Questionnaire 6.

Here’s a two-fer. The first batch was culled from a few surveys floating around the internets:

1. PB AND J. HATE IT OR LOVE IT? Love it, as long as the PB is not C and the J is G.

2. WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A PET MONKEY OR A PET TIGER? A pet tiger, but it’d be an outdoor tiger.

3. FAVOURITE MOVIE QUOTE? “Here it comes.”

4. WHAT IS YOUR STYLE (THE WAY YOU DRESS, ETC.)? Plain.

5. IF YOU HAD A MILLION DOLLARS, WHAT WOULD BE THE FIRST THING YOU BOUGHT? A financial planner.

6. FAVOURITE SONG OF ALL TIME? Tough call. I’ll say “Things” by Havalina Rail Company.

7. IF YOU WERE IN A BAND, WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED? Back during the 2008 election, I commented on one of my own posts that “Kenyan Birth Certificate” would be a great name for a band. But I think I’d go with something laundry-inspired, like “Spin Cycle,” “High Speed Heat,” or “Linttrap.” Maybe “Thermal Breakdown,” though it doesn’t have anything to do with laundry.

8. FAVOURITE GAME (COMPUTER)? Ever? Starflight. It came out in the ’80s and was pretty advanced for its time. You’re flying around space in an unarmed commercial ship, you have to mine planets and sell them for cash to upgrade your ship, you need to train your guys to learn the language of the local aliens, and then nearby stars start exploding. You have to figure out why and what to do about it, with minimal guidance. Well, you didn’t have to, if you didn’t mind your home getting incinerated.

9. WHAT SCARES YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING? The thought of losing a son or daughter.

10. MOST HORRIBLE SCENE IN A FILM? Have you seen Godfather III? Any scene with Sofia Coppola (except the last one), and most scenes with Al Pacino.

11. EVER HAVE A BAD ACCIDENT? Yes. In 1999, I was nearly impaled on the axle of an A-frame. When I was very young, I had boiling soup spilled on my shoulder, which grafted my shirt to my skin. When I was younger than that, I burned both hands pretty badly on a wood stove. Aside from that, everything’s been perfect.

12. IF YOU COULD LIVE IN ANY COUNTRY, WHICH WOULD IT BE? I assume you mean aside from my current country. Italy, because they all speak English and sign language.

13. EVER HAD TO BREAK BAD NEWS TO ANYONE? Yes. Telling a buddy that another buddy was killed in a car wreck.

14. ARE WE ALONE? Doesn’t your use of “we” imply that there are at least two of us?

15. ARE WE ALL CONNECTED ON A SUBCONSCIOUS LEVEL? I hope not.

16. IS THERE A MATHEMATICAL CALCULATION BEHIND EVERY ACTION OR THOUGHT? On some level, I suppose so. At the very least, I think you could come up with a calculation, game or model to explain every action or thought.

17. ARE WE EVOLVING OR JUST GETTING SMARTER? That is a false dichotomy.

18. WILL THE EMPIRE FOLLOW THE COURSE OF HISTORY AND DESTROY ITSELF FROM WITHIN? From your spelling of “favourite” above, I’ll assume you mean the British Empire. Answer: yes.

19. HAS IT ALREADY? I would say it’s tough to call it an empire these days, so yes.

20. WHEN A PERSON IS BEING KEPT ALIVE BY A MACHINE, DOES THAT PERSON HAVE A SOUL? If a person is a soul, then the more relevant question is whether the soul still occupies the body. I’m not telling.

21. UNIVERSE OR MULTIVERSE? A multiverse would be infinitely more awesome than a universe. Therefore, I think we’re in a universe.

22. WHAT HAPPENS TO MATTER ONCE IT HAS ENTERED A SINGULARITY (BLACK HOLE)? I’m not telling.

23. DESTINY, FATE, OR CHANCE? DO YOU HAVE CONTROL? None of the first three options imply that I have control.

24. ARE THERE ANY GENUINE HUMANITARIANS? Yes.

25. DOES EVERYONE HAVE A HIDDEN AGENDA? No.

26. SHOULD PEOPLE SUFFER IN ORDER TO EARN AND APPRECIATE PLEASURE? Not necessarily. Suffering may sweeten eventual success, but it isn’t a necessary condition.

