The Cover the Spot carnival game

If you cover the spot you win.

Carnival games have a history of being unfair. Over the years there have been many exposés of rigged games that showed how impossible it was for a player (also known as a victim, "mark" or sucker) to win.

Cover the Spot is one of these games. The idea is for a player to pay money for a chance at covering a painted spot with five metal disks. If the spot's completely covered, the player wins a prize.

There are ways for the guy running the game (the "operator") to cheat by rigging the game. An operator could switch the disks for smaller disks that would never cover the spot, or he could bump the table and jostle the disks, or he could have a rigged setup with the spot painted on canvas that the operator could stretch to make the spot bigger.

But this game doesn't need to be rigged. This carnival game is a puzzle that looks deceptively easy, which encourages people to play. The operator can show potential players exactly how to cover the spot, and then clear the disks off and say, "See how easy it is. Go ahead, you can do it."

Like many carnival games, the deception is not in the physical game being rigged, but in the circumstances. Operators will target guys with gals, directing their spiel at the guy, telling him he can win a stuffed animal (called a "plush") for his girl. And when the guy looks at the game and sees how easy it is, of course he'll try.

When a player plays the game, he can get very close to covering the spot, but not quite. (If he doesn't know the exact secret of laying down the disks.) Many times the operator offers multiple chances for one price (three tries for a dollar), and afterward says, "You were so close, you almost got it."

Bystanders become engaged, and think, "If only that guy would have placed the disks like that... I think I know how to do it."

It's the same effect that gets people, who aren't at first interested, to try and place a piece in an uncompleted jigsaw puzzle.

And there's a reason the disks are made of metal. It's hard enough to place the disks to cover the spot, but many times the rule is that a player has to drop the disks from a small height ("only an inch or two") to cover the spot. So even if a player knows the solution, he must have the skill to drop the disks, a skill that the practiced operator can easily demonstrate.

Now the game has multiple elements for a player to beat - knowing how to cover the spots, knowing how to drop the disks, and resisting the deceptive simplicity that makes it look so easy.

And dropping those metal disks sure makes a lot of noise to attract other players...

Want to try it for yourself? Try this online version where you can try your luck, no money required. Cover the Red Spot Game Online: Smart Kit Puzzle Playground>>

Buy your own Cover the Spot Game: Jack's Games>>

Watch the secret solution to the Cover the Spot Game:

The color shift optical illusion by Dario Deefrag

The outer ring of dots will seem to move, 
but they're only changing color.

Friday illusion: Help solve a shape-shifting mystery, New Scientist TV>>

Head of Crime Stoppers Program arrested for stealing from Crime Stoppers Program

A program that kept tipsters anonymous
helped keep the crime hidden.

The police officer formerly in charge of the Dallas Crime Stoppers program, Theadora Ross, 50, was arrested for fraud.

The Crime Stoppers program works by paying confidential informants for tips that lead to the arrest of criminals.

The program was designed so that tipsters could remain anonymous. Someone with a tip about a crime would call Crime Stoppers and receive a tip number.

Police officers, including Ms. Ross, would decide if the tip was valuable enough to receive a reward. They would present any "successful" tips to the North Texas Crime Commission, which funded the program and approved the payouts.

Tipsters would periodically call to see if their tip was going to earn a cash reward.

If they earned a reward, the tipster would receive a special tip number and a code word. Then the tipster could go to a local bank, present that information, and receive cash.

Tipsters could receive up to $5,000 for a successful tip.

It's alleged that Ross gave an accomplice, Malva R. Delley, 36, fake tip numbers and codes. Ms. Delley would go to the bank and anonymously collect the reward and split it with Ms. Ross.

Over five years, they collected $250,000 by submitting fake tips and receiving cash.

Police first became suspicious when a man who went to the bank to collect his reward said that someone had already claimed it. Later, a bank teller recognized Ms. Delley, who had shown up more than once to collect money from the program.

Security measures for the Crime Stoppers program have been increased.

- Former Head of Dallas Crime Stoppers Office Indicted, FBI press release, Dallas>>
- Here's a tip: Don't defraud Dallas Crime Stoppers, Christian Science Monitor>>
Dallas officer in charge of Crime Stoppers arrested after investigation into missing funds, The Dallas - - Morning News>>

The optical illusion of a beer cellar inside a New Zealand shower

Artist Mark Spijkerbosch and his mural.

