In lieu of propper content, and because I'm a) doing more childcare than normal and b) getting addicted to the damn wii, have some links to posts by others that you should be reading.

Firstly, on the Atheist Bus campaign[1], three scientist bloggers, Dave Godfrey, Debi Linton and Strangefrontier who says:
Dear Christians on my friendslist, when you feel that atheist campaigners are generalising about your whole faith and railing against you, the real target is folks like Stephen Green. The problem is that he and others like like are so damn loud and have such a constant media presence, they drown out the normal, decent and sane* Christians. No matter what positive PR you throw out there, the attention will be given to some cunt shouting, "God hates fags!"
I especially liked Dave's line If he didn't exist I think the atheists would have to invent him, he's launched a case on which the crux is he has evidence of the existence of God. Well, like Dawkins, if you can give me some proof I'll change my opinion...

Anyway, next topic. Woolworths has shut down. Since he finished his degree, [ profile] doctorvee has been working for them, in a number of branches, and I heartily recommend his series of posts on the history of the company and the experiences of working there in its dying days. Like him, I loved Woollies as a kid but found them fairly pointless as an adult, they definitely had no clue what they were trying to be as a chain, and Wilkinson's have definitely displaced a lot of their business in Yorkshire. I had no idea that the company had started out as the early equivalent of a pound store, they only dumped their fixed price policy because of rationing during the war.

Sad news however. Number 6 is dead. In an era where his "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered, I am a free man" speech has increasing relevence, it remains an iconic series and I really hope they don't mess up the reimagined version with Sir Ian as Number Two. RIP Patrick, you were great.

Cool news: Molecular Analysis Confirms Tyrannosaurus Rex's Evolutionary Link To Birds. They didn't die out, they evolved. Next time you eat a chicken dinner, that's one of T-Rex's relatives you're chomping down on ;-)

Want: Trends Are Cyclical: the Asus Eee Keyboard. It a complete fully functioning computer, all inside thin keyboard. How cool is that?

Have to say, I pretty much agree with Tim here, economic protectionism makes us poorer and damages our economy more than it benefits us. Buy British if you want, but if it's not the best deal, buy whatever, the economy benefits from the transaction regardless. ETA: Friday's More or Less is a politics special starring Vince! Yay!

Last up, [ profile] innerbrat wants to declared this year as the International Year of True History to commemorate both Darwin and Galileo. She's wrong to call it "true" history of course, everyone knows that real history started at about 1600, everything before that is pre-history, but it's a nice idea.

[1] From which I've taken this icon, I yoinked the LJified version from [ profile] strangefrontier but it was designed by [ profile] jonworth_eu_fd who coordinated the intial fundraising campaign before it all got a bit bigger than anyone expected. I'd forgotten how good a blogger he is until I found him on Twitter, Labour party members that can actually write well about politics are worth paying attention to, methinks[2].

[2] On a similar line, [ profile] blimpish_fd is back, one of the few Tory bloggers that doesn't make me want to shout at the screen at the idiocy and ignorance.
Oliver Letwin MP on Question Time in a discussion on faith schools just said:
I don't have any faith as it happens, I'm not a believer
That's a Tory front bench spokesman just admitted to being an atheist on national TV.

While he remains a git, he's now at least an honest git.

ETA: After the show. I concur with Jennie, he's had a brain transplant or something, he's certainly not the Letwin of years past, he used to come across as a member of the headbanger brigade, there have always been sane members of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but I never pegged him as one of them.
Is it wrong that the geek in me really likes the way the curve on the blockquote CSS works with the transparency on the icon?
First, a serious one. If you live in the UK, follow this link and do what the nice people say? I'v efootnoted some reasons at the bottom[1] but here's a summary. Abolish Blasphemy Laws Now:
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has long campaigned for the blasphemy laws to be abolished, and an opportunity for this to happen has now come with an amendment to be tabled this week by Evan Harris MP.

We need as many people as possible to get in touch with their MP to show the support there is for abolishing this antiquated law.
That's Dr Evan Harris MP, not met him yet, think I might like to. Cross party support would be good on this one *cough*[ profile] bagrec, it's not really political, more a general interest story, right?*cough* Even if you're a believer, I've yet to see any coherent defense of the blasphem laws, wouldn't it be better to let people make their case so you can try to rebut them or persuade people otherwise?

