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Of course, it's human nature to always want more. More money, more beauty, more brains. But to actually realize such desires takes hard work. If there really were a magic tool that bequeathed sweat-free wealth and glamour to its users for only four easy payments of $19.95, you'd be having sex with a supermodel right now, or Concording to Europe for the weekend just to see if they really do call it a Burger Royale there, or at least sending a fax to your new drinking buddy Tom Arnold.

Instead, you're sitting around reading this article.

We know these products don't really work--at least not as easily and dramatically as their sales jockeys claim they do--but we buy them just the same. Because we cannot resist the lure of a short-cut...

Maybe by now it's genetic. Maybe we've had it too easy. After all, there are a lot of things you can get quickly and easily and even cheaply; perhaps we've come to truly believe that everything in life--every dream, every abstract yearning--is somehow within the sphere of economic exchange. Or maybe it's just that we are so ceaselessly crop-dusted with images of excellence that our own mediocrity becomes so frustrating it temporarily impinges reason. Desperately seeking a quick cure for the slow malaise of our ordinary lives, we get our credit card numbers handy, we pick up the phone, we make that wretched two-o'clock-in-the-morning call. And even though the operators who answer these calls never sound quite as excited about the transaction as the infomercial's host--in fact, they generally sound slightly less animated than a communist robot in a bad science fiction movie--we go ahead with the purchase.