Before you get wet, do yourself a leisure dive

A kid yawns over a pool as he "leisure dives."

Leisure diving is the art of photographing someone about to land in water, suspending them midair in a pose. Costumes, props and goofy expressions are optional.

A leisure diver, just married.

The "bros" leisure dive as a team.

Some consider leisure diving an art.

See more divers at:>>

- ‘Leisure Dive,’ the latest in online photography pranks, The Washington Post>>

The “sending stuff you didn’t order” practical joke

"Excuse me, did you order this? 
And this, and this, and this..."

If you think sending a pizza to someone who didn’t order it is a funny practical joke, meet Theodore Hook. In 1810, he bet a friend that he could make any address in London the most talked about in a week. He won the bet with an outrageous stunt that became known as the Berners Street Hoax.

From an 1832 account in The Book of Days:
By despatching several thousands of letters to innumerable quarters, he completely blocked up the entrances to the street, by an assemblage of the most heterogeneous kind. The parties written to had been requested to call on a certain day at the house of a lady, residing at No. 54 Berners Street, against whom Hook and one or two of his friends had conceived a grudge. So successful was the trick, that nearly all obeyed the summons. Coal-wagons, heavily laden, carts of upholstery, vans with pianos and other articles, wedding and funeral coaches, all rumbled through, and filled up the adjoining streets and lanes; sweeps assembled with the implements of their trade; tailors with clothes that had been ordered; pastrycooks with wedding-cakes; undertakers with coffins; fishmongers with cod-fishes, and butchers with legs of mutton. There were surgeons with their instruments; lawyers with their papers and parchments; and clergymen with their nooks of devotion. Such a babel was never heard before in London, and to complete the business, who should drive up but the lord mayor in his state-carriage; the governor of the Bank of England; the chairman of the East India Company; and even a scion of royalty itself, in the person of the Duke of Gloucester. Hook and his confederates were meantime enjoying the fun from a window in the neighbourhood, but the consternation occasioned to the poor lady who had been made the victim of the jest, was nearly becoming too serious a matter. He never avowed himself as the originator of this trick, though there is no doubt of his being the prime actor in it. It was made the subject of a solemn investigation by many of the parties who had been duped, but so carefully had the precautions been taken to avoid detection, that the inquiry proved entirely fruitless.
The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar by Robert Chambers, 1832, Google Books>>

Science says most people would eat a human skull

Some cultures believe that eating 
human brains can make you smarter.

If you crack these skulls open...

You'll find yummy brains the size 
(and taste) of walnuts.
The chocolate isn't bad, either.

The creators, Ruth and Sira García Trigueros, "are are a couple of twin sisters illustrators and graphic designers, from the north of Spain."

- Chocolate Skull, sparganum, Etsy>>
- More images at Sparganum>>

Guys: get a married women drunk to get laid

 Married? Check. 
Losing self-awareness? Check...

Okay, it's stretching the following research implications to assume that a man has a better chance of sleeping with a woman if she's married and less self-aware, but it might help him deceive her.

Professor Julian Keenan studies deception in the human brain at Montclair State University, and has done research that shows why a self-aware single woman is better at detecting deception.

From the book Brain Trust:
First, Keenan found that people who are more self-aware are better at spotting deception in others. (Note: this does not necessarily mean that by becoming more self-aware, you would increase your lie-detection skills. Beware the jabberwocky of correlation and causation.)

But check this out: Keenan also found that single women are much better than women in committed relationships at detecting male deception. While this may be a news flash, it makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: If you’re in a long-term relationship, you no longer need to be as edgy around guys who could very well be talking a big game about love and family and commitment in hopes of winning a one-night stand. You’re not only out of practice but also lack the proper motivation, and have accordingly lost your edge.
Via: Who's the best at spotting deception? Barking up the wrong tree, Bakadesuyo>>

From the book Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Reveal Lab-Tested Secrets to Surfing, Dating, Dieting, Gambling, Growing Man-Eating Plants, and More! by Garth Sundem>>

Three twisted sculptures by Richard Dupont

"...the brain not being able to understand 
the two things at once."

Mr. Dupont makes these sculptures based on a full-body scan of his own body. He says viewers relate to them like they're three dimensional illusions:
The viewer walks around the figures and gets all these different perspectives as the surfaces change. That's one way the distortions are interesting, because no two perspectives are the same. A lot of people see them and think they're flat, then realize they're objects—that's a hard thing for the brain to process immediately. But it's not just retinal, it's also physiological: There's a queasiness, an anxiety caused by the brain not being able to understand the two things at once.


