Sure, you love kids, so you gleefully punched out one, two or even octo-quantities of them. (Hint: Almost as many as a nine-round ammo clip.) But then, like a baby chick a few days after Easter Sunday, they stick around and are always underfoot, demanding attention and care.
It’s not like you can make a chicken-and-egg scrambled omelet with them and viola! Problem deliciously solved! (Although an amazing number of parents do find a way to carry out filicide but that’s decidedly outside the scope of this post.)
Like the vast majority of my blog posts, it all started when I decided to set foot out of my house…
Looking for some dinner my wife and I drove into the parking lot of the divey Chinese restaurant. The lot was amazingly full. What gives? The food must be awesome here, eh?
But when we walked into the dining area, only two tables were occupied. Huh?
That’s when I slapped my head and yelled, “D’oh!” I almost forgot I live in Oregon. That’s where they have a state-run lottery and run a continuous stream of commercials urging the citizenry to go out and gamble because doing so accomplishes “good things.” (Like increasing revenue into state coffers.)
Sure, they simultaneously run anti-gambling ads but that’s only because they like a mixed-up, dazed and confused populace. Let’s blast ’em with a hot mix of pro-gambling and anti-gambling messages … at the same time, they seem to be saying whilst rubbing their hands together in glee. That’ll learn ’em a lesson!
Indeed. What’s not good for the individual is apparently good for the state.
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My day job is negativist. In my spare time I try to earn some scrillas for survival. After that, the bulk of the remainder of my time is spent philosophizing and inventing. And pondering the ways of love. And packing lots and lots of boxes.
What I’m saying is I invented a new gambling game and I’m giving it to the world for free. In that way I’m just like the fellow that found the cure to polio and didn’t try to exploit it for big bucks.
Yeah, we need more gambling, so I hope this catches on.
Like most of my inventions, necessity turned out to be one fantastic mother. And, like most of our most harrowing tales, it all started one Christmas not too many years ago…
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With the invention of The Lotto, the government become a bookie. The state is now a purveyor of legalized gambling. Proponents tie the organization to positive benefits like funding schools and other governmental activities like parks.
But where does that money come from? People who gamble, methinks.
Governments have turned gambling into, what I like to call, “unfair taxation of the stupid.”
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Quick. You have to quicheck this quiout before it is too quilate!
Hurry, there are only a matter of seconds left. Act fast or you will lose!
Are you ready for QuiBids???
Johnny, tell ’em what they are playing for!
Product: Nikon D5000 Camera & Lens
Description: “The D5000’s 24-fps HD D-Movie mode with sound captures video clips with amazing clarity–offering new and exciting creative opportunities.”
Value Price: $699.00.
Opening Bid: 2 cents (Holy mother of God and WTF?)
What in the name of an aborted eBay is going on here?
Yep, just when you thought shopping was too easy and simple, along comes QuiBids, to capitalize on shopping excitement and cash in on basic human traits like addiction, compulsion, greed, and competition.
If you haven’t heard of QuiBids before, here’s how it works.
First, you sign up as a member and fork over your credit card data and purchase a “Starter Account” consisting of 100 “bids” for $60.00. This entitles you to visit the QuiBids site and click the “Bid” button 60 times. In other words, each bid costs you 60 cents.
If you bid on an item, like a iMac computer, for $35.54 and no one outbids you, you win the item. QuiBids brags about auctions like this iMac and the “95% saved” right on their web site. Just go pay the amount of the winning bid, in this case $35.54, and a shiny new iMac computer is yours.
Whoa! Hold on. This isn’t your grandparent’s eBay. Things work just a skosh differently on QuiBids.
First, win or lose, every time you click that “Bid” button you are spending money. You are giving up one of your pre-paid “Bids.” Think of “Bids” like poker chips in a casino. Just like a casino, QuiBids wants you to disassociate your actions from how you would feel if you were paying real money. Imagine if that “Bid” button read “Pay 60 Cents” instead. That wouldn’t do at all, would it?
