Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Killer polar bear? I'm just a big teddy, really!

It was a chance encounter that could have ended with flying fur and bloodshed in the snow.

Wildlife photographer Norbert Rosing was taking pictures of a team of huskies in Canada's frozen north when a polar bear gatecrashed the party.

Along with dog handler Brian Ladoon, Mr Rosing watched helplessly as the bear and one of the dogs approached each other.

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1 - This floe ain't big enough for the both of us: The bear gives the husky a stare that says beware

They growled and bared their teeth. But then, instead of fighting, the enemies became firm friends.

First the bear gently nuzzled the husky's neck. The dog responded by rising on its hind legs to lick the bear's face.

The bear then rolled on its back to play as the husky looked on, somewhat bemused.

After the encounter, which took place on the coast of the Hudson Bay near the town of Churchill, the dog trotted back to its mightily relieved owner.

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2 - Watch out, I'm a southpaw: The dog cowers as his adversary threatens to land a knockout blow

3 - On second thoughts, you're not so bad: A nuzzle with the muzzle clinches the peace deal

4 - Go on, give us a (bear) hug: The new friends enjoy a cuddle

5 - If I lie here long enough I might even get a tickle on the tummy: The bear is playful, the husky is a little bemused and the handler (out of shot) is extremely relieved

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The average guy lasts only 5 to 10 minutes during sex, and 71 percent of men want better sexual endurance. Use these strategies and ye shall, ahem, overcome

Master masturbation.
Masturbate with a woman's orgasm in mind, not your own. In other words, take your time: Work up to 15 minutes. Bring yourself close to the point of no return, but don't let yourself ejaculate until time is up.

If you're overheating during sex, stop and squeeze right below the head of your penis, focusing the pressure on the urethra — the tube running along the underside of the penis. This pushes blood out of the penis and momentarily represses the ejaculatory response.

Pinpoint ejaculatory inevitability.
The process of sexual response has four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. The trick is to recognize the spectrum of feelings throughout the process. Rate your sexual excitement on a scale of 1 to 10. Try keeping yourself at 7.

A Kegel is an exercise that helps tighten muscles responsible for ejaculatory control. Become familiar with them by cutting off the flow of urine and then starting and stopping it repeatedly. Once you have the exercise down, practice your Kegels anywhere: at your desk, behind the wheel. Tighten your muscles and hold for a count of 10, then release.

Press, don't thrust.
Press the end of your penis into her clitoral head. Linger in her vaginal entrance, where the most sensitive nerve endings are. When you do have intercourse, focus on small, shallow movements that penetrate the first 2 to 3 inches of her vagina.

Show a little courtesy.
Ladies first, gentlemen — and we're talking about more than just holding the door open. When you help her have an orgasm first, it relieves you of some of the pressure to please and the psychological anxiety that feeds into PE.

Ask your doctor about Prozac.
A recent study showed that 73 percent of men who suffered from premature ejaculation either were cured or improved after taking 20 milligrams of Prozac a day for a week and 40 mg thereafter.

Go for a second round.
Shrug off an early emission with some extra attention to her arousal (yes, it means staying awake), then getting back in the saddle. Most men last much longer the second time around. And the more you practice, the longer that first time will last.

Let her climb on.
When she's on top, your penis is less stimulated. And ask her to go slowly — long and fast thrusting is hazardous to a man's endurance.

Stop thinking of your orgasm.
The area of the brain responsible for triggering orgasm is engaged whether you're trying to have one or halt one. The more attention you give it, the more likely it is to arrive. Focus on what's happening now — her silky thighs on your hips, say — and you'll diffuse pleasure throughout your whole body.

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Odor tyrants: Those sensitive to scent fight back

Some allergic to scent are declaring war against odor. One Massachusetts woman filed a lawsuit last year after having an allergic woman to a coworker's perfume.

Karen Kraig has been known to raise a stink about strong smells.

The Sept. 11 attacks caused the Manhattan financial consultant’s already acute sense of smell to go both ballistic and bronchial, leaving her wheezing whenever she encounters a whiff of perfume, laundry detergent, fabric softener or window cleaner.

