Archive for July, 2008

An Explosion of Ideas

Edinburgh Zinefest 2008

Edinburgh Zinefest 2008

I have always loved the idea of zines, so I dragged my friends with me to Forest Cafe to peruse the Edinburgh Zine  and Small Press Fair. The sun streamed in the tall windows onto the wooden floors and panels of a former church hall filled with little tables and small piles of printed media.

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Wry smiles

Just thought I’d mention a couple of comics which have made me smile this past week:

Cat & Girl tale about Blasphemers.

Partially Clips find themselves worshipping a Graven Idol.

Enjoy.

Putting my money where my mouth is…

I have an ongoing history of failing to open ethical bank accounts. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have successfully opened an ISA with Triodos Bank and have an affinity credit card with the Co-Op Bank which donates money to Amnesty International when I use it. However, I fail at opening current accounts. Tonight was no exception. After some irritation with my current bank, who instead of switching my graduate account back to a student account managed to switch it to an ordinary basic current account (wiping out my overdraft facility) and refused to correct it, I decided it was time to open that ethical account I’d always promised myself.

Fuelled by a sense of righteousness and annoyance with my current bank, I looked at the current accounts offered by The Co-operative Bank and Smile online banking, and decided to opt for Smile. I started filling out my details, determined that this time I was going to do everything right and first thing, when the online form stalled. There was a problem with one of the fields I had filled in. Had I missed one? Did I select the wrong option? Then I noticed it near the bottom of the page, this current account was not open to full-time students. That was a problem. With only two months left as a registered student, I was no longer eligible for a student account which required at least six months of remaining student status.

I rang the Smile helpline and they too were perplexed. I appeared to be in some kind of current account eligibility limbo: too much of a student to open a current account, but not enough of a student to open a student account. So now I have two possible options: Wait two months until my full-time student status expires and then open the current account, or open the current account identifying myself as being in part-time employment as I have been tutoring at the university over the last few years. Any suggestions?

Some things change, some things stay the same…

Last week, the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank published a report about faith schools written by journalist Cristina Odone. Odone argues that the government and a secularist lobby are leading a ‘witchhunt’ against faith schools. You can read her arguments in the report itself or in her blog post at the Guardian’s Comment is Free website. The British Humanist Association has responded and their Director of Education, Andrew Copson, replies on the Guardian website.

On a happier note, the Church of England‘s General Synod has voted to allow women to become Bishops. Well done for casting off an old sexist inequality! I don’t intend to join the church any time soon, but I approve of any organisation becoming more accessible and representative of its members, especially something as notioriously conservative as a religious institution. Here’s to women leading their communities and speaking as equals!

The Inaugural UK Secular Student Conference

Over the weekend of June 21-22nd, Edinburgh University Humanist Society was proud to host the inaugural Secular Student Conference. This is the first time that atheist, secular and humanist societies from universities across the UK have gathered together to share their experiences and ideas and to meet each other.

It was a fantastic weekend with lots of great people and ideas. The groups present included:

Durham University Humanist Society
Edinburgh University Humanist Society
Keele Humanist Group
Leeds Atheist Society
Oxford Secular Society
Warwick Atheists
Southampton Atheist Society sent a document with their details and suggestions

The first day focussed on learning about the different societies. On Saturday morning, the societies gave presentations and introduced themselves and events they’d organised. In the afternoon there were presentations from various organisations including the British Humanist Association, the Humanist Society of Scotland and the National Secular Society. On Sunday, the societies got down to talking about how they can work together and provide support and representation for exisiting and new student societies. There was also discussion about working together on events and campaigns and co-ordinating resources. Serious plans are under way to build an umbrella organisation created for and run by student groups in the UK. If you’re interested in finding out more or becoming involved, secular student discussion can be found at the Secular Portal site created by the Leeds Atheists Society.

Pictures and videos from the event can be found here.