Saturday, December 26, 2009

WS to IL: "YOUR Turn to Step Up!"

I've been known to clip an article -- or two (!) -- out of the newspaper.

This sometimes leads to organizational challenges. (What to do, for instance, with the great article on Russia's introduction of Cyrillic web domain names?.)

But the really good clippings help tie the world together neatly. For instance, when the end of the year comes, I reach the last pages of my desk calendar, and I discover a folded up clipping from a year ago -- William Safire's annual "Office Pool" column. You know the one I'm talking about -- the virtuoso column in which Safire would show that he not only knew how to comment on last week's news, but could do a pretty good job of predicting what would happen for the next twelve months!

Every prediction, like the one below from "Office Pool, 2009", was in the form of a multiple-choice question:

Toughest foreign affairs challenge will come if:
  1. Afghanistan becomes "Obama's War" or "Obama's Retreat"
  2. Iraq backslides into chaos after too-early U.S. withdrawal
  3. Depressed Russia moves on Ukraine
  4. India-Pakistan fighting breaks out

Safire, always a mensch, would step up to the plate and indicate his predictions at the end of each year's column . . . thus setting the stage for him to lead off the next year's installment with crowing or crow-eating, depending on his success. (I was always happy if I could even come close to his success rate.)

Alas, we lost William Safire this year, and there will be no "Office Pool, 2010." Of course, if we really wanted to honor him, we would step up to the plate ourselves and -- perhaps in the spirit of the Lexicographic Irregulars? -- swarm over the problem, providing a Web 2.0-sourced "Office Pool, 2010" of our own!

For me, doing so feels particularly irresistable, since it is nearly certain that any Safire-produced "Office Pool, 2010" would have contained at least one question about developments here in Illinois.

So . . . perhaps I'll take the first crack at it . . . .

Office Pool, 2010

In the year's most hotly-contested Senate-seat battle, Illinois voters:
  1. will turn out in droves to elect a "whip-smart do-gooder" who is all experience and no baggage
  2. will finally turn their backs on the politics of PAC money once and for all
  3. will turn off the Blagojevich trial and tune in to the Cubs instead
  4. will adopt a new state song
  5. all of the above

Well now . . . I think I know how that question is going to end up! (Maybe this prediction-writing business isn't so hard after all?)

What about you? Are you ready to step up in 2010?