As a result, Kraig instructs clients to show up for their appointments fragrance-free — or else.

“If someone comes into my office wearing perfume or with a strong shampoo or laundry soap smell, I have to ask them to leave,” she says. “On occasion, I’ve made people wear a garbage bag over their clothes because the detergent smell was so fierce I couldn’t endure it.”

Kraig is not alone in her sensitivity to strong smells. Fragrances were named “allergen of the year” for 2007 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. And a 2003 study of more than 10,000 mothers and their infants in England found air fresheners, deodorants and aerosols were “significantly associated” with headaches in moms and earache, vomiting and diarrhea in their babies.

But while the physiological effects of perfume and other powder-fresh products continue to be hashed out in medical circles and research labs, another question looms large for those with sensitive noses and/or sensitive feelings when it comes to being asked to don a Hefty bag or forgo their favorite hand lotion: How far is too far when it comes to sticking up for your nose?

The answer to that question might be easier to sniff out if it weren’t for the fact that not all noses are created equal. Dr. Alan Hirsch, founder and neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago, says sense of smell differs from individual to individual. Other factors, such as age, gender and whether you’ve had lunch, can also affect sensitivity.

“Women have a stronger sense of smell than men. Certain ethnic groups have better abilities to smell,” Hirsch says. “And there are also different physiological states that will intensify olfactory abilities, like when you’re hungry or you’re pregnant or if you have certain diseases or conditions.”

Indoor smoking bans have also had an impact on our noses.

“People are no longer being inundated by smoke,” he says. “They’re aware of the ambient aromas around them and they’re also more sensitized to them.”

The problem is that what some consider ambient aromas, others perceive as a relentless chemical assault on their respiratory system.

The use of fragrance in cosmetics, candles, hair spray, household cleaners, lotions, laundry soap, maxi pads and plug-in air fresheners has exploded in the last few years. (Downy alone offers 20 different scented fabric softeners including Mountain Spring, Turquoise Frost and Tahitian Waterfall.) And “sensory marketing” has made it nearly impossible to open a bill, read a magazine or stay in a nice hotel without encountering some form of scented sticker, perfumed envelope or blackberry-infused newspaper.

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Add to that the raft of teen body sprays, celebrity scents and, yes, even dog perfumes, and it’s no wonder that those with scent sensitivities feel they’re slowly being suffocated by an increasingly large and smelly enemy.

Not surprisingly, some have declared war:

  • A city bus driver in Calgary in Alberta, Canada, kicked a woman off his bus for overdoing her Very Irresistible by Givenchy last March.
  • Last June, a Massachusetts woman filed a lawsuit against her former employer after she was hospitalized for an allergic reaction to a coworker’s perfume.
  • In December 2006, environmental illness activists in San Francisco got chocolate chip cookie “scent strips” banned from bus shelters the same day they were installed after pointing out that the “Got Milk?” advertising stunt might cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
  • And a Nova Scotia high school teacher went so far as to call in the cops back in 2000 when one of her students refused to quit using Dippity Do hair gel despite the school’s fragrance-free policy.

“We’re bombarded by chemicals all day long,” says Aileen Gagney, an asthma and health program manager for the American Lung Association of Washington who suffers migraines and breathing issues due to multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). “And there’s no need for it. Does your house really have to smell like pine in order to be clean? Do you really need to smell like Jennifer Lopez? We’ve been sold such a bunch of goods by the commercial industry.”

Through Gagney’s efforts, the Seattle office where she works has a fragrance-free policy, which she’s not afraid to enforce should someone fail to respect it.“If someone comes in to meet with me and they’re off-gassing perfume or hand lotion, I’ll ask them to go wash it off,” she says. “Some of them are pretty incensed. They get defensive and say, ‘It’s just hand lotion.’ But I’ll tell them, ‘Yes, but your lotion is triggering me.’”

Chemical sensitivity or chemical entitlement?
But while scent-sensitive souls point to wheezing lungs, watery eyes, throbbing temples and even perfume-induced ambulance rides, others wonder if something else is behind the big ado about odor.

