Clone Zone was built by a pair of artists and opened to the public last April, after the artists’ TechCrunch spoof site won them some Facebook love. The tool aims to democratize the art of spoof-making, letting users create fake spins on popular sites with as little time and effort as it takes to craft a tweet.
Because it was out of beta weeks after April Fool’s Day 2015, Clone Zone wasn’t ready for the public to test its true Internet-trolling potential last year. This year it is live, but is the Internet ready?
Oops. If posting nude animal pictures is a sin, I’m guilty.
On their website, National Geographic fesses up to the prank, offering a slideshow of “real, quirky snapshots of well-dressed cats and dogs, created by photographer Harry Whittier Frees in the early 1900s.” Behold, tiny kittens in clothes:
We think we’ve spotted something unusual on the surface of Loch Ness in Scotland. The lake extends for approximately 23 miles (37 km) and is well-known as the possible home to “Nessie” - reportedly a massive sea monster resembling a plesiosaur. While water visibility is exceptionally low at the lake because of high peat content in the surrounding soil, our Overview perspective does not suffer from the same limitations and picked up this figure in imagery from 2014.
March Madness is old news, guys. It’s April now, and you know what April 1 brings? Madness. Absolute madness. And the worst type of madness, as anyone who as been on or heard of the Internet knows, is #brand madness.
So, of course, we made a bracket about it. We rounded up 16 pranks from 16 #brands and divided them into four categories: media, tech, stuff you can buy, and other, because some pranks are just so special that they defy categorization. Fill it out yourself, if you like! But also know that this is objectively correct and definitive. Enjoy!
(April Fool’s! No one enjoys this.)
The New York Timesannounced it will stop publishing crossword puzzles. “There are plenty of perfectly good crosswords out there,” wrote the Times’ “puzzle constructor,” Deb Amlen. “They’re not the New York Times Crossword, but like I said, you’ll adjust.” This is probably the daddest joke in the bracket.
National Geographictweeted that it would “immediately stop publishing nude animal pictures,” an announcement that was accompanied by an embarrassed-looking hedgehog thing (as Caroline noted earlier). Shows that Playboy can still be an industry leader.
GQ replaced every image on its homepage with a photo of Jason Alexander, perhaps better known as George Costanza from Seinfeld. We’ll give him this: the man knows how to wear a raincoat.
Writers for sister sites Deadspin, which focuses on sports, and Jezebel, which is geared toward women, switched roles for the day. Jezebel’s writers did a better job, occupying their colleagues’ homepage with headlines like “Man Achieves Adequacy” and “I’m Pretty Sure Most Straight Men Would Have Sex with The Rock.”
Samsung announced a new line of “intelligent trousers,” which ostensibly monitor their wearer’s vital signs and send them a smartphone notification to keep their pants on if they get too excited. Coming from a company that recently released a 5,000 dollar refrigerator with a 21.5’’ touchscreen crammed into it, we weren’t at first sure if this was a joke.
Google showed off its latest virtual-reality headset, the see-through Cardboard Plastic. “What’s realer than real?” the voiceover deadpans in an announcement video. “Probably nothing. Or maybe something. I doubt it, though.” Points for self-parody.
Google tried a little too hard with a cutesy addition to Gmail it called MicDrop, which added a new button to the email screen. When clicked, it appended a mic-dropping gif of a minion (from the Despicable Me movies) to outgoing messages and muted the responses. The prank went over very, very poorly, and Google pulled the feature last night.
In a better, happier world, Zoosk’s dating site that matches users based on their burrito preferences—delightfully named Burrit-OH!—would be real. And it would be a smash hit, and it would save all kinds of bickering on the Chipotle line, and the people would rejoice. Alas, it’s not actually happening. To all you tofu-bean aficionados tryna make it with a carnitas lover: Godspeed, you crazy kids.
Cultural powerhouse H&M teamed up with fashion icon Mark Zuckerberg to bring his signature look to the masses. Yep, it’s a box of seven identical gray t-shirts and a pair of blue jeans. Check out the lookbook for photos of Zuck doing his thing.
You’re a freshman about to show your dorm rooms to your mom for the first time, and it smells, um, less than presentable. Time-honored tradition says you reach for a candle or five. But forget that lavender honey Yankee candle. Show some personality with a Sbarro pizza candle. That’ll make mama proud.
Waffle House may have falsely promised waffle delivery, but there’s hope yet for all those who are really jonesing for some waffles right now but also don’t want to get up: Pick up the shattered pieces of your heart and rejoice in the new UberEats.
