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Soup of This Day #249: One Golden Glance Of What Should Be

September 26, 2012

'Curling at Carsebeck' by Charles Martin Hardie
These 61 men and women are agents of change. They are members of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club celebrating their wild organisation’s Diamond Jubilee in 1899. As rebellious as they might seem I reckon there is not a thong amongst them. It’s too cold for that kind of footwear – Image: Charles Martin Hardie, 1899. Charles Martin Hardie is not affiliated with Longworth72 and he’d probably be flabbergasted at the whole Internet thing if he were alive today. He’d also probably be a vampire or some other kind of immortal. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I have nothing against a flip-flop. Either the footwear or the concept of changing your mind.

The latter is important to set straight as it seems to be portrayed as a political crime to flip-flop. This is highlighted every US election cycle – In the current campaign for example Obama flip-flops on the economy while Romney flip-flops on healthcare. At least that’s how their opponents tar them.

We’re not immune to the cries here either – Our Prime Minister Julia Gilliard is constantly being pilloried for announcing before the last election that there would be no carbon tax and then after the election implementing what she called a carbon tax. Never mind that what she has implemented isn’t actually a carbon tax, more of a price on carbon and a step on the way to an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The Prime Minister had previously evinced support for an ETS and a price on carbon as a mechanism for achieving this.

As had the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbot. Who I shall henceforth refer to as T-Dawg, mostly because he’s about as removed from someone who you’d look at and think, ‘Hey, he’s a T-Dawg’, as it is possible to be. His general nickname is ‘The Mad Monk’, because he’s a nutter and his surname is Abbott. Also he once studied to be a priest. Prior to his stint as the leader of the opposition Abbott once featured in a court case with fellow conservative politician Peter Costello.

Abbott and Costello.

That kind of unintended humour is about as funny as T-Dawg gets. Unless you count his new belief that a price on carbon will lead to the end of civilization. Which would be yet another flip-flop.

It’s a slow flip-flop to be sure – T-Dawg took some time to change his viewpoint. I’m presuming (hoping really) that time equates to careful thought so good on him then.

Careful thought is largely absent from the whole carbon pricing debate.

A vocal minority of disenfranchised critics like to refer to our PM as Juliar. In case anyone has missed that, what they have done is to replace the ‘lee-ah’ sound with the similar but altogether more malicious ‘liar’. As in someone who didn’t tell the truth. Pithy.

Of course the PM faced a hung parliament after the election whereby she could only lead a government with support from independents and the Greens. Most of those necessary allies supported the introduction of a carbon price and so the PM had to re-assess and approach the issue from a different viewpoint. As opposed to forming a view and then never changing it, regardless of reason, new evidence or a fresh and incisive perspective.

When did having the strength to change your mind become a liability?

It isn’t in sport.

In fact, in your average sporting contest the ability to change direction to adapt to changing circumstances is much prized. Take yachting for instance, in particular the approximately 1,170km Sydney to Hobart blue water classic that sets sail each Boxing Day. If you want to do well you need to take advantage of prevailing winds. This requires many course corrections and adjustments. The yacht that puts up a spinnaker just outside of Sydney Heads and then sails in a straight tack like that all the way to Hobart is going to be lucky to actually arrive in Hobart, let alone be competitive.

Curling is another good example, the more so because it is a seemingly slow-paced sport. A large stone is slid down the ice and team members sweep in front of it in order to adjust the direction and speed of travel. This allows them to correct for imperfections in the ice that might deviate the path of their stone and requires in-the-moment calculations to ensure that the chosen stones end up closest to the centre of the ‘house’. It also requires a dab hand with a broom and is 1 of the few Olympic sports requiring a household cleaning item. Mop hockey being another.

That latter might not be in the Olympics now that I think about it. It might be only a sport that I’ve played if I’m honest.

It’s soapy fun and you get the floor clean. What’s not to like?

Of course sailing and curling just involve trying to affect the course of inanimate objects. Imagine how much more difficult it can be if you factor in people. Take an Australian Rules Football (AFL) match – There are 2 sides with 18 on-field players each. Coaches will work out match-ups before the 1st bounce, factoring in physical attributes and the positions of play. For instance it’s probably not viable to put a 173cm midfielder up against a 211cm ruckman in the centre circle for the 1st bounce.

And that’s just the start. The interchange bench will have 3 other players waiting to come on at a moment’s notice plus 1 substitute who can be swapped in as a 1 time deal. There are unlimited interchanges throughout the game and a coach might make up to 130 of them in a single game. The coach might also make moves out on the field, switching players from 1 position to another, attempting to create a mismatch that can be exploited.

All told there are a little over 1,240,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible combinations. Admittedly you can immediately rule out the obvious non-starters, those casting choices that make little sense – Like having Sean Connery play an immortal Egyptian warrior with a Spanish name and a Scottish accent.

But even with the no-brainers out of the frame there is still a bewildering number of tactical moves to be made in roughly 120 minutes of football.

You will get some of them wrong and you will need to adjust quickly so as to negate the impact of those mismatches. A not-so-great example of this could be seen almost 2 weeks past when the Fremantle Dockers fronted up in Adelaide for a 2nd semi-final against that city’s Crows in the 2012 AFL finals series.

In that do-or-die encounter the Dockers got off to a flyer, leading by as much as 30 points early in the 2nd quarter. Then though, Adelaide got going, principally through power forward Taylor Walker.

Walker is known for 2 things. His erratic form and his mullet hairstyle. On this night he was on song, charging forward with the momentum of a curling stone.

And that was just the mullet.

Taylor was helped a bit by a crucial tactical misstep from Freo coach Ross Lyon. With the Dockers missing their All-Australian full-back Luke McPharlin Rosco had plumped with young Alex Silvagni to mark Walker and his hair. Alex is 90kg and 191cm tall. Walker is 100kg and 192cm tall. This, on paper at least is not a bad match.

The reality though was that a gulf in form existed between the 2 and it was to prove costly.

Ross Lyon inexplicably failed to adjust quickly enough. By the time he got Silvagni out of there the Adelaide team had brought themselves back into the contest. With Freo having a day less to rest ahead of the match plus the travel to boot they could not negate Walker’s contribution – In a game where the Crows kicked 12 goals to 11 and won by just 10 points, Walker booted 5 of his own for 32 points. All of those goals came against Silvagni.

As a Freo fan I wouldn’t have minded if Ross had maybe flip-flopped a little more.

To complete this post I’d like to point out that in Australia we refer to the footwear flip-flops as thongs. I don’t know why we do but it does lead to some confusion between the unsecured sandals and the strip of cloth (barely) covering the pubic regions. For those non-Australians reading this post I have now hopefully clarified for you what was meant by that Aussie girl loudly proclaiming that she hates getting sand stuck in her thong at the beach.

Although I can imagine that both of those outcomes are uncomfortable.

One Golden Glance Of What Should Be

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