Mr. Spijkerbosch has painted his trompe l'oeil mural on the floor of a shower for his aunt and uncle's house at the Creeksyde Holiday Park in Southland, New Zealand.

Illusion to surprise park guests, The Southland Times>>

The vitality of mythical numbers (how they deceive us)

There may be an exaggeration here.

The Vitality of Mythical Numbers, a classic article on the deceptive power of big numbers by Max Singer, is...
"...another reminder that even responsible officials, responsible newspapers, and responsible research groups pick up and pass on as gospel numbers that have no real basis in fact. We are reminded by this experience that because an estimate has been used widely by a variety of people who should know what they are talking about, one cannot assume that the estimate is even approximately correct."
Mr. Singer explains that the number being used (in the early 1970s) on how much heroin addicts stole every year in New York City was 2-5 billion dollars worth of goods. And then he questions that figure, asking if that number makes any sense. He does a little figuring, and roughly estimates that the total dollar amount of all the thefts in the city could have been only $300 million, which means it was not possible for addicts to have stolen goods worth billions of dollars.

His article does not focus on heroin addicts, but on why we should not take numbers at face value. If we question what the numbers mean and do a little checking, we might find that many numbers thought to be accurate and official are actually deceptive:
"The main point of this article may well be to illustrate how far one can go in bounding a problem by taking numbers seriously, seeing what they imply, checking various implications against each other and against general knowledge... Small efforts in this direction can go a long way to help ordinary people and responsible officials to cope with experts of various kinds."
In a follow-up article 13 years later, Peter Reuter continued looking at the problem, in The (continued) vitality of mythical numbers.
"Behind the complex estimating formula is some very questionable, but unquestioned, data collection. There is a strong interest in keeping the number high and none in keeping it correct. In that respect the estimated number of addicts is one of a class of"mythical numbers" that is becoming the routine product of government agencies. These numbers are generated by the demand that the government appear to know a great deal more than it actually does. They are often, as in the ease of the number of addicts, protected from criticism partly by the one-sided interest in keeping them high and partly by their near irrelevance, at least so far, to policy-making."
Mr. Reuter finds that numbers are deceptively inaccurate for three reasons: 1) when a group of people wants to keep them inaccurate more than another group wants to keep them accurate, 2) when the data is not easily available, and most importantly, 3) when the number doesn't have any immediate consequences.

- The vitality of mythical numbers, Edward Tufte>>
- The (continued) vitality of mythical numbers by Peter Reuter, National Affairs (go to link to download a PDF)>>
- A more recent example: More Mythical Numbers, The GAO debunks the official human-trafficking estimates, Slate>>
- Mythical numbers>>

Read The Vitality of Mythical Numbers after the break>>

A tale of two juices. (And one is deceptive.)

Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice.

Enhanced Juice Minute Maid 100% Fruit Juice Blend 
Omega-3 / DHA Help Nourish Your Brain 5 Nutrients 
to Support Brain & Body Pomegranate Blueberry 
Flavored Blend of 5 Juices from concentrate 
with added ingredients and other natural flavors.

Attorneys are arguing over the labeling and the name of a juice drink.

Coca-Cola Company, under its Minute Maid brand, makes Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices.

Attorneys for a rival drink company, Pom Wonderful LLC, have argued that Coca Cola's juice is misleading.

Pom's juice, called Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, contains 100% pomegranate juice.

Coca-Cola's juice, called Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices, contains less than 1% of pomegranate and blueberry juices. (It actually contains about .5% of those juices, or 0.3% of pomegranate juice and 0.2% of blueberry juice. Most of the juice is made up of apple and grape juice.)

Coca-Cola's argument is that the labeling and name are permitted under federal regulations, saying:
"That name is accurate and not open to attack on the grounds that it is misleading to consumers."

Pom Wonderful Fights Coke, While the FTC Fights Pom,>>

Optical illusion motorcycle helmets

My two favorite designs. Unfortunately they're fakes done for an advertising campaign by the Russian ad agency Go. Does anyone know what the original campaign was for?

See more at Bike helmets have never been more fun, This Blog Rules>>

The strange forgeries of Mark Augustus Landis

Mr. Landis is a prolific art forger.
Sometimes he dresses like a priest.

He approaches museums and donates artwork, which turns out to be a forgery. So why hasn't he been arrested?
The difficulty is that, however annoying and disruptive Landis’s activities may be for museums, he does not seem to have broken the law. “The criminal statute [of fraud] says there must be a loss and that’s the problem. There hasn’t been a loss to any victim,” says Robert Wittman, an investigator who used to run the FBI’s Art Crime Team.

