Archive for June, 2009

Defining family

Continuing on last week’s theme of family, I’m going to turn to a slightly different source. I have a confession to make. This week I’m going to talk about the Disney Studio animated feature film ‘Lilo and Stitch‘. I know, I know, what could the Disney corporation possibly have to contribute to this discussion other than perpetuating saccharine sweet conventional family stereotypes? But this time, they do have something to say.

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The nature of family

A friend brought my attention to a fascinating article about parenting from an evolutionary perspective. Certain kinds of politicians and religious leaders often tell us that society’s problems result from the break up of the family, but what is this ideal family formula that we should stick to? The modern ideal still seems to be the nuclear family consisting of a mother, a father, two children and a dog but is there any rationale behind this grouping or are we just drawing arbitrary lines and declaring that one size fits all? Some commentators might say that the nature of the family has changed in modern times but is the diversity of family models apparent today anything new?

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Calling all citizens

I was angry and ashamed when the news broke that the British National Party (BNP) had won two seats in the European Parliament. Both BNP MEPs Nick Griffin (North West) and Andrew Brons (Yorkshire and Humber) were formerly involved in the National Front. I think this is a clear message to all those who care about fairness and equality that something is going wrong in our society and that as citizens we are obliged to pay attention and take action.

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Hedonism and more bus slogans

A couple of my favourite comic artists have touched upon elements of the atheist and humanist world.

Cat and Girl contemplate Hedonism.

Dinosaur Comics have some ideas for potential bus slogans.

I highly recommend either comic in general for interesting ideas and their distinct humour.

Some thoughts from Alan Watts

Although British philosopher Alan Watts was preoccupied with comparative religion and popularizing Asian philosophies and religions, he also contributed some interesting non-religious observations and musings. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the animators who created the television series South Park, produced a series of short animations featuring excerpts from some of his lectures. My personal favourites include ‘Prickles and Goo‘ and ‘Music and Life‘. More animations and videos of his work can be found on YouTube and his son has been cataloging some of the public lectures and releasing them as podcasts.

Election time in Europe, Silence in Beijing

As we come to the end of a day of voting in the UK as part of the European elections, please spare a thought for those who died twenty years ago in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. On June 4th 1989 hundreds died protesting for democracy when the authorities sent in the military. The Chinese government continues to censor accounts or discussion of this event. Amnesty International have more information as well as a petition asking Wu Bangguo, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, to initiate an open and independent inquiry.