Prior Material

10/12/2000: Back at the Dawn of the Space Age...
    Tonight, I'm going to invite you to join me in a stroll down memory lane to the birthing days of the Space Age. We won't be going back as far as Calvin and Hobbes, but we'll visit a time when space flight was little more than a dim dream, and a gleam in the dreamers' eyes. Perhaps we aren't yet far enough removed in time to appreciate the breathless wonder of putting something up that wouldn't necessarily ever come down. In my day, space flight had seemed absurdly impossible to laymen and engineers alike...
    "Once rockets get into space, what are they gonna' have to push against? Besides, it's so hot up there that anything would just burn up. Besides that, every time anyone tries to make a large rocket, it explodes. And you can't put enough fuel in a rocket to escape from the earth. And how can a rocket go faster than its own exhaust? Besides, who needs it? There's no way the American public is going to pay for a rocket to the moon. What good would it do you if you got there? Nobody's going to want to pay for that kind of foolishness. That's just Buck Rogers tripe. Mark my words, young man, it's never gonna' happen."
    I remember reading one Sunday as a stars-in-his-eyes child in the American Weekly about "Looney Goddard"'s plans to build a New-York-to-San-Francisco rocket plane that could make the trip in one hour. (Actually, that hasn't happened yet.)
    But now, don your spacesuits, strap yourselves into your acceleration couches, say your goodbyes, and prepare to blast off into the faded pa-a-a-a-st.

    Tonight will, perhaps, be the last night of the Year 2000 Harvest Moon. (The moon will be out for two more weeks before the next new moon, but it will be rising later an later and will enter its gibbous phase.) There will be many full moons in our lives, but only one Harvest Moon per year, with an all-too-limited number of years (until someone is smart enough to figure out how Nature totally rejuvenates old germ cells to produce error-free genomes for her spanking-new zygotes that produce unaged offspring).(See Interested in Aging Slower? How About in Total Rejuvenation and Perpetual Youth? (Ponce de Leon, Move Over!). Aging Breakthrough? Cloning Super-Juvenates Cells, Mitotic Errors Found to Be the Primary Cause of Aging, Could Weird Life Hold Key to Greatly Extended Longevity?, On Living Forever - Interview with Dr. Michael West).
    Thinking this sobering thought, one night in 1985, walking beneath the dreaming moon, I 'ginned up a couple of couplets that go,
    "Sometimes, when I go rambling amid the blaze of noon
        Or when I go a-gamboling beneath a burnished moon,
     Surrounded by life's ecstasies, I count with deep regret,
       How many moons are left to me before my sun must set."

    One excellent website, particularly for children, is the Discovery site.

    Come step aboard a magic carpet, and ride "Dreamtime" across the High Frontier!

10/10/2000:I just finished correcting some errors on the "Ultra-High IQ" page.
    I'm in the process of redesigning this website to make things easier to read and to find. but I'm temporarily on hold. (Great things are being written on the wind these days.)

    The huge glob of material that occupied almost all of this web page has been removed to a "Huge Glob" page. If you run out of reading material on the Internet (chuckle!), you may find this additional material on the "Huge Glob" page, until I have time to finish the Site Map and reorganize it.

10/15/2000: Smart? Single? Looking for a connection?

10/15/2000: Kevin Kearney has just sent us all a warning regarding a new malady called, "Youthful Tendency Disorder



And God said, "Listen, you are not alone.
  I still have other kettles on the flame,
Suns that were bright before yours ever shone,
  Worlds that were old before yours had a name.
And I have children, flesh of my own flesh,
  Who never brought such offerings as these,
Your wars, your Buchenwald, your Bangladesh,
  Your blackened jungles and your dying seas.
I shall not always turn the other cheek
  Nor make excuses for your foolish ways.
What I created in one holy week
  I can destroy in less than seven days.
I never have been happy with this star,
  So watch it!" God said. "You can go too far."
And here's the "IQ Definition" page.



The seas drew back, but not because of him.
  The mountains rose and fell and rose again.
The beaches widened, perilous and grim,
   And life moved out to touch the lifeless plain.
But not because of him the mosses crept,
   The snail inched forward and thc fish found wings.
In the dark womb of time the man-child slept,
  Less than a cipher in the sum of things.
And when the man, grown old and past his prime,
   Slips back into the mists which hid his birth
The galaxies will tick away their time,
   Unshaken by his hour upon the earth.
     The hills will level out, the seas will rise
     And hide the ruined valley where he lies.




There were three who swung from the gallows tree
Before the day was done.
One was a murderer, one was a thief,
And one was God's own son.

They stirred a bit in the stirring wind
And the ropes moved to and fro,
While the ravens circled the gallows tree
And the ants lined up below.

Three mothers wept in the trampled grass
Before the day was done—
One for a murderer, one for a thief,
And one for God's own son.

And God from His heaven looked down, looked down,
And wept for each of the three
Who spread their love like winding sheets
Under the gallows tree.


carpe diem


If no one were looking, I know what I'd do.
I'd run
Faster than anyone, no matter who,
Just for the fun of the thing.
I'd leap over fences and rip through the weeds,
Scattering thistle and sunflower seeds,
Chasing the rabbit and chasing the wind
And racing my shadow.
What fun it would be, With nothing and nobody faster than me.

If no one were listening, no one at all,
I know what I'd do.
I'd shout.
I'd call to the beetle and call to the bird,
To everything scaly or feathered or furred.
Just for the fun of the thing
I 'd shout .

But people would hear me, and people would see.
They would peep through their windows and talk about me.
"She has gone just a little too far," they would say.
"Do you think it is time that we put her away?"

Oh, there isn't a doubt.
They would put me away like a bug in a box
And I'd never, no never, get out.

So I sit on the porch and I look at my shoes
And I wait for my tea and the six o'clock news.

   The Prometheus Society's Membership Committee's range extension tables for the WAIS-R (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised.)


Word of the Day:authochthonous

Table I.Summary Description of 12 Children with IQs Above 180
C S IQ Talked R Personality, Character Age
A M 184-191 10 mos.   3 undemonstrative, absent-minded, obstinate , dominant  86
B F  188-189 9 mos.   3  socially very adept, good mixer, dominant  88
C M  180-190  16 mos.  3  unsociable, prig, tactless, exacting 87
D M 184   8 mos.  1.5  socially adept, no play, chess  D
E M 187 24 mos.   3  congenial, undemonstrative, no play, private, no hobby  92
F M  >182 12 mos.  4.5  sociable, severe character flaws   D
G M  163-192  ? 6  sociable, excellent character, exacting  77
H F  148-189  16 mos. 4.5  sociable, adult among children  77
I F  184  18 mos. ? sociable, outstanding supporting traits 71
J F  200+ ?  3  sociable, played, adult among children  71
K M  178 2  3  loner, exacting 77
L M  153-199  9 mos. 4  sociable, serious, exacting  73

C  (Column 1) - Letter code for identifying each child.
(Column 2) - Sex.
IQ (Column 3) - Range of measured IQs.
Talked (Column 4) - Approximate age at which child spoke first words.
R  (Column 5) - Age at which child learned to read.
Personality, Character (Column 6) - Personality and character traits.
Age (Column 7) - Present age, if still living. ("D" = "Deceased")

    One interesting note: of the 10 children reviewed so far, 3 (Children F, G, and H) had one or more IQ scores that deviated more than 20 points from their other scores. A fourth (Child I) had a score that doesn't appear to me to be consonant with some later achievement scores. (The achievement tests suggest an IQ in the 150 to 170 range.) A fifth child (Child K) also scored a 148 on one of the tests given to him, although two other tests yielded IQs in the 180+ range. And finally L made a 153 on an Otis group test. That makes 5 out of 12 who had one or more anomalous IQ scores that were 20-or-more points removed from their 180+ IQs, plus another whose IQ probably wasn't as high as her one 180+ IQ score indicates. It leaves you wondering how often this happens, and how reliably these children's IQ scores could be measured. And if their IQ scores can sometimes be so far off, it raises a question about how often we might seriously miscalibrate IQs in general. So if you get a low score on an IQ test, don't end it all by jumping off the roof of your Corvette. It may a false alarm. (I once scored 128 on an optional high school test that went to IQ 132. Hey! I know what you're thinking! "How did he score that high?")
    It's interesting to note that nobody needed an IQ test to tell that these kids were super-smart. The IQ testing occurred only after the children had been identified on the basis of their behavior. And they'd have been marked as child geniuses before there were IQ tests. No one needed an IQ test to tell that Gauss was a mental giant. And Dr. Isaac Barrow must have sensed something in Isaac Newton or Dr. Barrow wouldn't have relinquished his Lucasian chair of Mathematics at Cambridge to the downy-cheeked, 22-year-old Newton.


I can remember when the world was flat.
It hung mid-center of the universe,
The only world in all of God's creation;
And I, of all His creatures set apart,
Flesh of His flesh and heart of His own heart,
Stood hand in hand, most comfortably, with Him.

Who would have thought so much could change so soon?
I barely noticed when the galaxies
First loomed beyond the ranks of seraphim,
When the great sun became a dying star
Caught in the fringes of the Milky Way.
The world grew round, and God released His hand
And wandered off on errands of His own.
I barely noticed till I stood alone,
But I remcmbcr how I called His name
Thinking He might come back.
He never came.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day:impecunious
Intermediate Word of the Day:cantabile
Difficult Word of the Day:capitella


Cain killed Abel A long time ago,
Killed him in the pasture
Where the flag lilies grow,
Lured him to the pasture
And struck him with a stone
While the cows stood watching
And the sheep looked on.

God saw Cain
From His window in the sky,
Heard his shout of anger,
Heard his brother's cry;
And God saw Abel,
With the gash across his head,
Lying in the lilies
By the cattle shed.

"Cain," asked God,
"Where can Abel be?"
"Am I my brother's keeper
That you should question me?"
"Cain," said God,
"I have seen him where he lies.
His blood is on your forehead
And the guilt is in your eyes. "

Cain killed Abel
A long time ago.
I too have killed my brother
Where the blue flags grow,
Now Cain and I are fleeing
Through his dark and lonely lands
With the blood upon our foreheads
And our weapons in our hands.

   --"And Finding No Mouse There" (Vivian SSmallwood)


    I've expanded the Word-of-the-Day to embrace three levels of commonality. The SAT words are drawn from Barron's SAT I Hot Prospect List.
SAT-Practice Word of the Day:threadbare
Intermediate Word of the Day:taiga
Difficult Word of the Day:saiga

Updated 10-16-2000!Click here for summaries of all12 of Leta Hollingworth's "Children Above 180 IQ"
(See Prior Text for the Table and text that appeared here day before yesterday.)
    A Brief History of Transportation, written in the year 2091 by my great-great-grandson.
3:30 pm CDT - 0/18/2000: You may already have seen this but if not, how about The Four-Question IQ Test? (with thanks to Keith Krebs).

 Just before Halloween, in 1986, alone in my far-flung office in the deepening darkness after everyone else had gone home, I set about writing a Halloween poem. And then it began to write itself! It was like automatic writing, emanating from some sinister source beyond the pale. So you may want to get someone to stay in the room with while you read this, in case something wicked this way comes!Woo!-oo-oo-oo-oo!-oo-oo!-oooo!-oo.......


