The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and, except where explicitly stated, do not represent those of any other person or corporate entity.

27 November, 2011

Multiple Marriage?

"There is no place for the State in the bedrooms of the nation...What's done in private between adults does not concern the Criminal Code"--Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, December 21, 1967

Unless there are more than two of them?

Trudeau here was referring to the decriminalization of homosexuality, but his words also, to my mind, defend some--perhaps many--polygamists.

I love to watch sacred cows being tipped. Tabitha Southey does it with aplomb here, utterly demolishing the case against multiple marriage.

Full disclosure: I flirted with polyamory in my younger years and held it as an ideal for many more. I've since come to the realization that I am not capable of existing in a polyamorous relationship--as loving as I am, I don't seem to be able to balance multiple loves in my life. But just because I'm happily committed to monogamy doesn't mean I have lost sight of those who aren't.

I once corresponded at some length with a woman from Michigan who was "married" to two men at the same time. She had her name legally changed such that one partner's surname became her middle name and the other's her surname. The three lived a life that was indistinguishable from a typical couple's life but for the extra adult member of the family. I lost touch with her almost twenty years ago, but Google informs me that relationship was still going strong in 2004 when one partner passed away.
Not that longevity should have much to do with it: after all, Hollywood is replete with marriages that are no less legally valid for the days, weeks or months that they last.

The question about polygamy, as the B.C. Supreme Court notes, boils down to "harm; more specifically, Parliament's reasoned apprehension of harm arising out of the practice of polygamy. This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage."

There is little doubt that some polygamous relationships are harmful towards women and children, though I would argue--as Wente does--that they pose no harm whatsoever to monogamous marriage. (I made and continue to make the same argument as regards same-sex marriage: if Adam and Steve next door get married and that affects your marriage in any way, you've got problems no marriage counsellor can solve.)  The polygamous relationships I'm thinking of--the harmful ones--tend to have a religious element to them, in which the husband considers it his divine right to take some number of wives that is greater than one. It should be noted that some of the heroes of the Old Testament racked up astonishing numbers of wives and nobody batted an eyelash. Moses himself had two wives. That's if he existed: most Bible scholars I have read believe him to be a concatenation of several individuals. Regardless, Aaron and Miriam criticized their brother Moses for taking a second wife and the Lord punished Miriam with a skin disease for the criticism (Numbers 12: 1-15). David had eight named wives and countless unnamed ones as well. Moving forward, polygamy was prevalent in New Testament times as well and, contrary to popular belief, Jesus never said a thing about it one way or the other. Paul, in one place--1 Corinthians 7:27-28d--explicitly states that polygamy is not a sin.

Okay, so that's morality two thousand and more years ago. I'd like to think we've evolved somewhat since then...women aren't property anymore, for one thing. What does my morality meter register, considering polygamy?

"What's done in private between adults does not concern the Criminal Code." Trudeau was right, as fr as I'm concerned, but that "between adults" is critical. It implies consent--moreover, consent freely given. Where it exists, there is no harm and thus no issue. Where it doesn't, we have a problem.

The B.C. Supreme Court has attempted to skate around this by decreeing that a formal multiple marriage, be it civil or religious in nature, will remain illegal, even as informal co-habitation arrangements between like minded groups are acceptable. On the surface, it's a fair compromise, since the cultists who practise polygamy usually seem to require some sort of ceremony to "legitimize" it, while many polyamorous types aren't that into the whole institution of marriage.

But many is not all. The same could be said for gay people, many of whom have no desire whatsoever to be married. For those in both communities who do, however, it's a slap in the face.

Not all polygamous relationships consist of of bunch of women kneeling to one man. My net-friend with the two husbands entered into her relationships freely and lived happily that way for many years. She specifically mentions that her name anagrams to "I live a darn nice life".

And there are more people out there like her. I'm not suggesting your street is full of them, but there are likely more than you'd suspect. Again, just like gays.

Consent freely given can, of course, be a bugger of a thing to prove in a court of law. Where it can be established, I see no reason why group marriage should be illegal. Do you?

20 November, 2011

I am a bigot

So I'm stumbling around the Internet, the way you do when it's a day ending in -y in laundry month and there are only a thousand or so other things you should be doing. What to my wandering eye should appear but this piece of tripe concerning Manifest Destiny. I didn't cringe quite as much as I had earlier with that UC-Davis video, but close. People have to see this, I thought, and immediately posted it to my Facebook wall, captioned "This may be the scariest thing I've ever read in my life."

