June 2008

Bengal won't budge

Sunanda K Datta-Ray / New Delhi June 21, 2008

[...] It's like that famous, and no doubt apocryphal, story about Tushar Kanti Ghosh, the legendary owner-editor of the sadly defunct Amrita Bazar Patrika. Some years before Independence, Ghosh was reportedly asked at a Rotary meeting why his paper's English was so atrocious. Quite unfazed, the veteran replied, "The English are our enemy. We can't hurt them in any other way. So, the Patrika is doing its best to destroy their language." [...]

P&G vs Amway

Salt Lake Tribune [Utah]
20 June 2008

The devil you say? Not in my court, judge rules

By Pamela Mason
The Salt Lake Tribune

A federal judge today refused to order a new trial on a hellish lie about household-products giant Procter & Gamble that was spread by Amway distributors.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart also denied a motion to investigate claims that jurors improperly used outside information in finding that the distributors owed $19,250,000 to P&G for disseminating a false rumor that the company supported a Satanic church. [...]

Chinese Superstitions

Christian Science Monitor
20 June 2008

Superstitions fly as Chinese reel from a bad (luck) year

By Peter Ford
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Medical Student Uses Intestines as a Jump Rope

Clarion-Ledger [Jackson, MS]
19 June 2008

Doctor, doctor, spare me the news

By Gary Pettus

[...] In high school, I even thought about becoming a doctor, until someone told me I'd have to take biology. Medical schools are so strict.

Also, I read a true story about a disgraced medical-school student who had used a cadaver's intestines for a jumping rope.

I knew then it was time to find a new career path. [...]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tania Exploits Rumors of Sex with Soldiers,23599,23737653-2,00.html
22 May 2008

Zaetta's career at risk over troop sex claims

By staff writers and wires

ENTERTAINER Tania Zaetta has angrily denied leaked claims she had sex with Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. [...]

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
8 June 2008

Tania Zaetta hits back at Afghanistan romp claim

Louise Hall

ENTERTAINER Tania Zaetta has revealed she couldn't eat and felt like throwing up for four days after claims she had sex with Australian troops during an entertainment tour in Afghanistan.

The TV presenter-turned-Bollywood movie star says she is still furious, despite defence chiefs exonerating her and offering a full apology last week.

The head of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, admitted "there was no substance to the allegations" in a leaked Defence briefing paper and sent her a personal letter of apology on Friday. [...],22049,23885395-5001021,00.html

The Daily Telegraph [Australia]
19 June 2008

Stressed Tania Zaetta spruiks lemon stress tea

By Michelle Cazzulino

IT'S the marketing stunt guaranteed to have you reaching for the antacid: Tania Zaetta is using the "ordeal" of being accused of having sex with Australian troops in Iraq to spruik a drink that claims to settle the stomach. [...],22049,23885809-5001030,00.html

The Daily Telegraph [Australia]
19 June 2008

Want some more ridicule, Tania?

By Fiona Connolly

SHE was so distressed over "horrible, disgusting, vicious, nasty allegations" she had sex with Australian troops that she couldn't eat and "felt like throwing up for four days".
In fact, Tania Zaetta's reputation was so besmirched by the saucy claims her thoughtful agent Max Markson decided something must be done. [...]

E-mail Rape Rumor, McKinney, Texas

McKinney Courier-Gazette [Texas]
18 June 2008

Email rape rumor a hoax: Police, fire have no record of sexual, physical assault behind Eldorado Kroger store

BY DANNY GALLAGHER, McKinney Courier-Gazette

[...] The email claimed the sexual and physical assault occurred on Thursday, June 12 behind the Kroger grocery store near the intersection of Eldorado Parkway and Lake Forest Drive. The author of the email doesn't identify the victims except that they are the son and the son's girlfriend of a "good friend," according to a copy of the email obtained by the McKinney Courier-Gazette.

The author of the email said she was told an employee of the store reported the incident after discovering the victims.

"They aren't sure how long she was back there," the email read. "From what I understand she can't talk and her parents are feeding her with an eye dropper because she has no suction so she can't even suck a straw. Her jaw is wired shut and the doctors had to reconstruct the left side of her face." [...]

[After McKinney police Capt. Randy Roland wrote to the author of the e-mail, informing her that the alleged assault never happened, she made a retraction and apology.]

