If you have not yet seen the science-fiction movie Arrival, stop reading right now, and run – don’t walk – to the nearest theater where it is being shown. SPOILER ALERT: if you intend to see Arrival, read no farther than this first paragraph. Be assured that the movie is far more provocative than the following comments, which do not profess to do it justice. Specifically, Arrival (1) harks back almost 1500 years to a text, The Consolation of Philosophy, by the early-Christian philosopher Boethius; and (2) at the same time leverages some of the implications of the quantum “measurement problem”: the relationship between (what we once were pleased to call) “objective” reality and the consciousness of the observer. A lot has been written about both the latter, but Arrival’s twist is to r
I like Pope Francis I.
His openness to sexual-orientation minorities and his solicitude toward the poor are in marked contrast to the hard-line intransigence more characteristic of past Pontiffs. Church teachings about abortion, birth control – the “life” issues generally – and such matters as women’s ordination and same-sex marriage remain substantially unchanged. (I say “substantially” because, even on some of these issues, the Pope’s recent statements have been interestingly nuanced. God – so to speak – is in the details.) Bill Maher often says he strongly suspects that Pope Francis – “Pope Frank” as Maher sometimes calls him – is actually a closet atheist. (I think Maher is only half serious about such statements. But the operative word is “half”: I do think Maher is half s
Upon skimming this column, your first thought might well be – as I hope for your sake it is – Why is Cowles writing about this? Didn’t everyone long ago receive the tweet debunking those bullet points? Would to the Great Old Ones – Ia! Cthulhu nafl’fhtagn! – that such were the case. But time and again, I see the following arguments being reiterated, rising just when we thought they were safely dead to shamble across the intellectual landscape of American culture like zombie refugees from The Walking Dead or Z Nation who did not receive a proper “double-tap” on the amygdala. So, like Rick Grimes or Michonne from the former, or like Roberta Warren or Addison “Addy” Carver from the latter, I guess I’ll have heave a deep sigh and have another shot at it … as it were. Ah! If only I had a ni