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Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen.

Continuing what appears to be a MArooned tradition at this point...

Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (NIV)

Today we celebrate His Resurrection. Rejoice.

That is all.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ain't That A Kick In The Head...

Okay, now I know I'm treading on my #1 blogson's ground here, but this bears repeating...

Google: We scan all Gmail messages
Few will likely find themselves reading the fine print added to the new terms of service issued by Google this week, but the updated version clarifies to customers once and for all that the contents of messages going in and out of Gmail are being scanned.

On Monday, the search engine site-turned-Silicon Valley giant updated the terms of service that its hundreds of millions of Gmail users must agree to in order to use the immensely popular free email service. But while the latest TOS clause doesn’t exactly reveal any new practices being performed by Google or conditions that’d catch its customers by surprise, the company is now being upfront about its controversial practice of skimming content in order to, as they put it, provide users with “relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising and spam and malware detection.“
All your e-mail belong to us.

Now, hell, it's a free service, so if you don't like their terms of service, you are cordially invited to turn the product in for a full refund. They need to make their billions somehow, and apparently skimming your e-mail and selling your data to online ad agencies helps pad the books. Now I know how Figi got my address so they can keep sending me bogus tracking information...

Again, you get what you pay for. If you want a secure e-mail, don't expect it from a free service provided by one of the largest online entities going. I'm sure the aforementioned blogson has plenty of ideas on where to go should you wish your e-mail to be more secure (I don't; I try to keep my life so boring that anyone reading my e-mail falls asleep).

But it's something to be aware of for all your e-mail needs...

That is all.

No Way This Could Go Wrong...

#1 Blogdaughter sends in this story. The term "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" comes to mind...

Unions want $100M in federal money to aid Detroit pension deal
Union leaders in Detroit want $100 million in federal funding earmarked for homeowner assistance to help make up a $3.5 billion shortfall in the retirement system for city workers, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Under the plan being discussed by federal and state officials, Michigan would give Detroit $100 million earmarked for the state from a U.S. Treasury Department fund established in 2010 to provide relief to struggling homeowners in the wake of the housing crisis, according to the report.
So, basically, unless I'm missing something, the unions are extorting money from the state that was obtained to help homeowners to funnel into pensions. Okay then. Now, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the workers here. They were sold a bill of goods when they took their union city jobs, that they would have a fat pension at the end for sticking it out. Nowhere in the fine print did it state "Unless the state runs out of money."

There's a number of factors at work here. First and foremost, why is there a $3.5 Billion shortfall? Did the number of pensioners grow unexpectedly? Were they all living exceedingly long lives? At some point someone had to have done the math to realize the money was going to run out - but then what? It's not like the city can just say, okay, anyone hired after such-and-such a date is not getting a pension.

But just taking federal money earmarked for another situation entirely? Isn't that, oh, stealing? I'm trying to figure out how on earth they think this is going to fly. Because if I were in charge of distributing federal money, I would make sure this state never got a single red cent ever again, because obviously they can't manage their money to save their lives, and anything that flows into the state will wind up in union coffers.

At some point, you run out of Peters to rob...

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #26

Since the posting of the '67 'Stang earlier this week, I knew what this week's car pic was going to be...

1987 Mustang GT. This one is a dead-ringer for one that I came very close to buying right out of college. My sister had just gotten her license, and I gave her the keys to my old Buick for her first car (she promptly blew the engine in it, mind you). I was looking around for something a little sportier than a Buick Regal, and was looking at sports/muscle cars.

Wound up passing on the 'Stang, as well as the '79 Trans Am with the 6.6L V8 engine. There are times that I wonder what might have happened had I not let common sense take over - I've never owned anything even remotely resembling a sports or muscle car. I also think of the trouble I've gotten myself into with the modest vehicles I've owned, and realize that I'm better off...

What have you passed on that you wished you'd picked up?

That is all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

So, There's This Squirrel...

Tonight's the 100th episode of The Squirrel Report.

For the first time in six months, I'll be hosting SQRPT again. Looking forward to good times with my fellow SQRLS, and we've got a busy show for everyone. Smilin' Joe Biden and it's all about meeee, the NV BLM brouhaha, National Library Week, and more! The call-in topic is a great one, too: "Do you obey the law or avoid the consequences?" - if you have ever rolled through a stop sign or exceeded the speed limit, you've made that ROI judgement...

