Friday, April 24, 2009

If you are rich, you can get in on the hot bargains

"If you have to ask the price, you, can't afford it". --Attributed to J.P. Morgan, when asked about the cost of maintaining a yacht.
Welcome once again to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. Today we have a story about the 2009 Luxury Living Expo where they seem to be having a bit of a fire sale. According to the Chicago Tribune, which is reporting on "Luxury expo stays upbeat despite hard times," they have the attitude of "economy be damned, the 2009 Luxury Living Expo is on this weekend, and the deals you'll find along Luxury Lane at the suburb's convention center are nothing short of...amazing?" Now, keep in mind, that the Luxury Living Expo is something that "caters to the sophisticated lifestyles and high expectations of the world’s most wealthy, discerning clientele" (from their website).

For starters, let's see who are some of the fine exhibitors at the event:

  • House of Windsor , interior design consultants. Because nothing says fine breeding and excellent taste than hiring a specialist "in fine European design for high-end residential homes" like House of Windsor. In other words, they are not coming to my shack anytime soon.
  • Playa de las Palmas, a fancy Costa Rican retirement and residential destination. In other words, the place to build your place away from home.
  • Of course, to get to Costa Rica, you may need a plane. Heaven forbid you fly commercial aircraft. So, not to worry, for Priester Aviation is here to provide all your charter plane needs. Remember that Priester "is an ideal means to get where you need to go in the luxury you deserve." And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Make note that giving up your private jet is for wusses. Hmm, by the way, I noticed Cessna was not on the exhibitor list. I wonder why.
  • And are you having an excess of Benjamins? Kind of short on things to light up with hundred dollar bills? Fear not, you can find excellent cigars from the Tesa Cigar Company.
  • At least, the rich still drink, or so seems to think City Beverage of Chicago, who is present at the expo. They may not be able to afford the private aircrafts, but it is good to know they can still drink a Budweiser like the rest of us. Take a look at their brands list. Not a single high end liquor in the bunch, but you can also find your malt liquor. If these rich people want their Dom Perignon, they have to go someplace else. Apparently, it is not for sale here. Personally, I am more of a Veuve Clicquot person when it comes to my champagne, but I don't see that brand represented here either.
And that was just a small sampling of the fine exhibitors you will find at the luxury expo. Now, you may be wondering what kind of deals can you get this weekend only. Well, wonder no more. Here are some hot deals, according to the Chicago Tribune:

  • "A diamond-encrusted platinum watch that would make Kanye West blush is marked down from $60,000 to $22,000."
  • "There's a gently-used, cherry red Ferrari for a mere $229,000."
  • "Leon Simons, New Jersey-based jewelry dealer, has Rolex and Versace watches going for the price of a Honda Civic, but they used to cost as much as a BMW." You got that? watches are no longer in the range of a BMW; they are just in the range of a Honda Civic. How the mighty have fallen. The humanity!
  • And if you don't like Priester Aviation's rates, maybe you prefer to rent your plane by the hour with Marquis Jet. According to the newspaper, "John McCormick of Marquis Jet can get customers a private jet for 25 hours for as low as $132,000." And Marquis even offers the Marquis Jet Card which can give you "access to thousands of airports in North America, Europe and beyond" (remember that trip to Costa Rica?), "Choice of up to 10 aircraft types," and "The option to exchange your jet for a smaller or larger cabin depending on your needs (subject to availability)." That first jet not big enough for you? They can get you a bigger one. Because "the last thing most people want to deal with is O'Hare, but that's what separates the haves from the havenots, even when it seems everyone has less." Heaven help you if you have to take a flight out of O'Hare. I know. I have flown out of O'Hare. It is a nightmare.
At the end of the day, some of the prices may seem absurd to us mere peons. But remember, this is geared to the high end consumer. Sure, it is the high end consumer who has to look for bargains in his luxury automotive needs, for instance, but high end nonetheless. You can tell the economy is bad alright when the rich have to go bargain shopping for their jewelry and private jet needs.