I know of none who say they fear the park,
And people hike the glen when day is bright,
And yet, somehow, it empties after dark,
For Something weird and wicked walks by night.
   It all began six years or so ago.
   (Some say four billion years, when Earth was born.)
   Four campers saw a crashing body slow.
   Then saw a shape that nightmares take, that morn.
And then the tales came trickling in of dogs that disappeared,
And vagrant men not seen again, and claw prints wide and weird;
Of chilling howls that rocked the wood no mortal throat could make,
And scuffle marks and trails of blood that vanished in a brake!
What beast has jaws so wide a pig could fit its snout?
Or what could chew through Hamby's fence and pluck their chickens out?
So as I say, no neighbors fear the park,
And people ply the glen when day is bright,
And yet, somehow, it empties after dark,
For Something weird and wicked stalks by night.
    A Thing that blithely gobbles down a dog
    And leaves no trace of bone or fur behind,
    A Thing that might be found in brake or bog...
    A Thing that no one really wants to find.



SAT-Practice Word of the Day:parsimonious
Intermediate Word of the Day:  hostler
Difficult Word of the Day:nide


We piled our treasures on the beach
Beyond the tumbling water's reach—
Round sand dollars, flecked with foam,
Minted in dim coral caves
For the pockets of sea-kings;
Driftwood, with its honeycomb
Of barnacles stripped clean by waves
And bleached by sun; coquina wings
Colored like dawn and opened wide,
Bright relics of the motley band
Which found its shelter in the sand
Between the tideline and the tide.

We never really hoped to keep
The flood of sunlight and the sweep
Of amber waters for our own.
We never really hoped to stay
The golden currents of the day.
We only gathered what we could
And watched without too much surprise
When twilight crested on the dunes
And summer drowned before our eyes.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:misanthrope
Intermediate Word of the Day: obsequious
Difficult Word of the Day:sagittate



I shall pretend to be sleeping, just for a day or two,
While living is still a habit and death is so strange and new.
Propped on my smooth white pillow under the quilted grass
I shall pretend to be dreaming, hoping the dream will pass.
Maybe a little later, after the roses fade
And the earth begins to settle, I shall not be afraid.
Maybe a little later, I shall be glad to go
Silently into silence, but just for a day or so
I shall be lonely and frightened, waiting for dawn to break,
Pretending that I am sleeping, wishing that I might wake.



SAT-Practice Word of the Day: paucity
Intermediate Word of the Day: malapropism
Difficult Word of the Day: kookabura



There was this bit of dry bone on the sand.
The less-than-human skull which once had housed
A less-than-human brain was empty now
And open to the airs. How dead it was!
How polished by the wind and bleached by sun,
Unroofed, unshuttered, stripped and tenantless,
Impersonal as any stick or stone
I might have kicked in passing.
There it lay,
The relic of a summer barely gone,
And there was I, not quite a relic yet,
Peering into the windows of a mouse
And finding no mouse there.
What once had lived Its tiny life and died its tiny death
Beneath the fragile rafters of this room
Had known its last of self.
I sometimes think
(Perhaps because I have a larger skull)
That we are different, the mouse and I,
That something splendid in me will endure;
And then again, sometimes I am not sure
And lift a troubled hand to touch my head,
Still roofed, still shuttered, still inhabited.

   --"And Finding No Mouse There" (Vivian SSmallwood)


 In the last few days, three brilliant readers have caught that bumbling doofus, that Jacques Cluseau of the intellocracy, Bob Seitz, in three mistakes, so keep a sharp eye open and see if you can't join this illustrious band of intellects by catching Bob in his next foxy pas. Patrick Wahl gently pointed out that syzygy refers to a situation in which 2 or more celestial bodies lie in conjunction rather than representing the turning points of orbits. That's two mistakes I've made in two days. Thanks, Patrick. I guess this settles it. I'm going to have to break down and use the dictionary. Sic semper hubris. But more seriously, I welcome and appreciate knowing about any errors that you see. I'll gratefully correct them.
SAT-Practice Word of the Day:fitful
Intermediate Word of the Day: apodictic
Difficult Word of the Day:catercousin





The blood of dinosaurs is in his veins,
And in my veins the less impressive blood
Of some lean, snuffling cousin of the shrew.
We eye each other prudently across
A dozen bricks and sixty million years.

We have not always shared a patio,
A trellis and a square of morning sun,
Nor do we share them easily today,
For in a dusty crevice of my mind
I store the recollection of an age
When dragons roamed unhindered through the world;
And somewhere in his small, uncluttered brain
Is locked an ancient memory of one
Who darted from the shadows of the trees
And raised a cunning paw to fling a stone.



   See Jo-Anne Sullivan's outstanding set of worldwide webcams. .See what's going on in Times Square right now(live webcam) Seelive video (with sound)from thenortheast corner of 46th Street and 7th Avenue.
SAT-Practice Word of the Day:obdurate
Intermediate Word of the Day: adumbrate
Difficult Word of the Day:nimiety


After the first impossible event
Nothing would be impossible again.
After the first cell, frail and parentless,
Stirred into being on the shallow wave
There would be other cells, divergent ones,
Splitting and multiplying, taking shape,
Until the tepid waters swarmed with life.

After the cell, the seaweed and the worm,
The slow crustacean and the quick-finned fish,
A thousand thousand kinds of living things
Evolving through a million million years.
And some of these would venture to the shore,
Crossing the beaches, clinging to the rocks,
Mating beneath a huge, primeval sun
And scooping out their nests among the stones.

Earth would yield slowly, but the earth would yield.
After the seaweed there would be the fern,
Rough-veined and sticky, bearing in its spores
A prophecy of leaf and stem and flower.
After the scaly fish, the feathered bird
And armored reptile and the hairy shrew,
And written in the very bones of these
The promise of a creature yet to come.
In the vast womb of time the embryo
Of thinking man would struggle toward his birth.

Nothing would be impossible again,
Language nor laughter, love nor hate nor war.
There would be paintings in the caves of France
And temples on the seven hills of Rome.
There would be cities linking coast to coast,
Air-ways and sea-ways linking pole to pole,
And someday even a narrow passageway
Between the shrinking planet and the moon.

There will be other afters after this,
Perhaps a final after.
Even now Bewildered man, pressed back against his wall,
Outraged and threatened by his brother man,
Ponders the weapon which he fears to use,
And even as he ponders, picks it up
And puts it down and picks it up again.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day:abate
Intermediate Word of the Day: egregious
Difficult Word of the Day:altricial

 Miraca Gross' Book "Exceptionally Gifted Children"
   "Some interesting facts: I've been reviewing Miraca Gross' "Exceptionally Gifted Children", looking for indications concerning whether or not today's children are more, and more-often precocious than yesterday's children. Miraca Gross' 1993 book profiles 15 Australian children with IQs above 160, including 4 with ratio IQs of 200 or above. (One would expect to find 500 children with ratio IQs of 160 or above for every child with a ratio IQ of 200 or above.) The median age at which these children with ratio IQs above 160 started to read was 2 years, 7 months, compared with a median age of a little more than 3 years for Leta Hollingworth's children above 180 IQ. The book also mentions that only 43% of the (1921) Terman children with IQs above 170 started to read before they were 5 and that only 13% of them began reading before they were 4. This would be consistent with the idea that real intelligence is rising because of the Flynn Effect, although it is far from a confirmation of this proposition. One of the children learned to read by watching Sesame Street. Sesame Street wasn't around in 1921. In other words, the educational climate might have been more conducive to early reading in 1985 than it was in 1921. Although all of these children were tested using the Stanford Binet, it isn't clear to me just which version of the S. B. Dr. Gross used to derive her IQ scores for her 15 children. Also, Dr. Gross applied certain requirements regarding the definition of what constitutes reading that might have been more stringent than Dr. Hollingworth's standards. So although these results are tantalizing, I personally must consider them to be suggestive but far from conclusive."


Heaven flared up
Like a candle lit
And there I stood
In the heart of it.

There in the heart
Of a clean, bright flame
I heard a voice
And it spoke my name.

I looked to the left
And I looked to the right
And I saw God's saints
All robed in white.

From left to right
And all around
His white-robed saints
Looked back and frowned.

At me and my shirt
That was wild as sin,
And my crazy boots
With the soles danced thin.

Beyond their faces
I saw a Face
And I wanted to flee
From that holy place.

But clear as the sound
Of a silver chime,
I heard my name
For the second time.

I heard my name,
And the voice said, "Stay,"
And the saints moved back
To clear the way

When the Son of God
Left His golden throne
To welcome me
As His very own

"Come in, come in!
There is nothing here
That a wandering bard
From earth should fear.

"I was a mortal
Once like you,
A vagabond
And an outcast too.

"I took my chances,
I cut my loss
And I died at last
On a common cross.

"But I went to a wedding,
I went to a feast,
And I was a poet
As well as a priest."

He clasped my hand
And the saints closed in
And took my measure
From head to chin.

They gave me wings
Of the finest down
And fitted my head
With a jeweled crown.

They brushed away
At the dust and dirt,
But I kept my boots,
And I kept my shirt,

And I kept the songs
I had brought with me
From the misty mountains
Of Tennessee.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:elicit
Intermediate Word of the Day: handsel
Difficult Word of the Day:hebdomadal


We run because we have no place to hide.
An alien race will know we watched the clock
And measured off the miles and gasped and died.
All this will be recorded in the rock.
Tick tock, click clack,
Scurry, scurry, scurry!
"What were they rushing to or rushing from?
Why did they hurry so?"
Perhaps we dare not pause to look behind;
Perhaps we dare not pause to look ahead.
Abel is dead, and God is not deceived.
We run because we have no place to hide.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:recant
Intermediate Word of the Day: moiety
Difficult Word of the Day:shadenfreude

If some day you should dig among the stones
That lose their edges by an inland sea,
And bring to light these poor, untidy bones,
All that is left of this most mortal me,
Though you should weigh and measure what you find,
And figure out my size and guess my years,
You will not know the workings of my mind,
You will not know that I had hopes and fears.
Nor will you know that even when the ice
Came to the valley, and the world grew numb,
When people died for lack of nuts and rice,
And game moved out, and summer would not come,
I found a blackened flower in the snow
And brought it home and tried to make it grow.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:recant
Intermediate Word of the Day: oblation
Difficult Word of the Day:corban


We run because we have no place to hide.
An alien race will know we watched the clock
And measured off the miles and gasped and died.
All this will be recorded in the rock.
Tick tock, click clack,
Scurry, scurry, scurry!
"What were they rushing to or rushing from?
Why did they hurry so?"
Perhaps we dare not pause to look behind;
Perhaps we dare not pause to look ahead.
Abel is dead, and God is not deceived.
We run because we have no place to hide.



SAT-Practice Word of the Day:surreptitious
Intermediate Word of the Day: thaumaturgy
Difficult Word of the Day:corban

Paul is a fifth-year medical student (in a six-year program) at the University of Southampton. Paul is specializing in neurology (and particularly, I believe, in the brain). Paul is a Megan--a member of the Mega... one-in-a-million-and-up... Society, corresponding to a deviation IQ of 176+, or a childhood ratio IQ of ~200+. To put this in perspective, out of the 12 children with IQ's above 180 that Leta Hollinsworth scoured out of the NYC school population over a 22-year period, she found only one child--Child "J"--with a ratio IQ of 200+. Similarly, out of all the Quiz Kids, at ages between 6 and teenage, from 1940 to 1952, there was only one (Ruth Duskin) with a ratio IQ of 200+. Drawing upon a large fraction of the 1980's population of Australia, Miraca Gross found 3 children with IQs at the 200 or 200+ level. While children often rank a little lower as adults than their highest childhood IQ scores would indicate (because of mental "growth spurts"), Paul has earned this title as an adult.
   Here are a few links to other Mega Society members' websites (as a finger in the dike until I can set up a better "Interesting Links" page.)
Mark Kantrowitz
Mark Kantrowitz' Cat, "Nash"
Chris Langan
Dr. Benoit Desjardins
Dr. Robert Dick
Dr. Solomon Golomb
Greg Trayling
Jim Ferry
Steve Schuessler

   Here is a discussion of global warming that I just posted to the Ultranet, including some back-of-the-envelope estimations of planetary temperatures


Nobody walks too softly through the swamp;
Nobody wants to find what might be found.
The shyest lovers raise their voices here
To advertise their presence on the path,
The boldest schoolboy whistles over-loud,
And something slips like shadow from the log
Or stirs like wind among the flags and ferns,
Something—not frog nor fawn nor dappled snake—
That fades into the reeds without a sound,
That sees and is not willing to be seen.

