Debunking Forwards — Top Four Idiots of the Year

This one had me a bit stumped. When I searched for the email’s title, I only got one single entry in the entire Google dbase, of a forum post from what I presumed to be a family reunion site in a “hey look at this” type of message. I changed the “four” to “4” and got only a few entries, even still. I couldn’t find a particular origin of any of the clips, but if you happen to know, please list them here for me and others to learn about! Were they just clips randomly collected? Were the people in them OK?

The My Little Sister’s Jokes offers all four videos (that were included as attachments in the email) as WMV with a direct HTTP link to each. The filenames for the MLSJ site has some of them listed as a “DarwinAwardReject” and YouTube has a number of those listed, but not any that particularly seem to be the original poster, much less any of the ones specified by the email.

Commentary on each video:

1. The security cam footage looks too fake to me — security cameras generally do not record sound, and people falling to the ground do not generally have those particular movements when landing (they land like some certain video game characters do, not like real people do). I also find it interesting that the thrower never bothers to look around after throwing the first object and realizing the glass does not break, to see whether his lookout is still present. The site on the watermark looks mostly clean but is entirely in Spanish.

2. One of the forum posts says you can hear bones break in the roof-jumping video (which does not look particularly pleasant) but the table they landed on breaks on camera, so it’s not likely bones that make the snapping noise. The site watermarked on the video (big-boys.com) just redirects to Break.com, a common viral video posting site.

3. While I guess I’m glad the train dancer didn’t get hit, I was fully expecting him to, and may not have necessarily been sad had it occured. The stileproject.com site listed in the watermark is mostly porn, so avoid visiting it if that’s not your thing. The shady.nu watermarked site is some regular dude’s blog, that looks largely clean and randomy (with loads of, to a print publisher’s eye, precariously open white space).

4. The rope swinger isn’t an idiot, just a bit unlucky that his foot got caught. It didn’t look like he was badly injured, as when he hit the rocks he was on the now-slowed upswing and may have only barely grazed them, and was screaming more than likely just because he was hanging upside down in humility rather than from injury (perhaps an ankle-twisting). I found the video by typing in EbaumsWorld.com (and actually mistakenly typing “ebaumsword.com” revealed a typo squatter) and searching for “Rope Swing”.

Debunking Emails – Polar Bear “I Come In Peace”

Being typically skeptical of most things I see, even stuff in general, I had to do a little investigation into a forward I got about a few pictures of a polar bear playing with a sled dog.

First I searched for the forward title, but that brought up way too many duplicated entries just posting the same forward itself — which is, in a sense, illegal, since the images are copyrighted and photographers generally make their money from selling images, not forwarding them to friends all day. Instead, I hunted up just “Norbert Rosing” which brought up a Polar Bear picture book and general stuff about him, but when I combined both names (adding “Stuart Brown”) mentioned in the email (to see whether there was some other connection to their names than the forwarded note’s suggestion), Snopes popped up on the third entry no less. The talk that the article cites, however, is available here via a public radio stream service.

The Snopes article cites the email to be true, but offers a bit more details to the story — that the images do not necessarily indicate they are playing, but that some animal behaviorists suggest these poses are part of seperate and distinct motions taken during normal cautionary inspection rituals when meeting each other that, to our eye (and especially the given context of being playful) translate to loving interactions. The actual “spiritual advancement” noted could genuinely be a misinterpretation of our own assumptions, instead.

I’ve often found this is how bible quotes are often taken completely out of context — by putting them under a heading of “these verses state this” such as “How God Is A Murderer” and such and then quote a few verses that would seem to indicate the headings’ information but are taken so far out of context that without reading the rest of the passage (and other parts of the bible to know the whole story) result in people believing a vile and bloodthirsty deity is at the helm of Judaism and Christianity, when quite the reverse is true.

Debunking Forwards — 809 Area Code Scam

I’ve recently been sent an email forward warning against use of the 809 Area Code for phone calls, for the reason the email states, lest I be charged $2425 per minute. Yikes.

Good ole Snopes to the rescue as usual! Snopes reports the email to be fradulent, but offers important clarification on telephone scams in general and details about the fact that 809, 284 and 876 area codes are not the only ones possible for scammage. Their page note that you can be scammed from practically any area code you’re unfamiliar with — so try to investigate area codes “strange to you” (regardless of whether they’re in the US or otherwise) to avoid future headaches with insane credit charges.

Solution: My Trac-Fone celly racks up a flat rate for both long distance and international calls both, at the same rate as domestic. I already have the landline at home (which I use more for DSL than calls) set with the service provider so that no long distance calls can be made from my line at all, so there’s not even a risk for me that I might call some crazy area code in the first place. Done!

Back From Kenya!

I tried to forepost a few entries that would come up while I was gone, but apparently I didn’t do enough of them! heh

Anyhow, I have returned and normal posting frequency should resume pretty quick. The trip was a success and I’m back on track and alive and well. I’ll be posting a public livejournal entry on my journal and will link it here once it’s up, detail our adventures and work done there — I’ve got about 50-some-odd pages of notes to transcribe =)

Strange-But-Nifty Blog: Lowercase L misuse

Did you ever see a sign or a billboard that used a lowercase L that looked like a capital I — especially when all of the other letters in context were capitalized? That’s happened maybe 3 times since college (which ended in 2000 for me) and nowhere near enough to make a blog out of it I would think — but apparently it happens more frequently than I reckoned! And here you go, take for instance LowercaseL.blogspot.com citing such syntaxial (?) atrocities. I had no idea.