OK, on to fun stuff. A bunch of researchers in San Diego attended 66 different student parties and breathalysed a representative sample of attendees. They found that while men drink more at normal parties, women drink more at fancy dress parties, and drink much more at sexually themed parties. Quoth the guy in charge:
Dr Clapp admitted that "as his team was unable to explain the surprise finding it would be necessary to carry out further field work", concluding: "Given that some theme parties can be highly sexualised, future investigation of the mechanisms that may explain this effect is warranted." ®
Yes, that's right, you want to go to a bunch of student sex themed parties in the name of research. Gotta admire his commitment to science, right?

Now, more sillyness. The guy who runs asciimation, home of The death of Jar Jar is also a bit of a loon when not on his computer, and a Futurama fan.  Hence The Bender Brewer Project, in which he makes a life size Bender and puts a brewing barrel in its chest.  If you just want to see the complted work, half way down page three you can find him pictured playing on a TARDIS arcade console (via [ profile] slashdot). How cool is that? Cue Jennie saying I want one to the TARDIS thing in 5, 4, 3...
Reasons to abolish the blasphemy laws courtesy of the BHA )
Bah, I see it's getting close to That time of year again. You know the one, the traditional pagan/secular festival that got hijacked by some Roman religion, and people are complaining about attacks on a misperceived majority faith that this poll showed us you lot don't really believe much either. But it did show that most of us are "culturally Christian" even if we don't believe. Hmm, seems we're in good company:
"This is historically a Christian country. I'm a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims. So, yes, I like singing carols along with everybody else. I'm not one of those who wants to purge our society of our Christian history. If there's any threat these sorts of things, I think you will find it comes from rival religions and not from atheists."

~~Professor Richard Dawkins, author of the God Delusion
Although I dispute his "everyone else" bit—I never did, carols are mostly godawful songs—it's nice to know that he's got a sense of perspective. (thanks Richard).

But, y'know, for the record, I'll update my contact details post at some point, but I still don't plan on sending any cards out, and share with Jennie a fair distaste for receiving them, so if you were planning to, do something a bit more useful with the cash, [ profile] strictlytrue has the right idea.

Bah Humbug to the lot of you ;-)
Last Friday night, we went to see The Golden Compass, adaptation of Pullman's Northern Lights. It's a book I'd started reading, then stopped as I was enjoying it but had many other books on the go at the same time and wanted to watch the film fresh--I find that if I've recently read a book, I watch the film in "compare" mode, and I've long held that films should be different from the book, else what's the actual point, films are a different medium and thus require different narrative devices to get the same characters and plot across. But in this case, I think my holding off was a waste of time. Jennie reviewed it Saturday, and while I'm not going to review it myself, this review from [ profile] absinthecity pretty much says what I would:
What this film is, is a series of 'set pieces' taken from the book - the fight scenes, the escape scenes, the meeting scenes - all stuck together with very little in the form of narrative 'glue'. As you'd imagine they are beautifully rendered, with some genuinely well-advised use of CGI, and the acting is first class. But the emotional element...was almost completely absent.
I'll now be putting the trilogy back on the pile, and if they do make films two and three, I'll likely go see, but not because I expect it to be any good. But just to, y'know, take in the scenery. Especially the Eva Miles shaped bits. As for protestations that the boycott worked? Bollox, it's failed at the box office because it's crap, not because the Catholic League decided to not like it.
Made by [ profile] innerbrat prompted by a discussion about the Out Campaign at [ profile] snapesbabe's relaunced public politics blog, [ profile] theyorkshergob.

theyorkshergob: Religion (or lack thereof) (again)

Via [ profile] davidnm, The 40 most memorable aliens - Times Online. The ranking system is a little strange, and it should more properly be entitled 'extraterrestrial intelligences' rather than aliens. Number two is obvious, number one? Well, everything else on the list is fictional...
Charlie Brooker in Saturday's Guardian:
"Spirituality" is what cretins have in place of imagination. If you've ever described yourself as "quite spiritual", do civilisation a favour and punch yourself in the throat until you're incapable of speaking aloud ever again. Why should your outmoded codswallop be treated with anything other than the contemptuous mockery it deserves?