Grendel is dead. Pan's evil yellow eyes
Narrowed to nothingness long years ago.
The Nissi's cold white fingers dropped their spell.
But God knows what still rises from the pond
And shakes the fetid water from its thighs
To stretch its bones beneath the jimson weed.
God knows what answers when the bobcat cries.
Nobody wants to take it by surprise.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:falter
Intermediate Word of the Day: a jot or a tittle
Difficult Word of the Day:ort

Four HalloweenStories!

When the grey skull is loosened from the rock,
And all the bare, humiliated bone
Is spread out like the workings of a clock,
The secrets which it kept are still its own.
The passions of the dangerous, brief day
Furrowed the brow but left no lasting mark.
The terrors of the night were sloughed away
And vanished in an even vaster dark.
Whatever brought the creature to this place—
Anger or lust or fear or simple need—
Is not recorded on the fleshless face
Which stares unblinking from the desert weed.
Time sighs a moment in the hollowed head
But speaks no good, no evil, of the dead.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:hackneyed
Intermediate Word of the Day:immure
Difficult Word of the Day:bolus

I am a part of something big.
Dust that is now my dust was blown
Through the corridors of the pyramids
Before the final stone was placed.
My blood has raced with the Amazon
And surged in the tides of the Yellow Sea.
My bones were sketched when the world was new
And etched on the ocean floor
Everything everywhere touches me.
The smallest beetle is my affair,
And the oldest man, and the youngest child.
When pink flamingos feed at dawn
In the shrinking marshes of Bangladesh
I too am fed. When the polar bear
Claws at the bullet in her flesh,
And her young ones crouch in the growing chill,
I am not quite what I used to be,
I am less than I was before.
Just where I stand in the grand design
Whatever the grand design may be,
I do not know and I cannot guess,
But I give and take with a careful hand,
And I watch the world with an anxious eye,
For I share in the life of all who live
And the death of all who die.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day:querulous
Intermediate Word of the Day:hyaline
Difficult Word of the Day:inspissate

I have no plan to wait around for death.
Death, when he finds my door,
Will have to call not once but three times over.
I shall be somewhere doing something else—
Inspecting daisies, maybe, on a hill,
Or combing through the weeds or counting stars
Or herding midges down a country lane.

These are important projects, after all,
Not lightly taken up nor laid aside.
Somebody has to keep an eye on things.

Who knows what petty thief is on the prowl,
Snatching a daisy here, a daisy there,
Or pilfering along the Milky Way?
Who knows what rascal wind assails the wing,
What alien armies infiltrate the grass?

In such a crazy, mixed-up world as this
Somebody needs to watch what's going on.

Death has his job to do, but I have mine.
He keeps commitments, but I keep mine too,
And one of us will have to yield a bit.
I come of stubborn stock
And may not heed his first nor second call.
Indeed, I may not answer him at all.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: debunk
Intermediate Word of the Day: heuristic
Difficult Word of the Day: illative


When Jamie Dhu went fishing
The grass was showing green,
And down below the levee
He met the fairy queen.
Her skin was white as marble,
Her hair was bright as gold,
But her eyes were flecked with silver
And pitiless and cold.

The next time he went fishing
The grass-tops reached his knees,
And the fairy queen was watching
From a clump of willow trees.
Her skin was warm as coral,
Her hair was all aflame,
But her eyes were cool as silver
When she called him by his name.

Now Jamie Dhu goes fishing
And the levee grass has thinned.
The fairy queen is waiting
Where the willows catch the wind.
Her skin is smooth as velvet,
Her hair is soft as down,
But her eyes are pools of silver
Where a fisherman could drown.

He may struggle for his footing,
He may clutch at rock and reed,
But the fairy queen is smiling
Where the tall grass goes to seed,
And her eyes are flecked with silver
And pitiless indeed.

 SAT-Practice Word of the Day:abate
Intermediate Word of the Day: heuristic
Difficult Word of the Day: illative
                  SPACE PROBE

Hey, you out there!
You of whatever shape, whatever size,
With something that takes the place of hands and eyes,
Not hands and eyes at all—hey, you out there,
Are you looking for me?

Do you climb your highest hill and search the skies
For a hint that somebody somewhere lives and moves
And thinks brave thoughts and dies?
Do you shout at night
Through the infinite loneliness?
"Halloo! Halloo!"
Well, here I am, at the edge of the Milky Way,
Groping among the stars and shouting too.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: precarious
Intermediate Word of the Day: risible
Difficult Word of the Day: recusant


Elizabeth sang as she made the bed,
She sang as she swept the floor.
"Now surely mine is the finest child
That ever a woman bore.
His eyes are as blue as the Devon skies,
His hair is the color of grain,
And his skin is as fair as the hedgerow blooms
After an April rain."

The goblin crouched with her own dark imp
Under the prickly furze.
"The woman will boast a little less
If I swap my child for hers!"
She slipped like dusk through the cottage door,
She crept to the trundle bed,
And she stole Elizabeth's first-born son
And left her own instead

The changeling croaked like a little frog
When he found himself alone.
Elizabeth took him to her breast
And nursed him like her own.
"He is a wee thing, after all,
And he clamors to be fed.
May she who left her child with me
Give breast to mine," she said.

The goblin crouched with Elizabeth's babe
Under the prickly furze.
"The woman nurses my little elf
As tenderly as hers!"
She crept like dawn through the cottage door,
She stooped at the trundle bed,
And she put the fair-haired baby back
And took her own instead.

The sunlight lay on the Devon fields,
And the hedgerow swarmed with bees.
Elizabeth sat by the kitchen fire
With her first-born on her knees.
"Now surely this is a happier day
Than ever I knew before."
And the goblin watched from the prickly furze
But never came through the door.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: falter
Intermediate Word of the Day: sartorial
Difficult Word of the Day: thalassic

             MOON WALK

How can we say that nothing was there,
That nothing stirred at the crater's rim
And saw us climb from our tilted LEM?
How can we know that we walked alone?
Maybe something not made like us,
Something not flesh and blood and bone,
Shimmered over the shimmering sand
Or burrowed under the silent stone.
Maybe something was well aware
That strangers falling from outer space
Had violated its holy place.

Nothing was there which we could name,
Nothing except the rocks and rilles,
The dusty valleys and dusty hills.
We saw no more than we came to see,
We found no more than we hoped to find,
But how can we know what raced ahead,
How can we know what lagged behind?
How can we of the cool, green earth
Know what the moon might bring to birth?
Nothing was there which we could name,
But something was watching, just the same.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: falter
Intermediate Word of the Day: litotes
Difficult Word of the Day: apolaustic


You may come out now. They have gone away
And all the lovely moon is ours once more.
The rocks hold fast, the mountain ridges stay,
The hills are fastened to the valley floor,
And once again the sky is black and bare.
The wandering star has gone the way it came
And those who almost tracked us to our lair
Have vanished with the dust storm and the flame.
Time drifts toward time, unshaken, unreproved.
You need not fear the scratches on the stone,
The furrows in the sand, where shadows moved
Faster than any shadows we have known.
A thousand thousand years will leave small trace
Of those who once profaned our holy place.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: falter
Intermediate Word of the Day: bibelot
Difficult Word of the Day: velleity

                 THE REUNION

So here we are, the two of us, the two of us alone.
We share a common plot of earth, we share a common stone.The worm that grazes near my door has double pasture now,The beetle digging overhead has twice the land to plow.
We lie upon our narrow cots, apart and yet so near,
If I should knock against my wall I think that you would hear.
If you should sigh or call my name beneath the bitterweed,
Though I grow fond of quietness I think that I would heed,
Because we once lay flesh to flesh, who now lie one and one,Beneath a firmament of grass, beneath a granite sun.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: indolent
Intermediate Word of the Day: nugatory
Difficult Word of the Day: velleity


From brash beginnings—from the derring-do
Of the first gasping fish that left the seas,
The desperate bravado of the shrew
Who ventured to the fields beyond the trees,
From courage born of peril and despair
That brought the shabby creature to his feet,
The stubbornness that kept him standing there
Armed with a stone but ready for retreat—
From such beginnings, overreaching still,
He walks the moon and stirs the dust of Mars
And sends across the vast galactic hill
His first audacious message to the stars
Stranger in space, wherever you may be,
My name is Adam. Take a look at me.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: depose
Intermediate Word of the Day: pejorative
Difficult Word of the Day: brumal

              ROOM 207

This is the cleanest room I ever had—
A bed, a chest of drawers, an easy chair,
A picture on the wall, a potted plant,
And up and down the hall a dozen rooms
As clean and bare and bright....

There ought to be
An attic for the things that have no place
In such a place as this—the odds and ends
That last too long, the clutter of the years,
Too old to keep, too dear to throw away.
There ought to be a cellar for the graves
Of everything we murdered in our youth.
There ought to be a place....

My daughter says
You have to talk to plants to make them grow.
I watch the philodendron on the sill
And talk to it the way they talk to me.

"Good morning, Philly, how are we today?
And are we ready for our nice, warm bath?
Our vitamins? Our prunes? Our toast and tea?
Let's wear the pretty dress your daughter brought,
The one with lace, that buttons down the back.
Just raise your arms a bit—how sweet you look!
Don't you go flirting with the doctor now!

The philodendron shivers in the sun,
Pressing its skinny leaves against the glass
And reaching toward the hedgerow and the sky.
Today, if they should come to water it,
I think I'll say I've watered it already,
And I shall never talk to it again.
One thing I know, if I know nothing else,
A philodendron has the right to die.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: pithy
Intermediate Word of the Day: cygnet
Difficult Word of the Day: leporine


We cannot read the moment, after all.
Too much has gone before, too much will follow,
And this is out of context, like a word
Taken at random from a book of words.
Nothing has meaning of itself alone.
We may not say that this is good or bad,
Only that what is written in our flesh
Is chiseled on the granite cliff of time,
And some day when the final hieroglyph
Completes the final, unimagined truth,
This too will stand recorded in the rock
And can be read, if there are eyes to read it.

Wishing You All a Happy Thanksgiving!
SAT-Practice Word of the Day: morose
Intermediate Word of the Day: badinage
Difficult Word of the Day: altricial


There will be life along this sunny hill
When I have sighed and found a darker place.
The mouse will gather grain, the bee will spill
Her bits of pollen on the Queen Anne's lace.
The snail will move from grass to greener grass,
The rolypoly crawl from stone to stone.
The locust will discard his tarnished brass
And disappear on errands of his own.
Life will go on, as busy and as bold
As it has always been.
The seed will fall,
The root claim pasture, and the twig unfold,
And I shall be remembered in them all—
Locust and mouse and bumblebee and stem,
Forever part of me and I of them.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: fitful
Intermediate Word of the Day: atherosclerosis
Difficult Word of the Day:adventitious
                       HAUNTED HOUSE


                              The Morning

I should have known before I bought the place:
Something was here that had no right to be,
Something that slithered through the Queen Anne's lace
Or lurked among the shadows of the tree.
The sparrow was too silent in the vines,
The lizard was too wary on his stem.
I should have known that these were evil signs;
I should have given greater heed to them.
And yet the house seemed innocent enough,
Not sorry for my coming, though the door
Lagged at the sill, and all the dreary stuff
Of other lives was scattered on the floor.
The morning sun made patchwork on the wall.
This was no Bluebeard's castle, after all.

