Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Difficult questions

There are some questions that leave me stumped. I recognise that I just cannot answer questions like "what do occassional tables do the rest of the time?" "ghosts can pass through walls, so why don’t they fall through the floor?" and "why is monosyllabic such a long word?". In Donald Rumsfeld terms these are my known unknowns.

Last night I was dipping into a Nigel Slater book ("Eating for England"), and he was worrying about what do with apricot coloured toilet rolls that he had ordered off the internet by mistake. I am no great fan of apricot toilet rolls, but now I am aware of the issue I'm pretty clear in my mind what I would do with them. So this counts as a question that I didn't realise I knew the answer to. In Rumsfeld terminology, it is one of my unknown knowns.

But there is another category that Rumsfeld missed - the known unanswerables. "Where do babies come from?" is probably a good example in certain circumstances, but the most recent one I have come across is "Can you explain to my finance director why the size of the market is still increasing, when you show that growth has slowed?" I haven't been able to come up with a way of explaining this that doesn't insult the intelligence of a finance director.

Until today, when I approached a main road on the bike, a bit faster than I should have done. I applied the brakes, and I slowed down, but I carried on approaching the junction uncomfortably quickly. In the end, all was well, but it was still a pretty good reminder of the difference between velocity and acceleration. Next time I'm asked, at least I will have a story to tell.

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