January 28, 2011

How to know everything you need to know.

I overheard this snippet of conversation today, as I was walking down State Street here in Madison, Wisconsin. 2 college-age guys, one in shorts. (The temperature is in the 20s.)
"Where's Mount Everest?"


"Did you say Seattle?!"


"I think it's in India somewhere."

"I don't care."
Now, there's wisdom in this ignorance. Is there not? As long as you don't care about whatever it is you don't know, you've got perfect intellectual equilibrium. You know everything you need to know. Unshakable wisdom. Sublime.


woof said...

Sounds like a scene from the movie Slacker

Trooper York said...

Well I mean the dude does go to Wisconsin after all.

I bet he thinks the Packers are gonna win.

Ignorance is truly bliss.

Bru said...

Sadly, I feel that with some small revisions this conversation could apply to our President.

Original Mike said...

Sublime? Pathetic.

Original Mike said...

Well, Trooper, The Packers are winning the only game currently underway.

SteveR said...

Probably doesn't care where Cairo is. Probably does care when Daddy's money hits his account.

Automatic_Wing said...

My guess - He's part of r-v's world-class environmental engineering school.

TWM said...

I know this is a small leap, but I bet he didn't know anything about Barry - or care very much to really learn - when he voted for him, except that it was the cool college-kid thing to do.

Joe Morris said...

But Ann, don't keep us in suspense: which one was wearing the shorts? The non-caring ignoramus, or the one incredulous at his companion's non-caring ignorance?

Normally, I would presume the shorts-wearer is the ignorant one, as it was only 20 degrees out ("How cold is it out there? I don't care!"), but it is a college town, so anything is possible.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Sounds a bit like that vignette in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories in which Holmes, on being informed by Watson that the Earth goes round the Sun, says that now that he knows it, he'll do his best to forget it; he's got only so much space in his head, and prefers to save it for the actually useful stuff. (I paraphrase, of course.)

Salamandyr said...

I get a kind of existentialist vibe from the depiction of these two. I feel like I'm reading dialogue from a Camus novel

Stephen said...

They must have been channeling this oldie.

Father to sluggardly son: "You are so ignorant and apathetic. What's going to happen to you?"

I don't know and I don't care!

Trooper York said...

Original Mike said...
Well, Trooper, The Packers are winning the only game currently underway.

Oh I grant you that. Except for the Washington Generals. I expec the same results. Hee.

Anonymous said...

Ok ... how does this merit a "men in shorts" slap?

Humperdink said...

I have been listening to Jim Rome's ESPN radio show this week. He interviewed several professional athletes from the NFL and NBA. In nearly every case, none of these former "student athletes" could structure a sentence. In some cases, their statements were virtually incoherent.

ricpic said...

The Himalayas would be a nice backdrop for my meeting with the Dalai Lama, the sole purpose of which would be for me to say, you guessed it, "Hello Dalai."

Ann Althouse said...

"But Ann, don't keep us in suspense: which one was wearing the shorts? The non-caring ignoramus, or the one incredulous at his companion's non-caring ignorance?"

I'm not sure, because I heard them when they were behind me, then saw them when they walked around in front. I think the one who didn't know but guessed India was the one in shorts.

KLDAVIS said...

Apathy is bliss.

JohnG said...

Perhaps Guy #2 heard Everett (about 25mi north of Seattle where Boeing builds their planes)?

DADvocate said...

"How many states are there?"


"Did you say 57?!"


"I think it's less than that."

"I don't care.

Neither student is a genius. Everest is on the Nepal-China border.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

But did they have birth certificates?

That is in the real question.

garage mahal said...

I bet he thinks the Packers are gonna win.

You don't need to be especially smart to know this.

DADvocate said...

But did they have birth certificates?

Only the short forms.

Anonymous said...

"s long as you don't care about whatever it is you don't know, you've got perfect intellectual equilibrium. You know everything you need to know. Unshakable wisdom. Sublime."

That sounds exactly like Barry!

traditionalguy said...

A Bob Dylan aphorism if I have ever heard one.

MadisonMan said...

True, the temperature is in the 20s. But it's a warm 20s this time of year.

Paul Brinkley said...

Forty-five seconds earlier:

"Dude, check it out!"

"What, the blonde?"

"You know who that is, right?"

"Who... wait, I know that haircut. Holy shit, it's her!"

"I know, right? And here I am, wearing shorts... hey, I got an idea. Ask me where Mount Everest is."


"Just do it, man! This'll be awesome."


Now you know... The Rest of the Story.

The Crack Emcee said...

I've got a liberal friend who calls me about once a week to discuss politics (he always waits until he thinks he's got an "Aha!" moment) but, since he's always regurgitating some dogma he picked up somewhere - "Sarah Palin's a quitter!" - when I straighten him out with the facts, he always falls back on "I don't care." Then he denies being a liberal. Then he wants to change the subject.

It always ends on a subject more on his level - like some cartoon violence on Adult Swim.

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't care" is really a hilarious rejoinder whenever you need to backtrack after saying something stupid. It's like sour grapes. After you got it wrong, you act like the other person is stupid for wanting to know about such things.

Unknown said...

As long as you dont know that you dont know.
Anyway who cares? Geography is not a need especially if you live in the USA. Ask anyone in any country and almost for sure you will get the wrong answer

Unknown said...

This is from an email from The local editor. A web newspaper from Sweden:Hello and welcome to a look at this week's news from Sweden.

Have you heard that old joke about a clueless tourist (usually American) who waltzes into the tourist office in downtown Stockholm, downhill skis in tow?

When he gets to the counter he starts asking for the quickest route to the Alps, where he can buy some of that famous cheese and those nifty knives, and oh, by the way, are there any yodeling competitions coming up soon?

