Saturday, January 31, 2009

Barbecue Cat Kerfuffle
30 January 2009

Hello kitty: Grit aide grilled for BBQ cat comment

By David Akin, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA - A Vancouver Conservative MP on Friday demanded Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff fire his top campaign aide after Warren Kinsella made a comment on his blog the member of Parliament says is racist.

Alice Wong told the House of Commons Friday that Kinsella joked that Chinese restaurants serve “barbecue cat.” [...]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gang Initiation: Beating Up Car Occupants

The Tribune [Humble, Texas]
28 January 2009

Humble police say e-mail about gang activity near U.S. Highway 59 is a hoax

Robert Kleeman

A widely-distributed e-mail that warns readers about a violent gang initiation at the FM 1960 and U.S. Highway 59 McDonald's and Toys R' Us is fraudulent, Humble Police Department Lt. Jay Wrobliske said.

The message describes an activity in which a gang targets an unsuspecting driver in a parking lot or drive-thru late at night by blocking him or her in on both sides with SUVs. The gang members then capture the driver and any passengers and beat them so badly that their faces are unrecognizable when they are sent to the area hospital. [...]

[Two e-mail texts are included in the article.]

The Tribune [Texas]
2 February 2009

E-mail about gang bump-and-rob a hoax

Robert Kleeman

A widely-distributed e-mail that warns readers about a violent gang initiation at the FM 1960 and U.S. Highway 59 McDonald’s and Toys R’ Us is an embellishment on a road rage incident that happened in the area, Humble Police Department Lt. Jay Wrobliske said. [...]

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cello Scrotum

The Times [UK]
28 January 2009

Cello scrotum? It's a load of . . . nonsense, admits Baroness Murphy

Will Pavia

Until this week cellists worldwide had reason to fear a terrible malady. Worse than fiddler’s neck, flautist’s chin or even the dreaded guitarist’s nipple was the condition known as “cello scrotum”. [...]

[The nonexistent malady was noted in a letter published in the British Medical Journal in 1974 by Dr. Elaine Murphy (now Baroness Murphy).]

British Medical Journal
BMJ 2009;334:b288
27 January 2009


Cello scrotum confession

Friday, January 23, 2009

St. Francis Prayer is a Modern Invention

The Associated Press
23 January 2009

St. Francis prayer was modern creation


VATICAN CITY (AP) — A simple prayer for peace attributed to St. Francis, widely quoted by leaders and cherished by many Christians, probably had nothing to do with the medieval friar.

The Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported this week that the prayer that begins with "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace," first appeared in France at the start of the 20th century and became popular during World War I. [...]

New York Times
23 January 2009

Truth About a Prayer: A Saint's Name, but Not His Words


Rumors in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Kansas City Star
22 January 2009

SURVEY: Obama Muslim rumor widespread

COLUMBUS -- About nine in 10 Americans heard the rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim, making it possibly the most prevalent rumor of the 2008 presidential campaign, according to a nationwide survey.

However, only 22 percent of those surveyed said they actually believed that Obama is a Muslim.

[The article summarizes a report by R. Kelly Garrett and James N. Danziger called "Rumors and the Internet in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election." [pdf]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sneakers on Wires Have Lost Their Meaning,0,7233589.story

Chicago Tribune
22 January 2009

Sneakers on a wire

'Old-school' symbols of gang turf, drug dens and death, have lost their meaning, some say

By Ofelia Casillas
Tribune reporter

The Hokey Cokey

Daily Record [UK]
22 December 2008

Singing the Hokey Cokey could land football fans in sectarian bother

By John Ferguson

POLICE have vowed to crack down on football fans singing the Hokey Cokey -- after claims the song is sectarian.

Catholic church leaders believe the old time children's ditty pokes fun at priests. And they fear it could be hijacked by bigots. [...]

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic church in Scotland, said: "This song does have quite disturbing origins. It was devised as an attack on, and a parody of, the Mass. If there are moves to restore its more malevolent meaning then consideration should perhaps be given to its wider use." [...]

Irish Times
29 December 2008

Hokey Cokey' gets red card at Rangers

DAN KEENAN, Northern News Editor

SATURDAY'S "OLD Firm" clash between Glasgow's two soccer giants took place without the strains of the Hokey Cokey rising from the Rangers supporters.

The tipsy party ditty has joined the list of songs banned on the grounds of alleged sectarianism amid claims that it is a bigoted take on the Latin Mass. [...]

Financial Times [UK]
13 January 2009

Capitalism's enemies have the best tunes

By Brian Groom

[...] But now Alan Balfour says his grandfather, a 1940s London band leader called Al Tabor, wrote the song and that it is about ice-cream. Tabor was going to call it "hokey pokey", a nickname for ice-cream, but changed it to "hokey cokey" at the suggestion of a Canadian officer who thought it would sound better because "cokey" was a slang term for crazy in Canada. Somehow I doubt this will end debate about the song's origins. [...]