McDonald's Boycott Urged

Chico Enterprise Record [CA]
19 June 2008

Blistering e-mail deluge about Mcdonald's 'demoralizing'

By LAURA URSENY - Staff Writer

PARADISE - Mark Burington just doesn't know how a possible overheard conversation could balloon into the nastiest rumor he's ever encountered.

Burington is the owner of the area McDonald's restaurants. He's been battling a vicious e-mail firestorm that suggests a boycott of McDonald's. It erupted after a man soliciting food donations for firefighters was turned away from the Paradise restaurant. [...]

Chico Enterprise Record [CA]
19 June 2008

Read the McDonald's rumor e-mail and response

Paradise Post [CA]
19 June 2008

McDonald's owner answers claims

By Jennifer Barker

The chain e-mail sent to Ridge residents Friday bashing the local McDonald's proved to be false said the restaurant owner.

Friday, a Post employee received the e-mail allegedly sent by Laura Ornoski which asked residents to boycott the local McDonalds in Paradise, Chico and Gridley. Ornoski's e-mail accused local McDonalds' owner Mark Burington of refusing to donate food to firefighters battling the Humboldt blaze. It also stated that he wouldn't donate to Red Cross and told his employees that they had to be at work, even if their families evacuated. [...]

"Curse of the Fuwa" Fulfilled by Floods

19 June 2008

"Curse of the Fuwa" fulfilled by floods

By Lucy Hornby and Alfred Cang

BEIJING (Reuters) - Floods sweeping southern China seem to have fulfilled the final stanza of an Internet curse involving Beijing's Olympic mascots, but censors have been quick to remove postings that might fuel the superstition. [...]'have-cursed'-China-in-unlucky-2008.html

Daily Telegraph [UK]
21 June 2008

Beijing Olympic Fuwa mascots 'have cursed' China in unlucky 2008

By David Eimer in Beijing

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Carjackers' Note on Rear Window

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI]
17 June 2008

E-mail warning from Milwaukee police a hoax

By Raquel Rutledge

An e-mail warning motorists about a carjacking scheme in Milwaukee might sound plausible but should be disregarded, according to Milwaukee police officer Derrrick Lemmie.

The e-mail - with the subject line "warming from Milwaukee police" - tells you to be wary of a piece of paper stuck to the rear window of your car. While you're backing out - or when you glance in the rearview mirror - you notice the paper and get out of your car to remove it. As you do that carjackers jump in and zip off in your car with all your belongings.

"Beware of this scheme that is now being used," the e-mail - reportedly from officer Lemmie of the MPD - states. [...]

Patrick Propson Convicted

Appleton Post-Crescent [WI]
7 June 2008

'Urban legend' beating leads to probation
Man who lied about assault to perform community service

By Dan Wilson

APPLETON -- A Kaukauna man who borrowed an urban legend to explain a beating was convicted Monday of obstructing an officer.

Patrick R. Propson, 23, 624 Alyssa St., was placed on probation for a year by Outagamie County Circuit Judge Mitch Metropulos. The judge ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to the Fox Valley Metro Police Department, which serves Kimberly and Little Chute.

"This is an aggravated obstructing case," said Metropulos. "This case perpetuated a lie to police and police acted on that. And you just kept that lie going."

On Sept. 26, Propson, who was hospitalized with injuries that were the obvious result of a beating, told police that he was driving on U.S. 41 near the juncture with State 441, and was followed closely by a vehicle flashing its headlights. Propson said he pulled off on to the shoulder of the highway to see what was amiss.

As he got out of his car, three males got out the other car and attacked him and beat him with a baseball bat, Propson told police. [...]

The Bronze Bitch

Twin Cities Daily Planet [Minneapolis - St. Paul, MN]
17 June 2008

So what exactly is a bronze bitch anyway?

by Matthew A. Everett

[...] There was (and still is) a statue out by the old administration building at my alma mater - a bronze statue of a female benefactor, turning green with age (the statue, not the benefactor). The old gal was affectionately known among the student body as "The Bronze Bitch."

Rumor had it that if a virgin ever graduated from the college, the statue would up and fly away.

No one has yet stepped forward to refute this claim. [...]

Saturday, June 14, 2008

George Bush to Become a Catholic

Washington Times
14 June 2008

Italians speculate Bush to convert
Garden talks at Holy See rare


ROME -- President Bush received an unprecedented welcome Friday from Pope Benedict XVI in the tranquil Vatican Gardens in a break with protocol that fueled speculation in Italian newspapers that the U.S. leader may be considering converting to Roman Catholicism. [...]