Oh well, there's always Big Lots for the rest of us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Booknote: The Year of Living Biblically

Another note I wrote on GoodReads I thought worth sharing:

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I finally finished this one, and I have to admit that it was interesting. However, I did not think it was that much of a big deal. Since I am a skeptical person, and not religious, a lot of this book simply confirmed that a lot of religious people simply pick and choose from the Bible (or their religious book of choice) the things they like or that suit their values, leaving the ones they dislike behind. It's the cafeteria practice that fundamentalists decry that moderates do, even though fundamentalists do it as well. This is a point that Jacobs himself makes in the book towards the end. He goes on to write: "This year showed me beyond a doubt that everyone practices cafeteria religion. It's not just the moderates. Fundamentalists do it too. They can't heap everything on their plate" (328). Jacobs comes on the side of saying that you can get some good meals from a cafeteria (he is using the food metaphor). For me, it is not that easy, and it is mostly because I do have a problem with people who pick and choose from their religion, then decide to judge others who don't pick the same stuff on their plates (to keep using the food metaphor). If I want pizza on my plate, and I want to sit next to my gay friend, and your book says to eat only oatmeal and sit next to the people who dress in black, that is fine, just don't try to take my pizza away. Man, this food metaphor can be useful. And this also leads to my other problem with the book: he tries to be a little too reconciliatory. For a skeptic like me, that is not necessarily an option. That did not work for me, but if you like an ending that is somewhat "feel good," then it may work better for you.

One of the best parts of the book is when he goes to visit religious experts or goes to congregations and communities. He goes there as a learner, so he goes with an open mind. I found myself learning a few things, and this makes the book valuable. From Hasidim to Falwell's church (before Falwell died) to snake handlers in Appalachia. He even went to Israel. On the religious right, he makes an observation that not many people may realize: "That's the big secret: The radical wing of the Christian right is a lot more boring than its liberal detractors would have you believe" (262). But I don't think it is as simple as that. He pointed out how they can all be very friendly, but the reality is they are friendly as long as you meet their criteria. "I know that this friendliness has limits--and disturbing ones," Jacobs writes regarding his visit to Falwell's church.

There is some food for thought in this book. I think that for religious people, especially Jewish and Christian, they may be able to get a better understanding of why some things work out as they do in their religions. Also, we see that there are a lot of interpretations, and when I think about it, that may be why a lot of people practice cafeteria religion. But you also get a glimpse of the author as he comes to undertake a spiritual journey, albeit an imperfect one. You also learn a lot about context, which adds to an appreciation of the Bible.

The episodes I liked the least are the ones with his wife and kid. How his wife tolerates him at times is beyond me. There is some humor, but there were some times when I simply rolled my eyes when he tried to do something because it was prescribed even if it was not practical. Dude, just deal. And the fact he is so permissive with his kid simply grates at me; I am a parent, and we certainly had no problem or compunction disciplining our kid when needed (and we did not need the Bible nor the line about sparing the rod spoil the kid to do it). Moments like that did make him seem as a struggling human, which is fine, but he also come across as someone who is not quite the sharpest tool in the shed. And as a whole, his family runs the gamut from very Orthodox to very liberal, which added a nice tension touch.

So overall, if you have an interest in religion, this may be worth reading. If you have some background in the Bible (and I have read it cover to cover), you may get a better appreciation or at least learn more about some of the context for some of the writings. And if nothing else, you get to read about his attempts at herding sheep or keeping purity. Overall, an interesting book, but not a great one.

And by the way, he keeps making constant references to his previous book, The Know-It All. There is no need to have read that one to read this one, but I wish he could have left some of those references out. Yes, we know you read a whole encyclopedia and therefore you know a lot of trivia. Try not to brag about it as much. Besides, I did a similar thing when I was a kid (about 11 or 12); I read the Illustrated World Encyclopedia my parents got us. I did not write a book about it, but I learned a thing or two. Anyhow, I am curious about the other book, but I hope he does not spend part of it bragging about whatever previous project he had.

And there is my review.

View all my reviews.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The 10 Gadgets on the way out.

This prompt comes from CW's Ruminations, who points to another post leading to this list of gadgets on their way out. So I thought I would go over the list and see where I stand. Here are the items. The snarky commentary is mine.

