Past Events (2014)

Our current calendar of events is on our home page and in our newsletter.

When What
Thursday, December 25th

Early Dinner at the Kennedys' Home in Shelton

Tom and Deidre Kennedy hosted an early dinner for the second year running. It was well attended and enjoyed by all.

Saturday, December 20th

Book Discussion Group: Ecotopia

For our December book we read Ernest Callenbach's classic political fiction “Ecotopia.” Very few copies of the book were available in public libraries in Connecticut, but you could find inexpensive, secondhand copies online.

Monday, December 15th

Annual Meeting, Elections, and Solstice Party

We'started with a potluck dinner at 7:30 PM. The brief annual meeting and elections will started about 8:20 PM, and were be followed by our solstice party.

David Schafer performed the annual reading of Lois Woodrow’s poem in commemoration of the Earth’s axis, “Ode to the Tilt.”

As usual, we held a silent auction during the solstice party.

Mickey Koth brought members of two of her folk ensembles. Charlotte Moulyn played a cello classic. Mickey and Linda Pawelek joined Steve Boshi in favorite Leroy Anderson trios.

Saturday, December 6th

Humanist Conversations: To Kill a Sparrow

We watched and discuss a short New York Times film, “To Kill a Sparrow.” In Afghanistan, thousands of young women have been imprisoned for so-called moral crimes — including running away from unlawful forced marriages. This is one woman’s story.

Monday, December 1st New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Sunday, November 23rd

November board and standing committee meetings.

This was the last board meeting of the year.

Monday, November 17th

Monthly Meeting: Interbelief Service as an Alternative to Dialogue

Our featured speaker for November was Wendy Webber. Wendy is currently the Volunteer Committee Coordinator with Yale Humanist Community. She also volunteers with Foundation Beyond Belief working on their Challenge the Gap category of charitable giving.

Wendy will share stories of her year with Pathfinders Project — an international humanist service project designed to find the location to start the permanent Humanist Service Corps. She will recount her experience of teaching in Buddhist pagodas in Asia and visiting camps for alleged witches in Africa as a humanist. She will discuss the lessons she learned about service and interbelief engagement while participating in Pathfinders Project and how she is attempting to implement those lessons in her humanist communities and work in the United States.

Saturday, November 15th

Book Discussion Group: The End of Men: And The Rise of Women

We discussed “The End of Men: And The Rise of Women”, by Hanna Rosin.

Monday, November 3rd New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, November 1st

Humanist Conversations: Why I Hope to Die at Seventy-five...

An article in The Atlantic magazine, “Why I Hope to Die at Seventy-five An argument that society and families — and you — will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly” by Ezekiel Emanuel, was the focus of our conversation.

Sunday, October 26th

October board and standing committee meetings.

Monday, October 20th

Monthly Meeting: Finding Our Common Humanity: Building Community and Building Bridges

Atheist voices are increasing in the public square, but for many atheism and anti-theism have become synonymous. Is the chasm of understanding between atheists and theists growing wider? Can atheists and theists identify shared values and build partnerships for the common good, or are their disagreements too vast? How does Humanist community help atheists engage with people of faith? Yale Humanist Community Executive Director Chris Stedman shared his story, reflected on Humanist community, and explained how atheists and theists can come to better understand one another and work together to improve the world we share.

Saturday, October 18th

Book Discussion Group: Dog Whistle Politics

We discussed “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class”, by Ian Haney López.

Monday, October 6th New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, October 4th

Humanist Conversations: Azar Nafisi & Reading Lolita in Tehran

At John Pawelek’s presentation on his visit to Tehran, one of his suggestions was to read “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi. We watched and discussed a talk by Azar Nafisi in which she talked about revolution, university, politics, religion, and western literature in a short, fascinating lecture at the National Press Club, originally aired by C-Span2’s Book TV in 2004.

Sunday, September 28th

September board and standing committee meetings.

This board meeting was held a week later than usual so that more of the officers could attend.

Sunday, September 21st

People’s Climate March: NYC

The purpose of the People’s Climate March is to let international leaders know that ordinary people want their governments to take action to curb global warming.

Join other humanists in a march on the UN

Saturday, September 20th

Connecticut Coalition of Reason Leadership Training

Current secular leaders and those interested in being a future secular leader were invited to attend. There was a leadership workshop in the morning, followed by lunch (pizza with vegan options), and then an afternoon of brainstorming and networking built around a board meeting of the Connecticut Coalition of Reason.

The leadership workshop was led by Michael Werner. He provided suggestions for starting a local secular group and for how to increase participation in already existing groups. Suggestions and discussion focused on group style, group promotion, factors for success, and successful organization models.

