all flockbinkers are treadknicious… and other salient observations

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

Tag: flockbinker

Important Announcement Regarding New Flockbinker Schedule. No! Seriously!

 

Abstract:  In which the Blogger puts on his ‘gosh, i really mean it’ hat and launches into a discussion of the… well, what has historically been a somewhat funky posting schedule for the “All Flockbinkers” blog… and the possible advantages to setting it on a regular, weekly footing.


 

The blog “All Flockbinkers Are Treadknicious… And Other Salient Observations” has been online for several years now. However, as i look at my blog posting counter i see that we’ve only posted to it about 70 times. There’s a perfectly good reason for this: The Blogger’s inability to manage his life in a way that is reasonable or structured. No! Wait! That’s not what i was going to say! [The] Good Reader, are you messing around with my computer interface again?

 

The Good Reader:  Me? Naw. That’s not the sort of thing i would ever do. Heh heh heh.

The Blogger:  Well, let’s just hope so! Because i’m about to make an important announcement!

The Good Reader:  Blogger, if you have something important to say, i’ll just sit here as quiet as a mouse and respectfully listen to the gushing stream of nourishing wisdom that is doubtless about to come bursting forth from your honeyed lips.

The Blogger:  Well, i’ll be blowed.  [momentarily forgets what he was going to say, while turning seventeen shades of red]  Ahem. Well! Here’s the announcement. This blog is becoming just a wee bit more popular these days, which puts me in mind of the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but too many cooks spoil the broth.”

The Good Reader:  Sorry Blogger. That’s not actually a saying.

The Blogger:  It is!  [makes his worst pouty face]  You always want to ruin everything. You said you were going to stay quiet.

The Good Reader:  Oops. Sorry. It just sort of popped out. Anyway, i think what you were wanting to say is that some changes may be afoot, since you now have more than three-and-a-half people reading your blog.

The Blogger:  Um. That’s not the way i’d have wanted to put it, but yes. Something like that. Some changes may be afoot.

The Good Reader:  That sounds terrific! What kind of thing did you have in mind? Are you considering adopting a policy of only saying things that make sense?

The Blogger:  Well, that’s not it exactly… Hey! Waittasecond! You scoundrel! Stop it! You’re goofing up my important announcement!

The Good Reader:  Sorry. No, you’re right, i shouldn’t do that to you while you’re trying to communicate with your wee little handful of readers. I’ll just sit here while you talk.

The Blogger:  Well, okay then. Here’s the announcement: I’m thinking of moving this blog to a regular, once-a-week schedule, and posting at the same time every week, so my followers will have a better idea of when the new posts are going up.

The Good Reader:  That sounds terrific! Consistency is always a good thing. I bet your readers–all three and a half of them–will genuinely appreciate a more regular, predictable schedule of postings!

The Blogger:  That’s exactly what i’ve been thinking. (Most of it, grrr.) And the expert voices in the area of internet dynamics seem to think so, too.  From what i’ve read, a weekly schedule of blog posting would be a good rhythm for this Flockbinker journal to fall into.

The Good Reader:  I have to say, i completely agree. Up until the past few months or so, your posting schedule has tended to resemble the flight of the phoenix.

The Blogger:  But the phoenix is a fictional bird.

The Good Reader:  My point exactly.

The Blogger:  Oh. Right. Okay. So, anyway, beginning right around this month or so, i’m going to move these blog posts to a regular weekly schedule. I think i’ll still experiment with various times of day, just to see when the greatest number of readers seems to be available. But i’m going to try and keep the postings to the same day every week.

The Good Reader:  Well, you know what they say: A stitch in time, and then what the cat drags in.

The Blogger:  What? That didn’t make any sense at all!

The Good Reader:  Oops. Sorry. I can’t imagine what i was thinking.

 

Epilogue

So–seriously, guys–i’m gonna try to get this blog onto a regular, weekly posting schedule from now on. If you have any input for me about the ideal time to post new material during the week, please be in touch! And i love each of you as if you were my own fourth cousin, twice removed!

 

 

‘Flockbinker’ Sort of Rhymes with ‘Spock Finger.’ I Feel This Must Be Significant.

 

Abstract:  *Yawn*  Yet another exploration of the ontology of flockbinkers. But! This time we examine the issue through the eyes (or finger) of a Vulcan, which i suppose DOES make things a bit more interesting. What do Vulcans know, or believe, about flockbinkers? A topic well worth considering!

A Random Vulcan:  Please note that a Vulcan does not ‘believe’ anything for which he does not have sufficient logical warrant.

