Posts Tagged ‘Flight’

Mad Right-Wing YouTuber Alex Belfield Banned by YouTube for Two Weeks

February 13, 2022

A day or two ago Alex Jones, the right-wing host of the Voice of Reason channel on YouTube, was handed a temporary ban for two weeks. At first it was thought that he’d been banned for three months, but Andy the Gabby Cabby, another YouTuber sympathetic to Belfield, has cleared that up. He’s been in communication with him, and apparently he’s only been suspended for a fortnight, but it was because he had already had two strikes against him within a three month period before suffering the third complaint resulting in his suspension. The Blackbelt Barrister, a YouTube legal expert, has also weighed in on the case. Citing expert legal opinion on the 2003 Information Act, the Barrister states that, in the opinion of the judicial authorities, the Act should only be used against communications that physically threaten a person’s safety or which stir up racial hatred. They should not be used to chill personal opinion or censor offensive views, even if those views make someone feel uncomfortable.

This is fine, but I don’t think Belfield has actually been charged with anything under the Act. Belfield has been banned from YouTube because it’s a private company, as are the other internet platforms. As private companies they are quite within their rights to set their own terms and conditions and restrict what may be said on them. The right got very upset about all this a few years ago when they started being censored for issues like misogyny, homophobia, racism, transphobia and so on. Left-wingers, however, pointed out that this was simply private industry acting as a private company and not in the public interest. They also pointed out how ironic it was this had happened to the right, who are staunch supporters of private companies against state-owned industries. There were even demands from some that the government should set up a nationalised internet platform to allow a proper exchange of views without censorship. Which would be really ironic considering that the right is worried about government censorship and attacks on free speech rather than that by powerful corporations.

So what brought about Belfield’s ban? Well, it seems from another post by the Gabby Cabby that it was a complaint against Belfield by Carol Vorderman because of his comments about her ‘assets’. The Cabby stated it was unclear whether this was about her property, or something rather more personal. Quite.

Belfield has regularly criticised the former Countdown star along with a number of other celebrities including Katie Price and Philip Schofield. This includes comments on her home or homes as well as more personal remarks about how she has apparently enhanced her bosom to retain the attention of the jaded public. He’s satirised her as a character ‘Carol Vordernorks’ in drag with fake breasts and a thick Brummie accent. I’ve never found this to be funny and it’s really just personal abuse. My sympathies in this instance are very firmly with Vorderman. I don’t know her, but she’s always come across as perfectly genial and polite on TV, and is herself an extremely intelligent woman. Not only does she have a degree in engineering from Oxford, but she’s also a pilot and a patron of the air cadets. She’s also active trying to get more people, especially girls, into science and flight, and has done her bit supporting the RAF. I really don’t know what Belfield has against her, as it doesn’t seem like there’s the same kind of personal feud he apparently has with the BBC and its producers, and the presenter Jeremy Vine, which have seen him involved in a legal battle over the past few years.

Belfield himself has thanked YouTube for paying for his house and giving him a livelihood, and claims his shows about the country are now sold out. He states that he will come back, but is going to launch a ‘secret VOR channel’ on the 28th of this month. This seems to confirm rumours that he’s about to vanish behind a paywall.

Belfield has some very right-wing views, some of which I regard as particularly dangerous. Like his demands that the NHS should be privatised, although in a video he made shortly before he was banned he urged people not to give to the NHS, because this would tell Johnson that we can be charged, ‘and then we’re all f***ed’. I wonder what he thinks will happen if he gets his way and the NHS is privatised. I am well aware that there are members of this blog who heartily despise Belfield. I watch some of his videos because he says openly what the rest of the right doesn’t, but who share his attitudes. And I do share his opposition to the transgender craze, but not trans people, which is causing real suffering to mentally and emotionally vulnerable young people. I firmly believe that some youngster are being misdiagnosed and put on a long course of medical treatment and physical transformation predominantly for ideological reasons and against their best interests. Some of the children now identified as transgender seem to be gay and come from extremely homophobic backgrounds, so it looks like a form of gay conversion therapy. This can be compared to the situation in Iran, where gays are given the choice of transitioning to the opposite sex or execution. I realise that such gender critical views are controversial, but the science behind them, to this layman’s eyes, seems solid. There is considerable censorship of such views, including threats and personal violence. Therefore, on this score, I support Belfield for posting against the transgender craze even if I find some of his other views mistaken, offensive and dangerous.

And rather than seeing anyone banned, I would prefer that people instead showed their opposition by blogging against them and winning arguments. I would rather have this done to make their views unpopular rather than censorship.

Because there are too many attempts already to censor what we can say with the Tories doing their best to outlaw public demonstrations against their monstrous policies.

