Sunday, July 02, 2006

Any power

If you could have any power in the universe what would it be, and why would you want that power?

Please limit your comments to actual powers that you have seen in either 1. real life or 2. movies. If you decide to describe a power that is not in either of these, but feel strongly that you can make a case for it, please give a brief overview of the case at the beginning, with a fuller explanation later in the text, or a link to a fuller explanation. I have a zero tolerance policy for powers mentioned that don't fit in either 1 or 2, and don't have a case for an exception, and I reserve the right to delete a comment if I don't think it adheres to these simple guidelines. It should be clear that underscoring these criteria, is a basic approach to powers that is grounded in reality or "realistic" imagination (e.g. legitimate superheroes etc.) I also shouldn't need to mention this but feel that I should: any flippant comments will be quickly* deleted, and I may block you as a commenter. Related to this: This post is not an open invitation for jerks to demonstrate why they are jerks. I should say at the outset that I have thought carefully and extensively about this question and feel confident in saying that flying is the best possible power in the universe not including mystic or quasi-religious powers. (And jerks who want to poke fun of other people's religious beliefs and practices, please see earlier note about jerks). Please don't assume that I consider flying as the final answer, because, though I have thought carefully about this, I am always open to new insights. I also mention this as a sort of benchmark to use, because if you mention a power that is clearly not as good as flying, you will have a difficult time justifying that power to people who have devoted considerable time and deliberation to this question. Please do not use this as a forum to investigate the ins and outs of super-hero powers. Though there are likely many fascinating discussions and nuanced understandings that could arise from such a discussion, that is not the aim of this post. This post is not an investigation into all the different powers that exist in the world or in "realistic" imagination. Related to this, the question should not be viewed as an opportunity to show off how much you know about super-heroes or other people with impressive powers. I am not as interested (for the sake of this post) with someone's encyclopedic knowledge about powers (super or everyday) as I am about what you think the best power is, or the power you would most like to have. I realize that this will prevent many commenters from posting because they just can't post anything about powers without showing off how much they know about the powers. To such people, please don't take this post as unappreciative of your knowledge, but rather as having a different aim. Having said this, I look forward to the lively discussion!

*It should go without saying that 'quickly' is a relative term, and just because a comment hasn't been deleted after 48 hours does not mean that it is therefore safe.

38 comments:

  1. Well, I guess I will start this out by saying that I think flying is the power I would most want because when you fly you can go anywhere in a straight line.

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  4. Recent commenters: Please re-read the note on suitable powers and feel free to re-submit. But yes, I am serious about the criteria.

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  6. designsponge: I don't know if you posted this before I posted my most recent note, but please review the note on suitable powers and revise your comment and I would LOVE to keep it on.

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  7. Hands down, flying would be the ultimate power.

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  8. yeah flying is the best power.

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  9. I too think I would choose flying. But, at the risk of being deleted, I can't not admit that I have given both super-strength and invisibility a lot of consideration merely for their practical implications.

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  10. Wow! I am really liking how this discussion is developing, some really interesting insights here! To those of you who believe flying is the best, what are some of your reasons for believing such? (In my first comment I mentioned that it allows you to fly in a straight line, but there are probably a lot of reasons)

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  11. Dang, Ben feels strongly about his super powers. I am scared not to choose flying but it is so easily to be invisible. You could do anything, go anywhere, you could ride an airplane to timbuktoo for free, you could be in any meeting without anyone knowing it. It is an easy choice. Flying would be great for like a half hour and then.... boooooo.....rrrring!

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  12. I'm in favor of flying because of the mobility that it has to offer...and flying fast is not a condition that needs to be met in order to have such a power.

    I must also add, that I would hope that the ability to fly would not be physically exhausting...that would seem to diminish some of the excitement.

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  15. I accidentally removed a comment that proposed that "mind-reading" is the best power. I apologize for that and would like to personally put it back into the discussion. I still find flying to be the best power, but I know others might think differently.

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  16. I know you will probably delete my comment, Ben, but I think it would be so cool to control the weather like Storm in X-Men. I don't think it would be as cool as reading minds or being invisible, or perhaps flying, but it would come in handy.

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  17. As stupid as this sounds I have asked many people to choose between flying and breathing underwater. You would be suprised, as I was, to find the number of people who chose to breathe underwater. Personally though, being indestructable wins hands down. In a fight between anyone who would win? Want to fly for free? Just get on the plane, noone could do anything. Want to go scuba diving? Go ahead because you are in destructible. You could live a relatively normal life, but have absolutely no restrictions. With any other super power, you eliminate only a single restriction. Being undestructable means you rule the world.

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  18. Salem: I'm not going to remove your comment just yet. But please re-read the criteria for the super-powers, especially those relating to powers you have seen in real life or in movies (i.e. realistic imagination). Feel free to adapt your comment and re-submit also!

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  19. Maybe we should re-word this post as something like this:

    Forget about the best power, what do you think is or might be a kind of cool power, whether or not it would ever be possible--and it doesn't have to be your favorite or even one you would like to have?

    Well, maybe not because that is just what the aim of this post is not.

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  20. Flying isn't the be all end all of superpowers. To top it off, you can have other powers, such as Magneto's ability to create magnetic fields that allow you to simulate flying, while still having the ability to do other cool things, such as create bullet-balls from small bits of iron from iron rich drinks that you can then use to tear a place up.

    However, even Magneto's powers pale in comparison to Phoenix's. Basically, she is omnipotent. If she can think it, she can do it. The power to destroy worlds and galaxies with the side effect of being able to fly comes at the top of the superpower sweetness list.

