That Orwell quote earlier this week that began “Our civilization is founded on coal” had a “pace Chesterton” at the start that puzzled me. A number of you wrote in with suggestions, including a pointer to a fascinating debate between Chesterton and Bernard Shaw about whether to nationalize the coal mines, moderated by Hilaire Belloc.
This is the true and exact account of the Great Cigar Fraud, and the moral of it is this–that civilisation is founded upon abstractions. The idea of debt is one which cannot be conveyed by physical motions at all, because it is an abstract idea.
So, what Orwell was really saying was: sorry, G.K., our civilization is not founded upon abstractions, it’s founded on the hard reality of coal mining. And thus Stroustrup’s reformulation — “our civilization is built on software” — takes us full circle, back to the many layers of abstraction that constitute our program code.
It all connects!
- December 12, 2008 @ 10:47:17 [Current Revision] by Scott Rosenberg
- February 28, 2008 @ 14:44:49 by Scott Rosenberg