Financial Times [UK]
20 January 2009


Hokey Cokey was founded on a traditional Canadian song

[Jimmy Kennedy, Jr., says his father wrote the song, basing it on a "Canadian children's game called the Cokey Cokey." The title supposedly refers to "drugs taken by the miners in Canada to cheer themselves in the harsh environment where they were prospecting."]
21 January 2009
Canada's Hokey Pokey cause of England dust up
Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service

Obama Baby Boom

Daily Mail [UK]
21 January 2009

Post-inauguration euphoria sweeping America could result in an Obama baby boom

By Graham Smith

The outpouring of euphoric optimism currently gripping the U.S. following the inauguration of Barack Obama may yet result in a baby boom towards the end of this year. [...]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Bug under the Rug

Jim Taylor, "Hello, Sweetheart? Gimme Rewrite!" My Life in the Wonderful World of Sports (Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour Publishing, 2008), pp. 107-8.

[Jim Taylor, a sports reporter with the Vancouver Province, went to Moscow to see the final four games of the Canada-USSR hockey series in 1972.]

My memories are snapshots, some significant, some not, but all vivid...


The classic search for electronic listening bugs by two Team Canada players in their assigned room. They look behind pictures, under the mattresses and finally under the rug, where they discover a flat metal disc, unscrew it, and hear a horrendous crash in the room below. They have unbolted the chandelier.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mirror, Mirror

Mechanix Illustrated, August 1950

Spooks on the Airways

By Irv Leiberman

[...] Another similar incident happened in Jackson Heights, New York. One morning, after a gay and alcoholic night before, a man wearily trudged into the bathroom to shave. He was just about deciding to jump back into bed and forget about work that day when a disgustingly wide-awake voice shouted “Look sharp! Be sharp! Use . . .” The poor fellow almost fainted. Engineers later blamed it on a peculiar arrangement of lead on the glass and tin in the cabinet. [...]

[That item comes from an article about various objects that have unexpectedly become radio receivers. Jeffrey Sconce, in Haunted Media (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2000, p. 68), mentions a suspiciously similar incident in which a woman "fainted one morning in the bathroom after her mirror greeted her by saying hello (apparently the lead and glass in the bathroom had served as an antenna for a nearby station)." His source is Alden Armagnac, "Weird Electrical Freaks Traced to Runaway Radio Waves," Popular Science Monthly, June 1935, p. 11. -- bc]

Bush Breaks Tecumseh's Death Curse

14 January 2009

Bush's Legacy: He Survived!
Reagan broke Tecumseh's Curse, but Bush may have killed it altogether.

By Steve Friess

Historians will be debating George Bush's presidency for decades to come -- in fact, they've already started -- but in one area, at least, he leaves an unambiguous legacy: He will break, once and for all, Tecumseh's Curse. [...]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Matriarch Rachel Saves Lives of Israeli Soldiers

Jerusalem Post
14 January 2009

Soldiers turn to secret weapon: Jewish spirituality


[A woman in black directs two Israeli soldiers in Gaza City away from a house rigged with a bomb, saving their lives when it explodes. When asked who she is, she tells the soldiers she is the Matriarch Rachel.]

[...] This story, whether true or not, is being circulated in religious circles - via Internet forums, SMS, e-mail and word of mouth - and is fast becoming an urban legend. [...]

Arutz Sheva [Israel]
20 January 2009

Chief Rabbi Confirms Gaza Miracle Story

by Hillel Fendel

( Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, recovering from a life-threatening disease, prayed several times at the Tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel before the recent war in Gaza. Informed that an “old woman” saved IDF soldiers’ lives in Gaza, he said, “Did she mention that I sent her?” [...],7340,L-3659308,00.html

Ynetnews [Tel Aviv, Israel]
21 January 2009

Rabbi Eliyahu: I sent Mother Rachel to Gaza

Former chief rabbi responds to rumors of woman appearing before troops, warning them of danger in Operation Cast Lead, says, 'The story is true, I sent her'. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: A sucker will believe anything

Kobi Nahshoni

Two days have passed since the ceasefire in Gaza took effect, and one of the most widespread legends of the days on the battlefield has received rabbinical approval. On the last days of the war, rumors spread about a woman presenting herself as Jewish matriarch Rachel appearing to IDF soldiers and warning them of explosives, booby-trapped houses and terrorist ambushes within the Gaza Strip. [...]

Arutz Sheva [Israel]
26 January 2009

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: A Beautiful, Young Rachel Saved IDF Soldiers

by Malkah Fleisher

( A week after Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu confirmed the miracle story sweeping Israel - that the embodiment of the Matriarch Rachel saved the lives of soldiers in Gaza - Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is now also declaring that the Jewish foremother came to the aid of the IDF. [...]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Companies' Profits Go To Israel

Asiaone News
11 January 2009

McDonald's, Starbucks refute 'boycott' SMS

by Nur Dianah Suhaimi
The Straits Times

A phone text message making its rounds among Singaporeans has been calling for the boycott of McDonald's fast-food outlets and the Starbucks coffee chain, claiming the two American companies are financially supporting the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The message claims that the two firms will be donating all their profits in the past week to the Israeli army. [...]

