Graduation ceremony

Our granddaughter graduates from secondary school.

A young woman, in graduation cap and gown,  smiles

University of Toronto

The University is certainly pretty in spring.

An old stone building flanked by blooming trees

Trinity College

Among other things, I found a map of the University on a sign.

A map with legend, University of Toronto

Map of the University of Toronto

Get them while they’re young

newborn baby about to be branded with a religious symbol

Religion is not innate

 

You believe what you were brought up to believe or what you dwell on. Just think of how you thought about Santa Claus when you were seven. Everyone around you told you that Santa lived at the North Pole, knew whether you were good or bad, and brought presents. Adults conspired to convince you of this pleasant fantasy. Now, everyone tells you that God lives in Heaven, knows whether you’re good or bad, and brings salvation. The main-stream media keep silent about what scholars know:

* That the New Testament was not written until about 70 years after the reputed lifetime of Jesus.
* That his sayings are largely Hebrew proverbs or Greek philosophy.
* That biblical manuscripts were re-written to make it look as if prophesies were being fulfilled.
* That the first mention of Mary and Joseph was in a letter from a Bishop about 2 generations after the Jesus was supposed to have lived.
* That Jesus’ biography is made up of elements from the classic Hero Myth: descended from kings, born of a virgin, fearful enemies wanted to kill him, parents fled to a foreign country, etc. etc.
* That the story of Jesus rising into heaven is not in our earliest manuscripts of the New Testament.

If you concentrate on anything enough, whether it’s fear of spiders or the life of your favorite heroine, it will seem more real to you.

A wise Greek once remarked that the gods of other countries looked like the people of those countries and that if horses had gods, they would look like horses. We know of over a thousand gods that people have (or do) believe in. People believe in the gods that they were brought up with. In other places, people have tried to replace religion with Communism or other ideals or with a cult of personality, such as the virtual worship of Kim Il Jong in Korea. Others, wanting the comforts of spiritual life without the deadening weight of church authority, turn to philosophical religions like Buddhism or do-it-yourself religions like modern paganism, with its God and Goddess, agricultural year, and be-done-by-as-you-did morality.

In each place, people believe as they are trained and find it almost impossible to imagine thinking any other way. There’s no use arguing with them. And in many small towns in the U.S., the church is the center of community activities. People must believe, or pretend to, or they will be shut out of comfort, friendships, and fun. The cost of publicly questioning becomes to high. And we get the conspiracy of silence that won’t examine the facts of religion for fear of “rocking the boat.” That’s the environment that has formed you. As you grow up you’ll discover that there are other ways of thinking, that being good is natural to us, and that you can be good (and happy) without believing in unicorns. Or in God.

All of us, scientists too, have trouble letting go of the ideas we were brought up with. That’s why the history of science is full of wonderful 30-year debates as the evidence slowly mounts and the old die-hards retire. Examples are
* Life: from other life or spontaneously generated? (from other life).
* Diseases: caused by germs or not? (By germs, at least some of the time.)
* Childbed fever: caused by doctors handling corpses and then delivering babies or spontaneous? (Caused by doctors.)
* (Extinction–does it happen or not? (yes.)
* Geology: uniform processes or catastrophes? (Uniform–usually)
* Genetic material: DNA or protein? (DNA.)
* Universe: steady state or big bang? (Big bang.)
* Birds: descended from dinosaurs or not? (Dinosaurs.)
* Bacterial flagellum: irreducibly complex or not? (Not.)

The good news is, science lets us change our minds instead of clinging to the past.

Still no time to try on the wetsuit

I’m helping to create training materials, taking the courses on the software, and supposedly giving a lesson on clear writing with a purpose for our new tech support people. If I have time to organize my thoughts.

Brock University

The annual Cyclon bike weekends are sometimes at Brock University. Here’s a map of the main university campus.

Brock University, Glenridge Campus; St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

This was updated because the live link to the campus map changed. Here’s a link to a large map that you can actually read.

Getting Things Done, the roadmap

We’re attending the GTD Roadmap course:

The flagship of the GTD (Getting Things Done) seminar series, The RoadMap defines the game and helps you jump into it at a new and expanded level. This lively one-day workshop features David Allen live and in-person as he examines the core principles of productivity improvement, then provides you with a unique opportunity to develop your own specific and immediate action steps to implement them.

Participants can expect to leave the seminar with enhanced freedom and energy, knowing that their busy lives are indeed manageable, inspired to enjoy life and work at a new level of effectiveness.

Hours: 9 to 5.

LavaCon is my fall conference


I won the door prize! I went to a meeting of my professional organization tonight, where the speaker, Mr. Jack Molisani, was offering a seat at a conference as the door prize. To my surprise, I won. It’s not til next fall, but the conference is packed with good information about documentation project management, content management, XML, perhaps DITA, new tools and techniques, and a host of other topics. After three days I’ll be reeling and muttering, “My brain is full.”

I have to find transportation myself. It’s normally held in Hawaii (hence the name), which would be much harder to pay for. New Orleans, here I come!