Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bark us all bow-wows of folly

FOLKS, DON'T GET UP FROM YOUR CHAIR. DON'T CLICK THAT REMOTE TO CHANGE THE CHANNEL. THE NEXT ITEM WE ARE OFFERING ON THE SHOP-TILL-YOU-DROP NETWORK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. THIS NEXT ITEM IS SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE OUT THERE WILL ABSOLUTELY WANT TO OWN."

"Mike, this next item is something that our viewers cannot afford not to own."

"You're absolutely right, Cathy. I can't recall any item we have offered that has generated so much interest. Here it is, folks. Our new Shop-Till-You-Drop.com internet shopping software. It's called My Personal Shopper. Let the camera move in here. That's right. Pop this snappy CD-ROM into your computer and you need never again miss a bargain."

"That's right, Mike. My Personal Shopper will do your shopping for you. I know many, many of our viewers hate to fall asleep at night because they are afraid they will miss one of our fabulous special late-night offers. Or they spend the whole day at work wondering what fantastic savings they are missing on the Shop-Till-You-Drop Network. My Personal Shopper will put their minds at ease."

"That's right, Cathy. My Personal Shopper continuously monitors our Shop-Till-You-Drop web site, and our television network too. It will watch for the items you like to buy and make those purchases for you, even if you're asleep or on the job."

"That's right, Mike. When you start up My Personal Shopper for the first time, the program will ask you questions about your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes, your favorite colors, and -- oh, golly -- almost everything. Then it creates for you a virtual self..."

"A virtual self?"

"That's right, Mike, a virtual self that will cruise the Shop-Till-You-Drop web site in a ceaseless, exciting search for sales, deals, discounts, and special promotions on those items you love to own. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you wish, the program will surf the World Wide Web looking for a better offer, and if it finds one, we will match it."

"That's unbelievable!"

"It certainly is, Mike. And here's the best part. What would you expect to pay for a program like My Personal Shopper. Two hundred dollars? Three hundred dollars? My Personal Shopper can be yours for only $99.99."

"That's unbelievable. Just $99.99! You know, Cathy, this is a case where technology rises to meet a great American need. Shopping is what makes this country great, and My Personal Shopper will insure that no one need ever again miss one of our unbelievable bargains on, say, a zirconium bracelet or a set of freshly minted coins. Or a set of ginsu knives. Or a VeggieDicer. I mean, this software will pay for itself in no time."

"That is correct, Mike. And the phones are starting to ring off the hooks."

"Remember, folks, if you are on the phones, we'll get to you."

"That's another advantage of My Personal Shopper, Mike. The program will do your shopping for you. Just let it know what is the maximum you wish to spend in, say, a week, and you'll never have to wait on our phone lines again. Those Turkish carpets and collectible samurai swords will arrive at your doorstep without you every having to lift a finger."

"Yes, this is an absolutely phenomenal offer, Cathy. So do not wait, do not hesitate. Pick up that phone right now and get in on this life-changing new technology. In technical terms, Cathy, this is the whole kit and kaboodle."

"You are absolutely correct, Mike. This year Americans will spend $50 billion for online Christmas shopping."

"Wow! $50 billion! That's a lot of moola, Cathy."

"That's right, Mike. And speaking of Christmas, what could more perfectly capture the spirit of Christmas than giving a copy of My Personal Shopper to a friend. Maybe you'll want to send My Personal Shopper to all of your friends. I can't imagine a more welcome Christmas gift."

"I don't think there is any doubt about it, Cathy. Internet shopping is the ghost of Christmas future, if I may coin a phrase. Move over Amazon.com. Move over eBay. The Shop-Till-You-Drop Network and Shop-Till-You-Drop web site will change the way Americans celebrate this most quintessentially American holiday."

"It's technology at it's best, Mike. It just doesn't get any better than this."

"Oh, absolutely. Just listen to those phones ring. These things are flying out the door."

"Mike, there's something else about My Personal Shopper that you forgot to mention. The program has a special feature that lets you to make Shop-Till-You-Drop, Inc. your legal heir. If you die, your estate will be placed in a special account, and your virtual self can go on shopping until the account is depleted, or indefinitely if it spends only the interest. Not even death need interrupt your shopping."

"Golly, Cathy, shopping immortality! What could be more Christmasy than that?"

Discuss this essay and more over on the Science Musings Blog.