                                The Night

Too many shapes are on the wind tonight,
Too many voices crowd the troubled air.
Small matter that the rooms are filled with light;
Beyond the light the ghosts are everywhere
They whimper on the sagging patio
And try the knob and tap against the pane.
They sigh and call a name I do not know,
Then wander off and wander back again.
I wish that I could tell them how it is—
The one they seek has died or gone away,
The house is mine, and nothing here is his.
There is no reason now for them to stay.
No matter what he did, I have my rights
And ought to be allowed some peaceful nights.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day:fitful
Intermediate Word of the Day: hirsute
Difficult Word of the Day: Laodicean


In marble condominiums
The prosperous and the great
Await the resurrection.
The paupers also wait
In less pretentious housing
Beneath the bitterweeds
And find their dingy cellars
Sufficient for their needs


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: obdurate
Intermediate Word of the Day: trope
Difficult Word of the Day: tmesis

         THE QUIET ONE

I grow accustomed to the stone,
Accustomed to the grass.
In solitary state I lie
And hear the stranger pass.

He does not pause beside my hill
Nor stoop to read my name,
And I am glad that he goes by
As quickly as he came.

For I grow used to loneliness.
The footsteps come and go
And I lie here beneath the grass
Content to have it so.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: obdurate
Intermediate Word of the Day: seminal
Difficult Word of the Day: gerenuk


Some forty years ago it was,
My brother Josh and I
Were wakened by a blazing star
That filled the eastern sky;

And suddenly, below the star,
We heard the angels sing:
"All glory be to God on high
And to the new-born king."

You l never saw a night likc that,
So full of light and sound.
The cherubim and seraphim
Were wheeling all around.
The shepherds left their midnight fires,
The herdsmen left their tents,
And hastened into Bethlehem
To seek the little prince.

Then wise men came by caravan
From lands beyond the sun,
With gold and frankincense and myrrh
For God's Appointed One.
We followed them across the town,
And while their trumpets blew
They knelt before the baby's crib,
And Josh and I knelt too.

"And after that, what happened?"
Well, You know how people are.
At first we listened to the song,
At first we watched the star,
And then the shepherds sought their fIocks,
The wise men turned aside,
And when the rooster clapped his wings
The baby woke and cried.

"And then, what happened after that?
Not much of anything.
The baby grew to be a man
But never was a king.
He rounded up some followers
And roamed the countryside,
And some folks say he lives today
But some folks say he died.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: abridge
Intermediate Word of the Day: carpe diem
Difficult Word of the Day: synecdoche

          THE DENIAL

You are not here.
The stone that bears your name
Is only stone, carved by a foolish hand
In ignorance or jest, a thing of shame
Propped on a hillside in a wasted land.
Whatever lies at length beneath this clay
Is not the flesh and bone that I hold dear.
I touch the starveling weed and turn away.
You are not here. You never have been here.
Though others climb this hill with measured pace
And stoop to read your name and cry aloud,
I shall not look in this unlikely place
For one so young and beautiful and proud.
I turn my back upon the marble lie.
You are not dead. I will not let you die.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: culpable
Intermediate Word of the Day: forereach
Difficult Word of the Day: bouleversement


Things come together so.
Our yesterdays,
Our vague tomorrows, crowd into a space
No larger than this room, and meet and merge
Directionless as August butterflies.

Small wonder that a name escapes us now,
A face is lost among so many faces,
A voice slips by unheard.
We nod at noon
And lie awake at night and watch the clock.
Small wonder that we are obsessed by time
When time is all around us, closing in.

Remember when the island in the bay
Was small and dim and half the world away?
Today we see a house, a clump of trees,
A picket fence we never saw before.
Perhaps we grow far-sighted with the years;
Perhaps the island too is closing in.

Thank God we are together, you and I.
Here in our corner, backs against the wall,
We brush aside the blurred, untidy wings
That beat against us so, and when I say,
"The island in the bay is nearer now,"
You place your hand a moment on my hand
And do not smile, because you understand.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: surfeit
Intermediate Word of the Day: drogue
Difficult Word of the Day: loris


Eutychus slept propped on the window sill
Because the seats were taken, over-tired
With so much thinking, so much listening,
And Paul talked on and on. The room was full
Of words that ceased to sting and only droned
Like summer bees among his father's corn.
The lamplight flickered and the night grew chill
And Eutychus went tumbling from the sill.

Perhaps the mind can only hold so much
Before it closes in upon itself.
Such talk of love, forgiveness, charity,
A man could grapple with and half-believe,
But resurrection—that unlikely word
Which kept the elders fastened to their chairs—
Might well befuddle one who had but come
To while away an hour and then go home.

*Acts: 20

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: surfeit
Intermediate Word of the Day: nonce word
Difficult Word of the Day: thalassic

  She Is a Lovely Lady

She is a lovely lady,
  And God to her has given
More gold than all his hillsides,
    More blue than all his heaven.

Nor wing from out the Northland,
    Nor wing from out the south
Was ever curved more sweetly
   Than the kiss that is her mouth.

God loved the little rabbit,
  And made him soft and sleek,
But oh! the downy lashes
  He laid upon her cheek!

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: profligate
Intermediate Word of the Day: a posteriori
Difficult Word of the Day: a fortiori

    December 3rd Follow-Up: Patrick has provided links to discussions of yesterday's annual Putnam competition.


But Lazarus is dead. We saw him die,
Wept as he struggled, wept when he grew still.
We heard the first investigating fly
Buzz heavily across the windowsill.
We remember the fly,
the oils and the spices,
the cool linen shroud
and the burial stone .....
Then what is this that shuffles through the rooms
And shares our bread and meat and speaks no word?
The face is like the face of Lazarus
But Lazarus is dead. We saw him die.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: prattle
Intermediate Word of the Day: mulct
Difficult Word of the Day: malentendu


When Christ was born in old Judea
Two thousand years ago
The stars were bright above the hills,
The fields were bright below,

And deep among the olive groves
A sparrow cocked his eye,
Awakened by the angel-song
That swept across the sky.

The ancient stars are dimmer now,
The fields are dark below;
The sparrow slipped into the dust
Two thousand years ago,

But still, above Judean hills,
The patient angels sing
And wonder why we wait so long
To seek the little King.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: surreptitious
Intermediate Word of the Day: avatar
Difficult Word of the Day: atavar

                 THE GENTLE KING

Beside a sea in Galilee
Two thousand years ago,
A Gentle King disclosed to us
Some truths that men should know,

And though the world knew scant of Him
And killed Him on a cross,
His humble words so moved the world
That Rome-- not He-- was lost.

Imperium's arch is rubble now;
Its sword is ancient rust,
And yet, the Gentle Shepherd's words
Go singing from its dust,

And now, for Him, from East to West,
So gladly do we sing,
That Heaven's Host must know how much
We praise our Gentle King,

And as they gaze down lovingly,
They wonder, there on high,
How we can say such pretty things
Yet sometimes live a lie.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: nefarious
Intermediate Word of the Day: coulee
Difficult Word of the Day: atavar


Believe it or not, I found some bones in a basket
Hidden under the stair.
I haven't quite dared to ask where they might have come from
But I never forget they are there.

Sometimes at night I listen and think I hear them
Jostling among themselves.
It is only a mouse, I know, on her dreary errands,
Prying about the shelves.

Only a mouse—but I lie awake and shiver,
Hearing that odd, dry stir,
Thinking that maybe the bones downstairs grow restless
And wondering whose they were.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: ornate
Intermediate Word of the Day: coulee
Difficult Word of the Day: litotes

                       ENCOUNTER WITH A LIZARD

There he crouches, facing me warily
across a patio and seventy million years,
a descendent of the rip-toothed horrors
that once owned the Earth,
ready to scamper for cover
if I should hazard an innocent move.
And here I stand
the great-great-grandchild of furtive
rat-like mammals,
too small to make a meal,
that peopled the shadows
and hid in pocket burrows
from his razor-fanged ancestors.
How times have changed!
How the mighty have fallen! And now we have had the last laugh.
And yet, I could almost imagine that he is laughing at us...?
Does he know that,
Somewhere in the cell's teeming inner sea
That is the womb and the grave of all life,
Our own successor is waiting to be born?


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: ornate
Intermediate Word of the Day: Harpy
Difficult Word of the Day: litotes

Gifted Guidebook:
    Andrea Lobel and I have been collaborating on a draft of a "Guidebook for the Severely Gifted". The idea is that there would seem to be lessons and techniques for getting along in the world that might be sharable with others. I can't speak for Andrea, but I know that for my part, I would welcome your inputs regarding such "lessons in the art of living". Such a handbook, although inspired by the needs of the severely gifted, if we can do it right, could probably serve a wider audience than just the highly gifted. (I always start these discsussions at half-past very late. I'll extend this on the morrow.)

Severely Gifted:
    Mike Hess has been good enough to offer his advice in re the term "severely gifted". (Mike is one of the leading pioneers in the field of marketing research in the U. S., and presumably, in the world.) Mike writes,
    "I much prefer 'extremely', or better, 'exceptionally' gifted. These words don't have the emotional baggage contained in the word 'severely' which too often is used in unfortunate connections such as 'severely distressed' or 'severely injured'.
  "Although I understand that the *intent* of using "severely" is to communicate something that may need special handling, my philosophy of communication has evolved to going at least halfway to employ words that are more in the general vicinity of how
folks actually use them- especially when trying to attract the attention of a target audience.
  "Therefore, I'd use 'exceptionally gifted'. It has the benefit of two
recognizable words. Also, it causes one to stop and think:
'gifted' already implies someone exceptional, so to employ 'exceptional' in
conjunction with gifted really suggests something or someone
unique and different. This is exactly what the exceptionally gifted are."

Popular Views of the Profoundly Gifted:
(Editorial Note:It's my understanding that the term "exceptionally gifted" refers to individuals with IQ's in the 3-to-4 s range, and that the term "profoundly gifted" is used to designate those with 4 s+ IQ's. Of course, the "severely gifted" tend to be at or above the 3 s ("exceptionally gifted") level.