Tune in tonight at 9:00 PM Eastern time for your weekly dose of Squirrel!

That is all.

Lovely. Just Lovely.

Ex-official leaves huge debt for California city
A former city official who became a symbol of municipal greed was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison — less than half the time it will take the nearly bankrupt Los Angeles suburb of Bell to dig itself out of the estimated $150 million in debt he left behind.

A judge also ordered former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo to make $8.8 million in restitution, but prosecutors say that only covers the money he illegally took for himself.
Dude was pulling down a $1.5 MILLION a year salary in a city of 35,000 people. I'd really like to know where the bloody hell that money was coming from, folks. There's got to be one hell of an industrial or commercial base there, because unless all 35,000 residents are MicroSoft millionaires, there's simply not enough tax revenue to cover those kinds of salaries.

His assistant was making over half a million dollars a year. In a city that is half the size of the city next to the town I lived in up in MA. Oh, and while Bell City has a quarter of the population below the poverty line, the city next to my old hometown has 7%. Something tells me the mayor of Haverhill, MA doesn't make a million and a half a year.

I just don't understand how that kind of money can get pissed away and no one notices. In my little hometown of 6K people there's a town manager, accountants, etc. who oversee the town budget. It boggles my mind that such a huge amount of money - especially in a city with such a large number below the poverty line - could just vanish and no one would be curious.

I guess, in this case, everyone that would have noticed it was on the take...

That is all.

What An Odd Story...

Just... Wow.

Armed robber was never told to report to prison
After he was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, Cornealious Anderson was sentenced to 13 years behind bars and told to await instructions on when and where to report to prison. But those instructions never came.

So Anderson didn't report. He spent the next 13 years turning his life around - getting married, raising three kids, learning a trade. He made no effort to conceal his identity or whereabouts. Anderson paid taxes and traffic tickets, renewed his driver's license and registered his businesses.
Naturally, his past caught up to him - thirteen years later. And, just as naturally, the system went batshit overboard and sent a SWAT team with machine guns to bring him in. This one guy, probably the one in a million outlier, completely turned his life around after that conviction. He started his own business, settled down, had a family, and then the SWAT team kicks in his door.

All because he followed the judge's orders.

It's really hard to sort this one out. On the one hand, dude committed armed robbery. That's pretty serious. He probably should serve his sentence. On the other hand, though, it was totally a court screw-up. Dude made no attempt whatsoever to run, hide, or otherwise evade the authorities. He kept his license, went about his business, and it was someone else's screw up that kept him out of jail. Naturally, when they realized that the man that they forgot to send to prison was still out - at an address that was publicly known - they decided the reasonable solution was to send in the SWAT team.

Yeah, that makes sense, on some planet I've never heard of.

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

The Only BMW I'd Consider...

...Well, the only BMW with > 2 wheels...

(picture from link)

Now, here's the thing. It's an April Fool's Day joke, but apparently they actually built this. It's based on the M3, has an alleged top speed of 186 MPH, and can haul nearly half a ton. Oh, and it's got a trailer hitch, too.

What do you call it? BMWamino? BMWchero?

That is all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When Seconds Count...

The authorities are completely shirking their duty tracking violent criminals that have been released into the general population. Even when they are wearing GPS-enabled bracelets.

Chief: Suspects wore GPS devices during killings
Two parolees raped and killed at least four women while wearing GPS trackers, and there may be more victims, a California police chief alleged Monday.
Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon, both registered sex offenders, were both wearing ankle bracelets when the women were assaulted and killed last fall and earlier this year, Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada said at a news conference.
Registered sex offenders. Check.
Wearing ankle bracelets. Check.
Raped and murdered several women while on parole for sex offenses and wearing tracking devices. Check.

So, remind me again why they want us to register our firearms? It sure as hell ain't to keep us safe, folks. These two dirtbags were on a registry - something the gun-grabbers would love to do with our firearms - *and* had tracking devices - the gun grabbers' wet dream for firearms - and were still able to rape and murder women, despite being on parole for sex offenses.

