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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

When you get to be my age (70 years, 11 months), you begin to wonder how well or even if you’ll be remembered after the physiology quits working, and you’re no longer around to remind others of your existence.  That is a thought that I have intermittently pondered over the past couple of years.  My family situation frankly isn’t that reliable.  I have one brother and two sisters, none of whom have I heard from in the last 10 years, plus a daughter with whom I might exchange greetings and news twice to three times a year.  The only time my wife’s family has any interest in me is when they need a loan, so that’s no solace.  The relationships I established with customers over the years was at one time pretty robust, but time and the obsolescence of the systems I worked on and their inevitable replacement tends to result in a slow erasure of those memories as well, more likely for them than me (I have a memory which, while not eidetic, is still pretty long).

While I like to think of myself as a pretty decent writer, I can’t rely on what I’ve put down on the internet to cement any kind of permanent record of myself.  I spent four years on the Experience Project before my disgust with their site management caused me to pull my entire contribution and terminate my participation there, not long before the site itself ceased to exist.  Atheist Nexus was more long lived, but after 11 years, the plug was unceremoniously pulled there, though I was lucky enough to have most of my input stored locally on my laptop, so at least that wasn’t lost.  Atheist Universe has been a great home, but it has no more guaranteed permanence than the other two websites mentioned here, or any other such venue.  People talk about the internet being forever, but it really isn’t, at least not in some sometimes-glaring ways.

While there is nothing on this planet that has an ironclad lock on longevity, one thing that can come close is a book, especially a hardback book.  Keep your eBooks; all they need is one hiccup in a transistor or two and they become blurred at best and unreadable at worst.  I’ll take paper and hard binding every day of the week, and I won’t apologize.  My favorite author said it well:

...a book need never die and should not be killed; books were the immortal part of man.
— Robert A. Heinlein, Farnham's Freehold

And now, because of the good offices of our fellow member, Terence Meaden, I and a good couple others of us have had our words relatively immortalized in his book, Q.  It’s just possible that, somewhere down the road, someone will pick up a copy, open it, and give some thought to the thoughts I’ve expressed about atheism between 2009 and whenever, or those of Joan Denoo or Terry’s.  Maybe they’ll agree with what we’ve said; maybe they won’t.  Still, the words are THERE, and words on a page are a robust multi-thousand-year-old tradition, which is why I’m glad to now be invested in it.

And for that, Professor Meaden, I say with all sincerity: thank you.

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Comment was by Terence Meaden on November 13, 2021 at 7:16am

Yes, well said Loren, about the value of useful books. 

For my part, I keep on writing, writing, writing ... ... About 20 so far, and given enough years there will be half a dozen more, viz. about original research on archaeology and science (the fieldwork research is done but is incompletely written up as yet.) But I am 86-and-a-half, and in poor (but fairly stable) health. I need another 10 years really.

Next, I want to mention another type of book, one which every one of us can prepare, namely an autobiography. I began mine in the year 2000. It came to mind as a millennium-project thought. Only my wife knows my personal story; our three children know quite a lot but not much of it in detail; the six grandchildren know only a little; and their descendants to come will know almost nothing unless I prepare for that now. 

So, what I did in the year 2000 was to set out 100 computer-folders and I labelled them with sections about my life, my ascendants (including known genealogy), my descendants, and my schooling and life's work. And as the opportunity arises I cast photographs and short stories into relevant folders. Sometimes, in spare moments (like when in a long-distance train or plane, or when on holiday on a wet day) I write a page or two of my history, and put it in one of the folders later.

By this means, without trying much, I have gathered together gigabytes of autobiography, which I would like to get saved on to memory sticks, so that a copy gets given to every known descendant--as stated in my will and testament. If I have enough time, a shortened version will get on to paper with an ISBN book number.  

What is more, and without knowing any of this, my grandson Gregory (age 23, in the army) a couple of months ago (following the deaths of his other grandparents) realised how little he knew about them, and regretted it. He explained this to me and said he wants to film interviews (by i-phone) with me and my French wife. The work has begun, and we feel happier for it. Not everything of our experiences will be lost.

As Loren said, books survive but authors don't. I would have liked to read the stories of my ancestors over the centuries but nothing was recorded. I regard my accounts as a tribute to my parents who encouraged me so much, and I am thanking them sincerely for that.

Comment was by Loren Miller on November 5, 2021 at 8:59am

Thanks, Stephen.

Comment was by Stephen Brodie on November 4, 2021 at 1:17pm

Good one Loren

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