Monthly Archives: December 2009

Corporatization of Christmas

Memo to: Santa Claus North Pole Enterprises Inc.

From: Scrooge and Marley Consulting.

Re: Reducing the cost of the 12 Days of Christmas

Dear Nick: Our team of penny-pinching misers and shivering overworked clerks have carefully examined the PNC Financial Services Group report on the growing cost of a full-service, 12-day Christmas with all the trimmings from 12 drummers to a partridge.

As you know, PNC calculated the cost at $21,465.56, up $385.46 over last year, a significant concern for those preferring an arguably excessively traditional Christmas in the ongoing recession.

We regret to inform you, first, that PNC’s figures dramatically understate the problem. Continue reading

Infidelity: in spite of everything, we still care

[First published on]

The most decorous thing to do in the Tiger Woods affair would be to avert one’s gaze. I feel especially sad for his children who, whatever the outcome, will in this internet age be pursued by the grisly details all their lives. But, in respectful disagreement with MercatorNet’s editor Michael Cook, I argue that, with as much decorum as we can muster, we need to examine squarely the partly hopeful lessons of this sad business.

I don’t mean lessons like “Don’t cheat on your spouse.” It is true and important but we could discuss it without staring at this sordid mess. As for an enormously successful, wealthy, sexy man having plentiful opportunities to stray beyond the bonds of matrimonial fidelity, Louis XIV knew all about that and so I imagine did Rameses II. And while they didn’t know the internet could deliver every unpleasant detail to the prurient, we certainly do. Continue reading

When the mobs rule

The Greenpeace stunt on Parliament Hill last week went over my head. Literally. I arrived for a conference while they rappelled down West Block before an audience of emergency responders and media. I was actually lost; my event was elsewhere. But I eventually found it, whereas respect for the rule of law is still missing.

I promise not to talk about the substance of that protest. I know people think nothing is more important than climate change; Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph quoted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying that the “‘future of humanity’ is at stake in the Copenhagen climate talks.” Under such circumstances, fussing about the rule of law might appear more irrelevant than sinister. But what’s the point in passing laws, on climate change or anything else, if the concept of orderly procedure is receding faster than a Swiss glacier?

It seems odd to me that the Copenhagen meeting has witnessed endless disorderly protests by people demanding something be done about the environment. If you were a global warmer, I’d have expected you to think existing processes were working pretty well at this point. Isn’t everyone who is anyone at Copenhagen, including Mr. Brown, U.S. President Barack Obama, Prince Charles, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, all demanding immediate massive action or everybody dies? Aren’t rafts of expensive experts working day and night to create workable plans to combat global warming regardless of the expense? Continue reading