all flockbinkers are treadknicious… and other salient observations

Forays into Logic, Whimsy, Truth, Meaning and Nonsense.

The Guy Who, For No Apparent Reason, Likes to Say ‘Egg.’

 

Abstract:  “Egg.” What? No, really.  Just: “Egg.”

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You meet the oddest characters sometimes. Well, i mean, maybe YOU don’t. But i do.

A few years ago, i ran into a somewhat odd fellow for the first time whom i have since come to think of as “the guy who, for no apparent reason, likes to say ‘egg’.”  We had, on that occasion, what’s got to have been the oddest conversation i have ever had with a human being… unless, of course, you count the other conversations i’ve had with him. He and i have crossed paths several times since then, and the conversations are always interesting. Here’s a sample:

The Blogger:  Well hello there! My name’s David.

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Um…okay. And you are?

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Come again?

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  I say! What an odd fellow.

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  So. Um. Your name is ‘Egg’?

The Eggman:  No.

The Blogger:  Ah. I’m terribly glad. Well then, what did you mean by saying ‘egg’?

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Well, yes, of course. But what i mean is, what, specifically, did you mean in saying it? Did you mean, for instance, that you ARE an egg? Ha, ha.

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Hmmm. Okay. I take it that you do, indeed, mean something by incessantly repeating the word ‘egg’? You’re not, for instance, mentally retarded?

The Eggman:  Jeepers.

The Blogger:  Hah! Got you to say something else.

The Eggman:  [brows furrowing]  Egg.

The Blogger:  Nope, sorry, you can’t back down now. I heard it.

The Eggman:  [smiling]  Egg.

 

Perhaps you have gotten the idea. I make statements and ask questions. The other fellow simply says “egg.” Here’s another conversation we once had.

The Blogger:  Well, if it isn’t the fellow who says almost nothing but ‘egg’!

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Excuse me?

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Oh, righto. Of course.

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  So, how’s it been going?

The Eggman:  Okay.

The Blogger:  Eh what?

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Wait, but what you said the first time wasn’t the word ‘egg.’ I’ve caught you out!

The Eggman:  [exasperated]  Egg.

The Blogger:  No, no, i’m afraid i can’t let you get away so easily this time! You do have words other than ‘egg’ that you’re able to say!

The Eggman:  [smiling]  Egg.

The Blogger:  No, no, you see, i’ve caught you now! You can’t hide behind that word anymore! I know you’ve got others!

The Eggman:  Mmmm. Egg.

The Blogger:  Come on, there, fellow. Let me have it. Batter me with the force of your extended vocabulary.

The Eggman:  Idiot.

 

The basic idea seems to be that the word ‘egg’ is somehow so generously imbued with meaning, that it’s able to serve in the place of nearly any other word, in any part of speech. A rich and heavy word, egg, endued with a range of magical properties.

Now, i know what you’re thinking. “What a delroddish fellow,” you’re thinking–and may i commend you on the clever insult? “Anyone who’s only willing to say ‘egg’ is not worth trying to communicate with.”

Ah, but you see, you’re giving up rather too easily. Here, let me share with you another of the little talks we once had.

The Blogger:  Oh my goodness. The man who says ‘egg’!

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  How’s it going?

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  Righto, of course, ha ha. Of course.

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  But what i’m wondering is, can you be more specific? In what way, for instance, are you feeling ‘egg’?

The Eggman:  [apparently somewhat amused]  Egg.

The Blogger:  Oh dear. This really isn’t going to be much of a conversation is it.

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  [giving way to a sudden burst of inspiration]  Treadknicious!

The Eggman:  [smiling]  Thanatopsis.

The Blogger:  Tha– seriously? Did you just say ‘thanadropsis’?

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  No. Seriously. You just said something that sounded like ‘thangnapopsis.’

The Eggman:  Egg.

The Blogger:  No, come on, you can’t do this to me. Say it again. I want to hear you say ‘thandranopsis.”

The Eggman:  Mm-mmm. Egg.

 

And that, as they say–but not this guy, of course–was that.

Come to think of it, i’m not sure why i shared that one. I don’t think it really supports my point.

Anyway, that point was that we ought not to give up when people start saying ‘egg’ to us. There are certain settings, for instance, in which it’s perfectly good and natural to be saying ‘egg.’ No one will probe deeply to determine your reasons. At McDonald’s, for instance, when they’re trying to ascertain which of the breakfast biscuits you’re wanting. Or if someone asks you to list off the various things your stepmother is allergic to. Or someone cuts loose with a really sweet insult, leaving his opponent with a metaphorical mess on his face. Or when you get to the chapter on sexual reproduction in your human anatomy class.

Uhhh, the point i think i’m trying to make is that it’s not entirely outside the realm of reason and sense for a person to be caught saying “egg!” in public. Even when there appear to be no eggs present.

And then–while we’re on the topic–there’s the issue of what some of our most common words mean. Do you ever say “hello!” to other people by way of a polite greeting? Hmm? Well, can you define it? What, exactly, are you saying when you greet the other fellow with a polite “Hello!”…? Are you wishing him a good day? Are you telling his that it’s great to see him? What complete sentence does the word “hello” translate into? Would it go something like, “Well golly, person of my general acquaintance, i find your presence in my current visual field to be a delightful surprise, which i choose to acknowledge by uttering an odd duosyllabic sound”…? Something like that, maybe?

