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Doctor Elo’s Formula for forecasting the Score

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 LEBANON 3 KAZAKHSTAN 0 (1998 ASIAN GAMES)
The other day when I got on the bus,
Tired out after all the fuss
Of another exhausting day at school,
I politely told the driver the golden rule,
The price rather than destination of my journey,
The driver drove a very fast bus,
His name was Ernie,
And he drove the fastest omnibus in the West.
I politely said “£1.50, please.”,
And he replied “£1.50, please.”
There was no hint of irony in his act,
He was just being helpful,
Giving me the facts,
But the beauty of his reply just stunned me,
Two strangers in such harmony,
Annihilating ambiguity
And all its consequent diversity;
Locked in complete and total fusion,
Total elimination of confusion,
But also discoursing philosophically,
For when is repetition not tautology?
Or perhaps we were talking Political Economy,
The fare was fair to him and fair to me,
A perfect mutual reciprocal exchange
At that bus stop, at that fare stage,
And whether viewed from mirror or from prism,
That is rare for capitalism.
Or perhaps his statement on the bus
Was just the bleeding obvious,
Mere linguistic pantomime,
A statement merely echoing mine,
I’ll never know which view was true,
To be honest, it was difficult to raise the issue
In the context of “1.50, please”, “1.50, please.”
Or do I lack a numerical gene?
I find it hard to know what numbers mean,
Why even today I wake at nights and scream,
Shivering in bedroom chair or attic,
When I remember mathematics,
And all its horrors back at school,
Like calculus and slide rule,
I used to stare at logarithms in a dream,
Just what on earth does all this mean?
And I could never find relief
By just suspending disbelief,
“Please Miss, what does all this mean?” I’d stutter,
“Oh just shut up and concentrate you there, Butler.”
And then I’d mess around, get into trouble,
Which is why it took me two times to get my Maths. O Level.
But now with hindsight and some critical theory,
I see those past days and I feel more cheery,
For when I was decoding logarithmic lists,
I was a precocious deconstructionist,
Not into trigonometry and geometry,
Instead post-modernist semiology,
But when Ernie the driver told me my fare
And fixed me with his teacherly stare
It all came back in a drowning dream
Just what on earth do numbers mean?
But things went on from bad to worse,
With an algebraic curse,
For Ern told me about Kazakhstan,
Losing 3 nil to The Lebanon,
How Ro, K(W-We)
And Dr. Elo’s formulae,
Meant this win for Lebanon,
Was statistical upset number one;
I blinked at Ern, twas all a dream,
“Ern, what on earth does all this mean?
You see that rainbow over there near Luton,
What explains it, Keats or Newton?
Is truth empiric and statistical?
Or essentially poetical?”
The bus went quiet when posed this query,
Would Ernie change his previous theory?
But then up spoke a man called Stan,
Who didn’t care ‘bout Kazakhstan,
And said in no uncertain terms,
That he did agree with Ern,
(Politeness cannot allow me
To use the language used by Stanley)
By peremptorily demanding,
Like a pilot before landing,
“Get this bus back in the groove.
I command you Ernie. Drive it. Move.”
The driver, Ern, then spoke to Stan,
“Stan, wise up and be a man.
We’re all in this affair together,
The human race of sister, brother,
So unless you change your ways,
This bus will stay here. Be delayed.”
The minutes passed, the time it ran,
And all the passengers stared at Stan,
And tut tut tutted angrily,
At Stanley’s inhumanity;
Stan, he pondered wearily,
Before he glanced up guiltily
“You mean a man from Kazakhstan,
Might be like me, like Stan the Man?”
“That’s so”, the driver said, said Ern,
Ern, no longer looking stern,
“I’ve seen the error of my way,
Drive on, pray Earnest, straightaway.
I am no longer Stan the Man,
But Stanislaus from Kazakhstan.
I see the world now in a different light,
Stanleys of the World Unite!
Away with motes, away with beams,
This bus trip has been like a dream,
Like Saul to Paul, the Damascene,
This bus trip has been like a dream.”
Stanley’s head twas in a whirl,
Stan, a citizen of the World!
Ern gave the thumbs up, gave a wink,
And though the bus was on the blink,
The bus turned left by Athelstan,
And Ern drove on for Kazakhstan.

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