No Exit

January 26, 2001

"Why, this is Hell, nor have I left it."–Christopher Marlowe
"Hell is other people."–Jean Paul Sartre
"I may be going to Hell in a bucket, babe, but at least I’m enjoying the ride."–The Grateful Dead

I’m going to Hell. Over the course of my life I’ve been told that approximately 43 times by various individuals, and even though that’s hardly a majority opinion, I figure my chances may not be good. So in the interests of preparing myself for the place, I’ve been taking the criteria most frequently applied and determining what interesting people are already there. It’s an impressive list. Here are a few names:

Aristotle: Born 384BC, Aristotle lived and died centuries before the presumed birth of Jesus. I’m not sure where exactly in Hell this leaves him, although Dante did suggest that there was a section called "Limbo" that was reserved for "virtuous pagans". Limbo is big, empty, and there’s nothing to do. The only thing that distinguishes it from North Dakota is that it’s very crowded. It must contain people from the first 33,000 years or so between the time that the first modern humans appeared and the presumed date of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Dante Aligheri: The medieval poet and scholar who proposed the existence of Limbo was a Catholic. I had, and still have, Catholic friends, which may be why some of the people who told me I was going to Hell also told me Catholics were going to Hell. I have no idea why.

Galileo: The cantankerous old scientist who revolutionized astronomy was dragged before the Inquisition for saying the Earth revolved around the sun. That he could be accused by so noble and holy an institution as the Inquisition means he probably went to Hell. Three hundred years later, in 1992, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to admit that Galileo was right. I’m not sure whether this changed his location. Hell may be a one-way ticket.

Charles Darwin: Darwin’s theory of evolution suggested, among other things, that human beings are animals. Also, based on scientific evidence he suggested that the Earth might be more than 6,000 years old. Of course other people, including Jean Baptiste Pierre Lamarck, Eugune DuBois, and Darwin’s own grandfather Erasmus Darwin suggested similar things, but Charles Darwin seems to have become a particular target for bashing by proponents of mythology and pseudscience. Interestingly, Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey, even though during his lifetime he was attacked by priests in its pulpit. I guess whoever decided to let him in must be in Hell too.

Pablo Picasso: One of the great artists of the Twentieth Century, Picasso was an atheist. He also served as godfather to one of his close friends. As far as I know, Picasso was never condemned to Hell by his friend for his lack of religion, but what kind of friend would do that?

Albert Einstein: Like Darwin and Galileo, Einstein revolutionized science. Unlike Darwin and Galileo, Einstein’s scientific discoveries weren’t considered reason enough to send him to Hell. That he was Jewish, however, is. I also had a lot of Jewish friends, and have no idea why any of them deserved to go to Hell. Historically it seems the Jews have had a hard enough time of it as it is. However, in Einstein’s case he might have also gotten in trouble because he believed the Earth revolved around the sun.

Mohandas K. Gandhi: Called "Mahatma", or "Great Soul" by many of the people who were inspired by his message of non-violence, Gandhi also spoke of all religions and different paths to the same destination. According to those who claim to know, such tolerance leads to Hell. With his patient and calm demeanor, I’m sure he’s making the best of it, and probably helping everybody else do the same.

With such auspicious figures, as well as many others, I have to say I’m looking forward to Hell. Of course I won’t get to meet any of the people who got to go to Heaven, such as Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, the people of Salem who burned their neighbors as witches, or even Hitler, but I think I’ll fit in just fine. Heck, I may even run into a few of the people who sent me there.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


In large companies, it’s obviously important that memoranda contain lots of important buzzwords. What the memos actually say isn’t particularly important; if it were really important, someone would discuss it in person or by email.

In writing these memoranda, please remember the importance of these buzzwords.

BUZZWORDS FOR MANAGERS

COLUMN I COLUMN II COLUMN III
0. integrated
1. heuristic
2. systematized
3. parallel
4. functional
5. responsive
6. optional
7. synchronized
8. compatible
9. futuristic
0. management
1. organizational
2. monitored
3. reciprocal
4. digital
5. logistical
6. transitional
7. incremental
8. third-generation
9. policy
0. options
1. flexibility
2. capability
3. mobility
4. programming
5. scenarios
6. time-phase
7. projection
8. hardware
9. contingency

The procedure is simple. Think of any three-digit number, and then select the corresponding buzzword from each column.

For instance, number 257 produces "systematized logistical projection," a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report with a sincere ring of decisive, knowledgeable authority. No one will have the remotest idea of what you’re talking about, but the important thing is that THEY ARE NOT ABOUT TO ADMIT IT!

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