"The rosy legend of a possible conversion of Bush to Catholicism has started to circulate," wrote Marco Politi, the respected Vatican correspondent of La Repubblica newspaper, noting that the president's brother Jeb converted to Roman Catholicism as has former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

La Repubblica headlined its report "The mystery of the conversion during the visit to the pope."

The leading Corriere della Sera of Milan newspaper noted that the apostolic nuncio, or the Vatican's ambassador, in Washington, Pietro Sambi, may have hinted at a possible conversion when talking about the conversations the pope held with Mr. Bush in the United States in April. [...]

The Independent [UK]
14 June 2008

Bush 'may convert to Catholicism'

By Peter Popham in Rome

President George Bush was given such a splendid welcome by Pope Benedict XVI yesterday that rumours started flying that the President, like Tony Blair before him, was on the verge of converting to Catholicism. [...]

Friday, June 13, 2008

China Drills for Oil Outside Key West,0,3923442.story

Chicago Tribune
13 June 2008

Cheney's false comment on oil drilling attacked

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney's office acknowledged on Thursday that he was mistaken when he asserted that China, at Cuba's behest, is drilling for oil in waters 60 miles from the Florida coast. [...]

But talk of China drilling in waters within 50 miles to 60 miles of Key West has been a common theme among Republicans. They are clamoring to open more of the country's offshore waters to energy development, including the eastern Gulf where drilling is strongly opposed by Florida officials. [...]

Miami Herald
14 June 2008

Cheney's office: China not drilling in Cuba, not so far


Cincinnati Enquirer
17 June 2008

Schmidt criticized for false drilling claims
Ohio Republican said Cuba sold drilling rights to China


WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt is being criticized for repeating false information about Chinese oil drilling in a speech on the House floor. [...]

Fred Hobbs is Skeptical about Obama

Nashville City Paper [TN]
13 June 2008

Superdelegate Davis slow to endorse Obama

By John Rodgers

The rise of Sen. Barack Obama, to become the Democrats' presidential nominee has put most of his party's faithful on his bandwagon - but not Lincoln Davis, a rural Tennessee Congressman with gubernatorial ambitions. [...]

Fred Hobbs, a state Democratic Party Executive Committee member representing part of Davis' district, said he understands why Davis is not endorsing Obama and is "skeptical" of the Illinois senator himself.

"Maybe [it's] the same reason I don't want to - I don't exactly approve of a lot of the things he stands for and I'm not sure we know enough about him," Hobbs said when asked why he thought Davis wasn't endorsing Obama. "He's got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be." [...]

Chattanooga Times Free Press [TN]
18 June 2008

Tennessee Democrat apologizes over Obama 'terrorism connected' remark

By: Andy Sher

NASHVILLE - A member of Tennessee's Democratic Executive Committee is apologizing to fellow Democrats for suggesting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may have connections to terrorists.

"My statement that Senator Obama `may be terrorist-connected' was incorrect and I apologize for making it," former state Rep. Fred Hobbs said in a letter to fellow Democratic Executive Committee members.

Mr. Hobbs, a former Eagleville mayor, said his comments "did reflect questions I had after what I had seen reported on Fox News, but I should have taken some time to check the accuracy of what I saw on television before speaking publicly." [...]

Crooks Prefer Jail to a Nagging Wife

Ananova [UK]
13 June 2008

Crook prefers jail to wife

An Italian crook begged to go back to jail after telling wardens life behind bars was better than living with his wife again.

Prison bosses had freed Luigi Folliero, 45, to serve the second year of his two-year sentence for theft under house arrest.

But after just two days at home he fled back to Ponte San Leonardo jail, near Naples, and pleaded to go back in his old cell because he could not stand being at home with his wife.

He told wardens: "She never stops moaning and nagging."

Some more reports of men preferring jail to a nagging wife.

Hartford Courant [CT]
11 April 1925

Finds Jail Haven from Nagging Wife

[I couldn't access this one.]

15 June 1953

Sanctuary. In Mobile, Ala., Barber Carl B. Pennington, pleading for a weekend in jail, told police: "I've got a nagging wife . . . I've got ulcers ... I can't stand the strain any longer . . . Please lock me up."

The Newark Advocate [Ohio]
20 March 1961, p. 3

Preferred Jail to His 'Nagging Wife'

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- When police arrested Albert Torres, 20, Saturday, on charges of possessing burglary tools, he said he tipped officers off on himself because he wanted to spend the night in jail to escape what he called a "nagging wife."

