Sunday, January 10, 2010

Unconsidered Third Option: Post on Internet

This one just appeared in my inbox today. I seem to have been selected randomly, addressed as 'teacher'. The author requests a confirmation or refutation of his definition of philosophy. I shall do neither:

Dear Teacher,

As a teacher of philosophy can you please confirm or refute that philosophy is the study of understanding.

Where: Understanding is the bestowing of meaning upon observations.

Meaning is the realisation obtained by applying beliefs to the observations of an understanding -the use of reason.

There are Two Kinds Of Beliefs:

i. Control the Understanding -those bestowed by nature and modified by infancy in the creation of an understanding so are unchangeable: that is, the instincts and infantile experiences, which dictate what the creature should, or should not, do - survive, eat, sleep, multiply, etc.- thus allowing the recognition of right from wrong, and are the morality of the understanding.

ii. Tools of the Understanding - those revealed by the understanding's experience of cause and effect. That is, if you step off a cliff you fall, and these axioms, which are collected and refined throughout the life of the understanding, allow the recognition of true or false and are the knowledge of the understanding.

-this Morality and Knowledge together form the beliefs, or truths, of the understanding. These beliefs, along with its observations, are the understanding. Hence:

Truth is the beliefs, or realisations, of an understanding, and form the reality of an understanding.

Reality is the creation of an understanding as it is the remembered meanings, or experience, of an understanding and consists of:


The nature of the understanding

Its senses


The position of the understanding

What it can observe


The experience of the understanding

The meaning it realises.

Wisdom is the habits (traditions) adopted by an understanding to achieve the greatest benefit from its reality.

These beliefs convert Philosophy into a useful tool-a science. This science of philosophy explains not only understanding, reality, and truth, but also language (the medium of understanding) and society (a shared understanding). These explanations allow a better understanding of ourselves by revealing why humanity behaves the way it does in forming a civilization (a dominant society) and why such a society waxes (refines its understanding) then wanes (loses its understanding).

Kind Regards,

[Redacted --person I do not know w/ .com thing]

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Super-Powerist Presumption: A Guide for the Oppressed Part 3

3: On the Job

There are many situations in the workplace that discriminate against the Super-Powerless. It is unlikely that these discriminatory practices will become illegal any time soon, so the burden rests on us to inform the Super-Powered and take what actions we can in the face of unfair practices. Although this burden is unjust, we must view it as an opportunity to shed increasing light on Super-Powerism. Among the many disadvantages the Super-Powerless encounter on the job, the most subtle and insidious of the Super-Powers we are presumed to have is that of Alternate Universe Travel (a.k.a. Universe Walking).

It is important not to confuse Alternate Universe Travel with Time Travel, although these two powers are frequently elided. The Time Traveler has the ability to go back or forward in time changing the course of events in this universe, while the ability to traverse Multiple and/or Alternate Universes permits the traveler to act simultaneously in a number of different universes. A Super-Powerless individual will rarely, if ever, experience the effects of Time-Travelers’ activities, since the Super-Powerless cannot in principle follow along with Time Travelers. Changes in this universe caused by changes in the past will simply be experienced by the Super-Powerless as their own ordinary lives. This is not the case with respect to Alternate Universe Travelers’ actions. A Super-Powered individual acting in multiple universes simultaneously necessarily leaves behind the Super-Powerless in this universe, the only universe the Super-Powerless have. The Super-Powered presume that all other people, also having Super-Powers, have access to the other universes, but are mistaken in their presumption.

Recently, I was waiting on an email that was supposed to have an important file attached, a file containing a project that had to meet a deadline. Initially, I had no suspicions that I was dealing with a Super-Powered person, Carly, and no indication that she was a Universe Walker. Our email exchanges were concise and professional, and it seemed to me that the deadline would be met. Things started to unravel when I received an email late in the afternoon on the due date:

I have been trying for over an hour to send you the document, but the email keeps bouncing back to me. I don’t know what’s going wrong. I’ve tried reformatting it and sending it in several versions, but the same thing keeps happening. Unfortunately, I need to leave now so that I can pick up my father at the airport when his flight gets in. Sometime later on tonight, after I get my dad settled in, I’ll try emailing it to you again. I’ll definitely be able to get it to you tomorrow at the latest, even if I need to print it out and fed-ex it. You know how much this project means to me, and I will get it to you.

When I received this email, I responded immediately instructing Carly that in the circumstances she should copy and paste the content of the document into a reply email—even if it took several emails, and to attach any jpegs. We’d lose any special fonts, but she should indicate what they were. I would stay late and reconstruct the document, but the problem would be solved. Carly did not reply to my email.

The next morning, I figured I would find some response from Carly, maybe even the document itself in an attachment. There were many emails in my inbox, none from her, so I sent a copy of the email I sent the night before, ticking off HIGH PRIORITY. As lunchtime came around, there was still no response. No fed-exed document arrived. And there was no email response until very late in the afternoon. In this email, Carly claimed that late in the evening of the night before she had sent me the document. I checked my inbox, I ran inbox searches, I checked my Spam folder, I called CITS to double check my searches. There had been no email the night before from Carly. At least in this universe.

