Tag Archives: Christmas

The true meaning of Christmas

I reckon you can’t beat Tim Minchin’s song “White Wine in the Sun” to convey the real atmosphere of Christmas – at least in Australia and New Zealand.

Here’s a new version – recorded at the Uncaged Monkeys show in Manchester on 6th December 2011. It’s a bit shaky at the start but gets better.

Tim is accompanied by Prof. Brian Cox on keyboard in this version

Tim Minchin & Prof Brian Cox – White Wine In The Sun

Similar articles

 

Helping kids to wonder

This looks like a lovely present for your little ones – ideal for that special child’s christmas present. I Wonder by Annaka Harris.

I mentioned this book when it was little more than a gleam in the author’s eye (see I don’t know!) Now you can pre-order it with a publication date mid-October.

According to the blurb the story is about a little girl Eva, who takes a walk with her mother and encounters a range of mysteries: from gravity, to life cycles, to the vastness of the universe. She learns that it’s okay to say “I don’t know,” and she discovers that there are some things even adults don’t know—mysteries for everyone to wonder about together! What do you wonder about?

Looks like it would be an ideal book to encourage the your scientist in your family. As the blurb says:

I Wonder is a book that celebrates the feelings of awe and curiosity in children, as the foundation for all learning.”

The author Annaka Harris is a freelance editor of nonfiction books and is especially passionate about furthering the public understanding of science. She is also a cofounder of Project Reason and a volunteer for InnerKids

The illustrator John Rowe resides in Montrose, CA, where he maintains an art studio, creating original art and oil paintings for both illustration and fine art clients. His illustration clients include the United Nations, Disney, Random House, Simon and Schuster, and Buena Vista Pictures. His projects have encompassed movie posters, book covers, advertisements, murals and fine art paintings for clients and collectors.

Similar articles

A dose of reality

walls

A bit of an antidote to those mushy Christmas cards.

Worth thinking about the meaning of this image.

Climategate 2.0 and “toecurling” journalism

It’s the silly season again. Another climate change conference (Durban) – another climategate hoax. This cartoon from crikey (Bitter Climate Science Tryst Shock Scandal Rift Emails Exposed) sums it up.

Credit: Firstdog at crikey

Thanks to: Bitter Climate Science Tryst Shock Scandal Rift Emails Exposed.

“Festering syphilitic repellance!”

And this from one of the most extreme climate change deniers, Telegraph journalist James Delingpole in Climategate 2.0: the most damning email of them all. It’s attacking an email with a Christmas song celebrating the IPCC Nobel prize. We will leave such enthusiastic but naive song writing aside. But it certainly puts Delingpole’s nose out of joint. It’s a bit over the top to describe such attempts at composition as “toecurlingly, . . vile,  reprehensible, stomach-churningly dreadful, . . .festering syphilitic repellance. .” isn’t it!

“The worst, most toecurlingly awful, damning, vile, reprehensible, stomach-churningly dreadful email – the one that shows the Warmist junk-scientists in a light of such festering syphilitic repellance they can never possibly recover is this, the Christmas ditty specially written by Kevin Trenberth in celebration of the Nobel committee’s comedic decision to award the Peace Prize to Al Gore and the IPCC.”

Similar articles

A reminder of reality’s magic

This is really a reminder about another sciency book for the kids – especially with Christmas coming up.

Back in May I posted on a new book by Richard Dawkins (see The Magic of Reality for young people). I am posting again on this because the book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, will be released this month in the UK (October 4 in the US).

It’s bound to be excellent, given Richard’s well known literary and science communication skills. And the illustrator, Dave McKean, has illustrated many award-winning books.

And the recommendations are good. Lawrence Krauss describes it as “
“Exhilarating. The clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I’ve ever read.” As for Ricky Gervais – he says: “I wanted to write this book but I wasn’t clever enough. Now I’ve read it, I am.”