Torres got his wish.

Police quoted him as saying he told his wife that if she didn't cut out the nagging he'd get himself arrested. She didn't believe him, he said.

The Kerrville Times [Texas]
20 July 1956, p. 1

Henpecked Hubby Picks Pen to Rid Self of 'Hen'

DALLAS (AP) -- A henpecked husband asked police yesterday to send him back to his old cell in the state penitentiary so he could get away from his nagging wife.

The Beaumont man, 44, stopped policeman Paul Collins and said he was a parole violator. He asked to be arrested. At headquarters he told this story:

He was recently paroled four months before his five year sentence for forgery was completed. The Parole Board told him to return to his wife in Beaumont and stay there.

"She makes me so mad I could kill her. If I lose my temper, I'll end up in the death house. My probation officer won't let me leave town to get away from her."

He said he deliberately violated his parole by riding a freight train to Dallas, and asked to be arrested.

"The easiest way to get away from her is to go back to prison and serve that four months," he said.

Taipei Times
24 July 2003

Man holds son hostage

A 33-year-old man briefly held hostage his two-year-old son in the Philippines in a desperate bid to escape his nagging wife by landing in jail, police said yesterday. Ramon del Castillo also threatened to commit suicide and kill his son during the one-hour hostage drama in the city of Makati on Tuesday, said police Superintendent Jose Ramon Salido. Salido said del Castillo took his son while his wife was sleeping and forcibly entered a neighbor's house, where he took a knife from the kitchen. The man then climbed to the third floor of the house and tied a rope around his and his son's necks, while poking the knife at anyone who tried to get near them.

Ananova [UK]
6 Oct 2004

Husband chooses jail to escape nagging wife

A henpecked German has chosen to do time in jail rather than pay a parking fine to get away from his nagging wife.

The 47-year-old man, from Itzehoe, faced a ₤55 fine - or 10 days in prison if he didn't pay up.

Police in the town said they were stunned when the man rang up and asked them to come and pick him up from his home.

"He said he couldn't stand the constant bickering at home with his wife and was looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet in jail," said a police spokesman.

Ananova [UK]
12 October 2005

Man prefers jail to wife's nagging

A man sentenced to nine months house arrest begged a judge to jail him instead because he couldn't stand his wife's nagging.

Algerian Ahmed Salhi, 24, was sentenced to a nine month curfew at home with his Italian wife in Ferrara, northern Italy.

But he went back to court after a week and begged the judge to jail him because he could not bear her nagging.

Salhi was sentenced to nine months house arrest after breaching immigration regulations.

But he turned up at his local courtroom and begged to be taken into custody because he said he could no longer stand living with her, and would rather be behind bars, Corriere della Sera reported.

He said: "I need some peace."

A local court agreed to the Salhi's request and he has been jailed for the rest of his sentence.

Khaleej Times
16 January 2006

When jail is better than a nagging wife!

From our correspondent

AHMEDABAD — A young man who was released from jail after a month yesterday says peace of the prison is any day better than a nagging wife, and has convened a conference of 'harassed husbands' here next week.

Nand Lall, who was imprisoned for not paying the monthly alimony of Rs1,200 to his estranged wife, was working as a driver but could not fulfil the constant demands of his materialistic wife even as she gave birth to a baby boy. [...]

Shanghai Daily
27 December 2007

Robber prefers prison to nagging wife

By Chen Qian

A MAN was so miserable with his marriage and home life, he committed a string of bungled robberies in the hope of being sentenced to prison.

Police said Wang Linhua initially confessed to crimes he had not committed. When that didn't work, he resorted to the real thing.

Wang, 29, was finally caught attempting to rob five people while armed with a toy gun and was sentenced to four years in prison.

He told prosecutors he didn't get on well with his wife with whom he constantly quarreled. He said he didn't want to stay at home and preferred a life behind bars. [...]

Friday 13th Not More Unlucky, Study Shows

12 June 2008

Friday 13th not more unlucky, study shows

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Unlucky for some? Dutch statisticians have established that Friday 13th, a date regarded in many countries as inauspicious, is actually safer than an average Friday.

A study published on Thursday by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) showed that fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays. [...]

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fight the Smears

Fight the Smears

[Website refutes untrue rumors about Barack Obama.]

