An important corollary on the two greatest super powers of all time

Last week I wrote that the two greatest super powers of all time are immortality and time travel, with teleportation coming in a possible, albeit distant third.

I'd like to offer a corollary on this:

1. If you're not interested in living forever, then I am willing to acknowledge that immortality might not be the greatest super power for you. But you must also be willing to admit that until you actually face death, you might be wrong about your distaste for immortality.

As someone who has faced death three times (and actually died twice), I can assure you that immortality is appealing.

2. Time travel is better than teleportation or any other super power because of the ability to see into the future and warn humanity about (and perhaps even prevent) certain natural disasters and other calamities.

  • Alert authorities about the September 11 attacks in order to stop the terrorists and save lives.
  • Issue evacuation warnings ahead of earthquakes, tidal waves and other natural disasters. 
  • Stop George Lucas from creating Jar Jar Binks.

It would be an enormous burden on the person with this super power, but morally and ethically speaking, how could you not acknowledge that this power is better than the ability to pop in and out of New York City without having to deal with traffic?   

3. There was some concern over the dangers of traveling into the past and catastrophically altering the future in which the time traveler lives (and possibly threatening his or her very existence in the process). There were also concerns over the potential for paradoxes.

While traveling into the past would be appealing, concern over these issues could be mitigated by simply traveling into the future only, and only traveling for observational purposes. A time traveler need only to travel to a library and spend some time reading newspapers or history books in order to find the information he or she needs while risking almost nothing in terms of unintentionally changing the course of human events 

If you're not convinced now, I don't know what to do.

The two best super powers of all time (one of them is not teleportation)

My wife, Deadspin, and many others argue that teleportation is the greatest of all the super powers. 

Teleportation would be an amazing super power to possess. I would love to be able to teleport from location to location instantly.

I think it may be the third best super power.

But objectively, the best super powers, in this order, are:

  1. Immortality
  2. Time travel

All others - including teleportation - pale in comparison.

The question all successful people can answer immediately: What’s your super power?

Serial entrepreneur Tina Roth Eisenberg says that all the most successful people she’s met have been able to answer this question immediately:

What is your super power?

From TIME:

John Maeda, who led the MIT Media Lab and Rhode Island School of Design, responded with “curiosity.”

Maria Popova, who curates the popular Brain Pickings blog by reading 12-15 books a week, said “doggedness.”

Eisenberg’s own superpower? Enthusiasm.

Knowing your superpower means you know yourself well enough to have a focus, and that’s the same competitive advantage that makes you so great at what you do. It’s the quality you’re most proud of, the one thing that makes you stand out, and what gives you an edge over everyone else.

My wife claims that my super power is productivity, but what she really means is efficiency. I get a lot done, but it’s in large part because of the systems of managing work that I have developed.

It’s not magic, as much as some people may think. It’s not even hard work (although it does require hard work). It’s a combination of focus, determination, and a willingness to spend time and effort developing streamlined processes for my work. 


But I would drill down even further and get even more specific. I think my real super power is my ability to rapidly and seamlessly shift between projects without a reduction in quality or loss of efficiency, which allows me to work on many things at one time.

On Monday, for example, I completed a re-write for a musical, finished writing the first chapter of a non-fiction book, wrote about 10 pages of my screenplay, worked on two different novels, worked on a story for a Moth event, and completed tasks for my DJ company and Speak Up.

I shifted between all of these projects quickly and without loss of productivity, and I didn’t require an artisanal latté, a communal table made from refurbished railroad timber, or any smooth jazz to do so. I worked in many different locales at times ranging from 4:00 AM to 10:30 PM.

That is my super power.   

My wife’s super power, by the way, is her ability to endear herself to every  person of every type almost instantly. People automatically love Elysha. It’s as if humanity’s default setting is almost instantaneous love for her.

I wonder if she would agree.

Three questions:

  1. What is your super power?
  2. Were you able to answer the question almost immediately?
  3. If you know me well, do you agree with the super power that I have proposed?

