The Artists Saying ‘Nope’ to the Arms Industry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 6:17am in

This is another great little video from Novara media, posted on YouTube on the 17th October 2018, about a group of artists, who withdrew their work from the Design Museum and exhibited elsewhere. This is the Nopetoarms collective, a group of radical artists protesting against the arms industry.

They made the decision to withdraw their works following the announcement that the museum would be hosting a reception for Leonardo, the 9th largest arms company in the world. Novara’s Ash Sarkar tweeted that it was a case of the British art establishment coopting radical artists to stay relevant, and ‘facilitating the social calendar of slaughterers to stay wealthy’. They also told her it was a private event, and she had to use other entrances and exits. One of the artists, Glen Orton, states that the movement contained work by Syrian artists, the Hong Kong movement, and other protest groups, who’d been teargassed, beaten, bombed. He was ‘gobsmacked’ that they even considered hosting the company. The Museum stated that they could not immediately commit to refusing money from the arms, oil and tobacco industries.

Another artist, Jess Worth, states that when the time came to move their works, there were forty people in the collective, which now comprised a third of the exhibition. The artists then decided to exhibit their work themselves, on their own terms. Charlie Waterhouse, another artist with the group, states that once the decision was made to remove their work, the Museum’s PR machine attacked them by claiming they were trying to shut down free speech and stop people seeing the exhibition. This made them think that putting the show back on would be a good thing. The exhibition is now being held in the basement of a leisure centre in Brixton, where it is curated and controlled by the artists themselves.

Worth explains that they wanted their exhibition to be free, unlike the Design Museum, which charged 12 pounds, the artists would write the labels themselves, so that it would present the work in the way they wanted. They wanted it grounded in community. They also wanted to make it accessible to people, who wouldn’t normally go to an art gallery.

Waterhouse also explains why the art is hung on clothes pegs from fences. It’s so that people say, ‘Oh, I can do that. Then, ‘I can do that’, and go and do it.

The video explains that oil and arms funding in the arts industry is a massive problem. Worth explains that being in a museum space conveys the impression that a company’s work is legitimate, because otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to be there. This is immensely valuable to the companies involved.

Waterhouse goes on to say that this has got to stop. On the one hand, they’re taking money from the arms industry. On the other, they’re levering cachet from the artists’ work without paying them. It’s a scam, he concludes.

The video also explains that the collective would like to do more. Worth says that what they’d really like to see is museums and other cultural bodies having a code of fundraising ethics, determining who they will and won’t take money from, that’s really clear on their website that everyone can see.

Waterhouse says that it’s time for artists to mobilise, to realise that their ethics, morals and feelings are valid, and they don’t just have to kowtow to the money.

Orton ends the video by saying that the Design Museum doesn’t know what it’s done.

The video shows the works of art as they’re displayed in the leisure. They not only comment explicitly on the arms industry, corruption and other issues, but also on the exploitation of the poor and working class through zero hours contracts. And among the iconic figures used in the works there’s David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.

I think it’s really great that these artists have stood up for their beliefs against the arms industry, and that they’re encouraging their public to get involved and create their own pieces as well. I wish them all the best for their exhibition.

My JBIS Paper on Passenger-Rated Hobby Rockets

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/10/2018 - 1:24am in

After the flight a few months ago of the American eccentric in his steam-powered rocket to see if the Earth really was flat, and Richard Branson’s announcement last week that he was only weeks away from sending his first tourists into space aboard his Virgin Galactic spaceplane, I thought it was time I put up a piece about a paper I had published in the Journal of British Interplanetary Society about other, passenger-carrying rockets. The paper, ‘Backyard Spaceships: Passenger-Rated Microlights for Hobby Rocketry’, argued that just as hang-gliders and microlight aircraft allowed people to enjoy the experience of flight simply for pure pleasure, so short-range passenger-carrying rockets could be developed to give people some of the experience of spaceflight. It’s quite a long and technical article, so I’ll simply quote the abstract. This runs

The FINDS and CATS prizes have introduced to contemporary astronautics the competitive spirit, which led to such spectacular advances in the fledgling aviation industry. This pioneering spirit is also shared by present day microlight aircraft enthusiasts. If the expected expansion of commercial passenger spaceflight with mass space tourism occurs, then it may create a demand for extreme short-range crewed rockets as a new form of leisure craft, Just as microlight aircraft recreate the experience of large aircraft flight on a smaller scale. If the technologies, materials and procedures used in microlight and balloon aviation are applied to those of high power solid propellant rocketry, then similar ‘microlight’ rockets able to reach altitudes of c.3,200 m, may be a possibility. Apart from the leisure and sporting opportunities offered by such craft, which would also encourage technological experimentation and progress, they would also great benefit astronautical education by adding the practical human experience of rocket flight to ground studies’ curricula. (p. 45).