Even some of his targets admire Landis’s ­abilities. “I think the fact that someone can produce all of these different styles is pretty phenomenal,” says Gray. Others say that his genius is not as a painter but as a con man. “If you examine them with a ­critical eye, it’s over,” says Jill Chancey, curator of the Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, Mississippi, “The forgeries aren’t masterful but the con is ­persuasive. The con is good...”

As we drove, Landis mused about having been discovered. “I like people to think of me as an art dealer and philanthropist, but I guess I get to be a dishonourable schoolboy,” he said wryly.
The forger’s story, The Financial Times>>

Smart guy ripped off by a wire transfer scam

Never send money orders 
to someone you don't know.

A guy from the The New York Times got scammed when he tried to find a place to stay in London. How was he deceived?
He used Craigslist to find an apartment and was told to yeah go ahead and wire money by bank transfer. 

And neither that money - nor a place to stay - was found.

His basic advise? Scrutinize so-called bargains, avoid Craigslist, use a credit card, do a bit of research and watch for spelling and grammar errors.

Burned! A London Vacation Rental Scam, Frugal Traveler, The New York Times>>

"Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it..."

"No, I'll walk. Children, who'd like to race the horses with me?" The children knew Levin very little, and could not remember when they had seen him, but they experienced in regard to him none of that strange feeling of shyness and hostility which children so often experience towards hypocritical, grown-up people, and for which they are so often and miserably punished. Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised. Whatever faults Levin had, there was not a trace of hypocrisy in him, and so the children showed him the same friendliness that they saw in their mother's face. On his invitation, the two elder ones at once jumped out to him and ran with him as simply as they would have done with their nurse or Miss Hoole or their mother. Lily, too, began begging to go to him, and her mother handed her to him; he sat her on his shoulder and ran along with her.

From Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina>>

A magical illusion with children's blocks

If we can believe the word of this professional liar 
that no camera tricks were used, how is this 
video by magician Danny Cole possible?

The Michael Jackson phenakistiscope

Kelly Coats was playing with an old optical concept 
when she made this artwork called "Epic Thriller."

This phenakistiscope disc contained an image of Michael morphing through his various looks.

What's a phenakistiscope?

(Also spelled phenakistoscope.)

A phenakistiscope was an early technology that created the illusion of movement through persistence of vision.

The device was invented in 1832 by Joseph Plateau.

It was made of a round cardboard disc whose center was attached to a stick or spindle so the disc could spin. On one side of the disc artwork was printed. This artwork was made up of images which were slightly different from each other, such as boxers boxing, or dancers dancing.

The other side of the disc was black. The disc had thin slits cut into it. To operate it, you held the disc up by the spindle with the artwork facing a mirror, and looked through the slits at the mirror. When you spun the disc, you would see the illusion that the artwork was moving.

If you go to Ms. Coat's site, you will see a moving image of her work, called Epic Thriller. 

- Artist Kelly Coats>>
- Science Museum, Museum voor de Geschiedenis van de Wetenschappen, on the phenakistiscope>>

- From Thomas Weynant's page of Early Visual Media>>

How elevators are built to deceive you

"The stairs... the stairs... 
for the love of God take the stairs!"
The 1983 movie "The Lift."

Some may think elevators are scary, but manufacturers want them to be more efficient and friendly, even if they do have to fool you a little.

Unlike normal elevators, "smart elevators" work by having a passenger enter which floor number they want in a console in the lobby, and then are told to enter a specific elevator which will take them to their floor. It's called “destination dispatch.” However...
"Smart elevators are strange elevators, because there is no control panel in the car; the elevator knows where you are going. People tend to find it unnerving to ride in an elevator with no buttons; they feel as if they had been kidnapped by a Bond villain. Helplessness may exacerbate claustrophobia. In the old system—board elevator, press button—you have an illusion of control; elevator manufacturers have sought to trick the passengers into thinking they’re driving the conveyance. In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think it works. (It does work if, say, a fireman needs to take control. But you need a key, and a fire, to do that.) Once you know this, it can be illuminating to watch people compulsively press the door-close button. That the door eventually closes reinforces their belief in the button’s power. It’s a little like prayer. Elevator design is rooted in deception—to disguise not only the bare fact of the box hanging by ropes but also the tethering of tenants to a system over which they have no command."

