Boobies!

Thanks to Pharyngula for turning me on to this: BOOBIES LOST AT SEA. It's one of those stories that, no matter the season, makes you double-check the date real quick to make sure it isn't the 1st of April. 


According to this story, a breast-obsessed "Lad's" magazine popular in Australia purchased a number of inflatable breasts -- to give them away free with their January issue -- and had them shipped from Beijing. Somewhere along the shipping lane, they went missing. 

PZ titled his post "Imagine 130,000 breasts bobbing in the sea," and responded to the suggestion that they were stolen by pirates with "Very lonely, tasteless pirates." This stuff almost writes itself. 

And here's where I get suspicious: some tacky men's-mag I've never heard of just happens to lose a bunch of boobs at sea, and becomes the recipient of mucho media attention. People around the world "imagine" flotillas of "breasts bobbing in the sea," feeding right into the kind of humor a Lad-mag requires, disseminates, and inspires -- Could this be a publicity stunt? 

I examined the news story for signs of bullshit: 
More than 130,000 inflatable breasts have been lost at sea en route to Australia.
Pairs or individual breasts? Are we talking 130,000 singles (creepy), 130,000 pairs (260,000 breasts), or 65,000 pairs whose breasts are being counted singly? The fact that the reporter has ignored this important detail increases my suspicion.
A spokeswoman for Ralph said the container left docks in Beijing two weeks ago but turned up empty in Sydney this week.

The magazine has put out an alert to shipping authorities to see if they have the container, but if they don't turn up in the next 48 hours it will be too late for the next issue, she said.
So what went missing? The container or its cargo? Did the container "turn up empty" (suggesting someone went in there and cleaned it out), or are people "see[ing] if they have the container," which means that the whole container is missing (and it would have a lot more in it than a few hundred thousand floppy, deflated-for-shipping, breasts), and it might very well have fallen off the ship to become part of the Great Deadly Garbage Patch of the Pacific?

You know what they say in crime investigation when the details don't match up: someone is lying. And Cui Bono? Who stands to benefit from an absurd story about a bobbing booby mystery? Why the very lad's magazine claiming to be the victim of this so-called crime. We should be able to gauge their sincerity by reading their official statement for the papers:
Ralph editor Santi Pintado urged anyone who has any information to contact the magazine.

``Unless Somali pirates have stolen them its difficult to explain where they are,'' Pintado said.

``If anyone finds any washed up on a beach, please let us know.''
This is a cross between OJ saying he wants to find the "real killers" and a petty thief suggesting the deed was actually done by the half-man from this traveling carnival that you just missed when you walked in the door... in other words, it's bullshit of the first order, the kind of sensationalist supposition that gets flung around by people more interested in garnering attention for themselves than in actually getting their boobies back. 

I call HOAX. And if it's not, it oughtta be. 

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