It’s time for some more of the best content available on the web at the moment – if you have any recommendations, let us know. This week, video and podcast highlights – a TV time warp, the banana as the atheist’s nightmare, and what is a podcast anyway? Broadband recommended.
YouTube is a great alternative to watching TV if there’s nothing else on, or like me, you have to contend with a housemate whose remote control has somehow jammed on to a channel which only shows murder mysteries. A lot of YouTube videos are of American teenagers talking about how depressed they are, but there are gems amongst the dross. One such gem is this edition of CNN’s Crossfire discussion programme from the mid-eighties, where a bemused Frank Zappa discusses censorship of rock music with right-wing loony John Lofton. A highly amusing debate, where Zappa declares that the US is becoming a ‘fascist theocracy’, and a great snapshot of TV, eighties style.
While you’re on YouTube, take another look at the recent Channel 4 programme ‘The Root of All Evil?’ with Richard Dawkins, Ken Miller’s fantastic dissection of the case for Intelligent Design, the controversial South Park episode that prompted Isaac Hayes to quit the show, and finally feel free to watch a video from my canal-boating holiday last week. That last one hasn’t got anything to do with Humanism, but I made it.
It turns out that all atheists are wrong. The proof? The humble banana. According to this video clip on the excellent onegoodmove, bananas are easy-opening convenience food designed specifically to fit into the human hand, and even have a ripeness indication system to let you know when you can eat them – which is all apparently down to God. It would appear it’s just man that gets it all wrong when it comes to packaging foodstuffs – I’ve yet to find a yoghurt pot that doesn’t spit yoghurt at me when I open it, and I can’t get in to most sandwiches.
Moving on to audio recommendations, there is a wealth of great audio available on the Internet of interest to Humanists, atheists, or just people who like me get bored of listening to surreal Radio 4 dramas, the pointless whitterings of Chris Moyles on Radio 1, or James Blunt singing ‘Beautiful’ for the millionth time. Podcasts are audio programmes that you can download and listen to on your own computer, in your own time – you just need simple, free software to download and listen to the programmes. I recommend this BBC guide to downloading podcasts. Podcasts are (usually) free, quick to download, can be copied on to an MP3 player, and are available all over the Internet, from the BBC, the Guardian, and many more programme makers.
The latest Humanist Network News podcast includes an interview with Roar Johnsen of the Norwegian Humanist Association, as well as a discussion around how the Humanist movement can attract more young people.
Listen to most of the media above, and you will hear a lot of American accents. While we hear about how the US has a worryingly high percentage of creationists, rampaging religiosity in media and politics, and that atheists in the US are a marginalised, distrusted minority, one thing is abundantly clear – US-based web sites are bursting with freethought and atheist media and discussion, compared to a relative paucity of offerings from the UK. Maybe it is precisely because atheists in the US have more of a battle on their hands, maybe the material that we take for granted as being available in the UK mainstream media would not be so easily found in the US media, but we don’t seem to have as much going on here as our American cousins.
We’ll be running a poll in the near future to gauge opinions on setting up a new UK-based freethought podcast – meanwhile comments and correspondence are welcome.