There is a specter haunting consumer products in America: the specter of certificates of authenticity being included with products of so little value that there is not a single person on the planet who would ever bother themselves to forge one.

My frustration with this problem reached an apex yesterday when I was in Barnes & Noble looking at calendars. I decided that I might buy a Thomas Kinkade calendar as a gift for someone I know who -- like most sensible people -- absolutely hates Thomas Kinkade.

And there, tucked inside the calendar, was a hand-numbered certificate of authenticity.

A certificate of authenticity. For a $17 mass-produced calendar.

I can just see the headline now: "Federal agents arrest 25 in counterfeit calendar sting operation. An arsenal of guns and body armor was seized, and 5,000 counterfeit Thomas Kinkade "Main Street Special Collector's Edition" calendars were discovered. Sources say that the calendar ring has ties with the notorious Medelin cartel. "

Of course that will never, ever happen because no one will ever forge a Thomas Kinkade calendar. So why waste paper and energy on a certificate of authenticity? Of course it's a marketing ploy but is anyone really that stupid?

But no, that's too easy. These days everything comes with a certificate of authenticity: Twilight Zone DVDs, Electrolux vacuum cleaners (I've had one and trust me: You want a fake one), collectible plates worth $1, dildos, and Wheaties boxes all come with pieces of paper certifying that the product you're buying is what it says it is, even though there is no conceivable reason to try and pass off a fake.

So new rule: Don't insult my intelligence by including certificates of authenticity with worthless products.

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