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a complete history of gerbiling so far

Gerbil-stuffing, urban legends, celebrity gossip, and homophobia: Jane Hu in The Awl with A Complete History Of Gerbiling So Far. [more inside]
posted by flex on Jan 2, 2013 - 70 comments

Those Dam Beavers!

In December of 1997, a Michigan man received a letter from the Department of Environmental Quality informing him that he was prohibited from the 'Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond. A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files show that no permits have been issued. .... The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the strewn channel.' He replied: 'Regarding Your Dam Complaint.' [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 9, 2012 - 38 comments

But Do You Recall The Most Famous Reindeer Of All

Last year, an archivist at Dartmouth College discovered a forgotten scrapbook donated to the school by Robert L. May, the writer and illustrator of the original story of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer", documenting the origins of the now-classic holiday story. The book was written in 1947 on commission from Montgomery Ward's, which was looking for a Christmas promotional item. Detailed in the scrapbook are May's list of possible names for the character, including "Rollo", "Reginald", "Romeo" and you-know-what. Ward's actually turned over the copyright to Rudolph to May, who became a millionaire when, two years later, his brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote the song which became a huge hit for Gene Autry. Snopes.com adds more details to the tale, including debunking the myth that the song was written by May to comfort his daughter while her mother lay dying.
posted by briank on Dec 24, 2011 - 5 comments

Firewater

There's a fairly old urban legend [Snopes; pop-ups galore] regarding the feasibility and/or incidence of young people getting drunk via the insertion of tampons that had been soaked in vodka into body cavities. Snopes was skeptical of the claim, but apparently no one had gone on record as having tested the method... until Danielle Crittenden stepped into the breach. (HuffPo) [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack on Nov 23, 2011 - 134 comments

What attire can I wear to the polls on election day?

A dress code at the polls? Many states have 'electioneering' laws in place that can be broadly interpreted to mean that clothing with political messages is not allowed. Snopes put a page up advising voters to check with their board of elections. Some election officials have released statements attempting to clarify [pdf] the enforcement of their state's electioneering laws, though those statements aren't legally binding. Other election officials are suing to keep the broad definition of electioneering in place. If rules are interpreted to include campaign shirts and buttons, you will likely need to cover the item up, remove it, or otherwise conceal it. [more inside]
posted by cashman on Oct 6, 2008 - 55 comments

"Redneck mansion."

Dream-like "redneck mansion" is (disappointingly) actually a theatre set, but still a great bit of architecture.
posted by kmennie on Apr 24, 2008 - 23 comments

The State Department vs. Misinformation

The State Department's campaign against misinformation and propaganda. Before you comment on the irony of it all, it is worth a read. Included are a careful, Snopes-like debunking of various rumors: Hugo Chavez's "Plan Balboa documents," the old 4,000 Jews and the WTC rumor, the use of chemical weapons in the Korean War, and some I hadn't heard of (the US to take over the rainforest?). Also information on how to spot disinformation, and attacks on the credibility of a few sites. Too bad that the US information services don't have the credibility they used to, but still worth reading.
posted by blahblahblah on Feb 5, 2006 - 14 comments

Boo!

David Skal talks about the Origins and Myths of Halloween. [MP3 file] The author of Death Makes A Holiday was interviewed in 2004 for the radio program Talking History. The Skal interview runs from 4:47 to 18:20 of the program. Skal briefly addresses some Halloween urban legends, which are more thoroughly debunked at Snopes Halloween page.
posted by LarryC on Oct 31, 2005 - 1 comment

The Jihadmobile, Small but Tough

Is this any way to sell Volkswagens? [note: QT link] This "viral ad" for the VW Polo has been making the rounds, leaving a trail of exasperated disgust, outrage, and guilty snickering in its wake. VW's ad agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, however, claims that it's bogus. (I asked them). Paging Snopes.
posted by digaman on Jan 18, 2005 - 68 comments

Where's the Cup Holder?

My Wife, The Coffee Table (Google cache)
Geocities Original (with awful Google Adsense ads covering the text on the right).
While I feel bad for the guy losing his wife at such a young age, I'm not sure that having her interred for all eternity in the living room isn't just a little damned creepy. Especially if he started dating again.
"Some of his friends and relatives, filled with fear, stop visiting Jeff. His true friends respected his decision and continue visiting him." No mention of whether his true family respects his decision and visits him still.
But if you think this is how you'd like to spend eternity or how you'd like your loved on to spend eternity then go hit up CasketFurniture (who now have a cool casket shaped pool table too), previously discussed in the Blue 1st here and again here.
posted by fenriq on Dec 13, 2004 - 33 comments

zell reads his spam? amazing.

Zell Miller obviously doesn't read Snopes or else he would have known that Kerry didn't ever intend on arming our military with sticks and clubs spitballs. the Martini Republic reminds us that in July snopes debunked the heart of miller's attacks that he delivered in his keynote on wednesday.
posted by tsarfan on Sep 3, 2004 - 26 comments

A Whole New World

A .psd is worth a thousand words. As images are used more and more as propaganda, and Photoshop becomes ever more available to the masses, where are we headed? How can you continue to believe your eyes?
posted by _sirmissalot_ on Apr 14, 2004 - 31 comments

A fool and his money are soon scammed out of it

There's a lot of scammin', griftin', and chicanery going on in the world and Snopes has always been there, but they usually take some time to do their investigations. But for the quick hit, they've just launched a new daily scam page carrying just that day's latest scam news from around the country. It's really amazing how many major scams take place every day, and it helps to know how to spot a scam when you hear about it.
posted by mathowie on Apr 10, 2004 - 4 comments

The funniest and most disgusting story ever.