Maybe you've put your faith in spiritual claptrap because our random, narrative-free universe terrifies you. But that's no solution. If you want comforting, suck your thumb.
Gotta admit he's got a point there; I fundamentally respect your right to hold whatever belief you wish to hold. I also respect your right to either persuade me I'm wrong and/or that I'm going to burn in hell for being the atheist I am.

What I can't, and won't, do is respect the belief itself. Sky fairies don't exist, there are no gods, we have no immortal souls and there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden (well, except in the only good Torchwood episode, anyway). These delusions do nothing but placate fears or dislike for the world the way it is, they're a paliative. Get out there and do something with your life, make something of yourself--this is all there is, make the best of it.

Advantage of staying up North for a week[1]? [ profile] televisionfree me gets to watch the one or two interesting TV shows that multichannel world throws at you per week. Richard Dawkins, 8pm Channel 4, Monday night; The Enemies of Reason. Good good.

[1] It's an advantage. It's nowhere close to the main advantage, I would in fact put it very low the list of them; spending loads of time with ones new fiancee may be right at the top methinks. Did I mention we got engaged? I did? Ah well, I might repeat it again a few times just for good measure. Time to turn in--g'night all
So, I should celebrate Christmas because it's a Christian festival (wrong) and because Britain is a Christian country? ORLY?
Britain's generally tolerant attitude to religion is underlined by the small proportion who say the country is best described as a Christian one. Only 17% think this. The clear majority, 62%, agree Britain is better described as "a religious country of many faiths".
In fact, following on from earlier discussion, it would appear that I'm in the clear majority:
Most people have no personal faith, the poll shows, with only 33% of those questioned describing themselves as "a religious person". A clear majority, 63%, say that they are not religious - including more than half of those who describe themselves as Christian.
Regarding those who describe themselves as "Christian" but don't believe? Charlie puts it best:
this is more of an ethnic or cultural definition than a spiritual one
So, it's December 23rd, I'm up and about, had a shower and a bit to eat. I'm off to celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas. Shopping. With my family.

So, from the bottom of my heart, this little atheist would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very genuine Merry Christmas, because the whole thing has nothing to do with that little kid who might have been born about 2000 years ago, during lambing season, at the time of a census. Both of which took place in March.
I'm ill. That's, of course, not Debi's fault. It's only a mild cold, but my concentration has gone to pot. That's not her fault either. What is her fault? Well, rather than spending the evening doing the things I meant to do? I've been hitting "random comic" at [ profile] jesus_and_mo. Today's offering:
What's wrong with believing God had to commit suicide in order to pay himself the debt humans owed him because their ancestors were persuaded by a talking snake to eat a forbidden fruit?
Just keep clicking around. Not, of course, for the easily offended. Or the humour impaired. But it's kept me happy all evening.

Of course, one of the things I should have been reading today waas the membership pack I received in the post for the British Humanist Association. I joined it last week after a discussion at [ profile] bagrec's (about the point that about 50% of Britain appear to actually be atheist by inclination) reminded me of my decision to do so when next I had some cash, I was prompted to when Linda Smith died and I found out she'd been their president.

Reading through the literature, I might find out more about becoming an Officiant. Might.

There should be another post to follow, about the spammers I mentioned last week, but, well, my ability to type straight has gone to pot :-(
My friends, a momentous occasion has come upon us. It is time, my friends, to join a new religion. I find this great new scheme has already been found in the mass media, and in this glorious interview he reveals himself:
Our pub quiz team is named The Church of Richard Dawkins. At a recent Oxford quiz night, we were told to change our name in case it was deemed offensive to any churchgoers present. Have you any suggestions for a " less offensive" name? RICHARD O SMITH, Oxford

And they call me intolerant! I am shocked that this happened in Oxford, of all places. I hope you win the tournament so resoundingly that you can dictate terms and call yourselves whatever you like. "Offensive" my foot.
I particularly also liked
Are people who advocate intelligent design stupid, and do you think natural selection will operate to remove them from future generations? ADAM KHAN, The Hague, Netherlands

The majority are ignorant, which is not the same thing as stupid. Natural selection will not remove ignorance from future generations. Education may, and that is the hope to which we must cling.
but the whole thing is definately worth a read. I shall forthwith petition to have this great man added to the list as our only living saint.

