Webby stuff for the weekend
I do YouGov polls. You get paid to answer a lot of questions. I find myself answering ‘Don’t know’ to many of them because there isn’t a ‘Don’t care’ option. Pollsters are fond of asking how many hours a day I spend on the Internet. I generally lie about that because I know it’s too many and I should be reading more books instead. These are a few of this week’s distractions.
The Humanist philosopher Julian Baggini was in the OUP blog, talking about a Very Short Introduction to Atheism. I think that other philosophers, including A C Grayling, might differ about the introduction. The shortest introduction would be from the OED: ‘Atheism: noun the belief that god does not exist’. Padding that out into a rather long short introduction can mislead people. There was some discussion on the subject in the BHA forum (members only), where I wrote about atheism,
It’s not a complicated definition, with multiple facets. It simply means ’without god’. Similarly, there’s no such thing as a fundamentalist atheist, as Anthony Grayling has written, because you can’t be a little bit atheist. There are no degrees of atheism. I avoid calling myself an atheist. I’m a humanist.
There’ll be more about definitions at our next meeting.
In the Philosophers’ Magazine blog, Julian Baggini provides a copy of the Thought for the Day he did on BBC Bristol last week. Apparently, the train company First Great Western has a platform poet to entertain the travellers, which some may say is a waste of money. Julian said,
… is efficiency really all that matters? Imagine a country where everything works but no effort is made to make things fun, interesting or beautiful. Has such a nation ever existed? And, no, “Canada” is not a fair reply.’
Sometimes you can take fun too far:
A couple in New Zealand is planning to call their newborn son Superman after officials rejected their original choice of 4Real. Pat and Sheena Wheaton have been frustrated by rules in New Zealand banning names that begin with a number.
Mum and Dad decided to call their son 4Real after seeing an ultrasound image of him. It was then they realised that their baby was “for real”.
On Monday 20 August at about 11.10 am I’ll be on BBC Radio Suffolk talking about the Humanist equivalent of godparents. We don’t seem to have a satisfactory name for them. Most call them ‘supporting adults’, but Sophie wrote,
My kids call Debbie their “spare mummy!” I’ve tended to use supporting adults in ceremonies I’ve performed. We refer to ours as ungod parents!
After a young woman’s body was found near Manningtree Station last week, I looked at the Bebo website set up by one of her friends, to find that most of those who’d written messages there seemed incapable of writing intelligible English. One message read,
.x.[R.I.P Natasha].x. didnt know her! but bless wot her famo mus b goin frew x
R.I.P Tasha. I’m so sorry to hear wot has been said on the news. Your family, friends and bf are gunno miss yew so much and there love is always gonna be with u in there heart. God bless.
Someone else wrote that Natasha’s family was in their ‘thorts’. OK, so maybe I’m a stickler (as Lynne Truss would say), but these examples are typical.
It appears that a worrying proportion of university students can’t spell either. A tutor at Imperial College, Dr Bernard Lamb, was so shocked by his students appalling errors that he’s published them. I mentioned this during my review of the Sunday papers on BBC Suffolk last week and said it didn’t surprise me. Why? Because I’m sent contributions from friends and relations for ceremonies that include spelling and punctuation errors, even from educated, professional people. That’ll make me unpopular!
… a Muslim woman teacher in Germany has failed to persuade a German court that it was allowable to wear a headscarf – the hijab being banned for teachers in class in North Rhine – Westphalia – as long as she wore it in the style of Grace Kelly.
The court in Dusseldorf said Grace only wore her scarf in convertibles.
Now, I’ve got work to do, dishes to wash, etc. If you come across anything interesting on the web that you’d like to share, get in touch, or sign up as a user and add a comment below. Have a good weekend.