So i guess what i’m saying is, don’t let me catch you ragging on The Eggman for saying ‘egg’ without additional explanation. Maybe it means “hello” (whatever THAT means) or “thanks” (whatever THAT means) or “excuse me, your fly needs to be zipped up” (self-explanatory) or “terrible thing about that sudden drop in the the Dow Jones, eh what?”

Whatever it means, there doesn’t seem to be any good reason why he shouldn’t go on saying it. So i say to you, Mister Eggman: More power to you! You must resist the cries of those who do not understand! Speak on! Let your voice be heard! Egg! Egg! Egg!

 

Epilogue

The Good Reader:  Oh, honestly.

 

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Why It ABSOLUTELY Matters That You Pronounce ‘Treadknicious’ Correctly

 

Abstract:  There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English vocabulary. Treadknicious is just one of them. And yet–quite apart from its fascinating and important meaning–it has a claim to fame that sets it apart. But not a good one. It is almost invariably… incorrectly… pronounced.


 

Honestly, this may perhaps not seem the most important post ever made to the “All Flockbinkers” blog. Yet it involves a topic close to my heart, and perhaps yours as well.

It concerns the pronunciation of the term “treadknicious.”

I’m going to spell out the sound of how you have probably always pronounced the word. I’m going to be trembling almost uncontrollably as i do so. But…and i’m sure your own philosophical adventures have taught you the same…one does what one must.

Here goes:

[Tred – nish – us].

[An almost uncontrollable shiver passes through the entire length of my body]

No, no, no, no, no.

NO!

Hmm-Mmmm.

No no.

Just: No.

The word is most decidedly NOT pronounced to rhyme with, oh, for instance, “splednicious.”

Sure, it’s spelled as if the two words rhyme. “Treadknicious.” “Spledknicious.” A perfectly honest mistake.

But they don’t rhyme. Oh no. No, sirree.

The well-known word “splednicious” is, of course, pronounced [spled – nish – us].

We’ve all known that since kindergarten. “Teacher, what a spledknicious lesson you have taught us!” Or, if you weren’t an insufferable kiss-up, “Baxter! I say, you’ve got the most splednicious black eye!” Spledknicious. Three syllables.

The word “treadknicious” is, by contrast, pronounced… and i need to know that you’re sitting down and paying full attention…

It is pronounced:  [tred – ka – nish – us].

Did you catch that? I’ll repeat it for the slower ones among you:  [tred – ka – nish – us]

Just like that.

You mustn’t slip and leave out the [ – ka – ].

Please.

Now, i can hear some of you saying, “Looka here, now, buddy, why’nt ya just calm yerself? Now how does it really matter how we pronounce one o’ them big fancy words? Ain’t it really the thought that counts in matters o’ this here type?”

Bless you, child, but my answer to your well-meaning query is an unambiguous…

[…and here the Blogger goes into an uncontrolled coughing fit, holds up one finger as if to say, “a minute, gimme a minute here,” and eventually assumes command of himself…]

…”No.”

You see, certain things matter much more than they might appear to on the surface. And the correct pronunciation of words is among those things.

Imagine, with me, a world in which people are going about their business, pronouncing words however they like, making the most awful sounds with their mouths, horrid successions of noise trailing out from between their lips on a regular basis. Can you imagine anything more like what will doubtless be going on when the world is brought to its end and we are all subjected to the Final Judgment?

The dissolution of all things! The blackness of the very last night! Chaos and abaddon, with darkness upon the face of the deep and spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places!

We can, in our own little way, fight back these cosmic influences–at least for a while–by pronouncing our words correctly. And we can start with the correct pronunciation of the word, “treadknicious.”

I leave this very important matter in your capable hands, o my dearest reader.

 

A Very Particular Set of Skills: or, What if Liam Neeson Were a Philosopher

 

Abstract:  In the film “Taken”, Liam Neeson plays a father whose “very particular set of skills” comes into play as he tracks down his daughter’s captors and rescues her. Which leads to the obvious question: how would this set of skills come into play if the same character were–say–a philosopher?


 

Imagine with me, if you will, a world in which philosophers were making movies. Ahhh!

Among the current batch of film actors, Liam Neeson is probably–more than most, anyway–associated with a single picture: “Taken.” In this film, Neeson plays a father whose “very particular set of skills” comes into play as he tracks down his daughter’s captors–a ring of sex traffickers–and rescues her.

All of which, quite naturally, leads to the question: how would this set of skills come into play if the same character were, say, a philosopher?

So blissful a thought! Of course, the films would probably be awful, but oh, the ideas! The logical inferences! The conceptual recommendations!

Ahem.

