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Scandinavian Gamblers

 
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:28 pm    Post subject: Scandinavian Gamblers Reply with quote

Scandinavian Gamblers:

Denmark:

Babette's Feast
DVD
By Isak Dinesen


Quote:
More Gambler's Nosh.

More Celebrated Women Gamblers.




Quote:
This 1998 movie based on one of many masterful short stories by Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen) has everything in it we find worth living for - an obscure seacoast, deep green hills, roan-colored horses with sleighbells, characters who are gentle and kind, a duet from our favorite Mozart opera, Don Giovanni, a general with a plume and gold braid epaulets who nearly ruins himself at cards, and a visiting chef from a famous Paris cafe - ooh-la-la![/b][ - like [b]this one and this one! - b]who wins the lottery[/b]. What chef Babette does with her winnings becomes the best victory dinner ever recorded on film.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norway:

The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl
Hardcover
By Roald Dahl




Roly, the Welsh whelp of Norwegian parents, was a hell of a punter, apparently. We find an almost untrackable number of gambling references throughout his happily, for us, prolific career both in children's and adult fiction. He tootled away at it like a more ribald or worldly P.G. Wodehouse.

Quote:
When, about eight years ago, old Sir William Turton died and his son Basil inherited The Turton Press (as well as the title), I can remember how they started laying bets around Fleet Street as to how long it would be before some nice young woman managed to persuade the little fellow that she must look after him. That is to say, him and his money.

The new Sir Basil Turton was maybe forty years old at the time, a bachelor, a man of mild and simple character who up to then had shown no interest in anything at all except his collection of modern paintings and sculpture. No woman had disturbed him; no scandal or gossip had ever touched his name. But now that he had become the proprietor of quite a large newspaper and magazine empire, it was necessary for him to ermerge from the calm of his father's country house and come up to London. (Excerpt from the opening of Neck at p. 545).


There's more:

Quote:
...I was sitting on the bed putting on my socks when softly the door opened, and an ancient lopsided gnome in black tails slid into the room. He was the butler, he explained, and his name was Jelks, and he did so hope I was comfortable and had everything I wanted.

I told him I was and had.

He said he would do all he could to make my week-end agreeable. I thanked him and waited for him to go. He hesitated, and then, in a voice dripping with unction, he begged permission to mention a rather delicate matter. I told him to go ahead.

To be quite frank, he said, it was about tipping. The whole business of tipping made him acutely miserable.

Oh? And why was that?

Well, if I really wanted to know, he didn't like the idea that his guests felt under an obligation to tip him when they left the house -- as indeed they did. It was an undignified proceeding for the tipping and the tipped. Moreover, he was well aware of the anguish that was often created in the minds of guests such as myself, if I would pardon the liberty, who might feel compelled by convention to give more than they could really afford.

He paused, and two small crafty eyes watched my face for a sign. I murmured that he needn't worry himself about such things as far as I was concerned...

All that he would ask, he said softly, so softly now that his voice was like music heard faintly in the street outside a great concert hall, all that he would ask was that instead of a tip I should give him thirty-three and a third per cent of my winnings at cards over the week-end. If I lost, there would be nothing to pay.

It was all so soft and smooth and sudden that I was not even surprised.

'Do they play a lot of cards, Jelks?'

'Yes, sir, a great deal.'

'Isn't thirty-three and a third a bit steep?'

'I don't think so, sir.'

'Ill give you ten per cent,'

'No, sir, I couldn't do that.' He was now examining the finger-nails of his left hand, and patiently frowning.

'Then we'll make it fifteen. All right?'

'Thirty-three and a third, sir. It's very reasonable. After all, sir, seeing that I don't even know if you are a good player, what I'm actually doing, not meaning to be personal, is backing a horse and I've never seen him run.' (-- pgs. 549-550)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iceland:

Bread and Tulips
DVD




Quote:
Rosalba: I saw the accordion in your closet. I was looking for a mirror. I'm sorry.

Fernando: It was payment for a gambling debt. I never sold it. Should I infer that you are capable of playing it?

Rosalba: When I was 12 my grandad taught me a little. Then he fell off an unfinished bridge.

Fernando: Your grandfather devoted himelf to building bridges?

Rosalba: No, one night he was cycling home and thought they'd finished the bridge.

Fernando: Sometimes a distraction can prove fatal.

Rosalba: You're telling me.


What a cooling breeze of formality blows into the oppressive life of an Italian housewife in the form of a shy Icelandic waiter in sultry Venice. Ah, Venice. Keep your eye on the accordion, too.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Denmark:

Gertrude and Claudius
Paperback
By John Updike


Quote:
More of the bard at PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Shakespeare.




