From bobrankin@MHV.NET Tue Apr  1 01:49:16 1997
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 1997 01:27:32 -0500
From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 1 April 1997 - Higher Source / April Foolery

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     TODAY'S TOURBUS STOPS: Higher Source and April Foolery

What fun - TOURBUS on April Fools Day!  In this issue, you'll learn
about classic Internet April Fools gags from years gone by, and maybe
even pick up a gag or two to pull on a friend.

Visit today's sponsors MediaDome and Orbit Enterprises and say thanks
for keeping the Bus rolling!

        Print & fax your signature with Orbit Enterprises
        digitized signatures.  Satisfaction is guaranteed.
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Before we get to the foolery, I've got some info on that "Higher
Source" mass suicide.  Unless you live in a cave, you've probably heard
about the 39 web-slinging wackos in California who killed themselves,
thinking they would be transported to a UFO.  If you're really curious
to learn the ages and identities of the people who ate a meal of drug-
laced applesauce & vodka, then tied plastic bags on their heads, see

This cult had a website design business at http://www.highersource.COM
(which has been very hard to access due to the curious throngs) but I
got word about another clever website design group that created a site
at the address http://www.highersource.ORG - less than 12 hours after the
story broke. It's a macabre spoof on the Higher Source cultists, as well
as a lambasting of the press for wrongly characterizing this as an
Internet story.

Syndicated columnist Larry Magid explains here why it really isn't:

> Beyond Heaven's Gate: The Dark Side of the Web
> by Lawrence J. Magid -
> (Reprinted with permission)
> The "Internet connection" to the tragic suicides in California this
> week has, once again, brought up the question of the dark side of
> the Internet.  While it is true that the Heaven's Gate group made
> its living by designing web pages and used the Internet to spread
> its ideas, the Internet had nothing to do with the deaths of these
> people.  First, there is no evidence that any of the 39 people who
> died in Rancho Santa Fe was recruited over the Internet.
> The leader of the cult had been recruiting members for 20 years,
> long before most of us had even heard of the Internet.  He also used
> other technologies -- print, video tape, telephone calls and
> personal contact.  Should we blame those communications systems for
> these deaths?  Perhaps we should ban the use of video tape or censor
> all phone calls?
> Second, even if the Internet is used as a recruiting device (as is
> the case for some cults), why should that be any surprise?  The
> Internet is a fast growing and increasingly popular means of
> communications.  Naturally, anyone who is anxious to reach masses of
> people will use it.  That's why most major corporations have web
> sites.  It's also being used by mainstream religious organizations.
> If we banned its use by cults, than how could we allow it to be used
> by Catholics, Jews, Moslems and Protestants?
> Fact is, the Internet is a democratic information force that can be
> used by virtually anyone for virtually any purpose.  That poses some
> problems but it's also its beauty.  Like a democracy, made of
> extremists, quacks, centrists and people of every other persuasion,
> the Internet is populated by people with a very wide range of ideas.
> That shouldn't be condemned, it should be celebrated just as we
> should be celebrating the diversity of our culture and body politic.
> But it should also be approached with a critical eye.  When you go
> online you are going out in society.  And what you see isn't always
> what it appears to be.
> The Internet does raise some challenges and the potential for people
> to be mislead can not be ignored The challenge of using the Net is
> knowing how to discriminate between fact and fantasy, good advice
> and bad.  If someone says something that's too good to be true, it
> probably is.  If someone states a "fact" and doesn't site the
> source, than it shouldn't be considered a fact.
> Even if a source is stated, the information should be viewed with a
> critical eye.  People who use the Internet to purport facts or
> express opinions should be held to the same standards as those who
> do so in print, TV, radio and other medium.  State the facts, site
> your sources and say who you are.  Opinions and passions are fair
> game, just as they are in newspaper editorial pages.  But fairness
> and balance must also be on the agenda.
> I look at newsgroup postings and sites from all sorts of people, but
> I give most credence to the ones that say who they are and provide
> some depth and background.  The fact that the site might be
> attractive is hardly relevant -- lot of people can craft good
> looking web pages.  I'm far more interested in knowing something
> about the person's or organization's background, credentials and
> track record.
> The Internet, once again, points up the need for people to apply
> critical thinking to information from all sources.

April Fools Stuff

Don't be duped by that old "Internet Spring Cleaning" gag (the one that
says the Net will be offline for 24 hours) or fall for any number of other
net.jokes - visit "April Fools on the Net" and find out what's likely to
be making the rounds today.

Wanna play some jokes of your own?  Visit - a year round
"gag central" for April fools.

This site features "Headline News" where you can put yourself in a
realistic online 'news story' with one of several celebrities. Just
add personal facts and click!  There's also "Build a Bogus WEB PAGE",
a free service that will help you fool a friend into thinking they
just inherited a fortune, or their new computer has been recalled.

Want more fowl gags?  Visit the Rubber Chicken online at:

Have fun on April Fools day, but play fair.  A good April Fools gag is
one that the "victim" should be able to see through if they have their
brain in gear.  (The "rubberband on the kitchen sink sprayer" was always
my favorite - heehee.)

Geek Toy Giveaway Winner

We have a winner of the "Spanish English Translator/Deluxe Calculator"
gizmo.  Congratulations to - and stay tuned for more
geek toy giveaways!

See you next time.  --Bob

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