Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A step in the wrong direction?

I have seen a disturbing trend here lately but first let me give you a little back information.

A few years ago I was a police officer and Chief of Police for my hometown.  One of the technologies that was just hitting the market were the 'automatic license plate scanners'.

At the time, they were 'advertised' to the police department as a device that would make finding vehicles with plates and insurance out of date and compliance.  Also, if the person registered to the vehicle had a warrant that would also throw up a red flag.  This was suppose to be a device that would help 'clean up the streets' so to speak.  It was a costly device so that only the large departments could even consider fielding one so I didn't give it another thought.

But another use has apparently been used with it.  With just a few more settings the police can now RECORD ALL license plates with a time-stamp of where they were at when they were recorded.  By doing this they could build a database of your movements.  'But I don't do anything wrong, so what do I care what they do'.  That is what a lot of people say being apathetic to this kind of thing.  Here is the problem though, with the amount of laws and regulations that we have on the books,(not to mention how simple it seems to be for the government to consider you a 'suspect' for something) its only a matter of time before you break one. Then they can go back in this massive data base, look at your movements etc, and see what else you might have done.

Is this right?  No, its not. It's a violation of your 4th Amendment rights.  Is this happening?  It appears to be.  I googled a simple phrase, 'cities using license plate scanners to store information' and the first page is nothing but articles about various major cities DOING this.

The one thing that this proves is that you can take ANY new technology that at the time had a benign and non threatening use, and turn it into something completely different.

There is the quote from Lord Action, a British historian of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

This seems to be true and is unfolding before our very eyes.  So all I can say to anyone is be careful of the power you give to any political or government entity as history has proven time and again.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The new HOS Rules starting on July 1st

The company I drive for did a video series on the new hours of service and they were able to clarify a few things.

The first one I will talk about is the 30 minute rest period.  This one is pretty easy.  The FMCSA regulation states : ) Rest breaks. After June 30, 2013,
driving is not permitted if more than 8
hours have passed since the end of the
driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth
period of at least 30 minutes.

This one is pretty easy to do.  Heck anyone that drives usually stops at least one every 4 hours or so just for a bathroom break.  That alone can take 15 minutes so you just have to rest, relax, stretch etc for another 15 minutes then hit the road again.  Now some companies are putting out policies when they want their drivers to take breaks and these can be more restrictive.  I honestly think it should be up to the driver and be done with it there.

The second one deals with the 34 hour restart provision.  There are two changes they made to this.  The first is that you have to have TWO rest periods between 1 am and 5 am.  Here is part of the provision: any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.  This one is going to affect team drivers, and those drivers that like to drive at night the hardest.  They in essence will be taking up to a 48 hour or more break to reset.

The second change is that you have to have a 168 hour period from the BEGINNING of your last reset to the time before you take your next one.  Another wards you have to take 7 days from the beginning of your last reset before you can take your next one limiting you to one per week.  Here is the text from FMCSA:
After June 30, 2013, a driver may not take an off-duty period allowed by paragraph (c) of this section to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days until 168 or more
consecutive hours have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period.

All of my information came from the PDF that the FMCSA put out.  Here is a link to it.  Be warned, its a pretty long read showing all of the comments and responses in it.  The actual new rules are on the last page that were published.

I hope this helps a few so they can re adjust their operation if they need to before these rules kick in at the beginning of July.

Do you know what the labels really mean?

So I was eating at the counter in the restaurant this morning when I overheard a few of the waitresses talking about politics and beliefs.

The way they were tossing them around I had the feeling they really didn't fully understand the meanings behind them so I thought I would bring them up here.  So let me bring up the Wikipedia definition of the basic ones.

Republican PartyCurrently the party's platform is generally based upon American conservatism,[1][2][3] in contrast to the Democratic Party, who endorse more liberal policies. American conservatism of the Republican Party is not wholly based upon rejection of the political ideology of liberalism, as some principles of American conservatism are based upon classical liberalism.[4] Rather, the Republican Party's conservatism is largely based upon its support of classical principles against the modern liberalism of the Democratic Party that is considered American liberalism in contemporary American political discourse

Democratic Partyis one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States along with the Republican Party. Since the 1930s, the party has promoted a socially liberal and progressive platform,[2][3][4] and its Congressional caucus is composed of progressivesliberals, and centrists.[5] The party has the lengthiest record of continuous operation in the United States and is among the oldest political parties in the world.[6]

Libertarian Party is an American third party that reflects the ideas of libertarianism. The Libertarian Party was formed in Westminster, Colorado, in the home of David Nolan on December 11, 1971.[7] The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Vietnam Warconscription, and the end of the Gold Standard.[8] Although there is not an explicitly-labeled "left" or "right" designation of the party, many members, such as Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, say they are more socially liberal than the Democrats, but more fiscally conservative than the Republicans.

Progressive: American progressives tend to advocate progressive taxation and oppose what they describe as the growing and negative influence of large corporations. Progressives are typically in agreement on an international scale with left-liberalism in that they support organized labor and trade unions, they usually wish to introduce a living wage, and they often support the creation of a universal health care system. In the United States, liberals and progressives are often conflated, and in general are the primary voters of the Democratic Party which has a "large tent" policy, combining similar if not congruent ideologies into large voting blocs. Many progressives also support the Green Party or local parties such as the Vermont Progressive Party.

Conservatism: Major movements within American conservatism include support for tradition, law-and-order, Christianity, anti-communism, and a defense of "Western civilization from the challenges of modernist culture and totalitarian governments."[109] Economic conservatives and libertarians favor small government, low taxes, limited regulation, and free enterprise. Social conservatives see traditional social values as threatened by secularism, so they support school prayer and oppose abortion and homosexuality.[110] Neoconservatives want to expand American ideals throughout the world and show a strong support for Israel.[111] Paleoconservatives, in opposition to multiculturalism, press for restrictions on immigration.[112] Most U.S. conservatives prefer Republicans over Democrats, and most factions favor a strong foreign policy and a strong military.

Now keep in mind these are small snippets from the sites I pulled them from.  I would strongly urge someone to go and read through them fully to get the full impact of what those simple terms mean.  Also these are just the basic terms that everyone uses, there are many more out there with their own set of definitions.

Now comes the next part which makes this fun.  There are so many different combinations of the above terms that could follow a persons belief system its hard to describe them all.  I will say that certain terms such as 'progressive' and conservative' are not limited to just one specific party.  In fact, they describe people in all of the parties.  So for example if you say you are a Republican, that can be broken down into other sub-fields   You can have a progressive Republican just as you can have a conservative Democrat or even other multiple combinations.

Another thing is the fact that you can have current leadership of a party have one belief in the spectrum and the main body of the party lean towards the other direction.  But why do people still vote for them?  That's a pretty easy answer.....

It's easy to 'vote' for the party.  It is pretty lazy and simple to do it that way but a large number of people by and large don't want to 'do the homework' and see who they actually like or what they truly believe in.  I know people that are part of a party because 'my mom/dad or family has been in this party for generations.  Well, I'd hate to tell them but parties change over time and readjust.  So the party that their parents were part of 20-30 years ago might not be the same party today.

More people need to do research and see where they stand.  It's amazing that we have the internet, this world wide web, a device where everything is at your fingertips.  The problem is though is that it seems there are fewer people today than even 15 years ago that will actually USE it to do some research, verify things and come to their own conclusions vs believing in what someone says.

So do me a favor, before you make a decision on a topic, do a little research over it.  You might be surprised as to what you will discover.