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Black Friday liveblog: Online deals or brick-and-mortar sales?

Sales tax may be hurting Amazon's bottom line, but overseas, online sales have been booming on similar shopping holidays.

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Still, these incidents tend to be the exception rather than the rule. CBS News posted a rundown of Black Friday injuries in recent years, and most of the perpetrators are robbers, not frenzied shoppers.

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Still, tramplings happen. Here's an article from Slate offering advice to those planning to attend Obama's inauguration in 2009 on how not to become a casualty of humankind's herd mentality.

-- Eoin O'Carroll

Updated 10:43 pm

Unlike the term "Black Friday," "Buy Nothing Day" doesn't really need explaining. Started by anti-consumerist activists in the early 1990s and later championed by Adbusters magazine, Buy Nothing Day encourages citizens to "take back" Christmas by publicly cutting up their credit cards, dressing up like zombies and ambling through shopping malls, rolling through stores in a long conga line of empty carts, or simply staying home and enjoying the company of friends and family.  

More recently, Buy Nothing Day has been championed by those calling for a "Buy Nothing Chrismas." 

"By resisting the impulse to shop for deals on Black Friday we stand at the feet of the retail titans and, with the power of non-cooperation, we challenge the injustices of poor labor conditions, exploitative hiring practices, unfair monopolies, and irresponsible resource extraction," wrote Aiden Enns, the editor of the progressive Christian magazine Geez in an op-ed in the Washington Post last year. Enns encourages Christians to "take a consumer fast" on Black Friday as a way of developing the power to resist temptation. 

-- Eoin O'Carroll

Updated 9:33 pm

Chances are, you've heard that despite its ominous sound, the phrase "Black Friday" actually has its origins something positive, namely the first day of the year that retailers operate at a profit, or "in the black."

Like many widely accepted etymologies, this explanation is completely bogus. As linguist Ben Zimmer pointed out last year, the term "Black Friday" originally carried the negative connotations you would expect from such a phrase. One of the earliest known uses came from those worries about the Jacobite rising of 1745, and it was used again to describe the financial panics of 1869 and 1873.

Zimmer cites Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a frequent contributor to the American Dialect Society, who dug up the earliest known use of the phrase to refer to the day after Thanksgiving. It appeared in November 1951 issue of "Factory Management and Maintenance," and it referred to the high level of worker absenteeism on that day.

The first known use of "Black Friday" to mean the shopping rush appeared in 1961, and it too was not exactly positive: The term was coined by Philadelphia police officers to describe the chaos and heavy traffic that accompanied the day after Thanksgiving.


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