All posts by Mike Wilson

What good is the EU?

There is so much valuable information available about the EU. I wish I’d known about this before the 2016 referendum. Those of us who wanted to remain in the EU were complacent, didn’t believe we would vote to leave. The remain campaign was mostly negative, and was often dismissed as “Project Fear”. A positive campaign on the benefits of the EU would have been harder to dismiss so easily. If there is a referendum in 2019 on the terms of withdrawal with the option to remain, here is some useful information for positive campaigning.

UK & EU courts

This post is about the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and not the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECJ is part of the European Union, the ECHR is not. The ECJ is more correctly known as the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Some UK citizens are concerned that the CJEU can overrule UK courts which they believe leads to a loss of sovereignty. The CJEU’s role is “Ensuring EU law is interpreted and applied the same in every EU country; ensuring countries and EU institutions abide by EU law.” UK Members of European Parliament vote on EU laws and only rarely object. The court has two judges from each member country. The court can overrule UK policy, so this does suggest some loss of national sovereignty.

Bear in mind, though, that the only way for a nation state to have complete sovereignty is to be completely isolated. Even the largely isolated North Korea is dependant on China.

Every trade agreement between two nations or trading block will have an arbitration clause: what happens if one partner believes the other is not following the letter of the agreement. If, for example, UK made a trade agreement with USA, the arbitrator will not be a British court, and so a little sovereignty is lost.

Jim Grace posted a list on Twitter of the times the Court overruled UK. You might enjoy reading through this list looking for something that has a negative impact on you personbally.

Further reading

UK, EU & commercial fishing

Claims sometimes appear on social media that “the EU won’t let UK fishers catch fish in UK waters”. The true story is only slightly longer:

  • Each EU country was given a quota of fish of different fish species that can be caught & landed. This is to make sure there are some fish left for our grandchildren.
  • The quotas are a commodity that can be traded.
  • The UK government sold UK quotas to UK fishers.
  • Some of these fishers sold the quotas on for a profit.
  • Some of the people buying the UK quotas were citizens of other EU countries.
  • The UK government is the only one in the EU to allow quotas to be sold to other EU countries.

So the problem with UK fishers not being able to catch fish in EU waters has been caused by the UK government allowing quotas to be sold outside the UK. An example of the EU being blamed for a problem caused by the UK’s government.

It should be noted that the quotas are subject to international property law, and so post Brexit, the UK government could not deny the owners of those quotas access to UK waters.

First 3D prints

Building blocks, each 5x5x5cm

These are some of my first 3D prints. They are maquettes for a larger piece I’m considering making. If I go ahead with what would be a pretty ambitious work, each of these pieces will be cast in something like concrete or weatherproof plaster and would be around 10x10x10cm. This is intended as a sculptural work which can be rearranged by the viewer. I will include a “planter” which will probably be 20x20x20cm, intended to be planted with fine grass.

I plan to 3D print the moulds for each piece. I’ll use some flexible filament so each casting can be removed from the mould.

Creality Ender 3

Ender 3 Kit

A few weeks ago I bought an Ender 3 3D Printer. This wasn’t my first choice of 2D printer as I was put off by having to assemble it myself. In the end, it wasn’t too difficult and a video on YouTube was very helpful.

Assembled Ender 3

I reckon the Ender 3 makes an excellent first 3D printer, particularly at the very agreeable price of less than UK £200.

Free laser cutter files

Here are a couple of projects left over from the days when I owned and operated a laser cutter. These files can be used to create a trinket box in 4mm ply and a larger box in 6mm ply.

For the 4mm, I recommend birch ply. For the 6mm, I recommend poplar — I tried 6mm birch in my cutter and it had trouble cutting it. Also, the 6mm birch ply I was able to find wasn’t at all flat, and being strong it was difficult to make a box that sat flat. Poplar ply is a lot lighter than birch, but the large box has enough material in it to give a nice weight.

The 6mm box uses 5mm birch for the hinges for strength. 5mm birch ply may be difficult to come by and you may prefer to adjust the files to use 6mm poplar.

I designed the boxes in SketchUP and used a plugin to flatten faces to make 2d objects which I exported to DXF.

These files are offered “as is” — if they are useful, please enjoy them, if not please delete them. I am not offering any help or support with this free gift.

Download the Laser Cutter files.

Cleaning corroded brass

I bought this brass candlestick from a local “antique” shop. It seems as though brass ware isn’t  very collectible at the moment as it only cost £6. It was in a pretty corroded state and polishing with Brasso wasn’t powerful enough. I had a look on YouTube and found a video suggesting a mixture of salt, vinegar and flour. I was sceptical but gave it a try. The results are impressive. I used half a cup each of salt, vinegar and flour. Brushed it thickly all over the candlestick and left it for 24 hours. After washing the mixture off, I polished with Brasso again. It looks great.

NVC: Praise, compliments and gratitude

Marshall Rosenberg considered praise & compliments to be as violent as criticism & insults. Instead, he encourages us to express gratitude. Praise & compliments are often used to manipulate, to reward compliance, just as insults & criticism are used to punish non-compliance. Both “positive” and “negative” feedback of this kind perpetuate dominance cultures.