Some time travel questions

The problem I had with that show (and it’s the same problem I had with Quantum Leap) is that invariably the time-hop put the main character in a position where he had to Do The Right Thing. There was never even a slight hint of moral ambiguity in it, it’s as is the main character was locked on rails.

Fuck that shit. If I get bounced back to 1987, I intend to personally profit mightily. Plus I’ll be quietly killing certain people, if I can arrange it.

This is exactly what I’d do. Become a songwriter. My hits would keep me very comfortable and I’d host awesome parties with the best tunes, giant swimming pools and so forth in that manner.

did you watch the whole series, i mean all the episodes?

There was one episode that had the main guy doing the “right thing” on a personal level. Episodes 109 and 110. He did the selfish thing and it came back to bite him in the ass in the present day. It was a very interesting two episode arc. I agree, these shows are in some way based on “moral stories” but i think that’s the whole premise of the shows. You can’t get back to your own present if you don’t do the thing you were supposed to do/fix in the past. Just watch the whole series or at least the last 4 or 5 episodes, that’s when it got really good and then the series finale that was kinda cool.

But that’s just it - he gets punished, like there’s some big Karma gong that was just struck by Jaye P. Morgan.

And a better premise wouldn’t have this paint-by-numbers, connect-the-dots notion that there are things he was “supposed to do” to get a happy ending.

I admit, I’d given up by episode 3 or 4. Somewhere around the time he helped Dr. Phlox get over his gambling problem.

Your best bet would be to approach Steve Jobs with it. If not Steve Jobs then Bill Gates.

To those whinging about infrastructure. You haven’t contemplated the notion of how valuable knowing what infrastructure upgrades are coming down the pike and their timeline. You don’t have to be able to replicate it in that moment for it to be valuable, you have to know what’s coming and be able to jump on that shit as soon as it becomes available.

Did Jobs/Apple have any cash back then? I’d probably go to Gates.

Or the Soviets…

I simply would invest in CD walkmans that year for multimillion dollar payoff. Your nano device I would have hooked into a new fangled CD jukebox in the back room of my club-- music from the future, a dollar a song, 8 for $5, 10 for $8. The brand spanking new CD jukebox interface with your MP3’s playing it. Transcribe the hit music from these future hits. Start a band doing the cover music as originals…come out with the first time travel Pop band. The guys who wrote them would grow up hearing them as the top 40 of their childhood and that would inspire them musically to go on and make their music in that genre, and they would someday cover their own hit, but here’s the rub, would it sound exactly the same?

In the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married, Kathleen Turner collapses at her high school reunion and wakes up as herself in 1960. Among other things, she tries to help her boyfriend (and future husband) Nicholas Cage by giving him a song she’s “written” for his band – “She Loves You”. He thinks it’s okay, but needs some work. Cage starts singing “She Loves You” with the “yeah, yeah, yeahs” replaced with “oh, oh, oh”. (Apparently nothing ever comes of the song, and in the end it seems that it was all a dream anyway.)

I’m not sure if it would be possible to do something like beat the Beatles at their own game. But there are probably plenty of generic pop hits that would have been equally successful had they been performed by someone else at a different point in time (say selling Backstreet Boys songs to the New Kids on the Block) so I think there would still be big bucks to be made as a time-traveling “songwriter”. You’d need to pitch the songs to the right people though, which could be complicated.

This sounds even easier than trying to market the songs yourself, since you wouldn’t need to make any connections to the music industry and wouldn’t need to worry about finding the right artist or the right moment for the song to become a hit. It does seem somehow even more morally questionable though, and more importantly might be a greater disruption to the timeline. To take the Peggy Sue Got Married example, if “She Loves You” had been a hit for an American band in 1960 then the Beatles would have written some other song on their own and might have an equally big hit with it. But if the Beatles had been sued early in their career for “stealing” their hit from an unknown songwriter then that might have been the end of them.

On the other hand, in the first scenario you wind up with a timeline where no one is the original songwriter (Peggy Sue copied it from the Beatles, but altered the timeline in such a way that the Beatles then never wrote the song, so where did it come from?), whereas this problem is avoided in the latter scenario.

Heck, in that case, publish the song quietly and when it becomes a hit, say you’ll settle for 1% of the net profit, and agree to sign a confidentiality agreement. Do this with ten different hit songs by ten different performers, and you’ll do pretty well with minimal effect on the timeline.

But wouldn’t it just be too eerily odd for the actual song writer. Imagine, you spend the next week crafting a first-rate short story - likely drawing from your own experiences and insight. You send it off, and The New Yorker wants to publish it. Then you get a call that your twenty five pages already exist, word-for-word, published twenty years prior. Now, to The New Yorker, I suppose you - being the unknown - would look like a plagiarist. But YOU know something is extremely fishy. There’s no possible way you could accidentally reproduce something you felt yourself create word-by-word sentence at a time. You would have to track down this supposed original author.

Well, don’t make it word-for-word, note-for-note. Change your version, keeping it similar enough to make a credible case.

“Excuse me, Mr. Coolio, I can’t help but notice that your Gangsta’s Paradise infringes on my Mobster’s Heaven…”

The safest way to play things might be to write totally different lyrics for the song while keeping the music basically the same. When the original musicians denied ever having heard “your” song, you could argue that the similarities are too striking to be coincidental but concede that they probably didn’t intentionally plagiarize from you, they must have just heard the song and absorbed it subconsciously. You’d need to arrange for your version of the song to actually be released or at least played by a bar band a few times to make this plausible, but that shouldn’t be terribly difficult.

Something similar has happened at least once in real life, with the 1997 Rolling Stones song “Anybody Seen My Baby?” After recording this song but prior to its release, someone pointed out that it sounds suspiciously similar to k.d. lang’s 1992 “Constant Craving”. Mick Jagger was surprised because he said he was unfamiliar with the song, but later realized that his daughter had a k.d. lang CD and that he must have heard the song several times as part of the background noise at home. The Stones credited lang as co-writer on the song to avoid any potential lawsuit (lang reportedly said she was flattered to be considered an influence).