Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Posting For a Friend

Today is the birthday of a good friend and co-worker, so I thought I would post the real explanation of how things got done where we used to work. As you may expect, it was written by GKC.

Happy Birthday, Pasky!

--Dr. Thursday

I revert to the doctrinal methods of the thirteenth century, inspired by the general hope of getting something done.

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good - " At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

[G. K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905) CW1:46, emphasis added]
Yes: a high-tech company used 13th-century metaphysics, and so we got LOTS done, playing 150,000 spots a day... You'll get all the details in my Subsidiarity book.

PS: Perhaps someday I will post an explanation of why there was Latin on the Watcher screens. But if I forget, you will find out, because I've put that in the book too.

PS(2): I neglected to state how grateful I am to Pasky and the rest of my co-workers. Suffice it to say that the corporation may not have understood Subsidiarity but for the first time in a century or so, there were regular people who did - because they saw it working, and helped make it work! See here for more on my gratitude to a great bunch of friends.


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