Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Spider photobombs TV news program

    Eric Pfeiffer at The Sideshow 1 yr ago

    BBC Scotland, you can expect that royalty check from the SyFy Channel to arrive in the mail any day now. Really, the rudimentary plot details from the network’s next great monster movie are already in place: A buttoned-down newscaster reads the daily news reports with calm composure when suddenly A GIANT SPIDER ECLIPSES THE SCREEN AND SEIZES ITS PREY.

    Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration.

    But BBC Scotland news host Graham Stewart did have his broadcast interrupted when a spider crawled across the lens of a camera, making it appear as if there was a giant spider invading the Scottish airwaves. In the short clip, the spider can be seen grabbing a smaller insect and then retreating with its prey.

    And besides, even if spiders are scary, it’s not as if a family of bears just walked onto his news set.

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  • First test-tube baby penguin says hello to the world

    Eric Pfeiffer at The Sideshow 1 yr ago

    To science, she’s simply known as “184.” But on the empirical cuteness scale, the world’s first test-tube penguin scores a “100.”

    The still unnamed baby Magellanic penguin was hatched at SeaWorld in San Diego 12 weeks ago, but the first images of her were released to the public this week.

    She’s the first penguin to be born using artificial insemination, a technique researchers say will help them increase diversity in the captive penguin population and help their studies of the creatures.

    “The goal of our research center is to study a species’ reproductive biology, to learn as much as we can about that and use this to not only monitor the health of not only our zoological populations but wild populations as well,” said Sea World’s reproductive center Scientific Director Dr. Justine O’Brien.


  • Snowden: NSA has secret ‘MonsterMind’ program that operates without human intervention

    Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    It would appear that Edward Snowden is still far from finished with his National Security Agency revelations.

    In his latest revelation, Snowden tells WIRED magazine that the NSA has a secret, autonomous program called “Monstermind” that can respond to cyberattacks from other countries without human intervention.

    And beyond domestic privacy concerns, Snowden warns, the program could cause an international diplomacy nightmare for the U.S. as well, because the cyberattacks launched by MonsterMind are often routed through third-party computers housed in foreign countries.

    “These attacks can be spoofed,” Snowden said. “You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”

    So, is that the final major disclosure to come from what the government claims are nearly two million stolen documents that Snowden took with him when he left the country?

    As it turns out, Snowden isn’t even entirely sure himself.

  • What's that? Just Robin Williams chilling with Koko the gorilla

    Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    Robin Williams was one of the most famous people on the planet. And Koko the gorilla is one of the most famous animals on the planet. So, when the two first met in 2001, it made sense that they would naturally get along.

    Koko is fluent in American Sign Language, can communicate in over 1,000 signs and can reportedly understand several English-language commands.

    Williams was brought in to meet Koko at the Gorilla Foundation in northern California.

    “We shared something extraordinary: laughter,” Williams says at the beginning of the video, when describing his experience of meeting Koko.

    When they met, the gorilla, who was then 30 years old, took an instant liking to Williams, asking him repeatedly to tickle her.

    Koko even returned the favor, reaching under Williams’ T-shirt to tickle and pinch him. Near the end of their first play date, the gorilla signed, “Koko love,” at the late actor and comedian.

    The gorilla even repeatedly smiled at Williams before pulling him in for a loving embrace. At the time, Koko’s handlers said it was the first time she had smiled in six months, since a gorilla who was her childhood companion had passed away.

  • Hot enough for you? See how ‘dramatic’ climate change is affecting your city

    Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News 1 yr ago


    Every summer, a man dressed in a Darth Vader suit goes for a sprint through Death Valley’s blistering temperatures.

    But by the end of the century, he may not have to travel much farther than outside his front door to recreate his daring stunt in temperatures hot enough to fry an egg.

    A new interactive research report from Climate Central says that “dramatic warming” will affect more than 1,000 cities before the end of the century.

    “By the end of this century, summers in most of the 1,001 cities we analyzed will feel like summers now in Texas and Florida (in temperatures only, not humidity),” the report reads. “And in Texas, most cities are going to feel like the hottest cities now in the Lone Star State, or will feel more like Phoenix and Gilbert in Arizona, among the hottest summer cities in the U.S. today.”