Do our words create reality, or do our words describe reality?

A short film about the deceptive power of words.

Imagine you can fully direct your experience. It's not true, but imagine you can.

Watch filmmaker John Smith explore how he directed reality in his short humorous film The Girl Chewing Gum, made in 1976.


Mr. Smith said:
"I'm interested in the ambiguity of meaning, how things can mean different things when they are presented in different ways, and how one can use the context of a film to change meaning..."

"It's got to do with labeling, and how we perceive things, how we're told what things are. There's an awful way in which documentaries can completely subvert the real world. It's very hard when you look at a documentary that's got a voiceover, without turning the sound down, to say, "Well, what is this visual information giving me really? Is this evidence for what's being said?" "No, it could be evidence of lots of different things," one might say. But the power of the text is so strong, that the image appears to be what the voice is telling us it is."
Interview with John Smith, Millenium Film Journal>>

Buy this and other British short films in a DVD from Cinema16>>

Drug smugglers use ancient war machine to launch drugs into the United States

Ready the device and the payload.

U. S. National Guard troops were operating a remote video camera on the Mexican border when they were surprised to see a catapult. Several people were using the catapult to hurl packages of marijuana over the fence separating the U.S. from Mexico. Mexican authorities were contacted, but the suspects escaped. Mexican officials did confiscate about 45 pounds of marijuana, an SUV, and the catapult.

Aim at the United States.


A somewhat deceptive book called "Cleavage"

The book "Cleavage" messes with your perceptions.

Because with these breasts, all is not what it seems.
And no, they have not been "enhanced."

What is it, then? 
Well, these breasts are actually male and female 
buttocks. These "cleavages" are butt cracks, 
cleverly positioned in the photographs.

The artist takes aerial shots of horses, too.

Bethany Jean Fancher>>

What is color for? A talk on optical illusions by Beau Lotto

"’ll notice you see a dark brown tile at the 
top, and a bright orange tile at the side. That 
is your perceptual reality. The physical 
reality is that those two tiles 
are the same."

After the audience cannot detect the color of dots on black and white backgrounds:
"...nearly every living system has evolved the ability to detect light in one way or another. So, for us, seeing color is one of the simplest things the brain does. And yet, even at this most fundamental level, context is everything."
As his TED bio says:
Beau Lotto is founder of Lottolab, a hybrid art studio and science lab. With glowing, interactive sculpture - and good, old-fashioned peer-reviewed research - he's illuminating the mysteries of the brain's visual system.

A tip of the eyeball to Book of Joe, where I first discovered this.

How the media created a deceptive myth - when Saddam's statue fell

What makes up the myths of war? 
"the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, 
and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality." 
- Walter Lippmann

A long article investigates the events surrounding the knocking down of Saddam Hussein's statue during the U. S. invasion of Iraq. Was it the truth, or was it an example of war propaganda?
"Propaganda has been a staple of warfare for ages, but the notion of creating events on the battlefield, as opposed to repackaging real ones after the fact, is a modern development. It expresses a media theory developed by, among others, Walter Lippmann, who after the First World War identified the components of wartime mythmaking as "the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality." As he put it, "Men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities [and] in many cases they help to create the very fictions to which they respond."
The author says that in this case, it wasn't the government but the media that created the myth of victory.
The toppling of Saddam's statue turned out to be emblematic of primarily one thing: the fact that American troops had taken the center of Baghdad. That was significant, but everything else the toppling was said to represent during repeated replays on television—victory for America, the end of the war, joy throughout Iraq—was a disservice to the truth. Yet the skeptics were wrong in some ways, too, because the event was not planned in advance by the military. How did it happen?"
An overview of the story, narrated by journalist Peter Maass.

- The Toppling: How the Media Inflated the Fall of Saddam’s Statue in Firdos Square, ProPublica>>
- The Toppling, How the media inflated a minor moment in a long war, The New Yorker>>

Is temporary marriage in Iran cheating, a godsend, religious prostitution or a deception?

It's called "sigheh" - he gives her money, she gives him sex, 
and it's all legal, religious and temporary.