“I understand that there are people who’ve been exposed to hard core chemicals and have legitimate issues,” says Carly Sommerstein, a 42-year-old production editor in New York who became extremely scent-sensitive during her pregnancy. “But I think there’s a whole other group of people who are just using this to boss everybody around. They’re moving away from chemical sensitivity to chemical entitlement.”

Dawn Geisler, who cashiered at a natural food store in Ann Arbor, Mich., for 13 years, says she’s been led around by someone else’s nose again and again.

“[Customers] complained about the cashiers who wore deodorant. They complained that we had painted walls. Some even complained about the vinegar and water solution we used to clean the belt,” says the 35-year-old who now does data entry. “I know that people can be very sensitive to these things, but it seemed like some of these people were expecting the world to accommodate them. And that’s very hard.”

But Hirsch, the smell expert, says seizing control of a smelly situation may actually be part of what makes scent sensitive people feel better.

“People perceive smells as an intrusion on their body space,” he says. “But if you can control the smell, you’re much less bothered by it than if you can’t control it. It’s an instinctive perception, like a dog marking its territory.”

Hirsch says a person’s perception of a smell will also change depending on whether it’s coming from someone or something they like or not.

“You can clear a room with a bad smell and give people all kinds of headaches,” he says. “But you can put that same smell on a Disney ride and no one will complain.”

This principle, which Hirsch calls “hedonic perception,” may explain why a person’s nose may get out of joint about one smell but not another.

“I wear body butter and one of my coworkers will always start coughing and gagging every time she goes by my office,” says Maryam Diaab, a 40-year-old health care coordinator from Long Island, N.Y. “But there’s another woman who wears patchouli and she never says anything to her. I feel like she’s singling me out. I hope she coughs up a lung.”

War of the noses
Workplace nose wars are one reason Peter Post of the Emily Post Institute recommends minimal scent or no-scent policies on the job. But until those are in place, he says people with sensitivities great and small need to find a way to communicate their health issues while still respecting the rights of those around them.

“We all have to get along in this world somehow and share this space,” he says. “And at what point do you make your allergies somebody else’s problem? If people have severe allergies, they have to figure out a way to interact with others without making that person change their life completely, too.”

Sending people laundry lists of “banned” beauty products or telling them to cover up their clothing with a trash bag is pushing the envelope, he says. “You’ve got to figure out another way to handle it.”

Fawn Fritzen, a business analyst from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, was able to get her coworkers to forgo fragrance simply by asking nicely.

“Scent is a personal thing,” says the 29-year-old, who brought up the topic at a staff meeting after construction dust, and later, pregnancy wreaked havoc with her nose and lungs. “So if you’re going to ask someone to change their behavior it has to be done in a caring way. If I would have told them to make sure all their products at home were scent-free, that would have been going overboard. But it’s not a huge burden to ask people to change a few things, like not wearing perfume or a strong-smelling hand lotion.”

Luckily, for those who’ve come to dread the scent of a woman, a few things are changing.

Scent-free policies have been embraced by workplaces, weddings, colleges, and conferences and both perfume sales and the willingness of women to wear it have declined. The sale of men’s and women’s fragrances fell one percent in 2007 according to the consumer product sales research firm NPD Group, which also found that the number of women who go without perfume rose from 13 percent in 2003 to 15 percent last year. In addition, natural products and unscented versions of old favorites are starting to grace more and more grocery store shelves.

Even a San Francisco dominatrix is able to resist the urge to bully her scent-sensitive clientele.

“Let me know during our confirmation call,” her Web site advises, “so that I may adjust my toilette accordingly.”

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ollagen hits the G-spot

A collagen injection which is designed to enhance women's pleasure around the G-spot is being launched in the UK.

The G-Shot, which is given under local anaesthetic and takes about half an hour, is being hailed as the latest lunchtime procedure.

A specially designed speculum is used to help direct the injection into the G-spot, with effects lasting around four months.

The £800 jab temporarily enlarges the G-spot to the size of a 10p in width and a quarter of an inch in height.

This makes the G-spot easier to locate and highly sensitive, which it is claimed could enhance sexual arousal and gratification.

