April Fools Day
Word of the Day – Monday, April 1st
intelligent thought – complacently foolish
Fools' Day or All Fools' Day, though not a holiday in its own
right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1.
The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical
jokes of varying sophistication on friends, enemies and neighbors,
or sending them on fools' errands, the aim of which is to
embarrass the gullible. In some countries, April Fools' jokes
(also called April Fools) are only made before noon on 1 April.
Though the 1st of April appears to have been observed as a general festival in Great Britain in antiquity, it was apparently not until the beginning of the 18th century that the making of April-fools was a common custom. In Scotland the custom was known as "hunting the gowk," i.e. the cuckoo, and April-fools were "April-gowks," the cuckoo being a term of contempt, as it is in many countries.
Alabama Changes the Value of Pi: The April 1998 newsletter of New Mexicans for Science and Reason contained an article written by physicist Mark Boslough claiming that the Alabama Legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi to the "Biblical value" of 3.0. This claim originally appeared as a news story in the 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.
Spaghetti trees: The BBC television programme Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They had claimed that the despised pest the spaghetti weevil had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees. It was in fact filmed in St Albans.
Left Handed Whoppers: In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side. Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the "old", right-handed burger.
Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell." When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied tongue-in-cheek that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
San Serriffe: The Guardian printed a supplement in 1977 praising this fictional resort, its two main islands (Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse), its capital (Bodoni), and its leader (General Pica). Intrigued readers were later disappointed to learn that San Serriffe (sans serif) did not exist except as references to typeface terminology. (This comes from a Jorge Luis Borges story.)
Metric time: Repeated several times in various countries, this hoax involves claiming that the time system will be changed to one in which units of time are based on powers of 10.
Smell-o-vision: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success. This hoax was also conducted by the Seven Network in Australia in 2005. In 2007, the BBC website repeated an online version of the hoax.
Tower of Pisa: The Dutch television news reported once in the 1950s that the Tower of Pisa had fallen over. Many shocked people contacted the station.
Write Only Memory: Signetics advertised Write Only Memory IC databooks in 1972 through the late 1970s.
The Canadian news site bourque.org announced in 2002 that Finance Minister Paul Martin had resigned "in order to breed prize Charolais cattle and handsome Fawn Runner ducks."
Annual BMW Innovations see a new "cutting-edge invention" by BMW advertised across British newspapers every year, examples including:
Warning against counterfeit BMWs: the blue and white parts of the logo were reversed
The "Toot and Calm Horn" (after Tutankhamun), which calms rather than aggravates other drivers, so reducing the risk of road rage,
MINI cars being used in upcoming space missions to Mars,
IDS ("Insect Deflector Screen") Technology - using elastic solutions to bounce insects off the windscreen as you drive,
SHEF ("Satellite Hypersensitive Electromagnetic Foodration") Technology, which sees the car's GPS systems synchronise with home appliances to perfectly cook a meal for the instant you return home,
Marque-Wiper - mini-wipers for each exterior "BMW" logo coming as standard on all future models,
"Uninventing the wheel" to counter the "EU ban" on right-hand drive cars,
Zoom Impression Pixels ("ZIP") to counter new "Slow Cameras" and,
"BMW Instant Messaging" - using Reactive User Sound Electronic (RUSE) particles to display the driver's words to the car in front on the windscreen.
A compact disc available to all BMW owners, which when played over the audio system performed minor service and diagnostic checks; when flipped over it played soothing classical music (Australia).
Sheng Long - Electronic Gaming Monthly's infamous hoax of a secret character in Street Fighter II.
There have been several other EGM pranks that readers have fallen into. Among them: claiming that some Street Fighter II characters possessed unlisted special moves, including Chun-Li hurling her bracelets at an opponent, Sega mascots Sonic and Tails appearing as playable characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and the release of a graphically-remade The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker as a preorder bonus. All such pranks have been met with praise and equal hatred from its readers, as can be seen in the "April Fools" letters section in the May issue.
EGM tried the Sheng Long hoax again with Street Fighter III and once again got some people to believe it.