Kia ora: New Year greetings for 2013 or 15013 if the Reset the Gregorian calendar movement, as mentioned below, is successful. I love the serendipity of holiday reading. I came across an interesting quote in a history of England’s Medieval Queens, Queen’s Consort by Lisa Hilton 2008. It concerns the monarchy versus republic debate. ‘Royalty is a government in which the attention of a nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions. A republic is a government in which the attention is divided between many, who are doing uninteresting actions. Accordingly, so long as the human heart is strong and the human reason weak, royalty will be strong because it appeals to diffused feeling, and republics weak because they appeal to the understanding.’ Walter Bagehot The English Constitution

Darwin Day: To celebrate Darwin’s birthday, 12 February, and to begin our New Year, a social gathering will be held at the Kingsgate Hotel from 5pm, Saturday 16 February. Members and friends are invited to gather for light refreshments and stay on for a meal together.

February monthly meeting: Monday 25 February
Richard Dawkins’ – “Now Praise Intelligent Design”
Why does Richard Dawkins want us to praise “Intelligent Design”, anathema to most secularists? What does this have to do with memes? Why is Dawkins defending and promoting the concept of memes? The word “meme”, now found in dictionaries, was coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976, because he considered that there was a need, and has been promoted by him and others since then. Following a short introduction to the concept of memes we will watch a video of Richard Dawkins titled “Now Praise Intelligent Design” in which he discusses and defends the concept of memes.
All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public – bring a friend.
We meet from 7.30 pm until 9.30 pm

New Venue for meeting: Tararua TrampingClub, 4 Moncrieff St, off Elizabeth St, off Kent Tce, Wellington

*** Please note this change of day (Monday 25 February) and venue (Tararua Tramping Club)***

Meetings for 2013 will be held on the 4th Monday of the month at the Tararua Tramping Club rooms, 4 Moncrieff St. Moncrieff St is on Trolly bus routes 1 & 3. As well as street parking, Elizabeth Street Tyre Service at 8 Elizabeth St is happy for people to park on their premises when attending a meeting.

Radio Access: Humanist Outlook, 10.30am, 783 kHz Wellington, on 2 February, 2March, & 30 March

Paul Kurtz (1925-2012): Paul Kurtz died aged 86 on 20 October 2012. Paul was the founder and long time chair of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the council for Secular Humanism, the Centre for Inquiry, and Prometheus Books. Paul Kurtz did much to shape the American and world humanist movements during the final third of the twentieth century, being a forerunner of the New Atheist movement in the middle 2000s. Paul asserted that morality should be rooted in human flourishing and happiness, not on supernatural revelation. He thought that secular humanism could be defined as ‘good wisdom and practice in conduct.’

Reset the Gregorian calendar: 261 years ago in 1752, members of the Royal Society adopted the Gregorian calendar for the British Empire, an improvement on the Julian calendar, then in use. However, 1 A.D. does not represent the dawn of the Common Era. Now there is a petition to ask the Royal Society to suggest a new point in time, using science not Christianity, which will stand as the new date for the commencement of the Common Era. It asks Sir Paul Nurse, Royal Society President, to open a global debate calling upon experts from such diverse fields as palaeontology, anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, linguistics, art, mathematics and even philosophy to canvass human history to set a new point. A suggestion has been made that the inscribed 12,000 to 15,000 year old Palaeolithic Thaïs bone might be a strong contender. The Thaïs bone is evidence that someone (a nameless ancestor of ours) was looking at the stars over a 3½ year period and systematically wrestling some order from the celestial chaos overhead. This moment seems more deserving of celebration than the essentially meaningless 1B.C/1A.D, and although just a suggestion it would mean this year is not in fact 2013,but rather 15013. To sign this petition go to https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Reset_the_Gregorian_calendar

Charter Schools: We have sent in a submission expressing our concern that this system may allow groups of a fundamentalist persuasion to emerge with possible adverse effects on our egalitarian society.

Eileen Bone Memorial Scholarship 2013: This year’s recipient from Naenae College, where Eileen Bone taught for many years, is Courtney Brown. Courtney was 2012 Dux of Naenae College and was 1st in Biology, Drama & English and received Merit in History and Classics. Courtney enjoys Drama and has had success in the annual Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. Courtney will study English and Media studies at Victoria University this year.

Thank you: We thank the Eileen Bone Humanist Trust for providing this scholarship and for covering the costs associated with our 2012 Seminar. Funds have also been received to support the Secular Education Network.

2013 Skeptics Conference: This year the conference will be held in Wellington. Though all speakers are not finalised Peter Clemerson and Jonny Aqel who spoke to us at our monthly meetings last year are among the speaker line up.

Marriage celebrants: Our society has two marriage celebrants very happy to help celebrate and solemnise a marriage, perform a Naming Ceremony for a new baby, or lead a funeral for a person who would like a non religious ceremony. In Auckland our celebrant is Pamela Sikkema, who can be contacted by phone (09) 570 4390, and in Wellington Peter Clemerson, who can be contacted by phone (04) 938 5923 and by email [email protected]