The FINDS and CATS prizes were set up to encourage private organisations to develop rockets that could successfully fly into space and land again. They were deliberately established in emulation of the prizes that drove the early research into aviation and aircraft flight. These prizes were awarded in competitions for aircraft flying particular long distances, for example, and so encouraged and rewarded designers, engineers and pilots working on the designs of the planes and their engines.

A Danish organization, Copenhagen Sub-Orbitals, was also working on developing a human-carrying rocket, and have posted a few videos showing their vehicles’ test flights on YouTube. However, the last thing I read from them was that they were having difficulty making their rocket safe for humans, as the crash test dummy was always broken on landing. I don’t know whether anyone will actually go ahead and make such microlight hobby spacecraft, but the flight of the guy in his steam-powered spacecraft showed that such short-range, passenger hobby flights are possible.

Sleep and reading – Australia bound

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/10/2018 - 1:18am in


Music, Sport

Today’s blog post is about sleep and reading. I am travelling from London to Sydney today via Hong Kong so I will not write anything more than a few lines. I will be back in writing mode on Tuesday I should think. For the next 24 hours I have a lot of reading to do. I also provide some advice for those who pack running shoes when travelling.

It has been a really busy, if not torrid speaking tour this time around – lots of in and out of my least favourite airport London Heathrow and a lot of talk.

I now get a more measured period of writing.

Thomas Fazi and I met in Germany over the weekend just gone and are now fully working on our followup book to – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017).

I will provide a rough guide to what we are up to soon – I might have said ‘when we know’ – but it is more accurate to say when the approach is more fully articulated.

I think it will be a little of a surprise and as a clue we are going to provide a comprehensive critique of ‘Western’ concepts of democracy and economy to allow us to break out of the usual frames that bind, even our thinking.

It might not work but it will be fun finding out.

More on that later.

Over the next 24 hours or so, if you are worried about comments that are held in the moderation queue it is because I am some kms in the sky and refuse to pay the ridiculous fees that airlines demand for wi-fi connection.

For those who pack running shoes when travelling …

More important than learning or writing about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is finding good running routes when travelling.

Here are some of the routes I have been traversing over the last few weeks in New York City and then in Europe.

NYC – Hudson River Park

I was staying in Jane Street, adjacient to the Hudson River. The choice of Hotel was deliberate because I had only one crossing before I was on the fabulous running track along the river.

You can go south for further than I run – I went around 5 kms down and 5kms back. There are various piers that you can run out and around if you like.

Surface is excellent (paving mostly).

There are a lot of runners but it is not crowded.

Highly recommended.

The route in the map is not my turnaround point on the days I ran it – I just couldn’t fit it all on the screen and make it meaningful.

On another day, I ran north along the River Park and the route is less preferred to going south.

An attraction on the Chelsea Pier is you run out and around a golf driving range and there were stacks of golfers trying to groove their swings early in the morning.

I turned around at the 4 kms mark on that day.

Dublin, Ireland

I was staying at the Wynns Hotel in Abbey Street, just off the famous O’Connell Street.

This run takes you over the river, past Trinity College, up Grafton Street to the corner of St Stephen’s Green (1 km exactly).

Then I did 8 laps of St. Stephen’s Green – each on nearly exactly 1 km around.

Then back to the city.

Perfect symmetry really – 1km, loops of 1 km, then 1 km.

St Stephen’s Green is beautiful and in the early morning the wind was blowing the Autumn leaves into my face, which was nice.

Surface excellent.

Hassle: getting out to the Green – lots of intersections. Grafton Street though is closed to traffic.