Standing Man

In Direction

- Richard Dupont's Naked Launch. Talking with an artist who turns his body scan into sculpture, The Village Voice>>
- Richard Dupont>>

Why do girls pretend to be boys in Afghanistan?

Some live as boys for years.

If you can't change the society you live in, you might have to adapt by using deception (or more accurately, your female children might have to adapt):
For economic and social reasons, many Afghan parents want to have a son. This preference has led to some of them practising the long-standing tradition of Bacha Posh - disguising girls as boys.

When Azita Rafhat, a former member of the Afghan parliament, gets her daughters ready for school, she dresses one of the girls differently.

Three of her daughters are clothed in white garments and their heads covered with white scarves, but a fourth girl, Mehrnoush, is dressed in a suit and tie. When they get outside, Mehrnoush is no longer a girl but a boy named Mehran.

Azita Rafhat didn't have a son, and to fill the gap and avoid people's taunts for not having a son, she opted for this radical decision. It was very simple, thanks to a haircut and some boyish clothes.

There is even a name for this tradition in Afghanistan - Bacha Posh, or disguising girls as boys.
Read the article: The Afghan girls who live as boys, BBC News Magazine>>

Another, longer article at The New York Times: Afghan Boys Are Prized, So Girls Live the Part>>

Shocking! Blind man gropes artist's model!

He must touch you to do his art!

Comedy Lab is a UK TV show which showcases new comedies. In 2005, they broadcast the pilot episode of I'm Spazticus, a hidden camera prank show where people with disabilities played jokes on able-bodied victims.

It reminds me of the Belgium show Benidorm Bastards, where victims are surprised by the kind of pranksters pulling off the tricks. See the Deceptology post: Old people prank the young>>

I'm Spazticus was trying to film additional shows in 2012, as part of a series tie-in to the London Paralympic Games, but they got in trouble when they filmed a sequence at a community college where a blind man gropes a naked model.

Shocked classmates called the police.

Said a spokesman for Channel 4:
“During the filming of a prank involving a blind man and an actress playing a life model, who were both in on the joke, some of the art students didn’t see the funny side, so as a gesture of goodwill we won’t be broadcasting the footage.”
The college said they were duped into participating, being told that it was a project challenging people's attitudes about the disabled.

Here's the pilot for the original I'm Spazticus (Note that this is UK's Channel 4 TV, so some parts might not be appropriate for Americans.)

I'm Spazticus, 1/4

I'm Spazticus, 2/4

I'm Spazticus, 3/4

I'm Spazticus, 4/4

TV bosses axe naked prank in class, Southend Standard>>

Why does she have 3 legs? (an optical illusion)

This should not have fooled me, but it did.
Maybe it will also fool you.

Watch the Banana Man perform

He produced hundreds of bananas,
and that's not all...

The Banana Man was a vaudeville clown who performed a surreal prop act with comedy gags, magic, costume changes and hundreds of bananas being produced from a coat.

Adolf Proper, who went by the stage name A. Robins, was the original Banana Man. He created all the props for his act, and later ran his own children's toy company. In the first video below, he performs his routine in a 1939 short film by Red Skelton called Seeing Red. He died in 1950.

The quality's not the greatest, so you have to watch carefully to see all the gags.

The original Banana Man, A. Robins (Adolf Proper)

Another performer, Sam Levine, carried on the Banana Man tradition. Here he performs on the children's TV show Captain Kangaroo in 1969.

The Banana Man on Captain Kangaroo

- A. Robins the Banana man, Rhett Bryson>>
- A. Robins -- The Original Banana Man, Charlie the Juggling Clown>>

This optical illusion hurts your eyeballs

(Click to make Ouch bigger)

Jack Nicholson makes hundreds of prank calls

You know, when I was a kid, we didn't have 
all this fancy prankin' technology.

A soundboard is a collection of sound clips, usually of a celebrity, that can be used to fool a victim on the other end of a prank phone call into thinking that he or she is talking to a real person.

Actors with many movie roles, such as Mr. Nicholson, have more dialogue to borrow, so they become very popular sources of clips.

The results can be both funny and surreal.

