Archive for December, 2011

Winter Solstice Meal 2011

Saturday, December 31st, 2011 | Humanism

The Atheist Society has a long history of running annual Winter Solstice meals, and this year was no exception. Despite us being unable to get in to Red Hot World Buffet, or be able to get karaoke going at OK Karaoke, it was never the less an enjoyable evening.

Best of all, I achieved the impossible – I think I am probably the first Yorkshireman ever to manage to stop eating when he was full and not keep going until he felt like a short walk over to the hospital on the other side of Millenium Square would be a strongly advisable course of action, in an attempt to squeeze every last penny of value out of the all you can eat buffet. I knew it was going to be a challenge, so I’m quite pleased with myself :D.

Panic on a Plate

Friday, December 30th, 2011 | Events

Having been quite impressed by the Leeds Salon event I attended, and I decided to head down to their next one – Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder at which Rob Lyons made the case that we all need to chill out about what we’re eating before being cross-examined by a panel of experts.

The key points in Rob’s talk were that people now eat a more varied, nutritious diet than ever before. One hundred years ago people didn’t have freezers, microwaves or even cookers, so the idea that until recently everyone had eaten warm home cooked meals is nonsense.

Supermarkets have only come round in the past 50 years, and before then you simply couldn’t get the variety you can access now. Let alone a thousand years ago, or ten thousand years ago as the species was evolving (not that it’s stopped). Only as far back as 1914, people simply couldn’t afford the fuel to run their cookers, so would often only cook hot food once a week for Sunday lunch. People would be eating junk food all the time – they would often by down the fish and chip shop three or four times a week.

In 1930, food made up 30% of your household budget, it now accounts for 10%. It was only in the 1970’s that freezers became affordable to everyone. In short, food today is cheaper, easier to store and easier to cook than ever before. The result is that people benefit from a more varied, more nutritious diet than ever before. Even if you’re eating takeaway every night, compared to what people were eating a hundred years ago, you’re doing pretty well.

While the panel didn’t buy into the talk wholesale, there was a lot more agreement than I expected. Generally, the consensus was that Rob was speaking a lot of sense – but there still was a healthier way to live, if only by ensuring you have different coloured foods on your plate each night.

Proof that I invented Facebook

Thursday, December 29th, 2011 | Tech

I always knew that one day I would be able to prove it! While trawling through my old websites, I came across a website that is essentially FaceMash. Now, where do I write off to, to get my money?

Anti war campaign

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 | Religion & Politics

I’m currently digging through old websites, so there will probably be a few posts similar to this. I don’t know whether that is good or bad, they will hopefully be slightly amusing, though I’m sure will primarily be nostalgic for me rather than of benefit to others.

It turns out that, when I was nine years younger, I started an anti war campaign with a few friends. I don’t really remember it lol, but apparently I build a web page for it. My written English seems to have been as bad back then as it is now.

December Humanist Community

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 | Events, Foundation

Despite the cold and the train, December’s Humanist Community meeting was well attended and enjoyed by all. After all, the colder it is outside, the more a good Sunday Roast is appreciated! Conversation continued long into the night with this month’s topics including foreign policy, education and what everyone’s holiday plans were.

Wedding reception

Monday, December 26th, 2011 | Life, Travel

Earlier this month, I was invited to a wedding reception over in York. Due to the medication I’m on, I can’t drink, so I figured the most convenient thing to do was drive over. I didn’t want to arrive dead on 7:30 in case nobody else turned up at that time, so I decided to set off at 7:15, allowing 45 minutes to drive there, get parked and find the venue, thereby arriving a fashionable 30 minutes after the start time.

So I set off at 7:15 and got as far as the roundabout by the big Tesco when I ran into road works which had closed off the A64 entirely, so I followed a badly sign posted diversion route which took me up to Weatherby Road.

They seemed to disappear at this point so I kept driving as far as village which I believe was called Cottingham, at which point my sat nav finally provided me a route which was something other than make a U-turn and head back to the A64.

