Press reports peg the most popular items this past shopping weekend as HD TVs, laptops, coats, and the low-cost Zhu Zhu Pet robotic hamsters.

My feeling is that [Sarcasm ON] if we can just keep consumption of these things up – especially the hamsters, which, like the TVs and coats, are surely made in America – we’ll be out of the economic woods. [Sarcasm OFF]

Come on folks. What we need to be buying is caulk. And insulation. And third generation LEDs.

Why can’t the President tell us what our national household energy consumption has been in 2009 and challenge us to reduce that 10% a year for the next three years?

(If only I knew someone who knows someone who knows the President. Oh, wait!)

And, as taxpayers – acting collectively through our government – why can’t we put out contracts to bid for the construction/installation of 100,000 windmills, specifying that no more than 20% (say) can be foreign content? Wouldn’t Lockheed and Boeing and GM, et al, rise to the challenge? And wouldn’t that be a terrific holiday gift to ourselves?

Though robotic pets are actually a lot better for the environment than real ones. I’ll give you that much.


That said, it is a little embarrassing to admit that that I just bought this Fujitsu scanner. (Christmas comes early at the Tobias/Nolan household, because I feel it is my responsibility to buy stuff for myself and test it out for you in time for the holidays.) It is phenomenal. And folds up to be sleek and small. And can scan both sides of a document simultaneously. And lets you feed in a stack of, say, 30 color photographs and – zip, zip, zip – just bangs right through them faster than you would believe.

If you’re young, you have no photographs – you took them all digitally and downloaded them straight to your computer in the first place. They’re on virtual albums in interspace and twitter through the leaves of your Facebook like starlings. (At least I think that’s how it works.)

But if you’re me, you have 1,000 photos you always wanted to scan in – and now, in just a few very fun hours, you have! Only the Polaroids needed a little extra care, but even they took just a second or so each.

And for regular stuff? Like correspondence or forms or creating PDF files? Amazing.

Not cheap, to be sure, but really well designed (the Mac version, too) and, so far at least, it’s been great.

Buy one, and after doing your own initial mega-scan, set up one of your kids in the business of digitizing all the neighbors’ photographs at a dime each. Zip, zip, zip . . .

And when relatives come for the holidays, have them bring all their family photos and charge them.

But be CAREFUL. This thing is DANGEROUS and comes with numerous warnings, in nine languages. For example: “Do not use the Scansnap while covered with a blanket. Doing so may raise the temperature inside and cause a fire.” . . . “Do not use the Scansnap while driving a car. Doing so may prevent you from driving carefully which can cause an accident.”

Worst of all would be driving while operating the scanner with your head under a blanket.

There is also a warning about not getting your hair, tie, or sleeve caught up into the document feeder, which does sound painful.

But all this product-safety liability talk leads me to:


The scanning was so easy, I could multi-task. So I listened to the The Appeal, by John Grisham (unabridged), as I fed my life through the scanner. It’s a novel about innocent people killed by a reckless, uncaring corporation – and the caring trial lawyers who are bankrupted trying to help them, even as guns and gays are used to dupe the public into voting out a moderate Mississippi State Supreme Court Justice (Mississippi being one of 39 states where judges are elected, not appointed) to be replaced by one who would consistently throw out jury awards on appeal.

All of which matters, because, well, how should a society deal with the injuries, accidents, and illnesses that befall it?

Certainly not this way:


You won’t believe the story of this 23-year-old sawmill foreman denied care because he lost his job. Nick Kristof nails it. I urge you to give this one a quick read and then, perhaps, pass it on.


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