Abstract, continued:  Uh, well, there ya go! Okay! On with the show!


 

Mister Spock, of Star Trek fame, enters from stage left, in a contemplative mood. He is joined by his father, Sarek, and his Mom, Amanda, entering from stage right.

 

Spock:  [muttering to himself]  The nature of flockbinkers. Hmm. It is, indeed, an interesting question.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I am gratified, Spock, to hear that your mind is engaged in substantial pursuits.

Spock:  Indeed. Ontology has always seemed an engaging area for exploration.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  My mind is not entirely clear, my son, regarding the issue we are to discuss.

Spock:  It is the question of the existence and nature of flockbinkers. Are they real entities, and if so, what are their attributes?

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I must confess to being no less in the dark now, than i was 15 seconds ago.

Spock’s Mom, Amanda:  Sweetie, Spock’s friends are wanting to play an interesting game with him. I’m not sure that you need to take it so very seriously.

Spock:  It is perhaps a more important issue than you are assuming, mother. There are those who believe that a correct understanding of flockbinkers is directly connected to the mastery of the self, the eradication of evil, and the fostering of world peace.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I am astonished to hear that so abstruse a discussion is believed to have such concrete implications!

Spock:  [whispering]  Just play along, Dad. I suspect it’s actually kind of a stupid topic.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  Aaahh. I see. This conversation is at last making a modicum of sense to me.

Spock:  Indeed.

Spock’s Mom, Amanda:  At least it’s an interesting subject to occupy a delightful Spring afternoon!

Sarek and Spock:  Indeed.

[enter random girl-dude vulcan and miscellaneous vulcan feller]

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  Do you mind if i chime in?

Spock:  By all means.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  Well, it seems to me that if we had an actual specimen of a flockbinker here with us, we might study it and answer at least some our questions.

Spock:  There would seem to be much truth in what you say.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  Well, so where do we find one? Is it a swamp-dwelling creature? There’s a nasty marshy area just a little ways from here.

Spock:  I am very much afraid that the issue may be more difficult than you have anticipated.

Miscellaneous Vulcan Feller:  Difficult? What do you mean ‘difficult’? We bag a flockbinker and we study it! You people are so dang philosophical.

Spock:  It is, i fear, a much more complicated discussion that you have anticipated. For, you see, flockbinkers (according to those experts who view themselves as qualified to address the topic) are not… er, physical… in the same way that you and i are.

Miscellaneous Vulcan Feller:  Flockbinkers are not… physical. Riiiiight. I get it. There’s a hidden camera, isn’t there.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  Are you saying that a flockbinker is not a physical being, but is more like an energy field or a point of pure consciousness?

Spock:  Um: No.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  A flockbinker, then, is a kind of crystalline structure embodying certain living characteristics?

Spock:  Uh: Nah. Nice try.

Miscellaneous Vulcan Feller:  [whispering]  You’re just encouraging him. Dude has obviously been smoking the ol’ Andromedan parsley.

Spock’s Mom, Amanda:  Oh, Spockie would never touch that stuff. We raised him better than that, i can tell you!

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  So, Mister Spock, the curiosity is killing me! What IS a flockbinker?

Spock:  Well, that–um–is where it gets a bit complicated.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  Oohh, i love a logical conundrum!

Spock:  Erf. Oh boy.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I am as curious as these young people are, my son! Can you not characterize this ‘flockbinker’ in a manner consistent with logic?

Spock:  Well, that’s the problem, Dad: the available documents seem to present a profile of the flockbinker that is anything but consistent with logical rigor.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  But… but… how can this be?

Spock:  Regrettably, the only materials we have relative to the nature of flockbinkers are to be found on a weblog run by a 20th century human whose grasp of even the basics of logic seems highly suspect.

Miscellaneous Vulcan Feller:  What is it with you guys! Come on, let’s have a look at the evidence. Surely we can come up with SOMETHING.  

Spock:  Your enthusiasm, though commendable, is perhaps not well founded.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  Well, it can’t hurt to simply examine the evidence.

Spock: [sigh]  Alrighty then. Here goes.  [he pulls out a manila folder and removes a sheet of paper]  First piece of evidence. This one’s from a couple of years ago. It says, “Whoah! Dude! So it appears that flockbinkers are not quite so gnarly as expert opinion has asserted! Them stuffed shirts can stuff it right HERE!!”  

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I am afraid i don’t understand. Gnarly?

