The Universe of Discourse

Mon, 13 Jun 2011

Longshot bets by time travelers
Back in February 2007, I started a blog article that was to begin as follows:

If you're a time traveller, one way to make money is by placing bets on events that you already know the outcomes of. The stock market is only the most obvious example of this; who wouldn't have liked to have invested in IBM in 1916?

But if making money is only your secondary goal, and your real object is to amaze your friends and confound your enemies, there may be more effective bets to place. I forget who it was who suggested to me how much fun it would be to go back to 1980 and bet that the cross-dressing star of Bosom Buddies would win back-to-back "Best Actor" Oscars within twenty years. But it's a fine idea.

I never finished this article, and I no longer remember where I planned to take it from there. I think I probably abandoned it because I realized that nothing else I could say would be as interesting as the Bosom Buddies thing. I don't think I could think of any examples that were less likely-seeming.

Until today. I wonder what sort of odds you could have gotten in 1995 betting that within twenty years, the creators of "What Would Brian Boitano Do" ("Dude! Don't say 'pigfucker' in front of Jesus!") would win the Tony Award for "Best Musical".

[ Addendum 2017-03-17: This article is now obsolete, as something happened late last year that leaves both of my suggestions completely in the dust. ]

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