    One of the questions that has engaged me lately is that of the popular perception of the super-bright. So I began by cornering hapless bystanders within buttonholing range, and asking them what they thought of the hyperbright. (I was careful not to ask them what they thought of a fruitcake who would ask them weird questions before the men with the butterfly nets caught up with him to take him back to the funny farm.) My first helpless target was Tommie Jean. Tommie's reaction was that she admires intelligence and wishes she were smarter. My next victims were our sister-in-law and our niece. Our sister-in-law, who is a teacher in a top-drawer school system, said, "They're off in a world of their own." Our smart and beautiful niece said, "I'd be intimidated by them. I'd be afraid to open my mouth." When I went out to buy gas, I stopped at Shelby's 4th Avenue emporium and presented my question to its owner. (When Tommie and I had stopped there a few minutes earlier, the owner had faintly reminded me of Marilyn vos Savant.) The owner said that she would have great respect for the super-intelligent, assuming that they weren't weird or arrogant. Then she explained that she was somewhat contaminated by having a son and a daughter with IQ's of 163 and 162, respectively. She herself was the dummy of the family, with an IQ of "only" 157 (I asked her for this; she didn't volunteer it.) (We're talking a very poised and pretty woman here. You would have had to pick up on subtle cues to have intuited the fact, through a casual encounter, that she was so intelligent.)
    On the way home, we stopped at the Cracker Barrel for supper, where I ambushed three guys at the next table what their take on this would be. One of them said, "I'd expect him to wear old clothes, like Sam Walton." Then he said, "I'd expect him to lack common sense, and to be a social disaster."
    (That wasn't quite the answer I was hoping to hear.)
    Today, Tommie and I attended a Christmas reception, and I asked the two women at our table what they thought someone who's super-smart is like. One of them said, "They're weird, and they're socially illiterate." She went on to explain that her husband knows this fellow who's a member of Mensa. He's very, very smart, very sensitive to imagined hurts, and socially empowered with two left feet. The other woman said, "Are they compassionate?" The first woman said, "No, they're not. Well, maybe some of them are."
    I've gotten similar stories from sundry sources of ostensibly-very-bright neighbor children who lacked the sense to come in out of the rain, and/or who were social disasters. I ran into some of them last year at a party, and tried to draw them out. I didn't get very far. I don't believe they thought I was bright enough to be worth a  conversation. I believe that they had IQ's that were in the 120's and 130's. But they certainly fit the profiles of the intellectuals that many describe.
And now for the Punch Line:
    In my experiences with brighter people than the intelligentsia that friends and strangers are describing (and experiencing), I haven't encountered this kind of persona at all! In spite of whatever childhood abuse has been visited upon our ultra-intelligent, I'm finding them to be cordial and socially adept. Neither their appearance nor their demeanor would speak to you of weirdness or social incompetence. They're fun to be around, and entrancing conversationalists. So what's going on here? I don't know, and it will be interesting to find out. One thought might be that the kind of brilliant person who is a misfit may stand out from the crowd in a way that advertises his or her presence, whereas others who are equally bright, or brighter, blend in with the crowd smoothly enough that their intellectual eminence isn't as evident. In other words, these might be maladjusted people who are also happen to be intelligent, rather than people who are maladjusted because they're intelligent. But that's just putting a finger to the wind. Whatever the reasons, it sounds as though this is giving high intelligence a bad rap, tarred with the same brush that's being applied to these unfortunate and socially-unpolished "intellectuals".

12-6-2000 Update: Today, I called one of yesterday's Christmas-reception lunch-mates and asked her to expatiate on yesterday's comments. Here's the first part of our telephone transcript.
X:       "Bob, this is X, returning your call."
Bob:   "Hi, X! I wanted to ask you more about what you said yesterday about the super-smart. You were saying that the really bright people that you've known--or at least, one of them--are weird and socially illiterate. And you were saying that your husband's friend is very sensitive to real or imagined hurts."
X:       "Very much so. I think that intelligent people, and I may... you know, you may just think that I'm not accurate in this, but I think that when you're really intelligent you perceive everything around you. That's how you accumulate intelligence a lot, and so, I've noticed that people won't notice what's going on around them because, well, partly just because they don't care, and partly because they aren't as aware. But I think really, really smart people are much more aware of the world than we are. It might even be painful. I could feel sorry for them. Maybe that's why a lot of them are alcoholics."
Bob:   "How interesting! I'd never thought of that."
X:       "They must have had a lot of trouble getting along with other children. Yes, I see now! That's why they can have social troubles as adults!"
    Our conversation continued, with her mentioning that the hyperbright don't much enjoy talking with people who are much less intelligent.
X:    "It's like talking with someone who's not very bright. You don't have much to talk about. And we don't feel comfortable talking with them. It's intimidating. And we're... you know... a little bit envious. Of course, they say that if you're really, really smart, you can talk with everyone. I think they must be lonely with so few of them around. And I think some of them are arrogant and self-centered." Slight pause. "Bob, you aren't one of them are you? No. You're too humble to be one of them."
         Humility commanded my tongue.
A Little Later: I'm finding this matter of what people think of the ultra-bright to be a pretty intriguing line of questioning. You might like to try it, too. It might be noteworthy that most of the bright examples that people are describing probably have IQ's in the 120's, 130's, and 140's. There are too many of them to expect IQ's much higher than that.

Patrick Wahl's Discussion of the Word "Nonce":
   Patrick has also proffered this helpful background information concerning yesterday's word, "nonce". In Patrick's own words,
   "One word-of-the-day, 'nonce,' has an interesting
origin, which you might want to mention. In middle English, it was 'nones,' shortened from 'for the nones,' a typographic shift from the earlier 'for then ones' ... where 'ones' is our word 'once' and 'nones'" grew into 'nonce.'
    "('Nones' is also noon, and a day of the month.)"
   Patrick has also provided a better link for the discussion of the Putnam Mathematical Competition, and I've updated links to discussions below to reflect this.
   Patrick, thanks for commenting on "nonce". If I said, "You're so smart!", it would probably sound patronizing. But you are.
    And now, it's time to go massage Tommie's feet so she doesn't beat me. (Oh, I know, she's only 5' 1".)
    (You don't believe that she'll really beat me, do you? Well it was worth a try.)

Plans for Moving This Site:
    Patrick Wahl has asked about plans for updating the Ultra-High IQ website. I have updated it, since it only requires a few modifications to the text. I quit updating it because trying to maintain two similar pages on the same website was generating a lot of confusion, causing me to eradicate one of my index pages and its backup, and because I planned to move these pages to the Ultranet server. I did that, but recently, we decided to switch ISP's. After that, I got busied out with the trip to Connecticut, followed by a wanton turkey-and-dressing-drenched Thanksgiving dinner, followed by my new-computer Odyssey, and lots of e-mail, and... and ... and... However, I'll check tomorrow to see if this can all be moved to the Ultranet server. I've planned to retain Tommie's and my website frozen with all the information that's currently on it, and to modify the new website to reflect its Ultranet orientation. One of the questions I've had is that of what to place on the splash page. One possibility is a lot of links. I like the idea of graphics, but for those with 56k Internet connections, it can take a while for images to load. Also, there's the question of what images to present. (I think it's going to be hard to improve on Tommie's images.) What do you think? What would you like to see?

Our Proper Place

I asked of God what life's about,
And why he reaps the dead,
And in His time, He answered me,
And this is what he said,

"Your universe is like a wine:
I've corked it up to age,
To test out all its axioms
And verify its gauge.

"And death is a necessity
To purify the brew,
But as for man, you can't believe
I made it all for you!

"No, you're a brewing accident
While I prepare the day
For one faroff, divine event
Nine billion years away


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: irreproachable
Intermediate Word of the Day: clerisy
Intermediate Word of the Day: repine
Difficult Word of the Day: daedal
Difficult Word of the Day: cockalorum
Difficult Word of the Day: plantigrade
Difficult Word of the Day: rémoulade

Flaming with purple and gold,
Bounding like foal from a gate,
Suddenly, dawn has revealed
The face of the reticent day.

Kissing the robin awake;
Leaning to garner the dew,
Charming the hare from its brake,
Morning confronts us anew.

Dawn can be stirring and grand;
Dawn can be dreaded and chill.
Left to our own sleight of mind
To render it Heaven or Hell.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: insuperable
SAT-Practice Word of the Day: assiduous
Intermediate Word of the Day: gore
Difficult Word of the Day: peepul


I shall not close my window to a night
   So filled with gentle sounds, nor brush away
The friendly dark with artificial light.
    Careless of what her creatures have to say.
If crickets still have time for cricket-talk
    I still have time to listen. If the bird
Wakes on his bough above my garden-walk
   I am not willing he should sing unheard.

It is enough to lock the winter out,
    To turn away the north wind and the cold.
They too may have some things to talk about,
    And some night when the years have made me bold
I may yet wrap my scarf beneath my chin,
    Unlatch the door and ask the winter in.

                        Vivian Smallwood - "Window to the South"


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: audacious
SAT-Practice Word of the Day: assiduous
Intermediate Word of the Day: gore
Difficult Word of the Day: peepul


Know this: that even when the dying sun
   In its last desperate hour fills the sky,
And the proud planets, shaken and undone,
  Are caught into the tumult and the cry--
Know this: That God Himsef is not at bay
  And time without beginning has no end.
New stars are burning on the Milky Way,
  New worlds are shaping on the cosmic wind.

And all the things we love, however lost,
  The road, the house, the orchard and the hill,
The field of yellow daisies and the frost,
  Their purpose served, will have a purpose still
And time and time again will take new station
  In an eternal cycle of creation.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: precarious
Intermediate Word of the Day: quotidian
Difficult Word of the Day: favonian

                    MOON WALK

Here lies the last man, on a blackened beach
 Among the rotted weed and crumbling shell
The broken, scattered hands no longer reach,
  The naked jaw has nothing left to tell.
And with him lies the promise of his birth.
  There will be no more like him--no, not one
To sail the seas and plow the willing earth
  And build his shining towers toward the sun.

There may yet be a second miracle
  And on the troubled waters, as before
A frail, dividing cell may feel the pull
 Of countless tides until it finds a shore.
But man lies here, the last of all his race,
  And none like him will rise to take his place.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: deleterious
Intermediate Word of the Day: goy
Difficult Word of the Day: favonian

               THE TRAVELER

What was it like on that small blue star
At the edge of the Milky Way?

Oh, there were rocks and trees and sand
And hills and valleys and level land.
The seasons changed with the changing sun,
And the rivers ran to the sea.

So much color and so much light!
You should have seen the sky at night,
You should have seen the sky at dawn. There were puddles of rain on an April lawn
And daisies brightened the fields of May.
Lichens grew on the ancient stone
And gulls flew over the bay.

And marvelous things were done by men,
Strange and marvelous things.
They built their towns at the water's edge,
And they carved their roads on the mountain ledge,
And they gave their engines wings.

They bridged the rivers and tunneled rock,
They captured the waterfall,
And they measured time with a ticking clock
And a calender on the wall.
Yes, this was the strangest thing of all--
They stood in the heart of the infinite
And tried to measure it, bit by bit,
With nothing more than a ticking clock
And a calender on the wall.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: adulation
Intermediate Word of the Day: quodlibet
Difficult Word of the Day: limpkin


This love that is as much a part of me
As flesh and blood and bone--this love that wakes
Like an old wound each time the weather breaks
Or the clouds gather, and will not let me be--
This love that is as wild and strange and free
As sea-birds, and as dull and full of aches
As an old woman nibbling nutless cakes
And grumbling at the tea leaves in her tea--

Being so much a part of what I am,
Being the thing it is, this love must pass,
And you will wake at night to hear the slan
Of shutters and the whispering of the grass
And, lonelier than you ever thought you'd be,
Will weep for love, who never wept for me.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: ignominy
Intermediate Word of the Day: rodomontade
Difficult Word of the Day: thrasonical


Autumn comes briefly to this coastal town*
Where lagging summer wears her welcome out
And spring and winter play at hide-and-seek.
With barely time to button up her smock,
She spreads her brushes and her paints about
And splashes at the canvas of the week.
And what a world of browns she has in stock!
Drab brown of water oak, the silver-brown
Of reeds beside a honey-colored creek,
Amber of grasses drying in the sun,
Nut-brown of hickory, bronze of sycamore,
Sienna, russet, copper-color, dun--
Who would have thought there were so many browns?
She leaves untouched the live oak and the pine,
Camellia, boxwood and the lank wild cherry,
But suddenly and joyously she flings
A wealth of red and gold on fading things.
Crepe myrtles blaze along the boulevard,
The tallow trees are miracles of light,
And every dogwood holds its flock of leaves,
With scarlet wings already poised for flight.

                        Vivian Smallwood - "Window to the South"
* - Mobile, Alabama


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: misanthrope
Intermediate Word of the Day: petitio principii
Difficult Word of the Day: phlyctena


Listen and you will hear him, over and over and over,
The wandering child of the shadows, crying against the frost,
Tossing on leaves of darkness, drowing in seas of clover,
Telling it over and over, "All's lost", and "All's lost".

Oh desolate creature of midnight, my friend and my brother,
Born to a useless foreknowledge that summer will pass,
Doomed to a witless foretelling, lost in a smother
Of darkness, a tangle of moonlight, a surge of grass.