Radio Netherlands
13 January 2009

Muslims boycott shops over Israel support claim

This past weekend, a large number of Muslims in the Dutch immigrant communities received a mobile-phone text message calling for a boycott of Aldi and Lidl, two German-owned cut-price supermarket chains. The text messages claimed that the supermarkets were planning to donate a percentage of their profits to Israel. Both companies denied the rumour and no evidence to support the allegation has emerged. [...]

Dutch News [Netherlands]
13 January 2009

Muslims boycott Aldi, Lidl supermarkets

The Associated Press
13 January 2009

Protesters close Beirut Starbucks branch


Pakistan Daily
14 January 2009

McDonald's and Starbucks "donating all profits to Israeli war"

Written by

"McDonald's and Starbucks have yesterday announced that they will be donating all profits from now until Sunday to Israeli war. Also, the producers of Adam Sandler's new movie Bed Time Stories will be donating their profits to THE Zionist entity of Israel." [...]

Hartlepool Monkey

University of Aberdeen

Media Releases
12 January 2009

How monkey murder brought British coastal towns together

How two British coastal communities, hundreds of miles apart, came to be associated with a centuries-old tale of monkey murder has been investigated as part of a new study.

Research on the cultural identity of British fishing communities has thrown up a bloody link between the Scottish village of Boddam, near Peterhead, and Hartlepool in North-east England.

According to legend, the Hartlepool monkey was the only survivor of a shipwrecked French warship during the Napoleonic Wars. It was found dressed in full military uniform, presumably for the amusement of the crew. [...]

Monday, January 12, 2009

Poem Misattributed to Pablo Neruda

Latin American Herald Tribune [Caracas, Venezuela]
12 January 2009

Fake Pablo Neruda Poem Spreads on Internet

By Ana Mendoza

MADRID -- The poem "Muere lentamente" (Dying Slowly), mistakenly attributed to Pablo Neruda, has been circulating for years on the Internet with no one able to stop it from snowballing, to the point that many in Spain have received the verses online as a New Year's greeting. [...]

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Love

New York Times
6 January 2009

Christmas Essay Was Not His, Author Admits


Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling series “Conversations With God,” recently posted a personal Christmas essay on the spiritual Web site about his son’s kindergarten winter pageant.

During a dress rehearsal, he wrote, a group of children spelled out the title of a song, “Christmas Love,” with each child holding up a letter. One girl held the “m” upside down, so that it appeared as a “w,” and it looked as if the group was spelling “Christ Was Love.” It was a heartwarming Christmas story from a writer known for his spiritual teachings.

Except it never happened — to him. [...]

[Candy Chand is very angry at her plagiarist: “Has the man who writes best-selling books about his ‘Conversations With God’ also heard God’s commandments? ‘Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not lie, and thou shalt not covet another author’s property’?”]

Pull Tab Collectors Disappointed

The Gazette [Gaithersburg, MD]
7 January 2009

Collectors find can tabs not worth much
Those who collect tabs for money, charity often met with disappointment

by Erin Donaghue
Staff Writer

[...] Rumors surrounding the mythical pull tab have surged in recent weeks, according to employees at the Montgomery Scrap Corporation. While they haven't heard about the dialysis machine rumor, office manager Anna Tompkins-Garcia told The Gazette that the corporation is getting an influx of calls from people who think that a gallon jug of pull tabs can be traded in for anywhere from $600 to $1,000. [...]

"I don't know if it's because of the holidays or because money has been tight for people, but all of a sudden they were just receiving this huge volume of calls," Tompkins-Garcia said. [...]

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Grateful Terrorist (NYC)

The Yeshiva World [Brooklyn, NY]
2 January 2009

UPDATED - ALERT - Frightening Text Messages Being Forwarded Around NY Jews

With the situation in Gaza deteriorating by the day, and anti-semitism rampant around the world, thousands of NY Jews were frightened upon receiving the following text message which has been going around on Friday afternoon:

"A Jewish woman gave a tip to a Muslim taxi driver and out of appreciation he warned her not to go to Manhattan next week Wednesday." [...]
The Yeshiva World [Brooklyn, NY]
YWN Coffee Room
Text Message Warning

New York Daily News
7 January 2009

Terror threat just a terrible hoax, says NYPD

BY Matthew Lysiak and Simone Weichselbaum

A chilling terror warning spreading across the U.S. and Israel is a hoax, NYPD officials said yesterday.

The threat, which has popped up on forwarded e-mails and blog posts across the world, warns of an attack in New York today.

It says the warning originated with a Muslim cab driver who told a Jewish woman he picked up of a Jan. 7 plot. [...]