Mr. Werner has served in the past as president of the American Humanist Association, vice-president of the Fellowship of Religious Humanists (now the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Group, HUUmanists), and as an adjunct faculty member of the Humanist Institute. He has taught at several major universities and is a founder of SMART Recovery.

Monday, September 15th

Monthly Meeting: An American Scientist on the Streets of Tehran

A prominent USNH member and a long-time cancer investigator at the Yale School of Medicine John Pawelek has fascinated us in the past with presentations on his work focusing on the skin cancer melanoma. Author of more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, he is a frequent lecturer in the US and abroad. John had very recently returned from a lecture tour of Iran. He told us about the many people he met there, and their surprisingly warm feelings toward the United States.

We'll start with half an hour of coffee and conversation at 7:30 PM. John’s talk will follow brief announcements at 8:00 PM.

Monday, September 8th New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location. Note that we held the dinner on the second Monday of September as the first Monday was Labor Day. Unfortunately, this meant our dinner clashed with an HFFC meeting.
Saturday, September 6th

Humanist Conversations: Power and Economics

We watched two short TED talks by Nick Nanauer and Eric Liu. Nick Hanauer is a venture capitalist who is calling for a rise in the minimum wage and an end to trickle-down economics. Eric Liu is an educator who sees a very great need to educate the rank and file about the inner workings of power – what it is, how it operates and why some people have it.

Sunday, August 24th

August board and standing committee meetings.

Saturday, August 23rd

Book Discussion Group: The Case for Reparations

We discussed “The Case for Reparations”, an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates that appeared in the June edition of The Atlantic. The essay has attracted significant attention, and many feel that it may be a major step towards addressing centuries of injustice.

Monday, August 18th
7:30 PM

Monthly Meeting: Cosmos II

David Schafer presented an appreciation of the new series of Cosmos hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Carl Sagan was surely one of the most successful popularizers of science of our time, in a class with Isaac Asimov.

Sagan is probably best known for the 1980 TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he both co-wrote with Ann Druyan (who became his wife a year later) and narrated on screen. Cosmos is the most widely watched series in the history of American TV, having been seen by at least 500 million people in at least 60 countries. Among his many awards and honors, Cosmos received two Emmys and the Peabody and Hugo Awards. For 14 years his career continued to flourished; then he was suddenly diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a blood disease, and in 1996, after many attempts at a cure, including bone marrow transplants, he died of pneumonia.

Much has been learned in the intervening years, and many have wished for an update, a sequel if you like, to Cosmos. Finally, one has been created, through the combined efforts of three people: Seth MacFarlane, a creator of animated films and an enthusiastic entrepreneur, has brought together Ann Druyan and another great scientist and science popularizer for our time, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium and “astrophysicist, author, and science communicator”—in other words, the closest thing to Carl Sagan anybody could find. The result is Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and it has already won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for “Best Reality Series,” and has been nominated for 12 Emmy Awards.

Like the original Cosmos this series has 13 episodes.

Monday, August 4th New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, August 2nd

Humanist Conversations: Death

“Death holds no fear for me. I’ve already tried it – before I was born – and with no ill effects. I’ll simply be going back to where I came from. ” — Mark Twain

If we are right that the death that awaits us is an infinity of nothingness, then being dead is the ultimate non-issue. But despite Twain’s breezy dismissiveness, getting there is another matter. We watched a 26½ minute interview with Shelly Kagan, a philosopher who teaches a popular course at Yale on the subject. A discussion led by Tom Platt followed.

Sunday, July 27th

July board and standing committee meetings.

Monday, July 21st

Monthly Meeting: A Humanist in Israel

Please note: the wrong date for this event was published in the June newsletter. The correct date is Monday, July 21, our usual third Monday of the month.

Our monthly meeting featured Hartford Area Humanists President Dan Blinn.

As a Humanist and a secularist of Jewish descent, Dan has long held mixed feelings about the Jewish state of Israel. When his daughter spent last semester as a visiting student at the University of Haifa, he had the opportunity last April to visit and tour the country. Dan’s perspective on visiting Israel differed from many tourists, because, as a student in the Humanist Institute and a secular leader, Dan has spent considerable time contemplating the importance of religious expression in forging communities. He recognized the trip as an opportunity to observe the role of religion in Israeli communities and how the various communities within Israel, both secular and religious, interacted with each other. He was not disappointed.

Dan discussed his experiences and observations as a Humanist in the Holy Land, and he sharer his insights on how the Israeli experience may relate to efforts to build Humanist communities at home. He will described his experience observing the interactions between Jews and Palestinian during a visit to a Jewish settlement in the Occupied West Bank.