A typical Jack Nicholson prank call using a soundboard

- There are over 400 prank calls with Mr. Nicholson's voice, at (NSFW) Jackulator>>
- You can make your own prank call with this Jack Nicholson soundboard, at>>
- A few more prank calls made using a Jack Nicholson soundboard, at>>
- A soundboard explained more fully, at Wikipedia>>

Optical illusion self-portrait, with birds

A self-portrait by Icelandic artist 
Helgi Thorgils Fridjonsson
(Click to enlarge)

The self-portrait rotated to emphasize the birds
(Click to enlarge)

Helgi Thorgils Fridjónsson, A Journey Round My Skull>>

Should I scare hallucinating friend who's armed?

Knives are not an adequate defense against 
a tripping friend armed with a Magnum.

Paul Kinsey hid in a closet with two knives to scare his friend David Latsha, who "snorted some kind of gold-colored powder."

Mr. Kinsey didn't realize his friend was armed with a .357 Magnum revolver.

He was made aware of this fact after he jumped out of the closet to scare him and Mr. Latsha shot him in the leg.

Mr. Kinsey lost a lot of blood, but survived.

Mr. Latsha was also "seeing people" in the area, but officers did not find anyone else.

Prank ends in shooting, The Daily Item, Pennsylvania>>

Why ad agency said "Burn books!" to save a library

They put up signs advertising a book burning party

How to save the library

This is the action taken by ad agency Leo Burnett:
The city of Troy, Michigan was facing a budget shortfall, and was considering closing the Troy Public Library for lack of funds. Even though the necessary revenues could be raised through a miniscule tax increase, powerful anti-tax groups in the area were organized against it. A vote was scheduled amongst the city's residents, to shut the library or accept the tax increase, and Leo Burnett Detroit decided to support the library by creating a reverse psychology campaign. Yard signs began appearing that read: "Vote to Close Troy Library on August 2nd - Book Burning Party on August 5th." No one wants to be a part of a town that burns books, and the outraged citizens of Troy pushed back against the "idiotic book burners" and ultimately supported the tax increase, thus ensuring the library's survival.
(But not everyone was happy about being fooled, including someone who works at the library, saying that the ad agency took too much credit for the win, and made an emotional issue even more emotional and confusing.)

- Leo Burnett Detroit Saves Local Library by Threatening Book Burning, Mediabistro, AgencySpy>>
- Troy Library: Save the library, Ads of the World>>

Video of man flying like a bird is a hoax

I want you to believe I can fly.

An artist in the Netherlands named Floris Kaayk pretended he was "Jarno Smeets" and had invented a set of wings that enabled him to fly like a bird.

Despite eight months of realistic-seeming buildup, with documentary video evidence, when the final flight video was released, many were skeptical.

It didn't help that experts in computer graphics at places like Industrial Light & Magic examined the video and offered detailed reasons why it couldn't be real and looked like CGI.

Only a few days after the birdman flight video appeared, Mr. Kaayk admitted it was a fake.

Flying like a bird | part 14/14

This isn't his first hoax. In 2006, Mt. Kaayk created a fake documentary about medical implants that take over bodies.

Metalosis Maligna. An Extraordinary disease

Skeptics cheer that a fake is so easily debunked, but others might have the opposite reaction - if we can make things look so real, couldn't many things we think are real actually be artfully produced fakes?

(So who wins this one - skeptics, or conspiracy theorists?)

- ‘Bird Man’ Hoaxster Comes Clean on Dutch Television, Wired>>
- CGI Experts Say Flying Bird Man Is Fake (Update 2), Gizmodo>>

5 years later, hoax snares embarrassed victims

Was her smile related to the song she was listening to?

The organizers of a sporting tournament in Kuwait were embarrassed after a member of Kazakhstan's shooting team won a gold medal.

It's traditional for the winner's national anthem to be played, but if gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko was listening carefully to the English lyrics, she may have heard something that didn't sound quite right.

The song being played was a spoof from the 2006 comedy film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, where comedian Sacha Baron Cohen parodies the Kazakhstan national anthem.

Someone had downloaded the wrong song from the internet.

It should have been obvious once they heard the lyrics:
Kazakhstan greatest country in the world.
All other countries are run by little girls.
Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium.
Other countries have inferior potassium.

Kazakhstan home of Tinshein swimming pool.
It’s length thirty meter and width six meter.
Filtration system a marvel to behold.
It remove 80 percent of human solid waste.
The lyrics continue, lauding the country's clean prostitutes, extolling their invention of the "trouser belt", and finally inviting listeners to "grasp the might penis of our leader."

The organizers apologized.

They later redid the ceremony with the correct music.

Winner Maria Dmitrienko listens politely

Borat anthem played by mistake at medals ceremony, Reuters>>

A Victorian tintype photo puzzle

Why are these women facing backwards 
in this photograph?

