April Fools Day

The first of April is a day that teaches you not to trust everything you read in newspapers or see on TV. Over coffee, a friend  and I were remembering the most unusual things we had heard of happening on that day. In addition to the famous report that the Leaning Tower of Pisa had finally fallen, I was interested to hear that in 1976, a British astronomer Patrick Moore announced to listeners of the BBC that the unique position of Jupiter and Pluto would cause a disturbance in Earth’s gravity. At 9:47, they would be able to float.

As a result, dozens of people called BBC and reported that they had jumped and felt that they remained in the air a bit longer than usual.

In 1995 the Irish Times reported that the Disney Corporation was negotiating with the Russian government to purchase the embalmed body of Lenin. Disney proposed moving the body and its mausoleum now on Red Square to the new Euro Disney, where it would be given the “full Disney treatment,” displaying the body under strobe lights to tone up his pallid face while excerpts from President Reagan’s ‘evil empire’ speech would be played in quadrophonic sound in the background. Naturally they would also sell t-shirts.

Another case had more dangerous results. In 2003, a student from Hong Kong named Ming Pao made a fake Internet page on which he reported that due to the SARS infection, all ports have been closed to contain the disease, and all citizens were quarantined. The government had to hold a press conference to deny the rumors and as the result of the hoax, the poor student ended up in jail.

But there are always more, and I left for home wracking my brains for a a suitable gag to try out on my roommate in the hours remaining.

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