The UK Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Centre in London's Harley Street says it is the first in the UK to offer the jab.

Professor Phanuel Dartey, from the centre, said he was offering the jab in response to growing demand.

He said: "We explain the whole procedure to them and tell them how to examine themselves.

"They lie down and find it in the comfort of our own room.

"Once they find it, we have got a special speculum and light source and we get the woman to let us know when we have reached the area."

Prof Dartey said the jab was now being used worldwide and he has treated about five women so far at his clinic. "Obviously the British are a bit conservative but the results are fantastic," he said.

Prof Dartey said US studies have suggested that 87 per cent of women who had the jab reported enhanced sexual arousal and gratification. This included more orgasms that last longer, multiple orgasms and a heightened libido.

A spokeswoman for the clinic said the G-Shot does not provide the answers for women who are unhappy with their sex lives or who are incompatible with their partners in some way. She said it was not being offered as a "cure" for women who did not enjoy sex or who could not achieve orgasm.

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No Picnic: Man Charged With Screwing a Patio Table

Police in Ohio say that a married father of three has confessed to repeatedly having sex with his patio picnic table.

Art Price, Jr., 40, has been charged with four counts of public indecency after a neighbor videotaped him getting all nasty with the umbrella hole in the middle of his plastic picnic table. Apparently preferring the table's legs in the air, Price reportedly flipped the table over before forcing himself inside of it.

Price admitted that his skeevy antics took place both inside and outside of his home, and police say he did his table humping in broad daylight, not far from a school.

In addition to public outrage, we imagine there's considerable jealousy among Price's other lawn furniture. While barbecues and lawn chairs don't have many places for good loving (unless you're big enough for that drink holder), we're sure that plastic gnome hiding in the hedges is wondering why he wasn't chosen. The garden hose, however, is probably pretty relieved.

See the table and a video report after the jump.

Do you find yourself oddly admiring this man's pluck and innovation?

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ancer patient's PSP, medicine, homework stolen

In Dallas, Texas, while a 7-year-old boy headed to his chemotherapy appointment Tuesday, thieves were at work on his family’s car, making off with his medicine, school homework, and video games. If that wasn’t enough, it all happened on the day before his birthday.

Kyle Springs and his family drove from Oklahoma to Dallas for a monthly chemotherapy treatment for a tumor in his brain. The thieves struck as he and his parents ate breakfast at a Denny’s restaurant.

“It had my homework and my medicine in it, and I couldn’t leave my medicine. I needed to take it,” he said.

Along with the backpack of medicine, homework, a PlayStation Portable (PSP), and video games, his medical records were stolen as well.

According to Kyle’s mother, video games helped him escape the pain.

“They keep his attention off sitting there, getting that medication that he knows is going to make him sick,” Trish Springs said.

When authorities heard about Kyle’s situation, they stepped up. Officers presented Kyle with a new PSP, video games, movies, and money for his medication at the Children’s Medical Center.

In just two and a half hours, officers from the Dallas Police Department raised more than $1,000 for Kyle.

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Yahoo Launching Site for Women 25-54

NEW YORK (AP) — Yahoo Inc. is launching a new site for women between ages 25 and 54, calling it a key demographic underserved by current Yahoo properties.

Monday's launch of Shine is aimed largely at giving the struggling Internet company additional opportunities to sell advertising targeted to the key decision-maker in many households. Yahoo said advertisers in consumer-packaged goods, retail and pharmaceuticals have requested more ways to reach those consumers.

Amy Iorio, vice president for Yahoo Lifestyles, said internal research also shows women are looking for a site to aggregate various content and communications tools.

"These women were sort of caretakers for everybody in their lives," she said. "They didn't feel like there was a place that was looking at the whole them — as a parent, as a spouse, as a daughter. They were looking for one place that gave them everything."

Yahoo is entering a market already served by Glam Media Inc. and iVillage, a unit of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal. It is Yahoo's first site aimed at a single demographic, although other Yahoo sites like Finance and Sports already draw specific audiences.