The funniest and most disgusting story ever. This personal story on the forums of a bodybuilding website looks like it is on the way to becoming an Internet classic (warning... SFW, but scatological). Snopes doesn't have this one... the nearest we get is this.
posted by BobsterLobster on Mar 30, 2004 - 31 comments

The Skeptic's Dictionary

The Skeptic's Dictionary is a wonderful resource for all sentient individuals: 'A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions (and how to think critically about them)'. It's where I send people when they start telling me nonsense. It is also a jolly good read: try the entry for natural, for example. And some entries, like the entry for IQ and race, verge on the profound. There is a print edition, but the extensive internal and external site linkage makes reading the collection online a particular joy. While The Skeptic's Dictionary has been referred to before on MeFi, the link made the site out to be a cornucopia of Urban legend-style oddities, like Snopes. Which I thought was a shame: not dissing Snopes, but the Skeptic's Dictionary delivers a firm grounding in critical thinking as well. This post is dedicated to all of my relatives who chipped in to buy shark cartilage tablets and several fifty-dollar pamphlets full of testimonials after my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and who probably still think the worse of me for not contributing to their folly.
posted by chrisgregory on Feb 6, 2004 - 28 comments

Politically correct hardware terminology:

LA County, leading the charge: Equipment vendors who do business with Los Angeles County received a message in November 2003 from the county's Internal Services Department (ISD) informing them that "based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County," labeling or describing equipment with the term 'master/slave' is no longer acceptable. (via snopes.com)
the slashdot comments on this...
posted by sixtwenty3dc on Nov 25, 2003 - 145 comments

Pudding for frequent flier miles.

Fly the creamy skies. One man’s flash of inspiration (and frantic legwork) translates 12,150 cups of chocolate pudding into 1,215,000 frequent flier miles. Total cost: $2,235 - including an $815 tax write-off to charity. Photo proof here. [via boing boing (via cardhouse)]
posted by gottabefunky on Dec 13, 2002 - 16 comments

Get on the love train

Get on the love train and ride the singles car: "Thousands of New Yorkers are now forwarding an anonymous e-mail to each other informing them that from now on, every first subway car has been declared 'the singles car.'" Any New York Mefites want to claim responsibility for this?
posted by mr_crash_davis on Sep 5, 2002 - 24 comments

Glurge.

Glurge. We're all familiar with glurge. It's that sickly-sweet inspirational message forwarded by someone who wants you to know they're "thinking of you", or the chain-letter story of the little girl with cancer who supposedly gets three cents for treatment every time you forward the message.

I prefer anti-glurge for snappy writing like this: "Dear world, My name is Jessica Miller and I am 7 years old. When I was born, my mother left me with my father, who locked me in the trunk of his Lumina for 7 years without food and water. While there, I got head cancer and second hand smoke. And fetal alcohol syndrome. And the flu." Via memepool and my mother.
posted by mr_crash_davis on May 27, 2002 - 14 comments

Just a follow-up

Just a follow-up on this MeFi thread, because the link has been making its rounds around the Internet. It's a hoax, folks. Sorry.
posted by PWA_BadBoy on Jan 30, 2002 - 17 comments

Break the Chain

Break the Chain has all kinds of nifty resources for stopping the neverending flux of chain mail wandering through your e-mail box, though if you're like me, you'll probably just read through the chain archives for their amusement. A nice companion to Snopes for your hoax-debunking needs.
posted by headspace on Jan 13, 2002 - 0 comments

The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year in America. False. This and many other popular xmas legends debunked at snopes (also notable: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer created by the Montgomery Ward store chain).
posted by mathowie on Nov 26, 2001 - 11 comments

Terrorists Target malls on 10/31 hoax

Terrorists Target malls on 10/31 hoax
I have received seven e-mails today about the 'mall attack' and I have had enough. I am sorry, but now is not the time to blindly forward on anything about terrorism without checking the facts. Even a simple Google search will prove most hoaxes false.

The only thing we have to fear is 'forward this to all your friends.'
The FBI has something to say about this also.
posted by DragonBoy on Oct 12, 2001 - 20 comments


The Darwin Award wining story

The Darwin Award wining story straight from the horse's mouth. Sorry Darwin. Looks like you posted another urban legend. Thanks for playing tho.
posted by jcterminal on Oct 4, 2001 - 10 comments

Urban Legend, I choose you!

Urban Legend, I choose you! Pokemon is being banned in several Muslim countries because of rumour that it is anti-religious. What's your favorite urban legend that resulted in widespread societal changes? (You need not limit yourself to religious edicts . . . an sort of change made by people in power because of an urban legend will be fine.) Why do you think that urban legends have this power? What does this say about human cognition?
posted by iceberg273 on Apr 24, 2001 - 46 comments

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