Spock:  Dad, it only gets worse. Here’s another snippet, from a few months later: “So, as nearly as we can tell, an entity can be classed as a ‘flockbinker’ if it… wait! What was that? Was that the opening chorus from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio?”

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  Wait. What did he say a flockbinker is?

Spock:  He didn’t. He appears to have gotten distracted by music playing in the next apartment.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I… I don’t even.

Spock:  Oh, we haven’t even scratched the bottom yet. Here’s document number three: “Oh my stars and garters, i believe that may be a flockbinker roosting out in my back yard! No. Wait. Sorry. Apparently my neighbor’s laundry has blown over the fence.”

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I fear i must sit down.

Spock:  You and me both, Pop. 

Spock’s Mom, Amanda: Well, this information may not turn out to be useful, but at least we’re finding out that the experts have been working on the issue for several years now. That’s important, isn’t it?  

Spock:  You take a refreshingly positive interpretation, mother.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  So, let me be sure i understand. We do know that there is such a thing as a flockbinker, right? Not just from these moronic documents, but from other sources?  

Miscellaneous Vulcan Feller:  Man, i haven’t had this much fun since the master at our academy accidentally burned his own hand off with his own phaser!  

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  Ugh, you are so vulgar. So here’s the real question: do we have any concrete, credible evidence to the effect that flockbinkers are even real? And not just the figments of some middle-aged blogger’s diseased imagination?  

Miscellaneous Vulcan Feller:  [mumbling]  I am not vulgar. He really did zap his own hand off. It was so cool.

Spock:  I am afraid that we do not. Whatever evidence there is, appears to be contained in… [he grimaces in a most un-Vulcan-like manner]… this folder.

Random Girl-dude Vulcan:  So what reasons do we have for even crediting their existence? One mentally unstable blogger mentions them in a few of his editorials, that’s not much evidence. 

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I fear i am in agreement with this young one, Spock. Is there no further evidence?

Spock:  There does not appear to be, father. And yet….

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  Yes, my son?

Spock:  And yet i feel strangely compelled to believe.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I am tempted to interpret this as the influence of your human side.

Spock’s Mom, Amanda:  Well jeepers, dear, you say that as if it was a bad thing.

Spock’s Dad, Sarek:  I feel compelled to plead ‘no comment’.

 

Conclusion

And it turned out to be the case, indeed, that Spock (perhaps lulled into complacency by his human side) devoted much of his time during the next several years to research into the reality and nature of flockbinkers. The summary of his findings may be found in the archives of the Central Library on the planet Vulcan, under the title: “Flockbinkers: A Review of Certain Researches into Their Ontological Status, Physical Characteristics, Habits, and Method of Obtaining Food on Those Occasions When a Handi-Mart Does Not Happen to Be Open in the Vicinity.”

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on the Oft-Neglected Wamwam

 

Abstract:  In which some attempt is made to discuss wamwams: to establish their ontological status, distinguish them from flockbinkers (and woodoos and frou-frous and humma-hummas and bumma-bummas and blastcabbages and CharlesBabbages and Your Mom and a long list of everything else), to figure out what exactly makes them tick, and to discover what sorts of things they pick up when they go to the supermarket.


 

One of the ongoingly vexing things about this blog, is that we keep using terms that we don’t even know the meanings of.

(No, wait. That can’t be right.)

What we meant to say, is that we sometimes speak of things about which many people have a somewhat limited understanding.

(There. That’s much better.)

One of these somewhat abstruse terms is “wamwam.” It you’re a follower of the blog, you’ve seen this word appear on numerous occasions, and you may have been as confused as we are about what it means.

(No, wait. That’s not at all what we meant to say.)

What we meant to say, is that the term “wamwam” is a somewhat difficult one, requiring a delicate linguistic touch and a healthy dose of philosophical insight.

So: Why don’t we devote the current post to an examination of this term, “wamwam,” with the hope of arriving at some even remote understanding of what the blasted term means?

(No, wait.)

 

The Good Reader:  Howdy there, Blogger! I see that i’ve arrived at just the right time to get in some good discussion of some of your favorite meaningless terms.

The Blogger:  Howdy, The Good Reader! Your wit appears to be as sharp as ever.

The Good Reader:  You flatter me. [smiles sweetly]

The Blogger:  So, how do you view our prospects for solving the mystery of the humble wamwam?

The Good Reader:  Far as i’m concerned, there’s no mystery at all.

The Blogger:  Seriously? Why this IS good news? What do you have to tell us about wamwams? Do enlighten us!

The Good Reader:  Sure thing. They don’t exist.

