Sneaking Suspicions
Archives-- April 18-May 1, 2004

This page includes posts from April 18-May 1, 2004 in the usual reverse order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

April 30, 2004
Probably should have just paid her the money

Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to argue over money.

Darius Heard learned that lesson the hard way recently, as confirmed today by the Eleventh Circuit.

One night in October 2000, Heard and a female companion began arguing in a subway station in Atlanta. The voices were raised sufficiently to alarm some bystanders, who called the police.

Officer C.D. Gore approached the two as they continued to bicker, and the woman told him that Heard owed her fifty dollars. Seeking to smooth things over quickly, and on the assumption that the two people knew each other, Gore suggested to Heard that he simply pay the money to her and be done with it.

Heard complied.

On the other hand, the woman wasn’t quite done with Heard. After taking the money, she then told the policeman that Heard was carrying a weapon.

Gore quickly told Heard to stop, and he complied. As the officer began to frisk him, however, the woman hopped onto a subway car and took off, ignoring Gore’s order to remain in place.

Gore felt a hard object in Heard’s waistband, and asked him if it was any thing he needed to know about. Heard told him it was “nothing,” but Gore was unconvinced. He pulled the object out and discovered it was a .38 caliber pistol.

Federal charges soon followed, thanks in large part to Heard’s status as a previously convicted felon.

On appeal, however, Heard argued that the search and seizure should have been tossed. After all, the woman was essentially an anonymous tipster, and a Supreme Court case previously held that those sources of information are frequently too unreliable to sustain the kind of stop and frisk that occurred here.

The Eleventh Circuit disagreed that the prior case controlled this one:

In this case, Gore had an opportunity to judge the demeanor and credibility of the unknown woman. Gore stated that the woman seemed frightened when she reported Heard's weapon, and Gore reasonably presumed that Heard and the unidentified woman had some sort of relationship––they were arguing over money and Heard paid the woman the amount she demanded [citation omitted]. Thus, reasoning that Heard knew the woman, Gore could reasonably conclude that she would have reliable information about whether Heard possessed a weapon.

In this case, although the unknown woman fled the MARTA station, because she and Heard apparently knew each other, she may have subjected herself to reprisal from Heard based on the tip she gave to Gore––which makes her more reliable [citation omitted]. Considering the totality of the circumstances in this case, Gore reasonably concluded that the unknown woman's tip was reliable.

Under these circumstances, therefore, the panel had no real difficulty in affirming the lower court decisions upholding the legality of the police officer’s actions.

The real lesson, of course, is much simpler.

Arguing over money should be avoided—especially if you’re a convicted felon doing something stupid like carrying heat.

April 29, 2004
The improving economy

It’s my understanding that dollars spent on recreation are lagging indicators of the nation’s economic health.

Based on recent national reports, in addition to what I observed while in the Myrtle Beach area this past week, things are looking up.

The National Golf Foundation recently reported that the number of rounds played in the first quarter of 2004 had increased by over 5.3%.

Considering that the first quarter usually produces the lowest numbers, primarily due to lousy weather conditions for golf in most of the country, that’s an encouraging sign.

The NGF press release quoted Joe Beditz, the President and CEO of the golf business organization:

“But what is even better is that we’re seeing gains in activity not just due to weather but also due to a fundamental growth in demand – the increase in rounds per play days. We have three-quarters of the year left, but it’s nice not to have to dig out of a first quarter hole.”

When I visited Myrtle Beach in the spring of 2001, I saw the effects of the recession as well as the overbuilding that occurred in the East Coast golf mecca during the 1990s. Dozens of public-access golf courses were offering steep discounts to play afternoon rounds, at prices that were far more common for the hot summer months than during the spring, when thousands of golfers flood down from the north. The golf pros in Myrtle confirmed this impression when I interviewed them at the time.

This week, the billboards and club entrance signs also announced their prices to play, but the charges had gone up. One club offered a morning-start round for $67 and an afternoon start for $57, a significant increase over what I saw three years ago.

