It seems that spying and monitoring of civilians is very popular these days with Edward Snowden revealing such programs being in use by the NSA in the United States. Brendan Spaar warns if you thought the survellence was limited to use by the government then you are in for a big surprise. Josh Marti, the CEO of customer-tracking company PointInside, has gone on the record saying some companies are using WiFi tracking to tell when you are in a particular department within their store. Other tracking companies include ByteLight, IndoorAtlas, and Swirl who all use either LEDs or Bluetooth transmitters to track patrons. The tin foil conspiracy nuts out there will warn people to stay off of the internet but now it appears that even shopping at the local retail outlet will expose you to tracking and monitoring. Welcome to The Minority Report.
You know the old saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure? That saying coulnd't have been more true with a hoarder in Vermont. A 66-year old man known only as Radkin had what could be described as a hoarder's paradise. On his Lake Champlain property in northern Vermont, here were several outbuildings that Vermont State Police Sgt. Maurice Lamothe described as full to the brim. The property also contained 20 or so vehicles, multiple tractors, and six or seven pianos on the front lawn. Unfortunately Mr. Radkin, who was known to run naked around his property, was crushed by one of his tractors. It wasn't long before looters discovered the property and started digging through the belongings. While they didn't take any of the pianos, they did make off with over $200,000 worth of old coins. Police found out about the looting when Ricky Benjamin, Mark Mumley, Shawn and Jennifer Jarvis allegedly started cashing the coins at local pawn shops. Brendan Spaar thinks that the show American Pickers needs to sift through the rest of the house to see if there is anything else of value.
Nearly everyone has seen at least one of the Charlie Brown classic cartoons from the 1960s. Brendan Spaar has a favorite special: It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Have you ever wondered where the children that lent their voices to these specials ended up? Well things didn't work out so well for the voice actor that played the lead role of Charlie Brown. Peter Robbins, once the voice of the lovable pudgy kid who never could catch a break is now in need of a break of his own. He was arrested and charged 12 felony counts of making criminal threats and stalking in San Diego. Was he stalking that red headed girl? Apparently not. Robbins allegedly stalked and threatened four different people. When officers approached him he allegedly threatened one with bodily harm. Good grief!
For months Velma Kellen of Yelm Washington had noticed problems with her home. She would complain that certain parts of the home were getting cold and that there was a foul smokey odor rising up from the floor. Other times she would notice that her backyard gate was left open. Was there a ghost living in her home? Not quite. Velma finally got tired of the cold spots in the house so she called a repairman to check things out. When the repairman crawled under the house, he found liquor bottles, beer cans, and signs that someone had been living under the house! The squatter had cut holes in the ductwork so that he could keep warm during the winter. Brendan Spaar thinks this sounds a lot like the Mole People living under New York City that were featured in the documentary Dark Days.
You know those things that were really popular in the early days of social media called Flash Mobs? Well apparently the fine people of Louisiana have just caught on to this ten year old fad that no one really does anymore. You see, a few weeks ago nearly 200 teenagers gathered in the food court of the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge to carry out some sort of flash mob. For some unknown reason a fight broke out and the flash mob turned into a real mob scene with people scrambling for the exits. Brendan Spaar thinks the fight was due to 200 people realizing that their time had been wasted and that no one knew what a flash mob was. Flash mobs are supposed to have a purpose like a song and dance routine or random acts of kindness. This is more proof of why Louisiana is not the cultural capital of the south.