I could see at this point that Carly had most likely left her office the day before leaving behind this particular universe as well. Since I lacked the Super-Power of moving between Alternative Universes, I had not received the emailed document in this one. And I realized I was downwind from the storm. The powers-that-be got involved, since the document was late and they entered an angry exchange of phone conversations. My own power-that-be insisted upon the excellence of my past performances and my reliability with respect to my claim that Carly had not sent the document. On Carly’s end, her power-that-be likewise insisted on the excellence of Carly’s past performances and her honesty about sending the email. At this point, my power-that-be reported that Carly was in tears on account of my accusation, but she begrudgingly sent a copy of the file to her power-that-be in order to prove that she did, in fact, have the document on hand. Her power-that-be then emailed the document to my power-that-be directly. And so the situation was resolved. My power-that-be received the document, although it was without any input and editing from me. My Super-Powerlessness subjected me to discrimination on this count, and none of the powers-that-be involved seemed willing to acknowledge in any way the Super-Powerist presumption operating in the situation.

The bad news is that there is very little that any Super-Powerless person can do once immersed in a situation like this one. A Super-Powered individual may traverse any number of universes, barely keeping track of the ones in which emails and documents were sent. The ease of this Super-Power is remarkable. The "good news" is there's one sure-fire method I have found for coping with existing in only one universe at the workplace, which is utilizing external web-based document services. Google extends through multiple universes, making the Google doc platform useful for the Super-Powered and Powerless alike. The Super-Powerless may notice certain hesitancies particular individuals have with respect to requests to use this sort of service. Many times, in my experience, the Super-Powered will claim that they require “more freedom” and claim that they frequently work “beyond the reaches of the internet.” Uploading their drafts will prove to be a “huge hassle.” It is understandable that some alternate universes may lack internet wifi signals. Some may lack the internet altogether, yet it is easy enough for the Super-Powered to travel to a hot-spotted universe. I say, let the Super-Powered be a little bit hassled. It is only fair that the Super-Powerless have a level playing field in the workplace, despite their inability to access the playing field of all universes.

Super-Powerist Presumption: A Guide for the Oppressed Part 2

2: Sharing Public Spaces

The Super-Power, Protective Force Field, is arguably the most ubiquitous of all the Super-Powers and is most frequently taken for granted, thus contributing significantly to Super-Powerist Presumption. People lacking this Super-Power are often at a loss regarding its functions while those possessing it are just as much at a loss in understanding the way their Protective Force Field effects the Super-Powerless around them. It will be helpful to clarify the situation for everyone.

Protective Force Fields are force fields that obviously protect the subject wherever he or she may be located. The force field prevents intrusions of all kinds from reaching the subject, intrusions including speeding-bullets, shrapnel, nuclear radiation, as well as quotidian intrusions like horrific smells and sound waves. A portable protective force field is clearly a wonderful power to have. Protective force fields “protect” the subject while simultaneously permitting the subject’s activities to influence and act upon things outside of the force field. Herein lies the difficulty. If everyone has the power of Protective Force Field, each subject is shielded from the actions and activities of all the other subjects. Unfortunately, not everyone possesses this power.

The Super-Powerless experience indignities when sharing public spaces on account the way the Super-Powered live with the assumption that virtually everyone else has the Protective Force Field power. Cell-phone conversations, conducted loudly and as though the Super-Powerless do not exist, are an example of a very common indignity. However, it would be incorrect to think that the Super-Powerless are without any means to cope with it.

Back in the late 90’s, I recall I was eating lunch in a restaurant in New York City. I was seated alone at a table, and there was another diner, a guy in maybe his mid-twenties, also seated alone at a table nearby, talking loudly on his cell-phone. He was within his Protective Force Field and simply assuming I also had this power, given the content of his conversation. This conversation began with some complaints he had about the planning involved in his upcoming wedding. Although I could not hear his interlocutor’s responses, I was able to hear about “the drag” the whole thing was “turning into” as well as his insistence that there would have to be strippers at his bachelor party, even if it meant that a certain “pussy-whipped Joel” could not be invited since he’d spill the beans about it. The conversation then took a turn regarding a certain “Allison”

Dude, she’s been calling, like, every day.

[Laughter] I mean, Allison doesn’t care. It’s not like she and Cheryl are friends. They don’t even know each other. Cheryl has no clue.

Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but believe me, if you were me, you’d definitely hit that one last time.

I’m definitely hitting that for the road.

I had a legal pad with me, took out a pen, and wrote in large capital letters:








I held up the legal pad so the guy could see what I’d written. He was pretty shocked and got off the phone pretty quickly, chasing down his waitress to pay his bill before he fled the restaurant. I saw this situation as a real score for us Super-Powerless folks. Although nearly nothing I might have done or said would have effected the guy on the cell-phone, given his Protective Force Field, I realized that the Protective Force Field does not create any visual impairment. Since this time, I carry a small, all-purpose sign that says:




The sign proves reasonably effective as a device for informing the Super-Powered that not all those around them in a public space also possess their powers. I have received numerous apologies from the Super-Powered, and most times, in the least, a decrease in the volume of the conversation. Occasionally, I have been told to “F*** Off.” Interestingly, the few Super-Powered people who have responded negatively seem convinced that it is not merely socially acceptable to announce their private information loudly, but that it is a right of theirs to impose it on other people—as if other people should not be able to hear that information, despite the public nature of the space we share. This is precisely why the Super-Powerist presumption needs to be challenged. I say, let us educate the Super-Powered, so that they come to recognize they share the world with Super-Powerless people.