Author Archive | Roderick

Unholy See

The latest trailer for the upcoming film Ready Player One features this image – which is clearly a dark riff on the Vatican:

Here’s the real-life original:


Apostrophe Fail

Part 1: One of my pet peeves is when people substitute an opening quotation mark for an apostrophe – for example, when they write the abbreviation for 1973 as ‘73 instead of ’73.

This is a phenomenon of the computer age; I don’t recall seeing it when I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, but I see it all the time now. The reason is that it’s a product of auto-correct; in most word-processing programs, if you try to type an apostrophe at the beginning of a word, auto-correct will assume you intended to type an opening quotation mark, and so will change it to an opening quotation mark, and you have to make a conscious effort to change it back.

But as a result, people’s brains have been warped to the point that nowadays, even when auto-correct isn’t involved (for example, when they’re hand-painting a sign), they still substitute an opening quotation mark for an apostrophe.

Goddamn reversed apostrophe

Goddamn reversed apostrophe

I think the most embarrassing (because most expensive and high-profile) example of the mistake that I’ve seen is in the 1973 posters of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs flashed up at the 0:26 and 0:42 marks this new movie trailer. It’s particularly ironic because it’s a mistake that wouldn’t have been made in 1973.

Part 2:

Well, that example didn’t wear the “most embarrassing (because most expensive and high-profile) example” crown for long. Right after I wrote the above, I came across a much worse example in the following trailer (at the 2:15 mark), which features a gigantic apostrophe fail in the very title of the goddamn movie:

Embarrassing trailer

Embarrassing trailer

Thankfully, this empire of incompetence does not extend everywhere. This poster for the movie was evidently made by people who grasp the difference between apostrophes and quotation marks:

Non-embarrassing poster

Unfortunately, there’s another poster ….

Embarrassing poster

Embarrassing poster


Phantom at the Fox

Atlanta's Fox Theatre

Last weekend, at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, I saw Love Never Dies (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to Phantom of the Opera) on its first North American tour. I enjoyed it, although the charaterisations are wildly inconsistent (both within the show and between it and its predecessor).

They’ve revised the show a bit for its newest tour – though nothing as drastic as the total retooling between the UK and Australia productions. But, for example, the music for the song “The Beauty Underneath” has been completely rewritten. I like the new version; but I also miss the old version.

The set design is a bit different too – sort of a cross between Art Nouveau and “Pirates of the Caribbean” (the ride, not the movie).


News to Me

In the most recent episode of Arrow, Cayden James, the show’s current main antagonist, tells his followers:

The Presocratic philosopher Thales of Miletus, known as the father of science, believed that for any event there was a natural cause, even if we couldn’t see it; and he thought that with perfect knowledge, man could control anything – everything.

Um … citation needed?


Descartes and Vitoria

I’ve long been a fan of interpretations of Descartes that lay at least as much stress on the continuity as on the discontinuity of his thought with Scholastic Aristoteleanism. (This is no doubt due in large part to the influence of Paul Hoffman, my first Descartes teacher: see here and here.)

I’ve just come across yet another point in which Descartes appears indebted to his Scholastic predecessors. In 1530, over a century before Descartes published his Meditations, Francisco de Vitoria of the University of Salamanca, best known for his defense of native American rights against the Spanish conquistadors, delivered a lecture On Homicide in which the following passage appears:

God could not create a habit which would incline toward what is false. … And by this reasoning, first principles also, even though they are self-evident, can be in a certain way proven. For what if someone were to say that he was forced to assent to this principle: “Every whole is greater than its part,” but would also say that he was afraid perhaps that he was deceived, just as a man sometimes is forced to believe something on the authority of men, in whom the man must have faith and yet it could happen that he be deceived? What, I say, if someone were to speak like this about first principles – could he not be induced by some reasoning to assent to them? Indeed, I think that if someone were to admit to me that God cannot lie nor deceive, he would also concede that it is necessary that a rational creature be created by God with this necessary inclination to consent to these principles, and would evidently be convinced that such principles are true. For if they are false, and God is forcing the human intellect to consent to them, it is plainly evident that God is deceiving men and consequently lying. Similarly, if God were to create any habit inclining toward what is false, He would rightly be accused of lying and deception. (Francisco de Vitoria, Relection on Homicide, trans. John P. Doyle [Marquette, 1997], p. 65.)


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