all flockbinkers are treadknicious… and other salient observations

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

Category: Pop Quizzes

Your Fourth Pop Quiz. Let’s Hope You Studied. Oh, Wait.

 

Abstract:  We’re scaling the Pop Quizzes down from ten questions to six questions, so as to accommodate the declining intellectual powers of the internet-dwelling audience. No! Wait. What i meant to say was, it’s just easier to manage a pop quiz when there’s not a sprawling mess of nonsense stretched out in every direction. Wait! No! Doggone it, i’m having a bit of trouble getting my thoughts onto paper here. Anyway, here’s your most recent pop quiz. Enjoy!


 

1. Nonsense and its vicissitudes. Which of the following statements is true of sense and non-sense?

a. Sense is the sort of thing that makes sense, and nonsense doesn’t.

b. Sense is sensible. And nonsense is…non-sensible.

c. Well, jeepers, thus far we don’t really seem to have established anything.

d. Hey, dude, tautological statements are better than no statements at all.

e. The difference between sense and nonsense is kind of similar to the difference between peanut butter and almond butter.

f. Okay, now THAT did not make any sense.

g. Sure, well, maybe it’s YOUR MOM that doesn’t make any sense.

h. Sense is that which can be sensed, whereas nonsense is that which can non be sensed.

i. Sense and nonsense is the name of a popular novel by Jane Austen.

j. I am surrounded by insane people.

 

2. Absurdity is to nonsense as reason is to ___________________ .

a. Nonreason

b. Reasonlessness

c. Treason

d. Rationality

e. Good sense

f. Someone else’s Mom

g. A fork and a knife

h. Six heaping teaspoons of castor oil

i. Dude, you can’t have a heaping teaspoon of castor oil

j. Six heaping teaspoons of castor oil that has been dried into a powder

 

3. The four levels of nonsense delineated in the post “Nonsense and Its Vicissitudes” are:

a. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

b. Maggie and Milly and Molly and May

c. Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo and Chico

d. Height, width, depth, and time

e. What in the WORLD are these people talking about.

f. Pigs are the coolest animals, when you really stop to think about it.

g. Chaos and abaddon, with darkness upon the face of the deep

h. That wasn’t four things, it was three.

i. Your Mom is four things, how about that?

j. [sinks head into hands and heaves a sigh that evokes levels of despair previously undreamed of except in villages that have been saturation-bombed with old issues of Mad magazine for weeks and weeks on end]

 

4. When it comes right down to it, do flockbinkers really have any place in a discussion of philosophy?

a. Yes, indeed.

b. No sirree.

c. Well, yes and no.

d. Neither yes nor no.

e. “Neither yes nor no” isn’t a valid answer to this question.

f. Look here, bozo, how about i set down my answers, and you set down yours, okay?

g. Yes, but without the “indeed” following it.

h. Maybe. You show me what’s in your hand, and i’ll show you what’s in mine, heh heh.

i. These people are disgusting and filthy, and that’s just the site administrators.

j. To err is human, and on top of that, if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with, love the one you’re with, love the one you’re with.

 

5. Which of the following statements may be accurately made regarding nonsense?

a. ‘Nonsense’ may be understood as the opposite of ‘sense’.

b. ‘Nonsense’ may be defined as “that which is contrary to the laws of logic.”

c. Nonsense don’t make much sense, now, do it. Heh heh, heh heh.

d. ‘Nonsense’ my be defined as, “that which… is… Your Mom.”

e. Pee-Wee Herman attempted to have a meaningful conversation with Mr. Bean. What resulted was utter nonsense.

f. Nonsense can be delightful and lovely, tra la la, tra la la, tra la la.

g. Nonsense is what you get when you enroll in Mrs. Vickers’ Gender Studies class.

h. Hey, don’t be trashing Mrs. Vickers now, she puts together a mean zucchini casserole.

i. Do you realize you just complimented a feminist academic on the strength of her cooking.

j. Nonsense is what you’ve got when you ain’t got nothin’ else.

 

6. If you were to line up five Bertrand Russells along the top of a fence, which of the following would obtain?

a. The possibility of five Bertrand Russells existing elsewhere at the same time would be eliminated.

b. The statement “There are not five Bertrand Russells on the fence” would be rendered nonsensical.

c. There couldn’t be five Bertrand Russells, ‘Bertrand Russell’ being an entity of an essentially unitary status.

d. Please tell me i’m having a nightmare.

e. Five Bertrand Russells, each of them immersed in nightmare, cannot at one and the same time be awake or immersed in pleasant dreams.

f. When you’ve got five Bertrand Russells on the top of a fence, now, and here’s the part i’m needing you to pay attention to–it’s the important aspect of the discussion–um—

g. Wut.

h. Okay, now these questions are really getting kind of ridiculous.

i. Maybe it’s Your Mom that’s getting kind of ridiculous.

j. Q.E.D.

 

 

How Long Has It Been Since We’ve Had a Pop Quiz? TOO Long.

 

Abstract:  What’s the point in offering stimulating content, if we’re not making sure that our audience is fully tuned in? Here is the third in our agonizing… er, ongoing… series of delightful, challenging and educational pop quizzes. Have fun! Hope ya studied!

Note: In days of yore, our ‘Fun Quizzes’ used to feature ten questions, each accompanied by ten possible answers. It was borne in upon us that this arrangement was probably a bit much for your typical blog reader. “Omigosh, that’s just so much stuff to look over, i think i’m about to have a cow,” noted Sara, from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Phil, from the D.C. suburbs, added, “You people are dumber than my fox terrier, Ralph,” while Genevieve, from the Tampa Bay area, said, “When i eat a York Peppermint Patty, i get the sensation of being out in the middle of the Sahara Desert.” We may not be philosophically advanced enough to understand Genevieve’s insight, but it sure sounds cool.

 


 

Pop Quiz #3

1. Philosophy is a pursuit often associated with which kinds of people?

a. You totally don’t EVEN want to know.

b. Well, there are two kinds of people in the world.

c. What? ^

d. Intelligent, reflective people who think widely and deeply, and are unsatisfied with glib answers to life’s perennial questions. Also three-headed dwarves with eczema.

e. What?? ^

f. We three kings of orient are / Bearing gifts, we traverse afar / Field and fountain, moor and mountain / Following yonder star.

g. What??? ^

h. Well, the “three kings” thing made about as much sense as any of the other answers.

i. Your MOM is a philosopher.

j. This pop quiz seems to be off to a really dismal start. But maybe that’s just my opinion.