The Blogger:  Wha– um, i mean– surely you can’t–

The Good Reader:  They are as fictional as the unicorn.

The Blogger:  Well now, um, as we’ve seen in an earlier one of these posts to the All Flockbinkers blog, unicorns aren’t actually fictional. They’re something more like, oh, “archetypal” or “ontologically scrappy” or “they show up on weekends and certain holidays.”

The Good Reader:  Um.

The Blogger:  Seriously, unicorns aren’t fictional. They’re more like, oh, “trans-existent.” Or maybe, “provisional.” Or i dunno, maybe, “sorta missional”…?

The Good Reader:  Okay. Anyway, you were wanting to talk about wamwams.

The Blogger:  Um, yes, of course. Wamwams. One of the more real entities featured in that astonishingly diverse body of materials that we call “the universe.”

The Good Reader:  Um.

The Blogger:  So. I was thinking that i might enumerate some of the things that we know to be true about wamwams, maybe?

The Good Reader:  Knock yourself out. My movie doesn’t start for another hour.

The Blogger:  Cool! Well, the first thing that most people would think of, when the term “wamwam” is mentioned, would be, “it’s somehow related to flockbinkers.”

The Good Reader:  Um. That doesn’t establish it as a real thing. Quite the opposite, really.

The Blogger:  Oh, please, stop! Your ignorance of even the most basic principles of philosophy is showing itself.

The Good Reader:  Okay.

The Blogger:  So flockbinkers and wamwams are part of the same family, let’s say. They both fit into a similar category of reality.

The Good Reader:  Like, “Words that are fun to say when you’re wanting to get a laugh out of a classroom full of third graders?”

The Blogger:  I shall ignore that highly ignorant remark.

The Good Reader:  Knock yourself out.

The Blogger:  You say that with distressing regularity. Anyway, flockbinkers and wamwams are what we might want to call “ontological cousins”–they belong to a similar sector of reality. But they’re not the same thing.

The Good Reader:  No, of course not. Not at *all* the same thing.

The Blogger:  No. So what we’re wanting to do here, is to establish what exactly is unique about wamwams–how they are different from flockbinkers.

The Good Reader:  Okay.

The Blogger:  Um, well, first-off, i think we can say that–

A Flockbinker:  [appears out of nowhere]  Howdy.

[The flockbinker disappears in a puff of smoke]

The Good Reader:  Wait. Was that a flockbinker?

The Blogger:  It was indeed! Sorry about the brevity of his greeting. Flockbinkers tend not to be very talkative.

The Good Reader:  But… i mean… golly… what i mean is… he’s actually real?

The Blogger:  Well, of COURSE he is! What do you think we’ve been talking about all these years?

The Good Reader:  I figured i was just patiently indulging the ravings of your fevered brain as it attempted to sort through things it had absorbed in nursery school.

The Blogger:  Oh no. No no. There’s nothing fevered about MY brain! Flockbinkers are very real indeed! And–here’s the point we’re interested in right now–so are wamwams.

The Good Reader:  [muttering to herself]  Golly. Something to think about.

The Blogger:  Um, indeed, and furthermore–

[enter none other than the Three Scotsmen!]

Scotsman #1:  I see you’re addressin’ the abstruse philosophical themes agayne.

Scotsman #2:  It’s the kind o’ thing that really gets me blood up! Whooh!

Scotsman #3:  Sittin’ on a fence.

The Good Reader:  Oh my word. WHAT do we have here.

The Blogger:  You can’t tell me you’ve never met the Three Scotsmen? You’ve been on this blog for, how long now? I’d have figured you would have crossed paths with ’em at some point.

The Good Reader:  No, i don’t think so. I’d have remembered it, i’m pretty sure.

The Blogger:  Well, there there are, in all their Celtic glory.

[the three Scotsmen beam congenially]

The Good Reader:  That second one is kind of handsome.

The Blogger:  I cannot think of a less relevant observation, The Good Reader. You surprise me.

The Good Reader:  Hey, i’m just sayin’.

Scotsman #2:  [blushing]  Milady pays me an undesoorved compliment.

The Good Reader:  [curtseys like a champ]

The Blogger:  Oh, stop it, you two! I be-leeeeeve that we were talking about wamwams.

Scotsman #2:  Indeed we wehre.

Scotsman #1:  In all their ontological glory.

Scotsman #3:  Sittin’ on a fence.

The Good Reader:  …and whether or not they exist.

The Blogger:  Stop that! Of course they exist! Well, um, i mean… it’s complicated.

The Good Reader:  That’s your favorite thing to say.