  1. Landline phones. I still have a landline phone. However, by now, I have one of those deals where it is bundled with your cable modem. So I don't really have a "Ma Bell" company phone line, but it is still a land line. Now most people these days advocate leaving the land line and settling for a cellphone. I can see the appeal to that. However, being reliant on only the cell would mean the stupid telemarketers and deadbeat debt collectors (who always call for Barbara or my personal favorite Jenna; apparently the previous owners of my land number were deadbeats) would be reaching my cell eventually. Since we keep our cellphone numbers private (only family and our employers, and that with some limitation), the landline catches the crap. Besides, landline has caller ID and an answering machine. We screen all calls. If we do not recognize the number, we ignore it. If you are some bottom feeder, we ignore you too. Now, before someone says, "hey, there is the Do Not Call" list, I am going to tell you it is nearly worthless. We have registered, and we still get tons of calls that are unwanted. So, we just let the landline catch the crap. Well worth it to keep our cellphones private.
  2. Floppy disks. And to think that back when I was in college, these were suc; h a big deal. We have come a long way. I do not miss them. In fact, I recently spent some time moving files out of old floppies into a flash USB drive. I may have some older things still on floppies, mostly the odd paper I may want to keep, but overall, I have moved on and away from these. These can definitely go into the ash heap.
  3. Wristwatches. I stopped wearing a wristwatch years ago, but it is not because I use the cell for a watch, like many do. In my case, I carry a pocket watch. Main reason is I was somewhat clumsy with a wristwatch, and I kept getting the belt caught in all sorts of places, breaking it. Getting the belt fixed was a hassle, so I got myself a nice pocket watch. It is nothing fancy, but it works nicely. I just replace the battery when it needs it, and that is it. Had it for years, and I am very happy with it. One side effect: the watch often becomes an object to play with when I get a little anxious or I am in deep thought.
  4. VHS tapes and VCRs. I have mostly moved to DVDs by now. If I can go get the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD, I will be set. We do still have a cheap VCR in the house since there are some odd and ends in VHS floating around. Of particular interest are a series of musical specials from Puerto Rico my parents got me as gifts years ago. Those are on VHS, and so far, have not been remade on DVD. So I may have to hold onto a VCR a bit longer. Otherwise, I am working with DVD just fine.
  5. Beepers. I never had a beeper. I do remember when my father first got one for his job as an industrial salesman. And it was very basic. The thing beeped, and then, get this, you could actually hear the brief message from the caller, including some static. There was no texting on it like the later models.
  6. Film cameras. I have moved to a digital camera, but I was not an early adopter. It took me a long time before I finally decided to get a digital camera. Actually, it was only a few years ago when we first got our digital cameras. I use mine quite a bit for work and when I travel now and then. I like the idea of keeping photos in the USB drive, then being able to e-mail them to people I know. I still have an instant Polaroid at home, and a Kodak Advantix. The Advantix was the last film camera I ever got, and it was a present. I have not used it in years, but it still works as far as I know. The Polaroid still works as well, but again, not something I use. The digital uses rechargeable batteries, and with a memory card, I can store a good number of photos. Not that it matters since I usually move photos to the USB often.
  7. Typewriters. When I went to college for the first time, a typewriter was one of the basic items I brought. I don't exactly recall, but I remember the move to a computer to type papers was a gradual process. I did use that typewriter, a Smith Corona (don't recall the exact model), pretty much til it wore out. Only typewriters I see now are in the technical services area when they still have to type a label or something like a form that is very basic.
  8. The Walkman, Discman, and MiniDisc. I did have a tape walkman at one point. I've had portable CD players. In fact, still have one, though I don't use it as much. I have not made the move to an iPod or something similar yet. I am not quite at the point where I want to put all my music in a small device; I don't fully trust places like the Apple iTunes store, and I have real problem about DRM. Maybe when I find time to rip some of my CDs, I may then get an iPod or something similar. But I don't see a major need for it now.
  9. Dial-up Internet Access. By now, I cannot do with anything less than broadband. Dial-up is pretty much the stone age for me. I may give up a lot of things, but I have to pay top dollar to get a good, fast, Internet connection, I pay it. I just do too many things online to be bogged down by dial-up. This is probably why I could never live in too rural of an area, the lack of Internet (fast Internet that is). I do have to get new computer at home (getting old), but the one I am using still works, so I can save for it at the moment. Anyhow, given all the social software, applications, and so on, they are just not made for dial-up.
  10. DVDs. I don't quite see these as obsolete yet. I am still buying them. I have a Playstation 2, and I use it to play my DVDs in my home workstation. I am not upgrading to a PS3 any time soon or to Blue Ray Disks. Whether I may have to move to those in the future, we'll see. But for now, I can watch my movies and favorite older series on DVD just fine, which is not going away yet.
Looking over this list makes me see that I have evolved in terms of my habits and entertainment needs, but I have also evolved in terms of work needs as well. I back up all work related things from my work computer to my USB flash drive. I use a digital camera. Movies, which for so long were on VHS, I know watch on DVD, and DVDs to many are already becoming obsolete. I just find it fascinating that we have come so far in what seems so short a time. And yet, I still hold on to a few things like music CDs and that land line. Because in the end, as I have often said, it is all about what meets your needs and what works for you. How about folks out there. What is working out for them?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Booknote: Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Anne Coulter