16 June 2008

What's wrong with Obama's

Obama's new site tries to fight ugly rumors by getting people to e-mail the truth to their friends. The strategy could backfire.

By Farhad Manjoo

[...] What's worse, Fight the Smears violates a cardinal rule of rumor-debunking: When you're fighting a lie, don't repeat it. [...]

Women Think Shopping, Men Think About Sex,-men-think-about-sex.html

The Daily Telegraph [UK]
11 June 2008

Women think shopping, men think about sex

By Andy Bloxham

Three quarters of young women think about shopping almost as often as young men think about sex, researchers have discovered.

Females between the ages of 19 and 45 think about buying things once every 60 seconds, while men are believed to think of sex every 52 seconds. [...]

Assuming that the average woman sleeps for eight hours a night, the figures mean that women think of shopping 960 times a day - or 6,720 times a week.

The survey, for fashion website, interviewed 778 women between 19 and 45, and 74 per cent admitted to thinking about shopping every minute. [...]

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oral Sex at Children's Birthday Party

23 May 2008 [Print edition, 9 June 2008]

The Oral Myth

By Jennie Yabroff

The story is shocking, but perhaps not unfamiliar. At a birthday party for a seventh-grader, the boy's mother had gone down to the basement only to find all the boys lined up along one wall. The girls, the mother reported, had been going down the line performing oral sex on them.

But is the story true? [...]

Laura Sessions Stepp, author of "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both," [...] is skeptical. But the hysteria of the mother who called to tell her about it (who had heard the tale from another mother) is real. [...]

Child Abducted from Asda in Telford

Shropshire Star [UK]
10 June 2008

Store child abduction is denied

Telford police today moved to quash rumours of an attempted child abduction at a Telford supermarket.

Police say there is no evidence to back the rumours that a toddler was snatched in Asda's Donnington Wood store over the weekend. [...]

Carjackers Use Acid-Filled Syringes

The Times [South Africa]
10 June 2008

Quandary over acid hijackings
No trace of victim named in e-mail warning

Borrie la Grange

A hoax e-mail might have tricked KwaZulu-Natal police into warning already edgy motorists about hijackers wielding syringes filled with swimming-pool acid.

Police on the South Coast issued the warning yesterday after the police's crime intelligence section got wind of the new modus operandi.

Superintendent Zandra Wiid, a police spokeswoman, referred to "a recent case in Rivonia", Johannesburg, in which a well-dressed man approached a motorist at a traffic light "informing him that he wanted his car. He used a syringe and sprayed pool acid in the victim's face."

Wiid said the KwaZulu-Natal crime intelligence section had received a fax from "headquarters in Pretoria", warning it about the use of acid-filled syringes by hijackers .

The warning is, however, similar to a hoax e-mail widely circulated in 2006, which identified an acid-attack victim, accosted at a traffic light in Rivonia, as a Discovery Health employee, Gavin Osmond. But Discovery said yesterday it had no record of an employee of that name.

Gauteng police said no acid hijackings had been reported.

Congressional Ignorance

New York Times
10 June 2008

Physicists in Congress Calculate Their Influence


[Vernon J. Ehlers is one of only three physicists in the United States Congress.]

[...] Several times he has found himself "rushing to the floor" to head off colleagues ready to eliminate financing for endeavors whose importance they did not understand.

Once it was game theory. The person seeking the cut did not seem to realize that game theory had to do with interactions in economics, behavior and other social sciences, not sports, Mr. Ehlers recounted.

Then there was the time he rose to defend A.T.M. research against a colleague who thought it should be left to the banking industry. In this case the initials stood for asynchronous transfer mode, a protocol for fiber-optic data transfer. [...]

Monday, June 9, 2008

Popcorn and Cell Phones'hoax'-hits-YouTube.html

Daily Telegraph [UK]
9 June 2008

Mobile phone popcorn 'hoax' hits YouTube

By Matthew Moore

Home-made videos appearing to show corn being popped by the heat given off by ringing mobile phones are getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

The four clips, all of which were posted in the last few days, show corn kernels exploding after just a few seconds of being surrounded by ringing phones.

Despite the scientific impossibility of the stunt - mobile phones do not produce anywhere near enough heat to cook popcorn - some YouTube commenters appear convinced that the clips provide more evidence of the dangers of technology. [...]

