Jewish World Review April 1, 2003 / 28 Adar II, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Hedging the war


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | From Reuters News Service, I recently gained a reminder that there are many ways to view war. A war can spell massive loss of life. It can signal a paradigm shift, the end of one era, the beginning of another. It can occasion heartbreak, debate, grief, bloodlust, fear, and rage. And it can provide gambling opportunities!

You can't make book on the war in Vegas, which views the process as distasteful, but there are always web sites, aren't there? On the Internet nobody knows you're a dog.

One website, the name of which I don't think I'll share with you, allows visitors to make contracts on future events, like the Oscars, or a football game, and trade them. According to the website's managers, earlier in March, when there were rumors floating around that Saddam Hussein had been killed, "futures reflecting the chance that Saddam would not be leader of Iraq by the end of March rose to 79 percent, from 65 percent earlier in the day, and from about 20 percent earlier this month."

Another website, which I also will not name, allows visitors to bet on whether "Saddam would be dead or exiled by the end of June." A spokesman for the site said they have taken in about 300 grand on Iraq-related bets, compared to the 200 million they expect to rake in from college basketball. These bets, by the way, aren't on a menu. They're only given when customers request them.

I guess it's all rather ghoulish, kind of a "dead pool" on a global scale, but on the other hand, only ghouls and their enablers are making a buck on it, so it's hard for me to get too outraged.

But there is something very random about it. I'm not a gambling man myself, but it seems to me if you're hellbent on betting on any darn thing you sent your eye on, it doesn't have to be so morbid.

Bet on whether the web site where you're placing your bet will be around two years from now. Bet on how long your marriage will last once your wife finds out you're betting the kid's college money on Saddam's life span.

Or if you insist on keeping it war-related, bet on how long the words "embedded reporters" will stick around once the war is over.

Or forget about it. Bet on which way that car will turn when it reaches the end of the street, which blade of grass the ant will climb, on which part of the sidewalk the leaf will fall, which way the wind will blow tomorrow, and whether it will reveal a silver lining behind that cloud. Or not.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.

Up

03/28/03: Space: The Penultimate Frontier
03/18/03: Hour of the Narc
03/07/03: Home entertainment tips for pinkos --- no joke!
02/28/03: When Anorexia is a good thing
02/21/03: Aussie invasion!
02/11/03: This museum of my dreams would be no accident
02/03/03: Hasn't 'reality TV' always been with us?
01/30/03: Get tougher?
01/21/03: Spinning through the 'newscycle'
01/16/03: "G" for verbal violence?
01/03/03: Farewell to novelty
12/23/02: Neo-frontiers
12/18/02: A nation of hypochondriacs?
12/11/02: Cursed
11/08/02: Good news for skateboarders looking to keep up with world events
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10/24/02: Snipers are people, too!
10/16/02: Hockey Therapy
10/08/02: Cupid, the parasite
10/03/02: How to have fun in Africa
09/30/02: If you are employed, you're part of the problem
09/25/02: "Up and comers," go away!
09/18/02: Collectibilitized
09/10/02: Monotone felons
08/20/02: Will we soon need a passport to get caviar, duc a la orange, or Polish sausage?
08/14/02: Law and Disorder --- and Starbucks
08/12/02: Rummy's monkey
08/05/02: Time for some real cultural heroes
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07/24/02: Voicemail heaven?
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07/09/02: Musicians' brains
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06/21/02: Life IS a movie?
06/19/02: Spreading fertilizer on a dictionary to try to raise a novel
06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
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06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/14/02: IN THIS CORNER SUSAN LUCCI AND STEPHANIE ZYMALIST!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/31/01: I COPY, THEREFORE I AM
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales