Archive for April, 2008

Humanist Society of Scotland Education Strategy Event

On Saturday, I headed over to Our Dynamic Earth to attend the official launch of the Humanist Society of Scotland’s education strategy. The launch date was carefully chosen to coincide with the birthday of the famous scottish enlightenment philosopher David Hume, and the location is one of Edinburgh’s leading visitor attractions for families which takes an exciting approach to educating people about Earth Sciences. The event was open to the public and those in attendance included HSS members, University of Edinburgh Humanist Society members, teachers, parents, grandparents and more besides; we were looking forward to finding out more!

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Tagged!

I have been tagged by Ninety Six and Ten. I particularly liked that she added feminine pronouns into the rules. I was considering changing it to gender neutral ‘they’ but I like the tone of the corrections too much…

1. The rules of the game get posted on the beginning.
2. Each player answers the rules about himself
[or indeed herself].
3. At the end of the post, the player tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they’ve been tagged and asking them to read his [or her] blog.

What I was doing ten years ago:

My A-levels. Possibly either preparing for my language oral exams, finishing coursework or starting revision. Maybe it was the Easter holidays around this time, in which case, I might have been at the British Juggling Convention in Bristol where it was very, very cold.

Five things on my To-Do list today:
1. Do laundry.
2. E-mail verb list.
3. Attend Tomasello talk.
4. Go to humanist lunch.
5. Do dishes.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off my friends’ student loans.
2. Make significant contributions to my chosen charities.
3. Bank ethically and find an accountant who specialised in ethical finance.
4. Reimburse my parents for all these years of education and expenses they’ve carried me through.
5. Help my brother with his mortgage and set aside some money for my niece’s future.

Three of my bad habits:
1. Dithering.
2. Being indecisive.
3. Going to bed too late.

Five places I’ve lived:
1. Cardiff
2. London
3. Hamburg
4. Cambridge
5. Edinburgh

Five jobs I’ve had:
1. Juggling and Sales Assistant
2. Silver Service Waitress
3. Bilingual Receptionist
4. Juggling Instructor and Children’s Activity Group Leader
5. Directory Enquiries Advisor

Five books I’ve recently read:
1. Constructions at Work, by Adele E. Goldberg
2. Flight Anthology vol. 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi (comic)
3. Flight Explorer vol. 1, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (comic)
4. Mouse Guard, by David Petersen (comic)
5. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

Five people or communities I’m going to tag:

The Friendly Humanist

The Not-Quite-So-Friendly Humanist

That Humanist

Geeks with Pointy Sticks

zauber_lehrling

What music do humanists listen to?

Contrary to the view often expressed in the media, humanists, atheists and agnostics are as fond of music and the arts as the next person. I’m not sure quite when or how we ended up being equated with Cromwellian puritan killjoys, but it is assuredly not so. Having an appreciation of rationalism and scientific method does not necessarily preclude an appreciation of art, music and culture. Inspiration is as plentiful and the awe is as great from the natural world and human imagination as it is from religious wonder. Maybe it’s because atheists and pagans are supposedly busy indulging in immoral sexual acts and drugs, that embracing the totality of the arts as well would be unacceptably greedy. Anyway, I digress.

If you’ve ever wondered what it is that Humanists listen to, I invite you to take a look at the Humanist group over at last.fm. Last.fm is a social networking and music appreciation website. Members are invited to download a software application which tracks the music they listen to and provides charts and information for an online profile. You can also listen to customised radio stations based around artists and users. Users can create groups which are based on appreciation of artists or varied interests. These groups display charts of what the group members play and members can make recommendations and write messages. There’s even an option to look at the demographics. So far it seems the most popular artist for the Humanist group is the Beatles and the average age is 25. If you want to take a look at the group and listen to the Humanist radio station (open to non-members!) then take a look here.

Dubious Science in the Media

There’s a nice article in the latest issue of Bitch magazine, discussing dubious science and presenting pointers on how to spot when the journalism or research isn’t quite up to scratch. As this is the publication which describes itself as “feminist response to pop culture”, the case studies are populated with lots of spurious claims pertaining to gender, sex and cultural stereotypes. So next time you hear an extravagant claim in the news, don’t be reticent to take a closer look, demand some proof and verify the sources.

Punks and the USA Christian Right

I couldn’t resist this opportunity to point out that humanists, atheists and secularists are not alone in their passion to keep state and religion separate. Henry Rollins, hero of the punk movement, stand up performer and host of his own TV show, has given a passionate defence of Evolution and a damning critique of Intelligent Design and the Christian Right in the USA. Punk as a movement has always been concerned with personal freedoms and autonomy from the state so religious freedoms and freedom from religion naturally fall into that.

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UN Human Rights in trouble

There’s rather troubling news from the International Humanist and Ethical Union about developments at the UN Human Rights Council. It seems that an amendment has been passed which compromises the right to Freedom of Expression and changes the role of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Without freedom of speech it is impossible to debate, criticize or expose abuses of any other human rights. The right to discuss or challenge opinions and beliefs is surely close to the heart of many humanists.

Further details can be found here.