Get taxed to drive?

4 01 2009

I know it’s been a while since I last posted and this post has very little to do with tech *cough-GPS-cough* but here’s an article from Autoblog that has got my blood boiling:

Oregon ran a pilot program in 2006 and 2007 that fitted 300 cars with GPS receivers, which kept track of the cars’ mileage. The receivers also kept records of when the cars were on the road, noting whether they traveled during rush hour or not. When the drivers went to several specially-equipped gas stations, they paid a mileage tax based on how far they had driven and when they drove, rush hour being more expensive than the wee hours.

Taxing mileage — as opposed to trying to raise fuel taxes — is an idea that’s not only raising eyebrows, it’s also raising interest. Seven other states are reported to be interested in finding a publicly-palatable way to tax mileage. A panel in North Carolina even recommended that drivers be charged a quarter-cent-per-mile for their year’s driving. In such a scenario, after 15,000 miles you’d owe the state $37.50.

GPS? The hell were they thinking? I understand states are losing revenues they normally would been counting on from gas tax but going the extreme route of charging by the distance traveled is a bit too much on the big brother side. When gas prices were this low 3 years ago, how were the states making money then? If people drove less, it would mean less stress on the roads which would also mean that there would be less maintenance required. Sleazy politicians always trying to find ways to tax the citizens to bring out short-term solutions for their own work performance shortcomings.

At this rate, small towns will be affected even more so. A lot of people commute to and from work from small towns or suburbs which would lead to some of them moving into the already crowded cities to avoid the “mile tax” or “toll booths”. I hate you Lou Dobbs because all you’ve been saying the past 5 or 6 years of your CNN existence has been about “heartland” and “illegal immigration” but now it’s about time you use your clout to stuff your big head into the courtrooms about those governments and do something good for once.

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A big FU to tailgaters!

6 11 2008

You know how when you’re minding your own business and driving about town, there’s always the one idiot cruising around with reckless abandon? They drive with inches separating them from the car in front and then they scamper off somewhere – usually to smoke with buddies over at by shady run-down apartments or going out to fancy dinners at McDonald’s. Earlier this evening, an asswipe was tucked in behind my car for roughly 10 minutes on the highway with one headlight on high-beam blinding me in one eye and his bumper close enough to compete with Kyle Busch in NASCAR.

So when I got the chance, I pull over to the right lane to let the ass-rider room to go. He zooms off only to get stuck in traffic ahead later. Lucky for me, I found plenty of room on the far left lane and passed him. Some red-neck (possibly hippie) looking dude with long hair glaring at me as I left him behind.

Thought it was over. Not quite for the dude cuz apparently, he was in a battle zone and had to come on top. He raced by at the opportunity hurling obscenities as he blew past a slowing traffic. At times like this, I get distressing thoughts of pointing objects known as guns at said persons.

So in ode to the phantom tailpipe sniffer from tonight, I declare a massive “F-U” to all the habitual tailgaters in this community.





Red Light Cameras a Blessing or teh Devil?

15 04 2008

Most people are against red light cameras. Heckeven I’m against red light cameras. The long history of increased accidents upon installation of the cameras and the various scammer like activities from the local authorities in doling out tickets certainly don’t make things better for the advocates of those cameras.

So what exactly is a “red light camera?” It’s not a camera by your local red light district, nor is it a special infrared camera and it certainly does not remove the “red eye” effect. A red light camera is an actively computer monitoring system that snaps pictures of the license plates and sometimes, faces of the drivers in the event of a violation – more specifically, running a red light. They’ve already been banned out of Minneapolis-St Paul due the ruling that they were unconstitutional after a slew of tickets were mailed out to supposed violators.

Usually, RLC (Red Light Cameras) are placed at 4-way intersections with 4 cameras … one facing each side of the street. Do note that the cameras in question are mounted up high on tall structures like lamp-posts. They’re usually not situated by the traffic lights themselves so don’t go thinking every infrared sensor (used by cops and emergency vehicles to alter traffic lights) is an RLC. Also, the cameras look like the regular security cameras you see at government locations. For more info on RLCs, click here.

Below are 2 RLC locations in St Cloud, Minnesota, which in my opinion has definitely shortened the AMBER/YELLOW light times. Both locations are notorious for their rather long RED lights especially if you’re heading NORTH-SOUTH (or vice versa) on either 9th Ave S or 5th Ave S.

If you’re heading north on 9th Ave S (Great River Rd) and attempting to make a LEFT on 10th St S, you’re SOL during rush because the GREEN light arrow pointing LEFT changes to AMBER in 3 seconds which takes under 3 seconds to turn RED. Otherwise, both locations have now improved the RED light waiting period. I don’t have to dread driving near it because I know that it will turn GREEN soon. The short AMBER/YELLOW light period is annoying but nearly not as the waiting periods for the RED to turn GREEN from days of yore.