Second, actions never end until 20 seconds have elapsed without bids. And every time you click the “Bid” button new seconds are put back on the clock to give other people the chance to outbid you. If you are a veteran auction sniper then QuiBids is a wet dream for you. The entire system is based on sniping.
So, let’s take a look at how a typical auction works.
The one that caught my eye today was that Nike D5000 Camera. I stumbled across it when the auction was at $22.00. QuiBids had my attention (to say the least).
I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday, though. I smelled danger. If something seems too good to be true it usually is. I went looking for the catch. There always is one.
The catch is the two points I just explained above. Each bid costs 60 cents and each bid extends the clock. Additionally each bid raises the new bid amount by the increment for the item, which is shown in the corner of the image. On the Nikon D5000 the bidding increment is 2 cents.
It has now been hours since I first spotted that camera. The wife and I literally showered and went downtown for lunch and came back home. The action is still running!
The current bid amount is $91.24. Still a good deal on a $699 camera, right?
Ah, my favorite part the post has arrived. It’s time for some math!
According to the QuiBids video I just watched, all items are listed at $0.00 and have a bid increment. Let’s say we want to calculate QuiBid’s profit on an item. After all, they are entitled to a little something for services rendered and managing the auction, right?
SOLD PRICE / BIDDING INCREMENT * BID COST = PROFIT$$$
Let’s plug in the numbers for the Nikon D5000 I’m watching right now. Yes, it has gone up in price as I composed this post.
$93.00 / $.02 * $.60 = $2,790.00
Profit??? Indeed! Not a bad amount to collect in fees on an item that retails for $699.00. Don’t forget that the wholesale cost for the item is probably closer to $400. (That’s a wild ass guess on my part.)
QuiBids has got to gets paid, yo. Skillz to pay the billz.
Let’s look at one more auction that just closed. The item is “Dragon Cinch Sunglasses.” The so-called “value price” is $74.95. The bidding increment was 2 cents and the item sold for $1.52. Even on this laughably puny auction QuiBids still pocketed $45.60 in bidding fees. Wow! (The wholesale cost on the item might have been around $45.)
But Wait, There’s More
Even if you lose the auction, QuiBids isn’t content to let you, the bidding fish, off the hook so easily. So you can apply the value of your bids wasted in a losing effort towards “Buy It Now.” In other words, if you entered 10 bids on an item but still lost the auction, just go buy the item and convert those wasted bids into a $6.00 credit off the retail price. A win-win. Or, as QuiBids describes it on their web site, “This way there is no bid that is ever wasted on QuiBids.” Of course that assumes every auction loser goes and pays full price.
Basic Human Pyschology
I previously mentioned human traits like “greed” and “addiction.” How does QuiBids push these buttons?
First, every bidder has a username and a cutsey little avatar to represent them in this QuiBids version of Tron.
Each time you click the “Bid” button your name gets flashed on the screen as the “Current Winner.” Oooooh, I just “won” something? Yes, the right to see your own username on your monitor for 1-20 seconds or so. Exciting, eh?
The current high bidder is always referred to as a “winner” whether the auction is over or not. I find that to be rather insidious.
When QuiBids says someone is the “Current Winner” they are hoping (and knowing) that people will key on the word “winner” even though in the context “Current” is the only word with any actual meaning. 99% of all bids will be outbid and that’s the moment when “winners” become “losers.” Gee whiz, for the life of me, I can’t imagine why they don’t flash that on the screen. D’oh.
To emphasize even more that QuiBids is merely a game there is even something called “Achievements.” You’ll find this word gets its own real estate on the site’s main menu bar. Once clicked, you’ll be taken to a page with subtle hints like a giant scoreboard (is QuiBids a sport?) and the word “Gameday” written on it. Using the achievements system you can earn little graphics called “Badges” that your competitors can see with your online profile. This allows QuiBids customers to identify which competitors are the biggest idiots. But the pyschology at work is still significant. “Let’s turn spending bids on QuiBids into game.”
