Monday, August 28, 2017

Communication without correctness

In contrast to my previous post, which also contains some writing done when I was eighteen years old, this one was published. It was a work of non-fiction, and contained some inaccuracies.


"All who have meditated in the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth."
Those were the words of the ancient philosopher, Aristotle, commenting on the vital role of education in his time. In our time, the need for education is much greater. Our happiness, economic success, and well-being in the future depend on the extent of your education.
Our technology today is expanding more rapidly than it has ever done before in the history of man. Many new books, especially those on scientific subjects, become out-dated within five to ten years from the time they are published. The use of automation is increasing. Computers speed up the handling of business; run all sorts of establishments from airports to libraries; and are an indispensible aid to scientific research. They are also essential to national defence. The heart of the NORAD defence system is a giant computer which keeps tabs on hundreds of flying objects simultaneously and warns of enemy attack. These remarkable devices are the products of the well-trained minds of the past. But many people are needed now, and many more will be needed in the future, just to keep our defense systems up to date. It is indeed true that the fate of impires depends on the education of the youth.
We graduands have, for the past twelve years, been learning the facts which will enable us to take our place in the future. We have not been alone in this effort. Many teachers have laboured to give us the knowledge of past centuries. Facts which have been accumulating for hundreds of years are now our personal possessions thanks to their efforts. To our parents we also extend our personal gratitude. They have given us the rather firm encouragement that we have needed at times. Yes, our thanks go to all those who have so painstakingly prepared us for success in the future; a future full of promise.
We will be sorry to leave these familiar hallways and classrooms. They have been the scene of so many happy moments, and the backdrop for so many distressing problems. They will remain in our memories forever.
Our high school preparation is now complete; we are ready to go our separate ways and face the great challenges that lie ahead. May we forge forward fearlessly and make our lives as successful and enjoyable as our high school days have been. The future and all it holds is waiting.
Besides some typos and spelling mistakes (some due to the customary usage of British English in our school), the most glaring inaccuracy is my (younger self's) prediction that we would always remember the "familiar hallways and classrooms." After I delivered the speech, my classmate, Ian Miller, took me aside and pointed out that this was not true, that we were not "sorry to leave [them]" and that we would never think of them again.

Another inaccuracy, by omission, is that I failed to predict just how ubiquitous computers would be during our lives, and that most of my classmates would one day own a computer more powerful than the one highlighted here, and that furthermore we would be carrying it around in our pocket or purse and sometimes even use it to make phone calls.

In any case, I am happy to have this valedictory address on the Internet record, and recorded here for posterity.

Here is a picture of the page (including a picture of that younger self) scanned from our high school yearbook.

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