A Flockbinker:  [appears briefly, just long enough to say]  Howdy.

The Blogger:  Oh, shut up.

 

 

 

Birds Flock. Ah! But Do They Bink? Nay, They Do Not.

 

Abstract:  In which the blogger attempts to etymologically examine the term “flockbinker,” with unexpectedly fruitful results.*

*not really


 

Y’know, we sure do talk a lot about flockbinkers around here. Which is kind of odd, since no one has any real idea what they are. So, in this post we’re going to attempt an examination of the term “flockbinker,” to see if we can shed any light on the subject.

I flatter myself in having a bit of background in linguistics and etymology, so this should be a walk through the zoo. [suddenly uncertain] Wait. Is that a real expression? A walk through the… zoological garden? The… animal display park? The Baltimore Aquarium? No. The animal penitentiary? A walk in the place where they have all the animals in big cages? Dang it, how DOES the expression go?

Oh dear. We’re not off to a rootin’-tootin’ start, are we. Wait. Is that really an expression? A rootin’-tootin’ start? I am suddenly questioning everything i know about linguistics.

Perhaps the best place to begin a journey from, is the place of humility.

Wait. Are you allowed to hang a preposition when you’re quoting a wise saying?

[gets all grumpy for a minute or so. bangs about, using inappropriate language and breaking the china. best just to leave him alone ’till he recovers]

Okay. Better now. Let’s figure out some linguistics! Wait. Is that what you do with linguistics–figure it out? No matter! Onward!


 

So, when we’re figuring out the origin of a word, it seems to me that the way to start is to break the word down into its component parts… like they did the word “prostitution” in the movie Night Shift.

The term “flockbinker” breaks down fairly conveniently, it seems to me, into two halves: “flock” and “binker.” Why don’t we begin with an analysis of the “flock” part, and then move on to “binker.”

A “flock” is a group of animals all moving in the same direction, as in “a flock of seagulls” or “a flock of sheep” or “a flock of yellow-bellied, trainspotted marmosets.” A flock might be on the move in order to obtain food, or to seek warmer climes, or to find a good deal in menswear. A flock does not generally move into an area where the large, mean boys are likely to assail them with insults and possibly even physical abuse, although certain animals have been known to flock into the U.S. congressional chamber during protracted policy debates, for no reason that anyone has ever been able to supply.

“Binker,” the second part of the word, is generally used to mean… hmmm. We seem to be running into a bit of a problem. I’m not finding “binker” in the dictionary. We may have to improvise a bit here. Let’s see. Well, for one thing, “binker” is like “blinker” but without the “l”. So it’s like a turn signal, i suppose, but smaller. Binker is also a bit like “winker,” one who–i suppose–winks. Then, of course, there’s “stinker,” as in, “Stinker Pinker,” a character from the fiction of P.G. Wodehouse. And, of course, if we want to go minimalist, an “inker” (first cousin to the binker, one supposes) would be, er, somebody who applies ink. I dunno. This is beginning to feel like we’re grasping at straws. I think we’re done with binker for now.

So, to summarize: a flockbinker would be… a group of Bertie Wooster’s mentally deficient buddies? Or, a tribe of turn signals that are missing important component parts? Or, a group of seafowl singing “Space Age Love Song” while batting their eyelids flirtaciously? Or, a bunch of fancy marmosets avoiding the neighborhood bullies while showing off their badass tattoos?

I must confess that i find none of these definitions satisfying.

For now, it may be best to shelve our attempts to define the term “flockbinker” with any degree of precision, and just leave it as an essentially undefined term.

 

What IS a Flockbinker, Really? The Philosophers Weigh In

 

Abstract:  One of the ongoing challenges we’ve experienced in association with this blog, is the fact that some of our most essential vocabulary never seems to have been defined. Flockbinker? Wamwam? Someone’s Mom? Perhaps even yours? The assembled throng furrow their brows; heads incline with justifiable concern; someone passes out and falls over from the mental strain. So we’ve brought in some brainy types to see if this problem can be rectified. These include some of the leading luminaries in the history of philosophical thought, as well as some of our regulars here on the blog. This exchange ought to be a real treat.


 

The Blogger:  Okay, fellas, so here’s the question. What is a flockbinker?

Ludwig Wittgenstein:  A flockbinker is all that is the case, in that particular realm of discourse in which the term ‘flockbinker’ is applied as relevant.

Rene Descartes:  [Scoffing in a particularly French manner]  That was ridiculous and did not mean anything.

Ludwig Wittgenstein:  Your Mom is ridiculous and doesn’t mean anything.