In addition, the parking lots at many courses were much fuller compared to 2001. That impression was confirmed by a conversation I had with an assistant at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, in Pawley’s Island. He said that every tee time from now until Memorial Day was booked. 

That’s great news for them.

If this trend continues during the next two quarters, that should also be encouraging news to the folks trying to re-elect President Bush.

The third hole at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club. Avoid the trap on the left if you can. It's a doozie.

April 28, 2004
Back Again

The trip was great.

Some of what we did will be reported in an upcoming golf column. Some other parts will be discussed here as well, after I catch up on some other necessary stuff.

In the meantime, here's a picture of a sunset near Cape Fear, shot from the deck of a ferry while returning to the mainland from Bald Head Island, North Carolina:

Sunset, Cape Fear, April 23 2004

Hope you like it.

April 22, 2004
Spring Break

Time to take a break from blogging for a bit. I'll be back in a few days or so.

In the meantime, take a stroll through the archives and see if there's something there you like.

Thanks for stopping by!

April 21, 2004
Failed nations, foul water, and free markets

Virginia Postrel has been running several well-done posts about the ravages of malaria, a mosquito-borne disease whose incidence could be significantly reduced by the increased use of DDT.

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. In countries that either don’t use DDT or don’t eliminate the foul puddles on a routine schedule, as done in semi-tropical low-lying cities such as New Orleans, the killer diseases these insects carry will thrive.

Failed nations can’t meet basic conditions for public health, not least of which in their inability to comply with fundamental water policies. These omissions are among the leading causes of millions of unnecessary deaths of children in these countries, beyond the undoubtedly serious risks of malaria Postrel discusses.

Two other stories published today provide recent examples. Notably, however, these pieces also recognize the free market as a potential solution compared to the dubious achievements of past socialist experiments.

An article today in Bangladesh’s New Nation reported on a United Nations summit on water issues:

Production of food is a highly water-consuming activity. In developing countries agriculture accounts for 70-90% of available freshwater supplies. SIWI Senior Scientist Malin Falkenmark says that astonishingly huge volumes of water are transformed into vapour during the food production process. “With prevailing land and water management practices, a balanced diet requires 1,200,000 litres of water per person per year (3287 liters per day) - 70 times more than the 50 liters per day used for an average households domestic needs,” she said.

The report recommends the need to safeguard aquatic ecosystems against water depletion by identifying the minimum ecological service criteria for their protection. In river basins representing 15 percent of the land area of the world, river depletion has already exceeded the need for committed environmental flows to protect aquatic ecosystems such as wetlands.

The UN study also suggests revisiting some basic agricultural policies related to water:

There is a need to identify unsustainable agricultural subsidies and trade barriers and establish to what degree free trade can help to solve regional food deficiency problems.

A separate story at recited additional awful statistics related to water and sanitation. It quoted a Kenyan leader:

"In a world where two million children die, needlessly, every year, for lack of water or for consuming it in poor quality, what could be a better starting point than to reduce such child mortality?"

She also reiterated the need to focus on urban settlements and particularly slums, which now host 930 million people, and on women in Third World Countries "who pay a heavy price in procuring water for their families through daily drudgery and lost opportunities."

Other speakers at the UN meeting suggested that a free market approach would help:

Dr Klaus Toepfer, urged countries to incorporate private businesses in water and sanitation provision.

"What we are facing is not a water-quantity crisis; we have the water, but we have not been managing it well neither have we adopted clear-cut partnerships that would bring different stakeholders on board."

…[T]he key to increased investments in water and sanitation programmes, delegates were told, lies in bringing the private sector on board. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development made a strong case for involving private businesses in combating poverty. In its communiqué, WBC pointed out that businesses couldn't succeed in a society that has failed; "no water, no business."

But there was also recognition that for the private sector to effectively participate, political action that would encourage companies to invest, was required.