 

2. Which of the following statements are accurate discussions of Ultimate Reality?

a. It is that grid against which all things–that are, in fact, genuine phenomena–occur.

b. It is the cloth within which the universe unfolds.

c. It is the sum total of God and all of His works.

d. It is the collection of all true statements, along with their proper referents.

e. What the heck, man. You people actually talk about this stuff on the regular. Huh.

f. We do indeed, o thou insignificant sosh major.  [snicker]  The sosh major has an opinion! Listen to the sosh major trying to express his opinion!

g. I’m not a sosh major, dude. For your information, i majored in gender dynamics.

h. Ultimate Reality is that which is ultimate, and is also reality. And, um. Y’know.

i. Elizabeth, baby, i’m comin’ to ya. [clutches desperately about his chest area]

j. I cannot EVEN. Seriously.

 

3. If you were to encounter Ultimate Reality stuffed down into a breadbox, which of the following would be appropriate responses?

a. Wut.

b. Wait–isn’t ultimate reality bigger than a breadbox?

c. Yeah, i’m with answer number b. Reality can’t be stuffed into a breadbox.

d. ‘B,’ for what it’s worth, is not a number. It’s a letter. Dumbass.

e. What even. I do not EVEN.

f. It hardly matters, comrades, whether ‘b’ is a letter or a number. What matters is the dictatorship of the proletariat and the throwing off of those shackles formed by our adherence to the values and assumptions of the bourgeois class.

g. Hmmm. Wow. I’m just kind of standing around watching the parade go by.

h. Can you actually stuff Ultimate Reality down into a breadbox? I mean, wouldn’t it be kind of small down in there? I’m just, you know, wondering.

i. They addressed that issue in answers ‘b’ and ‘c’.

j. Oh. Whoops! So they did. My bad.

 

4. True or False: Metaphysics and Ontology both deal with the nature of being.

a. True

b. False

c. Both true and false

d. Neither true nor false

e. Both true and false, only not at the same time

f. True. Kind of. Well, i mean. You know. ‘True.’ Heh heh.

g. There were these six blind men who encountered an elephant, okay. And the first one touches the elephant’s trunk. And he says, “This animal is like a snake.”

h. Your Mom.

i. After all this time, does it really matter?

j. That other kind of false. Not the regular kind.

 

5. It is widely believed that flockbinkers and wamwams have in common the property of being treadknicious. What other attribute(s) do they have in common?

a. Wait, stop. I have some questions about what that word ‘treadknicious’ means.

b. You can’t stop someone in the middle of his quiz just to request a definition of terms.

c. Well, i can and i did. ‘Treadknicious’ is a stupid word. I bet it doesn’t mean anything.

d. For that matter, ‘flockbinker’ and ‘wamwam’ probably don’t mean anything, either.

e. What does ‘treadknicious’ mean?

f. Get with the program, dude. They talked about that already in ‘a’ through ‘c’.

g. Oh. Oops! My bad. Carry on, my brothers and sisters.

h. Well, they have ‘spunk-boobly-osterific-titude’ in common too, if i’m not mistaken.

i. My goodness, is that spunk thing even a real word? I don’t believe i’ve ever heard it.

j. They have Your Mom in common.

 

6. Confucius and the Buddha appear to congregate at Chili’s restaurant with some degree of frequency. Which of the following statements is true of these meetings?

a. Their time together tends to be characterized by profound explorations of the nature of Reality and of the Good Life.

b. Confucius and the Buddha are almost singlehandedly the reason why those ‘Southwestern Eggrolls’ have stayed on the menu all these years. Anybody else eat those?

c. The Buddha likes to make profound-sounding remarks about the relationship between True Mind and the wind blowing and the water flowing, that sort of thing.

d. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I’ve tried it. No dice.

e. You can lead three Scotsmen to a fence, but you can’t make them sit on top of it.

f. Confucius is a cool dude and whatnot, but he’s not very good at running crowd control. What i mean is, Buddha says all this stupid stuff, that’s supposed to sound all profound and whatnot, or whatever, and Confucius just kind of rolls his eyes. Not enough, man! You need to exercise a stronger policy on that kind of nonsense!

g. Someone’s Mom, maybe Yours.

h. Omigosh, enough with the comments about someone’s Mom! I’m dying over here!

i. Confucius and the Buddha are two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The third one may just be Jeff MacDiarmid, who lives in east Trenton, NJ, just got a divorce last year, eats Post Toasties straight out of the box, and is a sort of old-school cobbler.

j. When the Fusch and Big Bud get together, the joint’s about to be jumpin’, that’s all i’ve got to say on the subject.

 

 

The Long-Awaited Flockbinker Pop Quiz #2!

From time to time… well, let’s just be brutally honest, about once every couple of years… the Blogger undertakes to test how closely attentive his readers have been. The first time we offered a pop quiz on this blog (“Your Very First ‘Flockbinkers’ Pop Quiz“) the thing really was a roaring success, and….

The Good Reader:  That’s not how i remember it. I seem to recall that lots of people were seriously bothered by it. Many of your readers found it confusing and pointless. People accused you of mocking the very idea of philosophy. You got hate mail. You even had to devote a whole post to MY objections. And i’m your most devoted fan.

The Blogger:  Oh, golly, The Good Reader, this really isn’t the time or the place….

The Good Reader:  That first Pop Quiz was a bizarre mishmash of random silliness and even more random silliness; and the one thing it was NOT, was an informative test of anybody’s knowledge of philosophy, or of anything else.

The Blogger:  It seems to me that we’ve covered all of this ground before, haven’t we? Anyway, Good Reader, i’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m a changed man. I no longer include strange, sad attempts at humor or oddball bursts of surreal self-referentiality in my quizzes. You’ll see.

The Good Reader:  Hrmmff. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and at least have a look.

The Blogger:  Although, be warned, you know i can’t control what the readers are gonna do once they start taking the quiz and getting into discussions with each other about what the right answers are.

