Hey, remember what happened on Tuesday? There was this big thing, and a bunch of people won, and a bunch of other people lost, and a bunch of OTHER people were really happy. Or sad. Or angry. And elated.
But in my opinion, the greatest winners of the original American Idol? Nerds. You got it: science, math, and all the beauty therein. Because while all the talking heads were talking with their heads, and the fighters were fighting, and the whiners whining, and the happy people happying, there was one nerd who calmly sat before his computer, staring into the blue pixelated light like a witch into a cauldron, running the same command over and over, reaching out and grabbing polls and opinions and multiplying and subtracting and weighing and balancing, adding newt’s eyes and a pinch of hair from a baby lemur born at 7 AM EST, until he came out with a full list of which states would vote how, and who would win.
His name is Nate Silver, and he is the latest, greatest example of that thing our parents told us over and over in the 80s: Oh, nerd of my loins, taker of abuse and spitballs and rolled eyes and scorn, you of the eyes and legs weakened by reading on the couch all day long, you lovers of Thomas Dolby and They Might Be Giants and Weird Al Yankovic, you who gets picked last in everything but Quiz Bowl: your day will come. Some day, these people who spit on you and scorn you, they will be looking back at these days as the best of their lives, and you: you, my weird offspring, will rule the world. You will be celebrated. And all this will be distant memory.
Yes, ladies and geekmen, our day has come. If looking good is the sweetest revenge, then Nate Silver is the king of the Tri-Lambs, because he looks amazing. He got every state right–every state–and called the game months ago, and never blinked at the detractors, because he had confidence in his algorithims. He depends upon his math, loves his puzzles, and I imagine that every time some new factor enters the equation–a hurricane, say–his eyes light up brighter than his flatscreens, and he calculates its impact, derives its derivations, and, I’d like to think, feeds it into a punchcard slot before a new roll of paper results comes pouring out. And the numbers add up, and he proves that math, and its slightly wackier cousin, science, aren’t just cold scratches on a chalkboard, soulless columns of numbers. They’re cold scratches on a chalkboard, and they have the soul and beauty of a Van Gogh.
And that, my friends, is poetry in motion.
(My only comment on the video is that I hope in future we are kinder to the mad scientists of today.)