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  • You want to have a happy new year, right? Ace prognosticator/idiot savant Max Entropy is back to tell you what to expect and how you can profit from it in his biennial blitz of preternatural predictions of the shape of things to come! It's time for you to wander off from the herd to seek new horizons. Put down that Forbes magazine. Pay no attention to Janice's Yellin'. If you're a PBS patron, stifle that snooze Orman. If you watch MSNBC, zap that clown Cramer and listen up.

    Bottom line on top: Max predicts that 2015 will be a very good year for a few, but a freaking disaster for most. If you want to be in the winners' circle, you best start getting your act together now. Max knows all, unlike some so-called experts. Eat your heart out, John Hodgman.

    But before we strike it rich this year, let's conduct a brief review of last year.
  • 2014 had more than its share of mishaps, beginning with the Polar Vortex sucking therms out of the US economy big-time by chilling retail sales, freezing housing starts, aborting fruit blossoms, and sending money that might have fueled local economies out peoples' chimneys.

    In politics, the year started with Rep. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey being hoist by his own petard off the George Washington Bridge and managing to turn it into a photo-op. It ended with millions of Americans voting against President Obama in a mid-term election in which he wasn't running. In between, the US Congress sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act dozens of times, and on numerous occasions voted to not enforce it and other federal statutes.

    In commerce, multitudes adopted paying for purchases with mobile apps, the most convenient way ever invented to compromise personal data and ruin credit ratings. In West Virginia, an eruption of nasty chemicals from a water processing plant made millions for purveyors of bottled water. Corporations all over refrained from hiring, increasing wages, and updating facilities, and instead spent their surplus cash buying back their own stock.

    In high tech, many people put their heads in the cloud and shared their personal facts and were rewarded with the FBI asking to friend them on Facebook. Let's not even count the Sony Pictures employees whose purloined identities got auctioned off to the highest bidder (could that have been the NSA?). Speaking of which, despite Edward Snowden's continuing revelations and congressional investigations, it's still business as usual there. All in all, it was a great year for cyber security consultants, and it's not too late to invest in such companies.
  • Do you notice a theme here? Every disaster has a silver lining. Max spelled it out when he said, "Identify people who have the naïve belief that crisis = danger + opportunity, and beat them at their own game." If bottlers are selling lots of drinking water to folks who have no choice, invest in bottle-making plants. If Target or Nordstrom sloughs off your precious data, find a trial lawyer and initiate a class action suit. If a company's workers are being short-changed and laid off, sell them shirts that say "My boss got options on 175,000 shares of our stock and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

    Whatever places a tornado touches or a hurricane blows through will need to rebuild. Wherever rivers overflow their banks, ruined personal possessions will get replaced. When banks foreclose, homeless families will pay rents or buy tents.

    Someone will sell these goods during the aftermath. That could be you.

    That's the macro lens you should be using to view 2015, concerning which...
  • What unfortunate events loom this year that can wind your clock? They won't be hard to find, Max predicts, and many will seem familiar.

    • As ice caps melt, consider selling flotation devices and snowmaking equipment to Eskimos. Of course, they'll also need air conditioners and generators to keep their igloos intact.
    • As prolonged drought grips the West Coast and Southwest regions, your investments in bottle producers will redouble.
    • As transportation disasters continue to make headlines, people will be wary of riding on public and private conveyances, so invest in companies offering travel insurance.
    • As identity theft continues to surge, act now. Buy a few terabytes of personal information on the gray market (at ridiculously low prices) and launch a chain of Credentials R Us stores. Direct ownership or franchising – it's your happy choice.
    • Why should Wall Street insiders have all the fun? Get a hold of some creative bean counters who can fabricate derivative investments on upward-trending assets, such as financial service industry bonuses, honeybees, or Cuban cigars, and start to pyramid profits by peddling them to seniors. Bet against your customers for double the fun.
    • Speaking of Cuba, as soon as trade with the socialist paradise opens up, be there to snap up vintage American automobiles from cash-strapped Cubans and resell them to US collectors at a premium.
  • If you're just not all that entrepreneurial, fine. Launching a risky business isn't for everyone. So save up your lunch money by eating expired packaged food, baking bread, and making your own yogurt and peanut butter, and invest what you save in promising startups like:

    • ElectroPedic – Maker of smart insoles that sense shoe wear and weight distribution, and punish you with electric shocks to your feet when you're not striding straight and narrow. There's also an option that tingles your tootsies whenever you exceed your target weight. Insider info: the next-gen model will connect via Bluetooth to your phone's GPS to help you approach a destination by pulsing one foot when you need to make a left or right turn or both feet if you get lost and need to turn around.
    • Purine – An EPA-approved tube-shaped water purifier with a 0.5-liter reservoir that you wear inside your undies. It processes your pee into totally portable potable water, for when you're on the go and you gotta go or just can't take time for refreshment. Male and female input adapters included. Optional chiller module available.
    • Toadify – Inspired by the no-nonsense Mr. Toad character from Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead comics, this $1.95 self-help app uses neurolinguistic programming techniques to teach you how to identify and profit from un-self-aware individuals. Its patent-pending 13-step methodology will transmogrify you from a saccharine well-wisher into a cynical manipulator of gullible consumers. Each step sells for only $9.95.

      What are you waiting for, everyone? Don't loll around while the Koch brothers acquire monopolies in essential products, services, and politicians. Wherever there's action, stir things up a little more. The mass destruction, chaos, and misery this year promises to unload on the planet can mean money in the bank for those who follow Max's lead. Isn't that special?

    Max wishes you a very happy, opportune and rewarding New Year. He leaves you with some choice words of inspiration from the redoubtable Mr. Toad.

    @image 1: The Fortune Teller (1599) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), oil on canvas, collection Musée du Louvre, Paris, France. Source:
    @image 2: Tales of Toad comic book by Bill Griffith, Print Mint, Berkeley CA, 1970. © 2002-2011 Bill Griffith. Reproduced by permission of Bill Griffith.
    @image 3: Selected episodes of Zippy the Pinhead featuring Mr. Toad. Copyright © 2002-2011 Bill Griffith. Reproduced by permission of Bill Griffith.

    © 2015 by Max Entropy. All rights reserved. All left to ponder.
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