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O Me of Little Faith

When I was a kid, I used to try to come up with all these elaborate jokes to play on my dad on April 1. Most of them were pretty lame. I think the best one was when I filled all his shoes with marbles. Not bad for a 7-year-old. Apparently, I had access to a lot of marbles.

The inter-webs, of course, make the production and dissemination of jokes way bigger and much easier than filling Rockport loafers with a bunch of marbles. For instance, every time you click on a featured video on YouTube today, you’ll be sent to a Rick Astley video. (Brilliant! If by brilliant, you mean “decent idea — and Rick Astley is obscure enough — but in reality it’s more annoying than it is hilarious.”)

[Update: The Rick Astley thing is called “rickrolling.” Apparently it’s a web phenomenon I was not yet aware of. Sigh. I do try to keep abreast of web phenomena. I really do. H/T: Matt.]

And there’s all kinds of goofy stuff happening at Google today, including the announcement of Virgle, a partnership between the Virgin Group and Google to put people on Mars. Those crazy billionaire jokesters.

While I’m always a sucker for good, subtle humor, most April Fools jokes are pretty lame. Popular Mechanics has a list of a few good office pranks to try, including the always-fun one where you fill an entire office with packing peanuts. Easier: Fill someone’s car. Or their filing cabinet. Or, you know, just use marbles, which roll a lot better than styrofoam peanuts.

But those don’t even compare to what’s generally considered the best April 1 joke of all time — the BBC’s classic “spaghetti harvest” feature in 1957, which featured a Swiss family plucking strands of noodles from a tree while worrying that a good frost could destroy the entire crop. It was on TV, so people believed it. It led to a significant public interest in cultivating homegrown spaghetti trees. You can watch the televised report here. Read lots more about it at the Hoaxipedia.

Happy joking! Don’t be annoying.

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Not a joke: I got a Google hit this morning from someone who did a search for — and this is an exact quote — “eugene, oregon rules to follow when speaking with black people.” Wow. That search-engine optimization stuff is really paying off.

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