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Some Jesuitical Notes on Computers

The Macintosh vs the IBM P C

Umberto Eco compares two Computer systems in the September 1994 issue of the Italian weekly "La bustina di Minerva."

Insufficient consideration has been given to the new, underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It's an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS-compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the RATIO STUDIORUM of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the Kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work, you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

<- - - The Mysterious Windows - - ->

You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions; when it comes down to it, you can decide to allow anyone to be ministers if you want to.

And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer) - this has to do with the Old Testament and is talmudic and cabalistic.

Murphy's Laws on Technology

Kircher's mysterious oblisk

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.
Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.
Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.
If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
The opulence of the front office decor varies inversely with the solvency of the firm.
The attention span of a computer is only as long as its electrical cord.
An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
Tell a man there are 500 trillion stars in the universe and he'd believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he'd have to touch to be sure.
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
All's well that ends.
A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.
The first myth of management is that it exists.
A failure will not appear till a unit has passed final inspection.
New systems generate new problems.
To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.
We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.
Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
A computer makes as many mistakes in two seconds as 20 men working 20 years make.
Nothing motivates a man more than to see his boss putting in an honest day's work.
The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.
To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.
After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done.
Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts which are unobtainable and three parts which are still under development.
If mathematically you end up with the incorrect answer, try multiplying by the page number.
Computers are unreliable, but humans even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.
Give all orders verbally.
Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity and other variables the organism will do as it damn well pleases.
If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.
The more cordial the buyer's secret; the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.
All things are possible except skiing through a revolving door.
The only perfect science is hindsight.
If it's not in the computer, it does not exist.
If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.
When all else fails, read the instructions
If there is a possibility of several things going wrong the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
Any instrument when dropped will roll into the least accessible corner.
Any simple theory will be worded in the most complicated way.
Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.
The degree of technical competence inversely proportional to the level of management.

Jesus' Teaching Credentials

The Mysterious Burning Bush

Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and gathered them around him, he taught them saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,
Blessed are the meek,
Blessed are they that mourn,
Blessed are the merciful,
Blessed are they who thirst for justice,
Blessed are you when persecuted,
Blessed are you when you suffer,
Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven.

Then Simon Peter said...Do we have to write this down?
And Andrew said...Are we supposed to know this?
And James said...Will we have a test on this?
And Philip said...l don't have any paper.
And Bartholomew said...Do we have to turn this in?
And John said...The other disciples didn't have to learn this.
And Matthew said...Can l go to the men's room?
And Judas said...What does this have to do with real life?

Then one of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus's lesson plan and inquired of Jesus...Where is your anticipatory set and your objectives in the cognitive domain?

And Jesus wept.

More about Jesuit history, tradition and spirituality

Jesuit history . . . an abbreviated summary
Jesuit Education . . . its history, directions and purpose
Jesuit Emblems . . . research of G. Richard Dimler, S.J.
Spiritual Exercises . . . which has changed millions of lives
Retreat in Daily Life . . . what is involved in an Ignatian retreat?
FU Ignatian Tradition . . . that elusive quality so much misquoted
PAUL MIKI'S 400th anniversary the first Japanese Jesuit martyr (TH #8)
All Saints . . . veneration of the saints . . . why?
Saint Thomas . . . forgiveness . . . Easter Sunday and Low Sunday
Computer/Teaching Notes . . . Humberto Eco and Murphy's laws">JESUIT GEOMETERS: 56 Jesuit geometers of the early Society
COMPANIONS OF JESUITS: A tradition of collaboration
GOSPEL ILLUSTRATIONSCompositions of place for the Exercises
Joan of Arc: Insignis* {*outstandingfollower of Christ}
Also visit the Jesuit Resource Page for even more links to things Jesuit.

Influence of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

Adventures of some Jesuit scientists
The 35 lunar craters named to honor Jesuit Scientists: their location and description Post-Pombal Portugal opinion of Pre-Pombal Jesuit Scientists: a recent conference
Seismology, The Jesuit Science. a Jesuit history of geophysics

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