Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Idler, Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Maths and

Kiwi rugby


HOW does New Zealand manage to so consistently dominate world rugby? Howick theoretical physicist Rob Nicolai says there's something mathematically weird about it.

"Since the Super Rugby tournament started in 1996 there have been 23 contests and an alarming pattern has emerged from the original three nations competing, now expanded to five, with no effect on this disturbing anomaly.

"The tournament is won nearly 61% by the nation with the smallest population - New Zealand. One New Zealand team, the Crusaders, has won nine times of the 14 New Zealand team wins. Their home city of Christchurch has a population of under 400 000 which is only around 8.4% of the country's total population of almost 4.75 million so a very disturbing mathematical and statistical anomaly is clearly evident here and has remained unresolved for too long.

"Basic mathematics is the only science without entropy, while rugby is clearly disordered. Action must be taken to keep Super Rugby relevant."

Er, yes. But remember that New Zealand is one of only two nations where rugby is the dominant winter sport (the other is Wales). There are far more rugby players in New Zealand than in South Africa. Also, one understands the club and provincial structures in New Zealand are intact, in spite of professionalism. Here the Currie Cup has been watered down; club rugby is in a realm of shadows.

And there are the conveyer belts. One takes our top players to the northern hemisphere. Another brings players from the South Pacific islands to New Zealand. And there you have it.

Keep Super Rugby relevant? Maybe the Currie Cup is where we need to concentrate. It still generates an excitement that the drawn-out, far-flung Super Rugby competition does not.


INVESTMENT analyst Dr James Greener delivers a lecture in his latest grumpy newsletter the on the use and abuse of language.

"The latest word to be misused and shorn of its meaning by the kleptocrats is 'bank'. Very simply, a bank attracts depositors to put their cash with them in return for regular interest payments and at the very least their capital back. Borrowers approach the bank for loans and expect not only to pay interest on the money borrowed but also in due time repay the capital.

"The bank profits from an (ahem) modest difference between deposit and lending interest rates. The possibility of failure to perform on either side of this transaction is coyly referred to as 'credit risk'.

"The VBS Mutual Bank debacle is setting new standards for this phenomenon. Neither most of the lenders nor some of the borrowers have any right to be dealing with a mutual bank and huge sums of money have gone missing.

"Unsurprisingly it was VBS Bank which supposedly granted a mortgage to President Zuma when he was instructed to pay back the money spent on his private home."




EIGHTY-year-old Charlie is quite deaf. He goes to the doctor for his annual check-up. A few days later, the doctor sees him walking down the street with a gorgeous woman half his age clinging to his arm.

"Hello, Charlie. You seem to be doing really well since I last saw you."

"Just doing what you advised, Doc - 'Get a hot mama and be cheerful.'"

"I said: 'You've got a heart murmur. Be careful.'"


Last word

Making duplicate copies and computer printouts of things no one wanted even one of in the first place is giving America a new sense of purpose.

Andy Rooney

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