Here in the U.K., everybody’s going crazy over Britain’s Olympic Heroes, and with good reason. But Team GB’s performance wasn’t that surprising; they won slightly more golds than predicted, but a few fewer medals overall. A tremendous performance, but not an unexpected one.
So, which nations did pull off a shock? Who exceeded their supposed limitations, and more important, who completely screwed up? We jammed three sets of predictions (from Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and Sports Myriad) into a spreadsheet, worked out the averages, then compared them to COLD, HARD REALITY. Each nation was then assigned a Grantland Scientific Prediction Versus Reality Score (or GSPVRS). You can see the results here. As is right and proper, gold medals carry twice the weight of lesser baubles.
You wouldn't want to party with him, but at least the Grim Reaper has a sense of irony. Not 24 hours after the death of Czech dissident-turned-president Vaclav Havel, possibly the greatest anti-Communist revolutionary of the 20th century, we learned North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, the last Stalinist standing, had reached his final (iron) curtain. The symmetry is being noted by many. Havel's life was dedicated to piercing the upside-down disreality perpetrated by Soviet Communism — his slogan was "may truth and love triumph over lies and hatred" — and he's definitely the only world leader to say, "I'm even secretly persuaded that if Kafka did not exist, and if I were a better writer than I am, I could've written his works.” For his part, Kim Jong Il dressed up the Kafka-esque in platform boots and a bad bouffant, starving his people under the slogan "Prosperous and Powerful Nation" while telling them he could make the weather change with his moods and shoot a 38-under par round of golf.