This article on Autoblog highlights six cities that were caught red-handed for shortening the yellow light wait period to snare unsuspecting drivers with fines. Rumor is that the companies that install those cameras charge the cities a boatload of fees and the only way those cities can recoup the costs was by increasing the number of violators.

So the question remains, are Red Light Cameras a “Blessing” or teh “Devil?” I guess only time will tell but for now, let’s just hop on that bandwagon to vilify our cold-hearted robotic overlords.





In China, CCTV owns joo!

23 01 2008

According to Reuters, a CCTV (closed circuit tv – security camera) operator in Shanghai China called his buddies over for a LIVE video of a couple making out at a subway station. Somehow, it was recorded and leaked out to the internet in the form of the ever so reliable YouTube and some other video sharing websites. The couple are now looking at legal options against the operator.

China is well known for spying on their own citizens through all means. They started out in the electronic age with the CCTV and strangely enough, even their most popular tv station goes by the same name (but it probably stands for “Closed China Television”). So you walk on the streets, there’s CCTV, you go home and turn on the TV and there’s CCTV again. So in conclusion, we can admit that in China, CCTV owns joo (pronounced YOU)!





Lying Cops and the Driver Awareness Program

13 12 2007

So sometime early December, I had to drive 2 hours south west of my location to the “City of Clara City” to attend a “Driver Awareness Program” which should effectively cancel the $142 speeding ticket of going 14-15 MPH over the speed limit.

My previous argument was that I was lied to by a law-abiding police officer and because it would be my first speeding infraction, I should be given a verbal or a written warning with no fines involved. The 40MPH to 30MPH signs were 1 small-town block apart giving most drivers almost no room to slow down unless he/she knows the placement of the signs or is an overly restrictive driver.

So drove down to the same town and I was RIGHT again! This is the 2nd time I checked to verify and there was only ONE sign that said 30MPH. That cop who pulled me over said I blew past 3 signs proclaiming the 30 mile speed limit. What a fat liar and he still had the cheek to write me a ticket at the maximum value.

The driving awareness instructor was a pretty cool person. Mid-50’s and older and teaching over at SouthWest State University, we went through a lot of the basic stuff in driving and half the crowd I was in was clueless about those rules. After the lengthy course, I spoke to him about my ticket and even he was surprised by the actions of the cop. Nuff said. I drove home and took a picture of the road. Came out looking kinda cool. At the bottom, you can see the red LCD screen of my radar detector.

Next time a cop pulls me over for speeding and issues me a full ticket, I’m going to quip out something like “How were the doughnuts?” to which he might say “Say again?” and I’d be like “You took an awful long time. Thought you were having a full course police meal.” Cops like that only create more animosity with the people which makes it a bitter sweet moment for people like myself when we hear tragedy striking cops on duty. You’re supposed to feel sorry and get all sad or something but idiotic police habits have eroded most of my trust in them over the years.





Why are small town cops useless?

19 11 2007

All the time we hear horror stories about cops and their power-trips. Sometimes, they get inhumanely excusably violent and other times, they exhibit a lack of common sense in their judgment. I’m glad I didn’t fall into the former category but I did get pulled over on Saturday late afternoon by a cop in a black Charger out in the middle of nowhere aka Clara City – Minnesota.

 

The Location: I was driving down south on Highway MN-23 towards Granite Falls and then later down to Marshall, Minnesota. Hwy 23’s posted speed limit goes from 55-65 mph depending on where you are and I was cruising just fine at 60 mph when we saw a sign that said “Reduced Speed Ahead” right by the “CLARA CITY – population 1393.” So I cut off the cruise and started applying brakes. 45 mph said the speed posted. 1 block later 40 mph. I was traveling at a “fast” speed of 44 mph. 2 blocks ahead was a sign that said 30 mph but I only noticed that just as I was passing it. The strange thing is this town is roughly 6 blocks along the highway and had 3 different posted signs and not a soul in sight. When you enter it’s 45, then 40, then 30. Just as I was about to slow down, I see lights flashing off a handsome looking black Dodge Charger on my rear-view.

 

The Encounter: I pull over and the cop takes his sweet time of roughly 2 minutes and comes strolling out to the Hyundai Tiburon. I hand over the license and proof of insurance. He hands me back the insurance card and asks me if I knew why I was being pulled over. I offered “was I speeding Officer?” as my answer to which he agreed and added that I was driving 45 mph on a 30 mph zone. I told him I didn’t see the sign until it was too late and “was just about to slow down” when he came out of hiding.