I didn't bother to check's take on this article: I knew what it would be. Snide and dismissive, just as I was. Christian site, what did you expect? No, instead I sauntered around a while longer, gibbering. What to make of a headline like "Scientists Develop Gay Repellant Powder?" I know what *I* made of it: let's see now, does this redeem science in the eyes of Christianity, or not? Or how about "Is Your Teenaged Daughter Throwing a Twilight Vampire Babies Pregnancy Pact Party?" Yeah, the night after I throw my Harry Potter Dark Arts Party.

After posting another link to my Wall--and noting the immediate disgusted reaction of a close friend of mine who happens to be a devout Christian, I decided to get off that site before it could contaminate me any further. I went to check it out on Wikipedia, only to discover what Reddit had known all along, and what I should have guessed: I'd been trolled. is a satirical site. Neither of the posts I so gleefully put up were real.  Mr. Critical Thinker here unthinkingly, uncritically shared his discovery, all too eager to play pin-the-stupid-on-the-Christian. Would I have done this with any other supposed class of idiocy? I think not.

What does that say about me? I could protest that I am merely a victim of Poe's Law, that being "it's impossible to create a parody of extremism that somebody won't mistake for the real article." I could do this, yes, and bring up things like this, which is real, or this, which is also real. But the truth is,  this isn't the first time I've paid lip service to the truth that the vast majority of Christians think this stuff is loony...while hurrying to say "look! Look what the Christians are up to now!"

So help me, I was relieved  to see that friend of mine was revolted. Despite having known her for almost a quarter century and counting her amongst my best friends, I wasn't completely sure she would be. On some level I'm forever afraid that moderate Christianity is going to spill over into lunacy, simply because to me, the idea of--say--a devil is lunacy. Christians tend to believe in a devil, ergo Christianity is nuts.

In short, I am a bigot. I am that thing I am forever mocking. That hurts to admit. I am forever quoting Neale Donald Walsch: "Mine is not a better way, mine is merely another way"...and I'm not only lying to myself, I'm also insulting anyone else who may think exactly the same thing but believe differently than I do.

I'm not going to do an about-face and embrace Christianity for myself. I've read the Bible and done a ton of exegesis and I just can't. Nor am I going to stop bringing the excesses of Christianity to attention. I have too many gay friends and relatives to let hate speech go unchallenged, and I have heard far too much hate speech from the mouths of self-defined Christians. HOWEVER, I will stop believing, and wanting to believe, that the excesses are the norm.

Please forgive me.

Welcome To The New Reality

Words failed me the first time I watched this. It's so casual, so nonchalant, as if pepper-spraying peaceful protesters is all part of a police officer's daily routine. I got the sense, watching, that they would have been happier using their guns, and those kids should consider themselves lucky they didn't.

Surely this is a one-off, an aberration.


You have the right of free assembly. You have the right of free speech. Just bear in mind that if you choose to exercise these rights, you could well be attacked with noxious chemicals...or worse. But by all means, go ahead and enjoy your rights, because we really enjoy the chance to use our toys.

This reminds me of nothing so much as the doctrine of free will: "Sure," says God, "you can do whatever the heck you want. But if you sin, I can throw you in hell to burn for all eternity. By the way, I love you."

How free is your will when the wrong choice will result in eternal damnation? How free is a populace when exercising one's constitutionally-guaranteed "rights" can get you attacked?

Some time ago, I wrote a post about the rise of American fascism. Watching that disgusting display at UC-Davis immediately made me think of point three on the three point scale of encroaching tyranny:

3. Is a rapid political mobilization threatening to escape the control of traditional elites, to the point where they would be tempted to look for tough helpers in order to stay in charge?

What do you think?

16 November, 2011

The World Has Lost Its Balls


A tip of the hat to Catelli for bringing this to my attention.  "This" is utter, rank stupidity, the kind of story you'd more likely expect to find in the Onion.

Balls have been banned at Errol Beatty Public School, on account of "a few serious incidents" Unless it's a Nerf ball or a sponge ball, it's not permitted on the playground. We're told the parents' council at the school supports this.

Well, of course they do. These are probably the same parents who demand their progeny get A grades just for showing up at school each day. Heaven forfend their little darlings might be hit by a ball.

Let me give you a little rundown of various and sundry incidents that (I swear)  I experienced during my public school career, I won't even mention the kissing tag. Oops, I just did.