For the benefit of Those Who Do Not Remember, here is the iconic telephone speech that Liam Neeson gives near the beginning of the film Taken:

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

Of course, a more philosophically-inclined version of the same character, in the same film, might have said something similar… yet different… perhaps along these lines:

“The set of possibilities, of which i am currently cognizant, contained in the sets of (1) ‘who you are’ and (2) ‘what you want’ and (3) ‘how much money i’ve got’ is circumscribed to such a degree as to be essentially irrelevant. I am, however, possessed of [Set A], which for our current purposes may be defined as ‘a very particular set of skills,’ such a set having been acquired across [Set B]: ‘over a very long career,’ the sum of which will inevitably result in the maximal state of unhappiness for you. The possibilities from this point include the following: (A) You let my daughter go now, which will result in [the consequences for you = the Null Set], or (B) Your inevitable and very painful….”

“Hello? Hello?” [shaking telephone] “Hello? Anyone there? Hello?”

Anyway, if we were to imagine such a world, that delightful world in which the action heroes were philosophers, and the philosophers were action heroes,* we might be able to envision a scenario like the following:

“Immanuel Aquinas is having a bad day. To begin with, the guy at the laundry not only messed up his best suit, but he had the nerve to follow that with an absurd line of argumentation, rife with fallacious inferences, in his own defense. Then, Aquinas got stuck in traffic for an hour, and had to endure the pathetic socio-cultural diatribes of the guy in the car next to his. But the worst thing of all? Tom Kant, his nemesis, is about to walk away red-handed with a satchel containing $10,000,000 of the government’s money. The solution? Looks like it’s time for Aquinas to kick some serious conceptual ass.”

–from a film that Liam Neeson has not starred in

[YET]

…but almost certainly will if the universe is the sort of place i suspect it to be.

I thought that, in this post, it might be worthwhile to imagine some things that Liam Neeson would or would not do, if cast in a philosophical action film. To wit:

Some things Liam Neeson would NEVER do:

  • He would never give you up
  • He would never let you down
  • He would never run around and desert you
  • He would never make you cry
  • He would never say goodbye
  • He would never tell a lie and hurt you

Um. Just a moment. We need to check on something.

Um. Hmmm.

Oh, dear. We’re sorry: that wasn’t Liam Neeson, it was Rick Astley. Similar fellows, understandable mistake.

Well, now that we’ve publicly embarrassed ourselves, oops, ha ha, why don’t we move on to the list of things that Liam Neeson would do, ha ha, or skills that he would reveal, as a philosopher? I feel we’re on somewhat firmer ground here.

Here are some things Liam Neeson would do:

He would summarily drop anyone who tried to make a pun on Kant and can’t. I mean, seriously…wouldn’t you?

Logical fallacies would be punished swiftly… dialectically… and permanently.

Wittgenstein’s Language Games… hah! You won’t be playing any with him. Not, that is, if you value your respiratory tractatus. Er, tract.

All flockbinkers may or may not be treadknicious, but you’re about to be.

(Wait. What? Umm.)

Don’t even try coming at him with obtuse, verbally bloated explanations: he will cut you with Occam’s Razor.

The Law of the Excluded Middle…after he’s finished excluding YOUR middle, you won’t have anything left to digest your food with.

He’ll crush your monads (get it? your monads, heh heh), Leibniz to the contrary notwithstanding.

And speaking of notwithstanding… Pythagoras notwithstanding, when Neeson’s through with you the squares of your legs will NOT be equal to the square of your hypotenuse.

Please don’t go on and on about some “Prisoner’s Dilemma”… The only way to act in your own self-interest when dealing with Liam Neeson is to hand over the total and pray that he doesn’t feel like investigating the boundaries of game theory.

Oh dear. Once again, we’re not even sure what this last one meant.

He’ll separate your yin from your yang.

(We thought that last one was pretty funny, and we’re going to repeat it.)

He’ll separate your yin from your yang.

Heh heh.

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, schmynthesis… The Hegelian Dialectic notwithstanding… among the various other things that are notwithstanding… you’ll find yourself in a world of contradiction if Liam Neeson isn’t pleased with the status of your triads.

He kicked Buridan’s Ass, and he’ll kick yours.

When he’s done with you, you’ll be reduced to a cardboard caricature useful only as a mouthpiece for certain widely dismissed philosophical positions… oh… waittasecond… oops… sorry, there… we kinda got Liam Neeson crossed up with Ayn Rand.

She’ll have to wait for another post to the blog.

 

* Heh heh. A bit of a nod to Plato, there.

 

Another Philosophy Joke: Bertie and Jeeves, Confucius and Aristotle Have Dinner at Chili’s

 

Abstract:  Bertie Wooster has recently spent an evening at Chili’s restaurant, in the company of the great philosophers Buddha and Confucius, and the result was not quite that entry into higher thought that one might have wished. Fortunately, the next time Bertie happens into a Chili’s he’s got his brainy old standby Jeeves with him. And it’s a good thing… Confucius is there again, and this time he’s got Aristotle with him!

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There are a handful of defining experiences that tend to make a man what he is–what i mean by that is that growth is often attached to seismic experiences that serve to shake us out of our complacency–and what he is going to be, at various points in the as-yet indeterminate future–as distinguished from what he was, prior to the aforementioned encounters, that is.

Oh dear, let’s try that one again.

Sometimes important things happen to you.

[Ahem]  Much better.