27. DOES SOCIETY WORK? Yes. Well? Maybe.

28. JUST HOW OLD IS HUMANITY? I can only account for the last thirty-some years.

29. IS THIS THE END, OR JUST THE BEGINNING? I’m going to go find some better questions to answer. The inquisitor seems to have an inflated sense of his own depth.

30. A FRIEND HAS JUST TOLD YOU THEY ARE DYING AND WOULD LIKE YOU TO RAISE HIS/HER CHILDREN. WOULD YOU? Which friend?

31. A TORNADO IS COMING STRAIGHT FOR YOU. YOUR NEIGHBOR HAS FALLEN AND CAN’T GET UP. YOUR NEIGHBOR HAS FALLEN AND CAN’T GET UP. WHAT DO YOU DO? Yell and wave my arms to distract the tornado, then run off to lead it away from my neighbor.

32. THE ELDERLY LADY IN FRONT OF YOU DROPS A TWENTY DOLLAR BILL. DO YOU TELL HER? Yes.

33. YOUR FIANCE IS ALLERGIC TO YOUR DOG OF TEN YEARS. WHAT DO YOU DO? Find a new home for her.

34. SOMEONE YOU KNOW DESPERATELY NEEDS THE HUNDRED DOLLARS YOU’VE SAVED. DO YOU SHARE IT? Of course I’ll share it: fifty for me, fifty for them.

35. TWO COWORKERS ARE FIGHTING AND IT’S CLEARLY A MISUNDERSTANDING YOU CAN CORRECT. DO YOU GET INVOLVED? That depends on how entertaining the misunderstanding is.

36. YOU’VE BEEN OFFERED YOUR DREAM ON A SILVER PLATTER WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED BUT YOU HAVE TO LEAVE ALL YOU KNOW TO GET IT. DO YOU? You have a fascinating definition of “no strings attached.” What if my dream includes something from my current life?

37. WOULD YOU GO BACK IN TIME TO CORRECT A MISTAKE? Yes, but not too far because when I came back my world might be unrecognizable. Plus, if I’m going to avoid a grandfather paradox, I may have to use one of them fancy multiverses I mentioned earlier. I might go back just far enough not to screw up the playlists on my phone.

38. IF YOU HAD TO GIVE UP ONE OF YOUR FIVE SENSES, WHICH WOULD IT BE? Probably taste because it’s the one used least often. I could make do with enjoying the scent of my food or drink, and I’d probably eat healthier since taste wouldn’t matter anymore. I was going to put “smell,” but then how would I tell if there were danger, or a rat, or if I’d accidentally mixed bleach and ammonia?

39. IS YOUR TEMPER FAST AND FURIOUS OR CALM AND CONTENT? Calm and furious.

40. WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOUR DIE? Visit Mars.

41. TELEVISION OR RADIO? Television. I can hear the TV but I can’t watch the radio.

42. WHICH TV CHARACTER WOULD YOU BE IF YOU COULD? K.I.T.T.

43. WOULD YOU RATHER GIVE UP SUGAR OR CAFFEINE? Caffeine. Sugar is an essential part of far too much of my life for me to forgo it.

44. WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE: A YEAR IN EUROPE WITH $25,000 TO SPEND OR ONE HOUR ON THE MOON? The hour on the moon.

Swiss playwright Max Frisch wrote the following questionnaire many years ago. This one seems to lack any agenda, and has some deceptively simple questions. Here goes:

ARE YOU REALLY INTERESTED IN THE PRESERVATION OF THE HUMAN RACE ONCE YOU AND ALL THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW ARE NO LONGER ALIVE? Yes.

STATE BRIEFLY WHY. Two reasons. First, who else is going to figure out how to reanimate my frozen corpse? Second, I would probably die happier knowing that humanity was not the verge of extinction.

HOW MANY OF YOUR CHILDREN DO NOT OWE THEIR EXISTENCE TO DELIBERATE INTENTION? I have no children.

WHOM WOULD YOU RATHER NEVER HAVE MET? Tough one… see my response to the time travel question above. I had a coupla students who I think were truly horrible, malicious people, but I’m going to pick my last roommate in Clemson, “Keanu.” Here’s why.