  • Our school grounds sloped off fairly steeply along their western flank. During winter, that slope featured five or six iced 'runs', carefully crafted. The small kids would slide down on their butts; the braver and bigger of us would careen down standing up. Sometimes we'd go arse over tip. Blood could and did make its appearance. Fairly regularly, actually.
  • The same school sported a little brick wall in an alcove, purpose unknown. It was about three feet high and eighteen inches wide and the purpose we used it for in grade three was "balance beam fights". I was actually really good at these: even back then, my hands were by far the strongest parts of me. I'd walk up to my opponent, get a grip on his shoulders, and wrench until he'd slip off down and to the right. I was winner and grand champeen in my grade until one day one of the grade sixes decided to try his hand. There was no nicety to his fighting style: he simply strode up to me and kicked me in the nuts. I went down as if I'd been kicked in the nuts. (Sorry, similes fail me here: if you're a man, you understand.)
  • That was not the first time I was kicked there, either. I suffered that indignity several times between grades two and six. Talk about playing with balls...on one memorable occasion they weren't kicked but squeezed. If you haven't experienced's worse.
  • Our whole class, pretty much, got into a colossal snowball fight one February. These days, you can be suspended for throwing a snowball, even if it doesn't hit anyone. Back then...the teachers played too.
  • Does anybody remember murderball? Otherwise known as 'dodgeball', the express purpose of this game is to hit somebody with a ball, and of course avoid being hit yourself. To hit the shifty and agile--or just to hit that jerk who got you with the spitball last week--it was necessary to peg that ball with as much force as you could muster. We played this in phys. ed. many, many times...under teacher supervision, but occasionally the teacher would participate. 

  • I could go on, but I hope you get the point. When I was growing up, kids did things on the playground that could get them seriously hurt if they were unlucky. With a few glaring exceptions, they almost never were. One kid at Cub camp fell off the first rung of a treehouse ladder, landed badly, and thereafter lived life in a wheelchair. And I'd rather not dwell on the incident in grade five when my classmate's head whammed a metal playground support.
    But by and large, we got through childhood with nothing worse than cuts and scrapes and bumps and bruises. You have to understand: I was a sheltered kid. I didn't take part in most of the more adventurous activities. For instance, I've never climbed a tree. I've never climbed a tree because I knew that as a matter of course I would fall out of the tree and break something, possibly my neck. 
    But play with balls? I remember playing road hockey with my cousin Terri on the streets of Parry Sound. We were using an Indian rubber ball. Don't play hockey with an Indian rubber ball. I played goal, and I sustained a gouge in my knee that really had to be seen to be believed. (That was what finally crystallized left and right in my head: my left knee was the one I hurt.)  
    Were the adults in my life concerned when I came home with blood pouring down my face? Of course they were. But I don't think it crossed the mind of many parents back then to cushion their little darlings from every knock. You hurt yourself, you picked yourself up and moved on, and maybe did whatever it was you'd been doing a little more carefully next time. That was it. 
    The powers that be at Errol Beatty Public School should be ashamed of themselves. I'll leave the last word to Konstantina Alexiou, a Grade 8 student: "Next they'll say you can't run because kids fall or you can't wear (shoe) laces because kids trip,”

13 November, 2011

If you don't have anything nice to say...

Check out the comments on this CBC story about the 'upscaling' of Tim Horton's.

Very few of them are at all positive. You would think, based on these comments, that Tim Horton's, far from being the most profitable quick service chain in the country, is instead about to go bankrupt.

As usual, there is no moderation in the negativity, either. Only a tiny minority of the comments say something to the effect of "if you don't like it, don't shop there". Over and over the coffee is referred to as 'swill' and the food as 'crap'. One-off horrible customer service stories are upvoted as if they are universal Tim Horton's policy.

Full disclosure: I like Tim Horton's. I love their coffee, which I can't quite recreate at home no matter what I do. I love their hot chocolate, which is far and away the best on the market. And their breakfast sandwiches are phenomenal. Yes, their donuts are not baked fresh anymore and of course the quality has suffered because of that; but for me Tim's has never been about the donuts.
Tim Horton's, like just about everywhere else, used to allow smoking in designated areas of their restaurants, as if you could somehow contain the effluvium from twenty cigarettes. Their Timbits had one flavour back then, as far as I was concerned: nicotine. By the time I had another donut from Tim Horton's, they had abolished smoking and gone to prefab pastry. Let me tell you, a pre-made donut free of yellow death tastes considerably better than a fresh donut that's been steeped in tar.