Here's the kicker:
Police believe Cano and Gordon have known each other since cutting their ankle bracelets in 2012 and boarding a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas using fake names. The men were arrested by federal agents on May 8, 2012, after a two-week stay at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
Yeah. Two years ago they got together after forcibly removing their tracking bracelets. Authorities responded by revoking their parole and making them serve the remainder of their sentences. No! That's not what happened at all. They were issued ... NEW tracking devices ... and sent on their merry little way.

Don't you just feeeeeeel so much safer?

That is all.

Such A Shame We Didn't Sign Kyoto...

I mean, this has to be our fault, right?

Asian air pollution strengthens Pacific storms
Air pollution in China and other Asian countries is having far-reaching impacts on weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere, a study suggests.

Researchers have found that pollutants are strengthening storms above the Pacific Ocean, which feeds into weather systems in other parts of the world.
Boy, imagine how bad the pollution would be if China hadn't started following the Kyoto Protocol, right? I mean, wait.
Some countries, including China and India, were exempted from targets because they were not main contributors during the period of industrialisation that is believed to be the cause of climate change.
Boy, that was a great idea, wasn't it? Here we have this thing - manmade global warming - but we're going to handicap only the countries that USED to be bad polluters, because evil dead white guys. The worst polluters? You guys are good. Keep spewing toxins into the atmosphere, because you're cute little indigenous people. We're only going after those evil white guys.

Climate change/global warming/ozone hole/acid rain/whatever the hell they're calling it this week is nothing more than an excuse to take another whack at the US and other industrialized nations. It's more feel-good BS sold as some sort of snake oil panacea, a quick-fix for a problem that we're not even sure we can fix. It's a 15-second sound bite for a problem more complex than the vast majority of people can comprehend, with entire factions of the scientific community disagreeing on even what the basic parameters of the problem might be.


That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)


800-HP 1967 Shelby GT500 'Tribute' Built To Celebrate Mustang's 50th
The 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang's debut on April 17 back in 1964 will be the cause for celebrations large and small this year, with everyone from Blue Oval bigwigs to the car's legions of loyal fans getting in on the fun. 
One of those celebrations will take place Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, where restoration company RK Motors will unveil a tribute car based on the classic 1967 Shelby GT500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, coinciding with Ford Motor Company's own Mustang 50th anniversary celebrations.
Now, I'm kinda puzzled why they're using a 1967 Mustang to showcase the 50th anniversary, but I'll allow it. Did I mention 800 HP? Especially looking like this:

(picture from link) Yeah, that'll do.

50 year old styling, modern appurtenances and convenience. Tremec 6-speed manual transmission, EFI, high-speed rated BFGs... I'd like to see this become more of a trend, I really would. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air with the new Corvette 6.2L V8? 1959 Plymouth Gran Fury with the 390 HP Hemi? Yeah, I could get used to this...

It's nice to dream every once in a while...

That is all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From The WTF Files...

What the what?

Worker thinks body is mannequin, hauls it to dumpster
The body of a 96-year-old woman who fell from the 16th story of an apartment building where she had lived for years was toted to a trash bin because a clerk at the building thought the body was a mannequin.

Overnight desk clerk Ron Benjamin, 61, at Peterborough Apartments near downtown told investigators that he thought that the body was part of an April Fool's prank when he took a smoke break about 4:30 a.m. ET Wednesday and saw Nan Yates' body on the ground.
Now, as it turns out, the woman was 96 years old and decided to check out on her own terms - by swan-diving off the 16th floor. Folks, if you make it to 96 and are capable of flinging yourself off a 16th floor balcony, that's a pretty good life right there. The worker in question happened across the body after it had been on the ground for a while, and the theory is that rigor mortis had set in.

Folks, I don't know about you, but something tells me that a 96 year old woman taking a 16 story dirt dive isn't going to look anything even remotely like a mannequin. I don't even want to know what the heck the mannequins look like in this dude's neighborhood. I'm thinking they have to be a cross between The Joker and something out a Tim Burton animation...

And now that I've put THAT mental image in your head...

That is all.