 

Cop Lies: He ignored my feeble but honest excuse and then lied to substantiate his power over me by making the accusation that I drove past THREE 30 mph signs. Neither my girlfriend or I could recall THREE SIGNS because at 45 mph on an empty street with no signs of life, all the little things come into focus and we only saw ONE sign that had the “30 mph” posted. The only reason we almost missed it was because it was only like 150 ft away from the 40 mph sign. Didn’t expect one so fast right away like that. They couldn’t possibly have fitted in TWO other 30 mph signposts in between. This didn’t add up but at the time I gave him the benefit of the doubt since he was an “officer of the law” and I didn’t want to end up on one of those COPS videos.

 

Then he made a comment on our clothes to which I tell him that we were headed out to my former boss’ wedding (and were getting late) over in Marshall before he made a retreat to his car. Late that night when we drove back through the same town, we counted the signs and there was only ONE 30 mph sign post.


Click here to view the Clara City map and location where I was pulled over.

 

Common sense isn’t very common: Here’s the deal. While we were pulled over, there was a 40 mph sign about 1-2 blocks ahead of me. If I’d gone 1-2 blocks further down at the same speed which is like 3-7 seconds, I would once again be at the right speed limit. The cop had my license for a good 10 or more minutes before he came out again and handed me a $142 speeding citation. He told me that he gave me the maximum speeding fine for going 15 above the posted limit and that I could pay the fine, go to court and appeal it, or sign-up to go to a driving school down by Clara City for $75 which would take away the speeding incident from my driving record. The whole time, he kept repeating “You understand?” after every few words as though I had a hearing impediment. I can take (racist) bullshit like that from white people but not when they’re looking down at me and taking advantage of me financially at the same time.

 

 

Heartless Cops in Small Towns: For a first time speeder, how could they even have the heart to give out the maximum fine. The streets were empty and devoid of any traffic stop lights or stop signs. We were heading to a wedding traveling over TWO HOURS south and were tired and weary. This instantly gives out a bad experience to any traveler who decides to go through small towns including the girlfriend and I.

 

Do understand that throughout the encounter with the cop, I was very respectful in my words and actions AND I complied with everything he said. That being said, I just didn’t think he would dole-out a fine to somebody who has never ever been pulled over for speeding. I’ve seen COPS a million times where officers let first time offenders off the hook if it’s something minor. In some cases, when there’s a safety law broken, the kids are let go off with a verbal. It did not quite translate to that in my case unfortunately.

 

Good Cop Bad Cop: The real duty of cops are to ensure safety in communities by enforcing the law. As human beings, cops should use common sense to base their actions while policing the neighborhood.

 

A good cop would let me off the hook with no fine other than a verbal/written warning because he/she knows that once I’ve been reminded of the law, I should be fearful of the rules of that town and the subsequent towns I will have to drive through. All that would stem from the fact that I was respectful towards the police officer, I complied with their demands, and I accepted my fault. To add to it, I was not a threat to anybody since the streets were vacant and there were no traffic lights or stop signs. A violation in the future will ensure I get a ticket for knowingly breaking the law.

 

A bad cop does his job down to the detail. 14 mph is close enough to 15 mph so slapping the maximum fine of $142 is fair game to them along with a few lies here and there to strengthen their case to the frightened victim.

 

Disillusionment: Uniform clad law enforcement officials quite often attempt to create a stark contrast in division among people. The small mistakes made by citizens are made punishable to the extent that it creates resentment and disillusionment towards authority which can lead to bigger problems in the future. No wonder why many people hate cops. It is my simple belief that the actions of a few affect many and in my case, the “bad cops” are a shame to the majority of the cops who are honest, hardworking, good folks who’re doing their job to make their community safer and better.

 

Personal Opinion: To be honest, I don’t have a shard of respect left for the officer who gave me the $142 citation. He saw TWO well dressed Asians in a shiny nice looking sports car from “the cities” and the male driver was very courteous and a possible easy push-over so must’ve automatically thought “rich Asian kids” to justify the guilt trip he might face later on. All I can say is I hope his karma catches up on him someday but I will make sure to put the CITY of CLARA (population 1393) in Minnesota on my list as one of the places to never go back or even pass by again (other than the “driving class” program I have to attend). A police officer is an official representative of his town/city and I felt this one brought out a very negative image of Clara.

 

Questions: If cops do not exercise a gray area for enforcing the law, do we even need human cops? Are robots/cyborgs better alternatives to the current law enforcement teams once the technology is viable because they could do the same job cheaper and more efficient?