Lew Lefton’s April Fool’s Jokes
Shouldn’t you be working right now instead of surfing the web?
This is an archive of the April Fool’s Jokes I’ve played on friends, family, and co-workers.
There was a nice article in the March/April 2011 Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine (see p. 51) that says I am apparently “renowned on campus” for my April Fools jokes. The article also has some nice coverage of D.U.C.K. which is a youth improv group which I direct.
- 2003 Unpublishable proof of the Riemann Hypothesis
- 2004 Advertisements appended to outgoing email
- 2005 New software automates the teaching of calculus
- 2006 GT Math Mail Server Hacked. Some people took this one seriously, and I had to send a public apology.
- 2006 My dog has a brain tumor and needs other dogs to donate blood. I missed the mark on this one, too. It only went to my family and friends, but it was taken quite seriously and people got mad. Lesson: Don’t joke about your dog’s health.
- 2007 Rolling Brownouts
- 2007 www.gatech.us is the new GT campus website. Probably my most sophisticated AFJ to date. A complete redo of www.gatech.edu home page. I actually found that the domain www.gatech.us was available at the time, so I bought it for this joke, and later gave the domain to the Institute to maintain.
- 2007 Please collect tree pollen for research.
- 2008 Hired by Google (a.k.a. Lewgle) Click here for the live lewgle search engine
- 2009 Georgia Tech Code of Ethics – Automatic Completion.
- 2009 Posting to neighborhood mailing list looking for an animal exorcist.
- 2010 State budget miscalculation. Binary instead of decimal. Note that the real blogger whose column I spoofed wrote about it the next day and this was then picked up by the Georgia Tech Daily News Buzz for massive redistribution on April 5th.
- 2011 A fabricated Institute Committee on Social Media complete with a website that matched the style of campus news stories. The link was widely circulated (even tweeted by a Vice Provost) and it was the “Exhibit A” lead entry on the Chronicle of Higher Education April Fools report. It also made the round up of Internet April Fools jokes on the MSNBC Technolog. Apparently it was picked up as a real story by the midtown patch.com site and then GT Communications and Marketing started getting a lot of calls. They forced my site offline, but I’m still not sure why. I thought it actually made Georgia Tech look like we had a sense of humor! All that was left at icsm.gatech.edu was a single statement that said “The previous announcement concerning Georgia Tech’s use of social media was an April Fools joke.” I went back in and added another link to this page, so people can actually see the joke, but who knows how long that will stay up! [NOTE: New GT website formatting has since been put in place so the link above no longer resembles the standard GT news release.]
- 2012 I sent around some emails and posted the www.mathshot.com website on Facebook. This year was a high water mark in production value with several people helping to design the mathshot logo, produce good graphics for the screnshots, and carefully edit the design/styling to make the site look real. The reaction was slow but steady (perhaps since April 1 fell on a Sunday). On April 4 the University Communications got this message via their website:
“I find it hard to believe that a technical college is advocating the use of software to calculate higher level mathematics. Is there proof of a lack of connection between conceptual understanding of mathematics and engineering principles? At what point do our engineers and scientists become technicians? What is the logic behind a decision that promotes solving a problem without knowing what it means?Sincerely,
NAME REDACTED, M.Ed.UPDATE 1: I have continued to receive a steady stream of people wanting to buy this app. Most recently on November 19, 2014. This may be the first April Fools joke of mine which fooled people for over two years!UPDATE 2: We recently saw photomath.net which is not a joke! Life imitates art….
- 2013 Georgia Tech replacing it’s mascot due to external pressure. I circulated a survey to solicit feedback on new mascot ideas. Web analytics showed over 11,000 hits. The survey results were sort of interesting, too. We had a near tie between “Keep Buzz” and “A actual yellow jacket, genetically engineered to be 5′ 4″ tall”. We were covered in two AJC blogs, one on sports and one on education. Both had some entertaining comments. We also hit reddit, stingtalk (a GT sports message board), and the GT Alumni Magazine. Perhaps most entertaining of all, a friend who works are the Board of Regents says they were getting angry calls all day with people demanding to talk to the chancellor! Lesson learned, never kick a yellow jacket nest!
- 2014 Georgia Tech “Office of Institute Branding and Public Perception” sends me a CEASE AND DESIST letter demanding that I no longer circulate April Fool’s Jokes. This was so convincing, even I believed it, and so I did not do any other joke that year.
