Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What do you know about that?

Sometimes I sit around, thinking about what I can think about next.

And here is what I came up with today:  It's based on an aphorism attributed to Will Rogers - "Everybody is dumb, just on different topics."

Couldn't be more right.  Take me.  What I know about dinosaurs and the solar system could fit in one of the little plastic cups that come with cough syrup, and yet I know children - pre-schoolers! - who know more about those topics than I do, and I say good for them.  As long as T Rex isn't charging after me when I go to the Try 'N' Save, and the sun keeps coming up every day, I'm fine not knowing why the former doesn't happen and why the latter does.

Ring Lardner
I hasten to point out that there are topics on which I am quite knowledgeable, such as the works of Ring Lardner and Jerry Lee Lewis, and how to make grits just right (not soupy, not thick), and things related to the study of history, so I always have something to talk about in case I'm invited to a cocktail party. ("Benjamin Franklin was the only president of the United States who was never president of the United States!")

But...there's always a but. Why do so many of us talk of things about which we know nada, zilch, zed, zero. F'rinstance, the recent disappearance of the Air Asia plane - still a mystery as I write this - has brought out a veritable plethora (all plethoras are "veritable," just like all long waits are "seemingly interminable") of people whose work brings them no closer to Asian air travel than the latest issue of US Weekly, and yet are willing to state what happened to that Malaysian airplane earlier this year.

"It was shot down by the Taliban"
"It was hijacked to Syria"
"It was vaporized by gamma rays by the Martians"

And they make these statements so unabashedly, and their friends all form an echoing chorus of approval, never once asking, "How do you know that?"

Jerry Lee Lewis
The last moments of people who passed away under mysterious circumstances, the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa, and the reasons why Jennifer Aniston has never found true happiness in love are all grist for these mills.  They couldn't possibly know, but that doesn't stop them from sharing their uninformation.

And we're polite enough to act like we agree.

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