With Shine, Yahoo plans to expand its offerings in parenting, sex and love, healthy living, food, career and money, entertainment, fashion, beauty, home life, and astrology.

Shine likely will replace the existing Food site over time, although Yahoo plans to keep its Health site operating to serve men and other age groups as well as women.

Yahoo is partnering with media companies like Hearst Communications Inc. and Rodale Inc. for content exclusive to Shine. Hearst publishes Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and other magazines aimed at women, while Rodale publishes a range of magazines on sports and recreation, including Women's Health.

Yahoo also has hired a team of editors to produce original material and to seek out items of interest from elsewhere in Yahoo.

Unlike most other Yahoo sites, Shine will be presented in a blog form, with newest items on top and commentary from an editor.

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How Things Even Out

Things tend to even out. Religion, some people say, has caused wars and fighting. Yes, but it’s also boring to sit through a church service, so it evens out. One moment you’re depressed because your doctor tells you that you have alcoholism. But then you cheer up when you go home and find a hidden bottle of vodka you had forgotten about.

Things are evening out all the time, if you take time to notice, like I do. Let’s say you want a big cupcake, with lots of icing, so you go buy one and eat it. But then you realize, I don’t have the cupcake anymore. Or maybe you take a bite of salsa that’s labelled “HOT,” and it doesn’t seem that hot, but then about a second later it seems really hot.

You might hear that some guy you know is having a party, so you call him up, but he says there’s no party. But then you call back, using a different voice, and suddenly there is a party.

One day, you ask people to take a look at a skin rash you have. Then, a few days later, you’re looking at their rashes. You send someone a death threat and then, mysteriously, the police come to your house and threaten you.

Maybe you find a nice flat pebble on a riverbank, and when you pick it up and throw it it skips across the water several times. But then the next pebble you can’t even pry loose because, what is this, glue mud? You notice an ant drifting away on a leaf in the water. Then you look up to see your aunt drifting away in a rowboat.

Eventually, I believe, everything evens out. Long ago, an asteroid hit our planet and killed our dinosaurs. But, in the future, maybe we’ll go to another planet and kill their dinosaurs.

Even in the afterlife things probably even out, although I can’t imagine how.

Still don’t believe that things even out? Try this simple test: flip a coin, over and over again, calling out “Heads!” or “Tails!” after each flip. Half the time people will ask you to please stop.

Once you realize that things even out, it’s like a light being turned on in your head, then being turned off, then being turned to “dim.”

Probably the perfect example of things evening out happened to me just last month. I was walking to the post office to mail a death threat. It was a beautiful day. I was happily singing away in my super-loud singing voice. I didn’t step on any chewing gum, like I usually do, and when I threw my gum down it didn’t stick to my fingertips. As I rounded the corner, there was a bum begging for change. I was feeling pretty good, so I gave him a five-dollar bill. At first I tried to make him do a little dance for the five dollars, but he wouldn’t do it, so I gave him the five dollars anyway.

Not long after that, I was reading the paper, and there was a picture of the bum. He had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry! He had a little bigger nose and straighter teeth, but I’m pretty sure it was him. So, my five dollars had made him change his ways and become a chemistry guy.

A few days later, I was walking by the corner again, and there was the bum, back begging. So, things had evened out. He had gotten the Nobel Prize, but now he was a bum again. I asked him for the five dollars back, but he started saying weird stuff that I guess was chemistry formulas or something.

I told my friend Don the story, but he said it wasn’t an example of things evening out so much as just a stupid story. That’s interesting, Don, because you saying that evens out what I said to your mother that time.

I have a lot of stories about things evening out, but I think the one about the Nobel Prize-winning bum is the best. I’d say it would take about three of my other stories to even out that one.

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Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization

WASHINGTON—According to a report released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, the recent influx of exceedingly affluent powder-wigged aristocrats into the nation's gentrified urban areas is pushing out young white professionals, some of whom have lived in these neighborhoods for as many as seven years.

Enlarge Image Castle

Multibillion-dollar castles like this one have been popping up all over Brooklyn.

