Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Woman admits faking mental illness to avoid jury duty; now charged with perjury

    What was once merely a gag on the television comedy "30 Rock" has become a reality, after a Denver woman faked a mental illness to avoid jury duty.

    Denver's 9News reports that Susan Cole, 57, faces charges of perjury after she admitted to faking the mental illness during an interview with a  local talk-radio show. "I am embarrassed I did it. I didn't mean to harm the judge. I really felt bad she interpreted this," Cole said, after admitting she "deliberately dressed in a disheveled and uncoordinated fashion," and was excused from jury duty in July 2011.

    But Cole's deception went beyond merely wearing mismatched clothes. And the evidence suggests she hasn't stopped lying to authorities. Cole also told the court she was suffering from PTSD. "I broke out of domestic violence in the military. And I have a lot of repercussions. One is post-traumatic stress disorder," the court reporter's records show Cole saying. "My military records are now missing. I have lived on the street, and I have

    Read More »from Woman admits faking mental illness to avoid jury duty; now charged with perjury
  • School’s Black History Month ‘animal attire’ letter causing an uproar

    Imgur

    A spokeswoman for an elementary school in North Carolina has apologized for a "poorly worded" letter sent to parents in February, which suggested the students wear "animal print" clothing in honor of Black History Month.

    WSOCTV reports that the Western Union Elementary School in North Carolina's Union County sent the letter, which also suggested dressing in "African-American attire," in celebration of the school's Feb. 28 Black History Day. The letter was published online by the LGBT rights blog UnicornBooty.com.

    "While it was well-intended, it was poorly worded," Union County Public Schools' Chief Communications Officer Luan Ingram said in a statement. "We are reminding all of our principals to be very sensitive in word choices when communicating with parents concerning different ethnic groups and cultures that make up our world."

    Ingram said the students had been studying the history of Africans who had been forcibly brought to America as slaves and that the clothing suggestion was meant to honor their cultural heritage, not be a commentary on modern African-American clothing.

    Ingram told the Charlotte Observer that a similar letter had been sent home to students for the past seven or eight years and that none of the students' parents had complained about it.

    Read More »from School’s Black History Month ‘animal attire’ letter causing an uproar
  • Chinese ‘gangster’s’ alleged cell phone pictures going viral

    Imgur

    A lengthy series of pictures was uploaded to the anonymous photo-sharing site Imgur, which purports to show a young Chinese "gangster" at work and play.

    There's an ongoing debate as to whether these pictures are real or staged. It's possible the money could have been digitally inserted into the pictures and the violent scenes could be staged. But the pictures of the man standing next to and inside a pair of Porsches appear to be real. And then there's the question of who exactly uploaded the picture to the anonymous photo-sharing site. Were they uploaded by the alleged Chinese "gangster" himself or by someone who got a hold of his phone and decided to share the images with the world?

    The most widely distributed of these images show the man next to a large stack of 100-Yuan bills. According to ABC News, the man is sitting next to an estimated $170,000 worth of Yuan, which is about 20 times the annual income of the average Chinese citizen.

    Imgur

    There's even one picture of the man

    Read More »from Chinese ‘gangster’s’ alleged cell phone pictures going viral
  • 5 reasons Jarno Smeet’s ‘flying man’ video is probably fake

    Floris Kaayk, aka, "Jarvo Smeets" admits his video is a hoax

    UPDATE: Floris Kaayk, aka, Jarno Smeet, appeared on Dutch television today where he admitted his video was a hoax. Wired reports Kaayk claims it was an "experiment about online media."

    A video purporting to show Jarno Smeet flying with a  pair of mechanical wings has gone viral this week, but many are still wondering if the feat was real or an elaborate hoax. The validity of Smeet's claims has yet to be determined, but there are several reasons for viewers to be skeptical.

    1. Here's one angle I haven't seen pursued anywhere else: Nintendo is currently relaunching a video game for the Wii called Kid Icarus, and Nintendo Wii technology is heavily promoted in Smeet's videos. And of all the companies mentioned in the videos, Nintendo is the one still not responding to requests for comment. The timing couldn't be better: The game will officially be released tomorrow.

