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November 21, 2014, 08:50:22 pm
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1  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: Today at 04:00:57 pm
Think I'll have to beg out of the commission itself; I won't be able to guarantee I can be around and putting in the sort of time this project wants.

I'll probably still submit some maps from the peanut gallery.
2  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Andrew Cuomo vs Strom Thurmond on: November 20, 2014, 10:59:23 pm
Oh, f**k it, I can't do it this time. 

Cuomo.

I need a shower.
3  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Boehner kills internet sales tax bill on: November 19, 2014, 11:22:40 pm
Well, this has been an issue since well before Amazon did their PR-motivated about face- and while it sucks that it required the support of big boxes to get moving, I can guarantee you that all the actual mom-and-pops that I had noticed taking a stand (and, being the kind of person who shops at independent bookstores, I can guarantee you I noticed it) were in favor of something like this. That Wiki focuses exclusively on other, bigger supporters is unfortunate.
The Wiki entry focuses on them because they're the ones pouring cash into this effort. I'm sure there are plenty of small businesses who support this too, but those who are leading the charge at the forefront of this are corporate lobbyist fronts attempting to maximize their profits at the expense of consumers and their competitors. This bill really represents the worst of all worlds: Corporate rent-seeking, higher costs for consumers, more hassle for businesses, and concern trolling about "protecting small businesses" (I'm referring to politicians, not you) when this bill is backed by moneyed interests whose clear intent in supporting it is to crack down on small online businesses (see: Amazon).

Y'know, I might actually agree more than I disagree with this.  But the proper solution to the problems you raise is to a) enact serious campaign finance reform/contribution limits, so that the next time the minnows can get heard when it's still just the minnows, before the big folks opportunistically jump in, and b) find ways to streamline regulation and/or increase investment into the sorts of offices and services that would let small proprietors navigate the system better.  I mean, yeah, I actually agree that large piles of regulations often tend to hurt smaller enterprises disproportionately, since they can shell out less time and money to navigate those thickets.  I have more empathy for that POV than I perhaps let on sometimes (perhaps you get an inkling whenever I rail against restrictive zoning as I sometimes do).  I just don't think that looking the other way while unintended and unfair loopholes get reamed is at all a productive way to fix that issue.

What makes you think the retailers who are pushing this are "small and local?" A quick look at the groups that have lobbied in favor of this shows that clearly isn't the case. And as Nix point out previously, Amazon is hardly a "local brick-and-mortar."
Because of its localized distribution centers Amazon has reached the point where it has, or soon will have, to collect State sales taxes in most states. (In some cases Amazon negotiated a temporary moratorium as a condition of locating a distribution center in a particular State.) When it comes to the big e-commerce sites, they're in the same boat as brick-and-mortar in that they have to collect sales taxes.  Changing the rules would mainly affect smaller e-commerce sites with few if any physical sites beyond their HQ.

True; it's probably fairer to say that Amazon's shift on this issue is not simply PR but also coincided with their decision to pursue this strategy (which conveniently can also claim to be pursued in the pursuit of faster shipping times).

...

ETA: I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the practice of showrooming yet.
4  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Boehner kills internet sales tax bill on: November 19, 2014, 06:32:41 pm
If the point of the law is "fairness," it fails, because sellers in cities and counties with higher rates will remain at a disadvantage. And if states must settle on a single tax rate for online sales only, it's frightening to contemplate how high that rate might be.

Even if we can't get to perfectly fair, we should still work for more fair- and I'm not aware of any solid evidence that any hypothetical single rate would be frighteningly high. I find this bit particularly unpersuasive.

...
I do appreciate the rest of your points here- I'm pretty sure I still disagree, and side with the small local brick-and-mortars who have been at the forefront of this fairness push, but it's been food for thought and I'm actively mulling it over.
What makes you think the retailers who are pushing this are "small and local?" A quick look at the groups that have lobbied in favor of this shows that clearly isn't the case. And as Nix point out previously, Amazon is hardly a "local brick-and-mortar."




Well, this has been an issue since well before Amazon did their PR-motivated about face- and while it sucks that it required the support of big boxes to get moving, I can guarantee you that all the actual mom-and-pops that I had noticed taking a stand (and, being the kind of person who shops at independent bookstores, I can guarantee you I noticed it) were in favor of something like this.  That Wiki focuses exclusively on other, bigger supporters is unfortunate.
5  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: NFL Pick a Winner Week #12 on: November 19, 2014, 05:24:52 pm
KC.

Man, that was awful last week. 
6  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Boehner kills internet sales tax bill on: November 19, 2014, 05:18:19 pm
If the point of the law is "fairness," it fails, because sellers in cities and counties with higher rates will remain at a disadvantage. And if states must settle on a single tax rate for online sales only, it's frightening to contemplate how high that rate might be.

Even if we can't get to perfectly fair, we should still work for more fair- and I'm not aware of any solid evidence that any hypothetical single rate would be frighteningly high. I find this bit particularly unpersuasive.

I do appreciate the rest of your points here- I'm pretty sure I still disagree, and side with the small local brick-and-mortars who have been at the forefront of this fairness push, but it's been food for thought and I'm actively mulling it over.

As for the objection to sales taxes in general on equity grounds, I agree with BRTD that this is a Real Bad way to advance that cause:

I don't see any problem with requiring such taxes to be paid in either type of sale. If you oppose sales taxes in general, then you should get your state to abolish them, like some don't have any. But having sales taxes apply to only some businesses is completely unfair.

I'm also tempted to get all Slatepichy contrarian, cite the actual Nordic model, and point out that the most egalitarian advanced societies we've seen all don't shy away from taxing consumption at all income levels, because a broad-based tax that funds generous social programs tends to go along with a flatter wealth curve than a smaller but more strictly progressive taxation regime.  That's kind of a tangent, and I'd need more time than I have at the moment to really defend it (and even then I doubt I'd want to go full VAT like they do in Europe)... but I do think the point needs to be entered into the record as a check on the impulse to RAAR SMASH ALL SALES TAXES.
7  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Can you create an Obama sweep in your state? on: November 19, 2014, 04:44:43 pm
You have to settle for 2 McCain seats in NC:

Sorry to steal your thunder, but I actually made a 13-0 NC on the first page. Tongue
8  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Rudy Giuliani vs. Michael Bloomberg vs. Andrew Cuomo on: November 18, 2014, 02:19:36 pm
The only Democrat, Mikey-B.
9  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Who do you support in the raging sexism battle in the Absurdity thread? on: November 17, 2014, 08:22:54 pm
It should surprise nobody that I voted for Gustaf.

I admit to some reservations about the haughty attitude with which he tends to wage his battles, but his position on feminism is muy righteous (and does not remotely entail any of the pitfalls that HD and memphis imagine).
10  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: November 17, 2014, 04:28:00 pm
I suppose I'm the sort of person who ought to be involved in this, and it sounds like a great idea, but I might be a bit too busy to commit to anything ATM.  Um... put me down for a firm "probably".
11  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Hillary Clinton on: November 14, 2014, 10:49:07 pm
It astounds me that anyone could defend Clinton and speak of the President's "sacred duty to be truthful" in the same breath without being overwhelmed by irony.

Hillary's support for the Iraq War would be more justifiable if she had not so thoroughly backpedaled on her support in 2008, when supporting that war was politically inconvenient. And when she did this, she made exactly the sort of arguments that you see in Beet's defense - which, besides giving the American intelligence community far too much credit for their competence, allege the sort of Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that has served as Clinton's go-to excuse for every misstep that she's made since the late nineties.

I know that the phrase "vast right-wing conspiracy" is a bit of a laugh line among right-wingers and Moderate Heroes... but, uh, if you take a look at the sort of tactics that right-wing media figures and politicos started using in the early '90s (and not really before then), well I think it's an entirely understandable thing to say and believe, modulo semantic quibbles.  I really can't fault her for that one iota, and if that makes me look like a partisan hack then oh well.
12  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama-Xi Conference on Climate Change on: November 13, 2014, 09:19:39 pm
Too little too late, defining success downward, etc.

However, still a Freedom Agreement because the optics of US and China making the right noises rather than using each other as an excuse removes the single largest stumbling block to multilateral negotiations (and one of the biggest concern troll talking points), which is a prerequisite to further progress.  In other words, it's a good first step.  Kudos.
13  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Which of the following fruits is your favorite? on: November 13, 2014, 07:13:37 pm
Of these choices, mango.  But it would probably only come in #3 on my list.

As for those hypothetical top two, I'm surprised at the lack of blueberry here, but not surprised at all by the lack of grapefruit, the most polarizing citrus.
14  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: NFL Pick a Winner Week #11 on: November 13, 2014, 12:59:53 pm
Think it's time to pull the big guns out of reserve.

Denver.
15  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Even more good news the media (and other fearmongerers) will ignore on: November 12, 2014, 08:41:59 am
Well, of course.  The era of leaded gasoline is further and further in the rear-view mirror, so this is exactly what we'd expect.

Thanks, regulation!
16  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Rank your elections you could vote in from most to least favorite on: November 12, 2014, 08:33:12 am
2008
2006
2012
2004
2010
2014

This one was the worst not just because of the national result, but mainly because of the suck that was Cuomo and Felder occupying the Dem line (and, in the latter case, running uncontested).  Of course, I'm probably doomed to horrible elections until 2022 by that standard. Sad
17  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: It takes a lot to make a stew on: November 12, 2014, 07:40:18 am
kayte giralt is a major QT imo

Also do you guys ever worry that irony has ruined our culture forever? That there's no going back now, and everything created from this point on will have the Gen X rejection of sincerity hanging over its head?

Your worry is in good company.
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama saves net neutrality, orders broadband be classified as vital service on: November 11, 2014, 10:43:30 pm
How come the greatest city in the world doesn't have fiber yet? Thanks De Blasio! Angry

We've had it for a while actually.  I don't know if the entire city does, but certainly every white neighborhood has it.

Oooh, is that the Verizon Fios thing? Yeah we don't get that up here. Sad

Yes.  That's weird that you haven't gotten Fios in your neighborhood yet.  Probably too many black people for Verizon's taste.  Sad

My building has been having HIGH DRAMA about whether to get Fios or not.  The board seems to be worried that the installation will mar the old architectural details and Verizon won't give us a good deal or something, but there's one gadfly– who seems to have a bucket full of good ideas but is somewhat impractical and abrasive– who has been pushing especially hard for it and basically called them liars to their face at the annual meeting a few weeks ago.

Fun times.
19  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Update for Everyone III - Lowborn Egoism Herrings on: November 11, 2014, 06:24:26 pm
My GF was hit by a car earlier today.  Not as serious as it could be– we're still waiting on MRI results but probably nothing broken?– but the whole incident was a shocking display of selfishness and inhumanity on the part of the driver and I have been quaking with rage all day.

Will have much more to say about this later.
20  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Scenario: The United Kingdom Votes to Secede from the European Union on: November 11, 2014, 01:12:40 pm
The Tories would sooner ally with the Greens than the BNP. They seriously do not need the kind of PR that party would bring.

And anyway the BNP are has-beens anyway. So 2009.

As for personhood, UKIP don't seem to be making a big deal about it. Perhaps if the Tories have to rely on DUP for supply and confidence, or if Nadine Dorries inexplicably becomes a kingmaker.

Also, I'm pretty sure that a minority government is much more likely than a full-blown coalition. I can imagine a gaggle of Kippers giving supply; but  a full-blown UKIP-Tory coaliion would be poisonous to both parties.
It of course depends on whether tories need the far right. Some polls have the far right doing well enough to force a progressive minority government if the right doesn't unite.

I wonder if a grand coalition might end up as a possibility, especially if both UKIP and especially SNP do well enough to muddle possible majorities for either side but still aren't seen as trustworthy coalition partners?
21  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: What are you listening to right now? II on: November 11, 2014, 12:58:44 pm


(I have this cover, rather than the stampeding elephants.  For better or worse.  Eh, probably better, since it came with a bonus CD of live tracks and outtakes and such.)
22  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of the Previous Poster's Signature: The Wrath of Khan on: November 11, 2014, 12:57:11 pm
I don't recognize who that is, sadly.  I assume he probably had horrible politics.  But I know he had stylin' facial hair, and isn't that what's really important?  Tongue
23  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Have you eaten grilled or steamed vegetables at least once in the past 3 years? on: November 11, 2014, 12:17:32 pm
I mostly eat my vegetables roasted or pan-fried, but yes.
24  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: What's in your cart? on: November 11, 2014, 11:57:24 am
I walk to the grocery store, so hauls tend to be fairly small and frequent, just what you can carry.  Also, we tend to not buy veggies there except in winter and early spring since we signed up for a CSA this year and get more than enough of them all summer and fall long- at prices that are at least as cheap as you can find in our mediocre local C-Town.  The house is currently overflowing with potatoes and squash and cauliflower that needs to be eaten.  With that in mind, this was my most recent trip:

1 quart 1% milk
1 pound bacon
2 lemons
1 box orzo
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 pound feta

We cooked up the orzo, lemon, and feta with some CSA spinach for dinner on Sunday (and leftovers for lunch); (some of) the bacon and alfredo went together with already-on-hand mushroom tortellini and CSA kale yesterday.  Probably going to get some chicken breasts for tonight and serve them with roasted squash and cauliflower.  Exciting life, innit?

The main problem with our diet is that we tend to neglect getting fresh fruit.  Other than that it's reasonably healthy, I think.
25  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Deus Naturae's signature on: November 11, 2014, 11:22:50 am


God, that might be worse than the Myers-Briggs monstrosity Snowstalker posted recently. The misspelling of "Krugmann" is a nice touch.
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