Rene Descartes:  [Deliberately ignoring this remark]  Rrmff. I would say that a flockbinker is that which (in its capacity as a flockbinker) thinks the thoughts of a flockbinker, and therefore, is, a flockbinker.

Ludwig Wittgenstein:  Wut.

Rene Descartes:  Well, it was better than that stupide thing you said.

Plato:  Okay. Here it is. In order to ascertain what the term ‘flockbinker’ applies to, we must first determine whether we are talking about a feature of the ultimate realm, or merely an item in the world of appearances. Of course, if a flockbinker is a feature of the Real world–that realm from which the world of our ephemeral appearances derives–then it will of course have its analog in the world of our perceptions.

Rene Descartes:  [mutters]  That, too, was ridiculous and did not mean anything. These people who have chosen to call themselves philosophers!

Francis Bacon:  Well, what Plato calls the “world of appearances” is simply reality. Let’s strip away the foolish hocus-pocus. If a flockbinker can be demonstrated to exist–if he is available to our senses in the world of the real and concrete–then he is a real object. We cannot begin the discussion of his attributes until we have settled the issue of his existence.

The Blogger:  Well, of course he exists! He’s at the very center of what this blog is about!

[Francis Bacon looks the Blogger up and down in the way that one would examine a particularly fascinating centipede.]

William James:  Well, you know, this Plato fellow made a helpful distinction between different levels of reality. I’d like to, if i might, distinguish between the mental and the physical parts of the real world. It might be argued that any mental state in which a flockbinker is featured as real, according to the consciousness of the individual, is one that is, in a certain sense, peculiar to its own flockbinkerosity.

Everyone Present:  Wut.

Little Biffy:  So much philosophical talent assembled in one room! Gosh, i’m practically speechless! But not quite, heh heh. I would say that a flockbinker, insofar as it has any kind of independent existence, is a sort of logical placeholder for use in certain kinds of (generally quite funny) philosophical dialogues and syllogisms created by The Blogger.

The Blogger:  What an excellent answer! This little fellow’s a winner if ever i saw one!

Little Biffy:  [grins innocently]

Elvis Wu:  Hmmm. The flockbinker, he is like a cup of the very finest rice wine that can be imagined. Each saloon claims to feature it on their menu.

Everyone Present:  Wut.

Elvis Wu:  When one has a reputation for being wise and inscrutable, it’s necessary to invest some effort from time to time in cultivating the impression.

[Francis Bacon looks at him sort of cockeyed. Wittgenstein, on the other hand, has obviously had his respect for Elvis Wu’s intellect considerably deepened.]

Jennifer Smith:  Okay, here’s my question. If a flockbinker is not a real thing–

Plato:  Define “a real thing.”

Descartes:  Yeah. Define “a real thing.”

Jennifer Smith:  Okay. A real thing is a thing that actually exists in the real world.

Plato:  Define “the real world.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein:  Yeah. Define “the real world.”

Jennifer Smith:  [rolling eyes]  Um. Okay. Whatever. Pass.

The Good Reader:  Well, my question is, so long as we’re getting all serious about nonsense words and such, why do we need to define a flockbinker specifically, as if it were a real item, like my purse? Are we also going to define a squibblymidget?

The Three Scotsmen:  Arrrgh!

The Blogger:  Well, of course a flockbinker is a real thing! It’s what this blog is about!

The Good Reader:  Okay. My little finger is a real thing. Is a flockbinker a real thing in the same sense that my little finger is?

The Blogger:  Well, um, we would kind of need to, um. Uh. Hmmm. Yo.

The Three Scotsmen:  Arrrrgh!

 


Epilogue

The Good Reader:  I’m thinking that this discussion didn’t go quite the way you expected.

The Blogger:  [Pouts, refuses to look her in the eye]

The Good Reader:  [Not to be put off]  Mmm-hmm, so, ya didn’t get the kind of conversation going that you were hoping for?

The Blogger:  Go away.

 

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!

___________________________________________________________________________________________

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 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.

 

 

Here’s Another Philosophy Joke: Confucius, Aristotle, and a Flockbinker Go into a Bar

“So, Okay: Confucius, Aristotle, and a flockbinker go into a bar, see….”

And the bartender says, “We don’t serve your kind here.”

Confucius say,[*] “I take offense at that completely inappropriate racial slur!”

And the bartender says, “No, look, I wasn’t talking about you.  I was referring to…that.”  And he points at the flockbinker.

“Oh,” say Confucius.  “Well, alrighty then.”

