Thursday, 14 September 2017

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy
On Thursday the 14th Sept 2017 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

2 months ago, for one day, more than 50% of the UK energy consumption was supplied fromnon carbon based renewable energy sources and for a brief moment we even met our Paris accord targets for 2025.
Just a couple of years ago this would have seemed a dream beyond imagining so despite the doomsayers, the world is making progress. 

So first a review:
·         What is it?
·         How does it work and
·         what you might like to do now as your contribution?

Then Alastair will walk us through some of the practicalities of what he is trying to do in his own home.
Planning permissions, feed in tariffs, what is practical right now and what might be just around the next corner.



Saturday, 12 August 2017

Update and forthcoming events

Hastings Humanists are on summer recess for August. The next meeting will be on Thursday September 14th at The White Rock Hotel.

We have had some great debates over the past few months including genetically modified organisms, democracy and morality as well as a look at how news stories are portrayed in the newspapers and other media sources.

Forthcoming meetings will discuss renewable energy and we hope to have Kevin Precious, former R.E teacher, Humanist and comedian later in the year.

I will update the blog once dates are confirmed

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Notable Women of Sussex

Our next meeting will be a presentation on ‘Notable Women of Sussex’ by Ann Kramer
On Thursday the 9th Feb 2017 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

Hastings Humanists welcome Ann Kramer

Ann is a local historian, writer and feminist who has written books such as 
Women Wartime Spies and the Landgirls and their Impact and will share with us the fruits of her research into some notable women of Sussex – many of whom you may not have heard of. Her book Sussex Women selects 30 of the best, from royal mistresses to pioneering doctors, from educators and philanthropists to Brighton dippers and cross dressing music hall stars and brings each vividly to life.  There are lots of local women for us to be proud of, and a few we might not wish to laud too loudly!
Ann’s talk promises to be both educational and entertaining.


After the break we will have a discussion on ‘The causes of women’s under-representation in history’. 
Is it because of patriarchal social structures that have limited female opportunity and downplays their impact; or is there also a difference between men and women, and the way they fight for recognition?





Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Share your favourites

Share your favourites
The following are some recommendations from the Hastings Humanists Group.
Lots of interesting books, films, songs and YouTube clips – and where possible I have included hyperlinks (blue text and underlined) so you can click on them and see further information on the Internet.
I hope you find it entertaining and useful.
###############################################################

Nick

Book
“Atheism in Ancient times” – Atheism can trace its routes back to antiquity and is arguably as old as theism itself.

Mike

Book
“Cold Reading” A book on the techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, mediums and illusionists to imply that the reader knows much more about the person than the reader actually does

Stephen Milton

Web links
  • Hans Rosling Ted talk. He is my favourite statistician who explains the world View. His website is www.Gapminder.org gives you the tools to test your assumptions about the world against the statistical facts …Test your beliefs  
  • The best advice to offer to young people starting life wrapped in great humour.  Tim Mitchim UWA address  View
  • Tom Lehrer  Vatican Rag  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvhYqeGp_Do
  •  A sense of Fairness seems inherent in our biology.  See this experiment with monkeys  View     
  • David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes View
  • Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth.  Yuval Noah Harari puts our ability to tell stories at the heart of it. View
  • Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.  View
  • I love table tennis and watch what a professional can do….View
Books
  • “A brief history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson – a humorous and detailed narrative of the history of science.
  • “Homo Deus”  by Yuval Noah Harari – explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the 21st century.
  • “Quantum” – Manjit Kumar – The amazing story of scientists who gave up their most cherished beliefs in the pursuit of something totally counter-intuitive that turned out to be real.

George

  • Awesome Japanese Xylophone in Forest.  View
  • Samuel Barber - "Dover Beach", Op. 3 Fischer-Dieskau, Juilliard . This brooding song for baritone and string quartet, written in 1931 sets with almost miraculous appropriateness the haunting 1851 poem by Matthew Arnold - View
  • Who’s Who in Hell – CNN review View
  • Big Bandstand sound Eastbourne     View 

Linda Dootson

Book
“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking.

A couple of nice quotes See more:

“What did God do before he created the universe?” 

“In the eighteenth century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as: Did the universe have a beginning? However, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists. Philosophers reduced the scope of their inquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, "The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language." What a come  down from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant!” 
 
Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Karen

Book
“Marcus Aurelius, Meditations” translation by Maxwell Staniforth.  A series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.  Still a source of insight and comfort today.

Elizabeth

...as life has gone by I have often said
'there's a song there?!'
...as life has gone by I have often thought
'life could be more fun if it was  more like a musical’
When  I glanced throo Facebook for things I have reposted
for a hint of what I could recommend tonight
I noticed something that tunes into this
singing stimulates the production of oxytocin,
 a chemical involved in happiness and bonding.
Surveys of individuals who sing regularly report
sustained high levels of emotional stability  and
well-being. Even professional singers,
whose singing literally determines whether they'll be eating or
not in the future, still experience a sense of relaxation and energy after singing
Article /Integrative  Physiological and Behavioural Science  react-text: 53 38(1):65-74 January 2002eact-text: 53 38(1):65-74 January
singing stimulates the production of oxytocin,
 a chemical involved in happiness and bonding.
Surveys of individuals who sing regularly report
sustained high levels of emotional stability  and
well-being. Even professional singers,
(like here The joy of song  )
whose singing literally determines whether they'll be eating or
not in the future, still experience a sense of relaxation and energy after singing
Article /Integrative  Physiological and Behavioural Science  react-text: 53 38(1):65-74 January 2002eact-text: 53 38(1):65-74 January

Katy

Film
The Intouchables (2012) Official Trailer [HD]  
A clash of worlds with humour and empathy. (French with sub-titles)

Alistair

Book
“The God Argument” by AC Grayling
Professor of Philosophy and Master of New College of the Humanities, London
Plenty of YouTube films from 10 mins to over an hour – well worth looking at.