Saturday, July 19th

Woodbridge Walk

We held a walk or jog on a walking/jogging trail in Woodbridge. The walk was followed by an optional lunch at a nearby diner or other restaurant. Fitzgerald Trails is located at 100 Center Road in Woodbridge, Connecticut, and there’s plenty of parking at the Woodbridge Town Library at 10 Newton Road. We will meet on the trail next to the intersection of Center Rd (Route 114) and Beecher Rd. If you arrive after we have started, just wait at this location and you will see us in a few minutes as we walk around the track or you can call one of the mobile numbers below. Well-behaved dogs are welcome too.

Saturday, July 12th

Book discussion: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan

We discussed “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan.

The book is available at a many public libraries as well as at bookstores and online.

Monday, July 7th New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, July 5th

Humanist Conversations: Life on Your Terms

We watched a short TED talk by David Brooks, “Should you live for your résumé ... or your eulogy,” but did not get around to watching a Tavis Smiley interview with Barbara Ehrenreich about her recent memoir, Living with a Wild God, a Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything.

Sunday, June 22nd

June board and standing committee meetings.

Monday, June 16th

Monthly Meeting: Is it Time to Rein in the Surveillance State?

Our June monthly meeting featured a return visit by Andrew Schneider, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Connecticut.The National Security Agency's mass surveillance of American citizens has greatly expanded in the years since September 11, 2001. Recent disclosures have shown that the government is regularly tracking all of the calls of almost every ordinary American and spying on a vast but unknown number of Americans' international calls, text messages, and emails.

In Connecticut, our privacy is being threatened by law enforcement's use of technologies such as Automated License Plate Readers, cell phone tracking and the proposed use of drones for surveillance. Are these technologies appropriate and if yes, how do we balance our right to privacy?

As chief executive officer of the ACLU of Connecticut and the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, Andrew Schneider has overall responsibility for management and operation of both organizations. Under Schneider's direction, the ACLU of Connecticut took a leading role in making the state the seventeenth one to abolish the death penalty and the second one to achieve marriage equality.

Before serving as the organization's Executive Director in Connecticut, Schneider was Executive Director of the ACLU of West Virginia for six years. During his tenure there, the affiliate's membership more than tripled and its budget quintupled in size. In West Virginia, Schneider spearheaded a successful campaign to pass legislation to combat racial profiling and for those efforts, he was honored by the NAACP with the Freedom Award.

Saturday, June 7th

Humanist Conversations: Thomas Piketty

Are wealth inequalities returning to pre-World War One levels? French economist Thomas Piketty has pulled together extraordinarily diverse data sets to conclude that they are, and that we’re headed back to an era of family dynasties controlling the majority of global wealth. We' watched a video in which Piketty made his case and then opened the floor for lively discussion.

Monday, June 2nd
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, May 31st

Book discussion: Thinking, Fast & Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

We will discuss “Thinking, Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.

The book is available at a many public libraries as well as at bookstores and online.

Sunday, May 25th

May board and standing committee meetings.

All members are welcome to attend.

Monday, May 19th

Monthly Meeting: The Bermuda Triangle, Anatomy of a Mystery

Our May monthly meeting featured one of our most popular speakers, Ken Feder. Ken is a professor of Archaeology at Central Connecticut State University. Additionally, Ken is the author of five books and the co-author of another. He has been the token skeptic on several TV programs.

There is a wide swath of the Atlantic Ocean that harbors a terrifying mystery. Hundreds of boats, dozens of aircraft, and perhaps thousands of people have plied its waters or flown through its airspace only to disappear, with no evidence left behind of the tragedy that befell them. I am referring, of course, to the Bermuda Triangle. But is there really any mystery at all? Are the disappearances extraordinary or inexplicable? Ken Feder will examine some of the most famous stories told about the Bermuda Triangle, focusing on the most notorious: Flight 19 and the loss of five Avenger Torpedo bombers and the subsequent disappearance of one of the planes sent out to search for the five. The prosaic explanation for this 1945 tragedy is, as it always has been, visible in plain view. In other words, there’s no need to cancel that cruise or visit to the Bahamas. You’ll be fine.

Monday, May 5th New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Sunday, May 4th

New Haven Walk Against Hunger for Connecticut Food Bank

We had a good turn-out for our annual walk against hunger.

