In our last newsletter, we reported on a meeting where our guest speaker, Prof. John Midwinter, had spoken about climate change. The report mentioned the arch-sceptic, Christopher Monckton, who travels around the world, rubbishing the science behind climate change. Thanks to American science blogger, P Z Myers, we’ve found a lecture online by Prof. John Abraham that exposes all the fallacies in Monckton’s arguments. Please refer anyone who doubts that climate change is our responsibility to it.
Category: TV and Video
At last night’s meeting, somehow the conversation got around to maths (“math”, to our American friends) and a report that too many kids are incapable of working out fractions or percentages when they leave school, and that maths teaching should be changed. One of us remembered this Tom Lehrer song, which makes maths sound like fun.
Touch the screen, touch the screen!
Phil Collins & Genesis, from the album ‘We can’t dance’, 1991.
We take our toilets for granted. Most people think that we owe our modern flushing WC to Thomas Crapper, but it seems that Sir John Harrington first had the idea in the 16th century. Now here we are, in the 21st century, where four out of ten people worldwide don’t have access to a toilet. Our webmaster, Nathan, is rather preoccupied with them as he’s currently involved with a scheme to provide latrines in Ghanaian villages. He found this video. The next time you go for a poo, be grateful that you have a nice, clean flushing toilet.
The Big Questions on BBC TV on Sunday was amusing. It was supposed to be about “The future of British Islam”. Nicky Campbell lost control of a bunch of Muslims all shouting at one another, while Dame Anne Leslie kept chipping in with comments prefaced with “When I was in Pakistan/Iran/Afghanistan…”, etc. When she referred to the burqa as a “bin bag”, that really fanned the flames of indignation.
I had to Google Dr Taj Hargey, whose posture indicated his contempt for most of the opinions being expressed by sitting right back in his chair, while others leant forward as they tried to outshout one another. He’s described as “the imam who took on the ‘Muslim McCarthyists'”.
Holywells High School in Ipswich has become an academy. At one stage, it looked as though the Church of England might take over the school, which has had problems for years and was placed in “special measures” by government Ofsted inspectors from 2001-2004, but the Swedish organisation Kunskapsskolan made the successful bid. The school will now be called the Ipswich Academy.
Click here for an interesting report by Rachel Maddow from msnbc.com on how American right-wing evangelists have influenced the Ugandans, where leading gay rights activist David Kato was murdered. She asks if foreign aid donors will make their continued help conditional on scrapping anti-gay policies.
If you watched BBC Four’s Storyville, Meet the Climate Sceptics, last week, you may have been exasperated by the arguments put forward by leading climate change deniers Lord Christopher Monckton and Telegraph columnist James Delingpole. Monckton has been to the USA and Australia to talk to the climate change deniers on TV and at public meetings, where he’s been received with huge enthusiasm. Delingpole has also been to the USA, where he’s appeared on right-wing TV host Glenn Beck’s programme, rubbishing the science behind climate change. His scientific ignorance, as displayed on another BBC Four programme recently, Horizon – Science Under Attack, doesn’t inhibit him. He had the cheek to argue with Nobel prizewinner Sir Paul Nurse, President of The Royal Society, that he was wrong about climate change. These two ignoramuses, and others like them, attract a lot of attention in climate change sceptic circles because neither they nor their audiences understand the science of climate change, and they don’t want to understand it. Unfortunately, scientific ignorance is widespread, even among those who’d like to believe that the sceptics are wrong. For many, it’s just too difficult. This is why a video by US high school science teacher Greg Craven is so clever. You don’t need to understand the science. Craven offers a simpler argument about acceptable risk; which is the greater risk, economic damage or global disaster? Watch his YouTube video, and make up your own mind.
Suffolk Humanists & Secularists newest committee member Tom Boles was on BBC Look East yesterday, filmed at his Coddenham observatory with BBC presenter Richard Daniel. They were there to talk about the partial eclipse of the sun but there was too much cloud cover to see it, so they talked about Tom’s achievements instead. Tom set a world record last year for spotting more supernova than anyone else.
You have a few hours left to see the interview, about 22 minutes into the programme, if you click here.