Keeping score:
Many years ago there was a popular song called, “The Gambler.”  I liked it.  I could understand the words.  An old professional gambler gives his own advice to the singer, who seems to need it.  To me the most memorable idea was do not count your money during the game.  There will be plenty of time for that when it’s over.

We had the same principle in tennis.  If you are concentrating on the game you are not thinking about the score.  In fact if you are really at the top of your game you may not even be quite aware that you are playing the game.  The only thing that your mind must do is keep your eyes on the ball.  You drill, practice, study, get coached and do any number of things to improve your game, but in the actual event those things have to be automatic.  Otherwise they won’t help you much.  No, this is not advice; I never was very good at it.  It just seemed that way.  Maybe if I had gone over every game in my mind and critiqued myself after the fact, I would have been a better player.  But life was always full of exciting new adventures, so I would let the game join forgotten pleasures past.

The thing is, it takes a lot of concentration to keep from concentrating. 

ON THE OTHER HAND, when the tendency of numbers is what is at stake, then absolutely you keep track of the score.  You record it.  You look for patterns.  You look for hints about things you did not understand. 

If I could ask the Fairy with Turquoise Hair one thing, it would be, “Where can I get the numbers I want?  What really is the birthrate of Americans whose four grandparents were born in the country, and how has it changed?  How do birth rates in different countries break down by region, ancestry, mobility and income, and how have these things evolved?  How much of the small uptick in the number of births in developed countries is due to IVF?  How many of them have their own children without IVF?  With IVF?  Where can I hide?”  No, sorry about that last one.

It seems (The Generation Game, NATURE vol. 471 no. 7336 March 1, 2011 page 5 Yes I know I am reaching pretty far back on this one, but October is not going to let me have much time so I am trying to build up enough to keep things warm until almost November.  I have plenty of things older, still, which I will probably never access.  New things keep turning up.) that there has been a study going on in Britain for 65 years following a cohort of people born in the same time frame and seeing what happens to them.   Obviously such information is pure gold in terms of assessing what is going on in a population. 

The reason for the study was that there was concern over falling fertility in Britain after WWII.  Over these six and a half decades three things have gone on.  1) The data have been scrupulously collected and preserved.  2) The birth rate was all right for about twenty years and then fell to disastrous and unprecedented levels.  3) The government declined to start another cohort. 

Over concentrating in sports is a kind of deliberate madness.  It is a mind set you adopt for a purpose and then abandon when it is no longer needed.  Ignoring something as vital to a country as the baby count and its parameters seems also a kind of madness, but this time with neither purpose nor end. 

Oh well.

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