Could This Be the Year of the Jackpot?

Could This Be the Year of the Jackpot?

Robert Heinlein was an American science fiction writer back in the middle of the last century.  He was considered one of the best writers during what used to be called the “golden age” of science fiction because he wrote sf that kept the science front and center.  If he wrote about interplanetary nuclear-powered rockets, he made sure the physics was legitimate.

But he also wrote less realistic stories that involved more fantastic types of plots.  He wrote one short story called “The Year of the Jackpot” in which a statistician was examining an enormous number of trends such as sunspot activity, bank failures, extreme weather conditions, bankruptcies, crime, war and other more esoteric data.  And what he discovered was that all the various trends were headed for unusual maxima and minima at precisely the same time.  And what he predicted was that every bad thing was about to happen all at once.

And of course, that included nuclear war, invasion, plagues, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes.  So, he ducks into a well-stocked remote cabin with his girlfriend and a conveniently found milk cow that wanders by and survives the year of the jackpot.  Of course, just as the story ends, he realizes the biggest jackpot of all is the sun going nova.  Bummer.

Now this is silly season science fiction.  It’s the kind of story that Rod Serling would have put on the Twilight Zone (if he could have afforded to pay the kind of royalties that Heinlein would have wanted for his story to be adapted for television).  But it’s also true that sometimes when things start going wrong, they synergize even more misfortune until you end up with a real disaster.  Take for instance the Dust Bowl.  The financial conditions of the Great Depression aggravated the need of farmers to overuse their soil to try to keep up on their mortgages and ended up destroying their farms and exacerbating the erosion that was already taking place.  And the dislocation of all these farmers heading to California further damaged the economy.  The weather conditions that increased the problem were probably just random but put together they seemed like some kind of biblical plague.

Now look at our situation.  Back in 2001 we have the 9-11 attacks and that catalyzes the start of two big wars and a bunch of smaller ones.  Then we have the banking crisis of 2008 and that catalyzes an even bigger disaster, namely the presidency of Barack Obama.  And he begins the process of weaponizing the federal government against the citizens of the United States.  And that radicalizing of the Deep State may be responsible for things like the program that created the COVID virus and the mRNA vaccines and definitely the Ukraine war and all the other color revolutions spawned at the CIA and State Department.

And all these consequences seem to be resonating and catalyzing each other and making things worse and worse.  And from there it’s not a big leap to wonder if the whole thing ends up in a Year of the Jackpot climax.  And it wouldn’t be much different from Heinlein’s.  Coincidentally his make-believe world was suffering from transgender couples, bioweapons, horrendous rains and snowfall in California and other climate anomalies such as we’ve been seeing this winter.  And Joe Biden and Anthony Blinken have been working overtime to see if they can add a full nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States just to make sure we don’t miss out on any part of the story.

Now I don’t at all believe that the universe has some built in clock that coordinates all the good and bad “trends” so that a year of the jackpot is some kind of inevitable event.  I’m fully aware that human actions are plenty enough cause for all of the chaos and dysfunction we see around us.  In fact, it’s obvious that a lot of the chaos is intentional and has very discernible motives around consolidating power and accumulating money.

But I’ll tell you one thing.  There is such a thing as luck, good and bad.  And our luck has been running on the very bad side for a good long time.  Maybe a little prayer for divine intercession wouldn’t be out of line.

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Neil Dunn
Neil Dunn
6 months ago

And today 3/14 is pi day–>cycles in play?

Bigus Macus
Bigus Macus
6 months ago

I had not read this before, thanks Here’s a link to a pdf of the story.
Heinlein, Robert A – Year of the Jackpot (

6 months ago

I tried to calculate 52 factorial on my calculator and it broke! Not really but there is no reason for a number like 8.08 x 10^67th to exist unless you want to know how many proton and neutrons exist in the entire universe.

Actually you do occasionally use something that number when calculating the odds of winning the lottery. If I remember correctly the odds of winning a 55 digit lottery with 6 (non-repeatable) picks is something like 55!/(49!*6!).

Last edited 6 months ago by TomD