Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth with Gory Consequences

I didn’t watch the Oscars, but last night as I was surfing for the news before going to bed (obviously, as this practice would indicate, I’m not one to subscribe to the “never go to bed angry” philosophy) I read that Al Gore had won an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth. If true, I should think this Oscar would most conveniently favor achieving stricter environmental regulations, a cause most noble, though I’m not sure it would have any effect on Gore’s possible Nobel.

Last night, in relation to the news of the Oscar, with the memory of the 2000 election still anchored in my brain, I advised myself to keep in mind that the category of “things Al Gore won” is one of the trickier ones. It is worthy of far more skepticism than, say, “things Kelly Clarkson won” (American Idol circa 2002) though still a tad more objectively grounded in public and/or media consensus than that of “wars America is winning.” I cautioned myself for the need to be open to the possibility that by morning the Supreme Court might have ruled that Gore had not won the Oscar after all. I am glad to report that this appears not to be the case.

There is no doubt some mysterious algorithm used to calculate the probability of different outcomes for these competitions. I know nothing of such mathematical matters (except that Fox News never calculates in base 10 and its computers don't use binary, only monetary, code). I will thus leave all calculations to the statisticians. Still (with the possible exception of the Democratic Congressional victory, though it remains to be seen whether they will actually do—or, and perhaps more essentially, undo or prevent from having done—anything) it seems to me that some kind of inversely proportionate relationship weighing the variables “importance of outcome,” “concrete or symbolic nature of outcome” and “actual outcome” has perversely determined the results of all sorts of contests ever since the turn of the century—what I sadly refer to as the turn of the screwed.

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