The Good Reader:  No. Just no. Do not do that again. Don’t even think about it. See, that’s just the sort of nonsense that i’m talking about!

The Blogger:  Hey, what? It’s not me doing it, it’s the people taking the quiz! I can’t control people who have free will and internet access.

The Good Reader:  You are so full of baloney! You and i both know that it’s you inventing those “readers” who are “taking the quiz” so that you can get a few cheap laughs.

The Blogger:  Oops, ahem… will you look at the time! Sorry, The Good Reader, i’m afraid we’re gonna have to wrap up this introduction. Onward ho, to the long-awaited follow-up to that first, epic quiz. It’s been a couple of years, and we’ve covered a lot of territory since then!

Your answers, o my faithful readers, to the following ten questions (each with ten possible answers, numbered ‘a’ through ‘j’) should give a fair indication of whether you’ve been paying attention of not.

 

1.  According to this post that went up during the last week of October — later supplemented by this follow-up post (“A Philosopher Hands out Candy — and Philosophy Classics — to Trick-or-Treaters“), which of the following are terrific ideas for something to identify as, for Hallowe’en?

a.  A character that Jane Austen would have included in her novel Persuasion, if only she’d known what she was doing as an author.

b.  An accident over on Aisle Five involving a small child, a rogue shopping cart, and several dozen boxes of breakfast cereal.

c.  A family of five aliens whose civilization has been destroyed by other, even meaner aliens from a neighboring planet.

d.  Your Mom.

e.  A mathematical impossibility.

f.  The vicissitudes of Justin Bieber’s career.

g.  A duck.

h.  The entire inventory of a Dollar Tree.

i.  Conan O’Brien’s haircut.

j.  Conan O’Brien’s bank account, including whatever he’s got hidden away offshore.

 

2.  As represented in a recent post to this blog, which of the following might accurately be said of Confucius and the Buddha when they are dining together in a public restaurant?

a.  Confucius has a rough time getting Buddha to stay on task, i.e. look at the menu and decide what he wants to order.

b.  Buddha has a distressing tendency to say mysterious, metaphysically odd things to the server, who — bless his heart — is just trying to find out what they want to eat.

c.  Confucius and the Buddha are frequently joined by Lao Tzu, Mo Tzu, Mao Tse-Tung, The Wu Tang Clan, Amy Tan, Bruce Lee, Chuck D, and Fred Ho — the proprietor of a little Chinese short order place on Market St.

d.  Buddha has an appalling habit of chewing with his mouth open, a habit which sends Confucius around the bend.

e.  Confucius tends to talk in phrases that sound like they came out of a fortune cookie: i.e. “You will come into an unexpected sum of money.”

f.  Both Confucius and the Buddha tend to order off-menu; for instance, “No, i want you to bring the goat in here and kill it right next to our table so we can see if you’ve done it properly.”

g.  Buddha’s tendency to fade in and out of nirvana is not only problematic for their interactions with the waitstaff, but infuriating to Confucius, who considers such antics to be out of keeping with proper social decorum.

h.  Their favorite restaurant is Panda Express, followed by Logan’s Roadhouse, Taco Bell, and CiCi’s Pizza.

i.  Buddha never tires of pulling out his favorite joke, “Make me one with everything.”

j.  Confucius tends to have a way with the ladies, which may have been all cool and stuff in the 500s BC, but can get you into seriously hot water in the year 2017.

 

3.  Which of these statements is the Buddha unlikely to have said?

a.  The self is an illusion.

b.  The self is an elf on a shelf.

c.  The self is in a state of constant evolution, and is in fact living under an assumed name in a duplex in Des Plaines, Illinois.

d.  Make me One with Everything.

e.  Make me one with two patties — medium-well — double-cheese, hold the lettuce, and could i have some of those little hot peppers?

f.  To achieve enlightenment, you must follow the Noble Eightfold Path.

g.  To achieve enlightenment, you must follow the Yellow Brick Road.

h.  Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

i.  I have heard the sound of one hand clapping… geez, is this an audience, or an oil painting?

j.  To transcend the limitations of the physical form, you must gaze into the yawning emptiness of the infinite abyss… naw, i’m kidding, i’m kidding. Calm down! I didn’t mean it! Jeepers! You people.

 

4.  In a recent post to this blog (The Blogger Encounters the Security Guard), an interesting discussion occurs between two philosophers representing very different walks of life. Which of the following took place during that discussion?

a.  The Blogger is surprised to find a philosopher working security at a medical center.

b.  The Blogger is even more surprised to find a medical center located in the middle of the seventh hole at Bud’s Putt Putt Golf Paradise.

c.  The blogger and the security guard agree that philosophy is no longer popular or well understood among the masses.

d.  The blogger and the security guard agree, furthermore, that the KFC on Highway 2 needs to bring back their all-you-can-scarf-down buffet.

e.  The Security Guard takes out a criminal by sheer force of logical argument.

f.  The Security Guard takes out a criminal by quoting to him the first 357 lines of Beowulf, in the original Anglo-Saxon.

g.  The security guard takes out a criminal and pays for dinner and drinks, but not the movie… who can afford 12 bucks for a movie on a security guard’s wages?

h.  The security guard is frustrated over constantly being mistaken for a moron.

i.  The security guard is frustrated over constantly being mistaken for Kevin James.

j.  The blogger and the security guard discuss the fact that security guards, in general, tend to be viewed as intellectual giants with a vast breadth of knowledge of history, philosophy, the sciences, literature and the fine arts.

 

5.  Logical syllogisms, as represented in the recent post “Now, Boys and Girls, Let’s Look at Some Syllogisms“….

a.  are typically made up of two premises and a conclusion.

b.  are often regarded as the basic building blocks of a logical argument.

c.  are examples of deductive reasoning.

d.  are generally regarded as superior to ‘illogical syllogisms,’ because hey, honestly, what would even be the point?

e.  sometimes get into frustrating conflicts with emotional syllogisms.

f.  are kind of like recipes, and kind of like instruction manuals, and kind of like graphic novels, and kind of like Shakespeare’s play “A Comedy of Errors.”

g.  very often have technical terms in them like ‘flockbinker’ and ‘wamwam’ and ‘throckwhistle’ and ‘ooga-booga.’

h.  were pioneered by classical philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, Peter Abelard, John Duns Scotus, and Christopher Walken.

i.  form the basis for several popular party games.

j.  can be found in the darnedest places, like, oh, for instance, the third stall from the end in the men’s room at the Carmike 18 Theater over on South Terrace Road.