The entire image,
in its original colors.
(Click to enlarge)

Is this a real photograph? Was it created for a modern ad campaign? Is this a photo taken as a joke to show us what photos look like from the back? Is there some secret cultural reason for the reversal that we'd be surprised to learn about?

There are old photographs that were taken where women completely covered their faces. See my post What are "hidden mother" photographs?>>

Chew on this puzzle a little, then scroll down for the answer. It's obvious once you learn the secret.

The photo is an actual Victorian tintype, from 1880, of actual women. What they're doing is showing off their different hairstyles.

Those backward Victorians, The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things>>

"Please understand me" says Bernie Madoff

Yes, he manipulates, deceives and deludes,
but read him in your own words to decide.

Bernie Madoff, the man who led the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, just wants you to understand him. He wrote letters from prison to Diana B. Henriques, the author of a book on him called The Wizard of Lies:
Whatever his motives, he displays the same talent for manipulation, deception and delusion that served him so well in his criminal life. Sometimes he transforms himself into a victim–the dupe of malevolent clients or prosecutors. One of his biggest regrets, he tells me, is not having gone to trial to tell his side; it seems not to have occurred to him that he would have been publicly eviscerated in court. He mentions repeatedly, and seriously, that he stands ready to advise lawmakers on regulatory reform. The offer’s absurdity escapes his stunted sense of irony.

He remains obsessed about his image. He insists that he was once an honest and successful trader, before unscrupulous clients–people, he says, “I foolishly trusted”–forced him to take on losses, then failed to make him whole on deals gone bad. As a result, he argues, he sank into crime. When did this take place? Madoff is fuzzy about actual details, calling it his “riddle.” It occurred, he says, sometime after the 1987 market crash, but before 1992, when he claims his Ponzi scheme began.

Madoff dishes out a lot of blame, heaping little on himself. He reserves special contempt for feeder-fund managers who invested with him and bankers who handled their accounts: Their over-the-top greed, he suggests, blinded them to obvious signs of fraud–and, therefore, they deserved their fates. Others come off as fools who cannot grasp the basics of a trader’s life–chief among them Irving H. Picard, the bankruptcy trustee trying to track the cash that flowed through his fraud and distribute it to its rightful owners.

If people could only understand him, Madoff seems to be saying, they might not demonize him. He starts an Oct. 11, 2011 e-mail to me this way: “I hope you understand that I am in no way trying to rationalize my terrible behavior.” A ray of conscience? Hardly. Near the end of that e-mail the clouds of self-deception close in again, and Madoff turns himself into a pitiful martyr: “I made the tragic mistake of trying to change the way money was managed and was successful at the start, but lost my way after a while and refused to admit that I failed at one point.”
Read the rest of the article: Exclusive: The Secret Madoff Prison Letters, Forbes>>

Optical illusion dots create human forms

Can you connect the dots and see them?

Joining the Dots, a video installation created by Dublin-born couple Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly, is projected every evening in front of the Kerry County Museum in Tralee, Ireland.

This moving illusion takes advantage of our brain's ability to create human forms from a minimum of information.

Joining the Dots, an installation

An extract from Joining the Dots (without the street)

I think Cleary and Connolly were inspired by the following two amazing films - Laurel and Hardy's dance sequence in 1937's Way Out West, and the avant-garde filmmaker Len Lye's 1958 short film Free Radicals.

And if they weren't, watch the videos anyway. Your life is not complete without seeing them both.

Laurel and Hardy - Way Out West

I suggest watching this next film, Free Radicals, full-screen on YouTube - sound turned up, in the dark - to fully surrender to its magic. This film was created by scratching directly into the film emulsion.

Len Lye - Free Radicals

- Cleary Connolly>>
- Kerry County Museum>>
- Way Out West>>
- Len Lye>>
"Dammit, give me the science!" Here you go: Perception of Human Motion by Randolph Blake and Maggie Shifran (Opens PDF directly), Princeton>>

What is "Doing a Harry Worth"?

Harry Worth performs his optical illusion.

British comedian Harry Worth started as a ventriloquist until he was advised by the comic duo Laurel and Hardy that he should ditch the dummy and become a stand-up comedian. He's best remembered for his TV show "Here's Harry", which ran from 1960-1965.

In the opening credits, he stands behind the angle of a shop window and lifts his leg and flaps his arm so he looks like he's levitating.

The popular gag became known as a "Harry Worth."

