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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 2 May 7:00pm start

Tuesday 6th June: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

Discussing First topical issue (Mark Iddon) and Second topical issue (Simon Belt)

Public discussions and debate in Manchester
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Recent Discussions

Abortion: a choice for a woman or society?

January 2014

Ann FurediPeter D. Williams and Christine Fidler introduced a discussion on qualifications to being pro-choice on abortion

 

Ann FurediCampaigners for equal rights for women have always had to respond to arguments around women having autonomy over their own bodies. When it comes to controlling fertility, whether that be contraception or terminations, religious and moral arguments are open to modification, refinement and shifts in the relative balance of how much sway and influence they have. The availability of abortion offered to women through the 1967 Abortion Act is strictly proscribed and needs two doctors to approve the abortion request after the woman requesting the abortion has received counselling to help evaluate the request. A recent sting operation by the Daily Telegraph newspaper attempted to test the current operation of this process.

 

Peter WilliamsThe Daily Telegraph sent undercover reporters, accompanying two pregnant women to nine clinics in different parts of the country, and filmed two doctors agreeing to proceed with a termination after being told the pregnant woman wanted an abortion because of the sex of the unborn child. Current legislation requires that a termination can only be granted if two doctors honestly believe a woman meets the legal test that continuing the pregnancy "would likely cause injury to the mental or physical health of the woman". A case was made for the doctors to be prosecuted, which Keir Starmer the Director of Public Prosecutions decided against, saying that although there was a realistic prospect of securing convictions, it would be against the public interest to take the doctors to trial.

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Recent Discussions

Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

December 2013

Sarah Bartlett introduced a discussion on Master and Margarita replacing the December First Tuesday slot

 

Sarah BartlettMaster and MargaritaAs a slight change to the format of the First Tuesday current affairs discussion, we're going to discuss the novel by Mikhail Bulgakov entitled Master and Margarita. This novel offers a multitude of threads to discuss regarding the rich tapestry of life. There's a chance to think through the nature of understanding and writing about authoritarian regimes in inventive ways as well as something of an intellectual wind down as we head into the Christmas season. This has been a phenomenal year for the Salon, so see it as a way of stretching your imagination ahead of the heavy partying season when we all get to read more than usual in between social engagements.

 

Please take the time to refresh yourself with the novel or read for the first time in advance of the discussion, but at least read the couple of reviews below by way of wetting your appetite. From Sarah's review (link below), an interesting quote jumps out that's worth thinking about in terms of discussing things like the Arab Spring, and that is:

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Recent Discussions

Innovations in Transport

October 2013

Roundtable and key note speaker: panel discussion on the latest innovations in Transport led by Brian Simpson, MEP for North West and Chair of European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee

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Art on the brain?

October 2013

Ray Tallis, Philip Davis, Rhiannon Corcoran and George Szirtes will introduce a discussion on appreciating art, brain mapping, neuroscience, and our wellbeing

 

Ray Tallis

In recent years, the arts have increasingly turned towards neuroscience to understand its purpose and value. From Jonah Lehrer’s controversial Proust Was A Neuroscientist to Harry Witchel’s You Are What You Hear, there is a huge interest in the burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics.

Philip Davis

 

Yet some remain extremely sceptical both to the extent of what scientific findings actually reveal and, more broadly, science’s ability to explain art’s importance.

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Recent Discussions

Music and poetry: in perfect harmony?

October 2013

Mike Garry, Akala, Shirley Dent and Norman Warwick opened a discussion on the artistic tensions involved in blending poetry with music, chaired by Rania Hafez

 

Mike GarryWhile performance poets and popular songwriters used to revel in their status outside the poetry establishment, the critical acclaim afforded to veteran performers such as John Cooper Clarke, feted lyricists such as Bob Dylan and rising stars such as Kate Tempest point towards its contemporary respectability.

Akala

 

Yet if the celebration of such artists by the literary world is no longer controversial, there seems less consensus that their work fits into a poetic tradition. Some point towards the rich history of collaboration between the ‘sister arts’ of poetry and music, and see performance artists and rappers as a contemporary extension of the Bardic tradition or the lyric poets. Yet some critics and performers remain sceptical over whether such judgements are being made on a purely artistic basis, or whether they’re driven more by a desire to prove poetry can still be popular and relevant in the 21st century.

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Recent Discussions

Fracking: a technological innovation too far?

September 2013

James Woudhuysen, Joanne Green, Erik Bichard and Tony Bosworth introduced a discussion on fracking

James WoudhuysenAlthough the UK government has been mindful of the looming energy crisis for the last decade, it has responded like rabbits caught in the headlights. Finally, there is some political will to start resolving the matter with more than a few solar panels or wind turbines on the roof. In the 2012 budget, George Osborne approved the construction of new gas-fired power stations, and established the Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil, to join up responsibilities across government and provide a single point of contact for investors and streamline the regulatory process for deploying technologies like fracking.

Joanne Green

 

Alongside the introduction of some more developed techniques to extract gas and oil from previously hard to mine sources, fracking is the latest of these technologies to pose a serious option for governments and industry to invest serious levels of resources into. This isn't a technique without its critics though, and the political climate set against high-tech solutions hasn't gone away, even though the wind has been taken out of its mills recently. So how much of a change has there been in the climate of political opinion in this second dash for gas?

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