Out the back of Galway, Ireland

This was a fabulous run. I was staying in a rural house with friends (near Aphouleen) and this run wound down little farm tracks (surface okay) to one of the bays, along through Ballymanagh, and out to Knockayncarragh near the sea.

Then I came back.

Early morning – cool, atmospheric and any of the routes around this area are great.

London – Russell Square

On several days while I was in London I ran my Russell Square route.

I prefer to stay up around the Brunswick Centre and I can get to the Square quickly. Then I do about 20 laps – sometimes 18. It is not as good as going out to Regent’s Park but it avoids all the traffic.

Each lap is just over 540 metres. You might get dizzy if you run fast! Surface is excellent and while the thought of running continuous laps might deter you, the reality of no traffic and nice trees should attract.

I have spent many an early morning making myself dizzy at the Square.

Lisbon – Portugal

I ran two routes in Lisbon. I was staying down in the Baixa district, chosen to be close to the water edge and easy to get to running routes.

The first route goes out to the historic port of Belém on the Tagus River. This is where Vasco de Gama set off in 1497 and was the first to find the sea route to India.

The run takes you down to the main square (Praça do Comércio), turn right and run along the river path.

In the early morning it is not crowded but later it would be unbearable.

The surface is small paving stones and not great for feet (constantly adjusting).

There are some beautiful sights and some really seedy parts – ephemeral population, some ‘dealers’ and homeless.

Belém is a nice place to run around.

The second route turned left at the Praça do Comércio and goes past the Cruise ship terminal and along the port area. After some kms you come to a major overpass and under the road there is a tent city of homeless people. A large population it seems.

The surface is better this way but the views are less attractive.

Lisbon, in general is not my favourite place to run. But the route to Belém is okay.

Würzburg, Germany

For the last two days of this speaking tour I have been in Würzburg, Germany. This run is exceptional. The city has a ring road and on the eastern side you can access the RingPark, which is a beautiful route through parkland (with occasional road crossing) with soft gravel surfaces.

It goes up and down gently and when you get down to the Main River, I turned left and ran along the quay for some distance (off the map shown) and turned around at the 5 kms mark and traced my route back.

There are lots of variations but this was my favourite run of this tour.

Virtually no-one around in the early morning and not much traffic to impede crossing roads without having to stop.

Travel Sounds

Here is some lovely music from one of my favourite post-minimalist composers Max Richter.

It is off the re-released album (May 2018)- The Blue Notebooks – which was originally released on February 26, 2004 on Fat Cat Records.

It was originally recorded as a protest by Max Richter to the Iraq invasion in 2003.

This track On the Nature of Daylight was re-recorded for the new release, with different musicians. The new album is called The Blue Notebooks – 15 Years Edition.

It still resonates after first hearing it in 2004.

So Bill, put your feet up boy, open a novel, and in about a day you will be back on the ground in warm, springtime Australia.

And with that I may resurface tomorrow.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

UFC Championship Bout Marred By Violence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/10/2018 - 9:14am in



The much anticipated UFC Championship showdown between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor degenerated into an ugly fight on Saturday night after their brutal bout saw Nurmagomedov retain his lightweight title.

UFC officials were horrified by behaviour of the star fighters and their respective teams and have ordered an immediate investigation into how a fight broke out at their showpiece event.
In a media statement released overnight, UFC President, Dana White, said ‘UFC is a family sport and there is no place for unnecessary violence at any of our sanctioned events’.
The outcome of the investigation is expected to be finalised after the Khabib v Conor rematch.

 By Paul Dovas

Heroic Roosters Fan Watches Entire Grand Final With Broken Chardy Glass

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/10/2018 - 8:07am in


Sport, Australia


The biggest secret of the NRL Grand Final has been revealed after victors the Sydney Roosters admitted that their biggest fan had inspiringly watched the entire game whilst concealing that the stem on his wine glass had snapped.

“I’d actually broken the stem in three places during the Preliminary Final against the bunnies last week,” said number one fan Brenton Trustfund, who attended three actual games this season. “I wrapped some tape around it and barracked the rest of the match with my hand supporting the bulbous bit of the glass that holds the liquid.”

Trustfund’s life coach devised a clever game watching plan to allow him to enjoy the Grand Final whilst avoiding any dangerous contact to the injured receptacle.