    2. The second most immediate reason to doubt the video's authenticity: Smeet has yet to re-create or even attempt the feat before an independent, outside source. You'd think someone who mastered a feat that has baffled mankind for hundreds if not thousands of years would be out doing a little more showboating. Over the past 24 hours, Smeet has been offering vague responses to his skeptics via his Twitter account.

    Still, there has been no shortage of expert opinion on whether or not this video might actually be real.

    3. One high-profile skeptic is Industrial Light and Magic's technical director Ryan Martin. "They're able to afford to build this thing, but can't invest in proper video equipment, or … a tripod," Martin told Gizmodo. "If I were to make a fake video with the intention of going viral, I would make certain that the quality was as poor as possible to disguise any flaws in poor CG work."

    4. Martin backs up his skepticism by marching out several experts from ILM who now say they have hard evidence that the video is a hoax, relying on computer generated imagery.

    Read More »from 5 reasons Jarno Smeet’s ‘flying man’ video is probably fake
  • Mysterious metal cylinder lands in Siberian town: Is it from space?

    The audio portion of this video may be difficult to hear, but the subject is compelling. A large, cylindrical object was caught on camera after it reportedly crashed into a tiny Siberian village. RT.com says Russian media outlets are calling the object a piece of "space debris" while other people think it might be the fuel tank of a ballistic missile.

    The Russian Federal Space Agency says it's neither from space nor a rocket. At the same time, they admit they cannot verify exactly what the object is until they've had a chance to examine it more closely. If the video is authentic, is does appear to be a bit too large to be fuel tank of an Iskander or Tochka missile, two of the more common surface-to-surface missiles used by the Russian military.

    Still, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility to think the mysterious object might be a piece of space debris that has fallen back to Earth. NASA estimates there are about 20,000 pieces of space debris currently in Earth's orbit,

    Read More »from Mysterious metal cylinder lands in Siberian town: Is it from space?
  • Eve Carson's student body photo (AP Photo/Courtesy of UNC, Jim Stratford)Back in 2008, the murder of University of North Carolina student-body president Eve Carson made international headlines. And now, in a strange and unseemly turn of events, her official UNC-Chapel Hill photograph is being used without permission to promote a potentially disreputable company in India.

    The News & Observer reports that the company Jubeerich Consultancy is using Carson's student-body photo to promote its business, which bills itself as providing "overseas study opportunities and placement services."

    You can view a photo of the image being advertised on a Jubeerich sign in India.

    "I'm surprised and disappointed that somebody is using Eve's image in this way," Chuck Lovelace, executive director of the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program, told the paper. "It certainly does not honor Eve or her family, and they would not want it to be used in this way."

    Caron was involved with the Morehead-Cain Scholars program and Lovelace remains close to her family. In March 2008, Carson was

    Read More »from Image of murdered former UNC student-body president being used in India advertising
  • In this video, a paraplegic woman takes a thrilling ride off of a bridge in Whistler, British Columbia. Writing on her YouTube page, the jumper says,  "First and definitely not the last time going bungee jumping in whistler, BC - Thank you 9Lives Adventures for making this happen!"

    The jump was sponsored by the BC-based group 9Lives Adventures, an organization offering "an adrenaline-fueled tour operator catering to the physically disabled."

    Read More »from Paraplegic woman goes bungee jumping, says she can’t wait to do it again (VIDEO)
  • Ron Paul is virtually absent from the campaign trail lately but he did manage to find time for an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Tuesday night.

    During the lengthy chat, Paul made news on a few fronts. Most notably, Paul explained why he has rejected Secret Service protection, calling it "a form welfare." However, he did say his preferred name would be "Bulldog" if he ever did receive formal security detail by the government.

    "I would go after the Federal Reserve and all that big spending," Paul told Leno. "I'm an ordinary citizen, and I think I should pay for my own protection."