12 June 2008

Company Fesses Up to Corn-Popping Cellphone Clips

By Jenna Wortham

Bluetooth headset retailer Cardo Systems has claimed ownership of the hot viral videos that show people appearing to pop popcorn with their cellphones. [...]

Horse Thefts by Eastern Europeans

Wigan Evening Post [UK]
9 June 2008

Texts spark fears over horse raids

Worried horse owners in Wigan say they are receiving alarming texts and e-mails warning them about stolen animals.

The texts say a number of horses have been taken from Derbyshire and have even given registration numbers of vehicles said to have been used in the alleged crimes.

But horse owners in the borough say they are increasingly concerned as some messages have also said horses have been stolen more locally - from Abram, Westhoughton, Heath Charnock and Bury.

One of the original e-mails stated: "There have been three sightings of two suspicious men with Eastern European accents photographing local horses.

"They have been seen in a white van and a red Land Cruiser. Police are treating this as suspicious. Please forward." [...]

Fish Eating Corpses of Cyclone Victims

USA Today
9 June 2008

Burma group denies rumors of fish eating corpses

RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- A Burma government-affiliated group denied rumors that fish from cyclone-ravaged areas were unfit to eat after supposedly feeding on human and animals corpses, local media reported Monday.

Since Cyclone Nargis slammed into Burma's Irrawaddy delta last month, some people in Rangoon - the country's biggest city - have been reluctant to eat fish because of rumors they were feeding on the bodies of storm victims. Burma also is known as Myanmar.

One rumor circulating was that some fish were found to have human fingers and pieces of jewelry in their stomachs.

Myanmar Times
9-15 June 2008

No danger of disease from fish, say officials

Sann Oo

OFFICIALS from the Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) are denying persistent rumours that fish brought to Yangon from the storm-ravaged Ayeyarwady delta are unfit for human consumption.

According to rumours, fish have been feeding on the corpses of animals and people killed last month by cyclone Nargis, and some fish have even been found to have human fingers in their stomachs.

“This is not true, we can guarantee that,” said Daw Toe Nandar Tin, an executive member of the federation. “There have been no cases where fingers have been found in fish stomachs. It’s just a rumour.” [...]

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lon Chaney Jr.'s Fight Scene

This anecdote by actor William Shatner about his time doing live TV in Canada in the 1950s should be taken with a grain of salt. As he admits on page 80 of his autobiography, "I do make things up. It's part of the actor's craft." -- bc

William Shatner with David Fisher, Up Till Now: The Autobiography. NY: St. Martin's Press, 2008, pp. 44-5.

I remember doing a show with Lon Chaney Jr., who had a drinking problem. In the first act we had a big fight scene in which we completely broke up a room. The furniture was all props, breakaway tables and chairs made of balsa, the vase was made of some kind of hard sugar, but because we had such a small budget we couldn't afford to actually rehearse the action. If we broke it we couldn't replace it. So instead we walked through the scene, each of us describing our actions. Chaney had memorized his movements: "Right here I pick up the chair and hit you over the shoulders with it and you roll backward. Then you fall over the table, which will break and I'll pick up the leg and hit you over the head. You go down right on that mark and the cameras'll pick you up." We went through it every day, being very careful not to break any of the breakaway furniture. Chaney was great. He showed up on time, sober, and had his lines down cold.

I guess he began to get nervous during the dress rehearsal in the afternoon. But we went through the scene and everything seemed okay. "...I pick up the chair and hit you over the shoulders..."

At the end of the dress rehearsal the director gathered the cast around him and gave us his final notes. "We're going on in exactly forty-seven minutes. Good luck, everybody, it's been a pleasure working with you. I know we're going to have a wonderful show. Now you have a little time to eat because we're going on in exactly forty-three minutes..."

So we all went back to our dressing areas and I got ready to do the show. Apparently Chaney started getting very nervous and to calm himself down had a few drinks. Forty-two minutes' worth of drinks. He managed to get through the first part of the show until we reached the fight scene. As the scene started he looked at me angrily and said, "Right here I pick up the chair and hit you over the shoulders with it and you roll backward. Then you fall over the table..."

With that the stage manager lifted his head and screamed, "We're on the air, you son of a bitch!"
[Shatner, who once hosted the TV show Rescue 911, writes (on page 258) that the producers of that show told him about a man dressed in a Batman costume who had knocked himself out while trying to leap on to the bed where his wife was tied up. "I was told by our producers that this was indeed a true story."