Is Tim Horton's perfect? Hell, no. There's actually a hefty lawsuit going on right now about those pre-made donuts. Seems they're actually more expensive to the franchisees than they were initially told. Down at store level, before Timmy's tries to upscale its decor, they might consider adding tills. The lineups can get ridiculous. And not that this will ever happen, but I'd have a whole lot of respect for the place if they got rid of their drive-throughs. It's not exactly health food they serve, but do you have to poison the environment when you buy it?

But upscaling is something that's going on industry-wide. McDonald's was the first to move on this, and Tim's is just playing catch-up. It's dangerous to ignore your competitors' innovations. Occasionally they'll flop, but can you really afford to take the risk?

If you hate Tim Horton's--and I know some readers of this blog that do--that's your prerogative. And of course you're free to bitch on any online forum you like about how tasteless their food is and how you wouldn't drink their coffee with a gun to your head. But do bear in mind that you're slagging the most popular quick-service chain in the country. There are millions of people who adore the place and are no less Canadian for doing so (and nor are you for despising it).

The same hatred exists in other areas. Music, for one. There's this group called Nickelback that, according to the intelligentsia, is the music industry equivalent of Tim Horton's: pre-fab rock with no musical redeeming quality whatsoever. Nickelback, like Tim's, is Canadian. And also like Tim's, they are insanely popular. They have sold almost as many albums as Tim's has cups of coffee. The people who hate Nickelback (and they are legion) never seem to account for this beyond mutteringly, darkly, that anything popular sucks by definition.
Punch in "why do people hate Nickelback" and one of the answers you'll get is "because they keep making songs that sound the same, and they play them over and over until they get stuck in your head." Call me naive, but I believe that makes their music pretty good. Isn't that what musicians aspire to? Writing a song that gets stuck in millions of heads and won't get out?

Pardon me, it's coffee time.

12 November, 2011

Greece Is The Word

So Greece is bankrupt for the seventh time in the past two hundred years.
This brings Ronald Wright's aphorism to mind yet again--"each time history repeats itself, the price goes up." This time, the price is immense. The first downpayment is Greek membership in the Eurozone. They remain in the union, for now, but in name only. Further casualties are certain...probably in the literal sense of lives lost. History shows that Europe does not remain merely unstable for long before going off like old nitroglycerin.

In hindsight, one wonders what those who moulded the European Union could possibly have been thinking. I'd imagine they let idealism run roughshod over reality. Wouldn't it be nice, they thought, if we could unite continental Europe into a land free of nationalism? Laudable goal, politically. Financially, however...
Putting aside the cultural differences between northern and southern European nations, removing the ability for a country to manage its own economy is never a very good idea. Greece, of course, compounded things by by not just cooking its books, but positively charring them, in a successful (at first) effort to deceive the overseers that all was and would be well.

Well, all is not well. This has been driven home with all the force of a blow from Zeus' hammer. The nerve of Papandreou! To think he could actually threaten to take the latest bailout package to the hoi polloi in a referendum, as if Greece had invented democracy or something! Merckel and Sarkozy set the record straight. Greece was a member in questionable standing of the European Union, it was told, and it would remain so as long as it did what it was told, without question or hesitation. Any misstep, such as, oh, I don't know, involving the citizenry...well, the punishment would be mythical and immediate.

So much for a union of equals.

To be clear, yes, Greece brought this calamity on itself through fiscal mismanagement so extreme it qualifies as an art form. That said, nobody deserves what's about to befall the commoners in that benighted country. Wages are being cut by up to 60% as taxes and levies rise. If you check your Revolutionary Cookbook--call it The Joy Of Anarchy--you'll find those two ingredients are the binding agents in any dish of civil unrest you can imagine.

There have already been riots. As things progress, you can expect more. If we're lucky, they won't spread and engulf the whole of Europe.

Do you feel lucky, punk?

06 November, 2011


There's a very interesting article in this month's issue of Wired. There usually is, of course--Wired is one of a very few publications I tend to read cover to cover--but this one is above and beyond. It concerns the future of music, now that Facebook is teaming up with Spotify to dethrone iTunes.
The beleaguered record industry hasn't even fully accepted iTunes yet. Imagine the conniption when 'buying' music becomes entirely obsolete.
That's what the union of Facebook and Spotify will evertually accomplish. You won't "own" music anymore: it will reside in the amorphous, world-spanning "cloud", ready to rain down on you, or your friends, with a single mouse-click. When you're done listening, back to the cloud it goes.
 How, exactly, money will be made from this model of instant access to everything remains to be seen. Currently, Spotify (which, like almost everything really valuable on the Internet, is not yet available in Canada), "charges" you a few minutes of ads per hour of listening, with ad-free listening available at $5 a month and the ability to listen offline costing an additional $10/month.

