I was thinking some more about the column John Tierney wrote on the NYT op-ed page in which he announced he had made a $5,000 bet with the Matthew Simmons, author of a new doom-and-gloom book on oil prices, that oil would not average at least $200 per barrel in 2010. At the time, I asked, obtusely:
How come Tierney finds these suckers and I don't? I tried to bet Michael Barone $1,000 last year that Hispanic turnout would be closer to my estimate of 6.1% of the total vote than his 9% speculation (according to the Census Bureau, it was 6.0%), but Barone prudently shied away.
What I realize now is that the author of the book was simply buying a NYT op-ed column (back when they were given away free on the Internet) and the attendant publicity for $5,000. When promoting a book, there's no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Simmons has already made back his five grand in speaker's fees.
So, the closing of the NYT op-ed pages to nonsubscribers opens up a market niche for me to exploit. Please allow me to introduce the iSteve.com "Bogus Bad Bet" service. The concept is simple and open to anybody with something to promote. All you do is make up a bet with the odds ridiculously in my favor, I will take your bet, give our wager lots of publicity, and, eventually, collect your money. All on the up-and-up!