03 March 2015

In Like a Lion Link Sausages

If there's a theme today, it's deception.

  • It appears that the Direct Marketing Association actually did something useful. In Direct Mkting Ass'n v. Brohl, No. [20]13–1032 (03 Mar 2015), a unanimous Supreme Court agreed that a Colorado statute that requires non-Colorado vendors to inform Colorado residents that their 'net-based purchases are subject to Colorado use (=sales) tax is unconstitutional, because that statute requires the vendors to speak with the voice of a state whose laws do not govern the vendors — or, at least, not on the basis stated (there's a procedural hedge in the opinion designed to get settlement discussions going). There was also skepticism about requiring the vendors to send a list of customers and their purchases to the state at the end of the year to assist in enforcing the use tax. This is a consequence of the insane sales-tax-is-paid-by-the-purchaser regime that applies to the 'net, in addition to "traditional" mail order, here in the US. (That such taxes are regressive and bad policy, too, never seems to make it into the discussion.)

    Admittedly, this is about the first nice thing the Direct Marketing Association — whose insistence on obtaining cheaper mailing rates for those flyers that keep jamming up your mailbox is largely behind the crumbling of the US Postal Service — has done in years. But it's doing so inadvertently, because its members don't want to slip a notice in with each order that might (I emphasize "might") result in a minuscule marginal cost per order, and hypothetically discourage customers from placing orders again with vendors who comply. (That only 4% of Colorado customers, according to the opinion, pay the use tax in the first place rather undermines that last argument.)

  • Speaking of deception, an interesting piece on media ignorance of food science implicates an area that constantly irritates me, sort of like a flea-bite that just won't heal: The outright deception inherent in the anti-processed-food movement's rhetoric.

    • I have an organic diet already: I don't eat rocks. This misappropriation of a technical term in an allied area — chemistry — only serves to mask everything. In a technical and truthful sense, everything edible in a grocery store (except, perhaps, the salt) is organic, being composed of carbon and hydrogen and a few other atoms (mainly oxygen and nitrogen) as the bulk of its non-water molecular composition.
    • Virtually everything one eats that doesn't come from the fish counter (and even an increasing proportion from there) is a GMO. Selective breeding is genetic modification at least as much as is anything done in a lab. Wheat, for example, is a distinctly human-created crop... as are all varieties of true rice, of barley, of potatoes. Get over the "only salt-of-the-earth farmers can produce healthy food" bigotry: That way lies the Cavendish banana (for another decade or so, anyway). And the less said about the modern chicken — even, and perhaps especially, those birds purportedly raised on an "organic" diet — the better!
  • And, from the department of truly evil deception, here's a history of the perfidy of intelligentcrutable design that exposes its archly fundamentalist, ideological, and ultimately bigoted past.
  • Even more evil deception: The latest (unconfirmable through no fault of outside observers) shenanigans regarding Author $olution$.