Another review from my GoodReads page:

Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter by Joe Maguire

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I read enough of this book to last me a while. The book is basically a refutation of Anne Coulter's works up to Godless. Anne Coulter is already hard enough to read; not because she is difficult, but because she is so vicious (from rudeness to personal attacks) and full of lies that one has to exercise restraint not to throw her books against a wall if one has half a brain and knows how to use it. What Maguire does is look at what Anne has written on various topics and then refute it with the actual truth. He used Anne's words pretty much to help bury her. The problem for me is that I have to read parts of Coulter, which illustrate his points, and eventually, this can wear you out as a reader.

Needless to say, if you are a fan of Anne Coulter, this book, nor any other, will likely change your mind, no matter the evidence. And Maguire does do a good job of providing the evidence. If you are against Coulter, then this book may well provide some needed ammunition.

View all my reviews.

Monday, April 06, 2009

75 Bucks for a Bottle of Wine?

Once again, I welcome my two readers to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. You know that the economy has affected all segments of society. Higher education is no exception. In fact, here at UT Tyler, the administration has put in some belt-tightening measures that are, to be polite, a little less than popular. However, we are nowhere near these guys in San Francisco.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, UCSF had to actually pass a policy to tell their faculty and administrators to limit their wine drinking to less than $75 dollars a bottle (or $15 dollars per glass). By the way, this just covers their medical department. Now, while college administrators are often known for being a little more upscale, this certainly takes the cake. Or not. Here in Texas, many may remember the case of former Texas State University Priscilla Slade who was accused of using university funds to lavishly maintain her home and entertain people. With a hung jury, she seems to have gotten lucky. But in her case, there was no mention of fancy wine dinners (as far as I can tell). Now, in the interest of disclosure, I have to point out that I am a wine drinker. I think my two readers, if they have been paying attention, probably know this. However, I am an academic librarian in a small state institution. I don't get paid enough to afford a $75 bottle of wine. Heck, if I were to take some work-related travel, and I bought a glass of wine during a dinner for $5 (using the campus allowance), it may just be enough to get the auditors after me. If I buy it myself, and I keep it off the receipt I turn in, it's ok. You have to love the rules of the bureacratic state machine. Anyhow, I rarely drink when I go out on professional travel, and if I do, it is on my dime (that way it is no one's business but my own). But I digress. The point is that I find it both mildly amusing and mildly irritating that a time when things are tight, educators have to be told to limit their drinking on their university's dime. So, let's look at the SF Chronicle article some more. Because this is the kind of stuff that falls under "I could not make this up if I wanted to." As usual, the snarky commentary is mine.