Maureen Kennedy, a housing policy expert and lead author of the report, said that the enormous treasure-based wealth of the aristocracy makes it impossible for those living on modest trust funds to hold onto their co-ops and converted factory loft spaces.

"When you have a bejeweled, buckle-shoed duke willing to pay 11 or 12 times the asking price for a block of renovated brownstones—and usually up front with satchels of solid gold guineas—hardworking white-collar people who only make a few hundred thousand dollars a year simply cannot compete," Kennedy said. "If this trend continues, these exclusive, vibrant communities with their sidewalk cafés and faux dive bars will soon be a thing of the past."

According to Kennedy, one of the most pressing concerns associated with rapid aristocratization is the drastic transformation of the metropolitan landscape in a way that fails to maximize livable space.

"A three-block section of [Chicago neighborhood] Wicker Park that once accommodated eight families, two vintage clothing stores, a French cleaners, and a gourmet bakery has been completely razed to make way for a private livery stable and carriage house," Kennedy said. "The space is now entirely unusable for affordable upper-income condominium housing. No one can live there except for the odd stable boy or footman who gets permission to sleep in the hayloft."

Many of those affected by the ostentatious reshaping of their once purely upmarket neighborhoods said that they often wish for a return back to the privileged communities they helped to overdevelop just a few years ago. Among the first to feel the effects of the encroaching aristocracy have been local business owners like Fort Greene, Brooklyn resident Neil Getz.

"Around here, you used to be able to get a Fair-Trade latte and a chocolate-chip croissant for only eight bucks," said Getz, who is planning to move back in with his parents after being forced out of the lease on his organic grocery store by a harpsichord purveyor. "Now it's all tearooms and private salon gatherings catered with champagne and suckling pig. Who can afford that?"

Enlarge Image Strolling Aristocrats

Incoming aristocrats are easily spotted by their distinctive dress and taste for chamber music.

"It's just a terrible shame," Getz continued. "There was this great little shop right across the street from my duplex apartment where I bought my baby daughter a Ramones onesie a couple of years ago, just after she was born. That whole block is an opera house now."

The aristocracy has adamantly dismissed claims that the sweeping changes are detrimental to the merely wealthy who have been displaced, and many persons of noble blood have pointed to aristocratization's benefits. These include lower crime rates attributed to new punishments, such as public floggings and the pillory, which are primarily meted out for maintaining direct eye contact with members of the highest class.

"These accusations are pure, slanderous rubbish," said Lord Nathan Dunkirk III, the owner of a prodigious manor house that, along with its steeplechase course and topiary garden, sits on what was once the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. "If anything, the layabouts and wastrels have been afforded a veritable glut of new and felicitous opportunities as bootblacks and scullery maids."

Other aristocrats have echoed Dunkirk and have additionally deflected blame onto regification, a process by which they say they were priced out of their vast rural holdings by kings who wished to consolidate property and develop monumental palatial estates.

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The April Fools' Day Defense Kit

As April 1 approaches, prudent observers will be on the lookout for the media's latest hoaxes. Last year, in anticipation of April Fools' Day, Jack Shafer offered advice on how to avoid becoming the victim of the media's shenanigans.

Illustration by Rob Donnelly. Click image to expand.

You don't look gullible, but you are. Year after year, the media take advantage of your naiveté and humiliates you with an April Fools' Day prank.

You're probably still kicking yourself for being fooled by the April 2000 Esquire feature about "Freewheelz," an Illinois startup that promised "self-financing, free cars" to consumers. Every time you spot Discover magazine on the newsstand, you growl because you fell for its April 1995 article about the discovery of the ice-melting, penguin-eating hotheaded naked ice borer. Your father probably still gripes about Sports Illustrated's April 1, 1985, article about Sidd Finch, the New York Mets prospect who could throw a baseball 168 mph.

The Museum of Hoaxes Web site catalogs these greatest hits to complete its Top 100 list of the greatest April Fool's hoaxes of all time. There's the BBC's legendary segment on the Swiss spaghetti harvest (1957), Phoenix New Times' story about the formation of the "Arm the Homeless Coalition" (1999), and PC Computing's report on legislative efforts to ban the use of the Internet while drunk (1994), just to name a few classics.

