What's the next hot gadget?

As the economy melts down, I find myself simultaneously wondering if there will be great deals the day after Thanksgiving, and realizing there aren't any hot items I'm jonesing for. This will only magnify the current financial crisis. I think of the jerk who sold me my TV and wonder what he'll be able to do when he loses his job at the electronics chain store. He was far too rude to successfully hold a job in food service, and since he was too dense to figure out that customers should be treated with respect, I doubt he has the savvy or adaptability to make in the competitive world of aluminum-can-collecting-and-recycling. He succeeded at the electronics store job because he had a product I wanted so badly I'd suffer his rudeness, but that won't work behind the counter at Goodwill, which I expect to be the next big growth industry.

So what technology will save Christmas? Can we even remember back to those halcyon days when we realized that a flat screen TV would free up almost three whole cubic feet in our living rooms? For only around a thousand dollars? What a steal! Plus, the product would have the added bonus of the ego boost that comes from learning our favorite actors have bad skin, just like the rest of us. Of course we needed this product. To think, back then, we couldn't imagine that Cloris Leachman would be dirty dancing on "Dancing with the Stars", and we'd be able to take those images to our graves in Hi Def. That's the kind of technological breakthrough that used to make America strong.

Technological gadgets don't just entertain, of course. They also solve problems. I used to have this terrible problem. In order to listen to MP3s, talk on the phone, and maintain my daily schedule digitally, I had to fill my pockets with three different gadgets. And if I wanted to watch YouTube videos of politicians' speeches clipped and edited to make them particularly embarrassing, and if I wanted to do that while riding public transit or, say, driving, well... Forget about it. Impossible. I'd have to find an actual computer. Now that seems almost as ridiculous as the giant car phones of the early eighties. Computers. Ha. Of course, thanks to the iPhone, for a price only slightly higher than all the devices I used to carry around plus a commitment to allow AT&T to sacrifice my first-born in some pagan ritual, I can now do all those things simultaneously.

(Full disclosure: I don't have an iPhone. I'm not that cool. I only have one child, and I'm kinda' partial to him, so I'm crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, and wishing on stars in the hope that my preferred cell phone provider will offer a similar phone in exchange for a contractually obligated second-born. Of course, my wife and I can't manage one of those by this Christmas, but if my provider announces such a product by Spring '09, I'll be ready for next year. Still, I think you all get my point.)

Tonight I saw an add for the new iPod Nano which comes in a bunch of colors. That's all we have to offer this gift-buying season? That's going to pull us out of the coming global depression? Colors? I know Alan Greenspan told Congress his flawed worldview didn't prepare him for this collapse, but I'm pretty sure the error in judgment wasn't caused by economic analysis that was too monochromatic. Seriously? Just new colors?

I'm not sure what device could save this Christmas season, but I already have my eye on something for next year: Word on the street is that Sony is working on a device that will be the must-have item for 2009. The amazing, human powered, rock-and-flint trash incinerator, the "iFlint-and-Stone", will allow us to burn all the abundant packaging that came with our expensive but now outdated doohickeys, and use that heat to keep ourselves alive next winter.