Blog Posts by Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo News

  • Firefighters in southern Australia film their drive through massive blaze

    Post-apocalyptic landscape turned a bright orange

    Firefighters at Grampians National Park in Victoria, Australia filmed their drive through a massive, hell-like blaze.

    The wildfire is one of many that have killed thousands of sheep, destroyed thousands of acres of land and caused residents to flee in southern Australia.

    The video, shot on Jan. 17 by Daryl Maslen, shows a landscape resembling a post-apocalyptic Hollywood set. Sparks dart past the windshield. Everything, even the sky, is a bright shade of orange.

    Since then, the wildfires have largely been contained, according to a Jan. 21 update from Australia's Country Fire Authority. At least one person died as a result of the fires, Agence France-Presse reports.

    Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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  • The internet helps crack code left in grandmother's note

    Front of card (imgur)

    Everybody likes a good mystery. So when a user of popular message board Ask MetaFilter named JannaK asked for help in decoding a seemingly nonsensical note written by the poster's late grandmother, others were more than happy to assist.

    We first saw the story at On the Media, which notes that in a matter of minutes, the Ask MetaFilter community had partly decoded the message.

    The original post from JannaK explains the note's backstory.

    From Ask MetaFilter:

    My grandmother passed away in 1994 of a fast-spreading cancer. She was non-communicative her last two weeks, but in that time, she left at least 20 index cards with scribbled letters on them. My cousins and I were between 8-10 years old at the time, and believed she was leaving us a code. We puzzled over them for a few months trying substitution ciphers, and didn't get anywhere.

    My father found one of the cards the other day and I love puzzles and want to tackle the mystery again. Based on some of the repeating segments (many lines

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  • Man in dog shirt poses with dog in man shirt

    An open letter to whoever took this photograph:

    Congratulations, you have won the Internet. Your photo, while blurry and not particularly well-framed, is without question one of the greatest single images in the history of history.

    Of course you are aware of the photo's majesty, but please permit us to expound on its many virtues as we were rendered speechless after first seeing it and are just now beginning to make sense of all it does.

    The shirts are amazing. Even more amazing, though, are the poses. The male subject sits slightly slouched staring downward, perhaps at a rebroadcast of "Puppy Bowl." He seems wholly uninterested in the fame that awaits him.

    And the dog. A lot of pooches lose some dignity when they are forced to wear clothes. Not this one. This dog owns it.

    Perhaps someday another image will come along that sends our hearts aflutter even more, but we doubt it. We seriously doubt it.

    Is the photo new? Who knows, and who cares? Was it digitally altered? Possibly; it's

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  • GoDaddy's Super Bowl spot seeks humor in spray tanning

     

    If you were asked to think of a typical GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial, odds are you'd conjure up images of scantily clad women and shameless pleas to go to godaddy.com for additional racy footage.

    Not this time. The web hosting company is mixing it up in 2014, electing to go for humor in the form of bouncing male pectoral muscles.

    In the 30-second spot, which will air during the Super Bowl broadcast on Feb. 2, an ever-growing number of body builders (including Danica Patrick in a muscle suit) run down city streets to get to a tanning salon that has recently created a website using the hosting company.

    When the throng of muscley models show up at her door, the shopkeeper grabs her can of tanning spray and says, "It's go time."

    Business Insider reports that this spot is further evidence of GoDaddy's effort to shift away from the salacious ads of its past but still remain edgy. 

    Does the company succeed or is it back to the drawing board? Please share your opinion with a comment, below.

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  • VW ups its Super Bowl ad buzz quotient with ... an ad for an ad?

    Over the past several years, Volkswagen has earned a reputation for producing some of the buzziest, funniest, most memorable Super Bowl commercials — a fact the car company seems well aware of.

    In a minute-long ad designed to drum up hype for VW's 2014 Super Bowl spot, the car company pokes fun at Super-Bowl-commercial mania with a seemingly humorless scientist talking about an algorithm that will help create the best Super Bowl ad possible.

    In short, it's an ad for another ad. And it features a lot of well-worn tropes from past Super Bowl spots from other companies. Over-the-top social media references? Check. Carmen Electra? Double check. E-Trade-ish babies? Yup. Old men getting hit in the groin for no good reason? Of course! Sadly absent: Clint Eastwood and Eminem expounding on the great city of Detroit.

    You can watch the teaser here and check out more great Super Bowl spots over at Yahoo Screen.

    All the ads (as well as that one football game that's kind of a big deal) air Feb. 2.