April Fools' hoaxes succeed because the victims, conditioned by a stream of implausible but true stories in the press, aren't expecting the sucker punch. If you don't want to be anybody's fool this year, assume a guarded crouch, especially as the countdown to April 1 progresses. Some April Fools' Day pranks arrive in your mailbox a couple of days before the holiday in the form of a monthly magazine. Remember, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Beware strange animals. If a story whiffs even remotely of the hotheaded naked ice borer, it's likely to be a hoax. Technology Review hoaxed its readers with an April Fools' story in 1985 titled "Retrobreeding the Woolly Mammoth." In 1984, the Orlando Sentinel did the same with a piece about the cockroach-devouring Tasmanian mock walrus. In 1994, London's Daily Star sports pages reported that invading superworms might destroy the Wimbledon green.

Turn off your radio. Deejays love to pull practical jokes on April Fools' Day. In 1989, KSLX-FM in Scottsdale, Ariz., broadcast the claim that the station had been taken hostage by Pima Indians, prompting calls to the police. WCCC-AM/FM in Hartford, Conn., told listeners on April 1, 1990, that a volcano had erupted not far away. San Diego's KGB-FM alerted listeners on April 1, 1993, that the space shuttle Discovery had been rerouted from Edwards Air Force Base to a local airport. Thousands showed up to view the landing despite the fact that the spacecraft was earthbound that day. It's not just shock jocks pulling the pranks—you can't trust NPR, either. Its "humorists" have aired pieces on portable zip codes you can take with you when you move (2004), federal health care for pets (2002), and advertisements projected onto the moon (2000).

Shun the British press. The British tabloids make stories up all the time, but on April Fool's Day, everybody on Fleet Street fabricates. The Times used the day to run a spoof ad announcing an auction of "surplus intellectual property"—various patents, trademarks, and copyrights. The Daily Mail announced the postponement of Andrew and Fergie's wedding because of a clash with Prince Charles' calendar. He was going to be butterfly-hunting in the Himalayas. The Daily Mail told readers that nuclear submarines were now patrolling the Thames. The Independent published a scoop about skirts for men at a fashionable shop. The Guardian declared it would replace the women's page with the men's page. In 2000, the Times complained that the surreal quality of the news—Labor turning right wing, for example—had taken the ease out of cracking a good April Fools' joke.

If they pranked before, they'll prank again. In addition to the British press and NPR, the weekly chain formerly known as New Times Inc. (now Village Voice Media) loves to hoax its readers. Google has established a reputation for silly hoaxes with pages hyping its Google MentalPlex and PigeonRank technologies. It once posted openings for its Googlelunaplex office on the moon and introduced a smart-drink called GoogleGulp!

Too good to be true. News organizations sometimes fall for the April Fools' Day pranks perpetrated by outside hoaxsters, so don't expect every clue to be obvious. If an April 1 article declares that something valuable is now "free" or purports to break news about "hidden treasure," you're being had. Does an organization's acronym or abbreviation spell April Fool? Also, scan copy for anagrams of "April Fools'" or some similar play on words. Discover's story on the hotheaded naked ice borer cited as its authority wildlife biologist "Aprile Pazzo," which is Italian for April Fool.

Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes and expert on all things April Fools', advises that you finish reading articles before rushing into the next cubicle to spread the incredible news. Many hoax articles end with an obvious clue or an explanation that it's all a joke. Double-check all radio warnings of disasters—volcanic eruptions, floods, killer bee invasions—and question any story uncovering a new, onerous tax (say, on Linux).

New-product announcements that arrive on or near April 1, such as the left-handed Whopper, should be approached with skepticism, Boese says, but he cautions against reflexive hoax-spotting. On March 31, 2004, Google released the beta version of Gmail, which featured 1 GB of free storage, cavernous compared to other e-mail provider offerings. That was the same day the company unveiled its Googlelunaplex plans. The moon joke and the generosity of Gmail's 1 GB storage caused some nerds to sense a con and insist—wrongly—that Gmail was a giant April Fools' Day hoax.

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