Saturday, May 3rd

Humanist Conversations: Your Inner Monkey

In May, 2008, our book group read a fascinating book, “Your Inner Fish,” by Paleobiologist Neil Shubin, exploring how our anatomy is shaped by our ancient animal ancestors. This year PBS has produced a fascinating three-part presentation of his work, exploring what our ancient ancestors can tell us about our modern bodies. We watched and discussed the third and final episode of this series, entitled “Your Inner Monkey,” in which Shubin takes us on an odyssey of our primate ancestors to introduce us to ourselves.

Sunday, April 27th

April board and standing committee meetings.

Saturday, April 26th

Book discussion: Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, by Daniel Everett

We discussed “Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle” by Daniel L. Everett.

Monday, April 21st

25th Anniversary Meeting: Bob and Joanie Rafford

The guest speakers for our 25th anniversary meeting were HAC co-founders Bob and Joanie Rafford. Bob gave a detailed history of his journey from Congregationalism to humanism.

Monday, April 14th New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location. (We moved the dinner to the second Monday of the month so members could attend a Yale Humanist Community event on April 7)
Saturday, April 5th

Humanist Conversations: Revolutionary Optimists

We watched and discussed the March 1, 2014, Independent Lens episode, “Revolutionary Optimists,” from PBS. Children in the slums of Calcutta are starting a revolution. Called to action by visionary former attorney Amlan Ganguly, the “Daredevils” have already made radical health and sanitation improvements in one of the city’s poorest slums - awakening a neglected populace to the real possibility of change.

Saturday, March 29th

Book discussion: The Bonobo & The Atheist, by Frans de Waal

We discussed “The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates” by Frans de Waal, who had given a talk based on the book at Yale earlier in the month.

Sunday, March 23rd

March board and standing committee meetings.

Monday, March 17th

Monthly Meeting: Arthur H Saxon - Tails of Barnum

The guest speaker for our monthly meeting was Arthur H. Saxon, the author of “P. T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man,” recounting his adventures and misadventures while researching the career of “The World’s Greatest Showman.”

Arthur H. Saxon, author of “The Life and Art of Andrew Ducrow & The Romantic Age of the English Circus” and the award-winning “P. T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man,” as well as editor of the great showman’s letters and “The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb,” has published well over one hundred books and articles on the theatre, circus, and popular entertainments in general.

Saturday, March 8th

Book discussion: Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn

We finally managed to discuss “Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit” by Daniel Quinn.

Monday, March 3rd New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, March 1st

Special Meeting: Eugene Kogan on Nuclear Proliferation

Our March "Humanist Conversations meeting" was replaced by a special afternoon talk by Eugene Kogan on Nuclear Proliferation.

Sunday, February 23rd

February board and standing committee meetings.

Our February meeting was quorate!

Monday, February 17th

Monthly Meeting: Darwin vs Hitler: Why Evolution Makes No Comment on Ethics

Paul Chiariello last spoke for HAC in November. We brought him back as our special Darwin Day speaker at our monthly meeting.

Paul said of his talk “In Ray Comfort’s recent farcical introduction to Darwin’s Origin of Species he makes a claim often repeated by Christian fundamentalists: the tragedies of Nazi Germany were inspired, fueled, and made possible by Darwin’s ‘theory’ of evolution. If evolution is true, we’re nothing but animals! Survival of the Fittest implies we ought not give a helping hand to those in need. In fact, so the argument goes, we should speed up the process. But is this what we should learn from what scientists claim about Natural Selection? And if not, what moral guidance if any might we glean from it?”

Paul Chiariello is the current Director of Operations and Co-founder of the Yale Humanist Community.

Saturday, February 15th

Book discussion: Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn

Our planned discussion of “Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit” by Daniel Quinn was postponed due to snow.

Monday, February 3rd
Our New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven was cancelled due to bad weather.
Saturday, February 1st

Humanist Conversations: The Role of Guns

We watched the December 13, 2013, Bill Moyers episode featuring historian Richard Slotkin on the role of guns and violence in our society.

Sunday, January 26th

January board and standing committee meetings.

Unfortunately, not enough board members were able to attend the meeting.

Monday, January 20th

Monthly Meeting: Steve & Susan Boshi in Eastern Europe

The romance of Prague; Budapest, the Paris of the East; Vienna, the elegant capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Munich, risen from the ashes of the Second World War. Join us for a travelogue that takes us to Central Europe in all its stunning color along with several surprises along the way.

Saturday, January 18th

Book discussion: The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt

We discussed “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Greenblatt. This discussion was previously scheduled for December and postponed due to snow.

Saturday, January 11th

Humanist Conversations: “The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela”

We watched and discussed the Frontline biography of Nelson Mandela.

Monday, January 6th New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.

Click here to see some other events we've enjoyed over the years.