Tis the season for fake Internet meme-ish newslike stories

Even if they're accurate, they may not be true. Too bad about the shark.

And the Smartest Site on the Internet Is...

Google now lets you filter sites by reading level

Gawker did a nice graphic, but computerized analyses of grammar and usage are notoriously gappy -- more like memos written by the kind of committee that has to compromise on every phrase before issuing its results. Everything is accurate, but it either makes no sense, or is fatally boring.

The other possibility is that it rates everything it can't understand as either Incomprehensible, or Above College Level, whether it was written by Stephen Hawking or Renfield.

Google's reaches its conclusions by comparing pages to an index created from content in Google Scholar, cross-referenced by Web pages rated by teachers.

To get there, do an "advanced" search, go down to Reading level, turn it on, and off you go.

Spectrum.IEEE.org rated 96 percent advanced. ScienceMag.org rated 87 percent advanced.

Obviously that means engineering is more complex than science. Or that the AAAS writers write more clearly than those from IEEE. Or that Google doesn't really know the difference and is counting the number of polysyllables in each sentence.

(For the record, Technology Review, which isn't responsible for Google, rated 50 percent Intermediate, 14 percent Advanced.)

Sharks Wary of Drunk Serbs

I'm the last one to claim drunk Serbs aren't dangerous. There was that whole Bosnia thing, for example.

This story, about a group of Serb friends out on the town for what must have been a DNA-altering, reality morphing night of drinking in the Egyptian resort town of Sarm El Sheikh, walked down to the beach for a swim. Dragan Stevic, eventually dubbed "Shark El Sheikh" by the local media, told a friend to hold his beer (and almost certainly said whatever is Serbian for 'Hey, watch this) before climbing the platform and running right off the end.

Rather than splashing deep and just dissolving into Vodka-flavored Serb-seawater soup, he landed square on the head of a shark waiting just offshore, presumably waiting for the next victim in a series of attacks that had injured four tourists and killed one.

The shark was killed instantly, but whether from the impact or the Serb's breath wasn't clear.

He "plunged down to the sea, but didn't make as much splash as we thought he would" his friend told a Belgrade-based news outlet.

Stevic swam to shore and told his friends he'd twisted an ankle because the water "was not that soft." He's in the hospital recovering from alcohol poisoning.

Unfortunately, it's a hoax. The pic of the shark is from a story about North Carolina, whose denizens were quick to claim ownership.

Sarm El Sheikh, on the other hand, is not only a real place, it has a real problemwith sharks and, apparently, sheep carcasses.

Colombia army gives Farc rebels early Christmas gift

The Colombian army, which has been in a bloody fight with FARC rebels since the early

80s helicoptered into the jungle to decorage an 82-foot-high tree with 2,000 Christmas lights that will light up when the guerillas approach.

The gift is encouragement for the rebels to demobilize.

I haven't found any direct contraditions, but either the story is phony or the Colombian army is has completely lost its mind.

On the other hand, this happened:

120-person flash mob sings Handel's Messiah at the Orlando Airport

Pro: Best Flash Mob Ever

Con: Fake-ish execution. They got permission first, then hung around for media interviews.

You're doing it wrong.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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