The way kids are today, I can all too easily imagine the offline option disappearing. You mean, listen to music...OFF THE INTERNET? Why would I ever go offline? That's like cutting out my eyes!

Anyway, Facebook and Spotify are in the process of converging, which is a big reason why Facebook's user interface changed yet again a few months back. Soon, you'll be able to see exactly what your friends are listening to (and eventually watching).  It's all about sharing, which is Facebook's core value, much to the dismay of privacy commissioners and other old fogies who think like them.

"You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it", said the CEO of Sun Microsystems in that ancient year of 1999. And many have,  to the point where it seems the first instinct after anything happens is to tweet it, or take a picture of it and post it on your Wall. Events have occurred in my own life over the past few years that I have had to resist the impulse to share. I still have (at least) one foot in the era where the default setting was 'private'. The new paradigm requires a complete redefinition of self that I am not quite up to.

This article really did get me thinking, though, because in it I can see the barest glimpse of a possible future. It remains to be seen how money can be made off a business model that grants instant access to any desired piece of musical product, especially since consumers have shown a marked aversion to subscription options. The only way I can see this working is if we're willing to redefine "money".

And we just may be.

Consider the Huffington Post. Many people (most of them considerably younger than I) line up for the chance to write for them. When I first discovered this site, I considered writing for them as well. Something with the reach of HuffPo must pay handsomely.

Nope. In fact, they don't pay AT ALL, not in any currency you can hold in your hand. They pay in exposure. The mind recoils. Exposure won't pay the bills. Exposure is something you can die from! And yet here are people willing and eager to get their name out there gratis, paid, for the time being, in nothing but fickle fame.

Another example: Rome, Sweet Rome. is the only site I frequent more often than Facebook. It is my chief source for news and entertainment both. Reddit itself uses a reputational-based currency ("upvotes") to "reward" contributions of interesting and informative material and commentary. Anyway, a few months back, someone asked the Reddit community (which numbers in the millions, and includes people from every conceivable profession and walk of life), "could a single regiment of the U.S. Marines take out the Roman Empire?"  An anonymous user was intrigued by this question, and threw together a piece of flash fiction. Fellow Redditors were so impressed they demanded a fleshing out. And now that anonymous contributor has himself a movie deal.

That's reputational currency morphing into actual dollars. Let's go one step further and leave dollars out of the equation entirely.

Such a system is only possible in a fully integrated world where everyone's actions are at the very least traceable...better yet, instantly visible. That may sound ridiculous, but in fact we're not near as far away from such as system as you might like to believe. The average person in Britain passes over three hundred cameras in the course of his or her daily routine, and those are just cameras placed by the state.  Imagine how many cellphone cameras there are. Better yet, imagine a few iterations of Moore's Law down the line, when effectively unlimited processing power is essentially free. Today's blogs become true lifelogs. Big Brother is not some faceless governmental entity: he's...everyone. All of us are under surveillance; all of us are doing the surveilling.
You could actually eliminate money. You could be credited for your good deeds...and debited for your bad ones. A full scoping out of such an economy is well beyond the scope of this Breadbin...mostly because it's up to us how it's shaped, and what constitutes good or evil deeds, and what level of remuneration is applicable for each. That could well be decided by group up-vote or down-vote. Certain crimes like rape or murder would have a set negative value. (The way I envision this is that anyone would be born with, say, a thousand credits; a crime like murder would automatically net you, say, ten thousand negative credits, and anyone with a negative reputational value would be sent to prison.
You'd still need a court system to present an alleged criminal's side of the story, but evidence itself would rarely be in dispute.

All this from sharing music, Ken? Well, yes. The creators of music would also be paid in reputational credits. You could even scale this such that certain trustworthy individuals, themselves with a high credit standing, could award more credits with a kind word (though I'd be leery of allowing any one person too much negative capability). You could gain reputational credits for producing any sort of highly regarded art; heck, even menial jobs could pay in credits for a good job, and debit a poor one.  Cory Doctorow, in his novel Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom, described his reputational currency ("Whuffie") like this:

"Whuffie recaptured the true essence of money: in the old days, if you were broke but respected, you wouldn't starve; contrariwise, if you were rich and hated, no sum could buy you security and peace. By measuring the thing that money really represented — your personal capital with your friends and neighbors — you more accurately gauged your success."