This is sounding more and more like a casino, isn’t it. Perhaps QuiBids should be legally required to disclose that bidding is for “entertainment purposes only.” Just like a stripper pole, only there you actually get something.
Closing Thoughts – A Peek Behind the Curtain
In the end, QuiBids is just another form of gambling. Somehow online casinos are outlawed and even games like Holdem Poker have to be hosted on shady criminal islands so that compulsive Americans can illegally gamble. But QuiBids has found a way to make it all legal. I think. I’m not really sure if it’s legal or not. The fact that it’s online doesn’t prove shit.
Welp, I’d like to say that I’ll see you all next time but the truth is I’ll be gone from the blog for a while. I’m investing next month’s rent check into QuiBids. Wish me luck!
P.S. That Nikon D5000 auction is still going and at $103.96. I bet it goes longer than the Energizer bunny!
I recently found myself at a Native American gaming facility. (Is that preferable to “Indian Casino” or does it make a difference?) After parking my keister in front of an idiotic machine for a few hours of “entertainment” I walked away with a 10 percent increase in my net worth. (No, I didn’t make a mistake here. I didn’t mean to say “bankroll.” I literally mean my net worth.)
In other words I started with $20 and and ended up with $22. Now that is ROI, baby. Woot.
The penny slot machine I was playing would pay about $1,800 if you hit the “progressive” jackpot while playing at least five lines. That’s five cents a spin. A little rich for my blood but I tried it for a while. And to cut any sense of drama short, no, I did not land a “jackpot” for the first time in my life.
To win the jackpot one must score the special symbol on all three wheels and on the same payline at the same time. I naturally found myself curious about the odds.
That wheel looked big. The don’t tell you exactly how big so I can only guess. I estimated that it might have 20 to 100 locations on it. Yes, the blank spots between the artwork count, too, those snarky bastards.
If the wheels had 20 spots I calculated the odds of a jackpot at one in 8,000. No way. That’s way too low.
How did I calculate that? It’s easy. Just multiply 20 (the estimated number of spots per wheel) by itself three times (the number of wheels). 20 times 20 times 20 equals 8,000. Viola!
If the wheels have 50 spots the odds jumped to 1 in 125,000. Now we’re getting somewhere.
If the wheels have 80 spots the odds are an astronomical 1 in 512,000. That’s approximately one jackpot in every half million spins. In other words, if I visited the casino and did 3,000 spins per day, it would take me, on average, about 170 days to get a jackpot. Since I only go to the casino about four times a year, that works out to be about 42 years at my current rate of play.
I’m not holding my breath. 🙂
By the way, the calculations above assume that the slot machine is “fair.” In other words, that the odds of the special symbol showing up is really the same as every other space on the wheel. I have no idea of knowing if that is true or not. Something tells me that in this era of computer-generated outcomes on gaming machines that the mathematics won’t work out just like that. Shouldn’t the operators of gaming machines be required to tell you the odds?
Here comes the awkward segue…
I have two kitty cats. I’m in charge of scooping doody duty. We initially bought a plastic scoop. It turns out that thing is literally a piece of shit. If I could somehow find the people who made that thing (AKA the people who got my money) I’d have a thing or two to tell them. I imagine I might find them in China.
Anywho, we decided we had gone cheap on the wrong household tool. The plastic scoop was literally falling apart. My wife and I tried, during the span of a few months, to hit the local pet store when we were out on the town. The store was always closed. Nothing ever seemed to work out.
Yesterday, however, we went in our separate ways. Later in the day when we met back in the house, we both had a shiny new metal scooper. After months of wanting one somehow it worked out that we both bought one on the very same day.
I found myself thinking, “What in the hell are the odds of that?” Assuming there are 363 days in a year (the pet store is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) and there are only two of us, the equation to calculate these odds is: 365 times 365 = 131,769.
Something tells me instead of a damn pooper scooper we should have purchased lotto tickets yesterday.