 

6.  Flockbinkers and unicorns…

a.  are probably not the same thing, and certainly don’t hang out at the same nightclubs.

b.  are both (probably) varieties of small slippery fishes with eight legs and a stinger.

c.  have this in common: that they both refuse to eat cheese sandwiches that have had the crust trimmed off.

d.  are rarely seen together in public, but can occasionally be found together on medieval tapestries.

e.  have this in common: that they are both awfully fun to say out loud. I mean, seriously: “Flockbinker.” “Unicorn.”  Dude, i’m in stitches!

f.  are both nonexistent, but in different ways.

g.  Wait, how can two nonexistent things be nonexistent “in different ways?” Either something exists, or it doesn’t.

h.  Well that just shows how much you know about philosophy. Blogger, may i make a suggestion? Perhaps the younger ones should be given a simpler quiz.

i.  “The younger ones”…? Why, you slimeball, i oughta….

j.  Hey guys, sorry to arrive late to the party. May i toss my two cents’ worth in? About nonexistent things being nonexistent in different ways? Like, maybe, Moby-Dick is one kind of nonexistent, and a square circle is a different kind of nonexistent, and an efficiently run government bureau is even a different kind of nonexistent. I’m just spitballin’ here.

j2.  Oh, my gosh, i’m surrounded. These people are everywhere. Beam me up, Scotty.

 

7.  Which of the following statements can accurately be made of ‘Horse People’…? You may refer to this post from a couple of years ago if you need a refresher on what ‘horse people’ are.

a.  Horse People are essentially indistinguishable from unicorn people.

b.  Horse people and unicorn people are two completely different categories. A unicorn person would not be caught dead owning a regular horse, and many horse people don’t even believe in the existence of unicorns.

c.  Horse People are not at all the same people as the people who travel to neighboring planets in a space vehicle made by strapping 40 toaster-ovens together.

d.  Horse People tend often (but not always) to also be into centaurs, though not usually those winged horses, which honestly are not even a real thing.

e.  Horse People constitute one major category of humanity, the other category being ‘guinea pig people.’

f.  Expert opinion is divided on the issue of whether people who would be into horses, if they were ever exposed to one, ought to be considered ‘horse people’ or merely ‘people.’

g.  Horse People generally, and for reasons not yet fully understood, have difficulty distinguishing between flockbinkers and wamwams.

h.  Horse People are not necessarily all that good at navigating taxonomical frameworks.

i.  Horse People can be mighty touchy when you try to apply philosophical analysis to their putative truth-claims.

j.  There is a tiny subset of horse people called “horse with no name people.” These people are often found in deserts and have selective memory issues.

 

8. Which of the following statements would be true in reference to ontology and categories?

a.  Ontology is that branch of philosophy that deals with being: what existence is, what it means for something to exist, what kinds of things there are, and how they are related to each other.

b.  “Ontology, shmontology” is a statement often heard around philosophy conferences.

c.  One of the more interesting debates in ancient and medieval philosophy concerned the question of how ‘real’ categories are. Do categories actually exist, or only the things in them? Are categories mere conveniences that we develop in order to make sense of our world? All of that, by the way, was one answer to the question.

d.  Scattergories is a great game for training kids in the basics of philosophy.

e.  A few more good philosophy games would include “Go Fish,” “Twister,” and “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” Cow tipping is also a favorite.

f.  There are two kinds of people in the world: those who enjoy setting up categories, and those who do not.

g.  Heh heh, i saw what you did there.

h.  Dude, this is a quiz. You can’t just randomly make comments in the section that’s supposed to be for the answers to the questions.

i.  Well, i can, and i just did. Maybe you’d like to try doing something about it.

j.  I have never been more terrified in my life. I am literally trembling in my boots.

j-point-5.  Come over here and say that. Come on. Come on. Let’s see what you got.

j-point-7.  Fellas, fellas, geez, can you take it outside? We’re trying to run a quiz here.

 

9. Which of the following can accurately be said of philosophy?

a.  Philosophy is a fool’s game.

b.  Philosophy is something your mom would probably really get into.

c.  Philosophy is a rapidly disappearing intellectual discipline.

d.  Philosophy is for people who lack the people-skills to go into business, and aren’t coordinated enough to operate heavy machinery.

e.  You’ll very likely be better at Philosophy if you have a Greek or German name, than if your name is, oh, for instance, Donnie McDonald.

f.  Philosophy concerns mainly a bunch of fancy terms and arguments about obscure things like the ontological status of your mom.

g.  Dude, the  references to someone’s mom stopped being funny a long time ago.

h.  Hey, big fella, why don’t you do you. Hmmm? I’ll do me, and you do you.

i.  Please. “You do you” is one of the most incoherent suggestions you can make to somebody, right up there with “be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.”

j.  Watch it, son, now you’re getting personal. I’ve got that one about “be yourself” as wallpaper on my computer screen.

j-and-one-third.  Fellas! Please! Seriously, we’re trying to conduct a quiz here. Take the argument outside.

 

10. Which of the following are characters that have, at some point or another, made an appearance on this blog?

a.  Elvis Wu, the Last Philosophy Major

b.  Little Biffy and Jennifer Smith

c.  Confucius and the Buddha

d.  Smokey and the Bandit

e.  The Captain and Tennille

f.  Three Scotsmen sitting on a fence

g.  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

h.  The Lone Rider of the Apocalypse

i.  The Blogger

j.  The Good Reader

j.1.  The Decent Reader, So Long as the Book Isn’t Too Long

j.2.  The Reader Who Struggles with Words of More than Two Syllables

j.25.  Chuck Norris

j.5.  Your Mom

j.75.  The kid with the wonky nose and a haircut that looks like an abstract sculpture gone terribly wrong, who works at the McDonald’s on E. 3rd Street

j.9.  A mob of crazed orangutans, pelting good boys named ‘James’ with frozen waffles

j.92715.  A mob of boys named ‘James,’ pelting crazed orangutans with frozen waffles

 

Epilogue

The Good Reader:  I knew it. I knew he was going to do it again. I just knew it.