We're still several paradigm shifts from this being a desirable system to the majority of people. As usual, I find myself out ahead of the curve. I believe reputational currency is one possible solution to the disparity of wealth behind the Occupy protests. In my imagined world, there would still be rich people--probably many more rich people, actually. The difference is, in my world, all of them would have earned it...and if they were to use their riches for ill, they'd lose them in a hurry.

02 November, 2011


You'd never know it from the weather outside--it's 17 and sunny right now and this could pass for a cool day in August--but we've hit November. This is the month for diseases of all sorts: it's Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month; COPD Awareness Month, Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month; American Diabetes Month (I guess Canadian Diabetes Month is December); Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis Awareness Month; and Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Are you aware of all these diseases? Good, your work is done for another month.

Seriously, it's always bothered me when days, weeks, or entire months are set aside to promote some vague "awareness". It's International Drum Month, too: does that mean drums are verboten at any other time of the year?
Take  Remembrance Day, the 11th of this month, by the way. It's not that I have a problem with Remembrance Day. On the contrary. I just wonder why it's only one day a year. Shouldn't we keep the spirit of Remembrance Day year-round?

The same goes for Mother's Day, or Canada Day, or National Piss-Shiver Awareness Week, or any other pseudo-occasion you can dream up. Valentine's Day? A pointless popularity contest in school (can you tell how popular I wasn't?) and it's not much better in adulthood. Really, does it have to be Valentine's Day for me to acknowledge how much I love my wife? I do it every day.

Christmas? For Christians, it certainly shouldn't be the only day of the year they think about Christ. For the rest of us, sure, the occasion is nice if you don't let it get the better of you, but again, maybe we should give gifts to people "just because".

Back to November: it's also National Novel Writing Month (because any novel worth publishing is written in thirty days!);  National Pomegranate Month (whatever); and National American Heritage Month. Feel free to ignore your American heritage at any other time.

And oh, yeah, it's Movember.

In case you've been living under a beard, Movember is a portmanteau of "mousrache" and "November", The idea here is that men, and particularly hirsute women, I guess, are supposed to shave their moustaches off at the first of the month and let them grow until December. This is supposed to somehow promote awareness of prostate cancer, by some mechanism I utterly fail to grasp. I mean, at the very least, shouldn't it be your ass-hair you don't shave this month?

And get this: you're supposed to seek out sponsorship and raise funds. I can just see it now.  "Hello, I'm Ken from down the road and I'm raising funds to combat prostate cancer. See, here's the deal. You give me money, and I don't shave." Cue the slamming of the door.

By the bye, I shaved last night. Not because it was the first of November...because I dislike chewing on my moustache.

01 November, 2011

Merry Christmas?

The Pillsbury Snowmen arrived last night. The rest of the Christmas loot arrives this evening. We're to be fully Yuletided by Thursday.

Bah humbug.

If I ran the world, it would be illegal to so much as mention Christmas until December the first. There is no need, no need whatsoever, for stores to tout their holiday sales before there's even a reasonable chance of snow on the ground. And by the way, can we not at least wait for Remembrance Day? I know soldiers died to defend democracy, but somehow I don't think they envisioned a rampant consumer orgy, do you?

Maybe we could wait until American Thanksgiving. They do. Then again, they have "Black Friday", which is impossible to explain from any sane retail perspective. Why offer your best deals at the very beginning of the season and allow all your customers to buy up your store at a loss?
Things are different up here where Santa lives. (Don't believe Santa's Canadian? He has his own postal code: H0H 0H0.) Our stores don't tend to put anything on sale just because it's Christmas. Oh, they say everything's on sale...just like they do in April or September.
Now Boxing Day, on the other hand...after Christmas, when you've got leftover inventory that's gotta go....
That's how it used to be. I know a a few people who celebrate Christmas five or fifteen days late, just to take advantage of all the blowout sales. Those sales still exist, but I'm seeing more and more retailers up here adopting the American model: big "Black Friday" sales. Never American big, mind you. Our prices make me ashamed to be Canadian, some days.
(Aside: I lit into somebody on a CBC news forum for saying "what with bread at $4 a loaf, no wonder people are poor." Four bucks a loaf? Where the hell are you shopping? Was I put in my place but good. Apparently in many places outside Ontario, four bucks a loaf is normal now. Yike. I thought $2.50 was ridiculous.)

I've actually seen Boxing Day sales extended almost into February. I don't believe the Christmas season should last three months, do you?

We need to listen to each other.

It's maybe the biggest problem in the world right now, and I'm not understating it at all: we just don't listen. Yes, I've...