Saturday, April 25, 2009

Zero Sum Loss

April 25th is ANZAC day.

On that day in 1915, under Winston Churchill's plan to open the Black Sea for the Allied forces, the Australia and New Zealand Army Corp landed on a beach on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. In the following 8 months, over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died - without gaining more than a few metres of beach. The ANZAC legend recounts the hardship, bravery and sacrifice of the troops.

ANZAC Day is remembered at dawn with "The Last Post", "Advance Australia Fair", "God Defend New Zealand" and "Reveille". The events at Gallipoli have had a defining impact on the character of the two nations and their respective military traditions.

It's also given them the curious gambling tradition of two-up. This game is legal in pubs* for a few hours on this one-day-a-year. The idea is that WWI ANZAC's (or 'Diggers') played the game and doing so on ANZAC Day is a form of commemoration.

Basically, in two-up, you are betting on a coin-toss. You 'agree' the bet with some person standing in the same circle as yourself. You have a fifty-fifty chance of winning and the house do not take a cut. So overall it's a zero-sum-gain (or loss). I like the idea - best odds in town! Just go on a random walk and as long as you are adequately capitalised, take home as much as you like.

*It is not clear to me that this is strictly true. It's possible that the playing of two-up on ANZAC day is a mass exercise in the flouting of the law. No one cares.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Afraid to Move

I love my little house. I love that it is still a work in progress. I love the potential inherent in its manifold weakness. I love that it is mine and that it is a place where I can have things the way I want them.

I’ve had a cleaner in. Not that it needed a cleaner* you understand. The house was perfectly tidy. Granted I had accumulated the odd bit of bric-a-brak that I didn’t need but nothing on a significant scale.

The thing is; my boss from Ireland is coming to stay, for three weeks, with his wife, and I want the place to be nice for them. Just ordinary householder’s pride really. So I decided that the way to have the house really clean (as opposed to ‘boy clean’†) was to get a cleaner in.

Anyhow Jelena has done a Stirling job. Such a good job, in fact, that almost any activity I can think of is guaranteed to make the place less perfect. For those of a mathematical disposition‡;

So I’m just going to sit here and be very quiet...


* It is quite clear to me now that it actually did need a cleaner.

† More than tidy but less than certain-not-to-give-you-the-plague.

‡ I'm looking at you Dave