Christmas Podcast – Listen Now

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Back in October I extended an invitation to fellow non-believers to be a guest on a ‘planned’ podcast which would focus (mostly!) on the Christmas experience. Thankfully, I received plenty of interest from people far and wide. Phew.

The idea was to create something which would allow people to hear what Christmas means to other non-believers with varying cultural backgrounds, traditions and opinions.

My only hope is to provide the opportunity to learn something, laugh a little and reinforce the knowledge that religion needn’t be the only reason for the season.

All Episodes will be released throughout December for free via iTunes  and Youtube.  Click below to listen now:

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Although these will remain available for free, if you do enjoy them, please consider making a contributory donation below.  Your contribution will be used to supplement ongoing hosting & production costs, new equipment for further shows and possibly Scotch.  Yeah.  Definitely Scotch.

Click To Support This Podcast

Click To Support This Podcast

It’s been a huge pleasure and privilege to talk to so many different and interesting people. Finding the time to juggle full-time employment, unforgiving time differences and a laborious editing process has been a challenge, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  It’s with regret that I haven’t been able to reach out to everyone that took the time to contact me, but I’m incredibly grateful to have heard from you all the same.

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Are Students Required To Accept Islam Is A Religion Of Peace? The BBC Thinks So..

Religion of Peace

The BBC is not unaccustomed to criticism. Some of it is merited; some is simply due to their stature.  People love to take a swing at a giant once in a while. I hold no agenda to single out the BBC as frequently as I have this year; it’s just that they seem to be going out of their way to mock the gods of reason.

From the censorship of satire in response to a chorus of bleating from a humourless Christian minority, to refusal to re-think the increasingly outdated and less than inclusive format of its ‘Thought For The Day‘.

There was also that nasty business whereby a ‘journalist’ was able to assert something as utterly irresponsible as “men are raised to hate women” on the flagship BBC news programme, without so much as a follow-up question. Poor editorial indeed.

Throw in the BBC’s unquestioning promotion of Atheism Plus’ odious Block bot and we have an organisation that has truly earned itself a spell on my naughty step.

Imagine then, the look of unrefined exasperation on my face, as I completed a “Practice exam” on their High School revision service, GCSE Bitesize.  You could have driven a school bus into the gaping negative space created by the rapid expansion of my oral cavity.  I still have jaw ache.

For the uninitiated, GCSE’s are qualifications awarded to high school students (age 14-16) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The BBC’s ‘bitesize’ service aims to provide revision tools and practice exercises relevant to the current school curriculum. In this instance, the subject in question is Religious Studies, with a focus on Islam.

Upon taking the two minutes required to answer the questions in question, it soon became clear that the BBC, or the relevant educational bodies do not give a flying horse about objectivity where the ‘Religion Of Peace’ is concerned.

As you can see from the below, two questions in particular, or more specifically, what the exercise deems to be the correct response, caught my eye:

RelOfPeaceIslamEquality

If you’re unsure as to my gripe at this point, it may be best to return to your bubble.

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Godless Spellchecker Christmas Podcast Invite

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Yes, like it or not, that time of year is almost upon us again. Fox News will soon be rallying a call to arms to fight an imagined war on an imagined deity.  And Christians that are unfamiliar with the word ‘Paganism’ will take to social media to vent their displeasure at the fear that nonbelievers may be enjoying a holiday that isn’t ‘theirs’. Delicious irony. Ho ho ho.

Personally, I love Christmas. For me, it’s a time to catch up with family.  Great company, mixed with laughter, too much food and drink, terrible sweaters and worse socks. What’s not to like?  I’ll pass on the sprouts however, thanks.

This got me wondering (see Oprah? See?).  I’d very much like to hear what Christmas means to other nonbelievers with similar or completely different cultural backgrounds to me.

What do you do at Christmas?  Do you hate it? Do you love it?  Do you refuse to celebrate it?  Are you forced to endure the religious convictions of your family?  Do you insist on calling it Xmas? Has a recent loss of faith spoiled what was once a meaningful time of year for you? And why the hell didn’t Santa bring you that Megadrive you asked for when you were 7?  You were really good that year. And you wrote him a nice letter. A nice letter specifically asking for the console complete with two controllers and a copy Streets Of Rage so that you could play with your best friend, Paul. Yet nothing! Nothing!

I digress.

I want to hear as many varied viewpoints as possible, from as many countries as possible.  So, throughout the coming weeks, I hope to reach out to a number of those who fill in the below form.

The intention is to take up two minutes of your time via Skype voice chat (free download/Also available on smartphones) to ask you to vocalise/expand on your answers given below.

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Quinn Norton Implodes – In The Interest Of Clarity

BBC

After the recent confusion caused by a statement heard on BBC Newsnight that “Men are raised to hate women” I decided to ask the journalist responsible for an explanation.

The outcome was unexpected and inspired me to pen this blog post, which in turn led to in my view, unfairly, hours of bizarre accusations from a tiny number of individuals

1Although the overwhelming majority of (I realise this is not indicative of being right) people seemed to agree that clarification was necessary, and the initial statement was too much of a generalisation to be helpful to say the least, the very small number who did take issue with me seemed to fall in to two camps.

Some argued that the statement was perfectly reasonable and not deserving of question.  And that it was actually my lack of understanding that was the real problem, or the manner in which I questioned.

Others seemingly fell afoul of a catastrophic inability to differentiate between the following two statements, (one genuine, one imagined):

“What exactly do you mean by that?  Please explain”

And

“Sexism and misogyny are not genuine problems in society”.

I could not attempt a defence of the second statement, even if I were stupid enough to actually believe it, or want to.

Obviously there are a lot of good people who feel incredibly passionate about sexism and misogyny for incredibly valid reasons (captain obvious) and may have felt I was somehow denying the importance or existence of these issues.  As explainable as this perception may be on some level, it is not even remotely accurate to anything I have said, implied or argued.

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Quinn Norton: Trolling, “Men Are Raised To Hate Women” and Other Confusing Statements.

They See Me Trollin'

Twitter has been big news of late, with reports that they plan to implement an abuse reporting function.  I’ve been asked a few times what my thoughts are on the matter, and I’m all for it.

Threatening and unlawful behaviour is completely unacceptable and those who engage in such a manner should be held accountable.  I displayed my willingness to side with this sentiment recently by reporting a clearly threatening tweet (not to me) to the police.

My only concern is: how will this be regulated?  Will Twitter have the manpower (or women!!!!!) to efficiently distinguish abusers and trollers from genuine disagreement or attempts to engage in meaningful discourse? Given the vast numbers of Twitter users and the seemingly unrealistic task of policing it, is it likely to be an unmanned,  automated process?  An algorithm simply reacting to multiple ‘abuse reports’? Only time will tell.

‘Troll’ seems the buzzword of late.  The problem is, that “troll” in the context of the internet has no unified definition.  I personally take trolling to mean the act of intentionally making insincere statements to an individual, or individuals in order to provoke a response, or as they would call it,  a “victory”. Others use it simply to describe an individual who seeks out arguments online.

I’m trolled daily in the former sense. People will tweet me en masse with clearly disingenuous statements in the hope that I may respond.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  It often depends on how dull my commute to work is that morning.

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