- 2015 Georgia Tech “Vice Provost for Online Initiatives” announces on his blog that GT students will automatically earn college credit for Internet and social media use. Grades are assigned using machine learning that has been trained to recognize intellectually valid content in all authenticated network traffic. The student receives a monthly report of their progress. The more they use the Internet, the faster they graduate!
- 2016 Inspired by the construction on the Georiga Tech green, I created a poster announcing a new math building. Some of the key features were an infinite number of power outlets, each one is only half as large as the previous one, a cafe with a coffee IV and 3.14 flavors of pie, and a mathematical makerspace with 2D plotters, 3D printers, and 4D time machines. There’s also an Escher staircase, “Perkins” study areas which are larger on the inside than the outside, and of course the self-cleaning, Klein bottle sinks.
- 2016 I started a rumor that the Decatur City Commission was discussing a proposal to ban fossil fuel vehicles within the city limits by December 2017. I said they were partnering with Dekalb county to build several large parking structures just outside the City of Decatur, and anyone driving a fossil fuel powered vehicle will have to park their car there and take an electric Uber into Decatur. I strongly urged attendance at the City Commission meeting on April 4th.
- 2017 I announced several new MS degrees being developed at Georgia Tech but said they haven’t been publicly announced. You could reveal them by going to certain college websites (e.g. Computing, Design, Engineering, Sciences ) and then typing the famous Konami video game cheat code: ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B AThat sequence takes you to a “hidden” site (http://sites.gatech.edu/upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart) that leaks the degree announcements. Time magazine included it on their list of “Best April Fools’ Day Pranks of 2017”.
- 2018 Via the now infamous “Loof Lirpa” blog http://edisruption.blogspot.com, I announced that Georgia Tech was going to award a degree to an artificial intelligence (AI). The premise was that a student machine learning project to scrape syllabi and sample assignments was left running over spring break, and it figured out how to enroll itself and pass all the classes needed for all the undergraduate degrees (except 1). This is just a reimagining of the classic George P. Burdell myth. Based on the reddit thread it fooled some students. But the best news this year was that the campus communication team produced it’s own April Fool video! Maybe my job is done now?
- 2019 Loof Lirpa announces the first mobile classroom based on Scooter Swarms. Following a pilot in Summer 2019, Georgia Tech will debut the world’s first online mobile classroom which will be spontaneously self-assembled from students on scooters and e-bikes who have installed the Scooter Swarm app. Admittedly not my best effort, but at least one person may have believed it when they wrote “This will lead to obesity. No need to walk. Just sit and get fat from all the electric scooters taking you any place you want to go. Even up a flight of steps.”
- 2020 This was a hard year. April 1 fell right in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak and even Google chose not to do an April Fools Joke since the situation was so serious. I decided that, if applied carefully, some humor could help reduce the anxiety a little, as long as I didn’t make fun of the dire situation itself. On the other hand, if I ignored the pandemic completely, it wouldn’t ring true, which is an important part of the balance of a good April Fools Joke. I ended up having Loof Lirpa share a post about how the Georgia Tech football team was canceling selected fall football games (plausible, since the pandemic caused all large gatherings to be cancelled). The joke was that the selection criterion was “strategic” and only kept games with lower ranking opponents. UPDATE: This is now the second time that one of my April Fool’s jokes came at least partially true. The pandemic wore on and the UGA game (along with several others) were actually cancelled.
- 2021 Non-fungible tokens are showing up everywhere, so why not in Loof Lirpa’s annual blog post? This year, the announcement that “Georgia Tech Creates NFT of their Iconic “T” Making it Impossible to Steal” came from the Associate Vice Provost of Institutional Fonts, Arial Roman, who announced “We think that it just makes sense to use a blockchain to secure the Block Letter T”. And, the blog post itself is available for purchase as an NFT making it THE FIRST APRIL FOOL’S JOKE ABOUT NFTs, AVAILABLE AS AN NFT! The topic is pretty geeky and a bit obscure. I wasn’t sure how many people would really get it since a lot of folks have never heard of an NFT. But then President Cabrera tweeted about it, and I’ve already been contacted by someone from the Alumni Association which is thinking about selling an NFT at the gold and white auction 😁 . Could it be that this joke is also coming true? NOTE: I thought NFTs were a pretty safe and fun topic, to counterbalance everyone being so tired after a year of pandemic, racial reckoning, economic roller coasters, and dealing with constant uncertainty. However, I have also had some push back for even making an NFT for the purposes of the joke, given how environmentally unfriendly NFTs are.