Tagged: Elon Musk

Dennis O’Neil: I Think, Therefore I Yam What I Yam

Descarte Matrix

So, you think you exist, do you?

Okay, you probably do, but not in the way you’ve always believed you do. (And let’s be wary of that word “always.” Might be a slippery one, that “always.”) Way back when, in the seventeenth century, a brainy guy, a philosopher and mathematician named René Descartes put cogito ergo sum” into the world’s head. A lot of you know that René’s observation means, in the usual English translation, “I think therefore I am.”

What he was trying to do, our René, was find Truth with a capital T – some fact that could not be doubted, no matter what, no matter who. He asked us to imagine that there exists an evil demon who has created a vastly elaborate illusion. We’re just a brain, or something akin to brains, floating in demon porridge or maybe suspended from a demon ceiling and everything else is a part of demon’s foolery. It just ain’t. But someone other than the demon must be on the receiving end of the demonic sniggery, or else the sniggery itself couldn’t exist. That someone is me.

popeye the matrixI can’t be sure about you. How do I know that you’re there?

Our movie-going friends may have already noticed something familiar here. Yeah, that flick – The Matrix, written and directed by siblings named Wachowski and released in 1999. Same idea: bad machines have humans in some kind of suspended animation, and the humans don’t know it because they’re being caused to hallucinate a fully populated and developed Earth.

This is a bit like what I do/did for a living. Sketch out characters who don’t exist except as brain blops and jerrybuild an imaginary world for them to inhabit, then present the fruits of this labor to others. Usually, for me, that involved writing comic book scripts.

And you? Well, for purposes of this discussion we’ll assume that you do exist, though how and in what form and why we won’t stipulate.

Here we nod to philosopher Nick Bostrum who, in 2003, offered the theory that the universe is a computer simulation. Some people believed him – Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson among them. It’s been estimated that there’s approximately a 20 percent chance that Bostrum’s wacky theory reflects reality, albeit a reality we can’t comprehend and might not recognize if we found ourselves plunked down in the middle of it.

As for that reality’s inhabitants… who can guess? I’m wondering if they, covertly, interact with us and if they hear what we say and see what we do. And if such is the case, how do we know that they aren’t inhuman doppelgangers able to coexist in the same space that we occupy? And hey, you doppled others, what’s your deal? What are you up to, anyway? Playing a game with a gamepiece that’s me? Running an experiment? Doing something my brain is not configured to understand, or even to perceive?

Waiting for me to make a mistake? Well, that shouldn’t take long, but if you control me, wouldn’t the mistake be yours?

I could get to like this game.

Mike Gold: The Shoe’s On The Other Foot

Gay Pride 2015 11

My long-time friend and colleague Martha Thomases does not like wearing high heels. This, of course, is her right. I have been sympathetic to her position, even to the point of referring to it as a contemporary form of traditional Chinese foot-binding.

Gay Pride 2015 19That was until this past Sunday. Now, meh, not so much.

I’ve been to many a Gay Pride rally, including – yep, I’m bragging – the very first in New York. I’ve been to such rallies in several different cities; I’ve been to them after terrible tragedies such as the Stonewall Inn riots and, less than ten years later, the discovery and growth of HIV. Yet each and every march and rally has been fantastic fun, each one a deeply meaningful, fun-filled and life-affirming event. I have always walked away from the rallies and parades feeling much better about my fellow humans – even in my most cynical times that account for some six decades of my life.

More to the point, I always had a great time. Always.

So this year’s Gay Pride march and rally in New York City, coincidently held two days after the Supreme Court finally made marriage equality the law of the land, was something I wouldn’t miss even if I had lost my arms and legs and had to be carried in a basket. Thankfully, I was fully able to walk.

If Elon Musk had been there, he would have figured out a way to capture the energy of the event and use it to fuel a battery that would run every car in America for a year.

There’s no question the gay culture that has always affected our mainstream culture no matter how closeted it had been in the past. Several of our ComicMix columnists have commented on this point and several more may yet: right now, it is the perfect topic for a pop culture site such as this one.

The New York City parade, which attracted more than two million onlookers and, it seemed, about as many participants, was fraught with politicians and corporate sponsors. No, Mike Huckabee didn’t march, nor did any of his fellow Republican presidential candidates. That wasn’t a surprise and, besides, the parade route always was crowded. Delta Airlines, NBC/Universal, Master Card, and Coca-Cola were among the many who entered elaborate floats. So did a great many religious organizations – but certainly not all. Parents brought their children, both as onlookers and as participants.

This year’s parade marshals were two British peers: Sir Ian McKellan, also known as Magneto, Sherlock Holmes, Gandalf and others; Sir Derek Jacoby, a.k.a. Emperor Claudius and both Doctor Who’s arch-enemy The Master as well as The Doctor himself; and Ugandan LGBT activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. All around, a class-act. It was sort of like the St. Patrick’s Day parade, but without the – what’s it called again? Oh, yeah. Blatant bigotry.

The parade ran in a light rain from 36th Street and Fifth Avenue to the Stonewall Inn, a distance of nearly two miles. From my vantage points I couldn’t conduct a scientific study, but I believe there were more adults wearing high heels than not. Of course, I’m also counting the dozens (at least) of paraders wearing stilts.

Seeing all those folks marching in their fine footwear, I think I’ve got to backtrack on that foot binding thing. I figure, it must be worth it.

Gay Pride 2015 51Now… you say you don’t like gay marriage? You’re opposed to it? Somehow, it lessens the value of your marriage? Well, congratulations. You’re in luck. There is no more “gay marriage.”

Now… there is only “marriage.”

(Photo notes: At top – PBS’s rolling billboard for Vicious, starring McKellan and Jacoby. Up there on the right – part of the massive Delta Airlines presence, including a flight attendant with an astonishing hat size. Down here on the left – your humble columnist, posing with the newly transgendered crimefighter, The Shadow.)