“We sat Brent down on a plastic chair at the back of the patio and got one of his biggest mates to block anyone who moved in to clink the glass after a try had been scored,” said Bellevue Hill life coach Sheree Kambala. “We made sure that he refilled just before and after the half time break so that jostling around the wine bottle was at a minimum.”

“He completely foxed us throughout the week with the story that there was a small crack in the side of the glass and that he may have to drink his chardonnay out of one of those big red plastic cups,” said rival Melbourne Storm fan Simon Laneway. “I tried to get to him to put the glass down and come outside to talk about house prices but he just hid himself behind the chip bowl and directed the cheering from a distance.”

Peter Green

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Smug Office Worker Who Refers To The Footy As ‘Sportsball’ Surprised To Learn That They Weren’t Asked To After Work Drinks

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 28/09/2018 - 8:27am in




Twenty eight year old Sydney based accounts assistant Jeff Jones has spent his week at work bemoaning to one and all how he has no interest in either of the weekends games of ‘sportsball’ as he calls it.

Mr Jones was also shocked to learn on Friday that his colleagues had planned after works drinks for that evening and neglected to invite him.

“It must be an over sight as people at work love my witty banter,” said Mr Jones. “I mean all week I’ve been talking about ‘sportsball’ and you should see the reaction I’ve gotten. The eye rolls, the walkaways, heck Bill from accounts told me I should go to an open mic night.”

A colleague of Mr Jones’ spoke to The (un)Australian off the record about Mr Jones’ missing invite to Friday night drinks, saying: “Look we get he’s not into footy that’s cool everyone has different passions. But he continually rabbits, on and on about it.”

“We work in a pretty mundane office and a bit of a chat about sport breaks up the day. I don’t think Jeff realises this. Can’t he just fake an interest in footy like we do when he starts rabbiting on about that one time he went to Thailand.”

Mark Williamson

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Warner’s Return To Cricket Sees A Rise In Bunnings Warehouse’s Share Price

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 24/09/2018 - 8:19am in



david warner

Warner’s sledge was ‘a nod to the pre-1973 language test, when things were simpler’.

Former Australian cricketer David Warner has made his return to club cricket following his suspension for ball tampering and it has resulted in an increase in crowds, plenty of runs (Warner scored 150 odd) and a significant rise in the share price of Bunnings hardware.

“Friday afternoon and Saturday morning we couldn’t keep the shelves stocked with sandpaper, it was literally flying off the shelves,” said a Bunnings Spokesperson. “The pleasing thing was that it was mostly young kids dressed in their cricket whites who were buying the sandpaper.”

“It’s good to see someone like Warner give back to his local community. The influence he has on the local kids is truly inspiring.”

When asked how he feels to be back playing cricket David Warner said: “Good to be back out there amongst the boys. I felt I was really putting in today, I got in some good sledges especially against the opposition’s younger players those pricks didn’t know what hit them.”

“And oh yeah I scored some runs as well, now I gotta go and do some more press then egg the opposition captain’s car.”

Mark Williamson

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Self-Taught Engineer Successfully Flies aboard Steam Rocket

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/09/2018 - 3:17am in

And now, before the serious stuff, something completely different, as Monty Python used to say. This is a short video I found on YouTube from the Inside Edition channel. It’s their report on the successful flight of a steam-powered rocket, built and crewed by ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes. Hughes is a limousine driver and a self-taught engineer. His reason for building the vehicle is, er, eccentric: he wanted to see if the Earth was flat.

The video was posted on 18th March 2018, and shows Hughes and his rocket taking off in the Mojave desert in the south-western US. It climbed to an altitude of 1,850 feet before finally returning to Earth, its descent slowed by two parachutes. Hughes had spent ten years building it, and the video shows stills of early versions of the rocket.

Hughes’ landing was rough, however. The video describes it as a crash. A rescue team got him out of the cockpit, but he complained that his back was broken. When the news crew caught him with him to talk, ironically just outside a courthouse where he’d been giving a ticket for speeding, Hughes’ claimed that he might have a compressed vertebra.

The video ends by reassuring its viewers that, yes, the Earth is indeed flat.