Now, the kind of important things that can happen to a fellow–the ones, anyway, that we’re thinking of at the moment–might involve meeting famous dead philosophers in busy restaurants. This sort of thing does not happen to most people on a regular basis, but it appears to be happening to young Bertie Wooster with distressing regularity. Why don’t we sneak a little closer so that we can listen in on the ensuing conversation?

 

Confucius:  Hmmm. What’ll it be this time, the Southwestern Eggrolls or the Cobb Salad. Decisions, decisions.

Aristotle:  You ought to delineate the virtues of each in a parallel comparison chart. On the one side, you can rank the advantages and disadvantages to ordering a Cobb Salad, and on the other side you can arrange the data on a Southwestern Eggroll. Then you simply determine which of the two seems less unpleasant, and more enjoyable.

Confucius:  My word. Are you really like this all the time?

Aristotle:  All. The. Time. It’s a living hell.

Confucius:  Man. Wouldn’t want to be you. I just sort of talk about how i think people ought to behave, and stuff.

Aristotle:  I would die for a gig like that.

Confucius:  It’s certainly got its benefits. But hey, we were starting to talk about the nature of human decision-making, and you were saying….

Bertie:  I say!

Confucius:  Goodness gracious! If it isn’t Master Wu Stehr! Come, join us! And do introduce your friend.

Bertie:  This is my thrice-worthy man, Jeeves. The sort of cove who’s reading 18th century philosophy one minute, and bringing to a swift termination the household problems in the next.

Jeeves:  An exaggeration i must contradict, sir, with the deepest respect and gratitude. But am i correct in concluding that you, sir [turning oh-so-slightly] are the philosopher Aristotle?

Aristotle:  [obviously flattered]  I am, sir! What an astonishing conclusion!

Jeeves:  [Bows ever so slightly]

Confucius:  You and your friend must by all means sit with us!  [scootching over]

Aristotle:  Indeed. By all means!  [scootching in a somewhat more Aristotelian manner]

Bertie:  Well, don’t mind if we do, eh Jeeves?

Jeeves:  To be sure, sir.

Confucius:  Now, if memory serves, the last time you–Mr. Wu Stehr–sat here with us we talked a bit about a few of your friends and family. And at that time, you mentioned Jeeves here. What a pleasure to be able to meet him at last!

Aristotle:  Indeed! He is reputed to be the sort of “middle man” whose choices always adhere to that noble region located between the extremes and excesses of human folly.

Bertie:  Well, i say! Some pretty tough remarks they’re biffing at you, eh Jeeves?

Jeeves:  Almost entirely exaggerated. One does attempt to do what one can, sir.

Confucius:  So, perhaps you can help us resolve a small difficulty. I’m having trouble choosing between the Cobb Salad, and the Southwestern Eggrolls.

Jeeves:  If i may offer an opinion, sir, you should order the Cobb Salad on this occasion. Desmond Sneed, with whom i take dinner from time to time on my days off, is in a relationship with Bessie Tellmann, who works in transportation. To shorten the story, i am reliably informed that this week’s shipment of Southwestern Eggrolls has been blighted with cockroaches.

Bertie:  There! You see? That was an absolute biffer, Jeeves!

Jeeves:  Terribly good of you to say, sir.

Aristotle:  Astonishing and gratifying! There’s nothing like the combination of firsthand experience and logical deduction in the improvement of one’s dining habits!

Confucius:  I must agree. That was impressive.

Aristotle:  So, Jeeves, may i put a question to you?

Jeeves:  I shall attempt to render good service.

Aristotle:  Okay. So there’s this terribly cute redhead who’s been spending a lot of time over at the Cognitive Diss Disco. I’ve chatted briefly with her a couple of times, she seems nice. Do you think i should pursue a relationship with her?

Jeeves:  A question, sir. Does she have a mole on her upper lip?

Aristotle:  Astonishing! Indeed she has!

Jeeves:  Ah, i feared as much. That would be Mlle. Connie Desmouches. She is a charming girl, to be sure, but i am reliably informed that she has of late been seen much in the company of Lord Habersham.

Aristotle:  Blast it all! I was afraid something like that might be the case.

Bertie:  Plus, she’s a redhead, what? QED.

Jeeves:  Indeed, sir.

Bertie:  Many’s been the time Jeeves has rescued me from the clutches of one redhead after another. Lovely girls, and quite stiff enough about the brains, but all in all not a good relational proposition.

Jeeves:  The redhead temperament tends not to agree with yours, sir.

Bertie:  Right ho! You’ve said a mouthful, Jeeves.

Confucius:  This exploration of the dynamics of relationship is indeed stimulating, but i wonder if i might steer the conversation in the direction of the larger issues of statecraft and public policy?

Aristotle:  Ah! A direction much to my liking, as well.

Bertie:  Biffing idea!

Jeeves:  I shall be glad to render forth my opinion, sir, for what it may be worth.

Confucius:  Back in my native China, the Emperor has been considering the implementation of a policy whereby the wealthier estates are broken up and distributed among the poorer classes. There are some who say he has been influenced by foreign elements; others claim his mental state has begun to deteriorate. And yet others hail this as a sound policy. What would you say?

Jeeves:  I am tempted, sir, to conclude that you are testing me on the soundness of my grasp of–ahem–current events.

