All entries by this author

Oh No, What’s That?

Dec 15th, 2004 7:32 pm | By

And now for another little trip to la-la land. This time not an angel book, but Essential Wicca. Like the angel book, it is packed full of opportunities to squeal with undignified uncontrollable laughter. As in the angel book, they simply leap off the page. Here’s a bit in a chapter called ‘Working the Sacred’ where we are being told how to do a Working (here’s a hint: it takes place in a Circle, which is Sacred Space, and capital letters appear quite a lot):

It’s good to remember that little children and cats are generally much more sensitive to the psychic/spiritual world than most adults, so they may be a rough gauge of how things are going. If,

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Dearly Cherished Beliefs

Dec 15th, 2004 6:35 pm | By

Polly Toynbee has a very good column today on the religious hatred law.

The natural allies of the rationalists have decamped. The left embraces Islam for its anti-Americanism. Liberals and progressives have had a collective softening of the brain and weakening of the knees. While they have a sympathetic instinct to defend harassed minorities, they prefer to abandon some fundamental principles and prevaricate over some basic freedoms than to face up to the damage religions do, the wars they fuel and the rights they deny.

Exactly. What I keep saying – to the point of tedium. Mushy language about ‘the right to lead a life in which one can peacefully practise one’s own religion without fear’ is designed to do … Read the rest

Blunkett Resigns *

Dec 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Chief Whip flings biography across Commons; gesture seen as expressing frustration.… Read the rest

Polly Toynbee on Bad Company *

Dec 15th, 2004 | Filed by

The natural allies of the rationalists have decamped. … Read the rest

An Iconoclastic History of Scientific Endeavour *

Dec 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Review of John Waller’s Leaps in the Dark: The Making of Scientific Reputations.… Read the rest

Review of Dictionary *

Dec 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Chris Williams on bad writing as an art form.… Read the rest

Children Taught Falsehoods in Sex Education *

Dec 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Federally funded abstinence-only programs get some facts wrong.… Read the rest

BNP Leader Held by Police Over Racist Remarks *

Dec 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Griffin claimed the government was trying to demonise the BNP.… Read the rest

Nick Griffin Arrested *

Dec 15th, 2004 | Filed by

BNP leader being questioned by police investigating racism in the organisation.… Read the rest

The Stinking Ninth Class

Dec 15th, 2004 | By David Stanway

It’s a hard life for educated folk. Earlier this year, the Chinese state newsagency Xinhua reported that the life expectancy of the Chinese intellectual was, at 58, more than ten years lower than the national average. A survey also showed that 76% of the nation’s journalists died between 40 and 60.

Many were surprised by the findings. The insanities of Chairman Mao’s “anti-rightist” campaigns and, worse still, the Cultural Revolution, had by now given way to a kind of modus vivendi. Intellectuals were no longer the “stinking ninth class” of society, some way behind criminals, prostitutes and vagrants in a peasant-led pecking order. By now, in the interests of “stability and economic development”, there would be no more mass persecutions. … Read the rest

Reporting In

Dec 15th, 2004 1:15 am | By

Things have been too quiet here. My fault. My computer went funny in the head again, and I’ve been busy whining at it and flinging it about the room until it came back to its senses.

I’ve just found what looks set to be an interesting new blog – belonging to a cancer surgeon with an interest in Holocaust denial (not a friendly or approving interest, I hasten to add) and alternative medicine. It’s always interesting to read informed commentary on alternative medicine, from people like, you know, doctors and researchers, as opposed to future monarchs and prating bystanders (by which I mean me).… Read the rest

Reclaiming Sartre *

Dec 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Rebecca Pitt reviews Ian Birchall’s Sartre Against Stalinism.… Read the rest

Guardian on Warnock Controversy *

Dec 13th, 2004 | Filed by

With links to relevant sites.… Read the rest

Mary Warnock Comments Spark Controversy *

Dec 13th, 2004 | Filed by

Euthanasia activists and Age Concern disagree with one another.… Read the rest

Interview with Mary Warnock *

Dec 13th, 2004 | Filed by

There is no place for spiritualism or sentiment in the law. … Read the rest

Sorry to Disappoint, Still an Atheist! *

Dec 13th, 2004 | Filed by

Antony Flew clarifies some points that got muddied in the stampede.… Read the rest

Interview with Amartya Sen *

Dec 13th, 2004 | Filed by

The structural conditions for human equality, capabilities, and freedom.… Read the rest

Sorry to Disappoint, but I’m Still an Atheist!

Dec 13th, 2004 | By Antony Flew

Has Antony Flew ceased to be an atheist?

In a sensationalist campaign in the internet, it is alleged that Professor Antony Flew, British philosopher, reputed rationalist, atheist and Honorary Associate of Rationalist International, has left atheism and decided that a god might exist.

The controversy revolves around some remarks of Prof. Antony Flew that seems to allow different interpretations. Has Antony Flew ever asserted that “probably God exists”? Richard Carrier, editor in chief of the Secular Web quotes Antony Flew from a letter addressed to him in his own hand (dated 19 October 2004): “I do not think I will ever make that assertion, precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about … Read the rest

More on Religious Hatred Law

Dec 12th, 2004 7:33 pm | By

There is this excellent column by Nick Cohen in the Guardian for instance. (Nick Cohen debated Julian Baggini on this subject at Open Democracy last summer, but the debate is now behind subscription.) He talks about the strange incident at Index on Censorship (which we also talked about quite a lot here) when the associate editor ‘piled blame’ on Theo van Gogh instead of on his murderer.

What was most telling was Index’s treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who worked with van Gogh on the film. I can remember when she would have been a liberal heroine…She overcame enormous handicaps to become a Dutch MP and, as free men and women are entitled to do, decided she didn’t believe in

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If Carl Sagan Had Lived Just a Little Longer?

Dec 12th, 2004 5:05 pm | By

So Antony Flew has changed his mind. Hmm. If Hume had lived to be 81, would he have done likewise? If Nietzsche had lived that long and hung onto his marbles, would he? If Bertrand Russell had lived to be 110, would he? In twenty years, will we be reading (those of us still alive) that Richard Dawkins has?

Who knows. And by the same token, maybe any day now we’ll hear that Billy Graham has finally seen the light, that Jimmy Carter takes it all back, that Jerry Fallwell has caught on at last, that George W Bush has realized it was all a drunken mistake, that Osama bin Laden has decided the hell with it and ordered a … Read the rest