 

 

The Blogger Goes Through Some of His Reader Mail!

As you might have supposed, we get a lot of letters from our enthusiastic readers — as well as from the other 96% of the people who read the blog.  [Ba-dumm-cchh]  It doesn’t take long for the mail to pile up on The Blogger’s desk. As it turns out, there are people all over the English-speaking world who are hungry to learn more about philosophy, and who have found that our modest little blog is the very thing they were looking for. It’s deeply gratifying — it really is. It warms our hearts. We love hearing from our devoted readers… and from the other 96% of the people who stumble across the blog.

We thought it would be a nice idea to share with you a representative sampling of the correspondence we’ve been receiving in recent weeks.

Why don’t we start with this one, from ‘Madison’ in Spokane, Washington.

Hi there, Calling All Flockbinkers blog. I just want you to know that I’m a new reader, and maybe I have a lot to learn about whatever it is you’re doing. But I tried taking your Flockbinker Quiz #1 and I actually got sick afterwards. I don’t mean I felt sick in my soul or anything like that, I mean I actually came down with something and had to stay near the bathroom for two days. Please don’t ever post anything like that again. I promise I will keep reading your blog as long as you never ever post anything like that ever again.

Madison, we really appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts.  We certainly had no intention of traumatizing anybody when we designed and posted that quiz, and we’re sorry that you had a bad experience.  If you’ll drop by our “All Flockbinkers” office sometime, we’ll give you a cup of coffee and let you sit in the comfy chair while holding a small, furry stuffed elephant that we keep on the coffee table.  Hopefully that will make you feel much better.  It usually works for us.

Let’s have a look at another letter from one of our readers.

Hmm. What have we here? ‘Laura,’ a teacher in a classical school in Phoenix, Arizona, has this to say:

I’m an educator. I work really hard to provide a strong educational experience for my students, and to develop good assessment tools to use in determining what they’re getting and what they’re not. When I give them a test, it is a carefully crafted instrument that has been thought through in all of its details. I found your ‘flockbinker quiz’ personally offensive. You are mocking the very idea of teaching and learning. Who do you think you are, Mister Blogger, if that is indeed your real name? Who do you think you are? That’s what I want to know. Who do you think you are?

Laura, Laura, you must calm yourself! So turbulent! Could it be that you tried taking the Flockbinker Quiz #1 and did not do well on it, thus revealing your own need for further study… and you are taking your frustration out on us? We could, of course, be wrong. It’s just one possible explanation among many others.

On to another piece of reader mail.

Alright, here’s ‘Langford’ in Jacksonville, Florida, who wrote us the following:

I’ve recently become interested in the study of philosophy, and was overjoyed to come across your blog! Imagine my dismay when I read through your so-called “Flockbinker Quiz #1” and discovered that you were basically making an idiotic joke of mankind’s earnest search for transcendent meaning across the centuries. I assure you that I shall never darken the door of your blog again. If, that is, a blog is the sort of thing that has a ‘door.’ Hmmm. Must give further thought to this question.

Okay, gosh, Langford, wow, that’s terrific, thank you. Golly.

Perhaps we’ve heard enough on the subject of our recent pop quiz. What ELSE might our devoted readers have on their minds?

This one is from ‘L.J.W.’ in Nashville, Tennessee.

Thanks for posting such interesting content on your blog, o administrator of the “Calling All Flockbinkers” site. I have dutifully followed your blog from the very beginning and it has been a consistently enriching experience.

[Editor’s Note: Now THAT’s what we’re talking about. This is probably the sort of thing that the first three readers meant to communicate, but they were having difficulty getting in touch with their true feelings. L.J.W. then continues:]

One thing I have noticed, though, is that you don’t post very much about the plight of women and minorities. Given the messy circumstances of the current election cycle, and the kinds of public discussion being stirred up as a result, I find it remarkable that you haven’t posted more about the oppression of minorities and women. You’re missing out on a great opportunity. You should devote more of your blog to the discussion of the rights of women and minorities.

Thank you, ‘L’, for your thoughtful contribution. Can it be, though, that it has somehow escaped your notice that “flockbinkers” are a minority group? How many flockbinkers do you encounter on a daily basis? Any at all? None? It’s hard to get any more “minority-status” than that. Flockbinkers (as well as wamwams, unicorns, and some of the other entities featured on the blog) are among the rarest of minorities, and — as we’re sure you will acknowledge — they are hardly ever discussed. It’s almost as it they don’t even exist. As if they are invisible.

To touch on the other point you raised, flockbinkers may be women as well. We’re just not sure. We don’t know. Very little is actually known about flockbinkers, which is one of the reasons why the regular discussion of them on this blog is so important.

Mary, from De Pere, Wisconsin, would like to share the following:

“I have incredibly mixed feelings about how The Good Reader is portrayed on your blog. I feel as if I identify with this person, somehow, and I take it personally when you belittle her and make her the butt of your snooty philosophical jokes. Why do you have to portray The Good Reader as if she had no common sense, just because she is not as comfortable as you are when talking about nonsense and things like flockbinkers and unicorns that don’t exist? You, sir, are no gentleman.”

Wow, Mary… and by the way, we genuinely appreciate hearing from you… don’t you think you’re being kind of harsh? After all, if The Good Reader couldn’t take a bit of good-natured ribbing, why then she wouldn’t be a regular on the blog. She’d be on somebody else’s blog, where she could be assured of being treated with the sort of dignity and kindness that is appropriate to the loyal readership of an internationally recognized website. Apparently she’s not into that kind of thing, though, and who can blame her? It sounds ghastly.

This one is from Wee Baby Bobby, who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. Bobby says,

“Coo, dribble, cough-cough, drool, sneeze, coo, hiccup, yawn.”

All we can say, Bobby, is that you have given voice to what is almost certainly the opinion of most of our readers, many of whom are clearly a bit shy about coming out and saying it. We appreciate your frankness, Bob, and look forward to making your further acquaintance when you’ve taken the time to expand your vocabulary a bit!