In Iran, sigheh is the practice of temporary marriage where men and women contract with each other to be married for a specified time period. Some see it as practical and allowed by the Koran, while others see it as nothing more than a way for rich men to exploit poor women.
Sigheh has worked well for Habib, a 48-year-old businessman from a small city in northeastern Iran... Habib has never had sex outside marriage. "Even if I wanted to have an hour-long relationship with a woman, I want to do it in a religious framework," he said. "When you set the time in a temporary marriage, you follow all the Islamic codes and regulations. The woman is also satisfied and content." Everyone is happy, Habib said—except, truth be told, his permanent wife of 29 years. Habib told her about one of his temporary wives, but she has no idea about the others. "If she knew, she would decapitate me," he said with a cheery lack of concern. "She cannot even stand the first one."
Even though younger, more Westernized men and women are against sigheh precisely because religious clerics promote it, they use it to their benefit. Some younger Iranian couples, faced with restrictions on living together or traveling on vacations, enter into sigheh as a practical matter.
Usually, unmarried heterosexual couples have to engage in elaborate stratagems to go on vacation, often coordinating with friends so that men and women travel in separate cars and check into different hotel rooms, only to reconfigure in coed pairs behind closed doors. For the first time in their adult lives, Amir and Tara wouldn't need to go through those contortions.
- Married for a Minute - Is Iran's mullah-backed system of temporary marriage a godsend for the sexually frustrated — or religious prostitution? Mother Jones>>
- Temporary Marriage, a performance act by Mikala Hyldig Dal and Kaya Behkalam>>

An optical illusion flattened face image photoshopped by Jan Eric Bjørn Friis

Identical twins looking at each other?

Looking straight ahead.

Ah, this is what we're looking at.

I altered the image so it's revealed in three stages. His original image is on the bottom. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Jan Eric Bjørn Friis at>>

Undercover police - have sex, but don't fall in love

"Oh, behave."
UK police officer Mark Kennedy admitted he had sex with several women during his seven years infiltrating activist groups.

Another former undercover (ahem) policeman explains it was a legitimate means of gathering intelligence:
"You cannot not be promiscuous in those groups. Otherwise you'll stand out straightaway.

When you are on an undercover unit you were not given a set of instructions saying you could or couldn't do the following. They didn't say to you that you couldn't go out and drink because technically you're a police officer, that you shouldn't go out and get involved in violent confrontations, you shouldn't take recreational drugs.

As regards being with women in very, very, very promiscuous groups such as the eco-wing, environmental movement, leftwing, or the Animal Liberation Front – it's an extremely promiscuous lifestyle and you cannot not be promiscuous in there.

Among fellow undercover officers, there is not really any kudos in the fact that you are shagging other people while deployed. Basically it's just regarded as part of the job. It'd be highly unlikely that you were not [having sex].

When you are using the tool of sex to maintain your cover or maybe to glean more intelligence – because they certainly talk a lot more, pillow talk – you would be ready to move on if you felt an attachment growing.

The best way of stopping any liaison getting too heavy was to shag somebody else. It's amazing how women don't like you going to bed with someone else."
- Undercover police cleared 'to have sex with activists' - Promiscuity 'regularly used as tactic', says former officer, contradicting claims from Acpo, The Guardian>>
- McFarlane Toys Year 1999 Austin Powers Ultra Cool 7 Inch Tall Action Figure at MJSToy>>

Was this carrier pigeon too fat to smuggle drugs into a Columbian prison?

"Please deliver the drugs safely, 
sweet birdie. My man needs a fix."

Police in Columbia discovered a carrier pigeon that was trying to smuggle drugs into a prison. 

The bird didn't make it, though, probably because the marijuana and cocaine paste strapped to its back (a total of 1.6 ounces) made it too heavy to fly.

Police said carrier pigeons have also smuggled mobile phone SIM cards into the prison.

Colombia police catch drug-smuggling pigeon, BBC>>

The Valiant Little Tailor – the Grimm’s Fairy Tale of a deceptive trickster

“…a little tailor was sitting on his table by the window…”

Fairy tales and folk tales are full of heroes and heroines who use their wits to outsmart and deceive their adversaries. In this tale from The Brother's Grimm called The Valiant Little Tailor, published in 1812, our hero wins by using cunning pranks and deception rather than physical bravery or fighting skills.

It's best to have a childlike, non-logical mind when you read a story like this. That way you can better identify with the underdog fighting alone against all the evils in the world.

I found some amazing photos and illustrations to include, which have all been used elsewhere to tell this story. They're from many sources and lots of different media: vintage and modern book illustrations, marionette shows, live performances and plays, shadow puppet shows, and stills from television shows and movies. I think the variety keeps the fairy tale grounded in a magical world.

