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What We Don’t Know: Confessions from Wheeler Centre Staff

Read Sunday, 7 Sep 2014

Ignoramus Anonymous is a support group for those of us who feel like we’re missing out on all kinds of important (and not so important) nuggets of information. It’s a kind of live Wikipedia – where knowledge is shared in a round-circle discussion. And you’re invited to join: several (free) session times are available.

In the spirit of admitting what you don’t know – and inviting the crowd to supply answers – various Wheeler Centre staff have shared some of the questions that continue to puzzle us (some serious, some tongue-in-cheek). Feel free to let us know if you can help figure it out.

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I am ashamed to say that I do not know anything about Kurdistan, Iraqi Kurdistan or the area inhabited by the Kurdish people, namely Turkey, Syria, Iraq and a sliver of Iran. Is Kurdistan a country? Who deems it not to be? And who deems it to be?

Ania Anderst, receptionist

Hi, my name is Shannon and I am a complete ignoramus when it comes to Candy Crush. Is it a weird mash-up of Tetris and Minesweeper? How do you actually win the game? Is it so addictive because it has the word candy in the title? (If so, genius btw). Why would anyone pay real, actual money for lives in this game? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given the game a go on someone else’s phone once or twice to see what I was missing out on. But it made absolutely no sense to me. I’m obviously not good at pattern recognition or pressing colourful things on a smartphone screen. I’m at a loss here. But I suspect my loss may also be a very beneficial gain in the end.

Shannon Hick, marketing manager

I don’t understand cricket. I don’t get anything about it. I don’t understand the rules. I don’t understand why people like it. I don’t understand why it takes days and days and days. I don’t know what a 20/20 is. I don’t understand how they just seem to run back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. I know it takes forever but I don’t understand how it ends. Who wins? Why do they win? Does anyone win or do they just eventually stop playing when no one is paying attention anymore? If someone scores a home run in the middle of the woods and there’s no one there to listen, do they score a home run at all? Wait, home runs are baseball, right? What’s the cricket equivalent of a home run? I told you I don’t understand cricket.

Simon Abrahams, head of programming

Internet usage. As in what the hell is a megabyte? And is there an endless supply of them and if so why is it more expensive to use 500 of them in a month than it is to use 50?

This is what keeps me awake at night. Sort of. That and too much curry.

Sam Ryan, accounts

I know it’s quite a boy thing to ponder, but I suppose it’s inevitable given the mechanical company I keep. (The irony of typing this out rather than simply doing a search isn’t lost on me, natch.) I don’t understand how computers measure time. I mean, in my dopey estimation, it’s not a mechanical process like it is for a clock or a watch. So how does it test the period between two things?

I’m also fascinated and bewildered by computer processing generally. Back in the days of rudimentary, room-sized computing, when programmes were punch cards, what did that room full of stuff actually do? What would a vacuum tube have to do with anything? And how can a computer make sense or a determination about anything, even a punch card? I guess there are other things I sort of understand about how computers really work, but what I struggle most with is how they actually make it past the starting line. Help.

Jon Tjhia, online manager

Why is there sometimes a beep in the background when I’m listening to 3RRR, and why does it seem like nobody that I have asked can hear it?

Tamara Zimet, publicist

Knowledge is power. Functioning as TWC technical coordinator I often come across a bizarre expectation that I must posses a complete knowledge of the inner workings of the universe.

While flattering, it is exaggerated and the sheer amount of stuff out there means that the number of things I don’t know must always be a lot greater than the things I do know.

Hanging out with fellow technicians and production people, my ignorance shines during breaks from work and when people discuss the intricacies of … footy! (or cricket or rugby or any other strange Aussie sport).
Hopefully, if I gain more knowledge about this, I’ll be able to make the most out of what is now an awkward social incompatibility. Also, knowing more about popular sports will help me to understand why people care about it so much, maybe … I don’t know …

Oren Gerassi, technical coordinator

There’s so much I don’t know, but the things that I really want to know (as opposed to the many things I’ve accepted my ignorance on) have to do with people, and what makes us think and behave the way we do.

Why isn’t attraction logical, for instance? (See Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre – and the love for these twisted love stories – for proof of the fact it isn’t.) Why are women seen as pushy when they ask for what they want, but men are seen as assertive? Most people say they want honesty, but most of us are lying: we want a certain degree of honesty, but we don’t want to be called out on every single thing we do wrong or every way we are wrong. So what do we really want when we ask for ‘honesty’? White lies, but truth when it comes to the big, important stuff? In that case, how do we know what the important stuff is? And let’s face it, isn’t that division a lie in itself? (Show me a man who honestly wants to know that his balding scalp makes him less attractive.)

I could go on. Human beings are endlessly fascinating, baffling and infuriating. And finding out what makes us tick offers clues to how we function at every level, from the domestic to the political. I hate to bring everything back to books, but the best fiction offers potential answers. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved reading?

Jo Case, senior writer/editor

There are six Ignoramus Anonymous sessions in total. They are free, and held at the Wheeler Centre during September (including two sessions for 13-17 year olds).

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.