Skull And Dumb@$$ Bones

#1 Blogdaughter sends this story in with the tagline "I swear ... I thought this was from the Onion"

Yale student claims university threatened to suspend her if she didn’t gain weight
A student at Yale University said she was faced with an unusual college dilemma for the past few months: gain weight or leave school.

According to a report in the New Haven Register, Frances Chan said she has been stuffing herself with ice cream and Cheetos, after doctors at Yale’s health center allegedly said she was too thin and needed to gain weight. At 5’2”, Chan weighs just 92 lbs, but she argued that she’s always been very skinny – just like her parents and grandparents were at her age.
Now, yeah, 5'2" and 92 is on the skinny side, to be sure. I'm shocked, though, that a medical facility would make such a pronouncement - that she was "dangerously" underweight - and put her through such grief. And then to just magically find another doctor who *POOF* makes everything all better? I'm guessing there's more to this story - like someone looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

At least, I'd like to think that, because it's vastly preferable to the alternative. Here we have a student at Yale, one of the premier colleges in the US, who accepts, blindly, the University's proclamation that she needs to gain weight based on one medical exam? There's no mention of any independent testing, so it doesn't sound like she went to her own doctor or even another practice in the area. I'd like to think that one of the "best and brightest" would do more than just blindly follow what the college told her for six months, even though she knew they were wrong.

On the other hand, I'd like to think that Yale, that premier college mentioned in the last paragraph, would be better than simply reading one number and running a play from the book of zero tolerance. Height = X. Weight = Y. BMI = ZOMG EATING DISORDER. You'd think they
would be capable of thinking outside the narrow equation - perhaps a note from this woman's family doctor? This can't possibly be the first time someone noticed that she weighed a lot less than the average.

Then again, nothing would surprise me much any more...

That is all.

Open Thread: Whatdja Get?

So, for those who remembered, today is National Buy A Gun Day. The idea is that, to celebrate finishing our taxes for the year, we go out and spend some of that money on a new heater. Stimulate the economy, get more arms in private hands, that sort of thing. For me, well, I've got two guns on order. Neither are in yet, despite one having been ordered nearly a month ago.

Neither are on the MA Approved Firearms Roster. One, in fact, is from a company that has not even submitted to be on the list. One is a "high capacity" handgun, the other is not. Since they're not here, but ordered, I'll open the thread with one:

Glock 19. Not mine, but, well, Glock.

Yeah, I went for the easy one, the Glock 19. A hair more concealable than the 17, can take the same magazines (although, really, for 2 rounds not that big of a deal), and is about as ubiquitous as they come. Lots of aftermarket parts, lots of accessories, and, honestly, no hard feelings if--G-d forbid--I ever have to use it and it winds up in an evidence locker somewhere.

So, what did you get today?

That is all.

Monday, April 14, 2014

GreenWorks Electric Pushmower Review

So, a while back I mentioned getting an electric (battery powered) pushmower. Finally had a chance to run it this weekend, and I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised. Now, granted, the grass was not horrifically tall, so I can't speak to how it handles overgrow, but there were a couple patches that were pretty thick that caused a bit of slowdown but no stopping. Pretty much like a small gas mower would handle it.

Not having to drag a cord around is huge. The battery is sufficiently sized that it only dropped one bar (out of five) for the whole lawn; now, granted, we have a small yard, but it was good to know that it's more than enough to get the job done. The bagger portion worked efficiently and didn't need to be emptied as often as I thought - pretty much once for the front and sides, twice for the back.

It's a little unwieldy, that's about the only negative I can give it. The heavy battery, which my untrained assessment would guess weighs more than a conventional pushmower gas tank, sits squarely on top of the blade, so all the weight is right out where you need to be moving (whereas with a gas mower the tank is typically towards the back of the engine, placing the weight distribution more over the pivot point of the handle).

All in all, though, it did a very passable job of cutting the grass, and I'm pleased with the performance. 

Also had a chance to use the battery powered weedwhacker as well. That worked alright; however I'll admit to going low-end on that one because, well, TheBoy is going to be banging it around a lot, so I looked at it as pretty much a starter weedeater... I like the concept, though, and I think a battery-powered leaf blower will be joining it. For small yards, without a lot of edging or tight spots, the small weedwhacker worked fine.

So far, I'm glad to be using coal power to cut my lawn!

That is all.