Quote:
Her heart felt deflected. Something held back her love for this fragile, high-strung, quick-tongued child. She had become a mother too soon, perhaps; a stage in life's journey had been skipped, without which she could not move from loving a parent to loving a child. Or perhaps the fault was in the child: as water will stand up in globules on a fresh-waxed table or on newly oiled leather, so her love, as she felt it, spilled down upon Amleth and remained on his surface, gleaming like beads of mercury, unabsorbed. He was of his father's blood -- temperate, abstracted, a Jutish gloom coated over with the affected manners and luxurious skills of a nobleman. Not merely noble: he was a prince, as Gerutha had been a princess.

She wondered if her own motherlessness was discovered by gaps of motherly feeling within her. She allowed nursemaids, tutors, riding masters, fencing instructors to intervene between herself and the growing boy. His games seemed designed to repel and exclude her -- inscrutable, clattering games, with sticks and paddles, bows and arrows, dice and courters, noisy imitations of war in which he commanded, with his high-pitched voice and tense white face, the buffoon Yorik and some unwashed sons of the castle garrison's doxies. The quiet hoops and tops and dolls of Gerutha's girlhood had no place in this male world of projectile fantasy, of hits and thrusts and "getting even" -- for a strict tally was kept in the midst of the shouts and wrestling, she observed, as in the bloodier accountings of adult warfare, much as Horwendil boasted of how King Fortinbras, in being slain, had forfeited not only the invaded terrain in Jutland but certain coastal lands north of Halland on the coast of Sweathland, between the sea and the great lake of Vanern, lands held not for their worth, which was little, but as a gall to the opposing power, a canker of dishonor. (PART ONE, pgs. 34-35)


Quote:
"Young and tender, my daughter (Ophelia) is, as I was saying," said Polonius, "and he (Hamlet) presumes upon his princeliness and melancholy to show his brusque, erratic humors too nakedly, jibing back and forth, so to speak, with too indelicate a hand on the tiller, for the maiden reared in the breathless hush of chastity. Laertes, yes, as befits a growing man, was not kept uncontaminate from the tavern and its adjuncts, the house of sale and the gambling den, my man Reynaldo keeping watch that his bruises did not become wounds." (From PART THREE, pgs. 187-188)


Uncharacteristically gripping stuff for dull yet skillful Updike, who has at long last succumbed to the wisdom of P.G. Wodehouse's fictional lady novelist, Rosie M. Banks (aka Mrs. Bingo Little), authoress of such romantic classics as Only A Factory Girl and T'was Once in May. Updike's account provides a welcome and lyrical prequel adding to Shakespeare's tragic masterpiece and the personalities of Hamlet's mother and stepfather/uncle. The author also includes a helpful list of sources he used to develop his plot.

Quote:
Shakespeare
The Complete Works
Hardcover
Published by Castle, a Div. of Book Sales, Inc.




Quote:
Osric: The king, sir, hath wager'd with him six Barbary horses: against the which he has imponed, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, and so: three of the carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages and of very liberal conceit.

Hamlet: What call you carriages?

Horatio (aside to Hamlet): I knew you must be edified by the margent ere you had done.

Osric: The carriages, sir, are the hangers.

Hamlet: The phrase would be more germane to the matter, if we could carry cannon by our sides: I would it might be hangers till then. But, on: six Barbary horses against six French swords, their assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages; that's the French bet against the Danish. Why is this 'imponed,' as you call it?

Osric: The king, sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits: he hath laid on twelve for nine; and it would come to immediate trial, if your lordship would vouchsafe the answer.

Hamlet: How if I answer no?

Osric: I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial.

Hamlet: Sir, I will walk here in the hall: if it please his majesty, 'tis the breathing time of day with me; let the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the king hold his purpose, I will win for him an I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits. (Hamlet, Act V, Scene ii, p. 353)


Other riffs on Hamlet we admire:

Good Bones and Simple Murders
Hardcover
By Margaret Atwood
See Gertrude Talks Back, p. 16
.



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iceland:

Western Living
Magazine Subscription
Food Scents
Why do certain odorous foods smell like sewage
to some and ambrosia to others? Apparently
when it comes to smelly food, stink is in the nose
of the beholder.

March, 2007


Quote:
More Gambler's Nosh.

More Unusual Bets
.





Quote:
In the course of an ordinary 21st century urban life, I have consumed many things never air-freighted onto the menus of my parents' generation: things like deep-fried fish skeleton, sea urchin gonads, stinging nettles, grilled squid intestines and, in one memorable dessert, the visceral fat of frogs, although bravery points must be deducted because I assumed it was tapioca until I'd already finished most of it. I like to think I'm sort of adventurous, if not actually worldly. But I wasn't adventurous enough to try stinky tofu, and I came to regret it.

