Wednesday, July 23, 2008

PCs are ugly.

Of course everybody knows this. But, after spending an hour or so working with the IBM Thinkpad laptop my employer has graciously provided for my telecommuting, I'm so happy to be back on my Mac. From an aesthetic perspective, everything about the IBM, and every other PC laptop or desktop I've used over the years, falls between mediocre and offensive.

It starts with the dinky little stickers they slap on the machines (crooked). Then you notice the cheap construction and flimsy components. Then it's the trackpad. The trackpads on my Mac laptops have a nice-sized touch area a single clickbar unobtrusively incorporated into the design. The PC's trackpad is much smaller due their decision to surround it with not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 buttons of various sizes and unknown functionality. Then you notice the red dot between the G and H keys. This is, or should be, a vestigial organ from the PC's pre-trackpad days, but it remains in adherence to the PC designer's policy (first codified by Microsoft) that many poorly designed and implemented options are better than a single well-designed and implemented one.

I could go on. But why dwell on the negatives? It works. And it's free. And I'm glad to have it. And every time I use it, it serves as a reminder of what Plato wrote: Χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά, beauty is difficult. And that life for a PC industrial designer must be easy.

And that Macs are insanely great.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Augustine: On the Trinity | 1

[Note: We've just begun reading this work in my philosophy discussion group. Over the next few months I'll occasionally post passages of interest and hopefully get a variety of perspectives on Augustine's thoughts. Let's start at the beginning...]

The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason. Now one class of such men endeavor to transfer to things incorporeal and spiritual the ideas they have formed, whether through experience of the bodily senses, or by natural human wit and diligent quickness, or by the aid of art, from things corporeal; so as to seek to measure and conceive of the former by the latter. Others, again, frame whatever sentiments they may have concerning God according to the nature or affections of the human mind; and through this error they govern their discourse, in disputing concerning God, by distorted and fallacious rules. While yet a third class strive indeed to transcend the whole creation, which doubtless is changeable, in order to raise their thought to the unchangeable substance, which is God; but being weighed down by the burden of mortality, whilst they both would seem to know what they do not, and cannot know what they would, preclude themselves from entering the very path of understanding, by an over-bold affirmation of their own presumptuous judgments; choosing rather not to correct their own opinion when it is perverse, than to change that which they have once defended. And, indeed, this is the common disease of all the three classes which I have mentioned,—viz., both of those who frame their thoughts of God according to things corporeal, and of those who do so according to the spiritual creature, such as is the soul; and of those who neither regard the body nor the spiritual creature, and yet think falsely about God; and are indeed so much the further from the truth, that nothing can be found answering to their conceptions, either in the body, or in the made or created spirit, or in the Creator Himself. For he who thinks, for instance, that God is white or red, is in error; and yet these things are found in the body. Again, he who thinks of God as now forgetting and now remembering, or anything of the same kind, is none the less in error; and yet these things are found in the mind. But he who thinks that God is of such power as to have generated Himself, is so much the more in error, because not only does God not so exist, but neither does the spiritual nor the bodily creature; for there is nothing whatever that generates its own existence.