All up and down the Boulevard
And in and out the hedges
The thrushes vow their sweetest vows
The sparrows pledge their pledges,
And high above the chimney-tops,
Among the pine cones swinging,
The mockingbird who sang all night
Is still awake and singing.

Well, I may yet see forty springs
Before my springs are over,
But many a dove with rosy feet
Will sidle through the clover
And many a redbird guard his nest
In cedar-green abysses
Before I see another day
As beautiful as this.

                        Vivian Smallwood - "Window to the South"
* - Mobile, Alabama


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: avarice
Intermediate Word of the Day: sulcus
Difficult Word of the Day: colophon


Now God and I together
We crossed the fields today.
Each burdened with a sorrow
We walked a common way.

Through thickets cool and shade
We climbed a slope of hill.
The rested at the summit
As frined and neighbors will.

And then like friends and neighbors,
Who each has suffered loss,
He helped me shift my burden.
I helped Him lift His cross.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: florid
Intermediate Word of the Day: apotropaic
Difficult Word of the Day: lixiviate


A mighty tumult filled the skies,
Earth shuddered, and the sun fell back.
Before uncomprehending eyes,
The buttercups turned black.
Against uncomprehending ears
The thunder of the earthquake rolled,
And all the vast, astonished herd
Was stricken by the cold.

This happened. This is not a tale
Torn from a science fiction book.
There was a day like any other day.
A meadow and a brook,
And deep amid the buttercups
The drowsy mammoths grazed at noon,
Unmindful of the strange new star
That blazed beneath the sun.

Now, in a new-established north,
In regions where no flower grows,
The body of a frozen brute
Emerges from the snows.
The glazed eyes wear their horrer still,
The anguished brow records its doom,
And sill the rigid jaws are locked
Upon a yellow bloom.

The Eskimo beside his fire
And I among my grass
Observe the seasons come and go
And name them as they pass,
Unmindful that a strange new star
Is racing through the Milky Way,
Not yet a shaft of fire by night,
A shaft of smoke by day.

                        Vivian Smallwood - "Window to the South"
* - Mobile, Alabama


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: tirade
Intermediate Word of the Day: sodality
Difficult Word of the Day: alliaceous


Stone by stone, leaf by leaf,
I must learn this way of grief
Lest a path I yet may choose
Should lead me back in thinner shoes,
Through tangled brier and twisted bough,
To walk the road that I walk now.

Leaf by leaf, stone by stone,
Till each inch of this is known!
I may spare my body pain
When I pass this way again.

                        Vivian Smallwood - "Window to the South"
* - Mobile, Alabama


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: dupe
Intermediate Word of the Day: reify
Difficult Word of the Day: anomie


I'm sure we all know Santa's been a success,
   But how many know that his money's a mess?
With never a cent from Accounts Receivable,
   Debits have swelled till they're barely believable!
Orders have multiplied year after year
   Till Santa's now smothered in holiday cheer.
Last year got so bad that tried a new slant:
   Santa applied for a government grant!
Their auditor said, in a scandalized tone,
   "No way does he merit a government loan!
He'll never repay it!  You know that he can't,
   Which makes him ideal for a government grant!
Your typist can stamp it, to give it some class,
   But make sure she logs it to cover your-lass."
The form was submitted on Valentine's day,
   But then it got lost until halfway to May,
When auditors went to review his accounts,
   And make sure his books showed the proper amounts.
But when they arrived, they were shocked as could be-
   He hadn't kept records since 40 A.D.!
Somehow, it was handled, and forward they went,
   Hoping to wrap up the folly by Lent.
The next thing that tripped them were open-bid laws,
   So Purchasing tried for a small-business clause.
But Santa's among the world's larger affairs.
   (Do you think that he makes all those goodies with mirrors?)
And since word had spread throughout land, sea, and sky,
   Department stores wanted a piece of the pie.
(They also had Santas and wanted to bid.
   With Uncle Sam paying, they'd wow every kid!)
So back at the circus, the lawyers finagled-
   Talked with competitors, argued and haggled-
Till Labor Day saw the grant ready to go
   So Santa could function before the first snow.
But 'ere they could sign, word came down from the buyer,
   From Congress or Heaven, whichever is higher,
That funding was frozen till Congress could see
   How long it could posture and still disagree.
And now, we have come to a new fiscal year-
   And lo, Santa's money is no longer here!
Well, you can imagine!  This late in the season,
   Withdrawing his money surpasses all reason!
This far in the fall, what can anyone do
   To fabricate presents for me and for you?
And Santa, of course, is fit to be tied!
   A Santa-less Yule hurts his virtue and pride!
He pondered for days till he saw what to do:
   The Salvation Army could help him pull through.
His helpers would bolster their troops at their pots,
   And spread out to cover additional spots,
And then, if his workshops produced day and night,
   There's still a good chance we could come out all right.
But Christmas depends on amassing some cash
   So the Salvation Army can finance the bash.
So tell all your relatives--make sure they know-
   Then rush down to K-Mart and dump in your dough!
You won't be rewarded with thank-you’s alone.
   What you give them this year will soon be your own.
And then let's help Santa.  We know now he can't
   Depend on the likes of a Government grant.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: beguile
Intermediate Word of the Day: minatory
Difficult Word of the Day: nimiety

How Do Capabilities Scale with IQ?

Ruth Duskin Feldman on Life Outcomes Among the Quiz Kids:

Thoughts for a Guidebook
My Agenda


I knelt before His cradle
    Long Christmases ago
And worshipped Him with tinsel
    And colored lights and snow.

In summer, when the roses
    Were pink and white and red,
I wove them into garlands
    And placed them on His head.

Tinsel for a baby,
    Flowers for a prince....
What else shall I give Him
    Besides gold and frankincense?


Good Folk of the Village, Tommie Jean and I Wish You a :

Merry Christmas!
Joyeux Noël!
Buon Natale
Alegre Christmas
Frohe Weinachten!
Feliz Navidad!

this Christmas Day of the Year 2000.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: deleterious
Intermediate Word of the Day: nugatory
Difficult Word of the Day: corolla


T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the fireside with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads;
And Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,--
When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave a luster of midday to objects below;
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet! On Cupid! on Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash, away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top, the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys---and St. Nicholas, too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a round little belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump--a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh; to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."


We hope you all had enough to eat.

SAT-Practice Word of the Day: obdurate
Intermediate Word of the Day: bicameral
Difficult Word of the Day: exergue

You may chain your love with a silver chain,
You may fetter her feet with gold.
But love is little and fleet as rain.
She will be hard to hold.

Love is as light as a thistle seed
That blows across your hand,
And wild she runs as an April weed
Over the unplowed land.

Fashion her cage with jeweled bars
And bind her feet with song,
But love is as free as the flying stars.
You will not hold her long.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: iconoclastic
Intermediate Word of the Day: adumbrate
Difficult Word of the Day: daedal


I have not learned the speech of birds.
Nor can they fashion into words
Whatever panic brings them here.
The air is busy with their fear,
The sky is heavy with their wings,
But what the danger is that stings
Their tiny throats to sudden fright?
What peril sets their wings in flight,
I cannot guess. The evil walks
Among the dry and broken stalks
Of last year's weeds. The birds beseech,
But I have never learned their speech
And I can only share their fear....
What strange new grief awaits me here?

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: ebullient
Intermediate Word of the Day: balalaika
Difficult Word of the Day: baklava


How could we manage without the birds?
How could we know that spring had come
If suddenly, all the hills were dumb
And nothing stirred on the ragged lawn
     But a leaf that the wind had brushed?

Suppose that the bluejay made no noise
When the kitten stalked through the flower-bed
And the green snake lifted his narrow head,
Suppose that the sparrow slept through dawn
     And the mockingbird were hushed.

How could we hope for winter to leave
Without a robin to tug his sleeve,
Or look for summer to build her nest
Without the down of a robin's breast?
Think of an April with never a wing--
How could we ever be sure of spring?

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: boisterous
Intermediate Word of the Day: debouch
Difficult Word of the Day: calenture


Between my work and me there lie
A patch of earth, a patch of sky.

The patch of earth is mostly hill,
With maples standing bare and chill,
But in the sheltered hollow
The goldenrod and daisies grow,
And overhead the wild geese go
Where I can never follow.

Now God be thanked for earth and sky
And time to watch as I go by.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: stolid
Intermediate Word of the Day: debouch
Difficult Word of the Day: chthonic

    What I'd really like to see is an experiment in which 20 or so of our brightest and most promising adults were given an assured, adequate income for a few years, with, perhaps, a percentage of whatever royalties or other income their products happened to bring in. Then I would like to see them coached and supported in their attempts at good works. (Special attention alone, without income, might produce some satisfying results.) I'm saying "good works" because I don't think that "great works" would be necessary to justify special attention, and I should think that it might be better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.
    Central to this discussion is the recent discovery that once the IQ exceeds about 120, there seems to be little correlation between IQ and success, including intellectual success. Ruth Duskin was one of the long-term stars on the old Quiz Kids program, and had a childhood IQ in the 200+ range. A typical example is embedded in the following quotation, taken from Ruth Duskin Feldman's 1981 book, "Whatever Happened to the Quiz Kids?"

      "An important study on the ingredients of success is under way at the University of Chicago. There were no child prodigies among the one-hundred world-renowned mathematicians, concert pianists, Olympic swimmers and tennis players under age 35 whose histories have been dissected by Professor Benjamin S. Bloom's researchers. In fact, few of these topflight achievers stood out as unusually gifted at the age of 5 or even 10. Some did not show as much ability as siblings who started with similar parental encouragement and early training. One thing that made the difference was motivation; an all-consuming will to excel. Fired by recognition and fueled by expert coaching, these young people concentrated on developing their talents, often to the exclusion of social life and other activities. Similarly, among the Terman group, the top achievers were those who, from childhood on, evinced noticeable drive, ambition, initiative, independence and persistence. Those who chose a vocation rather than drifting into one.
    "Of all the Quiz Kid stars, Harve Bennett showed that fiber. The product of achievement-oriented parents, it was he, not they, who insisted he try out for the show. It was he whom his perceptive colleagues singled out as "most unlikely to fail". And it is he who has come closest to the zenith in his chosen field.
    "Fundamental to success is the ability to focus on and pursue a goal, as Harve did. Being well-rounded, as Quiz Kids were supposed to be, some of us have found it difficult to do that."
    "Multi-potentiality is a mixed blessing for many gifted youths."

    These results are typical of many other studies, including prospective studies like the Terman Longitudinal Study of Gifted Children, and follow-up histories of grown child prodigies. There are the most momentous changes as IQ's go from 80 to 120, but once an IQ of 120 is reached, it has been demonstrated that higher IQ's seem to confer no particular advantages in life.

  1.  Dr. Hans Eysenck has estimated that the average IQ of historical geniuses lay between +3 and +4 standard deviations above the mean.
  2. Leading mathematicians and physicists must surely have IQ's in the 3+ sigma range. Our own Ultranet and Promethean physicists and mathematicians, with documented IQ's that lie above the 4 sigma level, have estimated that some of their compeers also fall above the 4+ sigma level.
  3. Why should an IQ of 120 comprise any particular break-point? If pluck, luck, and fortitude is what counts, why not an IQ of 90 or 100? The only thing that happens in the 120 region is a  rapidly-increasing scarcity of people with IQ's above that level. About 78% of the population hav IQ's between 80 and 120, inclusive. Only about 2% top 131, 1% top 136, and 0.1% exceed 149. There are more than 1,000 individuals with IQ's of 120 or above for every one with an IQ of 160 or above. It would only take one frog-prince among the hundreds with IQ's of 125 or 130 to muddy the waters*. Super-bright people have been known to fake lower test scores to fit in with their neighbors.

