19 August 2014

Little Black Higgs Boson

Todays blog includes literature, racism, and physics.

In 1899 Helen Bannerman published Little Black Sambo. A book I had read to me, as did the siblings. It's frequently banned as 'sambo' is classed a racial slur.
For those of you interested in the full version, with pictures, it's available on Project Gutenberg here. (that links to the HTML version, there's epub etc available as well).

It turns out she's also the grandmother (or rather, was) of Prof. Tom Kibble who discovered the Higgs boson.

Which is just the bestest random link.


17 August 2014

The Premier League

Yes, let's take a moment to reflect on this. I'm posting on football. This has been prompted by the season kicking off yesterday, and my general disinterest, verging on hatred, of it.

I'm not against football, indeed I follow the Bundesliga and try to watch as much of the World Cup as I can. Facts which seem to surprise work colleagues who are well aware of my dedicated passion for rugby, any rugby, well ok, any rugby that's not the dire English game.
So why the dislike for the Premier League? I used to watch it religiously on Sunday lunchtime, so what's changed? I think it's all tied to the money and the stupidity of the performers.

Unlike most sports who are desperate to get punters through the gates to fund the team, the Premier League doesn't need punters. Their money is made through TV sponsorship and related merchandising sales. Sure having a strong fan base is probably good for image, but with the astronomical sums paid for TV rights, whatever gate takings make they are still effectively loose change. Therefore the clubs don't need to care, and so can charge whatever they want knowing their prodcut will sell - and if it doesn't, meh, who cares. Still got the monies coming in.

Therefore the clubs can afford to buy in the best talent (I'd prefer the word, twats, but eh), to ensure success. This is an approach that i think causes the biggest problems for the English game. There's no shared experience for the game as they spend all their time playing with bought in players. This differs from the German, Dutch, Belgian etc experience who play with national team members more often. A situation very similar to rugby (especially NZ) selection policies where foreign based players are ineligible for national selection. That creates more value for the product (All Blacks) and ensures a strong local game. But with the greater money on offer for English football, that becomes irrelevant. Yeah ok, chicken and egg, TV or bought in players, but the end result is the same. The most marketed football league in the world.

Then the players themselves. It seems to me that the Premier league suffers from celebrity-itis. A bunch of overpaid people who kick a small ball around, held up as the pinnacle of sporting achievement in a culture which apparently values that.
Sure rugby players are recognised, idolised even, but they've grown up in the communities (or at least the same country) and so have some level of shared value system - and currently are not paid the astronomical amounts that footballers are, so appear to be more grounded. That might also be a reflection of having the crap kicked out of you in rucks/scrums makes it very hard to maintain a lofty position...

It seems that paying your players that much, takes the power from the team/manager and down to the individual. Which maybe socialist (except with the amount they're paid), but doesn't make much business sense as the bargaining position is too skewed.

I can't see it happening but the following could help:

  • reduce pay to players
  • focus on club, not individual
  • reduce numbers of foreign players - cap? 
All seems quite similar to how southern hemisphere rugby works, whereas the English game seems to follow the football, without the astronomical pay. Meaning the players dictate to the national organisation, which is not in the national teams best interest.

Which leads me back to the Bundesliga, the game play appears quicker, there's more focus on the football - less on appearance and dives - and although there are international stars there, they don't have the name recognition (or at least don't to me), as the premier league eejits.
And, apparently tickets are much cheaper.

But back to rugby for me.

8 August 2014

News of note

Today's national news section had two rather excellent articles, which deserve a wider audience:

Man who pretended to be a ghost fined £35.
Who-ever wrote the headline was obviously enjoying themselves, but it was topped by the subheading  of the online article (which wasn't in the paper version):
Police spokesman says witnesses complained about Anthony Stallard 'throwing his arms in the air and saying woooooo'
More here.

Man critically ill after three bites from snake
Which, on the face of it, isn't comedy. Except when you consider the facts:

  • the UK has one native venomous snake, the adder
  • the last death was a 5yo in 1975, previous to that there had been 14 deaths in 100 years
The gentleman in question was bitten "...by an adder that he had picked up." (italics mine). The Darwin Awards wait with baited breath...