Autumn landing

Autumn has landed in Bradley Stoke in much the same way that a sperm whale that materialised in mid-air would.

Leaves are covering the back garden, but Helena, ever industrious, is determined to sweep them away each week. Maybe we should get some shoes on Seb and see how he gets on with the piles of leaves before they are dumped into the recycling bin.

Strangely, Bradley Stoke looks quite nice in autumnal colours. I'm not sure these photos really do it full justice. I probably either need to get better at photography or own a better a camera, or both. There is something appealing about walking amongst the houses and ducking from housing estate to nature reserve and seeing the colours and leaves all changing.


Experiments to perform with your children

Admittedly, you might want to wait until they're a bit older ...

I've got to be honest, I can't entirely remember what triggered my memory of a random high school chemistry experiment with some kind of volcanic compound, nor how I rediscovered that the relevant stuff was ammonium dichromate. But I did and the joy of the internet is that YouTube has a video of the stuff doing its magic.


Why American owners don't mix with English football clubs

Even ignoring all the nonsense going on in the Liverpool FC board room, the thing that worries me most is that there is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that American owners are good for English football clubs. The problem is that this deal ignores critical cultural differences between American and English sports.

In America, sport is acknowledged and accepted as a business. Teams are described as "big market" or "small market" teams. Player unions are the norm and strikes are not unprecedented. Major League Baseball has had eight work stoppages, the most recent being in 1994-1995. The NFL has had a strike and there is much talk of a lockout in 2011. The NBA had a lockout as recently as 1999. [I realise that a lockout is slightly different to a work stoppage, but it's essentially the same principle with regards to the difference between English and American attitudes to sport.]
I think that it's almost impossible to imagine the players in the Premier League striking. It certainly wouldn't be accepted by the fans and media. There's enough moaning about overpaid players as it is. That's because, irrespective of the real facts, in the hearts of fans football is not a job (it's probably a privilege).

In England, we expect the owners of our clubs to bankroll success. We do not expect them to make a profit out of their ownership. Football isn't a business, it's a passion. The ideal club owner doesn't care whether they've plowed 100 million pounds into the club as long as it has brought success. A lot of the cynicism that greeted Roman Abramovich's arrival at Chelsea was coloured with jealousy that he wasn't about to buy success for other clubs. Whatever you thought about Deadly Doug Ellis, he wasn't just about the money at Aston Villa. American sports have family owned franchises and passionate owners (consider the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have been owned by the Rooney family ever since they were founded in 1933), but this doesn't hide the fact that sports teams are franchises, i.e. business ventures.

Transferring ownership away from the Gillett/Hicks catastrophe can only be good at Liverpool. However, I don't think that the owners of the Boston Red Sox will be an awful lot better. Liverpool needs owners that understand the way football is run in the UK. Treating the club as a business venture as nakedly as one would in the US will not wash. The tension with fans and media will be ruinous. It will be worse because it will not be explicit conflict, but will be rooted in two misaligned paradigms.

Overdue video updates

It's been a long while since I posted some updated videos of Seb. So, in true doting parenting style, here are a couple of embedded YouTube clips.

The first clip is Seb fully mobile and crawling. He's been doing this for a while. This video was taken when Seb was about 8 months old. Many of our videos of Seb end the same way. I feel it needs some kind of Japanese cartoon style "Aieeeeeeee!" at the end.

And this clip is a bit more recent from Bill and Kate Austen's wedding at The Grange in Ellesmere. Seb is playing with Vicki and Mike's puppy - Spangles. He had so much fun. We're still not getting a dog though.