  4.     As one goes from an IQ of 80 to an IQ of 120,  there are the most dramatic changes in socioeconomic status and in life outcomes. The smarter 1/5th of a class is said to learn 5 times as fast as the slower 1/5th. I would expect a similar 5:1 ratio in learning rates as the ratio IQ rises from 120 to 160 (corresponding to a deviation IQ of, perhaps, 150). Similarly, I would expect another 5:1 ratio as the ratio IQ further increases from 160 to 200 (corresponding to a deviation IQ of, perhaps, 174).
* - When I was in high school, we were infformally given an IQ test in a high school psychology course. I was sick and running a fever the day the test was given, but I wanted very much to take it. I took it with my head whirling, and missed two questions on it, earning an IQ of 128! (The test ceiling was IQ 132.) Luckily, my official IQ was on file, and my 128 was irrelevant. But if it had been the official test.... Although people generally get several tests along the way, a low IQ score can often hang over one's head like Banquo's ghost. Because of insufficiently high ceilings and ceiling effects, there are few, if any, conventional IQ tests that are accepted as reliable measuring instruments for IQ's much above the three-sigma level. In my own case, I know only one of my childhood IQ scores. If it had been spuriously low, I might have been branded with an incorrectly-low IQ score for the rest of my life, and might have been one of the "frog princes" who could possibly have skewed the research results of a research psychologist.

Funding an Experiment That Would Mobilize the Hyperbright
    I have been trying to think of ways to fund a multi-year, proof-of-principle experiment that would engage the capabilities of the hyperbright over a period of several years in helping solve important real-world problems. I've also been wracking my brain searching for practical, attainable ways of supporting them. What I'm going to mumble here and now is nothing more than initial brainstorming. I'll welcome ideas and feedback.
    By definition, there are about 260 individuals in the United States and about 30 persons in Canada whose intelligence lies at or above the 1-in-1,000,000 range, for a total of about 290 such whizzes. Of these, perhaps 30% would lie below the age of 22, perhaps 20%, or 1-in-5, would be past retirement age, and something like 50%, or 145, would be permanently in the workforce. That would leave the other 50% (145) who are supported either by their parents or (we hope) by retirement plans. What we might seek would be enough individuals (15? 20? 25? Fewer? More?) that we're not placing all our eggs in one basket, and yet, not so many that we couldn't provide them individual attention and support.
    What would be the least expensive way to support them?

At Zero Cost
    The least expensive financial support would be none at all. We could simply provide them with recognition, connections, opportunities, coaching, and even free labor. We could bring their work to the attention of top-level officials and the news media. We could set up an award system that would reward winners with certificates, plaques, and publicity.
    Cost: $50 per year.

Using Monetary Prizes
    A slightly more-costly set of emoluments might consist of donated monetary prizes to accompany the awards, plaques, etc. These prizes and awards could be named after their donors, who would also be recognized and publicized (assuming they wanted it). Any gifts so donated could be written off as charitable contributions. Another kind of gift could be the opportunity to stay for a week at a choice resort, or to spend a week in someone's vacation home, or on someone's cruiser. These gifts might also be tax-deductible as charitable contributions.
    Alternatively, this money might take the form of travel and equipment funding.
    Cost: $500-to-$50,000 per year

Supplying Supplemental Income
    The next step in this progression might be to provide partial income (e. g., travel funds) as well as actual part-time labor reimbursements. It's important to note that we're not talking about just charitable contributions, but about 20 supremely brilliant individuals hired part-time, and perhaps, producing some marketable products.
    Cost: $50,000-to-$1,000,000 per year.

Supplying Full Income
    At the highest level of cost, the experimental subjects would be hired full-time to  work more than full-time. This costs the most, but it also offers the greatest return. It would cost no more than the employment expenses of 20 senior individuals, and would select 20 of the smartest individuals in the U. S. and Canada. Quite a bargain!.
    Cost: $1,000,000-to-$2,500,000 per year ($50,000-to-$125,000 total burdened salary cost per person, including overhead, fringes, and leave.) (This assumes that paperwork could be minimized. If proposals, progress reports, and the usual bureaucratic paperwork is required, then costs would jump to about $80,000-to-$200,000 per person, depending upon the salary level.)

    We would want to distinguish between

Part 2: Some Universally-Desirable Grand Challenges

Grand Challenges

    I should think that our prodigiously gifted are in the best positions to decide what challenges are best-suited to their talents and to society's needs. I also think that there are certain initiatives that many of us would gladly pay to support. Here are a few such "Grand Challenges" that come to my mind. You may be able to think of many others. The first three of these are bootstrapping areas of endeavor that would facilitate other objectives. They're of the kind that go: "If I had three wishes, my first wish would be for three more wishes, as would my second and my third wish, so that I'd end up with 9 wishes. And then I'd expand my wishes over and over again until I had all the wishes I wanted." I should think that whatever we can do to make ourselves smarter and/or longer-lived would potentiate our ability to perform other tasks.
    One background observation is that our society is making rapid research progress across the board without drawing upon its hyperbright. And that's a good thing.

(1)  Research into brain boosters and  Alzheimer's disease.
(2)  Research into slowing, arresting, and reversing aging.
(3)  Fundamental biological understanding
(4)  Fundamental research into the nature of cancer.
(5)  Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
(6)  Research in fundamental theoretical physics
(7)  Research into better ways of structuring organizations to improve fairness and to reduce unproductive kinds of competition.
(8)  A better understanding of human interactions and institutions.
(9)  Research into better ways of utilizing our prodigiously gifted.

Part 3: Coming Up with the Money

Funding Sources

  1. Individuals
  2. Charitable foundations
  3. Corporations, singly or on a subscription basis
    It seems reasonable to suppose that most of us who contribute to causes have generally amassed the money we can contribute by practicing frugality and deferred gratification. We probably also often feel that we've worked hard for our money. We want to be very sure that our contributions are well-used, and that our money doesn't go for fat salaries and hidden perks for the staffs and the managers of the charities. We want the bulk of our contributions to go to the advancement of the cause we want to support, and we want our gifts to be utilized as effectively as possible to further the cause.
    It's also the case that we may tend to contribute to the causes that we think are the most worthy, and/or those with whose areas of endeavor are those with which we're involved.
    It might be possible to find ways of rewarding us for making our contributions. One such approach is that used by organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that gives us a subscription to "Science" in return for a certain-sized donation.
  1. A more-powerful way to accomplish this might be to establish a direct relationship between us donors and the researchers whom we're helping to support. That way, when our researcher(s) make a discovery, publish a paper, or are cited by the press, we could feel a part of their world and could identify with their accomplishments, bragging about them to our friends and our families. We would also be sitting on the edges of our seats following what was transpiring at the cutting edge of the field. And we would know exactly how our money was being spent, and would know that it wasn't going astray.
  2. Money given directly to individuals, with no spending strings attached, would be worth a great deal more than than money given to their organizations (which can load the projects with other people they want to support).
  3. Money given in the form of "fun money" to buy anything the recipient wanted would be worth far more than salary or other household maintenance money. Most of us never see or get to enjoy most of the money we earn.
  (This is a work-in-progress.)

Charitable Foundations

Corporations, singly, or on a subscription basis

Incentives for Donors

    How can donors be rewarded in return for their sought-after dollars?

  1. Newsletter, bulletin boards
  2. Pipeline into research
  3. Investment guidance
  4. Personal counseling
  5. Patent income
  6. Corporate shares
  7. Let the donors retain their money, contribute income? Have a say in how their money is spent?
  8. A club
  9. Get pledges. Contribute monthly, quarterly, annually? Tax-deductible.
  10. .Bumper Stickers
  11. T-shirts
  12. Pins, stationery, cards

Part 4: Problems with Actual Implementation

    This gets into the problems that might rear their ugly heads in blending with existing research programs and their highly competitive researchers, and with enduing our hyperbright with the credentials and that will facilitate their meshing with the world (as in Ph. D.'s*, and, hopefully, training in advanced "people skills".).
* - Distance learning options, including BBachelor's, Master's, and Ph. D. programs, are becoming available from major universities. These programs are expensive, but they can be taken at one's own pace. Dr. Quinn Jackson has gathered information regarding programs that, at the undergraduate level, allow freedoms that aren't as readily available in brick-and-mortar institutions. Tommie's and my daughter-in-law is earning her Ph. D. in education using a distance learning program. During the summers, she spends a week or two at workshops and with her dissertation advisor. She will soon complete her doctoral program. Such arrangements might be made-to-order for our extremely intelligent, who find it difficult to sit through lectures, and who can learn extremely rapidly.


Poems For a Little Girl

She is a lovely lady.
In her small face, I see
More beauty than a generous earth
Has ever shown to me.

Fairer than buds in April,
Fairer than leaves in June,
And quieter in sleeping
Than frost beneath the moon.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: conjecture
Intermediate Word of the Day: exordium
Difficult Word of the Day: antre

    Paul Johns' website URL.

    Twenty science fiction stories

Olympus Mons (Mars)

The Huygens Probe Landing on Titan.
The Putnam Prize
    Patrick Wahl has provided links to discussions of this year's annual Putnam competition.


My heart being what it is, a sturdy thing
Of locks and cables, geared to usefulness
Will function as it has from spring to spring,
Though you from spring to spring have loved me less.
The rivers of my blodd will make their way
Through deep, accustomed channels as before.
Where once proud armadas tossed the spray
The barges now will move along the shore.

The pyramid of grief is build on sand,
Not on the granite acres of my bone.
The monstrous shadow falling on the land
Will carve no mountain, wear away no stone,
And few will notice on the eroding clay
The splendid writings of an earlier day.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: charlatan
Intermediate Word of the Day: exordium
Difficult Word of the Day: antre

        Husqvarna's $1,995 Automower                 Friendly Robotics' $799.95 Robomow

12/30/2000 Robotics Alert:  "Lawn Nibbler", the first automower with an onboard positional navigation system, has just been announced.  "Lawn Nibbler" might crack open the gateway to robotic lawnmowers. Lacking an onboard navigation system that can tell them where they are, previous robotic lawnmowers have mowed randomly around their yards, or in the case of Friendly Robotics' Robomow, have used a floating compass to allow them to mow adjacent strips of lawn. "Lawn Nibbler" is allegedly cheap to build, and considering the costs of lawn-mowing services ($25 a week?), there should be a receptive market for it. (Of course, lawn mowing services also trim and edge their lawns, and may even bag the grass.) Friendly Robotics has recently raised the price of "Robomow" from $695 to $795, and seems to be successfully selling their electronic billy-goats.
   If Friendy Robotics' "Robomow" is the Altair MITS kit of the robotics industry, "Lawn Nibbler" might well be its Commodore Personal Electronic Translator 200., ushering in the zero'th generation of household "robots" (or more realistically, mobile automatic machines). After decades of hype and false dawns, I believe we're seeing the first flush of the true dawn of the Robotics Revolution that will dramatically remake our world.  In two more years, once Hans Moravec rolls out his next-generation visually guided platform, we may be ready for the prototypical, first-generation, mobile household "robotic" platforms. In the meantime, automowers, autosweepers, and automoppers based upon "Lawn Nibbler's" technology may make small-scale incursions into the market for such devices. I still look for the first visually-navigated automowers, autosweepers, and automoppers to hit the market in three to five years. Their arrival will probably be gradual, and they will no more be true robots than are automatic washing machines. However, they will bring robotics into the consumer market, and will lay the groundwork for the ever-more intelligent robots that will follow. My offspring might buy one in the latter years of this decade when last year's model goes on sale at Walmart.
    Honda's ASIMO appears to represent a more serious move toward true anthropomorphic robots. ASIMO  probably constitutes Honda's learning-curve investment in the future of robotics.

