12 July 2010

Spain's Victory Predicted by Spiritual Slimeball

I predicted Spain to win on June 13th in Conversations@Intersections. Check! I really did. But then, I know as much about football/soccer as an octopus does.

Wait a minute! You've heard the story, right, that an octopus in Germany has been choosing correctly match winners? Networks interrupted their television programming to watch Paul make his choice live! Europe erupted after the choice!

Does this sound like intelligent people in 2010? Sounds more like traditional or animistic societies throwing bones, swirling ash on water or reading curls of smoke.

We know that players train, condition and strategise to defeat their opponents. We know that many athletes have rituals that help them get their head in the game psychologically. Sport includes a certain amount of science and technology, but when the big games approach, people get spiritual without even realising it.

To consult an oracle or turn to superstition is spiritual. It is not statistical, psychological or strategic, but spiritual. It is something beyond us all that cannot be controlled, but is often consulted. For some it is astrology. For others it is a ground hog, a parrot or an octopus. For some it is just a joke, but not for all.

And how do we explain the accuracy, other than if Paul had been wrong he wouldn't have stayed in the headlines?

I wonder how many people placed bets on the basis of Paul the Octopus and his choices? That would make as much sense as putting money on my opinion in FIFA results I don't know much about soccer/football at all.

Here are excerpts from Reuters:

The two-year-old celebrity octopus, who has accurately picked the outcome of all six of Germany's World Cup matches so far, quickly tipped Spain to beat the Netherlands. It took him only three minutes to make up his mind.

"That was fast -- it looks like a clear-cut victory for Spain," said Tanja Munzig, spokeswoman for Sea Life in Oberhausen. She was surprised by his speed in picking Spain. For some matches it took Paul 70 minutes to decide.

The octopus, considered by some to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates, got the choice of picking food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank -- one with a Dutch flag on it and one with Spain's flag.

The container Paul opens first is regarded as his pick. On Friday he wasted no time in diving for the container on the right side with the Spanish flag on it.

Two German television networks interrupted their programing for live coverage of the two-year-old celebrity octopus's picks. Networks in Spain, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe also broadcast Paul's decision live.

Earlier on Friday, Germans heaved a sigh of relief when Paul tipped Germany to beat Uruguay in the World Cup match for third place. There were cheers in offices across Germany after crowds of viewers tuned in to watch Paul live.

The octopus in Oberhausen turned into a global celebrity for correctly picking the winners of all six of Germany's World Cup matches -- including their two defeats to Serbia and Spain.

On Friday Paul first settled on top of the Germany container but after a few minutes shifted to the Uruguay container. Then after about 15 minutes he went back to Germany container, quickly opened the lid and ate the morsel of food inside.

Not an ordinarily superstitious people, Germans have become believers in Paul's possible psychic powers. The country was shocked and distraught when he picked Spain to beat Germany after tipping German wins over Argentina, England, Ghana and Australia.

But after Paul accurately picked Spain to beat Germany in the semi-final, some Germans called for a public roasting of the oracle octopus. Newspapers and websites were filled with suggestions on how to cook and eat him.

Officials at Sea Life in Oberhausen have installed extra security to protect their octopus.

"Paul is in safe hands with us," said Munzig.

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was quoted in Spanish media reports saying -- in jest -- he was concerned about Paul's safety.

"I am concerned for the octopus...I am thinking of sending him a protective team," Zapatero said.

Spain's Environment and Fisheries Minister Elena Espinosa also said: "On Monday I shall be at the European Council of Ministers and I shall be asking for a (fishing) ban on Paul the octopus so Germans do not eat him."

1 comment:

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