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Living in Chicago, by way of Dayton, OH and Havertown, PA. Contact me at atozpod@gmail.com.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

from Flight to Flowers in December

Day 481, Session 96:
When/Where:
Tuesday October 16th - Driving home from dropping a friend off at class.
First song:
Flight vs. Invisibility by John Hodgman
Last full song: Flowers in December (live KCRW 1996) by Mazzy Star
Progress: 1381-1384 of 5413
Tot
al Songs Heard: 1127

Perhaps you first met John Hodgman through his work on The Daily Show, or maybe you know him as the PC guy in Apple's commercials. I first got to know John Hodgman through his work on This American Life, specifically his Flight vs. Invisibility story in the "Superpowers" episode. The entire premise of the story is this... if you can be granted either the power of flight, or the power of invisibility (only one, no other super powers are offered,) which do you choose?

The story gives plenty of interesting ideas for ways to use each power, but it seems to center on one basic idea. Flight is more of a power for good, while invisibility is more a power for evil. Ok, maybe not evil. But there are definitely more nefarious uses that immediately spring to mind for invisibility.

And so obviously I choose invisibility. At least I did at first. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that I would not be able to overcome the temptation that invisibility would have to offer. I would try to use my power to steal things and to sneak into movies and concerts and sporting events and other places that I don't really belong. And if I had the power of invisibility in high school? Man, you would have had to tie me down to keep me from trying to see live naked ladies. (Now, of course, I'm married and have no need whatsoever to even acknowledge the existence of other women.)

But if you have the power of flight... mostly good comes out to of that right? I mean, maybe I'd finally stop being late for things because of traffic or public transit. With an established flying speed of 1000 mph, it would take just about 30 minutes to go visit my new nephew (who I may now refer to as the 'newphew.') It would take less time than that to go visit the parents. I could fly to California or Vegas or London in an evening. What in this world is more valuable than possessions? Time.

Time > Stuff (even boobs)

So in the eternal battle of flight vs. invisibility, I'll take flying. You?
That's a hint, the comments are open.

Flight vs. Invisibility -
John Hodgman

Updated 12/17/07: I've noticed update a fair number of people coming to this page in search of the above file, but it's only recently that I was informed that the link wasn't working. Try it again, I think I fixed it. Thanks for visiting...

4 comments:

Michael said...

That question seems to come up a lot, (possibly because I have particularly nerdy friends) and I always choose flight. I've always wanted to be able to fly, and it seemed to have more utility than being invisible (even considering the boob possibilities).

Also, ever since I saw a very odd episode of The X-files featuring a genie, I've been more aware of the downsides to having the power of invisibility.

dara said...

I'm not entirely sure that invisibility is entirely evil. I mean, I guess it's considered naughty to sneak around undetected, but you can do it for good reasons. Like eavesdroping on nefarious terrorist plans, or to foil assasination plots. (I'd sneak into movies and concerts too, btw.)

Flying seems like more of a convenience, though. I mean, without his super-strength and bullet-resistance, what good does the flying do for Superman -- other than grand entrances and exits and impressing the ladies? Then again, flying is good for the environment.

Bob said...

This really depends on the details. If you can fly, are your eyeballs well protected? I'm pretty sure flying at 1000mph would destroy my retinas by the time I reached Indiana. No eyes means no ability to aim where you fly. I'd probably die of starvation floating over a Wendy's for eternity. As for invisibility, do your clothes become invisible with you? Does your food become invisible once you've eaten? Good or bad, doing anything invisible and naked with your food showing can't be good in 20 degree weather.

matt said...

Mike - That question comes up a lot? Awesome.

Dara - Invisibility could definitely be used for good. I didn't consider the national security implications. Of course if the government started using me as their tool, it would only further the probability of using invisibility to further my own ends after the work day was over.

Bob - You clothes become invisible with you, so if you eat something, as long as your gut is under your clothes, you shouldn't see digestion. But I do agree, I would definitely have to see the complete super power FAQs for both before making a final decision.