Category Archives: History

Some Shockin’ Good!

St. Paul's Anglican Church, Harbour Grace

St. Paul’s Anglican Church

St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland

The Internet is a Strange and Wondrous Thing

Especially for people with Attention Deficit Disorder, like me. I woke up this morning wanting to text my daughter, to share a memory. Some background is in order:

My family’s ancestral home is in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Several years ago—decades, really—my father, his mother, a sister and a brother, visited the town. One of the souvenirs he brought back was a vinyl recording of Newfoundland songs.

One of our favorites was Dick Nolan singing “Aunt Martha’s Sheep.” It was that song I wanted to share with my daughter. So I fired up Google and entered the song title.

One of the hits was the link above, which will take you to YouTube so you can watch it. Another one takes you to Wikipedia, and I hope you’ll read the entry there, especially the part under “The Rest Of The Story,” where you’ll learn of the song’s connection to Harbour Grace.

Anyway, after the “Aunt Martha” video finished, it went on to the next song, “Some Shockin’ Good.”

Naturally, I Googled that phrase as well, which took me to the newest blog I’m following, Some Shockin’ Good.

And that, in a nutshell, is how the Internet works to bring the world together.

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Filed under Catching Up, Communication, family, History, memories

George Harrison Had it Right

As a child of the ’60s, much of the soundtrack to my teenage years was provided by the Beatles. I wasn’t quite as fanatical as, say, Douglas Adams (who wrote A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) also famously said,

I remember my school days. They were what was going on in the background while I was trying to listen to the Beatles.

Still, I was so into the Fab Four that even now, some 55 years later, I still remember the lyrics to most of their songs.

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you.

That was one of George’s contributions, Think For Yourself.

Which brings me to today’s post.

You’re Smarter Than You Think You Are

Trust me on this. Know how I know? Because you in your great wisdom close to read my blog instead of Netflix and Chill. Instead of Facebook.Just kidding. I do both of those things when they’re appropriate.

But here’s the thing: as I was conducting my morning ritual of brewing the perfect cup of tea, it dawned on me that before Google, most of my knowledge came from my own investigation and experience.

library catalog

Remember this? This was my generation’s Google. The library card catalog was where we started our search for information. It was a system which itself took practice before we could consider ourselves its masters.

This system still exists, although in many libraries it’s been computerized. It’s quicker to find what you’re looking for, although I would argue that mastering it on the computer requires its own set of special skills.

Google and World Domination

Now consider Google. You can think of it as a huge library card catalog containing the contents not only of your library, but every library in the entire world. In a sense, it is the 21st century’s Alexandria Library: a repository of all the knowledge in the world.

And therein lies the problem. Imagine going to your local library and asking the librarian for a book about the silk industry. She (or he: after all, we must be politically correct) returns with a cart overflowing with books about the history of the industry, ancient Chinese and Japanese history, the silkworm, the care and feeding of silkworms…you get the picture.

Information overload. A concept more common in the Age of Google than any other time in world history. I can’t give you an exact dictionary definition, but to me, it means too much information than I can possibly absorb.

And that’s the problem. It’s like asking for a glass of water and getting the Pacific Ocean.

If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?—Anonymous creationist

If we have Google, why are there still stupid people?—Me

So What’s The Point?

Think for yourself, ‘cause I won’t be there with you.

Although your mind’s opaque,
Try thinking more if just for your own sake.
The future still looks good,
And you’ve got time to rectify all the things that you should.

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Filed under History, Independent Thought, Research

What If I Told You That Jesus DIDN’T Die For Your Sins?

Yes, yes, I know…this is supposed to be a religion-free zone. But in the United States, the state and religion are also supposed to be separated, and they’re not. So this post is going to be a potpourri of observations I’ve made over the course of my life, and how I ended up an atheist. I mean no disrespect to anyone’s religion, so please bear with me.

The major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have their roots in older beliefs that were grounded in blood sacrifice. Consequently, Christianity in particular has had since its very inception its own roots in the belief that a blood sacrifice is required as an atonement for sins (wrongdoings) and as its main tenet.

“Jesus died for your sins” is the very foundation of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. One worships Christ crucified (hence, the crucifix), and the other worships Christ risen (hence, the empty cross).

Everything else is just window-dressing: Jews don’t recognize Christ as the Messiah, Protestants don’t recognize the pope as the vicar of Christ on earth, and Southern Baptists don’t recognize each other at Hooter’s.

I maintain that the whole concept of blood sacrifice is a holdover from before the Dark Ages and has nothing whatsoever to do with the mission of Christ.

Want proof? If God truly required a blood sacrifice of his own son, why not have him crucified as an infant, to save time? Then there would have been no need for the humiliation and suffering he underwent at the hands of the Romans.

Yes, it was the Romans and not the Jews who were  responsible for the crucifixion. Consider: the Jewish priesthood accused Jesus of blasphemy, the scriptural punishment for which was death by stoning. Crucifixion, on the other hand, was Rome’s punishment for enemies of the state.