Confucius:  [laughing]  I am afraid that what seems current to me may perhaps be ancient history to you. The time scale of the blog appears to be a bit out of order. Perhaps another question.

Aristotle:  I rather like the one you just asked.

Bertie:  [examining menu]  If i may make a brief o,* this “Molten Chocolate Cake” appears to rate a magna-cum-biff! I say, waiter!

Aristotle:  [smiling]  It’s not bad. Not bad at all.

Confucius:  Okay. Here’s a replacement question. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck COULD chuck wood?

Jeeves:  I fear you’ve selected a rather easy one this time, sir. If the current Prime Minister does not wish his extramarital activities to be politicized, then he ought rather to disguise them more effectively, or give them up entirely.

Confucius:  Brilliant! Precisely the correct answer!

Aristotle:  Wmmff?

Bertie:  I say! Weren’t we talking about woodchucks and wood and that sort of thing?

Jeeves:  Quite so, sir.  [bows slightly]

Aristotle:  My impression precisely. I fear these gentlemen may be playing a game to which we are unfamiliar with the rules.

Bertie:  Well, now, that IS a bit thick, isn’t it.

Jeeves:  One speaks in the argot peculiarly suited to the situation, sir.

[He and Confucius snicker demurely for a moment.]

Confucius:  So, i have another question, this one for the whole assembled company. If the Southwestern Eggrolls have been tainted, what might be said about the Molten Chocolate Cake of which we all appear to be lusting uncontrollably?

Aristotle:  We would need to assemble a certain body of information at the outset. Were the eggrolls and the chocolate cake on the same shipping truck? Did they at any point share a storage facility? Might we perhaps have access to someone on staff here who is able to discuss with us the manner in which the two respective foods have been stored?

Bertie:  Oh, hang it all! Waiter! Waiter! I say, one Molten Chocolate Cake here, with or without the complementary insect life.

Jeeves:  My employer is a man of decisive temperament where food is involved.

Confucius:  Ah! A decisive temperament is not a bad thing, when combined with a desire for the social good and the observation of correct forms. Another Molten Chocolate cake for me, please, waiter!

Aristotle:  Well, doggone it. Another here, good waiter!

Jeeves:  I shall perhaps opt for the vanilla ice cream instead, if you please.

Bertie:  As you wish, Jeeves. You may be missing the most exciting part of the meal–the part that crawls out to greet you.

Jeeves:  Indeed, sir. Such was not far from the trend of my own thought.

Confucius:  One last challenge, and then we shall all tuck into our desserts. Mr. Jeeves, what is your insight into the ontological status of the common flockbinker?

Jeeves:  [smiling sadly]  I fear the ontological status of the flockbinker is a bit outside the bounds of my reading, sir.

Confucius:  Yet you are familiar with them?

Jeeves:  Indeed, sir. I am aware of the concept of the flockbinker.

Confucius:  And yet you’ve not formed an idea of their existence or nonexistence?

Jeeves:  I… did not exactly say that, sir.

Confucius:  Aha!

Bertie:  What, ho.

Aristotle:  It’s a bit of an arcane discussion, Mr. Wooster. There are those–perhaps none present–who hold the flockbinker to be an actually existent entity. There are others who break into paroxysms of laughter at the very idea of flockbinkers. It’s an interesting debate.

Bertie:  I say! It’s always been my impression that flockbinkers are fictional, but then, my reading has been somewhat more focused than yours.

Aristotle:  [leaning toward Bertie]  Your man is a bit of a keen player. He hasn’t actually taken a side on that particular issue, you see.

Bertie:  Ah! That Jeeves, you can’t often know what he’s actually thinking.

Jeeves:  I hope never to have given offense on that score, sir.

Bertie:  Oh, no, far from it. Keeps things interesting.

[The waiter returns with their desserts]

Confucius:  I bid you all good health and blessing appropriate to your social station.

Aristotle:  Wassail!

The Assembled Company:  Wassail!

 


 

* For the uninitiated: Bertie sometimes likes to abbreviate his longer words down to a single letter: perhaps for ease of pronunciation, perhaps because it seems somewhat clever, in a somewhat un-clever sort of way.

 

The Three Scotsmen…Sittin’ on a Fence…Sing “My Flockbinker Lies over the Ocean”

 

Abstract:  In which we are regaled by a highly unusual musical performance. “My Flockbinker Lies over the Ocean” is apparently a real song–depending what you mean by the term “real”–and passionately loved by certain among us of a Scottish heritage.


 

Odd things happen.

Of course, you already knew that.

But i’d be willing to put money down that you’ve never experienced anything quite on the level of hearing three metaphorical Scotsmen–sittin’ on a fence, of course–singing a quasi-existent folk song (or is it a “flok” song? tee hee…get it? “Flok” song. Oh my word, i kill myself.). Here, for your listening pleasure, is a rousing version of the traditional (meaning, “it didn’t exist until a few minutes ago”) Scottish ballad, “My Flockbinker Lies over the Ocean.”

 

The First Scotsman:

My flockbinker lies over the ocean
My flockbinker lies over the sea;
My flockbinker lies over the ocean,
Oh bring back my flockbinker to me!

