Category: Diary

Darwin Day – primordial soup supper

Charles-Darwin

International celebration of Darwin Day (the anniversary of the great man's birth).

To mark this special occasion, there'll be a supper of primordial soup (suitable for vegetarians), birthday cake, and readings from Darwin and some of his admirers, in Elmsett, from 7 to 9.30 pm.

Email for an invitation and directions.

Techno Troubles

As someone who in the distant past worked in a bank and has tried to keep up with developments in banking, I find the Little Britain sketch of the bemused customer being told that, whatever he wants, ‘The computer says no’, not only hilarious but rather too close to the truth for comfort.

It’s also becoming nigh on impossible to shop these days without the ubiquitous bar code reader standing between you and the exit. Most of us will probably have had at least one experience of being told by a check-out operator that the bill for our sandwiches and bottle of pop is £883.99. It must be, because the till says so. The fact that everyone knows a sandwich and bottle of pop can’t cost that doesn’t come into it.

It seems that the most basic thought processes are, as far as many people are concerned, being suspended. The answer is what the computer says, and that’s an end to it.

Letter to the East Anglian Daily Times

The secular basis of our state education system is being undermined by the increasing involvement of religious organisations in schools. A secular system means that children of all faiths and none are educated together, in the same schools. In Northern Ireland parents set up the Integrated Education Fund to ensure just that, after Catholic and Protestant children had been segregated for decades, resulting in violence and death through religious bigotry. Has the British Government learned nothing from this?

At their Easter conference, NUT members opposed the increase in faith schools and Tony Blair’s appeal for more faith groups to sponsor his academies and become partners in the running of his proposed trust schools. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers share these concerns, and so do we. The British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society are campaigning against faith schools, and an increasing number of parents oppose them.

This is a clash of civilisations, between reason and superstition – Humanist Polly Toynbee in the Guardian

Just as the NUT campaigns against faith schools and a Government adviser is arrested over the honours for City Academy sponsors scandal, Polly Toynbee writes "If ever there was a time to set out the unequivocal value of a secular state, it must be now."

Link: Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | This is a clash of civilisations – between reason and superstition

Meanwhile, back in cloud cuckoo land, Peter Franklin’s Guardian comment is all about "secular supremacists" and education. Feel free to let him know the folly of his argument.

Softies

We had visitors at the weekend. They’d been to a family reunion where some of their relatives were very old. One of our guests said she’d enjoyed hearing some of an uncle’s reminiscences and about the hardships he’d experienced, without complaining. She felt that younger members of the family had no idea what his life was like at their age. I agreed with our guest that there’s an enormous difference between today’s young people’s expectations and those of their great-grandparents. We wondered how some of the young people we know would cope if they had to do without many of the things they take for granted, like a varied diet, central heating, washing machines and fridges, cars and televisions. Have we produced a lot of softies, we wondered?

Talking about being a Humanist

Suffolk Humanists met in Ipswich on Wednesday 12th April to talk about what it means to be a Humanist.

The small but select gathering (there were absences due to illnesses and holidays) was lively. Some spoke of their frustration that Humanism was not well known, saying they’d heard about it by attending a Humanist funeral. Why aren’t more people aware of Humanism, they asked. There are many reasons for this, including the attitude that since Humanism is common sense, why give it a name or join an organisation? The current religious revival appears to be stirring people out of this sort of complacency, however.