If you thought Quilted Northern’s new line of “rustic weave” artisanal toilet paper made from tree bark was real, you probably deserve the butt splinters.
That annoying acquaintance on your Facebook feed who’s announced that they’re engaged or moving or pregnant or something. Spoiler: This will always lose. You’re the worst. You know who you are.
The Amherst Police Department’s faux-newest member is Dusty, the Narcotics Detection Rabbit, complete with official police harness and adorable lil’ tail. If you have to suffer through an April Fool’s prank, at least you get to look at a picture of a bunny.
Unfortunately, no, Mattel did not purchase Juneau, Alaska, and rename it after everyone’s favorite slumber-party card game, but they made a hell of a logo. (Uno-fied April 1, 2015). (Uno-fied!) (Fine, we’re suckers for wordplay.)
Trulia, the real-estate website, jumped on the hipster-hating bandwagon (“Hipsters are the WORST”) and made a map to let house-hunters know where to avoid if they can’t stand to look at their “skinny jeans and perfectly coiffed mustaches and mermaid hair.” But Trulia may be helping out their enemy here: Hipsters across the country are gathering their belongings to conquer the last remaining pristine landscape.
Georgia had an early surge of the virus, and now cases are spiking again. Brian Kemp has refused to learn a thing.
America has botched its coronavirus response in so, so many ways since the pandemic began. Even in a country that stands apart from the world for its horrific failures, there have been as many leadership bungles as there are states: Some failed to heed early warnings. Others refused to learn the lessons of outbreaks that came before theirs. Still others played politics instead of following science. And then there’s Georgia.
Georgia’s response to the pandemic has not been going well. It was bad from the beginning: Back in early April, weeks after other states took initial precautions, Georgia dawdled toward a shutdown while its coronavirus cases surged. Still, less than a month later, the state chose to be among the first in the nation to reopen, bringing back businesses known to accelerate the virus’s spread, such as restaurants and gyms, even though new infections had never made a significant or sustained decline. In June, the state welcomed back bars. What happened next was predictable, and was predicted: Case counts came roaring back. More people got sick and died. Many of these deaths were preventable. The state now has the sixth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States, behind five states with significantly larger populations.
The Biden vice-presidential-nominee finalist discusses Trump’s pandemic response, Benghazi, and her family’s politics.
A few days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice held a press briefing in her office to talk about the threats she saw on the horizon as Barack Obama’s presidency drew to a close. “What keeps you up at night? one reporter asked toward the end of the meeting. Her answer: a pandemic that spirals out of control.
Yesterday afternoon, I asked Rice how the past five months have compared to what she’d been worried about in the early days of 2017. “This is about in the realm of my worst nightmare,” she told me. That’s why, Rice said, she worked to put together plans, and why she oversaw the creation of the pandemic-preparedness office that Trump famously closed. “We knew it was going to happen. We just couldn’t know when.”
A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.
How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.
In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million.
How I got co-opted into helping the rich prevail at the expense of everybody else
From my parents’ teenage years in the 1930s and ’40s through my teenage years in the 1970s, American economic life became a lot more fair and democratic and secure than it had been when my grandparents were teenagers. But then all of a sudden, around 1980, that progress slowed, stopped, and in many ways reversed.
I didn’t really start understanding the nature and enormity of the change until the turn of this century, after the country had been fully transformed. One very cold morning just after Thanksgiving in 2006, I was on the way to Eppley Airfield in Omaha after my first visit to my hometown since both my parents had died, sharing a minivan jitney from a hotel with a couple of Central Casting airline pilots—tall, fit white men around my age, one wearing a leather jacket. We chatted. To my surprise, even shock, both of them spent the entire trip sputtering and whining—about being bait-and-switched when their employee-ownership shares of United Airlines had been evaporated by its recent bankruptcy, about the default of their pension plan, about their CEO’s recent 40 percent pay raise, about the company to which they’d devoted their entire careers but no longer trusted at all. In effect, about changing overnight from successful all-American middle-class professionals who’d worked hard and played by the rules into disrespected, cheated, sputtering, whining chumps.
Three predictions for what the future might look like
In March, tens of millions of American workers—mostly in white-collar industries such as tech, finance, and media—were thrust into a sudden, chaotic experiment in working from home. Four months later, the experiment isn’t close to ending. For many, the test run is looking more like the long run.
Google announced in July that its roughly 200,000 employees will continue to work from home until at least next summer. Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects half of Facebook’s workforce to be remote within the decade. Twitter has told staff they can stay home permanently.
