Saturday, February 23, 2013

Knowing All the Things

I recently added Jeopardy to my DVR line-up.  I'd seen it before now and then, and thought it was mildly engaging, but now that I'm recording it every day I'm totally digging it.  Ken watches with me and we play along as best we can.

The most important thing that Jeopardy has taught me is how little I know.  I have a passing acquaintance with history.  Geography leaves me almost completely at a loss.  I can't stand my own ignorance.  I must know!  I want to learn it all!

I've been studying history intermittently for the past couple of years, so that's a work in progress.  I need to study geography almost from scratch.  I have a general idea of the basic shape of the globe (I'm aware of the relative positions and sizes of the continents) and the direction in which one would need to travel to reach various well-known countries (go south to get to Brazil, fly east to visit Ukraine), but that's about the extent of it.  I'm pulling out the maps to try to get on top of all this.

One thing that makes geography difficult is the lack of any consistency or pattern in the arrangements of political borders and place names.  For example, a map of Africa indicates that Algiers is the capital of Algeria, Tunis is the capital of Tunisia, but Niger and Nigeria are separate (but adjacent) countries.

The United States is no better.  You have North and South Dakota, North and South Carolina, but West Virginia is paired with Virginia, not East Virginia.  And of course there is that completely confusing business about Washington state vs. Washington D.C., which isn't technically in any state (I didn't know that until about an hour ago) even though it sure looks to me like it's in Maryland.

Did you know that the capital of Australia is some practically unknown city called Canberra?  I didn't either.  I would have thought it should be Sydney, or Brisbane.  I guess Canada's capital is guilty of the same obscurity.  There isn't anything remarkable about Ottawa other than it being Canada's capital city.  Everyone mostly talks about Toronto and Vancouver.  Sometimes capital cities are overly modest.

I don't suppose I'll be trying out for Jeopardy anytime soon, but I'm going to keep playing along from my couch.


DarcKnyt said...

Jeopardy's awesome. There was a guy on it several years ago who won the most money anyone's ever won; about $2.5MM. He was fun to watch! He, it seemed, knew ALL THE THINGS!

I'm like you though. I hate my ignorance. Unfortunately, I don't have time -- or energy! -- to learn everything. So I'll die wallowing in the volumes I don't know.

Happy Saturday, Spark!

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Knowledge is good. I personally am doing a study to find out which Country has the most nude beaches...

Jenski said...

I TOTALLY don't have Jeopardy-level knowledge either.

Fun Canberra facts: It was a planned city, from the location between Sydney & Brisbane to the layout. You should check out the city street map - it's pretty cool. And look - I did learning something studying abroad in Australia! :-)

Tracy Moore said...

I know what you mean about lack of knowledge. On my end it's about a lot of things. I seem to do well at coming up with the odd or obscure stuff but not so much of the current events/political/historical stuff.

Lynn said...

My coworker's nephew, Leonard, just won $75,000 in the teen tournament a couple of weeks ago. So much fun to watch someone I loosely knew. :)

Granny Annie said...

I too have only recently become a follower of Jeopardy and have set it to record. My greatest lessons in History and Geography have come from being married to Ron for 13 years. He is genius on those subjects and I love his spontaneous lectures. I do much better on Jeopardy for knowing Ron but I still have a lot of learning to do:)

LL Cool Joe said...

I've never watched Jeopardy. My geographical skills are far worse than yours I have a tough time remembering the capital of Scotland and Ireland.

DarcsFalcon said...

Oh I love Jeopardy! I used to watch it every day, several years ago. I was one of those watchers who shouts out the answers at the TV and half expects Alex to respond, lol. :D

I remember it being on TV when I was a very little girl, back in the 70s, with a different host. It went away for a long time, then came back with Trebek, in the 80s. Now there's a bit of Jeopardy trivia for you! Hahaha!

I haven't seen it in years though, not having TV service anymore. But it will always have a special place in my heart. :)

Jameil said...

We always watched Jeopardy as a family. One of my mom's all-time favorite shows! D.C. was created from land from Maryland & Virginia. Great city to visit! I'm from N. Carolina and I absolutely HATE when people think I'm from S. Carolina. Completely different states. I find US capital cities are rarely the most fun or interesting city in the state. They're not even usually the biggest city in the state! And lots therefore not usually the first city you think of when you think of think of that state.

I know ridiculously little about Canada. Jeopardy definitely makes me want to brush up on geography. I heard one of the things that you're supposed to learn first to have a chance on that show is world capitals. We'd better get to work!

Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: That was probably Ken Jennings, right? I wasn't watching at the time, but I've heard him interviewed. He's made a full-time career of being a Know-It-All.

Ron: Toronto has a nude beach, but it's definitely dominated by gay men. I think that's probably not what you had in mind.

Jenski: Wait a minute... that sounds familiar. I think I did learn about Canberra in Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country", and then promptly forgot about it again. I remember Bryson discussing the layout of a city, but the city's name didn't stick.

Lynn: Leonard was AWESOME! Wow, it's so cool that you almost know him. If you ever get a chance to shake his hand, please tell him he has a fan in Canada.

Granny Annie: I get my best impromptu lessons from my mother. She's been trying to Know All the Things for longer than me, so she's got a lot of facts in her noggin.

Joe: Scotland IS the capital of Ireland, silly! ;-)

DarcsFalcon: Ken and I both call out answers to the TV, but I'm glad that Alex Trebek can't hear us because we're often wrong.

Jameil: I don't know that much about Canada myself, in truth. If you're familiar with Anne of Green Gables and you know that Vancouver is close to Seattle, you know almost as much as me already.

Sparkling Red said...

Tracy: Oops - I missed you! Nothing personal. :-) It's tough to start picking up political and historical knowledge, because it's a story with no beginning, no end, and no limits as to the breadth or depth you can get into. I find it frustrating, but then satisfying as I learn more.