Laurence

Book
“The Bible for Grown ups” by Simon Loveday
Loveday’s case is that the mantle of historical truth and divine authority has placed upon the Bible an intolerable weight, crushing it as a creative work of immense imaginative and inspirational power. His argument is both fascinating and persuasive
Film
Dinner for One – Freddie Frinton - View

Terry Ballard

Unfortunately, I cannot make tonight's meeting. I would love to be there to discuss my own pet project, humanist music. Here's a list of songs that Barbara and I came up with. Discussing whether a song qualifies as humanist can be both fun and enlightening.

                                                 HUMANIST SONGS
He Ain’t Heavy (He’s My Brother)
Imagine
Days
The Living Years
You Are the Voice
In My Life
Superstition
Bridge Over Troubled Water        
Mamunia
Why Worry
When a Child is Born
Theme to The Big Bang Theory
Where’s Your Heaven Now...? *
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Thank You for the Music
Wonderful World
Melting Pot
Sweet Thames Flow Softly
Abraham, John and Martin
Two Little Boys
Danny Boy
Mountains of Mourne
Amazing Grace
The Way We Were
Lean on Me
Do Anything You Want to Do
Vincent
The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)
Wish I Knew How to be Free
Precious Time (Is Slipping Away)

SM - I have added my personal favourite ‘The Universe Song’        View

Julienne
Book
"Statistics for the Terrified!"  It has a picture of The Scream by Edvard Munch on the front cover and DON'T PANIC written throughout the book! 


 ________________________________________________________________________


The above was the result of this meeting:

Our next meeting will be an opportunity to share your favourites with the group
On Thursday the 12th Jan 2017 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

A Happy New Year to one and all.

Despite the many hostages to fortune carried over from 2016 and slowly coming home to roost in an uncertain future. In a triumph of hope over experience, I remain optimistic that 2017 will be a Prime Year for us all (2017 being a prime number)!!!!

For our first meeting of the year, I would ask you to bring along a recommendation to the group.
  •          A book
  •          A film
  •          A website
  •          A YouTube clip
  •          A Ted talk
  •          A song
Anything that you think that the rest of the group might appreciate knowing about!

You can provide a brief introduction explaining why it is of interest to you, and perhaps read or show a short clip by way of introduction.
If you would like to email some information in advance, I can probably find something on the Internet and save it on my PC for the demonstration.

I have no doubt that there will moments of controversy that we will debate in the normal way. I look forward to seeing you.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Food for Thought

On the 13th Oct 2016 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel
 and introduced by Elizabeth Coleman

Food is a vital part of our lives and influences almost everything we do. So this debate will consider
*       how we can feed a prospective population of 9 billion people in a globally warming world with less temperate weather.
*         One part of the answer may be to eat less meat. And where is the Morality in slaughtering 1.2 billion animals per week if we do not need to for nutritional reasons.
*         And then there is the whole process of digestions. The bacteria cells in our body outnumber human cells 10 to 1, so how do the gut bacteria actually work and what are the health impacts of the symbiotic relationship we have with them.
*         And finally, will science come to the rescue? Where are we on synthetic biology for creating foods – from GMs to artificial meat etc

            In the pre industrial past (just 300 years ago) sugar was rare and considered a precious spice, and meat was an extraordinary luxury.  Our stomachs have not caught up with the affluence so many of us now take for granted.
            Research has shown that in times of plenty mammals in general increase their degree of co-operation, and in times of scarcity, they become more competitive (not a surprise!).  So getting this wrong may well make the world a much less pleasant place to live!

            It is occasionally interesting to stand back and consider the big questions of life….
I look forward to hearing your opinions

Stephen Milton

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Headstrong Evening

Our next meeting will be another 'Headstrong Evening’
On the 8th Sept 2016 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

For our first meeting after the summer break we will have another of the very popular ‘Headstrong Debates’.
A series of 15 minute debates on any subject offered from the floor.

Please bring along your headstrong opinions and be prepared to have them challenged ….

Here are a few questions to choose from, to get us going:

*         The director of Google research believes that by 2050 there will be a direct brain interface to the Internet.  How might it change human nature in the following 50 years?
*         Is Donald Trump’s popularity in America something that should scare us?
*         With enough investment we could stop global warming, but we seem unable to make those choices. Why is that?
*         What does ISIS want?
*         What would be an ideal gift that you would like to receive?
         Andrew Copson advocates we support internationalist ideals and global civilisation, 
        But what are they exactlY? (topic suggested by GPJ)

I look forward to seeing you all again shortly

Stephen Milton

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Does Altruism Exist?

Our next meeting will consider ‘Does Altruism Exist?’

On the 14th July from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the White Rock Hotel

There are many different ideas about the nature of altruism as we try to explain our natural instinct to help each other.

If you perform an act of kindness for another, is it genuine Altruism, or are you gaining a benefit by feeling good about yourself?

If the kindness costs you something, should it be considered an act of masochism from which you obtain some vicarious delight?

Or is every good deed just the expression of your 'selfish gene' in a collective act of enlightened self-interest?

Or do societies evolve in a form of Darwinian competition in which those that learn to collaborate, survive and prosper better than those in which the members are egotistically self-obsessed?

We will try to examine this from all angles including the biblical roots of original sin.

If you would like to prepare a 10 minute slot to give your point of view, please let me know and I’ll include it in the programme.

In August we will take our summer break so there is no meeting.

Stephen Milton