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Working Mothers

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Lucas Gonzalez
Lucas Gonzalez

The Devil's Advocate

Milton tempting Lomax is possibly also inspired by the Biblical Temptation of Christ.[6] Aside from Milton, other character names have been commented on: Author Kelly J. Wyman matches Mary Ann, the virginal figure who falls victim to Milton, to the Virgin Mary, and adds the literal translation of Christabella is "Beautiful Christ",[21] and that the title refers to the Catholic Church's Devil's advocates and lawyers as advocates;[22] Eric C. Brown finds Barzoon's name and character to be reminiscent of the demon prince Beelzebub.[7] Scholars Miguel A. De La Torre and Albert Hernández observe the vision of Satan as CEO, wearing expensive clothing and engaging in business, had appeared in popular culture before, including the 1942 novel The Screwtape Letters.[23]

The Devil's Advocate


With all the news about the papal conclave, Weekend Edition wonders: what's the story behind the phrase "devil's advocate"? Host Rachel Martin checks in with the Boston Globe's language columnist, Ben Zimmer.

MARTIN: And if you read the novel "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown, you might think this process involves something called the devil's advocate, a person who knows all the dark secrets about each candidate.

ZIMMER: No. Actually, the position of devil's advocate was abolished by Pope John Paul II in 1983. This was part of streamlining the whole canonization process. They still have a procedure for presenting opposing views. For instance, Christopher Hitchens was brought in to testify when Mother Teresa was being beatified in 2002. But there's no formal position of a devil's advocate anymore in the Vatican.

ZIMMER: It was a gradual process, I think. That Latin expression, advocatus diaboli, was translated into English as devil's advocate - that's what it means. And then starting in the 18th century, I think people were just so interested in this expression and what it represented that they started using it in a more general way and a more secular way. You take an opposing position in a debate just for the sake of argument. You don't have to necessarily believe the position, but you still think that objections to an argument should be raised anyway.

This is why I think the phrase transition in the Devil's advocate testing is critical. There is some objective measure of complexity of the function under test (such as cyclomatic complexity), and we have an intuitive sense that a certain number of tests is sufficient for testing functions with that complexity. If the Devil is allowed to add monomials to the polynomial (or, heaven forbid, modify the implementation so that it is not a polynomial), then any finite number of tests can be circumvented. If instead the Devil is only allowed to modify the coefficients of the polynomial, then we have a winning strategy.

As I've already stated, there are several poorly cast performers, the main one being Connie Nielson, as the devil's seductive daughter, Christabella. Nielson is an exquisite woman, but with her red hair and peaches-and-cream complexion, she doesn't suggest any darkness, no mystery whatsoever. Early in the film, an elegant actress who plays Pacino's secretary lustfully flashes her eyes in Reeves' direction, and she effortlessly conveys the sort of smoldering heat that Nielson's role called for. A friend of mine worked on the film, and he tells me the actress' name is Caprice Benedetti. For ten seconds, this astonishing, dark-haired beauty burns a small hole in the screen. She's got the devil in her eyes, and that's more than can be said for her higher-paid co-workers. Somebody sign her up. 041b061a72


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