    Today it was announced that Paul's campaign rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum had recently received their Secret Service code names, "Javelin" and "Petrus," respectively.

    Paul also waded into the contraception debate that has dominated Republican primary politics lately. He admitted to having prescribed birth control during his years as an OB-GYN in Texas despite his pro-life political views.

    "I was also putting myself out of business, all this birth control," Paul said. "They had less babies." Paul says he has delivered around 4,000 babies over the years. When asked if women should have the right to choose, Paul said yes, but flipped the question back to the broader debate over personal rights.

    "Yeah, I think so she should, but does the infant have the right to choose?" Paul said. "The baby at eight months and weighs eight poundsshould you, the mother have the right to abort? I have not been able to accept that."

    Read More »from Ron Paul calls Secret Service protection ‘welfare’ during ‘Tonight Show’ appearance
  • President Obama uses sign language during impromptu greeting with student

    President Obama was shaking hands with supporters after an energy policy event on March 15 with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley when he had an impromptu sign language exchange with a deaf man that was caught on video.

    The website Distriction was first to report on the candid exchange, which was captured on video by a 26-year-old Prince George's Community College student named Stephon, who is deaf. As Obama made his way down the line of supporters, Stephon used American Sign Language to tell the president, "I am proud of you." In the video, you can see Obama momentarily pause at the unexpected greeting. But he quickly responds by signing, "Thank you." A second deaf student then signs, "I love you." Obama smiles back at the student and shakes her hand before continuing down the line.

    "When I shook his hand it did not feel like he was superior to me," Stephon said. "He was just a humble man," Stephon told Distriction. As H. Hoover writes on the site, the rare exchange was a humanizing moment for the office of the president and would have been so regardless if the signing commander-in-chief had been a Republican or a Democrat.

    In a follow-up video, Stephon recounted his experience. He even wrote up a transcript for those of us not versed in American Sign Language. I've included some excerpts from his remarks after the jump.

    Back during his first presidential campaign in 2008, President Obama also signed "Thank you" to another deaf campaign supporter. You can learn some of the 100 basic American Sign Language gestures.

    Read More »from President Obama uses sign language during impromptu greeting with student
  • ‘Don’t Re-Nig’ purveyor Paula Smith says bumper sticker isn’t racist

    Seller of controversial anti-Obama sticker denies it is racist

    Last Friday, I wrote about the racist, anti-Obama "Don't Re-Nig in 2012" bumper sticker that has been making the rounds across social media circles. While people were questioning the authenticity of the photograph showing the bumper sticker on someone's car, we were able to track down a website selling the sticker along with several other controversial items.

    Writing for Forbes, Roger Friedman interviews the site's owner, Paula Smith. Ms. Smith, who hails from Hinesville, Georgia, insists that neither she nor the sticker are racist. Who knows what Smith really believes, but her logic is a stretch, to put it gently.

    "I do find it amazing and entertaining that one of our stickers has become a racist thing," Ms. Smith told Forbes.

    She even tried arguing that the dictionary does not define the "N-Word" as racist. Wisely, Friedman posted the actual definition from dictionary.com, which says the word, "is now probably the most offensive word in English. Its degree of offensiveness has increased markedly in recent years, although it has been used in a derogatory manner since at least the Revolutionary War. Definitions 1a, 1b, and 2 represent meanings that are deeply disparaging and are used when the speaker deliberately wishes to cause great offense."

    Her protestations aside, Ms. Smith appears to have removed the bumper sticker from her site. Under the  "Anti-Obama" section of the site (advertised as her No. 3 bestseller), you'll now only find a sticker reading, "I was Anti-Obama Before It Was Cool."

    In what may be a reference to the controversy her other bumper sticker has caused, the description below reads, "Show the world how you feel! (but be careful, you may hurt someone's feelings)."

    Read More »from ‘Don’t Re-Nig’ purveyor Paula Smith says bumper sticker isn’t racist

Pagination

(1,372 Stories)