Looks like the book is aimed at the older child and teenager, and appears suitable for adults as well.

Similar articles

It’s that time of the year

Book review: Christmas – Philosophy for Everyone: Better Than a Lump of Coal. Scott C. Lowe (Editor), Fritz Allhoff, Fritz Allhoff (Series Editor) Stephen Nissenbaum (Foreword)

Price: US$15.56
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (October 19, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 144433090X
ISBN-13: 978-1444330908

OK, this book is topical. Not only because of the timely subject. It’s also  appropriate to review now because it’s the sort of book one might consider giving or receiving as a present on Saturday. And it’s the sort of book one might enjoy reading next week.

Well, it’s obviously not your usual philosophy book – it’s far more approachable. It is, after all, part of the “Philosophy for Everyone” series. In fact, the philosophy is not obvious in some articles – it looks more like common sense. And the approach is slightly ‘tongue-in-cheek,’ especially with the essay titles and the notes on contributors (called “Santa’s Elves”).

Continue reading

Cutting off your nose for Christmas?

I think Tim Minchin‘s Song White Wine in the Sun really captures the spirit of Christmas down under. I heard it last year (see No gods required) and notice it is being promoted again this year with all proceeds going to charity.

Here is Minchin performing the song:

The Salvation Army was a beneficiary of this because the song is included on the CD The Spirit Of Christmas, which raises money for the Salvation Army’s charity work in Australia. However, talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. They are now criticising the song and other Christian activists, even ones supposedly supporting family values, dubbed it  ‘disrespectful’ and ‘a sick joke.’

Tim wrote about the Sally’s rudeness:

“I gave my song for free, putting aside my philosophical objection to the Salvation Army for the sake of beneficiaries. Imbeciles.”

“I think the Salvos are idiots. I didn’t know they would benefit from the CD, but by the time I found out I didn’t want to make too much of a fuss. So I gave my song free, then they turn around and say that they don’t agree with the sentiment of the song.

“Part of me is hugely outraged by what imbeciles they are, to bite the hand that feeds them and put their proselytising above charity.

“I won’t make this mistake again. I tweeted that if people want to buy my version of the song independently, I’ll give the proceeds away to a non-proselytising charity.”

“Christmas means much to billions of people who don’t believe in Jesus, and if you think that Christmas without Jesus is not Christmas, then you’re out of touch, and if you think altruism without Jesus is not altruism, then you’re a dick.”

I understand that a secular charity Autism Trust is going to benefit from sales of “White Wine in the Sun” from now until January 1st. (Cost NZ$1.79 on iTunes – I wouldn’t buy the Sally’s CD).

Similar articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Holiday reading

Most New Zealanders celebrate Christmas and New Year with family events, holidays, relaxation and fun at the beach. For many of us it is a chance to catch up with our reading – I’m certainly looking forward to getting into a number of books I have recently purchased.

Many magazines publish lists of recommended books at this time of the year. It’s noticeable, however, that these lists usually contain few, or no, science books. The NZ listener was no exception (Best books cds & dvds of 2007) with only one science-based book included. The Publishe& Editor of Edge, John Brockman, comments on this (Third Culture Holiday Reading):

“Given the well-documented challenges and issues we are facing as a nation, as a culture, how can it be that there are no science books (and hardly any books on ideas) on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year list; no science category in the EconomistBooks of the Year 2007; only Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker’s list of Books From Our Pages?”

He laments the way that “official culture” seems to ignore science, despite its critical importance:

“But science today is changing our understanding of our universe and species, and scientific literacy is indispensable to dealing with some of the world’s most pressing issues. Fortunately, we live in a time when third culture intellectuals-scientists, science journalists, and other science-minded writers-are among our best nonfiction writers, and their many engaging books have brought scientific insight to a wide audience.”

The Edge lists a number of science-related books published in 2007. I have read three of them and will be attempting to get a number of others.

Continue reading