This tale is also called The Brave Little Tailor, or in German, Das tapfere Schneiderlein

Set aside a little time, have a piece of jam and bread, and enjoy.


The Valiant Little Tailor

One summer's morning a little tailor was sitting on his table by the window; he was in good spirits, and sewed with all his might. Then came a peasant woman down the street crying: 'Good jams, cheap! Good jams, cheap!' This rang pleasantly in the tailor's ears; he stretched his delicate head out of the window, and called: 'Come up here, dear woman; here you will get rid of your goods.' The woman came up the three steps to the tailor with her heavy basket, and he made her unpack all the pots for him. He inspected each one, lifted it up, put his nose to it, and at length said: 'The jam seems to me to be good, so weigh me out four ounces, dear woman, and if it is a quarter of a pound that is of no consequence.' The woman who had hoped to find a good sale, gave him what he desired, but went away quite angry and grumbling.

“He laid the bread near him…”

'Now, this jam shall be blessed by God,' cried the little tailor, 'and give me health and strength'; so he brought the bread out of the cupboard, cut himself a piece right across the loaf and spread the jam over it. 'This won't taste bitter,' said he, 'but I will just finish the jacket before I take a bite.' He laid the bread near him, sewed on, and in his joy, made bigger and bigger stitches.

"the smell of the sweet jam rose to where the flies were sitting..."

“Who invited you?”

In the meantime the smell of the sweet jam rose to where the flies were sitting in great numbers, and they were attracted and descended on it in hosts. 'Hi! who invited you?' said the little tailor, and drove the unbidden guests away.

“The flies… would not be turned away…”

The flies, however, who understood no German, would not be turned away, but came back again in ever-increasing companies.

“'Wait, and I will give it to you.”

The little tailor at last lost all patience, and drew a piece of cloth from the hole under his work-table, and saying: 'Wait, and I will give it to you,' struck it mercilessly on them.

When he drew it away and counted, there lay before him no fewer than seven, dead and with legs stretched out.

 “He… could not help admiring his own bravery.”

'Are you a fellow of that sort?' said he, and could not help admiring his own bravery. 'The whole town shall know of this!'

 He made himself a banner which said...

"Seven at one stroke!"

And the little tailor hastened to cut himself a girdle, stitched it, and embroidered on it in large letters: 'Seven at one stroke!' 'What, the town!' he continued, 'the whole world shall hear of it!' and his heart wagged with joy like a lamb's tail. The tailor put on the girdle, and resolved to go forth into the world, because he thought his workshop was too small for his valour. Before he went away, he sought about in the house to see if there was anything which he could take with him; however, he found nothing but an old cheese, and that he put in his pocket. In front of the door he observed a bird which had caught itself in the thicket. It had to go into his pocket with the cheese. Now he took to the road boldly, and as he was light and nimble, he felt no fatigue.

A Catholic school that fooled kids into believing World War III had started may have gone too far

" of our friends is having to give sedatives 
to her son to get him to sleep. This is 
more than bringing history to life."

A teacher at a Catholic primary school in the town of Bacup in Lancashire, England staged a hoax on his students, pretending that World War III had started.

He showed them video footage of the WWII Blitz of London and told them it was real, and as the young children were led into a room designed to look like a bomb shelter, fireworks were set off in the playground to simulate bombs.

Many students were upset, and some parents complained that their kids had been traumatized.

An education official said:
"I know that our teachers do their best to make learning exciting and memorable for children and I am sure that this exercise was carried out with the best of intentions."
Rossendale headteacher in war hoax 'must go', say parents, The Bolton News>>

This radio ad for the CIA does not self-destruct

Today's Central Intelligence Agency does not hide its voice.
Or destroy its message in a cloud of smoke.

Today's spy organization is not shy about admitting it conducts secret work. In fact, they advertise for spies on the radio in the Washington D.C. area.

I grew up knowing that spies were more secretive. If you were ever a fan of the original U.S. TV spy show Mission Impossible (1966-1973), you know that Jim Phelps, the head of the secret IMF team, received instructions on self-destructing tape recorders and other gadgets. For all the Mission Impossible secret message fetishists out there, I present this comprehensive video by fellow MI lover Mohd Khushnood Kiani. (Thanks Mr Kiani!)

- Thanks to Jeff Stein's SpyTalk column in The Washington Post>>
- More Mission Impossible images>> 

You can't eat at this fake McDonald's Restaurant

This faux McDonalds is only 
friendly and inviting in ads and movies.

