Archive for December, 2012

Leeds Celtics

Friday, December 21st, 2012 | Distractions, Photos

Last weekend, myself and George headed up to Weetwood to watch the Leeds Celtics american football team play.

It was dry, but never the less very cold and due to what we suspect was the ambulance getting lost, the game didn’t kick off until an hour after it’s scheduled time – a risky move when you have so little day light these days.

By this point, we were too cold to watch the whole manage, but in the first half Leeds Celtics scored two touchdowns, both with two point conversions, against the Northumbria Mustangs.

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White Rose Speakers

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 | Foundation, Life

Having finished chairing the Leeds Skeptics meeting, I sped up to North Leeds on Wednesday to join the end of White Rose Speakers’ final meeting before Christmas, which, for a holiday celebration, was being held at one of the member’s houses (who happens to have a large house).

The reason I was so keen to get there was that the group had very kindly agreed to do a collection and raffle to raise money for the Humanist Action Groups 2012 Holiday Food Drive for local homeless shelters.

Once there, they sprung a table topic on me, the song title “Merry Christmas Everyone”, to which I talked about how you can’t call an event this time of year a Christmas event as people get upset, so you have to end up calling it about a dozen different things in the title to keep everyone happy.

We came away with bags of stuff, and plenty of money from the raffle too! Thanks to everyone donated, your support is very much appreciated!

Holiday Food Drive 2012

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 | Foundation, Humanism

A massive thank you to everyone who contributed to the Humanist Action Group‘s 2012 Holiday Food Drive for local homeless shelters! Last Sunday saw the (almost) final day of what has been six nearly two months of hard work, planning, coordinating and executing the project and we’re pleased so that in total, we raised in-kind donations worth a brilliant…

£2,849.15

The donations went to three local homeless shelters, two of which are direct access – this means that service users are able to turn up, often coming in just for a day or two to escape the cold – so being able to give out a box containing food and some warm clothing is invaluable to such organisations.

You can see all the photos from the event on our Flickr page.

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Do we get the legal system we deserve?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 | Foundation, Humanism

This month at Leeds Skeptics, John Wilson, founder of Wilsons Solicitors, presented a talk “do we get the legal system we deserve?”

He argued that the legal profession was in need of a shake up. He used an analogy of the opticians industry, that thirty years ago was hidden away in offices, where nobody really knew how much anything cost, everything was slow and customer service was just shockingly bad. Today, after reform, you can walk into an opticians on the high street, get an eye test and select from a huge range of glasses, should you need them. Shouldn’t be going to see a solicitor be just as simple?

John argues that it should, and I imagine most of us will strongly agree with him! It was a great talk to round out the year, and one that I found extremely interesting.

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Positive Money

Monday, December 17th, 2012 | Humanism

This month at the Humanist Society of West Yorkshire, Simon Wellings presented a talk on Positive Money: A Simple Solution to the Debt Problem. It is a talk similar to the one he had given at Leeds Skeptics, though truth be told, I enjoyed the Skeptics talk a little more.

It was certainly thought provoking as Simon laid out the problems with the monetary system, and much debate followed the talk, though one of the members, who works in a bank treasury, strongly disputed some of the facts in the talk.

Ultimately there were two possible take home messages from the talk – you need to overhaul the monetary system and completely change the way the financial sector operates across the world. Or you need to start a bank.

Today is the day

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 | Foundation

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Today is the day! After six weeks of hard work, the Humanist Action Groups 2012 Holiday Food Drive for local homeless shelters ends today. We’ll be gathering everything together, boxing everything up, and delivering it to shelters throughout the day.

If you missed the deadline, you can still support our work by making a financial donation to the group. You can do this via Virgin Money Giving, or see our website.

Photos will be posted after the event – stay tuned.

HFD fundraiser

Saturday, December 15th, 2012 | Foundation

Last week, we held a fund raiser at Strawberry Fields, to raise money for the Humanist Action Group’s 2012 Holiday Food Drive. A big thanks to everyone who came, everyone who provided baked goods for the bake sale, and the venue for being so accommodating.

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Winter Solstice Meal 2012

Friday, December 14th, 2012 | Humanism

It’s hard to believe that us non-believers have now been getting together for six years to celebrate the holiday season with a meal. This year saw us visit an old classic – Spice Quarter.

They were surprisingly quiet for the Christmas period – I thought it would be rammed but someone even got a walk up table while we were there.

There was also a chav-tastic moment when we spotted a young lady wearing what I can only describe as a “magician’s assistant” leotard, covered in a thin net skirt that didn’t cover anything.

Royal succession

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

For a long time now, the monarchy has been entirely out of step with modern Britain.

If the monarch had multiple children, the succession would be given to the eldest boy, rather than simply the eldest child. For the grave sin of being born a woman, you would be passed over by your younger brother, because men are obviously generically predisposed to be better at ruling a kingdom.

But no more! A new royal succession law is passing that removes said gender discrimination, meaning the eldest child, regardless of gender, will now inherit the Crown.

I have to say though, I can’t really believe we spent parliamentary time on this.

Ending discrimination is always a good thing, but the reality is that almost nobody is affected by this. Indeed, even if you look at the past thousand years, how many people would be affected by it? My guess is, it’s very, very few people. You would be able to count them on one hand.

That is far less than the amount of women who are going to be raped in the next 24 hours, or the number of transwomen who will be murdered in the next month. Maybe that would be a good place to spend some parliamentary time?

You can then argue that it is the principle that it is important – that the monarchy are the head of the UK, and indeed the Commonwealth, so it is important we show from the top that we don’t discriminate on gender.

This is a much better argument, but if we are going to recognise that the monarchy is a ridiculous unfair archaic system, why are we still tolerating it? Why not finally make the move to a republic? The phrase polishing a turd comes to mind, because we still have a system where 99.9999% of the population are excluded because of the circumstances of their birth – we have hardly fixed discrimination in this area – this isn’t a victory for women, it’s a victory for Kate Middleton’s daughter. That we spent our parliamentary time on.

Calling from Australia

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 | Thoughts

To be sure, recent events surrounding the royal fetus, are a tragedy. Last week, two Australian DJs made a prank call to the King Edward VII hospital, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles and were put through to Kate’s private nurse who believed they were the real deal and revealed details of her condition. In the media circus surrounding the event afterwards, the nurse killed herself.

As a result Mel Greig and Michael Christian, the DJs on 2Day FM are now on indefinite leave, their show suspended and the radio station left not really knowing what to do. In fact, Scotland Yard are now speaking to the Australian authorities regarding their investigation.

Some reward for the public service the two DJs provided, pointing out that the security and privacy policies of the hospital are a joke.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that if you have a strong Australian accent, you’re impression of the Royal Family isn’t flawless, and so the fact that it would seem like literally anyone in the world can access private medical information using a simple social engineering attack troubles me greatly.

Yet, for pointing this out, the two DJs are almost being held responsible for the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who revealed said information. If we learn anything from this situation (apart from you shouldn’t just give out personal medical information over the phone – but most of us knew that anyway) is that a media circus of blame leads to suicide – so blaming Greig and Christian doesn’t seem like a sensible cause of action.