/silliness. And I am so glad the Independent has dumped that stupid subscription scheme that was never going to make them any money, it means I can link/exerpt rather than nick the whole thing wholesale...

And this was going to be cross posted but I'll have to do that later, seems I'm not actually a member of a few of the comms I want to send it to, and I'm due out in a bit...
OK, in my bio, the bit that says I don't need broadband? I stand by it, I don't. But, well, staying at [ profile] nadriel's does have one advantage, we've netweorked up and he has a 7.5 Mbs connection. I mean, the exchange in Paignton can only manage 2.5Mbs for our business line, he has 3 times that all to himself.

So, what do you do with sucha fast connection? Porn? Don't be silly, Mike wouldn't approve (and there's only so much I can be bothered to look for anyway). YouTube. I've heard so much about the place, now I can see it in all its glory. For example:

Paxman interviews Dawkins about The God Delusion. Dawkins namechecks the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Now, Dawkins can, at times, be difficult, obnoxious and intemperate. He says he's an agnostic not an atheist because you can't disprove God (this is also Scalzi's position). I say I'm an atheist because I believe there is no god, and assert it's as valid a belief as any other. The line between our views is semantics. But his point is sound. YouTube rocks.
Hell's Handmaiden:
If the assumption of God is dropped, we have to conclude that humanity has generated its moral codes in the absence of God. That is, if we drop the undemonstrable proposition that God is responsible for morality, it becomes apparent that humans have always done precisely what certain apologists claim is not possible– live by moral systems not derived from God, though frequently attributed to a God or gods.

-"Atheists are bad, bad people… man" Pt one, two and three
(via [ profile] strange_stuff)

Musings )
Vegetarianism (and veganism) is essentially, a personal, moral, choice. I can't eat meat. Paul can't see animals exploited at all (I can, if it's not cruel). I'm a committed atheist. If I've no morality, how can I have made such a strong moral choice and stuck to it for 14 years?
Christmas isn't Christian.
These attitudes were carried to the New World by English Puritans, Quakers, Baptists and Scottish Presbyterians. In America, reprisals were as harsh here as back in Scotland. In Massachusetts a five-shilling penalty was imposed on anyone found feasting or shirking work on Christmas Day, and in 1621 the Governor of Plymouth Colony reprimanded some “lusty young men” whom he found on Christmas “pitching ye barr, and some playing at stoole-ball and such like sports”.
For the record, my annual attack of grouchyness at Xmas is prompted by people going OTT, enforced frivolity and people going on (and on, and on) about the baby Jesus.

Now, my atheism is well established, and my assertion that atheism is a faith, it cannot be proven thus should be treated and given equal privledges to religion is also something most know about me; I respect those of faith much more than I respect those who "don't know" or "haven't thought about it". But, please. Christians? It's not your festival. It was hijacked from a combination of different festivals by Pope Julius I, it combines Yule, Solstice, Mithras and a few other things. Jesus was most likely born (if we acknowledge he existed, which I'm prepared to but other historians more knowledgeable than me say otherwise) in March apparently. This isn't a Christian festival, in fact, true Christians shouldn't celeebrate it, so say the Church of Scotland.

So I, as an atheist who's quite happy to get stuck in with secular festivals based on the calender of seasons, can quite happily eat drink and be merry. So can anyone else. But can we put the nativity stuff away? I'll let you keep Easter, just accept that it's also Eostre, and I'll be eating lots more than the usual (excessive) amounts of chocolate.
What religion meme thing )
Now, be honest, is there anyone out there that expected something different? No, didn't think so.

Thing is, I wonder how those who profess to beliefs find the test, figuring out someone is an atheist is easy, figuring out what religion they are isn't. Although I stillw ant atheism to count as a religion.
You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
“It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”

--Jean-Paul Sartre

“It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.”

--Blaise Pascal

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British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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