The flip side of the story puts our geographically-challenged tourist in Zurich inquiring about the archipelago, little red horses, and an infamous, if not outdated, Bikini Team.

Unknown said...

Well, if Brinkley is right, at least we know one of them knows a fine woman when he sees her.

As for unshakable wisdom, it's the province of youth.

Then they have to support themselves.

DADvocate said...

The irony is that they usually do care, but claim to not care because they're lazy, stupid or both. A form of aggressive ignorance.

rhhardin said...

Everest keeps moving owing to earth rotation.

LordSomber said...

I thought the same as JohnG and figured he misheard and thought Everett.

Being in a college town, I've heard stupider...


SteveR said...

I bet he knew the glaciers were retreating

Paul Brinkley said...

No one cares about geography unless they're American and it gets waved in their face.

Speaking of which, for anyone who doesn't follow the comic (and if you don't, you're missing out!):


Happy Friday, peeps.

Jason said...

Were they speaking Austrian?

roesch-voltaire said...

Maguro, nice snark but tell me would you like to join our students in Hangzhou, China this summer while they study Mechanical engineering and technical communication, along with Chinese culture--just to get a sense of the quality of our students? Frankly I doubt these were COE students, more likely from law school.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson,

A pretty close paraphrase, at least as close as my memory. You beat me to it.

I'm always torn when I read that: is Holmes being wise, or an insufferable jackass? I get the point of not cluttering up the brain with useless information; but my word, his whole casebook is replete with examples of utterly obscure information that's useless except for the fact that it's key to solving this particular case. He's one giant trivia encyclopedia, except in this one instance.

Add in the fact that any educated person of the time would know the Earth revolved around the Sun, and I come down on the side of insufferable jackass -- which Holmes proved to be on many occasions.

Toad Trend said...


"But did they have birth certificates?

That is in the real question."

Not exactly. Its whether or not the 'utes have the same opportunity and privilege to spend tons of cash to obfuscate rather than just show the certificate.

Anonymous said...

"I don't care."

But I'll bet he feels good about himself. He's been taught for the past dozen years that self-esteem is far more important than mere knowledge.

wv: ableo (I think the "o" should have been a zero)

Daniel Fielding said...

Ok, here is a conversation I had with a couple of Michigan students at the Michigan Union's Pool and Billiards Room.
Student#1:"so, you are Indian, eh?"

Me: "yup"

Student #2: "So, like what kind of Indian?"

Student #1: "Yeah, like , are you a Ojibwa, or, like Potowatomie, or , like a Huron, or a Chippewa, man ?!!!!!"

Me: "I am the kind of Indian that come from from India, am definitely not a Native American"

Student#2: "Cool, dude!!!"

Student #1: "Yeah, uh, real cool, man, but, WTF is India? Are you some kind of Arab?"

I didnt know how to respond to that sort of idiocy.

rcocean said...

He should have responded:

"Which Mount Everest? The one near Seattle?, There are a lot of them dude."

Steven said...

Fielding reminds me of a scene from the Simpsons:

Homer: Thanks. Are you sure you don't want to come? In a Civil War re-enactment we need lots of Indians to shoot.
Apu: I don't know what part of that sentence to correct first, but I cannot come.

madAsHell said...

Well...I do have a big fat mountain in the picture window, but we call it Rainier.

The politically correct people call it Tahoma, but never Everest.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Daniel Fielding,

I'd love to know their majors. When I went to UM 30 years ago, Indians were common in the math and science and engineering areas. 15 years later, I worked with a lot of Indian programmers there, and knew Indian architects and doctors, etc. For these two to not know India and Indians, they must be in a truly isolated little bubble. (Perhaps betraying my own prejudice, my first guess was: frat boys.)

Ann Arbor may be a political monoculture (or seem like it), but it's culturally and ethnically a slice of the whole world all in one small place. That's my favorite part of the town. If these guys are blind to that, they're missing a big part of life in Ann Arbor.

madAsHell said...


Why would ANYONE call YOU with an argument?

My buddy does property management in Portland. He relishes the argument.

I hate the argument. I've met TOO many delusional people....in fact, I have radar for that stuff.

My job? ...argue with software. At least the argument doesn't change.

MamaM said...

Perhaps his mother never read him Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue.

Chapter III
Now as the night began to fall
A hungry lion paid a call
He looked Pierre right in the eye
And asked him if he'd like to die
Pierre said-I don't care!
-I can eat you, don't you see?
-I don't care!
-And you will be inside of me
-I don't care!
-Then you will never have to bother--
-I don't care!
-With a mother and a father
-I don't care!
-Is that all you have to say?
-I don't care!
-Then I'll eat you, if I may
-I don't care!
So the lion ate Pierre

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

There is always someone out there who has 50 IQ points on you.

Stupidity is relative. Everyone is stupid to somebody.

Revenant said...

Stupidity is relative. Everyone is stupid to somebody.

Usually to me.

Papa said...

Ahhh, the Boddhisattva of Ignorance has spoken. When we listen, what do we learn about ourselves?

Anonymous said...

My favorite Homer Simpson quotation:

What are the odds of getting sick on a Saturday? A thousand to one?

I will bet that most people who spend a lot of time at a casino don't understand why that is funny.

Daniel Fielding said...

Martin Shoemaker: You got it right- both the 2 students I talked to at the Michigan Union Pool and Billiards Room were frat boys from the frat I belonged to, and both were from the northern part of the lower peninsula. I think the ywere confused because of 2 reasons, (1) I have a German grandma, and thus, I dont look like the typical Indian( from India) person, and (2)my name is Daniel Fielding Smith, which is not a typical Indian name.
But, I was flabbergasted that the one guy didnt know that there was country in this world named "India".

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