They don't shut down a real working McDonald's Restaurant when they need to shoot a commercial or a film. Instead, advertisers and filmmakers go to the McDonald's Production Studio at 17030 Green Drive, in City of Industry, CA.

It's mentioned in RoadsideAmerica, which touts itself as "a caramel-coated-nutbag-full of odd and hilarious travel destinations":
Fake TV McDonald's

This is a fake McDonald's built for their commercials and movies (just about any commercial you see, and every movie, that has a Mickey D's as a location, this will be it). Really a weird site, tucked in the far end of an industrial park it has a few Mickey D's signs on wheels w/adjustable height (for those crane shots), and out front are those big 45 foot cargo containers holding EVERY possible McDonald's uniform in every size from around the world(for their international ads) and a basement with McDonald's furniture in every style and color combination the chain allows (so it looks like different McD's from spot-to-spot). [Anon., 09/09/2000]
- Roadside America>>
- From Google Maps, but partly obscured by camera shooting into sun>>
- Photo by Luke Sams, McDonald's aficionado, at flickr>>

The burglars who were deceived by the dead

They were identified with a simple lineup.

The thieves stuck a Great Dane and a dead man up their noses.

Three young men - named David, Waldo and Matrix, all under 19 - had been burglarizing homes in Silver Springs Shores, Florida. They would knock on the door of a home, and if nobody answered, they would break in. I presume they had a fake cover story if someone actually answered the door.

At one home, they stole jewelry, electronics and various wooden boxes. When they looked inside the boxes, they saw plastic bags with powder inside. They thought the powder was crushed pills, so they tasted it and snorted it. 

What else but powdered drugs would be in plastic bags inside nice wooden boxes?

The dead, actually.

The powder was the cremated remains of the homeowner's two Great Dane dogs, Samson and Epic, and her father. 

(The photo above shows the homeowner, Holli Tencza, identifying the remains to Marion County Sheriff's Office Detective Greg Spicher.)

The young burglars were caught.

Later, police divers recovered two boxes with the remains of one dog and her father from a local body of water, named Magic Lake.

They have leads on the whereabouts of the final box.

- Deputies: Burglars tasted, snorted human and canine ashes,>>
- Stolen ashes of a man and of one dog found in Magic Lake,>>

“...the longest con I’ve seen in my professional career.”

The con artist Christian Gerhartsreiter, or
the con man Christopher Chichester, or
the impostor Christopher Crowe, or
the kidnapper Clark Rockefeller?
"While the alleged kidnapper’s prints were being analyzed, the bureau, in hopes that someone might recognize him, released pictures to the media, and soon a lifetime of carefully constructed identities began emerging...

When the results came back from the print lab, one thing became clear: the alleged kidnapper was not a Rockefeller. He was Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a 47-year-old German immigrant who had come to America as a student in 1978, and who had disappeared into a complicated existence that the Boston district attorney would call “the longest con I’ve seen in my professional career.”"
Read the long article on this strange tale of an eccentric, impersonator, swindler and possible murderer
Said an attorney: “He is a mystery man, a cipher,” a spinner of stories “literally so numerous and varied they are proving to be difficult to keep track of...”
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, Vanity Fair>>
Single Page: The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, Vanity Fair>>

A formal optical illusion portrait - "Incognito portret van een onbekende Dame"

Incognito portret van een onbekende Dame
(Incognito portrait of an unknown lady)
Jos de Mey, 1989
(Click to enlarge)

Jos de Mey (1928 - 2007) was a Flemish-Belgian painter who painted many architectural optical illusions in what he called "Constructive Illusionism." See more of his work at Impossible World>>

The news story about a con man pilot... that's also a con job

Thomas Salme, evil conman.

I thought I'd found an interesting story about a con man who lied and pretended to be an airline pilot, but instead I found an exaggerated and deceptive news story.  Here's the entire article from The Sun:
Cockpit con was easy, says pilot

A SWEDISH conman who faked being an airline pilot for 13 years has told how it was "surprisingly easy".

Thomas Salme was banned from flying for a year and fined just £1,700 after he confessed to piloting passengers jets without a licence.

The 41-year-old revealed how he trained himself on a SIMULATOR before landing a job with Scandinavian airline Air One - and won promotion to captain after three years.

He was working as a maintenance engineer for airline SAS when a pal let him 'fly' the firm's full-scale flight simulator while it was not being used.