All eyes in the room turn toward the flockbinker.

Aristotle says, “Let us be clear. You are saying that it is the policy of your restaurant not to serve flockbinkers?”

“What?” says the bartender.

“This,” explains Aristotle, indicating the flockbinker, “is a flockbinker.”

“I don’t care what fancy name you wanna call it,” rejoins the barkeeper. “We don’t serve it, that’s what i’m saying.”

Aristotle says, “You introduce an interesting question.  Since we are uncertain of the ontological status of flockbinkers, it’s difficult to know what you mean by its ‘kind.’  You said that you don’t serve its ‘kind’ here. In your judgment, what ‘kind’ is he?”

The bartender replies, “Everybody’s gotta be a smart aleck.  Look, all i’m saying, we don’t serve those”—and here he again indicates the flockbinker—“in this here respectable establishment.”

“And why would that be,” demands Aristotle, “if you can’t even categorize him?  How do you know whether he belongs in the category ‘things we don’t serve here’?  Does your policy apply to all entities that are treadknicious?”

“Tred—what?”

“Treadknicious.  All flockbinkers are treadknicious.  Surely everyone knows that.”

The bartender squints at Aristotle, as if looking at a particularly appalling insect that has landed in his bowl of cereal.

“Flockbinkers are treadknicious,” continues Aristotle. “All of them. It is less clear, however, whether there might be other things (besides flockbinkers) that are also treadknicious. So does your policy extend to all members of the class ‘things that are treadknicious,’ whether flockbinkers or something else…?”

The bartender stares at Aristotle, as if studying a worm that has been opened up for dissection in a high school biology class.

Confucius add, “What my distinguished colleague is getting at is this: what is it about our little friend here” — and he indicates the flockbinker — “that makes you want to ban it from the premises?”

“Frockbinger,” says the flockbinker, breaking its silence.

Confucius and Aristotle turn to stare at it. Who knew flockbinkers could talk?

The bartender is losing patience.  “Whatever it is, we don’t serve it!” he spurts.

In the meantime, the patrons of the bar have been taking a keen interest in this little exchange. One of them steps forward and, in a voice that reverberates with passion and antique Roman heroism, proclaims:  “I am a flockbinker!”

Then another customer steps forth, this one obviously an accountant, and says, in a tremulous voice, “I am a flockbinker!

One by one, just like in the famous scene from Spartacus, each of the bar’s patrons steps forth and states, “I am a flockbinker!”

Understandably, the bartender finds this turn of events perplexing. What’s he supposed to do, kick out all of his customers?

“The problem with basing policy decisions on poorly-conceived taxonomical frameworks,” explains Aristotle to the hapless bartender, “is that your categories can shift on you and ruin your plans.”

“Frockbinger,” explains the flockbinker, helpfully.

The bartender is just standing there, his hands hanging helplessly at his sides.

“You are going to meet an interesting stranger,” Confucius say.

“I beg your pardon?” says the bartender.

“I said, ‘You are going to meet an interesting stranger’,” repeat Confucius. “You know, it’s the sort of thing you might find in a fortune cookie. I suppose i ought to introduce myself. My name is Kung Fu Tzu, better known to the English-speaking world as Confucius.”

“Name’s Fred,” replies the dazed bartender, extending a hand.

“Well gee, THAT was somewhat irrelevant,” says Aristotle.

“Sorry,” say Confucius.  “I never go off duty.”

 

[Editor’s Note:  If you’ve not yet heard the one about Confucius and the Buddha meeting for dinner at Chili’s, you can find it right around here somewhere.]

[Another Editor’s Note:  If you were troubled by the grammar in the sections where Confucius is quoted as saying something, perhaps it just means you’re unfamiliar with the “Confucius say” corny joke convention.]

[Yet a Third Editor’s Note:  If, on the other hand, you were troubled by the fact that this blog has made use of the “Confucius say” corny joke convention — because you feel that it represents an inappropriate stereotyping of the speech patterns of ancient Chinese philosophers — then do by all means feel free to leave a scorching comment articulating your concerns. We love to hear from our readers.]

 

It’s a Brave New World: Some Ideas Regarding What to Self-Identify As, This Hallowe’en

Well, people, it’s 2017, and the hip thing to be this year is something that you weren’t born as. Furthermore, it’s the Hallowe’en season, and the hip thing to be at Hallowe’en… is… something that you weren’t born as.  Clearly, the timing of this post could not have been more appropriate.

