Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fiftieth Anniversary of Subsidiarity Coming Up!

Yes, as odd as that may sound, in a few months we shall note the FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY of "Subsidiarity".

Huh? Why?

Because on April 11, 1963, Pope John XXIII released his encyclical Pacem in Terris, in which the term "subsidiarity" was used (in its modern meaning) for the first time. A text copy can be found here; see section 140 for the term. But the idea is older, and so is the original term - and if you want further details, please check out the book Subsidiarity, available here.

Please note: while we shall note that day in some fashion, our own special celebration, however, will occur on March 2, which is the "birthday" of Subsidiarity, the day in 2000 when our system went live. More on that at the proper time.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Doc's five-minute version of Subsidiarity

For your Christmas enjoyment, here is an excerpt from the soon-to-be-available companion novel about our subject.

With prayers and my very best wishes to you and yours at this holy season!


[Scene: the Control Room at AC&TG in North Belloc, PA, where the ad insertion machinery for a large cable television system are monitored. It is late evening on September 6, 2004. Our hero Joe Outis is working the night shift. "Doc" the software developer has stayed late as he had some special work to prepare for the next day.]

The chores were done, everything was green and Doc was still busy. Joe got himself some coffee and sat down at the console. “How are you finding the overnights, Joe?”

“Not bad. Kind of quiet.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ve been in late, and in early, when I had to prepare, like this,” he pointed to the computer. “About five minutes and we can trigger. You have any questions I can deal with in five minutes?”

Joe smirked; now was the time to ask. “Sure... is that long enough for you to explain this sub-thing that PUMP does?”

“You mean explain Subsidiarity – in five minutes?” the Doctor laughed. “That’s a real challenge. Let’s see.” He grabbed a scrap of paper and started drawing the diagram Joe had seen in the handbook. “Here’s a leaf. As you know, that’s just a computer with some Carina playback cards, and a big hard drive. It’s connected by a little network to two other leaves and a portal. The portal is similar, but it can talk to HOME over the satellite. Sooner or later the engine can’t find a spot it has to play, and so it will...”

“No, I understand that. I’ve seen it work. But what is the idea behind it? And where does the Pope come in?”

The Doctor chuckled. “Oh, that’s what you want to know. Well, the word comes from a division in the ancient Roman army, but even Moses used the idea. The idea started with a document written in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, and there’s been more since then. The mnemonic is OPAL: order, purpose, ability, limitation. It’s the idea that a collection of people, having a common purpose, works best if it’s arranged in an orderly manner, avoiding interference, according to the various abilities and limitations of its members. Communication is key: when someone needs help, he must know how and where to ask for it, like this: in any given organization, a company or a club or even a system, each individual has a ‘superior’ who is to assist when an appeal is made. So in our system, when the leaf needs a spot, it appeals to its superior, the portal. And when the portal needs a spot, it appeals to PUMP on HOME, and when PUMP needs a spot, it shows up on WATCHER and appeals to you to do the encode. You encode the spot, then PUMP sends it to the portal, then FERRY sends it to the leaf, then the engine gets it, and all is well. There’s more, but that’s the short version. Whew.” He look at his computer. “Good, it’s done now. Just one more task to finish, and then we’ll be ready...” He started typing again.

“Thanks, Doc,” Joe replied. He had a feeling that Doc had barely begun an explanation, but perhaps he’d go into more detail another time.

[From Joe the Control Room Guy, presently in preparation. The "more detail" may be found in non-fictional form in Subsidiarity, available here. Note that the novel contains a good deal more about the topic, though as a "flavoring" rather than in a expositional form; it is a story, after all.]

Friday, November 30, 2012

The book is released!

Today, November 30, 2012, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, the long-awaited book entitled Subsidiarity is released.

What is Subsidiarity? It is an important idea to human organization, of quite ancient origin, discussed indirectly by various scholars over the centuries, but becoming especially visible in the last century or so, beginning in 1891 with the great encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII, and continuing through 1991 with John Paul II's Centesimus Annus.

But what does a satellite dish have to do with it?

Well... that's where the fascinating part comes in.

We will talk more about it on this blogg as time may permit. This blogg also provides you with a handy way of asking questions or making comments. There is also a website where additional information will be provided.

To order the book, please visit here.