Friday Flotsam: Of Glory, The Chastisement of Wickedness, and Monopolies

1. Today, of course, is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, which comes this year amidst a tumult of, shall we say, significant events. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to pray the Rosary and make some kind of special obeisance.

2. Boethius reaches the conclusion that to be good is to be blessed, and to be wicked is to be accursed. That is to say, the fact of being good is itself a reward, regardless of what it’s accompanied by, and the fact of being wicked is a punishment.

This sounds at first glance to be very disingenuous, almost circular reasoning. But no, unsurprisingly for the source, it’s both strikingly profound and (as profound things often are) obvious when you think about it. Because of course, no good that we can receive as a certain kind of creature can compare with the fact of being another and more excellent kind. An excellent pig is still an inferior creature to even the lowest kind of man (hence the horror of Circe’s island). If nothing else, the fact of being a higher creature opens the man up to pleasures and rewards of the kind the pig could never imagine. But even apart from that, the mere fact of being a man rather than a pig is (all joking aside) a better state of affairs.

Thus, being a good man is in itself a better thing, a higher state of being, than being an average man, and being a wicked man is a lower state. To be wicked is to deliberately lower oneself, to become more like a pig, while to be good is to be elevated. So, the fact of being wicked is itself a punishment (what could be worse than to be in truth an unworthy creature, who doesn’t even merit sympathy?), and likewise being good is itself a reward (what can be better than to have truth itself on your side?).

Glory, therefore, is a state of actually being good (and thus deserving of praise). When God glorifies us, it is a way of saying that He makes us better, more excellent, and in so doing of course is Himself glorified by the goodness He shows to His creatures. Thus we may pray: “Glorify me, oh God, that I may glorify You.”

3. And it works the other way, of course; to be allowed to sink into wickedness is itself a punishment. The current state of our world and society doesn’t just cry out for chastisement, it is the chastisement. The fact that we were permitted to become the kind of people who allow the wholesale slaughter of millions of infants is itself a punishment, because what could be worse than becoming something like that? To have that reproach against us for all time?

God willing, that particular scourge may soon be taken away so that we can begin to heal.

4. Reading David Stewart’s recent article on pit bulls, it occurred to me that one of the defining traits of modernity is our reluctance to call things what they are for fear of its being unkind or disrespectful. In this case, we are reluctant to acknowledge that dogs are not people, and that this fact carries certain consequence with it.

Respect means respecting a thing for what it is, not pretending it’s something you’d be more comfortable with.

5. On that note, always beware of people who try to blur the line between animals and people. Because that process can only go one way.

If you try to treat animals as people, you simply run up against a blank wall. Animals will not act as people. If you gave your dog property rights or tried to teach him to read, it simply wouldn’t work. But you can treat people as animals; that is, as fundamentally subordinate beings dependent upon your care and rule to survive, and whose interests, in the final event, must come second to yours.

6. On another note: Watched part of an interview with Ross Scott this week, where he brought up something astute. Talking of the response to his GUI video, he mentioned that several professional engineers who work for Microsoft on that very topic contacted him about it. And…basically, they think he’s right, but there’s nothing they can do about it. Microsoft simply doesn’t care about user experience, or creativity, or customer benefit. They care about maintaining and expanding their profit base (and, though he didn’t mention it, presumable pushing Bill Gates’s pet agendas).

Why would they care? They’re an effective monopoly, and that’s not changing any time soon. The nature of the computer industry, as it has developed, means that there is an extremely high cost in terms of time and opportunity to switching from one hardware brand to another, especially for businesses (even updating software is a risk for businesses, because the time people spend learning the new software is time the company has to eat a reduced service loss at best). If you decide to dump Microsoft for Linux, you lose most of the software you’ve bought and invested time to learn, and you have to invest time in learning a new operating system. If you deal with clients over any of that software, you need to make sure that you’re still compatible, and so on.

I’m sure more tech-savvy readers can think of even more hurdles. Basically, once you start using Microsoft, you more or less have to stick with Microsoft (hence why I’m still on Mac, even though I don’t like Apple’s business practices at all). And that’s even before you factor in that their net worth is greater than the GDP of Italy.

Basically, Microsoft is immune to customer feedback, because harming Microsoft simply does not have that much value to that many people.

7. The above is one reason why I think effective anti-trust laws are high on the list of “bare minimum things to get us out of the hole we are in.” You can’t have companies the size of first-world nations swallowing ninety-percent of the market share and maintain any kind of meaningful market signals. And much as I don’t like or trust the government, the sad fact is that they’re the only ones in a position to do anything about it.

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