The Three Scotsmen, Together:

Bring back, bring back,
O bring my flockbinker to me, to me,
Bring back, bring back,
O bring my flockbinker to me!

The Second Scotsman:

O blow ye wamwams o’er the ocean,
O blow ye wamwams o’er the sea,
There once was a chap who had migraines,
Who said, “To pee, or not to pee!”

The Three Scotsmen, Together:

To be, tee-hee,
O what if flockbinkers could hold their pee;
Wee wee, tee tee,
A silly song it’s turned to be!

The Third Scotsman:

Last night as i lay on my pillow,
A goblin leaped out from way all the way under my durned bed,
This song’s getting harder to sing in accordance with
the established expectations associated with metrical scansion,
Goblin! Uh, and…um… another goblin!

The Three Scotsmen, Together:

Scansion, schmansion,
Don’t plague us with silly concepts that have little application in the experienced world!
Mansion, Tansion,
Why, what a fun way to adventitiously recalibrate the pronunciation of the word
“tension”…!

The Three Scotsmen, Together Again:

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! All your base are belong to us,
And the dish ran away with the spoon, the spoon, the dish ran away with the spoon,
If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the stinkin’ kitchen, ya scurvy bastard,
On account o’ the bears that are in some ambiguously defined relationship
wi’ Goldilocks.

The Three Scotsmen, Together Yet a Third Time:

Don’t ye trie to get us to stop singin’ one o’ oor favrit songs, ye vile stinkin’ stench!
Ye’ll accomplish nothin’ but the effectin’ o’ your own grisly death by fire or water!
Um, uh… huh huh huh… uuhhh… bring back, bring back,
O bring my flockbinker to me!

 

Epilogue:

Um.

Okay.

At least, you can’t say i didn’t warn you. I did. Right? Hmmm? Did i not? Let the record read that i did, in fact, try to warn you.

 

The Blogger Lays His Metaphorical Cards on the Table

 

Abstract:  In which The Blogger candidly discusses whether or not this blog is actually about philosophy, or whether it’s just an excuse for some obscure horsing around.

________________________________________________________________________

The question has been put, and the battle has been joined: Is this blog really a substantial exploration of philosophical issues? Or is it a floppy monstrosity consisting largely of mostly aimless conversations in which The Good Reader scolds The Blogger for being a conspicuous ass?

As it turns out, quite a catalog of reasons can be assembled in support of either position.

Persons making the accusation against the blog: Sandra, from Kansas City, for instance.

“I’ve been following this blog for a couple of years now… well, i don’t know if ‘following’ is the right way of putting it… i mean, i’ve read the posts, you know… and i have to say it, i just don’t think it’s about anything. I think it’s a bunch of random thoughts that this blogger guy comes up with, and then he tries to make them funny, and he adds in some odd characters, and he writes about them.”

Oh boy. There are some people you just can’t reach.

Persons defending the blog, on the other hand, like… um… uuh… well… aw, gee….

Well, okay, here’s one. Christopher, who lives in the British Virgin Islands. He has this to say in defense of this website:

“Dude, i’m totally all about it. I mean, like Jack! this is some pretty funny material.” He pauses to snicker for a few seconds. “It’s like, how many Scotsmen can you put on a fence? Oh my gosh! This stuff is hilarious! So yeah, i’m totally about this website, as a, you know, way of communicating what–um–philosophy is, and, you know, that kind of thing.”

Well, okay. I reckon we’ll accept our defenses wherever we can find them.

So the sides are defined, and the field is marked. What IS this blog about? Is it, as Sandra avers, a random body of material? Or is Christopher right in averring that it is… well, whatever he seems to have been saying? And in keeping with the philosophical character of the blog (you see what i did there?) we’re going to structure our material as a series of logical arguments.

Let the games begin! Uhm, or something.

 

This Blog is a Substantial Exploration of Philosophy

The thesis here is that The Blogger is performing a significant public service by serving up generous portions of substantial argumentation in support of important ideas.

Argument #1:  Flockbinkers

Oh my word! Do we really need to include anything else in our defense? This blog is all about flockbinkers, and it’s hard to get any more philosophical than that. Flockbinkers are practically the definition of philosophy! They’re what philosophy is all about! Now, in response to the nay-sayers who might claim that flockbinkers don’t exist, our reply is: …well, give us a minute on that one. Scratching our heads here. This one turns out to be a bit of a toughie.

Argument #3:  Logical syllogisms

You can’t…and may i emphasize this?… you simply CAN’T chuck a rock around here without hitting a logical syllogism! The joint is veritably stupid with logical syllogisms! Um, if that’s the sort of statement that makes sense. Anyway. It’s just one logical syllogism after another. It’s almost as if they’re following each other to the seaside cliffs in order to hurl themselves off the edge! No, that wasn’t part of the argument. Just a nice image that i suddenly came up with.

Argument #2:  Definitions of words

Our final, knockout argument consists in the fact that…Dude. We are constantly defining words around here. This blog is practically about nothing but the definition of words. Spin around blindfolded, and you’ll find yourself pointing at somebody who’s in the process of defining a term. Hey! You there! Little Biffy! Whatcha doin’ over there? What? Defining terms? Ho! I figured as much! Carry on!

