Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Federal Circuit is Messin' with Sasquatch

You may not know that I am endlessly fascinated with cryptozoology, the hunt for creatures heretofore unrecorded by professional scientists yet ardently chased by mostly amateur adventurers. Of the big three such creatures, the Loch Ness Monster seems to be fading from the zeitgeist. That leaves the Himalayan Yeti (and all of its Asian cousins) and the North American  Bigfoot. Recent DNA research by an apparently reputable professional scientist indicates that at least some alleged Yeti material may actually come from a sort of absurdly rare hybrid polar bear previously thought to be extinct. That's a fascinating possible discovery by a real scientist and stands in stark contrast to the decided lack of success by so-called professional Bigfoot hunters.

Bigfoot, AKA Sasquatch, is absurdly camera friendly, at least in the form of fleeting thermal spikes, pixilated blobs, tree knocks, and hoots recorded by numerous "documentary" television programs. My newest favorite such show is the $10 Million Bigfoot Bounty on Spike TV. The show has given me two new heroes of science: Dr. Todd Disotell and Primatologist Natalia Reagan; both of whom should make poor Ranae Holland weep. The great thing about Dr. Todd and Natalia is that they know what they are doing and are not afraid to tell the amateur "squatchers" that it is not legitimate field work to collect moss and call it a "hair sample." Nor is it anatomically acceptable to assert that an allegedly upright hominid is also a gorilla-style knuckle walker. The reason they can do that with both class and authority is that they know what they are talking about. It turns out that science works and it can be entertaining to watch science work. Unfortunately, in this case, it happens at the expense of well-intentioned, if uninformed, people. At least they knew what they were getting into when they agreed to try to win the $10 million bounty.

Dr. Todd Disotell and Natalia Reagan
 


I am hoping that Bigfoot Bounty is a giant success for Spike TV and that the network becomes the home to other skeptical reality shows. I envision a Penn & Teller vehicle in which a dozen mediums (or is that "media"?) try to convincingly contact the dead for cash. Or, a show in which alternative medicine gurus, homeopaths, and anti-vaccination advocates agree to forgo science-based medicine while Dr. Steven Novella exposes them to various pathogens. The last one to seek medical attention wins (or dies).

Why am I thinking about this? Mainly because I just read Links Snacks, Inc. v. United States. As you may recall from the Court of International Trade decision discussed here, the issue in the case was the proper tariff classification of dehydrated cured beef sold by Sasquatch as beef jerky. The question comes down to whether the fact that the cured meat is also dehydrated makes it something other than cured or pickled bovine meat of HTSUS item 1602.50.09, where it was classified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Consistent with the prior decision from the CIT, the Federal Circuit held that the Tariff Schedule does not take into consideration the dehydrated nature of the meat. As a result, under General Rule of Interpretation 1, the cured jerky stays classified in 1602.50.09.

And, unfortunately for the Big Guy, is that.

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