Here's a rare title clip from his show: The original Harry Worth title (Opens video directly)>>

A fan does his own Harry Worth
(to his wife's displeasure, which makes it even funnier)

- Television Heaven, Here's Harry>>
- Harry Worth, Turnipnet>>

Optical illusions as memorial and to protest

The Sheikh Rihan mural in Tahrir Square, Egypt
(Click to enlarge)

After over 50 protesters were killed in Tahrir Square in Egypt, the military rulers erected barriers to restrict movement. Graffitti artists responded with a "No Walls" protest; they painted trompe l'oeil murals to commemorate the dead and make the walls visually disappear.

The Hanzala mural at the Ministry of Interior in Egypt
(Click to enlarge)

- Via Boing Boing: Trompe l'oeil graffiti vanishes Egyptian military barrier>>
- Sheikh Rihan mural, Mosa'aberising, Flickr>>
- Hanzala mural, Mosa'aberising, Flickr>>

Why are people in North Carolina disgusted by a roadside advertisement in India?

Why is this ad deceptive?

Here's what a company called Jubeerich Consultancy ("The Trusted Name Since 1999") says about itself on their website:
"We, Jubeerich Consultancy is a leading and reputed firm in the world offering overseas study opportunities and placement services for our clients...

We help you to get admission in the major colleges and universities of New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. We have a good reputation among various educational institutions around the world."
They do not claim to service clients who want to go to the United States. And even if they did, they would not have a good reception at the University of North Carolina.

In fact, if many people at UNC-Chapel Hill saw the above advertisement, which appeared in 2012 alongside an Indian national highway, they would be disgusted.

What is it about the ad that might affect people thousands of miles away?

It's the photograph of the attractive blond woman. Her name: Eve Carson.

Nobody knows how her picture got on the ad. Did someone find it on the internet and decide that she looked like the perfect representation of an ideal student, so they appropriated her image for their ad?

Eve Carson

Because Eve Carson was an ideal student. She was a well-respected student body president at her university and 22-years old when the photo used in the advertisement was taken.

People might be upset that her photo was used without permission, but this is an age where photos travel everywhere and are used for all kinds of things. But why would they be disgusted?

Because in 2008, Eve Carson was abducted from her home, forced to withdraw money from her ATM, and then shot five times. Her body was found lying in the street, a mile from her home.

And now her image is on an ad.

Read more here:

- Image of slain UNC student body president on advertising in India, News Observer>>
- Jubereech website>>

2 bits of magic by Barry and Stuart

Barry and Stuart

Here are two tricks from these Scottish comedians / magicians.

An Optical Illusion, and Transportation Boxes

Barry and Stuart's X-Ray Machine

More about Barry and Stuart at Barry and Stuart>>

Skeleton swimsuits make women look very naked

These suits were worn by the Spanish
synchronized swimming team, Rome 2009.

 Did the optical illusion of them being skeletal 
work when they were swimming?
And did the swimsuit designer plan 
for the dark patches, or not?

Skeleton, Corky St. Clair>>

Huge troll appears at Turkish soccer game

Trollface on a soccer ball

Trollface is a comic face representing the expression used by someone while they are "trolling", or intentionally fooling or angering someone in an online forum.

In this video, Turkish soccer fans were told there was a ban on lighting flares in the stands, so they unrolled a huge banner.

Turkish fans take their soccer-stand behavior very seriously.

''Problem?'' (Eskisehirspor from Turkey)

- Most epic troll ever, Metafilter>>
- Trollface / Coolface / Problem?, Know Your Meme>>

9 different versions of the same 2 people

 Appearances can be deceptive.

Illustration, art direction and photography by Nacho Rojo>>

Prankster hacks into store TV, disturbs customers

The TV happiness wasn't shared by everyone.

When a guy in South Carolina found an open wireless signal on a smart TV at a Best Buy store, he used his own personal electronics device to stream a video to the TV. What kind of video?

A pornographic video, of course.

The image was up for several minutes before the store shut it down.

A grandmother who saw the video, Gloria Berg, "felt extremely violated" and filed a complaint with police.

Robert Matthew Holden turned himself in after seeing his surveillance photo on the news. He was charged with disorderly conduct.

Best Buy is "working to ensure that it does not happen again."

Man Charged In Best Buy Porn Case, 7 On Your Side>>

A postcard explains why lying about rape is bad

She lied about being violated just to hurt him.
As a woman I feel she betrayed me.

You just made it harder for every 
rape victim to be believed.