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April 1st, 2008

April Foolishness…

Generally, I am not one into waiting until April to pull shenanigans. I’m more of a shenanigans kind of guy all year round. However, in light of the fact that I haven’t written much lately, and I’m looking for an escape from my exhaustive work week (I’ve already broken 33 hours this week and it is only Tuesday), I decided to honor this holiest of holy days for pranksters and the fools who fall for their crap by posting some of the most successful hoaxes in history (according to this cool website I found).

#1) The Spaghetti Tree: In 1957 the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied that they should “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Wouldn’t a spaghetti tree be the coolest shit ever?

# 7) Alabama Changes the Value of Pi: The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reasonnewsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the ‘Biblical value’ of 3.0. Before long the article had made its way onto the Internet, and then it rapidly made its way around the world, forwarded by people in their email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by a physicist named Mark Boslough.

Circles everywhere were confused for days!

#8) The left-handed Whopper: In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, “many others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.”

It’s about time someone decided to make food accessible to that 7% of the population with that “disease” known as left-handedness. I was afraid they were all going to starve trying to eat that right-handed food.

And of course…my personal favorite…

#23) Arm the Homeless: In 1999 the Phoenix New Timesran a story announcing the formation of a new charity to benefit the homeless. There was just one catch. Instead of providing the homeless with food and shelter, this charity would provide them with guns and ammunition. It was named ‘The Arm the Homeless Coalition.’ The story received coverage from 60 Minutes II, the Associated Press, and numerous local radio stations before everyone realized it was a joke. The Phoenix New Times’ joke was actually a reprise of a 1993 prank perpetrated by students at Ohio State University.

Why not throw the homeless a few M-4’s and let them fight the War on Terror? Hell, they’d get a good paycheck and a place to live for a while. I hear Baghdad is nice this time of year…but Iraqi shopping carts don’t hold as many personal belongings.

Other fun hoaxes include the San Serriffe islands, the Taco Liberty Bell, Internet Spring Cleaning, the Wisconsin Capitol collapsing, and the No Drunk Internet Driving law. Read them all at the site posted above.

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