These concepts aren’t new by any means. They’ve been among the basic keys to successful development throughout most of the world.

Nothing is so inherently flawed about the Third World’s failed nations that forces their citizens to be condemned to a Hobbesian existence.

On the other hand, the continuing inability to meet basic sanitation needs relating to water still causes millions of needless, painful deaths each year, most of them children.

There may yet be grounds for hope, however, now that United Nations panels are openly recognizing the beneficial public health benefits of a capitalist system where property rights are respected.

Wonders never cease.

April 20, 2004
A little less editing might have helped

Newspapers often provide vital assistance to the police, by publicizing information that can help catch criminals.

Unfortunately, sometimes the papers don’t quite provide the help they could.

Here’s an example from today’s News-Journal:

ELLENDALE CONVICT MISSING: A 41-year-old Ellendale man who was serving an indefinite work-release sentence for failing to pay child support is being sought by police and correction officers for failing to return to the Sussex Community Corrections Center in Georgetown after looking for work Monday. Anyone with information may call (800) 542-9524 or the nearest police station.

Somehow I think it might have been beneficial if there had been just a couple more facts kept in the story.

Like, say, the guy’s name, or maybe a physical description beyond his age.

Ellendale is admittedly a pretty small town, but leaving out the convict’s name can’t be particularly useful. After all, it’s entirely possible that there is more than one 41-year-old man among its several hundred residents.

April 20, 2004
Don’t want to be around for the brain freeze

An article appeared online today about a new marketing ploy in the nearly billion-dollar doggie-snack business—frozen confections:

CoolBrands International Inc., maker of Eskimo Pie and other frozen snacks, said Tuesday ... it is roving into a new market - icy treats for dogs.

The Toronto-based company announced that it has an exclusive, long-term international agreement to make, sell and distribute frozen treats under the Dogsters brand name.

The product line includes two flavours of "ice cream style" treats for dogs in cups, as well as frozen cakes for pets' birthdays and other special occasions.

"Dogs love ice cream, and Dogsters is better for them: all-natural and lower in sugar and carbohydrates," CoolBrands said in a release….

I dunno about this.

Our dog is usually very gentle. Just the same, I don’t think I’d want to be around if he ever gobbled up one of these items and gave himself a brain freeze.

April 19, 2004
One less accessory

The girls' soccer game tonight between Cape Henlopen High School and Sussex Tech was the first one we attended this season for which we didn't need to wrap ourselves in blankets to keep warm.

Younger daughter's team won 3-1, a relatively rare treat during this "rebuilding" year, and she continues to play well on defense as one of the few returning varsity players.

Something about early spring games always makes them feel much colder than a football game under similar weather conditions in November.

I think it has something to do with expectations. In the fall your mind is oriented toward the fact that it will become colder with every passing day.

In late March and early April, however, the fitfulness with which warming conditions occurs produces false hopes on repeated occasions.

We should enjoy the pleasant weather while it lasts.

After all, the no-see-'ems will start buzzing around the stadium in a couple of weeks.

April 18, 2004
Spring comes to Rehoboth Beach

This weekend was the first one this spring that wasn't marred by bad weather.

This morning was gorgeous, in fact:

Rehoboth Beach April 18 2004

This view looks east from the Rehoboth Boardwalk, near New Castle Street.

April 18, 2004
Shameless self-promotion

This afternoon I posted my latest golf book review—My Greatest Shot, by Ron Cherney and Michael Arkush.

The book is an entertaining collection of stories from 80 famous golfers, amateur and professional, in which they describe both the best shot they ever made and the best shot they ever saw.


Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969


Home Page
Table of Essays
Table of Essays 2002
Links to the Weekly Archives

Official small print disclaimer: This is, after all, a personal web site. Any opinions or comments I express here are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of my work as a government attorney or any of my clients.

That fact may become obvious later on, but it needs to be said here anyway.

© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2004