1897 I Don’t Know
We have lost the ability to say “I don’t know.” In an era when there’s the entire world’s accumulated knowledge, wisdom, history and foolishness is available in an electronic device that weighs less than a deck of cards, we are assumed able to look up anything and therefore to be able to answer any and every question.
“I don’t know” has become an admission of guilt. Or ignorance or ineptness or laziness. Quick, now: what is the cubic root of 17? You don’t know, right? The answer is a little over 2.57. It took eight seconds to look that up. It’s not the kind of question you’re apt to be asked unless you’re a table waiter at a restaurant and asks me “Do you have any questions?”
Even here in a college town with math majors abounding, people don’t know this and there’s really no reason to. But to say “I don’t know” is a mark of inferiority -- at least in the minds of many of us.’’
The questions get dodgier. “Why doesn’t the guy across the street take in his garbage cans after the trash is collected?” I don’t know the guy. If I did, I probably never would think to ask him. But somehow, I’m expected to know. And so are you.
Put that question into a search engine and you will not get a direct answer. If Google doesn’t know, no one does, right?
Of course, you can look most stuff up. When were the Peloponnesian Wars? Who fought? Who won? To this you can whip out your iPhone and say “I’m not sure, but I’ll look it up.” That’s usually the start of an actual answer.
But when you ask cousin Bert why he hasn’t called after you sent him that nice birthday present, he’ll hem and haw and make excuses. But the honest answer probably is “I don’t know.”
There is no shame in not knowing. At least not that I know of.
--Radio Story: I was doing the business news on “Rambling with Gambling,” the forever-running morning show on WOR in 1990 or 91. Off air, John A. Gambling (the one of three Johns Gambling with actual talent) said he was going to ask me such and such a question during the segment and if I didn’t know the answer I should say “I don’t know.” I was shocked.
--trump ordered Mueller’s firing last summer but didn’t follow through when White House Counsel Donald McGahn threatened to quit, reports the New York Times. McGahn said it would have had a “disastrous effect on the presidency. He was right and trump backed down, at least temporarily.
--Give it a rest, John Kerry. The former senator and secretary of state says he’s thinking about another run at the presidency. Nah, John, give someone younger and less haughty a chance.
--A new computer brings new tsuris to the Wessays (™) Secret Mountain Laboratory. Switching over never is as easy as it should be. But the real sticking point at this time required a birth date and it wouldn’t go backward from 4/28/2018, which it also helpfully pointed out hasn’t yet happened.
“I have just signed your death warrant.” -- Judge Josephine Aquilina in Lansing, Michigan, sentencing child molesting team doctor Larry Nassar to as long as 175 years in jail for molesting around 150 young gymnasts.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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