Do you remember the Batman movies where the Penguin took control Gotham City using his umbrella gun? The police in a town near Philidelphia must have thought that the Penguin was taking over Upper Dublin High School earlier this week. Apparently a high school student brought an umbrella to school for a science experiement and was walking around the hallway between classes with the umbrella over his shoulder as he was a soldier and the umbrella was a weapon. Administrators saw this and freaked out, calling the police. The principal paniced, announced over the loudspeaker that the school was in lockdown and that police were on their way. Students and parents began freaking out in light of the Newtown Conneticut tragedy. When police arrived at the school and confronted the student they learned that he did not actually have a gun. The boy was not charged or arrested but he was disciplined. Brendan Spaar thinks the police over reacted and does not think the student should face any punishment. In a shocking statement to a local newspaper, Deputy police Chief Lee Benson said it was "poor timing" on the students' behalf to carry out the project in the days after the Newtown tragedy. So high school students everywhere should stop doing their homework and postpone their projects out of respect for the victims because they have control over their due dates afterall. Just tell your teachers that you are following strict police orders.
Shoplifters had better think twice before trying to steal from Wal-Mart in Dekalb County Georgia. Last month, a man decided to create his own Black Friday sale by (allegedly) shoplifting two DVD players from a Wal-Mart in Lithonia, GA. Brendan Spaar thinks if you make it to the parking lot with items that you did not pay for, you no longer allegedly commited a crime. As the man reached his car with the stolen DVD players, store employees identified as Phille Roberts, Michael Burton and Jaiviere Pruitt approached him and an altercation broke out. The Wal-Mart employees apparently beat the life (literally) out of this man. When police arrived they found the shoplifter unresponsive and bleading from his nose and mouth. I know that theft costs stores money but at some point the employees need to let the police do their job. There is probably video of the man stealing the DVD players as well as video of him leaving the scene. If he gets away then he will probably be identified and arrested. The employees, by persuing this man, put their own lives in danger. What if he would have had a gun? There have been cases of employes being fired for detaining shoplifters. The store is insured for the loss of merchendise. You should never put your life in danger over any amount of theft, let alone DVD players with a total value of less than $500.
If you thought crazy people were only in the United States then this story will prove otherwise. This guy in Britain wasn't expecting children to drop by trick-or-treating this Halloween so he was unprepared when his doorbell rang. He panicked and dropped whatever was in his pocket into their bags and sent them on their way. After he closed the door he realized that he had actually dropped bags of cocaine worth over 200 British pounds. To make matters worse, these weren't ordinary children. Their father was an off duty police officer who immediately recognized the drugs and sent the police back to the guy's house to pick him up. Brendan Spaar remembers something similar happening on the Charlie Brown Halloween special. In this special, Charlie Brown kept complaining about getting a rock at each house that he visited. Somehow I don't think this was what he was talking about. Luckily the police found the drugs before the officer's boys and girls tasted it thinking it was sugar or candy.
It's hard enough being a high schooler these days with bullying and peer pressure. Students in Minnesota have something else to worry about: Fashion police. One high school has sent home a letter warning parents not to let girls come to school with tight fitting leggings and short tops. Apparently this is a fashion trend that the school is trying to stop. Brendan Spaar wonders why the administrators are so concerned about the dress code. Some schools have a policy against hats, baggy jeans, and wild hair colors that would be distracting to other students. Calling a fashion trend distracting is one step toward conformity and uniformity in education. Is this a step toward controlling thoughts and expression?
Brendan Spaar has been known to score a good deal at thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army but this one is beyond belief. Would you believe that someone dropped off a piece of art signed by famed painter Salvador Dali at a Goodwill store in Tacoma Washington? Well it happened. Someone dropped off a rare framed etching signed by Dali complete with a certificate of authenticity. Now you may be wondering how such high value items end up at Goodwill. It could be that this piece of art was part of a deceased family member's estate and the easiest thing to do was to donate it all to Goodwill. This is far from the first time something like this has happened. People are finding money and jewlery in coat pockets. The article points out that an original sketch painting by Andy Warhol was picked up at a garage sale in Las Vegas. This just goes to show that the saying "one man's trash is another's treasure" is actually true.
Brendan Spaar is an avid photographer and tech blogger from Forsyth County, Georgia since 2012. When he's not working or volunteering, you might see him exploring all the great places in search of things to share in his blog.Favorite quote- "If you call failures experiments, you can put them in your resume and claim them as achievements."