    So, how will things look in the nation’s hottest cities?

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  • Training an army to save the African elephant from illegal poachers

    Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    When it comes to wildlife preservation, the first thing people often think of are sad television commercials featuring a ballad from a folk singer that is uncannily good at choking viewers up.

    But for anti-poaching activist and forestry expert Rory Young, his passion for saving the African elephant from deadly poachers involves a detailed field manual and arming local teams with firearms to combat what he calls, “well-armed, ruthless and experienced gangs of poachers.”

    Young says it's possible that if the poachers aren't contained, they could effectively wipe out the African elephant population by 2020.

    “A large percentage of rangers across Africa have rudimentary training at best,” Young said in an interview with Yahoo News. “The majority of countries do not have a comprehensive anti-poaching doctrine, standard operating procedures, or training systems.”

    But at the same time, Young said more and more individuals are being forced into duty to combat the recent rise in poaching.

    “There is way too much complaining and hurling of insults at China,” Young said.

  • I’m on a boat: Bill Gates vacations on $330M yacht

    Eric Pfeiffer at The Sideshow 1 yr ago

    These days, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is more concerned with helping to save the world than creating the next big gadget. But when the world’s richest man goes on vacation, he does it like no one else.

    The New York Daily News captured some photos of Gates aboard “The Serene,” a $330 million dollar yacht that Gates and his family are renting for $5 million per week.

    In addition to its 12 staterooms, the 450-foot, seven deck vessel also comes equipped with its own saltwater pool, climbing wall, library, health spa, outdoor theater and even a nightclub spread out over the boat’s combined 48,000 square feet.

    All in all, not a bad way to spend a few weeks before getting back to reinventing the toilet.

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  • Hard choices: Clintons rent ‘modest’ $18M Hamptons home for vacation

    Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    Still rebounding from criticism for insisting that she and Bill Clinton were “dead broke” after leaving the White House, Hillary and Bill have decided to settle into "modest" accommodations for the summer.

    Of course, “modest” may have a slightly different connotation for the Clintons than most of us.

    Hamptons resident and reporter Blake Fleetwood writes in the Huffington Post that the Clintons are “slumming” it this summer by settling in to an $18 million, seven-bedroom home that rests upon a 200-foot bluff overlooking Gardiners Bay and Gardiners Island, the most highly valued (because it’s not for sale) piece of real estate in the world.

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  • Obama approves humanitarian aid to besieged Iraqis; reportedly considering airstrikes

    Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    President Obama has given the approval for airdrops of humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis under attack from the Islamic State (IS) militants and is said to be considering whether to proceed with airstrikes against the militants.

    The reported approval of humanitarian aid came just hours after Kurdish officials claimed that airstrikes against Islamic State militants had already begun in the Northern region of Iraq.

    Minutes after several reports surfaced that the United States had conducted airstrikes in Iraq against forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), the Pentagon denied the story.

    A spokesman for the Kurdish armed forces said that U.S. aircraft had bombed two targets in Northern Iraq.

    Rear Admiral John Kirby quickly used the social media site Twitter to deny the claims. 

    Press reports that US has conducted airstrikes in Iraq completely false. No such action taken.



  • George Takei visits Hiroshima and recounts time spent in U.S. internment camp

    Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News 1 yr ago


    For almost 50 years, George Takei has been a pioneering voice in culture, co-starring in the original “Star Trek” television series and becoming known to a new generation of fans as an online social commentator and humorist.

    But Takei took on a more serious and somber tone this week, revisiting the city of Hiroshima to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the devastating atomic bomb attack that killed more than 100,000 people.

    “We can’t let the past be forgotten,” Takei said in a phone interview with Yahoo News. “It’s not confined to just the people of Hiroshima. The horrors going on in Ukraine and the Middle East — we’ve got to find a better way to resolve our issues without acting like savages.”

    Takei said he hopes keeping the memory of Hiroshima alive will encourage people to pressure world leaders to disarm nuclear weapon stockpiles and to rethink warfare itself.

    Follow Eric Pfeiffer on Twitter (@ericpfeiffer)