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Unintended Consequences


As Dorset casino celebrates 30 years of bankrupting the public, Our Gaming Theory Correspondent Rew Lette-Weale writes:



Punters, mathematicians, statisticians and even government-employed Public Health Department civil servants ["scientists"] are all, to some extent, in the business of gambling and therefore reasonably familiar with the concepts of projection, probability, odds, chance, happenstance, risk and a dozen other phenomena that may influence the likelihood of a given event or chain of events coming to pass. Though the stake each may have in the "game" - from actual cash, through intellectual capital [including credibility], all the way through to the opportunities for semi-legal geriatric imprisonment - is very different, the chances are [no pun intended] that each and every one of them overestmates their ability to model accurately, probable outcomes and/or actual eventualities, not least because of the difficulty associated with factoring into the equation what experts term antecedent conditions and contingent circumstances.


The battering that have many so-called experts have taken in recent weeks [make that months or possibly years [Ed]] has been significant and would in any commercial business have led to widespread firings, public humiliation and a quick exit carrying a cardboard box containing only a jotter, propelling pencil and a wilting potted plant. [We speak here not of the stockmarket speculations on which the future success of, for example, the Piddletrenthide Chamber of Commerce tenuously depends, but rather the standing of the scientific community which, seeing CONTRIK-69 cases increase from 1 to 2 in the environs of Cerne Abbas over the last 4 months have, through algorithms all their own, concluded that by the year 2026, 274 million as yet unborn children in the greater Dorset region will show symptoms of the disease and likley die from it - particularly if itn assumes its move virulent and as yet unimagined Omega ["fatal"] variant form.


To be more specific, what even those most highly skilled in the prediction, projection and speculation business often fail properly to include in their anaysis is the scope for error attributable to what are technically known as "unacknowedged conditions and unintended consequences" as well as the difference between "necessary and suffficent factors" in determining whether otherwise reliably extrapolatable scenarios are actually going to eventuate. Taken together these factors can produce - in the real world rather than in that of the socially-isolated boffin - both divergent and perverse results; what we, in the know, generally call unintended outcomes. [As the great Dorset military commander The Duke of Wallisdown famously observed: "The trouble with these War Office chappies is they just haven't got a f***king clue what it's like on the field when you're knee deep in horse-shit, the Froggies have the high ground and you have f**k-all artillery".


Let us then, for illustrative purposes only, take a particular and more recent example - one which proves that no profession, however seemingly low-profile - is immune from risk.


The Great Thrupini on an earlier guise. Bonkers Ali, The Barmi Swarmi was an attempt to exploit the orientalist manner fashionable in the earlier decades of the 20th century. Contemporary critics felt that Bert ha already "missed the boat".

Only yesterday, journalists beavering away quite happily in the Great Heaving offices of the online worldwide interweb news and comments portal that is professorthrupiece.com were unaware as they wenty about their business of entertaining and informing their readership with innocent tales of The Great Thrupini, that they were stirring up a hornets's nest and with it "a whole world of pain and trouble". Casually speculating that, after celebrating 100 years on stage, the man whose act was so rudely interrupted at the Pierhead Theatre, Canford Cliffs could not possibly be the man whose fledgling act took audences at the Price Regent Theatre Dewslish by storm in 1926, they unwittingly "crossed a line". That, at least, is the belief which has fired the man himself - The Great Thupini [aka Bonkers Ali, The Barmy Swarmy, aka Bert Walsh of The Privets, 48 Acacia Avenue, Corfe Mullen] to issue a writ of defamation, claiming £8 million in damages.


Mr Walsh, aged 128, has clearly lost none of his vigour when it comes to defending his reputation and the proprietors of professorthrupiece.com, Threadbone Holdings Inc will need to employ all of their legal skills if they are to fend off a man who has already succesfully prosecuted 73 cases of libel, slander, misrepresentation and invasion of privacy and defended at least 7,455 charges of falsely imprisoning vulnerable females*.


* The last of these is admittedly something of an occupational hazard for one in the business of stage magic.


Bert Walsh [The Great Thrupini] as a child c 1910. He was, his parents said, "always destined for the stage - he was useless at everything".

Speaking from his home in Corfe Mullen the veteran entertainer insisted that every one of his billed apearences had been fulfilled by him and him alone and that no substitutes had ever been employed. He also insisted that he was "as a stranger to monkey glands" and had "never been under the cosmetic surgeon's knife". Observing at close hand the vigour and youthful appearance of the 120+ year old it is easy to see why some might think otherwise and why conspiracy theories concerning multiple Great Thrupinis abound. As sceptic Theywood Seythatte-Woodent-Thé says "any man who can make a grown woman disappear from inside a cabinet and replace her with a gorilla is perfectly capable of disappearing himself and coming back as a younger version - especially if he has practiced diligently in the privacy of his own home".


Be that as it may, a fired-up Bert Walsh is now coming for the haspless journalists "all guns blazing"* and believes he has photographic evidence to prove once and for all that any allegations of dynastic succession are completely false.


* Isn't that another act entirely? From memory, Bitch Bickerstaffe and His All American Rodeo. [Ed].]


EVIDENCE. The Great Thrupini and son Roland c 1932. Bert believes that this photograph alone will dispell any suggestion that the Great Thrupini is a dynastic franchise.

The Great Thrupini is currently appearing [and the lovely Debbie Tante is currently disappearing] twice nightly at the Pierhead Theatre, Canford Cliffs [audience protests and spontaneous interruptions permitting].


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