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Soup of This Day #189: And Just Like The Guy Whose Feet Are Too Big For His Bed

June 4, 2012

Punch-card chads
A hanging chad is 1 attached by 1 corner. A swinging chad is 1 attached by 2 corners. A tri-chad is attached by 3 corners while a chad attached by 4 corners and so barely marked, is called a pregnant chad. The latter term can also be used to describe your mate Chad who has developed a bit of a stomach due to his love of donuts. Even with the fate of the free world at stake it’s hard to take a chad seriously – Photo: Marcin Wichary, 2008. Marcin Wichary is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I’m going to break a cardinal rule of blogging. I’m going to write about politics.

Sure, if your blog is a politics blog then it’s more of a cardinal rule that you should write about politics – This however is a sports blog and I’m running the real risk here of offending my, admittedly small, readership. About all I can say to the incredibly good looking band of faithful that follow my writing is: Stick with me on this kids – It’s about to get so loco it’s burro.

The world’s various political systems have some aspects to them that seem a little stark raving bonkers.

To illustrate how mad it gets I’m going to use The West Wing. Yes, it is a fictional resource but I’m going with it because it has it’s basis in fact and it’s substantially more watch-able and thus accessible than anything going on in the world’s major parliaments right now.

The scene I have in mind is from Season 4 and it’s centred around an election. The President, played by Martin Sheen is a shoe-in for re-election, but out in the Californian 47th there is a Democrat in a close race. That Democrat is a guy called Horton Wilde and he’s dead. He died in the lead-up to polling day and such are the vagaries of politics he is still on the ballot and doing quite nicely thank you, apart from the being deceased bit. There is another unusual aspect to this scenario too – In The West Wing universe the 47th is traditionally Republican and even with the novelty of a dead guy on the ticket the GOP candidate should get across the line.

Unless it rains late in the day.

In The West Wing case Horton Wilde’s campaign manager Will Bailey, played by Joshua Malina, prays for rain to stymie the turn-out of late voting Republicans. Hey presto, the heavens open up on cue and a dead Democrat wins a congressional race in Orange County.

Let me point out now that in the real world California’s 47th is a swing-voting district that is currently nominally Democrat (Although Orange County, of which the 47th is part, is traditionally by-and-large Republican). It’s also got Disneyland in it. That’s all irrelevant though…

In the real world, as in that The West Wing episode, dead folk can run for office and rain can decide elections. Yep, honest-to-god water from the sky, a key part of the whole hydrologic cycle, can play a part in whether we go to war in Iran.

So that readers from the US don’t get the feeling I’m bashing them I should make it clear that this can happen anywhere that there is a voluntary voting system, which is pretty much most places with a vague approximation of democracy. In such contests candidates need to get their kind of supporters to the ballot box and rain can hamper that – People don’t like to go out in the rain, not even with the future of government at stake. Which strikes me as a little mind-boggling – The whole concept of precipitation deciding government seems a short step from a missionary on a remote island being anointed as a god because he could predict an eclipse.

Don’t mistake my astonishment at all of this as some kind of negativity towards rain. I’ve been that way in the past – Rain does screw up a game of baseball or cricket. Rain though can have a levelling effect in sports, in much the same way that it can help a dead guy to win an election.

Take this weekend’s Australian Rules Football (AFL) matches. This weekend I was hoping for an polling day-type sorting of the guard and Saturday afternoon shaped up just like that:

Earlier that day Hawthorn, a pre-season favourite, had demolished North Melbourne, who had recently been talked up as a finals prospect. In fact, Hawthorn’s Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, could have been said to have demolished North by himself, at least on the scoreboard. Buddy knocked in a lazy 13.4 (82) to North’s 9.5 (59). That would have been at least closer than the 115 point margin that resulted when Buddy’s Hawks buddies were factored in too.

Then Fremantle, beloved of this blog Fremantle, stepped up at home to surprise contenders Adelaide. The Crows were on form going in to the clash at 7 and 2. The Dockers went in at 5 and 4 and seem to be struggling with maintaining the defensive pressure that is the cornerstone of coach Ross Lyon’s playbook.

Which is probably why Adelaide led the game by 36 points deep into the 2nd quarter. This was a significant lead given that the Dockers hadn’t yet managed to score 36 points of their own – It looked like a mountain to climb.

A little over a quarter later and the Dockers had reached the summit of that mountain – It was halfway through the last quarter and the Freo lads had a 2-point lead, the Subiaco Oval chorus behind them and pundits scrambling to announce that they were back in as contenders.

Not so much it turns out.

As any keen follower of mountaineering will tell you – In order to be successful you not only have to scale the mountain – You have to be able to get back down again safely. The Dockers got to the top but then tripped up Wiley Coyote-style – Adelaide kicked the next 5 goals and Freo went down by 29 points. Once again the Dockers don’t appear to have the legs or the gumption to press for 4 complete quarters. Sadly, they look to be pretenders.

3 other games that followed on from there should have been no-brainers – Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne are contenders.

For the wooden spoon.

Port had won their last 2 games but they were against North Melbourne (Who we now know aren’t to be taken seriously) and Gold Coast (Who have won nought). And even with those 2 wins the Power were still languishing at 3 and 6. They should have been no match for a Carlton side that stylishly won 4 of it’s 1st 5 games of the season.

Port won it by 54 points.

Brisbane went into their match with table-topping West Coast with a similar record to Port – They had won just 3 of 9, notching wins only against lowly opposition and winning just 1 of their past 4. They should have been no contest for a side that had lost just 1 of 9 so far and who were considered to be the out-an-out Premiership favourites.

Brisbane won it by 2 points.

Melbourne had the record to limbo under Port and Melbourne by some margin – They had lost all 9 of their matches so far in 2012. If you include 2011 that streak stretched out to 13. 2 rounds previous and they had succumbed to Sydney by 101 points – A belting that stood out as much for the complete lack of seeming effort as it did for the gargantuan scoreline (The Demons scored just 5 goals and 3 of those were in junk time just before the close). This time out they were playing Essendon – The form team in the comp – An outfit that had won it’s past 4 and that stood behind only West Coast on the table.

Even the most die-hard, 1-eyed and blinkered Melbourne fan would have to admit that on a normal day Essendon would wallop the Demons with the ease of a ninja swatting flies.

Except that this wasn’t a normal day.

It rained.

Rain that took the slickly skilled and made them look like bumbling amateurs – That took the team that executed the simple plays with no finesse and elevated them to artistry.

The hapless, hopeless, Melbourne Demons won it by 6 points.

The consolation for fans of clean, unspoiled AFL action (and the Essendon Bombers) is that had an election been held that day the rain would not have affected the outcome in the same way – Australia is 1 of the few to use compulsory voting so the turn-out is always good, regardless of the weather. I’m not saying that this leads to a better class of elected official – Just that if you happen to be planning on becoming an Australian citizen or a happy Melbourne Demons supporter it’s best to get yourself 1 of those waterproof ponchos to help with your civic and sporting responsibilities.

And Just Like The Guy Whose Feet Are Too Big For His Bed

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