You're about to enter another dimension, a dimension not just of hacks and poorly-hidden bias, but of cowardice in presenting awards also. You see a signpost up ahead: the Person of the Year is coming. You know that Pac-Man, Earth, and You are no longer eligible. You've entered...the Time-Life Zone!
Consider, if you will, this year's nominees:
One of them is a man with no real accomplishments in 2007 beyond some futile hectoring on a subject which he's ill-equipped to intelligently discussed. His propoaganda has been criticized by courts and scientists alike. But he won a major award given out by Swedes, famous for their judgement and moderation. He's Al Gore.
Another is a woman whose future still remains in doubt. She's a junior senator and a presidential candidate. And, uh, her husband used to be president. And, uh, that's about it, except that suddenly her campaign is unravelling. She's at least the third most influential woman on the list. She's Hillary Clinton.
The third runs a lead-exporting business which occasionally throws some toys in as well. You've never heard of him, but you can be sure that he's important because he's on the list. He's Hu Jintao.
Fourth we find a tyrannical megalomaniac businessman. But he's in technology and made iTunes, so he can't be all bad. Unless you work for him. He's Steve Jobs, and he doesn't want you hacking his iPhone.
Fifth is a man aggressively trying to kick off a regional war which will ultimately lead to the destruction of Israel, which he thinks is illegitimate because the Holocaust never really happened. But he tweaks the US President "like nobody since Fidel Castro," apparently something to be admired. It's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Mullhan Puppet.
Sixth is a hopeful empty suit who hopes to be president, but will likely get buzz-sawed by the second person on this list. The logic of putting two Democratic hopefuls on the same list? It makes sense, in the Time-Life zone. Vote for Barack Obama; he'd vote for you.
Seventh is General David Petraeus. But you can be sure that in the Time-Life zone, Iraq is already lost, it's a quagmire, and the sooner we let it slide into chaos the better off we'll all be. Well, those of us outside Iraq, anyways.
Eighth is another tyrant, this one slaughtering Chechens like it's going out of style while blackmailing all of Europe with his natural gas reserves, all the while rubbing elbows with the other tyrants on this list. It's Vladimir Putin, acclaimed for his shirtless buffness.
Ninth is the secretary of state who won't let the Middle East slip into war, even though in the Time-Life Zone that is apparently the preferred outcome. It's Condoleeza Rice, and by a miracle it never mentions that she's single.
Tenth is children's author J.K. Rowling, with her seventh tome pushing forward limpid writing and predictable plots. A sop to fans, the joke's on Time: she's leading the poll by a wide margin. It must chagrin them that more acceptable authors (like Chomsky) wouldn't even scratch 100 votes in the poll.
One person is absent from the Time-Life Zone list. He's the boss of two people on the list, holds the job two people aspire to, defeated another for the job in question, and is the object of obsession for another. So six have influence directly related to him, yet less. He Who Must Not Be Named is also architect of the Iraq War and has confounded an unfriendly congress ever since they started in earlier this year.
Yet he merits nary a mention.
So the next time you find yourself wondering about a truly influential, powerful, world-shaping individual who has mysteriously gone absent despite eclipsing 6 lesser people on a list of "People of the Year" you've reached...The Time-Life Zone
Yet for some reason, He Who Must Not Be Named cannot crack this list whatsoever.