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'Bum 'bots,' love and extortion, Darth Vader attacks a Jedi and more

Vigilante tech

Bar owner builds 'bot to go on patrol

When Rufus Terrill got tired of feeling unsafe around his Atlanta-area bar, he started carrying around an assault rifle. Then police told him that was a bad idea, so he built "Bum Bot," a waist-tall, boxy, remote-controlled "robot." "It's just like a video game," says Terrill, who drives the machine around the neighborhood, watching what it "sees" via a video screen in the bar, telling people to beat it via the on-board loudspeaker, and mowing people down as necessary via its water cannon (he hasn't ... yet). Homeless advocates, neighborhood activists and even robotics experts kind of hate it, but Terrill hopes to use it as a platform on his way to the office of mayor of Atlanta. "He'll be my chief of staff. He'll be parked in front of my office," said Terrill.

Media event

First comes love, then comes extortion

WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pa., reports the story of Barak Gohn, a young man who saved $4,000 to buy an engagement ring for his beloved, then left it on the roof of his car while he was securing the puppy he bought to be a part of an elaborate proposal. But good news: Someone found the ring! He told her his story and offered her a $500 reward. She said, awwww, that's sweet, make it $1,000. "I'm excited. I'm glad I have it," said Gohn, 23. "It's a very small price to pay making a loved one happy." Irrepressible. Inspiring. Gohn plans to propose to Jessica Hosonitz, 20, this week. And assuming she does not watch television news or read local newspapers, it will be a huge surprise.

O, Canada

Province has some paperwork to do

Citizens of Canada's eastern­most province, Newfoundland, will be sorely disappointed to learn that it doesn't officially exist. The St. John's Telegram reports that the island has been demoted to "formerly official" status since it expanded its official name to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001. Province officials are planning to recommend that the Geographical Names Board of Canada add the new name to the official list. That will require the approval of the provincial environment minister, which seems likely.

Update

Church of the Jedi

Barney and Daniel Jones, leaders of the U.K. Church of the Jedi in Wales, were attacked by Darth Vader. Well, police think it was actually Arwel Wynne Jones dressed up in a black garbage bag and mask, but whatever happened, Barney and Daniel were being interviewed in their back yard when the Vader-esque figure came over the fence and attacked them with a light saber. Wait, no, it was a crutch, but he acted like it was a light saber. "This wasn't a joke. This was serious," Daniel said. District Judge Andrew Shaw demanded that police track down the dark lord and said: "I hope the force will soon be with him."

Compiled from Times wire services and other sources by staff writer Jim Webster, who can be reached at jwebster@sptimes.com.

'Bum 'bots,' love and extortion, Darth Vader attacks a Jedi and more 04/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 11:54am]

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