He also claims that while driving one night in Kentucky he ran over a skunk. When he approached the animal on foot he got sprayed. Remembering that tomato juice could supposedly neutralize the smell, he walked to a gas station a mile away, bought a few cans of tomato juice, and poured the contents over his head and clothes. As he was returning to his pickup truck, he was stopped by a police car and an ambulance. "Apparently the driver of one of the cars that passed me had stopped down the road to call 911 -- there was a guy on the side of the road bleeding very badly from what appeared to be a head wound, he'd told them."

This anecdote appears on pages 259-60. A much longer version with differing details appears in Get A Life! by William Shatner with Chris Kreski (New York & Toronto: Pocket Books, 1999), pages 219-26.]

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Conspiracy to Steal Dogs

Cody Enterprise [WY]
4 June 2008

Missing pets prompt dogfighting concerns, ‘sinister' motives

By Enterprise Staff

Some South Fork and Cody residents continue to raise questions about whether there is an ongoing conspiracy to steal area dogs.

The theory is the dog thieves have illegal motives ranging from simply killing the dogs to using them for illegal dog fighting or medical experimentation.

But in springtime, dogs do wander and sometimes are shot, especially in the county, says Duane Wiener, the Cody Police Department's community service officer. [...]

Carjackings and Rapes, Michigan

The Grand Rapids Press [MI]
4 June 2008

Police: E-mail warning of carjacking and rape is a hoax

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP -- Authorities said today that an e-mail warning of women being carjacked along the East Beltline and raped at Versluis Park is a hoax, and there have no been no such reports of crimes.

The e-mail that is rapidly circulating alleges that women driving between Plainfield Avenue and 3 Mile Road NE are approached by a man who pulls a gun and enters the victim's vehicle. The myth then has the victim driving to a park and being sexually assaulted.

Kent County sheriff's Lt. Kevin Kelley said detectives have no reason to believe that anything resembling the alleged kidnapping and assault has occurred. [...]

WOOD-TV [Grand Rapids, MI]
4 June 2008

Police: E-mails on vicious attack a hoax

By Joe LaFurgey

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- The subject line reads the same: Urgent - pass this on.

The e-mails describe a suspect, walking in the median of the East Beltline at 3 Mile Road NE. A victim stops at the traffic light. The suspect pulls a gun, gets in the vehicle, forces the victim to drive three miles north to Versluis Park, beats and rapes her.

24 Hour News 8 called police as soon as we began receiving the e-mails, and detectives were already on the case. But the more questions asked, the more detectives began to wonder: Is there a case? [...]

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Crash Position Preserves Teeth

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
5 June 2008

Column 8

[...] As an established life member of the Fear of Flying Club, I must take issue with Dr Karl," contends John Stubbs, of Rosebank (seatbelts on aircraft, Column 8, Tuesday). "We've had the tranquilisers and the brandy - we got on the plane and we don't need to be told the way to the exits. The most useful information I have been given by an adjacent passenger, when the professional staff were raising our anxiety by telling us about how to assume the crash position, was: 'That's so you preserve your dentistry for later identification."'

Car Runs on Water

WKMG-TV [Orlando, FL]
4 June 2008

'Water-Running' Car Gets 100 Miles To The Ounce, Inventor Says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Florida man has created a car he claims runs on tap water.

"I'm getting 100 miles to the ounce on water," inventor Anthony Brown said.

Brown said he shut his fuel injection system down and created the system that can use any type of water with a small amount of gas. He said the car is getting just fuel vapor.

"When you separate the water from the oxygen from the hydrogen, it cooks and it cooks down to a brown," Brown said. "We're not having any waste product off of it. Everything is consumed and burned."

Local 6 showed video of Brown filling up his vehicle with water and then driving around.

Brown said any profit he makes from his invention will go toward helping missionaries around the world.

"I've just been asking for a way, for the Lord to show me to raise money rapidly and I started to working on this idea," Brown said.

Giant Rattlesnake on Golf Course, Kansas City

Kansas City Star [MO]
3 June 2008


And in the rough, a giant rattlesnake?

The Kansas City Star

Are there giant, man-eating timber rattlesnakes prowling Kansas City area golf courses?

Well, that's the rumor that has been spread via e-mail and the Internet lately - specifically that an 8-foot (or longer) Timber rattler was killed by a golfer using a 2-iron on hole No. 8 at Painted Hills Golf Course in Kansas City, Kansas.

Painted Hills director of golf Steve Price said the story is ridiculous. [...]