The question of being, in philosophy, is called ontology. (It can also, sort of, be called ‘metaphysics’. Don’t worry about it. It’s complicated.) The exploration of ontology forms one of the cornerstones of this blog:  trying to figure out what things are, what it means to be something, what categories things go into, how various kinds of things fit together. What, for instance, is a flockbinker? Are YOU a flockbinker? (Don’t even pretend that you’ve never wondered.)

And people, it just don’t get any more ontologically interesting than this recent trend toward identifying oneself as something that one… well… isn’t.

You want some examples?  Sure.

A retired schoolteacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania recently proclaimed herself to be an ocelot. A different retired schoolteacher in Plano, Texas, not wishing to be outdone, has proclaimed herself to be TWO ocelots. Yet a third retired schoolteacher, this one from Des Moines, is marketing herself as an ocelot that identifies as a manatee that is actually a bottle of Dr. Pepper. A 47-year-old plumber in Bozeman, Montana proclaimed himself last week to be a character from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, except it’s not a character who actually appears in the book, but would have, if Jane Austen had known what she was doing.

And there are apparently even more unsettling modes of self-identification in the offing: one young lady in South Bend, Indiana recently came out as a three-layer yellow sponge cake with cream cheese frosting, and at the time of this writing there is a breaking story about a fellow in Cross Creek, Florida who has chosen to identify as a (so far) undiscovered chemical element. He is calling himself “Nunayurbidnium.”

It’s the newest thing: Give yourself a good looking-over, then say “Well forget THIS, pal,” and announce to the world that you are something which you clearly are not.

To help us all get into the spirit of things this Hallowe’en season, i’ve come up with a handy list of items that, so far as i know, no one has yet identified as.

Pro Tip: If you choose to identify as one of these, you’ll want to get on it pretty quickly. Now that i’ve published the list, there’ll be a stampede (not at all surprising, in the case of ‘a herd of reindeer’ and possibly even ‘four weasels’) and you’re gonna want to establish your own identity ahead of the crowd so as to appear original.

So here are the possibilities. Identify away!

 

I, ______________________________, choose to identify as:

 

  • A fruitcake
  • A chaotic, shapeless, featureless mass (ah, but it seems we repeat ourselves)
  • A linebacker for the New York Yankees
  • A naughty, naughty fellow
  • A fellow who’s not quite mischievous enough to be called ‘naughty’ but who is, nevertheless, not an entirely reputable citizen
  • A weasel (meaning the animal, not ‘a naughty, naughty fellow,’ which of course is another thing that ‘weasel’ can mean)
  • Four weasels all living in the same box
  • A set of pastels that have been gently used
  • A blank canvas
  • A herd of reindeer
  • What the snow looks like after a herd of reindeer have been through
  • The discarded wrapper from a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
  • The square root of peace and justice for all humankind
  • The Thirteenth Floor
  • Your Mom
  • A remote possibility
  • An unfortunate fashion statement
  • The drive-through window at Frank’s Burgers on 3rd Street
  • Beans, beans, the musical fruit
  • A flockbinker (the regular, treadknicious kind)
  • A flockbinker that isn’t EVEN treadknicious
  • Something treadknicious that isn’t a flockbinker
  • A wamwam
  • A wambinker
  • A flockwam
  • An intransitive verb
  • A mathematical impossibility (but something other than “the square root of peace and justice for all humankind”)
  • A faux pas
  • A social blunder, but in English, not French
  • Seventeen different genders, all at the same time, and most of them previously undiscovered
  • Snow White AND the Seven Dwarfs
  • An intermediate-level class in cross stitching
  • An Arby’s roast beef sandwich with horsey sauce
  • A subatomic particle
  • A neutron in search of an atom
  • An atom in search of a happenin’ party
  • A happenin’ party in search of a meaningful occasion
  • A meaningful occasion in search of its place in the universe
  • The Bay Area
  • Stanford University, but with no students, faculty or buildings
  • Conan O’Brien’s haircut
  • An alien civilization
  • A family of five aliens whose civilization has been destroyed by other, even meaner aliens from a nearby planet
  • The internet
  • The web, which apparently isn’t the same thing as the internet
  • The cloud, which apparently isn’t the same thing as the web or the internet
  • The Tempest, which is neither the cloud, the web nor the internet, but is instead a play by William Shakespeare
  • A grunt of dissatisfaction
  • An expression of disbelief
  • A timely disclaimer
  • A single tear from the eye of a unicorn
  • The look on Jimmy Fallon’s face when he’s just said something amusing
  • A bright new world, full of possibility and hope, that lies just around the corner

 

%d bloggers like this: