|Building our deck -- Summer 2008|
Hey everyone, I'm back. A quick summary of what's going on:
That's about it. I'd like to update this site more, but I don't really have the time or inclination to write long posts. I do, however, like to post pictures at this site, so please check back there.
I started a photo site with a few different albums, check it out. I intend to keep adding new pics as time goes on. You can leave comments at that site too, and note that the best way to look at the pics is probably by doing a slideshow - they show up in the largest format that way.
“If we lower taxes, gas will cost less. What is so hard to understand?” - NY State Senator Andrew Lanza, sponsor of a bill in NY state to eliminate the gas tax over the summer.
Should the government eliminate gas taxes over the summer? The proposal, first voiced by Clinton and McCain, sounds like a bad idea at best, and election pandering at worst. There's no guarantee that the oil companies wouldn't just raise the cost of gas to offset the decrease in taxes, meaning you'd pay the same at the pump but more would just go to them. If prices do in fact drop, that just means demand will go up. When something gets cheaper, demand for it increases. When demand increases, the price increases. Then you're back to square one, and people are using more gas than ever.
Yes gas costs a lot (by US standards), but that forces people to think rationally about their spending and gas consumption, and change their behavior accordingly. And while everyone likes to rail against taxes, that money actually pays for things: services, infrastructure, maintenance, etc. People who use the roads - people who buy gas - should be responsible for paying for those roads, and the services that go along with them.
A lot of Americans, according to the poll cited in this article, seem to agree that getting rid of the gas tax temporarily is a bad idea. Count me among them.
Pardon this slight detour into legal talk, but with my criminal procedure exam coming up this article from last week caught my eye:
Police find four suitcases of cocaine in vehicle
PHILADELPHIA - A state trooper patrolling Interstate 95 in Philadelphia found four suitcases full of cocaine during a traffic stop.
Police say Trooper Joseph Thompson got the driver's consent to search the vehicle Thursday afternoon near the Allegheny Avenue exit. He found the cocaine, which totaled 50 kilograms, or more than 100 pounds.
Police say four people are in custody and the Chevrolet Suburban was confiscated.
This looks a lot like a shorter version of an exam question. Typically there'd be a lot more legal issues in the exam question, but in this situation the only issue is whether the police search of the car and suitcases was legal under the Fourth Amendment. The officer got the driver's consent to search the car, but did that include the right to open and search the suitcases? It sure did. If the defendant tries to suppress the evidence (the drugs) at trial, the prosecution can simply point to California v. Acevedo, in which the Supreme Court held that a vehicle search can include a search of any containers inside the vehicle.
In fact, the police didn't even need the driver's consent - if they had probable cause to search the car then they could also search the suitcases. Or if they arrested the driver (for any valid offense) then they could search the entire car as a search incident to arrest. All of these rules come from lines of Supreme Court cases decided and refined in the last fifty years or so. By the way, the article doesn't say this, but a different version of the same article said that the car was pulled over for tailgating (there does need to be a valid reason for a traffic stop, whether violation of the traffic code or probable cause).
This is the kind of stuff we cover in class. Search and seizure, right to an attorney, Miranda warnings, stop and frisk, etc. Really interesting stuff.
Another nonlegal issue is why the driver, knowing he had over 100 pounds of cocaine in the car, consented to the search. Maybe he thought he didn't have a choice, or maybe he thought if he refused then that would give the officer probable cause to search (it wouldn't). Or maybe he was a little thick.
Not that anyone particularly cares, but I've created a photo album of bird pictures taken with our new camera. Hopefully I can update it every so often with new pics, so far it just has a few I took this evening in our backyard. The pics look small, but you can enlarge them by clicking the magnifying glass icon above the photo.
We picked up a new camera today, the Canon S5 IS. We've always used little pocket-size digital cameras - and we'll still use our old SD400 when size matters - but we're getting more interested in photography and the little cameras just have some unavoidable limitations. Hopefully once we really learn how to use this sucker we'll have some nice shots to post. I may create an ongoing online photo album for posting random photos.
UPDATE: Here's a new album I made with some more pics from yesterday.
|First pics with Canon PowerShot S5 IS 5/4/08|
Here are a few sample pics from this afternoon.
FactCheck.org provides a helpful reminder that almost every chain email about a politician (usually a Democrat) is utterly false. If there were chain emails about John McCain they'd probably be false too, but most of the emails focus on Obama or Clinton.
No, Barack Obama is not a radical Muslim. Nor does he want to change the national anthem. And no, the Clintons did not charge rent to Secret Service agents. They also aren't murdering their opponents. And just for good measure, freezing a water bottle won't give you cancer.
Nice weekend coming up - weather in the 70s, big Phillies series against the Mets, and Michele's parents coming down for a visit. We're going to work on the yard a lot, need to get it in shape. Had a couple of cubic yards of topsoil delivered on Wednesday, we'll take that and fill in some holes and spread it around other areas that need it.
In other news, I've been reading Homicide, by David Simon. Simon was a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, and followed the Baltimore police homicide unit around for a year in 1988. My criminal procedure professor inspired me to check it out; he's mentioned it a couple of times in class, and the class itself, which covers the constitutional rules governing police investigations (Miranda rights, search and seizure, etc), really got me interested in that kind of stuff.