Wednesday, 22 December 2010

For godless people

Last weekend I was lucky enough to catch a  performance of Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People (sometimes known as Nerdstock), which is an annual humanist jamboree/benefit (for the Rationalist Association) based mostly around comedy and science. "It’s not about having a go at religion" says Robin Ince, the founder "– it’s a proper celebration; of the Big Bang, of evolution theory and of comedy."

Okay, so there was a bit of having a go at religion. Also at dumb-ass thinking and Gillian McKeith people who use pseudo-science to squeeze money out of the undereducated.

The lineup changes a bit over the week's sellout run, but on the night we went we saw, among others, the following free-thinking geek-totty:

Dr Ben Goldacre, whose blog Bad Science is a must.

Simon Singh, astro-physicist, who did something fairly surprising with a gherkin.

Richard Wiseman, psychologist and amateur magician, author of the mind-boggling Quirkology

Chris Addison - sweary, hyperactive and very funny

Robin Ince (compere, right) - I've seen him on tour earlier this year and he is one of my favourite stand-ups, although so in my liberal-left-green comic-geek 40-something book-loving comfort zone that it's a bit sad really.

Mitch Benn  - the BBC song guy! Yay! He was great!

Baba Brinkman, rapper:

It was just the best evening out. I want to go next year! Although, if I did believe in God, it would give me someone to blame for the fact that my boiler stopped working last night...


Craig Sorensen said...

Oh shit. Your *new* boiler stopped working last night?

I hope it's a small issue.

Sounds like a great night, though...

Janine Ashbless said...

Boiler joy!

Yes, it's fixed. It wasn't God's fault it stopped working, it's this incredibly unseasonable weather we're having: the overflow pipe that runs down the outside wall had iced up overnight (-10 degrees C: Britain is just not built to take this sort of thing for a prolonged period), causing the boiler ignition to cut out for safety reasons. Once I'd picked out off the silicon sealant and poured hot water down to melt the giant popsicle, everything fired up properly :-)

Fulani said...

Glad to hear your boiler's working - I know some else whose boiler stopped yesterday and at this time of year it's a pain.

The Nine Lessons thing sounds cool, will have to follow that up.

One of the funniest things you can do with a gherkin is put mains current through it. Was that what Simon Singh did? It glows like a lightbulb (the vinegar content does this - you can do it with pickled onions too). Not recommended indoors, though, due to the smell. Somewhere I still have a 'pickle exploder' I made for my kids quite a few years ago - board, nails, wires to the nails, a dimmer switch, and a fuse. Hours of fun. I think it went in the cupboard under the stairs... Maybe I'll dig it out again sometime and have another go!

Janine Ashbless said...

Yes, Fulani - that's exactly what he did with the gherkin! Gold star to you!
(Apparently the distorted wavelength of sodium across the universe is evidence that the place is expanding. Or something.)

You built a pickle exploder? You are one cool parent!