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Playing the meta-game

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johnhattan

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Funny conversation last weekend at the DFW Ethical Fellowship meeting. It happened when Terri mentioned to another member that I was entering the McDonalds contest a thousand times. . .

Member: Wow. A thousand times? What's the prize?
Me: Oh, I don't care.

At that point, I realized that I actually didn't know or care what the prizes were. I'm strictly in it to scrape up the BB credit and sell the unpeeled tickets.

Going a step further than WOPR's maxim at the end of Wargames, not only is the only way to win not to play, but not playing is the only way to guarantee a win.

I checked the odds last year, and they were pretty horrible. It was something like 75,000 to 1 against you winning even the smallest prize (somesuch MP3 player as I recall). If I peel the 4,000 tickets that are marching to my door even as you read this (I hope), then I'll get more free Big Macs than I could possibly eat before the deadline and/or I die of a massive coronary. There's a chance that I'll get that almost 18 billion-to-one ticket that wins the free Dodge Viper, but the odds are only slightly less statistically insignificant than if I don't peel any tickets at all.

That is to say, the difference between 4000/17836429305 and 0/17836429305 isn't much.

Now then, if I sell the tickets, pristine, unpeeled, and worth their weight in gold, then I get money. Guaranteed money. Money in the bank. Money in my pocket. Not ebaying-that-new-Viper-I-won money, but money just the same. And Best Buy credit that will be used to buy pointless trinkets that give me the short-lived endorphin rush that all males experience when they buy a shiny new electronical toy.

So I'm not playing the game. I'm playing the game that lives outside the game. I'm investing in the casino rather than gambling in it. The possible returns aren't as high, but they're guaranteed.

And I like money. Money can indeed buy happiness, and I can guarantee that the guy who coined the phrase that says otherwise didn't own a flatscreen LCD monitor that he paid for with McDonald's points.
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