Allegedly, today is a major shopping day in these states united. According to Bloomberg, during the first 24 hours of Black Friday, sales were up $27 Billion, or 8%, over sales during the same period last year. I doubt the relatively flat increase has anything to do with the Occupy Wall Street protestors' call for a boycott of major retailers. But, alas, questions about Holiday spending haven't been reduced to the fringe down at Zuccotti Park.
One source that I consider to be uniformly insightful has not only questioned the wisdom of such a frenzied shopping blitz, but he has also hinted that America should resuscitate long dead 'blue laws,' mandating that businesses close on Sunday. Even the normally estimable Zen Habits has gone so far as to encourage his readers not to spend money during the Holiday Season at all. Minimalism indeed.
Naturally, such notions are misguided.
In fact, perhaps the worst thing consumers could do during this time of economic downturn is not spend money - since (surprise!), our economy is largely driven by consumer spending. If Americans stop spending money, then companies have no incentive to hire and greater incentives to downsize. This leads to greater unemployment, and even slower economic growth. I get that families should be prudent with their personal finances, but if everyone took Zen Habits' advice, our economy would probably tank before most people have time to put up the Christmas tree.
Given our economic morass, and quite unlike my betters, I want to do my part to help fight the army of Grinches. Accordingly, I have published my personal Christmas list below. In the event that readers are tempted to abstain from making holiday purchases, consider my list, and if you can't be moved to buy something for yourself, at least buy something for me. After all, our economy needs you to make these purchases. That I am a side beneficiary of your concern for the greater good, well, I'll just try to find a way to live with myself.
Whatever the motivation, I call that a win, win for everyone.
And in the event you would rather not purchase presents for yours truly (you scabs), then maybe the list will give you a few ideas for the lowly grad student/blogger/technophile in your life - conveniently sorted into four categories. You're welcome.
1. Mad Men (Seasons 1 - 4). Cost: $79.99. Store: Amazon. Description: Set on Madison Avenue in the 1960s, Mad Men is quite simply the finest television series currently being produced. The character development perfectly suits each member of the cast, while the writing remains consistently smart and witty.
2. Californication (Seasons 1 - 4). Cost: $97.99. Store: Amazon. Description: Californication has been a guilty pleasure of mine for the past two years. Im' already counting down the days until the series resumes with Season 5 starting in January. For those with greater moral scruples than me, I should warn that the series is completely debauched. But it chronicles the exploits of a struggling, alcoholic writer who dances on the razor's edge of genius and disaster. My own dance trends more toward disaster, but I like the idea of knowing that someone has it worse than me.
3. Atlas Shrugged (Part 1). Cost: $14.99. Store: Amazon. Description: This book radically, and inexorably reframed my world view and thoughts about politics. In fact, I quite nearly lost a job simply for reading this book - but that's another story for another time. While I don't buy into all of Rand's philosophy, or even most of it, one cannot read this novel and walk away unaffected. The film adaptation of the book came out this year. Unfortunately, I never made it to see the movie while it was in theaters. I would like to correct this by owning the movie.
1. Garmin Edge 200. Cost: $149.99. Store: Amazon. Description: I took up cycling over the summer, and oddly dropped it once the weather cooled. I would like to resume my habit, and the Garmin Edge 200 is a spiffy new "GPS-enabled cycling computer," tracking time, distance, speed, location, and calories burned. It also appeals to my inner nerd by syncing all of the data with Garmin's servers. Whoa.
2. Nike, Oklahoma Sooners Replica Football. Cost: $30.00. Store: Dick's Sporting Goods. Description: Early last month, Gwyn and I were playing "keep away" with my Nike football from our young Pit Bull Alexas. Unfortunately we lost, and my football now looks like it took a couple of turns in a blender. It's not fair to say she ripped it to shreds. But it is fair to say the ball is hers and completely unusable. An OU Sooners Nike football would make a fine substitute.
3. Hi-Point, 9mm Carbine. Cost: $274. Store: Local Gun Dealer. Description: Eventually the zombies will attack. The CDC says so. When they do, I intend to be ready with my 9mm carbine. Better for mid-range situations (à la zombie attacks), and more maneuverable than a rifle, Hi-Point's carbine is both economical and effective. In the words of former President George W. Bush, "bring it on".
1. Kenneth Cole, Leather Laptop Messenger Bag. Cost: $117.33. Store: Amazon. Description: Rumor has it, my doctoral foray will end this Spring. Should I land a gig as a real-life professor, I will need a new 'backpack' to match my status. This product from Kenneth Cole would do nicely. Trust me. I'm almost a doctor (SJD).
2. J. Crew, Vintage Oxford Shirt. Cost: $68.00. Store: J. Crew. Description: There are few more traditional items sold by men's clothiers than the vintage, Oxford shirt. I have a few, but this is an eminently practical Christmas request - and it's not quite so cliché as a tie. Plus, it would match quite well with the leather laptop bag above. Yes. I said 'match.' Good style is not metrosexual.
3. Nike, Dartmouth Men's Hoodie. Cost: $48.95. Store: Dartmouth Coop. Description: Although I sometimes deny it, yours truly is a graduate of the College on the Hill. Unfortunately, this Dartmouth man has very little in the way of Dartmouth gear. As I approach my 30th year on this earth, I think it's time to get a hoodie from my alma mater.
4. Adidas, Men's Tiro Training Jacket. Cost: $65.00. Store: Amazon. Description: My point in selecting this item is not so much this particular jacket as it is to suggest a jacket of a similar style. I've concluded that track jackets are really quite good for cycling during the late fall and winter months. And, true to form, I do not have one.
1. The Macallan, Single Malt Scotch, 12 yr. Cost: $35.00. Store: BevMo, etc. Description: When I'm not busy cooking up content for the blog, working on my dissertation, or being a thumb warrior on MW3, I love a glass of scotch in the evenings while I read. If I can add a cigar to the mix, that makes the night even better. My poison of choice is the inexpensive Johnny Walker Red, but on occasion I indulge myself with a scotch of the single malt variety, and this bottle is by far the best.
2. SoHo Bar Glasses. Cost: $49.99. Store: Wine Enthusiast. Description: Being a fan of the finer things, I purchased a set of nice scotch glasses a couple of months ago. Being also a huge klutz, I dropped one of my glasses on the tile in our kitchen floor. It didn't end well. This set would be a fine substitute for the one my clumsiness destroyed.
3. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. Cost: $17.88. Store: Amazon. Description: The Steve Jobs, authorized biography has been on my tentative list of reads ever since it came out. The man's life absolutely fascinates me. That his technology has changed my life and our world, goes without saying. Note also, this is the only book on my list.