WalMart, a source for staples around the house, was closed today, perhaps the victim of snows that damaged many roofs in the region. One of the things that has never been explained to me in a way I can understand is why large industrial buildings located in temperate climates use flat roofs. I can understand that flat may be cheaper than peaked, but how much cheaper can it be when those flat roofs collapse beneath a load of snow or spring leaks in heavy rain?
That's one thing I suspect I will never know.
Another is some explanation as to why the Chinese and others settled on chop sticks as eating implements. By the time Europe began using forks (in France, the personal fork didn't gain sway until the 17th century), the Chinese had been using chopsticks for centuries. Although the exact origins are open to speculation, there are records of use during the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC - 1122 BC). Some suggest that the style of Chinese cooking (small bits of food) contributed to the use. And then there was a sense of delicacy and distance from the slaughterhouse. But what wonders me is that knives and fingers seem much more logical ... and who knows, maybe that is how it all began. I don't know.
And I will probably never know.
I once asked the prolific science writer Isaac Asimov what he thought the greatest unknown was. In less than a nanosecond, he responded with assurance, "The mind."
How marvelous it is to know whatever it is we know -- each person stuffed like a Christmas turkey with gobs and gobs of information, each bit intersecting and enlivening the next ... it's pretty humongous. But however humongous it may be and however assured and reassured we may be by our collections, still, what we don't know is always humongous-er. I'm not suggesting that everyone run out and get an advanced degree, but rather that an occasional reflection on what is unknown is probably a good idea ... humbling and inclining people to a greater social kindness.
More than that, there are some profound idiocies we all indulge in. We are, for example, convinced by and attached to things that we assume are concrete and enduring but are in fact ephemeral. "Me" is a pretty good example, but there are others as well. Having conceded our own arrogance does not mean we have to then wallow in our ignorance and idiocy. It does mean that any sensible person might want to check in with and check out the things that are honestly not know.
A little curiosity and a little investigation never hurt anyone.