This involved joining the A1, and heading back down the motorway towards Leeds until I got back to the A1/A64 junction. By now I was massively behind schedule but I thought hey ho, at least I’m now on a dual carriageway all the way to York.

So I carried on down the A64, and suddenly saw a bunch of cars with their hazard lights on ahead of me. Next thing I know both lanes have come to a standstill and I can see some flashing emergency lights up ahead of me.

Apparently someone had been run over.

After being sat there for a while with an increasing feeling that I was going to be trapped on the A64 all night, the traffic eventually started to move again as a police officer started directing cars to take it in turns to make a U-turn and drive the wrong way down an on-ramp to the A64 which lead us into a village that was either near, or was, Weatherby.

By this point I had been on the road for almost two hours and didn’t really know what roads there were into York without the A64, so I just gave it up as a bad job and gave up. That meant that not only had I missed my friend’s wedding reception, but I was also now forced to buy dinner from McDonald’s because I had missed out on the buffet. Is there some kind of compensation fund I can claim that back from?

Happy Christmas

Sunday, December 25th, 2011 | Thoughts

That’s right, I said it. I’m an atheist, and I used the word Christmas. I know, I know, I’m crazy, I’m on the edge, etc, etc. A lot of non-believers don’t like using the word because they think it has too many Christian connotations. But I really don’t have a problem with it.

Why? I guess for the same reason that Reclaim the Night started. I don’t think we should give up the word so easy. Because it’s nonsense that the origins of the holiday season lie in Christianity, we all know it’s nonsense and it really doesn’t bother me that people are occasionally misguided about this, but even if they were, it would only inspire me to explain to them the truth.

Of course, Christians genuinely are celebrating the birth of Jesus, but the rest of us aren’t. Any suggestion we were could equally be rebuked by the argument that actually, Christians are celebrating Paganism just as much. So I don’t even get drawn into the debate these days. For me, as a Humanist, the holiday season is another arbitrary point to celebrate life. family and friendships. But as all holidays are essentially arbitrary these days, it doesn’t make it any less special.

2011 Holiday Food Drive

Saturday, December 24th, 2011 | Foundation

Last Monday saw the end of the 2011 Holiday Food Drive. We packed all the donations into boxes, used the money donated to buy even more, and delivered it all to a local homeless shelter. Thanks to everyone who made a donation or helped out on the day!

Real Value Hosting

Saturday, December 24th, 2011 | Reviews, Tech

Eight years ago, I was outgrowing my current hosting package, and needed to find pastures new. So I headed over to a web hosting forum and found a post about a company named Real Value Hosting. They seemed to have everything I needed, and a reasonable price, so I decided to give them a go and sign up.

Little did I know at the time, but I was actually their second customer to sign up!

Eight years later and I’m still a happy customer. There have been a few glitches over the years as you would expect with any host, but overall I am more than satisfied and their support response times have always been reasonably quick and consistent, which is probably the biggest concern when selecting a hosting company.

As I’ve now migrated my entire online portfolio onto the LAMP stack, I’ve recently retired my reseller account with them, but I would highly recommend it to those looking for a Windows hosting provider.

Age of consent

Friday, December 23rd, 2011 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

Recently, I wrote about a theory that had been put to me, suggesting that we should align the age of sexual consent and the age of voting. I founded it difficult to come up with arguments to refute it.

But there is a problem. If you just put the age of sexual consent up to 18, kids will probably just have sex anyway. It’s not like people really pay that much attention to the law as it is. Indeed, some people make the argument that the age of sexual consent should be lowered.

Of course, that isn’t necessarily an issue. Maybe you just lower the age of voting to 14 as well, but then we would probably all agree that that would be pretty crazy. Still, once you agree that people can do more harm with sexual activity than they can with voting, how can you argue that the age of consent should be lower than the age of voting?

So, what are we do to then? Do we just live with the contradiction that it doesn’t make sense to have a higher age of voting than sexual consent, except it doesn’t make sense and settle with a logically inconsistent but ultimately pragmatic approach? Maybe that in itself is logical justification? I’ll throw it open to the floor…