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Driver Trapped Inside Her Locked Car

KUTV-TV [Utah]
2 June 2008

Woman Calls Orem Police To Free Her From Her Locked Car

Automatic car features are supposed to make life easier for motorists, but they may be leaving some people without the know-how to do things the old-fashioned way. That's what happened to a driver in Utah County who became trapped inside her own car.

A woman called Orem police Friday afternoon needing help because her battery died and she was locked inside her car.

When police arrived, they found the woman sitting in the car, unable to get herself out. She couldn't hear the officers instructions through the rolled-up windows so she motioned to them to call her on her cell phone, according to police.

Once officers were able to talk to the woman on the phone, they were able to tell her how to manually operate the slide lock mechanism on the inside door panel to open the door and free herself.

"I'm just glad she had a cell phone to call for help," an officer said.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Urban Legend in Ian McEwan Novel,,2283305,00.html

The Guardian [UK]
2 June 2008

McEwan sees funny side of climate change in novel reading

Judith Soal

[...] [Ian] McEwan, one of Britain's most celebrated novelists, surprised audiences at the Hay festival yesterday with an unexpected reading from his latest work, an as-yet unnamed novel about a scientist who hopes to save the planet. [...]

The novel's protagonist Michael Beard has been awarded a Nobel prize for his pioneering work on physics, and has discovered that winning the coveted prize has interfered with his work.

McEwan described Beard's constant struggle against "the thing he really wanted, which he did not want to want ... in this case, food". Describing Beard's pleasure at eating a crisp, he wrote: "The trick was to set the fragment at the centre of the tongue and, after a moment's spreading sensation, push the potato up hard to shatter against the roof of the mouth."

But Beard's reverie is interrupted when another man starts eating the crisps, setting up an intense but never quite realised confrontation. It is only when he arrives at the station that Beard realises that his crisps are still in his pocket, and that those he ate belonged to the man on the train.

McEwan said he overheard a version of this anecdote and decided to use it, only to be told by a member of the Hay audience that a similar incident, involving chocolate biscuits, appears in Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. [...],25197,23801022-16947,00.html

The Australian
3 June 2008

Writer Ian McEwan's train tale may get shunted

Sizemore Speaks

Lexington Herald-Leader [KY]
25 May 2008

Will Obama fight for rural votes?

By Linda B. Blackford

[...] Polling before and after Kentucky's May 20 primary showed that Obama's race was a big issue for voters in Kentucky. In a Herald-Leader/WKYT Election Poll, more than one of five said it would make him less electable; an exit poll by the Associated Press found a similar response. Of those respondents, only a third said they'd vote for Obama in a general election. Nearly half of white voters said Wright's comments were important or very important to them.

The race issue is complicated by false, but rampant, rumors that Obama is Muslim. In Leslie County, a Republican county where Obama won 5 percent of the Democratic vote, the county judge-executive doesn't hesitate before mischaracterizing Obama's religion.

"I think one of the big problems for him is he's Muslim," said Jimmy Sizemore, the highest elected official in the county. "It's his religion, plus when his pastor came out and started talking, that was a problem, but that's just my opinion.

"I don't think it's because he's black, what everybody says is he is a Muslim."

When asked if he had ever researched the fact that Obama -- and the Rev. Wright -- are Christians, Sizemore said: "I don't care about finding out because I'm a Republican." [...]

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Vitamin Water Killed My Friend

Santa Fe New Mexican [NM]
29 May 2008

Mysterious death triggers rumors

Jason Auslander

Though Internet rumors state otherwise, the brother of a Tierra Amarilla woman who died under mysterious circumstances a week ago said Thursday he doesn't think a popular bottled beverage is to blame.

"Honestly, I don't think the water did this to her," Christian Lopez said of his sister, Paula, who died at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. "We don't know what killed her."

Someone, however, thinks they have the answer.

A well-circulated e-mail message - titled "Vitamin Water killed my friend" - claims Christian Lopez, who is a detective with the Espanola Police Department, investigated his sister's death and found a poisonous ingredient in anti-freeze was discovered in both Paula Lopez's body and the Vitamin Water she'd been drinking. Further, the e-mail message alleges that unopened bottles of the beverage found in Paula Lopez's refrigerator also contained the poison.

"That e-mail is wrong," Christian Lopez said Thursday. "We didn't find anything in her refrigerator. There's not even a criminal investigation on her." [...]