Pontius Pilate knew exactly what he was doing when he had Christ crucified as an enemy of the state, which is why he hung the sign “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” As a descendant of David, Jesus could rightfully claim to be the king of the House of Israel; Pilate said to the Jews, “Okay, here’s your king. He’s DEAD. Any questions?”

Later, when Christianity became one of the religions of the Roman Empire, and later still, the official religion, the powers that be realized that they had a real problem in the fact that they themselves had killed their own savior! What do do? Hey, let’s blame it on the Jews! Nobody really likes them, and besides, as the winners, we get to write the history!

Now That We’ve Eliminated the Need For Blood Sacrifice…

Where does that leave us? My theory is that over the past 21 centuries, we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of Christ’s mission, which was not to die for us, but to be an example of how to live.

Why do churches rely so heavily on the morality of the Old Testament, and all but completely ignore Christ’s message (read The Beatitudes) as well as the example he lived?

Christ cleansed the temple of the hawkers and vendors who had made it their home, but many churches today demand 10% of your earnings. He advocated feeding the poor, housing the homeless, and healing the sick. And we’re all witness to what that has become in the United States.

Christ Didn’t Die For Your Sins

For make no mistake: if Christ was truly one with god, then he, too, would have been all-powerful and would have had no problem smiting his enemies.

Rather he lived his life as an example of how everyone should live their lives. And in the end, as the supreme example, he died for his beliefs, showing us that it is better to die for your beliefs than to kill for them.

And that’s a lesson we’ve conveniently forgotten over the past 2000 years.

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Filed under History, Hope, religion

Hold The Phone!

Ignore my previous post. My banking issues have been resolved, I’ve paid my bill, and the domain is saved! That almost sounds like the plot for a fairy tale: the princess paid her taxes, thus saving her domain.

If I haven’t done so already, allow me to share Robyn’s First Rule of Computing with you:


I devised this rule back in the ‘70s, during the heyday of MS-DOS, as a reminder to always make several copies of your important data. The corollary to the First Rule is this:


At the time, I worked in a state government office where personal computers were just beginning to make an appearance. Since I was one of only two people in our entire division who knew anything about them, I was tasked (along with my regular duties) with the additional responsibility with making sure that everything functioned smoothly.

One of the first things I did as to enforce Robyn’s First Rule. I did this by location a free program to back up data. It worked like this:

  • On installation of the program, it added a line to the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. That displayed a text message that said “You last backed up your data x days ago. Do you want to back up now?”
  • If you answered yes, the program then prompted you to insert the data diskette marked “Backup Diskette n,” where n was the current disk number. It then copied to that disk any files that had been modified since the last backup.
  • Once the diskette was full, the program prompted you to remove the diskette and replace it with a new, formatted diskette to be labeled “Backup Diskette n + 1” and continued until all the files had been backed up.
  • If, however, you answered no, the rest of the instructions in AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS were executed and the system continued to boot up.

I can’t tell you the number of times I got a panicked call from someone who had lost a file and needed help. Invariably, when I’d check the backup log, I discovered that their system hadn’t been back up for weeks—meaning there was no way of recovering the file, except at the byte level with a disk editor, a slow and complicated process that was rarely successful.

All of the above is by way of explaining why I am going to continue cross-posting to both this site and the new blog on WordPress.

I just wanted you to know that.

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Filed under Blogging, History, Writing Rules

It Was 70 Years Ago Today

June 2, 1967. That’s when an amazing album was released in the USA:


50 years ago today. 70 years since Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

Just a side note to you purists: the first song in the album says “It was 20 years ago today,” so why am I saying 70? Simple: 50 years ago they said 20 years ago. It’s simple math: 20 plus 50 equals 70.

I was 17, less than a week from my 18th birthday. So it was my birthday present to myself—along with a copy of the debut album of a new group out of San Francisco:


Sometimes I wonder what these albums—neither of which I own anymore—might be worth today?


Many fans if the Fab Four as they were sometimes called credit the Beatles with producing the first-ever concept album. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was the first concept album in the rock ‘n roll world:

Pet Sounds

The Beatles themselves credited “Pet Sounds” with being the inspiration for “Sgt. Pepper.” But if you want to know who had the very first concept album ever, you’ve got to go back several decades to a young Italian-American singer named Francis Albert Sinatra:

Starting in the 50’s, Frank Sinatra embraced the notion of putting out albums that had a unifying theme.  And he continued the idea over the years with many great collections based on a single concept.  As a result, he may be more associated with the concept album than any other recording artist.  (

And Beatlemania? Yep, Ol’ Blue Eyes was there first, too. Female fans had to be carried out of his concerts because they had fainted. Ushers from his venues said they hated his concerts because of the messes they had to clean up afterwards from the girls who had wet themselves (and the theater seats).

So, Yeah Yeah Yeah

Don’t misunderstand me: to this day, Paul, Ringo, and the late John and George remain my all-time favorite band and Sgt. Pepper still makes me smile every time I play the CD.

And the four lads from Liverpool are still influencing music to this day.

Peace Out!

Robyn Jane



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Filed under History, Music