        KISMET, the caring, feeling robot       KISMET's "mother",  ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot
                                                                           Cynthea Breazale         ASIMO will be rented out.

12/31/2000: Author's Note: Apparently, MIT's Robotics website shuts down on weekends. I'm unable to bring up  the two left-hand web pages. These hyperlinks will probably work again on Tuesday.
     I can see it coming: "Equal Rights for Robots!"  "We have feelings, too!" "And Man created robots after His own likeness. After His own likeness created He him."
    "The 1980s was the decade of the PC, the 90s of the Internet, but I believe the decade just starting will be the decade of the robot," Toshitada Doi, president of Sony Digital Creatures Laboratory, told a news conference.
Robotics Articles and Resources


See! I have put you wholly out of my mind,
Emptied myself completely of desire.
I have not lagged with those who lagged behind
To warm their bones before a dying fire
And talk with shadows. Having loved and lost
I have no wish to love again
By begging silly favors of a ghost
And trudging after rainbows in the rain.
Nor think you that, because I vowed
A million vows and meant them every one,
Have wrapped my dreams around me like a shroud
And drawn the shades between me and the sun.
Holding against my heart for safer keeping
Stars and the deepening dusk and lilies weeping.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: elucidate
Intermediate Word of the Day: dinkum
Difficult Word of the Day: kyphosis


When, in the urgent noontime of desire,
I ventured forth, with neither hat nor glove,
A foolish woman straying from the fire
And blinking in the sunlight of your love,
I never thought the shadow at my feet
Could lengthen so, it was so small a thing.
I never thought the day would be so fleet
Nor wondered what a far-off night would bring.

But night has come, too bitter-black for frost,
And here I stand, ill-dressed in summer sheer,
Upon the highest hill my path has crossed
Beneath the coldest sky of all the year.
And here I stay, with no place else to go,
No stars above me and no lamps below.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: glacial
Intermediate Word of the Day: umadrigal
Difficult Word of the Day: gaur

          FOUR SONNETS - I

Not even in my dreams I see your face.
Not even when the longest day is done
And the last hill befriended by the sun
Lengthens into a secret, shadowed place;
When voices that I loved a little space
Trouble the darkness, and the shapless stone
Assumes a shape and being not its own--
Not even then do you seek your accustomed place.

I have forgiven with what grace I could
That you are gone. I have not cursed the day,
And none can say I charged you with my pain.
But I have not forgiven nor understood
Why even in my dreams you turn away
Lest I shoud look into your eyes again.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: mollify
Intermediate Word of the Day: umbrage
Difficult Word of the Day: campestral

          FOUR SONNETS - II

Not all who kissed and clung and went away
Were so unkind. Not all who left my side
Have had too much of anger or of pride
To come again, as birds return in May
To the known bough, the remembered spray.
And still they come, unwelcomed and denied,
Where the year's flowering grasses lean to hid
The broken shell, the feather in the clay.

Oh, not for these I summoned forth the spring
And set the wild white plum upon the hill.
I seek among the uninvited guests
One stormy throat, one swift, defiant wing,
And know for whom the grieving wind leaves still
One nest intact among the scattered nests.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: efface
Intermediate Word of the Day: macrobiotic
Difficult Word of the Day: tergiversation

          FOUR SONNETS - III

Having no heart except this heart you see,
No love except the love which I have shown
And which you find unworthy of your own,
I cannot bargain with you. Let it be.
There is no richer, greater thing in me
Hidden away like some precious stone
Against the day when your full price is known,
And known the measure of my poverty.

I know the heart is frivolous and dull
For you have so assayed it, and the worth
Of love from such a heart I understand,
Although one time you found them beautiful
And I was richer than the Queens of earth
Pouring my silly pennies in your hand.


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: fallow
Intermediate Word of the Day: termagant
Difficult Word of the Day: tercel

          FOUR SONNETS - IV

The value of my love is what you will.
It is no more nor less than you require,
Whether it is a jewel shot with fire
Or graying ashes blown across the sill.
Whether the heart be wide as heaven's own hill,
Wondrously starred, or narrow as the brier
That nags the flesh, it is as you desire
And what it is is your possession still.

As much your own as mine, as much a part
Of what you are as it is part of me,
And worth no more than it is worth to you.
Devaluate the love, despise the heart,
But you must share in my catastrophe
For if I am beggared, you are beggared, too.



SAT-Practice Word of the Day: sycophantic
Intermediate Word of the Day: obloquy
Difficult Word of the Day: grosgrain


No man is free. Each woman wears the scars
Of chains upon her heart, and in the night
Must wake to see the bars against the light
And weep for something locked beyond the bars.
The walls are guarded, and the corridors
Lead blindly back for those who think of flight.
Love sets no door ajar, no key in sight.
Love opens up no highway to the stars.

Love is not a freedom, but a new chain caught
Against the old, and shaped to greater pain,
A certain bondage, terrible and real.
Release cannot be bargained for nor bought,
And he whose fingers seek to break the chain
Will break his heart before he bends the steel.



SAT-Practice Word of the Day: jocular
Intermediate Word of the Day: banquette
Difficult Word of the Day: batten


Heavy with stars, beset by winds of space,
Worn by vast time and torn by strange debris,
The web of night swings freely in its place
Between the gateposts of eternity.
And not so wide and not so far away,
Complete with epic ages, good and ill,
Another universe will swing by day
Between the pines tree and the window sill.

What lies beyond swift Mercury and Mars
I cannot guess. I am not even sure
What loves and hates, what cataclysmic wars,
What tenuous peace occur in miniature
On watery, bright worlds that hang at dawn
Above a green infinity of lawn.



SAT-Practice Word of the Day: avert
Intermediate Word of the Day: doppelganger
Difficult Word of the Day: farinaceous


Redbud, redbud on the hill,
Wild plum in the hollow!
February's with us still
But March is sure to follow.

February, bleak and chill,
Is fraying at the edges
And thorny quince and daffodil
Are brightening up the hedges.

Now let the north wind shout at will
His brash defiant phrases.
Today, I picked a daffodil,
Tomorrow, there'll be daisies!


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: respite
Intermediate Word of the Day: mulct
Difficult Word of the Day: tabescent


God bless the creatures of the field,
The sparrow and the mouse.
Give each of them his store of grain,
Give each his little house.

Let none be far from home tonight,
The cricket nor the thrush.
Make clear the passage down the wind,
The pathway through the brush.

Make safe the covert in the weeds,
The nest beneath the bough.
Let none of all Thy little ones
Be lost or frightened now.

Give each his wall against the world,
His roof aginst the sky,
And hide the fledgling in Thy hand
Until the storm goes by.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: incidental
Intermediate Word of the Day: prolix
Difficult Word of the Day: macerate


This is the season of fields laid bare
Under a bare bleak breadth of sky.
April has long since hurried by
And Autumn, binding her leaf-brown hair, Paused but to strip the laboring roots
Of the last gold grain and the final fruits,
Paused as she bound her leaf-brown hair
Only to say good-bye.

All that was sowed in the golden days,
Seed of alughter and seed of tears,
Lifted in summer their thin green spears,
Flaunted their fruits in October's haze--
Fruits of sorrow and fruits of joy
That nothing could change and nothing destro--
Fruit of laughter on slender sprasy,
And ever the fruit of tears.

This is the season when those who plod
The furrowed fields that are left to them
May touch their lips to the goblets brim
And warm their hearts at the fires of God,
Glad for the grain that was theirs to reap.
Glad for the blessing of rest and sleep.
Warming their hearts at the fires of God
And giving their thanks to Him.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: rancor
Intermediate Word of the Day: billingsgate
Difficult Word of the Day: levigate


I know a green and secret place
Under the phlox and Queen Anne's lace,
Where caterpillars creep and crawl
And have no fear of me at all.

There in a land of little things
The gray moth folds her dusty wings,
The beetle stumbles from his lair.
Not sorry that he sees me there.

Down avenues of light and shade,
The ants march proudly on parade
And roly-poly bugs, uncurled,
Invite me in to share their world.

If I come nack when I am grown
And walk across the field alone,
It well may be that I shall pass
Unheeding through the summer grass,
Too tall to note the sudden hush
Of voices in the underbrush,
Too tall to hear, beneath the phlox,
The clicking of unnumbered locks
Were tiny creatures dart about
In frantic haste to shut me out.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:acquiesce
Intermediate Word of the Day:oblate
Difficult Word of the Day:ochlocracy


An Autumn stillness lies across the land
And dusk comes gently. Sparrows wheel and fly
Across a blue enclosure where the sky
Darkens above the pear trees. By and by
There will be dead leaves piled upon the sand.

Come quickly then, beloved. Where I stand
A thread of sunlight lingers on the hill
And goldenrod is lifted. Crickets shrill
And fields are bleak and bare, But I have still
The last of summer trembling in my hand.

A mist like winter creeps across the land,
But I have held my fingers in the sun
And caught its drooping petals one by one,
And these I give to you, goldenrod and sun,
The last of summer trembling in my hand.

      --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day:savory
Intermediate Word of the Day:imprecation
Difficult Word of the Day:thurifer


Spring after spring the wild plum blooming
On the untended hill,
Andd in the hollow, spring after spring,
Violets blooming still.

Only here in my heart, unshaken,
Winter broods on her nest,
Turning over with sullen care
The stones beneath her breast.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood



 SAT-Practice Word of the Day:bleak
Intermediate Word of the Day:riparian
Difficult Word of the Day:colluvium

         IN THE GARDEN

In flower-hung cathedral,
Down clover-scented aisle,
The ants, unblessed and busy,
Are racing single-file.

Beneath the jewelled arches
Of bridal wreath and fern
They hurry toward tomorrow
With desperate concern.

Not side by side like brothers,
Not two by two they fare,
But each alone and burdened
With more than he can bear.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: assuage
Intermediate Word of the Day: adjure
Difficult Word of the Day: blepharitis


Upon this hill laid bare to sun
The bee attends the flowers,
And by the toppled chimney stone
The shadow tells the hours.

Domestic as the kitchen clock
That measured out our day
Before the foe bypassed the lock
And found a secret way.

The spider who had claimed the wall
Now claims the sapling pine,
And angles for his evening meal
With silver reel and line.

The mouse finds other store of grain,
The sparrow other eaves,
The cricket shakes his tambourine
Beneath the maple leaves,

As heedless of his brother's shout
As we were heedless then
Before the enemy without
Became the foe within.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood



There are jungles in your eyes,
Green rain forests, heavy-hung
With orchids, where the serpent's tongue
Flickers across the sultry day
And storms of butterflies
Gather beneath acacia skies.

Half-awake and half-asleep,
You crouch upon the window sill,
A thousand thousand years beyond
The dim beginnings of your race.
Nothing splendid waits for you,
Nothing perilous and new.
You watch the shadow-minutes pass
Across the uneventful grass
And lift a fragile, silky paw
To speed the slow retreat of noon

But something of that time and place,
A world away, is written still
Beneath your lazy, narrowed lids,
And in the jungles of your eyes
The yellow storms, descending, break
And scatter, while the dappled snake
Uncoils among the dappled weeds
And temporarily concedes
To naked fang and naked claw.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood


SAT-Practice Word of the Day: edify
Intermediate Word of the Day: quiddity
Difficult Word of the Day: weregeld


Once long ago, I made a prayer,
But who was I, to pray?
And who were you, that God should care
Whether or not you went away?

And yet I looked into His face
And prayed with might and main,
God yawned and set a star in place.
I shall not bother Him again.

        --"Window to the South."
                  Vivian Smallwood