The defense rests.

 

This Blog is a Sad Excuse for a Bunch of Horsing Around

Since this is a position with which i am entirely out of sympathy, i have asked our friend Sandra (from Kansas City) to supply a few insights. Do your best, Sandra!  [snicker]

Argument #1:  Even an idiot can identify what’s wrong with each post

Oh my word. What a sad assemblage of nonsense, nonsense and more nonsense! Pretty much every single post to this blog is saddled with at least one, if not several, if not a seemingly unending stream of fallacious reasoning and just plain silliness! Sometimes the Blogger sticks something into the post that you’re supposed to find, and that’s not hard at all. On top of that, though, are the myriads of mistakes in reasoning, etc. that tend to clog the place up, apparently through no knowledge of his own. It’s exhausting, really.

Argument #2:  At no point are terms like ‘flockbinker’ or ‘wamwam’ ever defined

This blog is built around nonsense words that the blogger never takes it upon himself to define. What do these silly words mean? Does it matter? Do i care? No, in fact, i do not. Neither am i able to take seriously a blog where much of what’s going on is in the form of “cromblasters” and “wigwams” and “Your Mom” and other unintelligible things. If the Blogger wants to talk himself to sleep at night muttering random syllables, why he’s welcome to that, i just wish he wouldn’t call it a website.

Argument #3:  The so-called ‘logical syllogisms’ are awful, just awful

In his well-meaning but doomed-to-failure attempts to explore philosophy, The Blogger often sets up logical syllogisms in order to illustrate his points. Oh. My. Word. This guy is trying to teach ME logic? Every time i read this blog, i feel like i know less and less about logic. If i keep it up, i’m afraid that soon i’ll no longer remember how to eat and use the bathroom by myself, and i’ll need to hire a full-time nurse. THAT is how bad this blog is on logic.

The prosecution rests.

 

Epilogue

The Good Reader:  Yawn.

The Blogger:  I heard that. You yawned.

The Good Reader:  I did! I’m a little tired. And, plus, i don’t think i get the purpose of this post. Sure, you’ve finally admitted that your writing is somewhat pointless and silly, but apart from that, what…?

The Blogger:  I’m not sure i understand you. I was clearly the winner of our little debate.

The Good Reader:  You’re making a joke.

The Blogger:  I flattened her! My arguments made sense, and hers didn’t!

The Good Reader:  Hmmm.

The Blogger:  I laid forth a coherent body of evidence in favor of the blog, and she had nothing but a handful of sad personal impressions with no logical support whatsoever!

The Good Reader:  Ah.

The Blogger:  I won! I ran over her like a grocery store shopping cart running over a dried banana peel!

The Good Reader:  This is an experience you’ve had before?

The Blogger:  Just last week.

The Good Reader:  Which grocery store?

The Blogger:  Kroger. They’re normally really clean. I’m not sure what that banana peel was doing on the floor.

The Good Reader:  Cool. So, to summarize, you’re under the impression that you kicked some serious butt in that little discussion up there?

The Blogger:  Absolutely! She was rendered a smoking carcass by the time i finished my remarks. There was nothing left of her. Some smoke and a bit of ash, that’s about it.

The Good Reader:  Mm-hmm.

The Blogger:  So you agree?

The Good Reader:  [smiling]  Absolutely. Is there anything to eat around here? I’m suddenly famished.

 

A Philosophy Joke: Confucius, Buddha, and Bertie Wooster Have Dinner at Chili’s

 

Abstract:  In which P.G. Wodehouse’s classic creation Mr. Bertram Wooster dines at Chili’s with two classical Asian philosophers–Mr. Confucius and Mr. Buddha–and finds himself, oh, a bit out of his depth. Eh what?


 

If you’ve ever dipped into the fiction of British author P.G. Wodehouse, you are doubtless familiar with the character of Bertie Wooster.  You know, the somewhat sub-brainful scion of one of the English ruling families of about a hundred years ago.  And if you’ve ever dipped into the literature of the Ancient East, you are probably familiar with the characters of Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius) and Shakyamuni (the Buddha).

But…ha! And i shall say it again: Ha! Has it ever occurred to you to imagine the conversation that might arise should Young Bertram find himself in the presence of these two ancient worthies, at Chili’s Restaurant? No! Of course it hasn’t. That’s why i’m the one doing all the heavy lifting about the place. I mean: SOMEBODY’s got to.

Wodehouse would’ve done it, if only he’d thought of it.

At any rate, what you are about to read represents one possible dialogue that might arise if persons #1, #2, and #3 were to find themselves at the same table at Chili’s on a warm Saturday afternoon….

 

Confucius:  [looking over the menu]  Hmmm. I’ve often wondered what these “Southwestern Eggrolls” are. Ordering them has never served to shed light on the matter. Though they are admittedly tasty.

Buddha:  All is vanity.

Confucius:  Well put, my man. Oh… i suppose i’ll go with the Cobb Salad again. Can’t go wrong with the classics.

Buddha:  To choose that which has endured the whirlwind, in this is wisdom.