...She (Linda Civitello, author of Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People) thinks a lot of stinky food consumption can be explained in terms of national identity: "We eat this. They eat that." But even this theory can't explain Reykjavik's Stinky Food Festival, which would be like the Eurovision Song Contest except that instead of bad vocals it features traditional favourites like raw puffin, buried shark, pickled seal flipper, smoked sheep's head and stuffed cod liver. Buried shark, by the way, is just that: a shark, buried. The recipe takes a turn for the abnormal around the point at which it's left to rot, then dug up again and eaten, for reasons possibly best left unexplored. "Some of it has got to be the daredevil factor," said Civitello. "I wonder what percentage of people who eat this stuff are guys - young guys?" (-- pgs. 26-28)


Quote:
Cuisine and Culture
A History of Food and People
Paperback
By Linda Civitello




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norway:

The Economist
Magazine Subscription
A big deal
Poker is getting younger, cleverer, duller and much, much richer
Dec. 22/07


Quote:
More Celebrated Women Gamblers.

More Best Bets for Success at School at the PokerPulse Gambler's Study Guide.





Quote:
Doyle Brunson (above) is a poker legend. Twice winner of the game's most prestigious annual tournament, the World Series of Poker (WSOP), held in Las Vegas, the cowboy-hat-clad southerner affectionately known as Texas Dolly also wrote what many consider to be the bible of poker theory, Super System: A Course in Power Poker. His reputation among card-shufflers borders on the superhuman. Indeed, after fighting off supposedly terminal cancer in the 1960s, he celebrated his return to the cardrooms with 53 straight wins. Adding to the mystique, both of his World Series titles were won with exactly the same cards: a full house of tens over twos.

Now in his mid-70s, Mr Brunson is still going strong. But not strong enough for Annette Obrestad (above, right), who beat the old master and 361 other entrants in September to win the first ever WSOP event held outside America. Miss Obrestad's victory, which netted her £1m ($2m), shows how much poker has changed since the days when Texas Dolly, Amarillo Slim Preston and Jack “Treetops” Straus held sway. She is only 19 (making her the youngest ever winner of a World Series bracelet) and she is, of course, a woman. She hails from Norway, not Nevada. And though she had previously won over $800,000 in internet tournaments, the event at London's Empire Casino was the first time she had encountered serious opposition in the flesh. The poker press refers to her by her online moniker, annette_15.

Miss Obrestad's route to the grand prize—dumped on the final table in bundles of $50 notes, as is the World Series tradition—required her to see off such modern-day poker luminaries as Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, a hirsute scholar of game theory, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, a somewhat less cerebral but wily British professional who wears diamond-encrusted knuckledusters, and Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth, arguably the most celebrated (not least by himself) modern player. Jim McManus, a poker player and historian, describes the young Scandinavian's win as a “startling milestone”.

Yet it is also part of a trend. Youngsters are flocking to poker as never before, attracted by its growing cachet and the ever-expanding pots. The plethora of books, blogs and DVDs now easily accessible, and the rapid growth of poker online, means newcomers can learn the art much more quickly than in earlier eras. “When I started out it took years of hard grind at the table to get good. Now the learning curve is much steeper,” says Howard “The Professor” Lederer, a professional player. It is often said that while Texas Hold 'Em, the most popular version of poker, may take only minutes to learn, it takes a lifetime to master. Annette_15 may beg to differ. ...

Poker has long fascinated America's great and good, from politicians to generals to captains of industry. Presidents Roosevelt (both), Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon were all keen players. Nixon was famously good: most of the funding for his first congressional run came from poker winnings. Poker was said to have inspired cold-war tacticians. It is still a useful military motif: recall the playing cards used to represent Saddam Hussein and his most-wanted cohorts. Poker financed a sizeable chunk of Microsoft's start-up costs. Bill Gates once said he learned more about business strategy at the baize than in classrooms - though these days he apparently prefers the more stately game of bridge.

Not all famous players have made such good role models. As he partied away the declining years of his career, Errol Flynn incurred some excruciating poker losses, including, on one particularly bad night, a Caribbean island he had hoped to develop into a holiday resort. John Wayne had some shockers too, though in one memorable game he won Lassie from the canine star's desperate owner.

Getting serious

What Nixon, Flynn and Wayne have made of poker today? They would surely have marvelled at the transformation of "the cheater's game" into a multi-billion-dollar industry, pumping out new millionaires almost daily. Even they might have been shocked at the latest season of "High Stakes Poker," a television series in which players buy into each game for $500, 000 apiece and the winner takes home more than $5m.

