all flockbinkers are treadknicious… and other salient observations

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

Tag: Quiz

Once Again, It’s Time to Look at Our Reader Mail!


Abstract:  Well, dear readers, it’s time to again have a look at the stack of mail that our biggest fans have been sending in! The letters (mostly of complaint, some with wrong addresses, and one threatening to sue us “for being so damn stupid”) have been piling up! So, ahem, let’s have a crack at some mail!


Letter #1.  The classic “you can take a flockbinker out of the Northern Hemisphere, but can you turn it into a question” line of inquiry.

This reader from Brisbane, Australia, Big Nick--no, really–i’m serious, that’s actually what he seems to call himself–no, we didn’t make it up–why would we make up a name like THAT?–had a question about flockbinkers and geography:

Love the blog, got a question. I realize that you like to say all flockbinkers are treadknicious. But, i have to wonder if this is only because you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Now, i happen to live in the Land Down Under. Are all flockbinkers just as treadknicious here in the domain of the koala and the wallaby? I’ve not done a study of the subject. I was just wondering.

The Blogger:  Well, now that is a terrific question! It seems to me that it can be further broken up into a cluster of smaller questions: (1) Do flockbinkers even live in the Southern Hemisphere? (2) If they do, are they of the same variety as the ones living up here in North America? (3) If they are not of the same variety, then is it possible for a species of flockbinker not to be treadknicious? And finally, to summarize: (4) Is the treadkniciousness of flockbinkers affected in any way by geography?

These are deep questions indeed, “Big Nick” (heh heh heh), and shall require a great deal of further study.


Letter #2.  A Reader has clearly been smoking grass. Is there a question?

Herman, who makes his home in Macon, Georgia, shared this with us:

Took the Quiz #3, had this comment — Wow, man! Yo! That was some serious, you know, like all of it! I mean, like WOW! I’m totally reeling! I am against the ropes, going down for the last time! Whoah, whoah, whoah. So, so very vast and free and all the pretty horses, and, you know. Like, WHO in the WORLD. I mean: YES. I am SO. Y’know? So VERY. SOOO VERY! Aaahhhh. I think i just achieved enlightenment.

The Blogger:  Well, golly, Herm. Is it okay if we call you “Herm”? It’s hard to know even where to begin! Inspiring stuff. Oh my word! Your observations fill us (the editorial staff here at All Flockbinkers Are Treadknicious) with feelings that we don’t recall having ever experienced before. My advice to you: Keep doing the quizzes, and send us any additional input you can come up with! More material similar to what you’ve sent us above would be terrific! Be assured: We’re going to love getting mail from you.


Letter #3.  Do flockbinkers have an ontologically stable identity? Inquiring minds want to know.

Buffy hails from Visalia, California, and had this somewhat raw criticism to offer:

Saying that “All flockbinkers are treadknicious” is kind of a generalization, isn’t it? By which i mean: a sexual (or quasi-sexual) (or, like, sexual-ontological?) stereotype. What if a flockbinker happened to self-identify as something else? Are not flockbinkers freely-choosing beings, like you and me, or my sister Hubert? Is it your responsibility to be placing such a limiting definition on a group of freely-choosing beings? I bet you also think that there are only two genders. Pig. I despise you. I predict that you will rot in hell.

The Blogger:  Golly, Buffy, you’ve left us with a lot to munch on there! First off, we cannot be 100% certain that flockbinkers even have a gender. But you seem to be getting at something else. Are you asking… whether flockbinkers are… flockbinkers? I’m not sure i understand the question. (Man, i really should have paid more attention in that gender studies class i had to take in college!)


Letter #4.  Flockbinkers and Elk: A Disquisition on Identity.

We’ve apparently got a reader in Medicine Hat, Alberta–Clive–whose philosophical interests seem to incline toward ontology:

Love the blog! We don’t see too many flockbinkers up in our area, although we’ve got plenty of elk. Have you anything to say about elk? Are they treadknicious, in the way flockbinkers apparently are? Or, are there any other big fancy words that apply to elk? Are they, maybe, oh, i don’t know, splendnicious? I just made that one up. Heh heh. Splendnicious. I think i shall use that one regularly from now on.

The Blogger:  “There will be droughts and days inundated…”

Heh heh. Medicine Hat. Git it? Heh heh. Ah! But seriously folks, your question is a good one. Might the attribute of treadkniciousness apply to creatures other than flockbinkers? It’s a topic well worth looking into, i imagine. In my deep and broad experience with logic and logical placeholders, i’ve never (yet) encountered a critter… other than flockbinkers… to which the state of “treadknicious”-ness has been attributed. But there’s a first time for everything. Thanks for the, er, splendnicious letter!


Letter #5.  Are our quizzes self-grading? How can you measure your success?

Ted lives in NYC, and is apparently no stranger to online quizzes:

Took the Quiz #2. How can you know how well you did? On other internet quizzes that i’ve taken, they’re self-grading and they’ll tell you what score you got. I have no idea how well i did on your quiz. It’s unnerving. Have you ever tried to take a quiz, only to find that you have no idea whether you got the answers right or not? It’s like, your whole life passes before your eyes. I’m not being overly dramatic. It’s really awful. Seriously. You need to try it yourself. It’s terrible.

The Blogger:  This is a terrific question, Ted!  Y’know, our method in assembling these quizzes is kind of intuitive. And honestly, it’s never occurred to us that one of our readers might take one of our quizzes so seriously that he would want to know what his score was. As nearly as we can tell, most of our readers seem to have an attitude toward the quizzes similar to that of Etienne, from Amsterdam, who opined, “I very much liked the quiz, it was big and stupid, it made my butt tingle, ha ha. How you can make something so absurd, i do not the know, ha ha. I am the sorry, my English is not so good, ha ha.”  In the future, perhaps we can devise a program for grading the quizzes, so our readers can know which of the abstruse and largely meaningless answers were the correct ones.


Letter #6.  Son Volt: A Disquisition on Building the Perfect Jam.

Living (as he does) in Austin, Texas, it’s no surprise to us that Christopher has consummate taste in music:

Hey, I saw what you did up there with the Son Volt lyrics. “Medicine Hat.” Ni-i-i-ice. It’s good to know philosophers can also have great taste in music. I swear, Son Volt is one of the few bands that give me hope for the future of the music scene. Did you catch their performance on Austin City limits? It was a couple of decades ago, but you should be able to find it pretty easily. Son Volt is the bomb, man.

The Blogger:  Glad to see that someone caught that “Medicine Hat” trick, and equally befuddled regarding how you could have found out about it so quickly. But then, nothing that happens on this blog should surprise me anymore. The Austin City Limits Son Volt show was indeed a classic, Christopher. It’s good to find that lovers of philosophical speculation can also be lovers of a great song or two! Hey, keep listening to good music, keep following this blog, and keep it between the painted lines!


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



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



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