Bemusing: ATF regulations on producing alcohol as onerous as for firearms

Well almost. Until 2005 distillers even needed to pay a Special Occupational Tax (SOT) — just like manufacturers and dealers of NFA items like machineguns.

However the government, through the ATF, is still very serious about regulating and taxing the distillation of alcohol. Their FAQ effectively says, “Don’t try this at home:”

You may not produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant.  [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties.]  There are numerous requirements that must be met that also make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use.  Some of these requirements are paying special tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports.  All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19. Spirits may be produced for non-beverage purposes for fuel use only without payment of tax, but you also must file an application, receive TTB’s approval, and follow requirements, such as constructionuse, records and reports.

Grammar: Misuse of “optics” to mean “appearances” or “perceptions”

In recent years I have noticed a common misuse of the word “optics” by business professionals. For example:

Taking the corporate jet to testify at Congress would create a problem of optics.

The speaker meant “it would look bad.” But what he actually said suggests there is something wrong with the optical equipment of the jet, or that the jet adversely affects the projection or perception of light during Congressional testimony.

Employees can’t accept gifts from vendors because of optics.

Here the author meant accepting gifts “could create the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

“Optics” refers to the science of light, or to the mechanisms that transmit, alter, or perceive electromagnetic radiation. It is incorrect, unnecessary, and often confusing to try to use the word to describe figurative “perception” or “appearance.”

Another reason not to use “optics” as a metaphorical synonym for “appearances:” harmonics.