Steampunk Airplanes from the 19th Century

November 18, 2015

A few days ago I put up a post about 19th century attempts to produce steam-driven carriages and cars, which were very much like the kind of vehicles imagined by 20th century Cyberpunk writers. Cyberpunk is the type of science fiction, which takes as its starting point the fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and imagines what the world would have been like, if the Victorians had had spacecraft, flying machines, cars and so on.

As well as inventing steam cars, carriages and buses, the century also saw a series of inventors put their minds towards flight. Balloons had been known about and used since they were invented in the 18th century. While some scientists and engineers, like Cugnot in France, attempted to create dirigible balloons – the ancestors of the Zeppelins and other airships of the 20th century, others tried to create heavier-than-air craft using wings, partly based on observing the way birds fly. These were the precursors and ancestors of the Wright brothers’ plane flown at Kittyhawk.

Such flying machines appear in the Science Fiction of the period. There are flying ships in Bulwer-Lytton’s early SF novel, The Coming Race. These frequently had fantastic designs, that would have been completely impossible to fly, such as the flying machine invented by one Mr Broughton in the short story, The Fate of the Firefly, by the Rev. J.M. Bacon. This is described as like

the skeleton of some antediluvian monster bird or flying fish. There were huge lateral wings, in texture like a bat’s, there was a pointed beak and a neck whose vertebrae were jointed pully blocks, but the body was too complex for comprehension, though it clearly contained an engine of some sort, with a tank which also did duty as a table. The story was accompanied by the following illustration of the ‘plane’.

Steampunk Aircraft 6

See Hilary and Dik Evans, Beyond the Gaslight: Science in Popular Fiction 1895-1905 (London: Frederick Muller Ltd 1976) 81-5 (pp. 81, 82).

Other, more serious attempts to create a flying machine, can be seen in the book Images of Aviation: A Century of Flight, by John W.R. Taylor (Brimscombe Port: Tempus 1999). This includes Leonardo da Vinci’s attempts to produce the airplane, as well as various early balloons. It also has a photo of a model of the glider invented by George Cayley in 1849, which successfully lifted a ten year old boy off the ground. This was succeeded in 1853 by a vehicle, which successfully carried one of Cayley’s servants. The vehicle crash landed, however, and although the man mercifully survived, he and Cayley were so shocked by the crash that Cayley turned his back on flight. He is, however, now recognised as one of the founders of the airplane and the science of aeronautics.

Steampunk Aircraft 1

Another British inventor, William Henson, produced a design in 1842 for an ‘aerial steam carriage’. Henson built the machine, but it failed to fly when it was tested in 1847. The steam carriage was launched from a ramp, but the small steam engine driving its two propellers lacked the power to keep it in the air. It is, nevertheless, a very good piece of engineering, as all the components are exactly where they should be in a working aircraft.

Steampunk Aircraft 2

After experimenting with clockwork models in the 1850s, the French naval officer, Felix du Temple, successfully launched a monoplane carrying a sailor in 1874. The device was powered by a steam engine, and took off from a ramp. It wasn’t very successful, staying aloft only for a few moments. Still, this was another important milestone on the way to powered flight.

Steampunk Aircraft 3

Twenty years later, the pioneering Russian aviator, Golubov, managed a flight of between 65 to 100 feet in monoplane – a plane with only one set of wings – designed by Alexander Fedorovich Mozhaisky. like du Temple’s plane, this was also launched from a ramp.

Steampunk Aircraft 4

Another French inventor, Clement Ader, made what French historians still claim was the first recognised flight in a powered airplane in the Eole. Powered by a 20 hp steam engine, this flew eight inches off the ground for 165 feet at Armainvilliers in October 1890. The flight was uncontrolled, however, and the design of the machine itself was basically impractical with its bizarre bat wings.

Sir Hiram Maxim also tried his hand at flight, creating an immense steam-powered biplane, which he attempted to fly at Baldwyn’s Park in Kent in 1894. This briefly cleared its guide rails before it hit a guard rail and crashed, after which Maxim called an end to his experiments in flight.

Steampunk Aircraft 5

The end of the 19th century saw further developments in flight from Otto Lilienthal in Germany, who constructed a series of man-carrying gliders, as well as other aviators in the very first years of the 20th century, such as Richard Pearse in New Zealand and Gustave Whitehead of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Their machines are much more like those of the Wright brothers, which came after them.

I find the Victorian machines interesting, however, as they show not only the immense imagination and invention of the engineers and scientists of the period, but they are so much like some of the machines of Cyberpunk SF that you really do wonder what they world would have been like, if they had been more successful and flight had been successfully invented fifty years or so before the Wright brothers.