Salme said: "I'd train there for two or three hours at a time at least 15 to 20 times over one and a half years.

"The moral point of view is that I feel ashamed that I did lie but I didn't ever feel, not once feel, that I put passengers in an unsafe position."

Air One had invited him to take a test flight in their simulator and he passed with flying colours after faking vital documents.

"I got the crackpot idea to apply as a co-pilot at a real airline so I made myself a Swedish flying permit with a logo out of regular white paper.

"It was a fantasy creation. It wasn't laminated and looked like something I'd made at home.

"It was surprisingly easy."

Different airlines use different permits so the fake was never spotted.

"The documents look different everywhere in Europe. An Italian airline doesn't know what a Swedish licence looks like. And you can forge all the IDs you need."

Finally, in March, as he sat at the controls of a Boeing 737 belonging to airline Corendon he was nicked by cops following a tip off.

The plane had been minutes from takeoff with 101 people on board at Amsterdam's Schipol airport when officers swooped.

He had clocked up 10,000 unlicensed hours in the air.

Salme did once have a commercial pilots' licence but he was never qualified to fly passenger planes and the licence had expired.

Judges in Amsterdam rejected prosecution pleas for a custodial sentence last month and even praised his safety record.

He has since been compared to Frank Abagnale, the American who conned people into thinking he was a pilot and who was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can.

Why is this article deceptive? The implication is that Thomas Salme is a "Swedish conman" who was a maintenance engineer who forged a badge and then started flying planes. Outrageous, right?

  • He trained 30 to 60 hours on a flight simulator.
  • After three years of flying, his skills gained him a promotion to captain.
  • He took a flight test in a simulator and passed.
  • He had 10,000 hours of flight time.
  • He had a commercial pilots' license which had expired.
  • He has been flying planes for 13 years without incident.

So the real story is that somebody tipped off authorities that Mr. Salme didn't currently have a proper pilot's license, and he told a story about making a fake Swedish flying permit in 1997. The real story is that it might be too easy to fake documents to get aboard a plane, so the airlines have a potential security issue. That's different from being a story about a conman who decides he can fake being a pilot, isn't it?

Cockpit con was easy, says pilot, The Sun>>

The story of a trickster from the controversial documentary film "Forgotten Silver"

The early film comedian and trickster "Stan the Man," 
one of the pioneers of hidden camera attack pranks 
and hoaxes, in the film "Forgotten Silver."

They made a film about lost films and found a prankster.

In 1995, directors Peter Jackson and Costa Botes created a TV movie documentary about the discovery of a treasure trove of films by a previously unknown genius, New Zealand filmmaker Colin McKenzie.

After the film was shown on primetime New Zealand television, it received great interest. But then it became extremely controversial.

For some viewers, their faith in the extraordinary achievements of the genius Colin McKenzie was ridiculed by his portrayal.

Watch this clip about the discovery of Mr. McKenzie's lost film canisters for his brilliant silent film Salome. It's like a scene from Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, or the classic 1932 film The Mummy with Boris Karloff, except that it's in a documentary.

Watch the silent film clown Stan the Man playing pranks on innocent passersby. But when he carries his gags too far and "reality" intrudes, he gets a dangerous comeuppance, all captured on film.

An interview with director Costa Botes about why Forgotten Silver was so controversial.

- The public had an extreme reaction to the revelations about this film. Many detractors were outraged that public money was used. Forgotten Silver and its audience>>
- The entry for Forgotten Silver at IMDB>>
- Stan the Man screenshot from Movie Screenshots. (See more screenshots from this film)>>

The pixelated nudes of artist Jean Yves Lemoigne

Squint at this photo and the low-resolution pixelated woman 
will deceive you into thinking she's "real." 
(Click to enlarge)

This "nude" is part of a series artist Jean Yves Lemoigne created for a series on pornography called PIXXXEL for Amusement Magazine.

Found thanks to If it's Hip it's Here>>
(Safe for Work as long as the boss doesn't squint.)

Circus sideshow talker Ward Hall on the beauty of the deceptive phrase "anthropomorphic freaks"

Prince Randian, “the living torso” in Tod Browning's 
1932 movie Freaks, was a "non-anthropomorphic" freak.

Ward Hall explains about "building the tip" or gathering together a crowd at a sideshow, and why anthropomorphic is one of his favorite deceptive words.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link - What makes a good sideshow "talker">>