ARE YOU CONSCIOUS OF BEING IN THE WRONG IN RELATION TO SOME OTHER PERSON (WHO NEED NOT NECESSARILY BE AWARE OF IT)? IF SO, DOES THIS MAKE YOU HATE YOURSELF OR THE OTHER PERSON? Yes, but it doesn’t make me hate myself. It makes me disappointed with myself.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE PERFECT MEMORY? Yes. I realize that means recalling a lot of pain (and I don’t mean that wussy emotional pain crap, I mean burns and breaks and stabbings and near-impalements), but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks by far.

GIVE THE NAME OF A POLITICIAN WHOSE DEATH THROUGH ILLNESS, ACCIDENT, ETC., WOULD FILL YOU WITH HOPE. OR DO YOU CONSIDER NONE OF THEM INDISPENSIBLE? Many if not most of them are dispensable, though dispensing of them doesn’t necessitate their deaths. I can only pick one? It’s tempting to pick Chavez, Ahmadinejad, or Castro, but for sheer entertainment value I think I’ll go with Putin. I’d pay to see Viktor Yushchenko plunge his fist into Putin’s chest, rip his heart out, toss it at Medvedev’s feet and walk off into the sunset.

WHICH PERSON OR PERSONS, NOW DEAD, WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE AGAIN? Obviously I’d like to see my deceased friends and family. My grandfather would be first on the list. Actually, my grand-uncle George would be first on the list so he could tell me where he buried the family gold, and then I’d like to see Grampa.

WHICH NOT? Assuming I’m choosing from people I actually knew, then I’d have to say my aunt’s late ex-husband. I have no reason to bring him back.

WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE BELONGED TO A DIFFERENT NATION (OR CIVILIZATION)? IF SO, WHICH? No. We’ve got it as good here and now as anyone’s ever had it.

TO WHAT AGE DO YOU WISH TO LIVE? I’d like to live to be 128, unless affordable commercial travel to other planets isn’t a reality by that point, in which case I’d like to live longer.

IF YOU HAD THE POWER TO PUT INTO EFFECT THINGS YOU CONSIDER RIGHT, WOULD YOU DO SO AGAINST THE WISHES OF THE MAJORITY? [IF NOT] WHY NOT, IF YOU THINK THEY ARE RIGHT? Yes, but then I’d run. Or grow a moustache to disguise myself.

WHICH DO YOU FIND IT EASIER TO HATE, A GROUP OR AN INDIVIDUAL? AND DO YOU PREFER TO HATE INDIVIDUALLY OR AS PART OF A GROUP? I think it’s easier to hate individuals. I do my hating individually because I’m not a big joiner.

WHEN DID YOU STOP BELIEVING YOU COULD BECOME WISER—OR DO YOU STILL BELIEVE IT? GIVE YOUR AGE. I still believe I can become wiser, because I am increasingly aware of how little I know. I am this many years old.

ARE YOU CONVINCED BY YOUR OWN SELF-CRITICISM? Yes, if only because I know what I’m talking about.

WHAT IN YOUR OPINION DO OTHERS DISLIKE ABOUT YOU, AND WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT YOURSELF? IF NOT THE SAME THING, WHICH DO YOU FIND IT EASIER TO EXCUSE? I suspect that others dislike that I am, on occasion, be a wee bit blunt and sardonic. I dislike my inability to fall asleep at will. I find the latter easier to excuse; the former is everyone else’s problem.

DO YOU FIND THE THOUGHT THAT YOU MIGHT NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN (IF IT EVER OCCURS TO YOU) DISTURBING? Yes. I shudder for the world.

WHEN YOU THINK OF SOMEONE DEAD, WOULD YOU LIKE HIM TO SPEAK TO YOU, OR WOULD YOU RATHER SAY SOMETHING MORE TO HIM? I’d prefer to let Grampa speak.

DO YOU LOVE ANYBODY? HOW DO YOU KNOW? It is difficult to explain because I’m such a touchy-feely guy and my eyes well up with oh you probably wanted a serious answer. I think if your happiness depends on her happiness, health and safety, then you love her.

LET US ASSUME THAT YOU HAVE NEVER KILLED ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT FOR IT? Good driving and poor marksmanship.

WHAT DO YOU NEED IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY? …better marksmanship?

WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR? Being me and getting past Tuesday.

WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER DO: DIE OR LIVE ON AS A HEALTHY ANIMAL? WHICH ANIMAL? Assuming this choice were offered at the end of my life, I would choose to live on as a healthy apatosaur. That way, everyone would be happy to see me, but not afraid that I was going to eat them.

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