    Follow

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  • 8-year-old boy saves 6 in blaze before dying while trying to save another

    A fourth-grade boy died in a fire in his grandfather's Penfield, N.Y., trailer home after helping to save six of his relatives. Tyler Doohan, 8, had returned to the blaze in an attempt to help rescue his disabled uncle, reports the Democrat & Chronicle.

    Tyler, his uncle Steve Smith and his grandfather Louis J. Beach died in the inferno this past weekend.

    According to the Democrat & Chronicle, citing investigators, Tyler took it upon himself to wake his sleeping relatives once he detected the fire at around 4:45 a.m. on Monday. Two of the people Tyler helped save were children, ages 4 and 6.  Tyler's body was found near the bed of his deceased uncle.

    "The kid has more guts than I know of," Joseph Breyette, Tyler's uncle, told WHEC-TV. “I mean, to run back in there and go through what he went through to try to save his uncle — what can you say for the kid? He was a great kid.”

    Breyette also spoke to 13-WHAM about the tragedy.

    "It’s still hard to grip or even put your hands around it, you

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  • Mysterious rock found by Mars rover: 'We were absolutely startled'

    Something's on Mars that might not have been there before.

    As NASA's rover Opportunity continues its trek across the red planet, discoveries keep rolling in. Like, for example, a jelly doughnut-size rock that mysteriously appeared in front of the rover. 

    Paging Homer Simpson. NASA needs you.

    The rock was discussed at a recent NASA event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Opportunity rover's landing on Mars. Scientist Steve Squyres explained to the audience that the mystery isn't so much how the rock got there (he seems to think one of the rover's wheels kicked out the rock while puttering along, but can't be sure), but rather what exactly is in the middle of the "jelly doughnut," CNN reports.

    One thing is for sure. It isn't jelly. Or even custard. Sorry, Homer.

    Squyres said the center of the rock is

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  • Is Edward Snowden a traitor or a hero? The debate continues

    President Barack Obama's recent speech on changes to the way the National Security Agency spies on people inspired many questions. It also helped to renew the debate over Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor behind the leaks. Is he a good guy or a bad guy?

    Of course, nothing is so simple, but Snowden's actions have definitely divided people. According to recent polls, most Americans consider Snowden to be more of a whistle-blower than a traitor. However, the same polls indicate more Americans believe Snowden's actions were mostly bad for the U.S.

    Snowden first leaked the NSA documents in June 2013. Some documents included information on American espionage efforts against enemies. Others revealed how the NSA was spying on American citizens, which raised the ire of civil rights advocates. Other documents focused on how the U.S. spied on its allies, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That led Merkel to reportedly demand clarification from Obama about the reports that her phone had

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  • Man cleaning attic discovers photos of Challenger disaster

    When Michael Hindes was going through the attic of his grandmother, who had recently passed away, he made a startling discovery.

    Deep in a forgotten box was a plastic bag full of original photographs of the 1986 space shuttle disaster that killed seven Americans, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, KTAR reports

    Hindes told KTAR that he was looking for photos of his grandmother to display at her memorial service when he found the images of the ill-fated shuttle. 

    At first Hindes thought the photos were of a regular shuttle launch. After looking more closely, he quickly realized otherwise.

    From KTAR:

    "As I go through them, I'm watching the shuttle go up, and up, and up," he said. "Then I see that iconic cloud."

    So, how did his grandmother have the photos? Hindes explained to KTAR that his grandfather used to work as an electrician for NASA. The photos were taken by a friend of his grandfather, who also worked at the space agency.

    From KTAR:

    "My grandfather's brother had a team that

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  • Never gonna give you up: Student pulls off rickroll prank in essay

    The Rickrolled essay (Twitter)

     

    Never underestimate a high school student's ability to craft an inspired prank.

    Going back to the '80s for inspiration, Sairam Gudiseva wrote an essay with a "rickroll" message best
    to be enjoyed by fans of good-natured shenanigans.

    Give Gudiseva props. It isn't easy to write about scientist Niels Bohr, while working in Rick Astley lyrics that
    you may miss on first pass. Gudiseva posted a copy of his essay to Twitter, with the Astley lyrics marked
    up with a yellow highlighter. As the Independent noted, it's impressive to write an essay on physics,
    never mind the time it must have taken to get each lyric to line up perfectly.

    Going back years, rickrolling is a term for getting victims to watch Rick Astley when they least expect
    to. Sometimes, during a boring video, the merry prankster will cut to Astley a few minutes in and
    let his melodic rock crash over you like the rushing tides of the Pacific Ocean, so gentle, so free.

    You may have thought rickrolling had jumped the shark, but no.

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