They might, perhaps, have been disappointed that the game had lost some of its backroom edginess. Miss Obrestad's generation are more likely to put their excess winnings into tax-free bonds than blow them betting on a single round of gold, as Mr Brunson and his Las Vegas pals used to do in their madder moments. Still, those hoping to win over poker's skeptics will find no better example than young Annette, 19. She is stern, sober and chillingly focused on her game. She appears to be exceptionally good at it too. Either that or amazingly lucky. (-- pgs. 33, 38)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iceland:

Vanity Fair
Magazine Subscription
Wall Street on the Tundra
Iceland's de facto bankruptcy - its currency (the krona) is kaput, its debt is 850 percent of G.D.P., its people are hoarding food and cash and blowing up their new Range Rovers for the insurance - resulted from a stunning collective madness. What led a tiny fishing nation, population 300,000, to decide, around 2003, to re-invent itself as a global financial power? In Reykjavik, where men are men, and the women seem to have completely given up on them, Michael Lewis follows the peculiarly Icelandic logic behind the meltdown
April, 2009


Quote:
More on the global financial crisis - and how to fix it!





Quote:
... The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery. One way or another, the wealth in Iceland comes from the fish, and if you want to understand what Icelanders did with their money you had better understand how they came into it in the first place.

The brilliant paper was written back in 1954 by H. Scott Gordon, a University of Indiana economist. It describes the plight of the fisherman—and seeks to explain “why fishermen are not wealthy, despite the fact that fishery resources of the sea are the richest and most indestructible available to man.” The problem is that, because the fish are everybody’s property, they are nobody’s property. Anyone can catch as many fish as they like, so they fish right up to the point where fishing becomes unprofitable—for everybody. “There is in the spirit of every fisherman the hope of the ‘lucky catch,’” wrote Gordon. “As those who know fishermen well have often testified, they are gamblers and incurably optimistic.”

Fishermen, in other words, are a lot like American investment bankers. Their overconfidence leads them to impoverish not just themselves but also their fishing grounds. Simply limiting the number of fish caught won’t solve the problem; it will just heighten the competition for the fish and drive down profits. The goal isn’t to get fishermen to overspend on more nets or bigger boats. The goal is to catch the maximum number of fish with minimum effort. To attain it, you need government intervention.

This insight is what led Iceland to go from being one of the poorest countries in Europe circa 1900 to being one of the richest circa 2000. Iceland’s big change began in the early 1970s, after a couple of years when the fish catch was terrible. The best fishermen returned for a second year in a row without their usual haul of cod and haddock, so the Icelandic government took radical action: they privatized the fish. Each fisherman was assigned a quota, based roughly on his historical catches. If you were a big-time Icelandic fisherman you got this piece of paper that entitled you to, say, 1 percent of the total catch allowed to be pulled from Iceland’s waters that season. Before each season the scientists at the Marine Research Institute would determine the total number of cod or haddock that could be caught without damaging the long-term health of the fish population; from year to year, the numbers of fish you could catch changed. But your percentage of the annual haul was fixed, and this piece of paper entitled you to it in perpetuity.

Even better, if you didn’t want to fish you could sell your quota to someone who did. The quotas thus drifted into the hands of the people to whom they were of the greatest value, the best fishermen, who could extract the fish from the sea with maximum efficiency. You could also take your quota to the bank and borrow against it, and the bank had no trouble assigning a dollar value to your share of the cod pulled, without competition, from the richest cod-fishing grounds on earth. The fish had not only been privatized, they had been securitized.

It was horribly unfair: a public resource—all the fish in the Icelandic sea—was simply turned over to a handful of lucky Icelanders. Overnight, Iceland had its first billionaires, and they were all fishermen. But as social policy it was ingenious: in a single stroke the fish became a source of real, sustainable wealth rather than shaky sustenance. Fewer people were spending less effort catching more or less precisely the right number of fish to maximize the long-term value of Iceland’s fishing grounds. The new wealth transformed Iceland—and turned it from the backwater it had been for 1,100 years to the place that spawned Björk. If Iceland has become famous for its musicians it’s because Icelanders now have time to play music, and much else. Iceland’s youth are paid to study abroad, for instance, and encouraged to cultivate themselves in all sorts of interesting ways. Since its fishing policy transformed Iceland, the place has become, in effect, a machine for turning cod into Ph.D.’s. (-- p. 175)


Bulletin of Mathematical Biology
Magazine Subscription
The economic theory of a common-property resource: The fishery
By H. Scott Gordon
Volume 53, Numbers 1-2 / March, 1991




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