THREADSTER is a weekly column written by reader @tomsayingthings that examines the conspiracy theories being passed around PredictIt’s discussion boards, and how you can profit by seeing through them. If you would like to submit a column, DM Keendawg.
Ah, the New Year! A fresh start for everyone and a time to commit to self-improvement. We’re sure every single threadster declared the same New Year’s resolution: no more shit-talk. Tempting as invective may be, nothing but brotherhood and good wishes from now on!
Research shows the median life-span of a New Year’s resolution is 12 days, but after only two days a good number of threadsters had already thrown-in the towel. The breakdown came in a debate about who will win the Texas Democratic Primary, amid a serious discussion about why Julian Castro flamed out. There was no gloating, and the only even obliquely nasty thing anyone did was comparing Castro to Beto O’Rourke. We’re not sure who gets the worse of that comparison, but somebody should be pissed.
It all seemed very under control until, like a bride-to-be abandoning her wedding diet to dive face-first into the wedding planner’s sheet cake sample, out of nowhere came the following exchange:
So, a new New Year’s resolution: embrace your anger. And remember, in any case, that Trump is not a pig, or a donkey, or even a cockroach. He’s an Australian cane toad, a species known to mount females flattened and sun-baked on the highway, along with snakes, lizards, salamanders, mice, and even slow-moving birds. And if the toad is famous, he gets away with it.
SCHADENFREUDE, THY NAME IS BREXIT
Admit it: we’re Americans and we enjoy Great Britain’s misfortune. We have since Yorktown. We make noises of sympathy, but inside we’re giggling at their silly accents and wondering if Queen Elizabeth is still alive or just pickled like Lenin.
Of course, for the last couple of years Brits have entertained us arguing whether they’re part of Europe. That issue was settled here in the US-of-A years ago, at least according to Mrs. Augustine, the 4th grade slow-learners’ social studies teacher at my grade school. Freddie Brinkman, the class-clown, kept interrupting her geography lesson to insist England and those little countries orbiting around it couldn’t be part of Europe because they’re an island. The boy didn’t stop until she put her sensibly shod foot down.
Young Freddie, as it happens, bore a striking resemblance to Boris Johnson. They share important attributes: the belief that England is not part of Europe, an inability to discern the line between fun and embarrassment, and an uninhibited approach to hair.
Anyway, from the opening of the Brexit market to today, options on a February 1 break have gone nowhere but up, and the end is now in sight. “Yes” shares are firm at 91-cents and “no” purchases appear limited to the kind of dead-end suckers who help the rest of us cut our losses. The commentary has all the attributes of a death watch for NO holders. Threadsters abandoned the depressing subject-at-hand in favor of bitter exchanges that seemed destined to devolve into a demonstration of the PredictIt Corollary of Godwin’s Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability that it will became an argument about Hillary Clinton approaches 1.
But then, a miracle: an on-subject comment that – we’re not ashamed to say – changed our lives. OutofTownJasper points out what seems, now that he mentions it, obvious: “This bet leaves a very small window for any delay, and I suspect there will be a slight delay at least, so my vote is against Brexit by 2/1.”
Gadzooks! Severing a complicated bureaucratic relationship with hyper-efficient nations like France and Italy could, conceivably, take a few hours longer than planned. The deadline falls on a Friday, and who among us doubts the possibility that, sleepy from lunch on the last day of the betting period, everyone will agree to knock-off and finish-up on Monday. If that happens, the current 11-cent option would be an astonishingly good bet.
IF IT’S A SHITSHOW YOU WANT…
Among the markets opened for 2020 is a group of will-he-testify speculations. Mulvaney, McGahn, Giuliani, Bolton, Schiff, and Sleepy Joe all have Senate testimony markets resolving March 31, and the outcome depends entirely on whether the Majority Leader decides hear-no-evil is a politically expedient strategy. A crucial detail is that the markets resolve “yes” only if the person of interest testifies publicly to the Senate – subcommittees and closed-door sessions don’t count. It’s got to be a partisan melee in a big room with lots of cameras and Lindsey Graham fanning himself on a fainting couch.
The conventional wisdom had been that Leader Yertle (nee McConnell) would never allow that, but then John Bolton and his Moustache of Doom expressed a desire to testify and the Bolton market moved 12-cents in a few hours.
“If he (Bolton) wants to testify and Moscow Mitch won’t let him do it in the Senate,” opines game theorist William_Brennan, who is apparently not the deceased Supreme Court justice, “then he will sing like MICHAEL Bolton in the House where McConnell has even less control of the process. If John Bolton wants to talk then it makes more sense for McConnell to let him do it in the Senate where he has more strings to pull.”
We appreciate Mr. Brennan emphasizing “MICHAEL” so we will not miss his extremely subtle wordplay, but we’re not cruel enough to wish MICHAEL Bolton’s cultural appropriation on anyone, even Congress. MICHAEL will have to keep a safe distance. We like to imagine him forever emoting two shows a night at the Boxcar Willie Theater in Branson, Missouri.
One imagines if JOHN Bolton gets his wish the dam holding back both relevant and irrelevant witnesses will burst. Dems will want Hair Club for Men before models Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani; Republicans will demand in exchange Shifty Schiff and however many members of the Biden Family they can name off the tops of their heads.
For now, the only moving will-he-testify market is Bolton’s. Is it conceivable that Bolton is a one-off? Hard to tell, but it feels to us like the key isn’t if, it’s when. My take: the dam will break, but in Congress-years March 31 is, like, two days from now. Check back in April.
Don “Plausible Deniability” McGahn is, by the way, a lower-priced “yes” than the others, because, as Jaybako points out in the Will Don McGahn Testify in the Senate thread, “The current articles of impeachment have nothing to do with him. Does everyone understand everything that has to happen before we see McGahn testimony in a Senate trial? No way it gets accomplished by 3/31. This (“no” at 91-cents) is free money.”
Perhaps, but Szamlat and d_oracle over on the Will Rudy Giuliani Testify in the Senate page are leveraging their apparent self-esteem deficits to create a win-win scenario. Their underlying assumption appears to be that whatever they pick will be wrong, so what the hell. They might as well bet on the opposite of what they really want.
Indeed: what a spectacle. Almost makes one yearn for the quiet dignity of the Kavanaugh hearings.
Follow @TomSayingThings on Twitter where he almost never talks about anything interesting.