And here’s one from Geoffrey, in Kingston-upon-Hull, England.

The fact is, as a lad i was raised on a flockbinker farm and it was my job to take the ‘binkers out to pasture every morning and return them to the fold in the evenings. I was for this reason able to become intimately familiar with their habits, and it is my opinion that your account of them is extremely accurate. I applaud you for getting this kind of information out to the online world.

So… wait.  Um.  Geoffrey, are you actually trying to tell us…

…Oh, just a second, look here. We appear to have another letter from Geoffrey, postmarked a few days later. Let’s see what he has to say in this one.

To Whom It May Concern:  We have reason to believe that you may recently have heard from one of our patients, ‘Geoffrey.’ Would you do us, and him, and his family, the kindness of not encouraging him? ‘Geoffrey’ (not his real name) is a patient here at Foggy Wold Sanitarium for the Mentally Adventurous, And That’s Putting It Mildly. He is not actually supposed to be accessing the internet, and, frankly, we’re not sure how he got on to a computer. It might be helpful to you to know that, when not imagining that he is the child of flockbinker farmers, he will sometimes represent himself as The Knights Who Say ‘Ni’. Not just one of them — all of them, at the same time. We feel that the course of his treatment would be best served if you were to refrain from answering any correspondence you might receive from him.

Respectfully, the Psychiatric Staff
Foggy Wold Sanitarium for the Mentally Adventurous, And That’s Putting It Mildly

Well. The less said on this score, the better.

Finally, we have a letter from Leticia, in Windsor, Ontario. It is apparently Leticia’s opinion that…

…your blog is one of the most entertaining and informative things I’ve come across in a long while on the internet. In comparison with your lively and witty content, everything else I read online seems like a featureless, waterless desert.

Gosh, thanks there, Leticia! Even if we did made you up out of thin air in order to salvage this post, your kind approbation still means a great deal to us. Look here, we’ll take whatever we can get.

And thus we bring to an end this episode of “Reader Mail.” The next time we share with you some of the letters we’ve gotten from our readers, it will not be right on the heels of a Quiz that a large proportion of our readership seems to have struggled with. Ahem.

The Good Reader Registers a Complaint About Flockbinker Pop Quiz #1

Last week — much to the delight of many of you, if the stacks of Reader Mail covering my desk are any indication — we regaled you with your very first Pop Quiz.  Flockbinker Pop Quiz #1.  And oh, it was a thing of beauty.  Ten multiple-choice questions featuring ten options each.  We covered a number of exciting topics, including the various branches of philosophy, the classic flockbinker syllogism, and the ontological status of unicorns.

Well, as they say, into every life a little rain must fall, and too many cooks spoil the broth, and a stitch in time saves nine, and there’s no business like show business, and old age ain’t for sissies. My point is this: No sooner had the ink dried on that Pop Quiz (our first, in case i have neglected to mention it), than the Good Reader contacted me to lodge an objection.  I shall try to reconstruct the conversation as best i can from memory.

The Good Reader:  I’d like to register a complaint about your so-called ‘Pop Quiz’.

The Blogger:  Say it isn’t so!  Why, Good Reader, you’re my number one fan!  What can you possibly have found to object to in so carefully thought-through and fastidiously worded an academic instrument?

The Good Reader:  It was nonsense from beginning to end, that’s what!

The Blogger:  If that’s your objection, you clearly haven’t been paying much attention to this blog for the past three years.

The Good Reader:  Oh no, i have.  And you’re right.  Every single post you foist upon your unsuspecting public is just stuffed with nonsense.  But, oh, i dunno, it usually seems justified somehow.  It’s like, you’re combining philosophy and comedy, while working off the effects of your psychiatric medications. That i can deal with.

The Blogger:  I’m not on any psychiatric medications.

The Good Reader:  No?  Well, that does explain a few things.  Your doctor is falling down on the job.

The Blogger:  Ahem.  We were talking about your objections to the Pop Quiz.

The Good Reader:  I don’t think it was a ‘pop quiz’ at all!  It was a chaotic explosion of seemingly endless silliness and horrible meaningless randomness.

The Blogger:  I take it your impression was a negative one.

The Good Reader:  Look here, blogger-fellow, if you’re going to call something a ‘quiz,’ you’re leading people to believe that there will be educational value attached to it.  Right?  But that one was just, i mean, it was, just, just, a lot of nonsense.

The Blogger:  It had a great deal of educational value!  It was about philosophy.  It was about logic.  It was about existence!

The Good Reader:  It was about ten questions too long.

The Blogger:  You’re being needlessly harsh, o Good Reader.  Surely you must have gained something from taking the quiz.  You… you did take it, didn’t you?

The Good Reader:  I looked at every question and read all of the answers you provided, if that’s what you mean by “taking” the quiz.

The Blogger:  Excellent!  I bet you were considerably smarter after taking it than you had been before.

The Good Reader:  Probably not. In fact, i feel like my I.Q. dropped about 20 points from the time i started to the time i got to the end.  I was barely able to remember how to turn off my computer.

The Blogger:  Were there certain questions that you particularly objected to?

The Good Reader:  The first few weren’t so bad; they actually had something to do with philosophy.  And there were at least a few useful answers provided. But then it got more and more ridiculous.  Really, blogger-person, you should be ashamed of yourself.

The Blogger:  Ah, i see the difficulty.  You object to the use of humor in making philosophy more palatable to the average reader.  You feel that the quiz ought to have been more serious.  “Too much frivolity!” is your battle-cry.  “What do you offer the seriously committed, sober-minded lover of philosophical study?”  Bypass the lighthearted banter and get straight to the Big Questions: that’s your way of thinking.  You believe in diving right into the deep end of the pool.  I bet you drink your whiskey straight.

The Good Reader:  I only took up drinking whiskey after the traumatic experience of reading through that so-called pop quiz.

The Blogger:  But you say you approved of the first few questions?

The Good Reader:  No, not at all, it’s just that i wasn’t profoundly traumatized by the first few questions.  They at least offered a few real answers, hidden in there among the references to Justin Bieber and the Darwin Awards.  And the graffiti in bathroom stalls.

The Blogger:  But then things got a bit thick, is that what you’re saying?

