Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, June 10, 2022

Four Things

1. Here's a fun read for your next wait in a long checkout line or a doctor's office: an article (HT: GeekPress) on "The Strange Business of Hole-in-One Insurance," which is much more interesting than it might sound. The piece includes war stories from Mark Gilmartin, who founded one of the oldest such firms in the US.

In addition to indemnifying golfers for the round of drinks -- or huge parties in Japan! -- that are customary, this kind of coverage includes prizes for holes-in-one at charity events.

Gilmartin operates in the black, but offers the following amusing story about getting burned good in one tournament:

In November 2021, for instance, 3 LPGA golfers got a hole-in-one in the same week, each winning a 2-year lease on a Lamborghini Huracán. The tournament's sponsor, Morgan Auto Group, purchased hole-in-one insurance from Gilmartin, and the winning shots set him back ~$300k.

"Yeah, those women are pretty damn good," he says. "That one still stings."
And, yes, he sometimes has to deny coverage:
In 1998, for instance, a man got a hole-in-one at an event and won a choice between a 1931 Cadillac or $40k in cash. But it turned out that the event organizer owed the winner a favor and had staged the whole thing. The organizer was convicted of fraud, and the prize was nullified.
The piece closes by noting that hole-in-one insurance is just one example of prize indemnity insurance.

Image by Melissa Doroquez, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
So, the next time you hear about some charity handing out huge prizes for things like a hole in one, a half-court basketball shot, or winning a rubber duck race, you'll know how they can afford the risk.

2. I was sad to learn that Ann Turner Cook, whose portrait won a contest to become the "Gerber Baby," died a few days ago. The artist who created the charcoal drawing was her neighbor, Dorothy Hope Smith. Cook was an English teacher, who wrote mystery novels during her retirement.

3. Via my Twitter feed comes news that Disney wants feedback on its pioneering Star Wars-themed resort, due to unexpectedly low demand:
A year ago, in August, word got out that Disney was about to launch a fully immersive Star Wars experience at Disney World. It sounded like the perfect getaway for a Star Wars superfan -- but that's not what ended up happening.

Now, Disney is trying to figure out why the incredibly expensive hotel flopped, and the company is spending even more money to try and find out why.
I'd heard about this, and the idea of a fully immersive experience sounded interesting -- for early-thirties, childless me or perhaps when my kids are in their teens. My son (like me, at least in the theme parks) likes to take some time off from the hubbub mid-day to recharge as it is. I know he'd be miserable having to stay in character for two days straight! (On top of that, he's not quite been bitten by the sci-fi bug, yet.)

In any event, the news got me curious enough to dig up and find two things that might interest anyone who might want to try the original before it's too late: "Guide to Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Resort at Disney World" and "Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Review," both by Tom Bricker.

One of the speculations I recall from the Fatherly piece was that, despite Disney warning that its new resort would not be a typical Disney experience, people might miss or not fully comprehend just how different the experience would be.

I think they were right to be concerned: The guide and review (above) sounded about like what I expected, but when I told my wife -- a lifelong Disney fan -- about such details as everything being indoors and there not being a pool, she was surprised.

I also think that Bricker is right to have been concerned even before this development that the experience might get compromised after guest feedback or cost analysis.

My $0.02? The "cruise" is highly regimented as is, and caters to a few customers at a time. Perhaps alternate story lines, some more amenable to a hybrid experience and some remaining more immersive could be worked out. As it is, it sounds like something that could be fun to do ... once.

4. Neat Tech Term for the Day: Turing Tarpit -- A Turing tarpit "is any programming language or computer interface that allows for flexibility in function but is difficult to learn and use because it offers little or no support for common tasks."

The term reminds me of early college days, in the late '80's, when the personal computer was just taking off. I had a college roommate who owned a computer. I recall him spending nearly an entire day one weekend debugging some program he had written, I think in Lisp.

I worked at a restaurant all day, and returned to find out that he had just finished, and that the whole problem boiled down to a missing parenthesis.

Perhaps Lisp is an example of a Turing tarpit, perhaps not. But I do remember having something like the following thought: I'll be damned if I'm going to spend all day hunting for a parenthesis. When people like this get computers to become useful, I'll look into them.

I eventually did, and I'm both relieved and grateful for the folks like my roommate. (Indeed, I now think that most computing has reached the opposite extreme of being so easy an idiot can use it -- but too inflexible to do much of anything original.)

Long live division of labor!

-- CAV


: Added HT to Hole-in-One Insurance.


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "I was sad to learn that Ann Turner Cook, whose portrait won a contest to become the "Gerber Baby," died a few days ago. The artist who created the charcoal drawing was her neighbor, Dorothy Hope Smith. Cook was an English teacher, who wrote mystery novels during her retirement."

"Oh, hey!" he says. I read one of her mysteries and have another somewhere. It was good enough that I remember her name, but not enough that it stands out from the others I read at the time. It had a ghost, I think...[mumble mumble] Ah, here we go.

And that puts me in mind of an entertaining passage from a rather older mystery story. One of the fun things about the really old British mysteries, those between Holmes and the Golden Age starting in the late 20s or so, is that many of the best stories didn't involve murder but other criminal goings-on, which is kind of refreshing--they were still mapping out the terrain, as it were, and finding the fun bits that were quickly depleted, you might say. Some of my favorites are the stories about Max Carrados, the blind detective, which are great fun. This is the beginning of "The Ghost at Massingham Mansions" (published in a collection in 1923):

"Do you believe in ghosts, Max?" inquired Mr. Carlyle.

"Only as ghosts," replied Carrados with decision.

"Quite so," assented the private detective with the air of acquiescence with which he was wont to cloak his moments of obfuscation. Then he added cautiously: "And how don't you believe in them, pray?"

"As public nuisances—-or private ones for that matter," replied his friend. "So long as they are content to behave as ghosts I am with them. When they begin to meddle with a state of existence that is outside their province—-to interfere in business matters and depreciate property—-to rattle chains, bang doors, ring bells, predict winners and to edit magazines and to attract attention instead of shunning it, I cease to believe. My sympathies are entirely with the sensible old fellow who was awakened in the middle of the night to find a shadowy form standing by the side of his bed and silently regarding him. For a few minutes the disturbed man waited patiently, expecting some awful communication, but the same profound silence was maintained. 'Well,' he remarked at length, 'if you have nothing to do, I have,' and turning over went to sleep again."

Gus Van Horn said...


It didn't occur to me that anyone here would have encountered those writings: They had mixed reviews, from what I recall.

Thanks for the passage, and I do like the idea of a blind detective.