  • "The maximum reimbursement: $75 per bottle of wine, or $15 per glass." Notice that $75 is actually the maximum reimbursement. They are not being chided for spending that amount; just telling them to keep it at that number or less.
  • "There is no explicit limit placed on how many bottles of wine may be purchased for such occasions, according to documents obtained by The Chronicle." On the other hand, you can purchase cases of wine as long as you keep the cost per bottle to $75 or less. Here in Texas, you can go to one of the fine state wineries (no, I am not being snarky about the fine wines; Texas really does produce some excellent wine, but that is another post) and get plenty of good wine for a lot less. Plus you would be sponsoring the local industry and keeping the local economy working. I am sure in California, known for its wines around the world, they could come up with some good deal with some winery or two in Napa for higher education entertaining. Yes, I understand college presidents and administrators once in a while have to entertain certain guests (say, donors). I am thinking what better way to have a good glass of wine with that fancy meal than going local. Don't get me wrong. I am sure you can get expensive wine in California wineries, but I am also sure you can get something as good if not better for a more modest price. Besides, it is known that in blind taste tests, the cheap wine and the expensive wine are not really different.
  • "Additionally, [Michael] Chen [ a senior finance manager in the Department of Medicine] stressed another new policy at UCSF: "No reimbursement from university funds is allowed for mixed drinks or hard liquor." So you can forget about that nice martini before dinner or the even nicer cognac afterwards, at least if you expect the college to pay for it. And let's not even go into cigars here. However, may I suggest that maybe Kentucky could make an exception so that bourbon can be an option? I have no idea how colleges in Kentucky handle the wine issue, but again, thinking about the local economy and all. By the way, I have done parts of the Bourbon Tour (the link I put just now), and it is worth it. I am going to try to do the rest this summer. Stay tuned.
  • "'Those meals have a real business purpose. But that doesn't mean they have to be treated like a banker or a corporate executive,' he said. 'Coming to UCSF means being willing to be a part of a public institution and be proud of it. We want people who are passionate about the patient care and research that we do.'" The "he" is Mr. Chen. So, in other words, we are not bankers or AIG people, dang it, so act accordingly. Translation: you work for a public university, so bring your passion and sense of service, because we sure as heck are not going to pay you what you may actually be worth or what you likely would get in the private sector.
And let's not even look at what many campuses are doing in terms of having to raise tuition while states cut more university funding left and right. Of course, having that fancy meal? That's all part of the program.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Thoughts on the cigarette tax

Roland Martin, a CNN Analyst (at least that is where I know him from. He is also an author and syndicated columnist. You can learn more from his website), recently wrote a column on CNN's website arguing that the cigarette tax is great. In the interest of disclosure, I will say that I am not a smoker. I will also add for the record that I do have family members who smoke; they tend to be thoughtful enough to go smoke outside. With that out of the way, let's go on.

I have to say that it is pretty hard to argue with a lot of Mr. Martin's logic. Smoking is unhealthy for you. This is widely known and documented (information from the CDC). Like Mr. Martin, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would do that to themselves. I am not as rabid as Mr. Martin in the sense that, whatever someone else does, is their business. But the health risks are very clear. Now, the point he raises about poor people and smoking is one worth of some thought.

He writes:

"Critics say the tax will disproportionately hurt poor people. Fine! Did we somehow forget that poor people already are likely to be in poorer health because they are living in areas where there are food deserts, and that means lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables?"

There is a point. If you are poor, what the heck are you doing spending five dollars (or more in some places) per pack buying cigarettes of all things? Mr. Martin is pointing out that the critics use the poor as the illustration of their objection: look how unfair this tax is, it will hurt the poor. Well, not quite. It pretty much gets anyone who buys cigarettes. If you need to feel sorry for anyone, feel sorry for the farmers who grow tobacco because in the very long term, they better be learning how to grow something else. I am not as sympathetic to the tobacco companies, which peddle a health hazard to make money. Martin writes on:

"Poor folks are likely to lack insurance, which means when they get sick, they will go to a city or county hospital, and taxpayers have to foot the bill. So their decision to buy cigarettes will probably hit us in the pocketbook later on."

A big problem is that health care in this country is dysfunctional, to put it mildly. Huge segments of the population lack access to it or the insurance that enables said access. Sure, in a pinch you go the emergency room. And if you are poor, the hospital pretty much eats the bill, so to speak. And before anyone out there says I have it for the poor, look at it from my point of view. If I go to the emergency room, I get socked with the full bill. Sure, my insurance may cover some of it, but I still would have to pay a big chunk because I am employed and the assumption is I should be able to afford it. Actually, I would not be able to afford it, and therein lies a problem. Unless you are dirt poor or dirt rich, health care is a major concern. So yes, I do tend to be sensitive to things like taxpayers picking up the tab for irresponsible people, and smoking is irresponsible, especially if you cannot afford the care when you get your cancer. I will go a bit further. If you are a millionaire with a lot of wealth, smoke away. After all, you can pay for the care. But if you are broke, you should be taking better care of your health, and that includes stop smoking. In an ideal world, people probably would not smoke at all, but this is not an ideal world.