Worst super power ever

It turns out that I write about my super powers quite often.

First there was a post about my actual super hero persona: Mr. Indestructible.

I cannot be killed (having been brought back from death twice already) nor have I ever bruised, and I have not vomited since 1983, yet I tend to be hurt all the time. Golfer’s elbow. Bad knees. Separated shoulders. Frequent concussions.

Strength and weakness tied together. The classic superhero motif.


Then there were posts about some of my lesser super powers:

My ability to wake up in the middle of the night and accurately state the time within fifteen minutes of the actual time, and oftentimes much more accurately than that.

My ability to hold my breath underwater for an exceedingly long time.

My ability to sleep very little, fall asleep almost instantly and sleep almost anywhere, regardless of the discomfort associated with the location.

For a short period of time, I actually tried to bring a few of my friends together with similarly questionable super powers in order to form a band of super heroes.

At the time, I thought that if Elysha had wanted to join our team, she might use her ability to identify any song after listening to it for three seconds or less as her super power, but it turns out that she has a more legitimate and equally useless super power:

Her sense of smell is superior to any human being on the planet.

Unfortunately, this is the worst of the five senses to possess in super quantities. As far as I can  tell, this super power only allows her to smell the dog or similarly distasteful scents when no one else can.

Unless your sense of smell is superior enough to sniff out the chemical components of a bomb at an airport, a super sense of smell is an atrocious power to have.

It prevents you from sitting in the train car with the restroom.

It causes you to smell the dead skunk on the road for considerably longer than anyone else in the car.

And yes, it allows you to smell the dog when no one in the house can smell her unless she is in your lap.

On a positive note, her super power fits the classic motif of combining a super power with an associated weakness.

Now all I need is a name for her super heroine persona and she can be on the team. Suggestions? 

My most useless super power

In addition to my fairly useful super powers is one that is no less extraordinary but useless. Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, I can accurately state the time within fifteen minutes of the actual time, and oftentimes much more accurately than that.

Every time, without exception.

How I manage this is a mystery to me.

But an even bigger mystery:

How am I ever going to use this super power to defeat evil?


Utterly terrifying super power

If my wife had to choose one super power, it would be teleportation. I think this is a brilliant but selfish choice.

If you get to choose a super power of any kind, the only morally acceptable choice in terms of the fate of the world is the ability to see the future. The ability to warn about natural disaster and prevent manmade ones trumps the ability to pop into Manhattan for dinner in the blink of an eye.

Not by much. But it does.

Besides, teleportation is hardly a super power. Physicists have already achieved this teleportation years ago, as the video below demonstrates.

But be warned. If you are anything like me, this video may terrify you.

I have a great deal of respect for physicists, but the fact that particles are aware that they are being measured should scare the hell of everyone, physicists included, but they seem to accept this fact as if it were no big deal.

I’ll never understand this.

Another fairly useless super power

My wife and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary on Sunday. Following our wedding, I wrote about some of the more memorable moments and posted them on a blog that no long exists. In light of our anniversary, I’ve decided to re-post some of those wedding memories here as a means of preserving them as well as sharing them with readers.

Today’s post was written during our honeymoon in Bermuda. __________________________________________

Elysha discovered another one of my super powers this week:

My ability to hold my breath for frightening lengths of time.

We were swimming in the pool yesterday and I was lazily doing laps underwater. Eventually I came up for breath and heard her scream, “Damn it, honey! You scared the hell out of me!”

I can really hold my breath for quite a while. Unless you are one of these guys, I probably have you beat.

Of course, this particular talent has yielded me very few results.

Occasionally I will find the opportunity to float in the pool for a long period of time, appearing drowned and dead, thus terrifying a friend or stranger (which is great fun indeed), but other than that, this super power is fairly useless.

Unless of course I find myself on a sinking submarine someday.

In that case, I will probably be able to survive about three minutes longer than the rest of the crew.