I’m actually saluting this bloke, because he’s obviously really clever and has done something I’d love to do myself: build a low power rocket that could hold a man or woman and send them up to a reasonable height. Way back in the 1990s I had a paper printed in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society arguing for the construction and flight of such vehicles as a new leisure industry. I based this on the use of hang-gliders, paragliding and microlight aircraft as hobby aviation. People fly them because they want to enjoy the experience of powered flight, not because they actually want to go from A to B. In the same way, I feel, human-carrying rockets could be built and flown to give ordinary people something of the experience of astronauts going into space aboard real rockets, like the Space Shuttle or the Russian Soyuz craft. But obviously without having to spend millions on a ticket to space.

Steam, or hot water rockets, have been around since the 19th century. The first modern hot water rocket was patented in Britain in 1824 by the American inventor, Jacob Perkins (1766-1849). The American Rocket Research Institute, based in California, and founded in 1943, established a special centre for the research and construction of hot water rockets, the Perkins Centre, named after him. The Institute runs a number of training programmes for students and aspiring rocket engineers. The rockets developed could carry payloads up to 5,000 feet.

After the War, the German rocket scientist, Eugen Sanger, and his wife Irene Sanger-Bredt, carried out research into hot water rockets to see whether they could work assisting heavily loaded aircraft into the air. The main US researcher in the area was Bob Truax.

The rocket engines developed by the RRI ranged from senior student college engineering projects with a thrust of 700 lbs per second to the Thunderbolt II constructed by Truax Engineering, which had a thrust of 16,000 lbs per second.
The photo below shows the STEAM-HI III hot water rocket being installed at the Perkins Safety Test Centre in 1963.

This photo shows Truax Engineering’s Thunderbolt rocket and its static test firing in 1973.

See ‘The Rocket Research Institute, 1943-1993: 50 Years of Rocket Safety, Engineering and Space Education Programs’, George S. James and Charles J. Piper, in Jung, Philippe, ed., History of Rocketry and Astronautics, AAS History Series, Vol. 22; IAA History Symposia, vol. 14 (American Astronautical Society: San Diego 1998), pp. 343-400.

And the Earth is very, very definitely round. As it has been known to be by educated European since the 9th century, and by the Greek astronomers long before that. All that stuff about how people in the Middle Ages believed the world was flat and that if you sailed far enough west you’d fall off was basically invented in the 19th century by Washington Irving. The Church Fathers knew and accepted that it was round. St. Augustine said so in one of his works, and argued that when the Bible spoke of the world as flat, it was an instance of God using the beliefs of the time to make His moral message intelligible to the people then alive.

I’ve no idea where the modern delusion that the world’s flat comes from. Well, actually, I do – it seems to have started a year ago in 2017 with the comments of a rapper on American radio. But before then I thought the idea was very definitely dead and buried. In Britain, the Flat Earth Society had dwindled to a single member. This was actually a physicist, who believed that the Earth was round. He used the Society to argue against dogmatism in science. And I thought he had packed finally packed it in, leaving the number of Flat Earthers in Britain at zero.

Now it seems that there are any number of eccentrics, who believe the world is really flat. They’re completely wrong about that, including Hughes.

But Hughes did something superb in building his own, human-carrying rocket

NRL Blames Low Finals Attendance On Sub-Par Stadiums

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/09/2018 - 8:52am in




The NRL has blamed the condition of Allianz Stadium as the reason for only 19,000 people turning up to watch the Cronulla sharks play the Penrith panthers last Friday night.

“Mate it’s appalling what the fans have to put up with,” said an NRL Spokesperson. “I mean the seats are plastic and not leather, the toilet seats are not heated and worst of all the food is not served to you. I mean people have to actually line up.”

“What a disgrace. Where is this Government’s priorities, kids don’t want better schools they want comfier sporting stadiums.”

When asked why the AFL was able to attract crowds of over 90,000 to their finals games the Spokesperson replied: “They did. Ah look you know historically League is better watched on Television than it is live.”

“That’s why we are demanding all new stadiums to be built so that every seat reclines and has a television. That’ll bring in the crowds.”

Mark Williamson

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The natural enemy: Serena Williams and the sporting umpire

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 8:14am in



Should it matter this much? A wealthy, successful individual expressed fury at the most popular object of vitriol in any sport.