The Good Reader:  About halfway through, you started putting in “answers” that were supposed to be comments from readers.  Seriously?  How does that make any sense?

The Blogger:  Well, it is a little hard to explain, isn’t it.  Who can understand the complex ways of the internet?

The Good Reader:  And then they started arguing with each other.

The Blogger:  Yes.  That was unfortunate.

The Good Reader:  Right there in the middle of the quiz.  You had your readers arguing with each other in the answer sections.

The Blogger:  I have feisty readers.

The Good Reader:  But it was YOU writing all of that stuff!  Don’t pretend it wasn’t.  You’re not actually wanting me to believe that there were real people getting into fights on your so-called pop quiz?  You wrote the questions, and you wrote the answers.

The Blogger:  Well, it’s complicated.

The Good Reader:  That’s your go-to remark when you don’t feel like explaining yourself.

The Blogger:  Perhaps it should suffice to say that, yes, i wrote the questions and answers… but at another level of discourse, there were actual readers interacting with the questions and grappling with them, and offering their commentary aloud as they did so.

The Good Reader:  Ho hum, yada yada yada.

The Blogger:  Good Reader.  Your tone is unbecoming.

The Good Reader:  You had your readers saying things like, “ontology, shmontology” to each other in the middle of what was supposed to be a test.

The Blogger:  My quizzes are lively community affairs, like a block party.  Everybody wants to show up.  The joint gets to jumpin’.  A typical Flockbinker Quiz is like a really happenin’ social scene with music and laughter and dancing and people drinking too much.

The Good Reader:  The only thing “happenin” was that you made up a bunch of totally fictional readers that you don’t even have, and made it sound like they were arguing about something that Bertrand Russell said, whoever that is.

The Blogger:  Only one of the most important philosophers of the modern period.  He–

The Good Reader:  And to top it all off, you slipped me in there, and you made me sound ridiculous.  You put words into my mouth.

The Blogger:  Unlike what i’m doing right now.

The Good Reader:  Don’t interrupt.  You made it sound like i was fumbling through a really stupid attempt to define a unicorn.  You know what?  I know what your problem is.  You’ve never forgiven me for that time when we were talking about unicorns and i embarrassed you because you couldn’t explain the difference between The Good Reader(1) and The Good Reader(3).

[Editor’s Note: The Good Reader is referring to an incident that occurred in this post from July of 2013. S/he clearly has a long memory and a problem with letting things go. Some people are quite unwilling to let the past be the past.]

The Blogger:  It’s really never helpful to bring up the past.

The Good Reader:  Yes, that’s what you just now said in the sly editorial comment that you slipped in there in those brackets, thinking i wouldn’t see it.

The Blogger:  Oops.

The Good Reader:  So i guess the main thing that bothers me about your so-called pop quiz is that you used it as yet another instrument for making me look stupid.

The Blogger:  O Good Reader, so that’s what this is really all about!  I was incautious in my use of you as an example in one of the answers, and i hurt your feelings!  Golly, i’m sorry.

The Good Reader:  Well, i suppose i can choose to overlook it this one time, so long as you promise never to let it happen again.

The Blogger:  Absolutely.  I’m a changed man.  Gone are the days when i used to feature you as an example of someone with really elementary powers of reasoning, struggling to discuss things that are far beyond her capacities.  From now on, i’ll have you saying things that are easily within your somewhat limited intellectual reach.

The Good Reader:  Oh my word, you just did it again, just now, five seconds after promising you would never do it again!

The Blogger:  What?  What’d i say?

 

 

Your Very First “Flockbinkers” Pop Quiz.

 

Alrighty, boys and girls, it’s time for a pop quiz. (You knew this was going to happen eventually, and i shall be most disappointed if i find that you’ve not been paying attention.)  Put your books away, take out a pencil and a sheet of paper, and let’s begin.


Question #1:  Which of the following are NOT branches of philosophy?  Select all that apply.

A.  Epistemology

B.  Axiology

C.  Astrology

D.  Metaphysics

E.  Betaphyshics

F.  Ethics

G.  Justin Bieber’s Greatest Hits

H.  Logic

I.  Endocrinology

J.  Whatever Eckhart Tolle’s latest book is about

 

Question #2:  In which of these places are you NOT likely to find real philosophy?

A.  The dialogues of Plato

B.  The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas

C.  The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus of Ludwig Wittgenstein

D.  The poetry of Alexander Pope, Matthew Arnold and T.S. Eliot

E.  The “Intro to Philosophy” class at many state universities

F.  The “Philosophy” section at Barnes and Noble

G.  David Letterman’s interviews with Julia Roberts

H.  Facebook memes (with or without the obligatory misspellings, incorrectly used apostrophes and grammatical monstrosities)

I.  In the second stall from the end, in the men’s room at the Imperial Golden House #2.

J.  The pontifications of that barista who likes to begin every statement with, “Well, MY philosophy is….”

 

Question #3:  Which of the following are NOT functions of logic?

A.  Increasing clarity and reducing misunderstanding

B.  Creating a clear path from evidence to conclusion

C.  Guaranteeing the truth or falsity of propositions

D.  Furnishing a set of tools by which you can sound all fancy and stuff

E.  Creating an environment in which the Darwin Awards are possible

F.  Enabling you to demonstrate that your opponent is an idiot

G.  Enabling you to (inadvertently) demonstrate that you are an idiot

H.  Slicing, dicing, and making julienne fries

I.  Forging an insanely dense, turgid and confused mass of incomprehensible language where a perfectly ordinary conversation might have worked just as well

J.  Enabling the speaker to introduce nonsense terms like “treadknicious” and “inflammable” into the discussion

 

Question #4:  Complete the following sentence. You may select more than one answer. You may NOT select answer (G).  Somebody’s been hacking my WordPress…

“All Flockbinkers are ___________________ .”

A.  nonexistent

B.  extinct

C.  doing quite well, thank you, and living in a condo in Miami Beach

D.  rather a ridiculous thing to be taking up precious conversational time with, don’t you think? I mean, honestly.

E.  of uncertain ontological status

F.  related in ways we do not fully understand to wamwams

G.  symptomatic of The Blogger’s unique psychopathology

H.  treadknicious

I.  your mom

J.  oh, wow, that last one was pretty mature, wasn’t it

 

Question #5:  True, false, neither, or both?

“The present king of France is bald.”

A.  False: French men don’t go bald

B.  False: There is currently no French king.

C.  Do we mean “publicly bald” or “actually bald”?  I’ve heard he wears a hairpiece.

D.  Neither: There is currently no French king

E.  Yeah, okay, so somebody’s been channeling Bertrand Russell

F.  Bertrand Russell shmertrand russell, it’s a straightforward case of a bogus question involving a non-referential term

G.  I have no idea what those last two guys are talking about, i’m going with “true.”

H.  Okay, so there’s only one left, i’ll take “both.”

I.  It can’t possibly be “both.” A statement cannot be both true and untrue at the same time. That’s basic Aristotelian logic.

J.  What do i know from Aristotelian logic?  I was a sohsh major.  I’m going with “both.”

 

Question #6:  Select all that apply.

The term ‘ontology’…

A.  means “an area of study that deals with being or identity”

B.  is a branch of philosophy similar to metaphysics

C.  is a branch of philosophy that is sometimes presented as a subcategory under metaphysics

D.  is a branch of philosophy under which metaphysics is sometimes presented as a subcategory

E.  Let me get this straight, some of you people actually talk like this on a regular basis?

F.  sounds almost like a branch of medicine

G.  is the science that studies new dinosaurs

H.  Get it? “Paleontology” studies prehistoric dinosaurs, and “ontology” studies the new ones.

I.  I’m guessing here, does it mean the study of elderly female relatives? I’m totally guessing.

J.  rhymes with “shmontology,” thus making possible the poem: “ontology, shmontology.”

 

Question #7:  Complete the following sentence. You may select more than one answer.

“The unicorn is an entity that ___________________ .”

A.  shares certain attributes in common with the flockbinker

B.  can be found throughout world literature and myth

C.  is of uncertain ontological status

D.  Dude, the same people who talk about unicorns do not use the word “entity.”

E.  can be used to trip up The Good Reader into saying self-contradictory things

F.  is often pictured communing with a virgin on medieval tapestries

G.  if it existed, would be kind of cool

H.  if it existed, would be a horror past all imagining

I.  is a favorite animal among those who self-identify as “horse-people”

J.  “…has a single horn growing out of its forehead. Except, well, you see, it doesn’t, because unicorns aren’t real. Well, it’s complicated. Darn it, you tripped me up again!”

 

Question #8:  Complete the following syllogism.

Some broomshovelers are hobnobbicus.

All broomshovelers are froombicious.

Therefore, _____________________ .

A.  some things that are hobnobbicus are also froombicious.

B.  You have got to be kidding me.

C.  No, it’s a serious logic exercise.

D.  How can something with nonsense words be a logic exercise?  That’s totally illogical.  heh heh.

E.  No, it’s not totally illogical. Non-referential terms can be used as placeholders to illustrate various kinds of logical relationships.

F.  Whatever.

G.  I’m guessing that “whatever,” in the present instance, means “i’m not capable of grasping the nuances of structured philosophical discourse.”

H.  Yeah, well, i’ve got your structured philosophical discourse right here, pal.

I.  Hey, can y’all take the argument offline, please?  I’m trying to figure out the answer to the dude’s question.

J.  I just got here. Sorry i’m late, everybody! Hey, did i hear somebody say “broomshovelers”?  Funny!  I’m actually studying that at the community college. Small world.

 

Question #9:  True, false, neither, both, or both neither and both?

“A flockbinker does not have to exist in order to be treadknicious.”

A.  That’s silly. How can something that doesn’t exist be “trebulishus” or anything else?

B.  You have to pick one of the five options he gave you.

C.  I did. What part of “that’s silly” doesn’t pretty much mean “false”?

D.  We’re all philosophers here. Precision is kind of a big deal.

E.  Guys, The Blogger here. Can you please refrain from using up all the answers with your bickering?  I only get to put in ten answers per question.

F.  You’re The Blogger, how do you not get as many answers per question as you want to include?  Hmmmm?

G.  Hey fellas, i’ll take a stab at it. “Neither.”  ‘Cause a flockbinker doesn’t exist and also isn’t treadknicious.

H.  Oh my word. Kill me now.

I.  What, that wasn’t the right answer? I thought it made perfect sense.

J.  Let me try. I’m going with “both neither and both,” on account of it sounds like the most complicated answer, and it’s a complicated question.

J 1/2.  He only included that one to be absurd. I’m pretty sure he didn’t expect anyone to select it.

J 2/3.  Well, it’s my answer and i’m sticking to it.

J 4/5.  By the way, o mighty Blogger, don’t think we haven’t noticed that you’re stretching out the answers.

 

Question #10:  Fill in the blank. Choose all answers that apply.

“There are two kinds of people in the world: dog-people and horse-people. We only threw in the dog-people to make the question seem more involved than it really is. You can lead a horse-person to water, but you cannot  ________________________ .”

A.  make him drink it.

B.  make his horse drink it.

C.  take the risk of attaching either the pronoun ‘he’ or the pronoun ‘she’ to ‘horse-person,’ because ‘horse-person’ is a gender-indefinite term.

D.  Well, traditionally, ‘he’ has been used as the gender-indefinite pronoun in English.

E.  Your respect for tradition is endearing! I bet you knit your own sweaters, too. Welcome to the 21st century! We’ve kind of moved beyond sexist grammar.

F.  There’s nothing ‘sexist’ about having an indefinite pronoun that happens to be the same word that, in other contexts, would be a masculine pronoun.

G.  The Blogger: Fellas, fellas, please!  Take the argument outside.  I’m really trying to run a quiz here.

H.  “Fellas”…?  What makes you think we’re both men?

I.  I was using the word ‘fellas’ in its gender-inclusive sense.

J.  The word ‘fellas’ does not have a gender-inclusive sense, dude. It’s a masculine-reference noun, admittedly idiomatic in nature but nevertheless conventionally masculine.

J.5.  You called me “dude.”

J.7.  What?

J.8.  You called me “dude.”  How do you know i’m a fella?

J.9.  I read your bio, dude.

J.995.  Oh, that’s right.  Blast.  Thought i had you.

 

 

 

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