With corporate giants welcoming far-flung workforces, real-estate markets in the superstar cities that combine high-paid work and high-cost housing are in turmoil. In the San Francisco Bay Area, rents are tumbling. In New York City, offices are still empty; so many well-heeled families with second homes have abandoned Manhattan that it’s causing headaches for the census.
No matter what happens now, the virus will continue to circulate around the world.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has sickened more than 16.5 million people across six continents. It is raging in countries that never contained the virus. It is resurgingin manyof the ones that did. If there was ever a time when this coronavirus could be contained, it has probably passed. One outcome is now looking almost certain: This virus is never going away.
The coronavirus is simply too widespread and too transmissible. The most likely scenario, experts say, is that the pandemic ends at some point—because enough people have been either infected or vaccinated—but the virus continues to circulate in lower levels around the globe. Cases will wax and wane over time. Outbreaks will pop up here and there. Even when a much-anticipated vaccine arrives, it is likely to only suppress but never completely eradicate the virus. (For context, consider that vaccines exist for more than a dozen human viruses but only one, smallpox, has ever been eradicated from the planet, and that took 15 years of immense global coordination.) We will probably be living with this virus for the rest of our lives.
Which is too bad because we really need to understand how the immune system reacts to the coronavirus.
Updated at 10:36 a.m. ET on August 5, 2020.
There’s a joke about immunology, which Jessica Metcalf of Princeton recently told me. An immunologist and a cardiologist are kidnapped. The kidnappers threaten to shoot one of them, but promise to spare whoever has made the greater contribution to humanity. The cardiologist says, “Well, I’ve identified drugs that have saved the lives of millions of people.” Impressed, the kidnappers turn to the immunologist. “What have you done?” they ask. The immunologist says, “The thing is, the immune system is very complicated …” And the cardiologist says, “Just shoot me now.”
The thing is, the immune system is very complicated. Arguably the most complex part of the human body outside the brain, it’s an absurdly intricate network of cells and molecules that protect us from dangerous viruses and other microbes. These components summon, amplify, rile, calm, and transform one another: Picture a thousand Rube Goldberg machines, some of which are aggressively smashing things to pieces. Now imagine that their components are labeled with what looks like a string of highly secure passwords: CD8+, IL-1β, IFN-γ. Immunology confuses even biology professors who aren’t immunologists—hence Metcalf’s joke.
The comedian’s employees say that fame has enabled callousness and abuse on her show. The warm testimonies of her superstar friends highlight their point.
Famous people want the world to know that Ellen DeGeneres is nice to famous people. Addressing media reports alleging a culture of harassment and bullying at DeGeneres’s talk show, the singer Katy Perry tweeted Tuesday that she’s “only ever had positive takeaways from my time with Ellen.” Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Hart, Jay Leno, Diane Keaton, and the superstar agent Scooter Braun have all recently made similar declarations about DeGeneres’s kindness, so as to push back against claims painting her as callous toward staffers, fans, and other entertainment-industry figures. “Looking forward to the future where we get back to loving one another,” Hart wrote, blasting those who have criticized DeGeneres and called for her to step down. “This hate shit has to stop.”
I don’t know that I would ever be able to forgive him for taking this away from me.
My husband and I have been together for nearly four years and are struggling to decide whether to have another baby. When we met, he had a 3-year-old son, and after a messy custody battle, he got primary custody of his son, my stepson.
I found out I was pregnant shortly after we started dating. When we decided to live together, I made sure to have a talk with him in which I was completely open about my wishes to eventually have another baby. I did this in large part because he is 14 years older than me. I have always wanted three children, and despite my early unexpected pregnancy, I was not willing to enter into a deeper relationship where having more children was not an option. Not only did he enthusiastically agree at the time, but he jokingly said he wouldn't mind having another 10 children.
Schools are essential to the functioning of our society, and that makes teachers essential workers.
The other day my husband, a public-school teacher in New York City, got a string of texts from a work friend. After checking in on our family and picking up their ongoing conversation about books and TV shows, she wrote, “So, are we going on a teacher strike in the fall?”
“What!? No!” My husband is adamantly against a strike, because he understands on a deep, personal level his duty to serve his country in the classroom.
We have two young children, one of whom is developmentally disabled, and I’m an intensive-care nurse. Through the spring, I took care of COVID-19 patients at the hospital while he toggled between teaching on Zoom and helping our daughters through their own lessons. He knows that I did my part for society, and that now he should, too.