Of pastors and programmers

I’m more than a little bit annoyed right now. I’m trying to get two separate domains up and running on a single account, which should theoretically be a very simple matter of a .htaccess file which points one domain to one specific URL and the other domain to another specific URL. Despite the fact that the company exists to sell and host domains and this is precisely what creates more business for them, I haven’t gotten a reasonable and specific answer on how to do this from two calls to tech support, a reading of the FAQ and a survey of the forums on this very topic.

It tends to remind me of a tremendously irritating habit of many a pastor, albeit because the explanations I saw in the forums were exactly the opposite of the way in which pastors unnecessarily stretch out their sermons for no good purpose I can discern. Apparently, one is taught in seminary that one cannot mention the X of Y without going into a long and tangential riff on Y before returning to the actual subject of X. It drives me up the wall, especially when they do it during what purports to be a benedictory prayer but is actually the first of three inflicted upon you before you can get out the door.

So you hear things like: “the Lord God of Abraham, Abraham the father of Isaac, who believed that he would be given a son despite his age, who obeyed God when commanded to leave the land of his fathers in much the same way that our forefathers left their homelands to escape religious persecution of the sort that our brothers in the faith are now experiencing in North Korean and China, from where stems some truly tasty sweet and sour pork which unfortunately our Jewish friends are not permitted to eat by the command of the Lord God of Moses… and Abraham.” It sometimes makes me want to stand up and shout “stick to the bloody point!”

I don’t know if some pastors think they are performance artists or simply like to hear the sound of their own voices, but I have developed some serious reservations about the modern concept of the pastor preaching to the zoned-out flock being compatible with Christianity.

Now, this wasn’t actually intended to be a post about religion or anything. It’s just that I notice programmers do the opposite, instead of providing the information that would naturally proceed from that previously provided, they shut it off. Again, I don’t know if it’s out of a desire to field questions or simply the need to feel smarter than the questioner, but it’s even more annoying than pastoral meandering.

For example, on the forum I was perusing, an individual who had successfully navigated the .htaccess shoals was asking why his images weren’t showing up. The response from the technical guy was “you probably need to change your permissions to 644”. However, instead of continuing by explaining how one changed one’s permissions, he simply left it at that.

Programmers often spin this neglect as some sign of superior intelligence, but actually the reverse is true. While they do possess information that the other lacks, a truly intelligent individual would recognize that the nature of the first question indicated that the questioner would not be able to understand how to perform the required task and would therefore explain that as well.

For example, if someone asks me what GDP is, they are informing me that they don’t know anything about economics. To answer “GDP is C+I+G+(X-M)” is accurate, but to leave it at that is also stupid. If the questioner doesn’t know what GDP is, he won’t know what C or G is either.

Don’t confuse being informed with being intelligent, or vice-versa. They’re not mutually exclusive, but they aren’t synonymous either.