Some people may say that targeting smoking is unfair. Why not tax alcohol? It is unhealthy too. Well, in some cases it can be unhealthy, but not in others. On the one hand, there is evidence showing that excessive drinking is bad for you (again, using the CDC). On the other, there is evidence that moderate alcohol consumption can be good for you (here and here for some information). Now I am not saying that we should give alcohol a free pass, so to speak, because it is not as bad as cigarettes. What I am saying is that the argument for just taxing alcohol to be fair is not that simple. Actually, if we read a little history, we find that before Prohibition, the U.S. did tax beer quite heavily and got a lot of income from it. It did not deter beer drinkers (see the book Ambitious Brew. My note on it here). I suppose we could tax alcohol a bit more and use it for better health services, like SCHIP, which is what the new cigarette tax is going to be used (assuming the politicians don't pocket the money after claiming they are using it for children). Contrary to what critics may say, a little tax on alcohol just might discourage a risky drinker or two. And by the way, don't even think about trying a prohibition again. We saw how that worked in the United States.

As I understand it, tobacco also has the disadvantage in that it can harm others. Secondhand smoke can be harmful. Alcohol does not generate "second hand" drunkenness, i.e. I am not getting tipsy because I stand next to a drinker, but my lungs may suffer if I stand next to a smoker. I will grant this may not be the best image, but this leads back to what Mr. Martin says about secondhand smoke. I am not about to stop drinking; yes, I do enjoy some alcoholic drinks in moderation. But it would be nice if people would stop smoking. Either that, or find some place where they can just smoke happily without exposing the rest of us to it.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Hmm, maybe we need to be shopping at pawn shops now

Once again, welcome to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. MSNBC recently had a feature about how you can find many hot items in pawn shops. And I don't mean hot as in illegal or shady, but as in very desirable (to some people) high end items. It seems that with the economy souring, all the superfluous and frivolous buys like big screen televisions and Wii game consoles are suddenly being pawned left and right. Here are some sample items you could get for cheap, or at least get a better deal for than retail, at your local pawn shop:

  • Gold and jewelry. This has always been a staple of pawn shops, but now it seems the rich and affluent are suddenly dumping their jewels as if they were radioactive. After all, the price of gold is pretty high right about now, and it is always seen as safe investment. Plus, I am willing to bet a few ladies could well be getting rid of gifts from exes. Why hold on to some necklace an ex gave you when you can cash it in? But aside from that, hey, there is a need for cash. Even the football players: "He [Joe Cacciatore, owner of Tampa, Fla.-based Capital Pawn & Financial Services] has even had football players bring in Super Bowl rings and NFL rings for pawn. (He wouldn't tell us their names)." I wonder why.
  • The big flat panel televisions. If you wanted to get one, this may be a good chance to get it since you are likely to get a slightly better deal than going to a regular retail store. However, if you are considering pawning your tv, keep in mind that many of the pawn shops will only take it if it was manufactured in the last two years (i.e. capable of handling digital programming).
  • Power tools and tools in general. Apparently, contractors and craftsmen who get tight on cash will pawn their tools. Usually for the short term hoping to get them back once they get back on track, but you can still get good tools if you look. "'Since most of the tools are used, prices are typically 50 percent below what you'd find at Lowe's or Home Depot,' said [Jack] McCrory [owner of the Ace Pawn Shops chain in Indiana]. Power tools can go anywhere from $3 to $300, he said."
  • Guns and musical instruments, another pawn shop staple.
  • The Wii. This was the big hot ticket item this past Christmas. Clearly, some people spent too much last holiday, and now they figure getting fit with the Wii may not be as cost effective. By the way, this also goes for other systems like the X-Box.
So there you have it. If you are shopping, maybe you need to consider your local pawnbroker. If you need some cash, and you got something of value, maybe this is an option. Who knows? The article also links to a small video with advice for first time pawn shop consumers. After all, a big reason this article is written is because there are a lot of newcomers.

And there you have it: another sign that the economy is bad.