    If you delete me, you will rue the day...

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  22. In reviewing some of my comments, I may not have made those who prefer other powers to flying feel that they too should further expand and develop why they like those other powers. To avoid appearing that I am stacking the deck, I would also like to invite those of you who think the best power would be a power other than flying to explain why you think that power would be the best, or why you would want that power the most.

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  23. Um...Ben have you seen the movie titled "Unbreakable"?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0217869/

    Obviously not. And I am pretty sure I backed up my super-power with a strong argument. Being indestructable is much more realistic than flying. And is flying much like walking or running? How fast can you fly? How high? Can some fly faster than others? Must one wear a cape to fly? Being capable of flying but only at the speed one walks or runs while also making one exhausted is lame at best. Certainly you are not suggesting that this is the greatest super-power to have? Where is your argument?

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  24. I love the Silver Surfer, if I could be anyone, I would be him.

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  25. josh you are SO getting deleted.

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  27. Salem: Yes, I do have issues with "Unbreakable" I have seen the movie, and I guess technically, you fill the criteria. I may slightly revise the criteria and remove your comment though. I liked the movie, but I think you make quite a leap to make him totally indestructible. And we really don't have a lot of time to critique him. In contrast, we have had over a lifetime to consider and reconsider Superman, batman, spiderman, etc. And he isn't a hero that is being further developed. We have the movie, and we have to make a lot of leaps from that to reach the kinds of conclusions you reach. What if there was a sequel, and we learned that he had a weakness like he couldn't touch Mr. Glass's blood, or he would die? Would you call that indestructible? I wouldn't. Could he really climb inside a rocket booster at blast off and not get hurt? Could he stay underwater indefinitely? Maybe. But if he really can't be hurt at all, then he is not really a superhero, but a god, and the post is not a venture into speculative theology. Your comment better fits with this question: "If you were a god, what would your favorite part be?" And your response to that question is pretty disturbing. I will let your comments stay for now, but if you would like to adapt it to better fit the criteria, feel free!

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  28. Look Ben, my comments have been grandfathered in. You can change the rules but legally my comments were appropriate when they were submitted so you cannot delete them. Nowhere on your post did you say we had to pick a power that had been "developed". You were clear that we must use powers that were real or in movies. I just think it is unfair to change the rules, thats all.

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  29. i can't believe i'm actually trying this. it's pretty intimidating. and i'll probably get deleted, but here goes:

    it hit me this morning that if i could have any "power" i'd have go-go-gadget arms. i know it might not fit the criteria, but it is in a movie. inspector gadget (who my not even be considered a super hero) has go-go-gadget arms and they come in really handy. i could really use these as a mom to reach things my children drop in the car or things they want from the backseat. it would really come in handy for me since i'm only 5'2" and would love to be able to reach the top kitchen cupboards. it's really a very practical desire, not very fun. but it would make life easier.

    so, delete me if you must, but if i could have any super "power" (or invention, i guess) i'd have go-go-gadget arms.

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  30. Ben, as it turns out the majority of internet users voted differently than the both of us. See here:

    http://www.popculturemadness.com/Polls/Superpowers.html

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  31. Anonymous6:03 PM

    NOw, what's all this hub bub about super powers??!!! I see that the soper power post gets 30 + comments and the Mouritsen's leaving only gets 1 comment???!!! Come on! Flying - schmying!

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  32. I have personally always been fascinated by the ability to shoot ice from my hands, ala Iceman. But I would really like to combine this with invisibility which has much more practical applications. All this being said, I agree with Anonymous at the bottom. More posts on the "mouritsens are leaving" are in order.

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  33. While we are on the subject of superpowers, I would like to add that Batman is (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) the only superhero that doesn't have supernatural powers. Did you see Batman Begins? It's all gadgets. Pretty cool, eh?

    I would like to second the flying in a straight line thing. After living in NY, Westchester in particular, you can't go anywhere in a straight line. You have to go really far north or south to go east or west. Flying would eliminate that.

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  34. You know, moving away from New York would also solve that straight line problem you seem to be having.

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  35. Does anyone remember the TV show "Out of This World" from the 80's where the girl's dad was an alien and gave her the power to freeze time by touching her two fingertips together? THAT would be my power. That way, when my baby wakes up at 5:45am I could just freeze time, sleep for 8 more hours and then unfreeze time and go get him. Ah, bliss. The controlling of time has tons of other practical applications as well. Even if you could fly there in a straight line, I could still freeze time and get there sooner.

    -Josh

    (Also note: There is a really interresting exploration of the ablity to controll time in Orson Scott Card's "Treason.)

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  36. Invisibilty--hands down. What can I say? There's a little voyer in me...and there's something very "all-powerful" in the vulnerability it would cause in others.

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  37. If I couldn't fly, I'd like to have super-calculating abilities to figure out how many hours a night Josh sleeps, based on his last post.

    I think a normal-sized, but one-ton, foot would be awesome for Passive-Aggressive Man. He could inflict serious damage on his adversaries, all the while wincing and saying, "Sorry." Squish. "Oops." Crunch. "My bad." Crack. "Excuse me." Splat.

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  38. Hi Ben!

    I think the ultimate superpower is being Ben and being able to just delete whatever people say or do that you don't like. Granted, it's a Godlike power, but so is flying. Have I seen this in a movie? No, but I'm sure you would count this blog as of equal popular stature to any other type of media. Right?

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