Thursday, July 02, 2009

Life is Not Smooth. It is Filled with Kinks, Which Makes It a Marvelous Spectator Sport

<span class=

Nate Silver, the FiveThirtyEight political numbers guru, who some of us were previously acquainted with because of his esoteric work with baseball statistics, explains today that he became interested in politics only a couple of years ago. Turns out he was supplementing his baseball numbers-crunching biz by playing poker online for money.

This online gaming came to the attention of Congressional bluenoses. They concocted a bill to stop it, which they velcroed to the bottom off an unrelated bill.

(F)ollowing the debate over the (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 ) was one of the primary motivators that got me into politics. It took a "dirty trick" -- attaching it to an unrelated conference report that couldn't possibly be voted down -- to get (it) to become law, although then again, this was undertaken partly in response to another "dirty trick", which was the process of anonymous holds that was preventing the bill from coming to a floor vote in the Senate (where it would probably have passed on its own merits). I found the whole process of watching the sausage getting made alarming -- but also utterly fascinating. Without poker -- and without that bill -- there probably wouldn't have been any FiveThirtyEight.

What did Hamlet say? By indirections we find directions out? If I hadn't taken an education class my junior year of college that involved observing an eighth grade classroom once a week and if I hadn't been afraid of eighth graders as a result, I would never have applied to grad school, which I did not to pursue a career but to avoid having to begin one for as long as I could.

And if E. hadn't missed supper that same year and asked me to drive to the Outpost Cafe to pick up a little something for her to eat -- and thus tipped the balance between hesitation and yearning with which I regarded her -- I might never have *claimed my reward* for fetching that meal (the reward being a date to go to the movies).

I'm not saying everything in life is contingent, just more than we think. I don't believe in destiny, you see, that soporific compounded of vanity and excuse.

I don't believe in luck either, but I know it when I see it.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Peter Moore said...

I've recently been Facebooked by a bunch of high school friends. People I was sort of close to but really haven't had any contact with in 30-35-40 years. I see their lives and interests reflected in their pages and think, there but for the grace of me goes me. A sample quote "missed cousins grad party due to a last minute meeting with a man about a boat...the good news is we finally has boat!" This was a woman that I lusted after as a teen. Who married a friend. Divorced. And now has a boat. Lives five minutes (maybe less) from her parent's house.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I wonder what "accidents" robbed you of middle-class life in Pittsburgh? But now you are like Chef in South Park, with one or two differences.