Bertie Wooster:  [muscling his way through the crowd to their table]  I say! What a brainy sort of thing to come forth with at the dinner table.

Confucius:  Well, hello! I didn’t see you standing there.

Bertie:  Oh don’t mind me. Just casting about for a place among my fellow man. The restaurant’s a bit crowded at present. They’re working on a table for me. Chuffing waitstaff.

Buddha:  The man who is able to establish himself among his fellows without doing harm is of the….

Confucius:  Yes, yes. Please sit with us, at least until the crowd thins a bit.

Bertie:  Well, i don’t mind if i do.

Confucius:  My name is Kung fu Tzu, and my companion is Lord Shakyamuni.

Bertie:  I say! Pleased to make your acquaintance, and all that, your Lordship. Bertram Wooster here, at your service and all that.

Buddha:  The pains that result from our illusory desires may only be….

Confucius:  Yes, indeed, thank you. [to Bertie]  He can seem a bit like a broken record, until you’ve gotten to know him. After which, he continues to sound like a broken record.

Bertie:  I say!  [hesitating]  You coves wouldn’t happen to be philosophers?

Confucius:  Honored to be of service.  [extends hand in greeting]

Buddha:  To exist is to suffer.

Bertie:  Eh what!

Confucius:  Never mind him. Given the choice between social niceties and a philosophical coup, well, he’s not really familiar with social niceties.

Bertie:  I knew someone like that. Name of Spode. Suffering was his favorite theme–mine in particular.

Confucius:  Spode. Spode. You wouldn’t be referring to S.P. Oder, by any chance?

Bertie:  Nope. Fellow’s name was just plain Spode. Bit of a fascist organizer, cum white supremacist, cum uninvited attender at other people’s social occasions.

Confucius:  Ah. I’ve known the sort of person. Has a great many regrettable opinions about racial superiority, has he?

Bertie:  Precisely. Spode enjoys mowing his property, solely to hear the violets cry out in terror. His idea of a good party is one where a representative of the Master Race is putting it over on someone less masterful.

Buddha:  To master one’s cravings, this is the essence of superior spirituality.

Bertie:  Really? Oh dear. I fear i’ve not given much attention to mastering my cravings. At the Drone’s Club, we rather incline toward inventing new cravings.

Buddha:  It is no matter. You are well on the way to cultivating mindlessness, my son.

Bertie:  I say! Now you’re reminding me of my Aunt Dahlia.

Confucius:  She is a philosopher?

Bertie:  No, but this chap seems to share her view of my mind and its capacities, what?

Confucius:  We owe respect to our elders, even when their words to us are sharp, like the edge of a cultivating tool.

Bertie:  Aunt Dahlia certainly knows her cultivating tools, being something in the way of a gardener.

Confucius:  Indeed! To bring forth wealth from the soil, and to subsist by the sweat of one’s brow: such a life is not inferior to that of kings.

Bertie:   If you say so. Well, i mean to say, Aunt Dahlia doesn’t do much sweating about the brow, except where her prize rose bushes are concerned. She subsists mainly by the sweat of other people’s brows, including my Uncle Tom.

Confucius:  Ah.

Bertie:  Now, if this fellow [indicating the Buddha] had called me a blot, a rodent, a germ and an insect, he would rather have reminded me of my Aunt Agatha.

Confucius:  A woman of high spirits! I should like to meet her.

Bertie:  Enjoy leaping into vats of boiling oil in your leisure hours, eh what?

Confucius:  I beg your pardon?

Bertie:  Oh, just musing. Say, what do philosophers eat when dining out?

Confucius:  [nervously eyeing menu]  Er, the usual. Cobb Salads, that sort of thing. And what do privileged young scions of the English aristocratic class eat?

Bertie:  [also looking over menu]  Hmmm. I’m looking for the roast joint of mutton with roast potatoes, mint sauce  and haricots verts. What a confusing menu! What’s a “Southwestern Eggroll”?

Confucius:  Those are actually quite good. Recommend. We’ll just ignore the deeply confused gridwork of cultural appropriations.

Buddha:  The wheel of samsara can be escaped only through self-denial.

Confucius:  See, even he admits that they’re tasty.

Bertie:  I must say i’m not often in the company of philosophers. Well, there’s Jeeves, of course.

Confucius:  Chi Tzu?

Bertie:  Jeeves. J-E-E-V-E-S. Terribly brainy sort of chap. Reads dusty old volumes for enjoyment. No accounting for tastes, what?

Confucius:  A philosopher, then?

Bertie:  Ra-THER. He knows a good bit more about Schopenhauer and, oh, some of those other brainy chaps than i do about houndstooth tweed.

Confucius:  He sounds wonderful! And you say that you have employed him as your staff philosopher?

Bertie:  Well, not precisely. He’s my valet. You know, keeps the jackets ironed and the tea warm, that sort of thing, ha ha.

Confucius:  [somewhat disapprovingly]  Are you certain that you have employed him in accordance with his gifts?

Bertie:  Well, you know, ha ha.

Confucius:  No matter. You must bring him with you the next time we adventitiously meet at Chili’s for dinner!

Bertie:  Depend on it! And i can ask Jeeves later on what ‘adventitiously’ means.

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