'I am so smart! S-M-R-T -- doh! I mean, S-M-A-R-T! Woo hoo!"

I have a mortal fear of being dumb.I think it's because I've been fortunate in my lifetime to make friends with lots of smart people. Of my close friends in college, I'm the only one without a master's degree. And most of my friends here in Lawrence, outside of work, are in graduate studies programs. Here I sit, puttering along in a job without any higher education. Don't get me wrong: I know that having a piece of paper doesn't mean you're smart. In fact, I know some really intelligent people who never finished high school. So there you go.Still, it makes me nervous. Why haven't I gone for a master's degree? Am I stupid? I have a fear that all my friends are actually just patronizing me, tickling me on the chin and letting me sit with the grownups while they talk. Yes, I get paranoid about it. Thankfully, there's [Emode.com.][1] You can take an IQ test at the site ... which will probably tell you that you are smart and talented.I took the test after a 6News colleague -- whose anonymity I'll preserve by calling him Schmeff Schmolimowski -- scored a 138 and told me about it. I really wanted to beat Schmeff.But I didn't. I scored a 129.More entertaining than the score, however, was how the computer program evaluated me. I'll quote from the e-mail that Emode.com sent me:"Joel, you are a Precision Processor. Did you know?"Um, no. Tell me more!"This means you're exceptionally good at discovering quick solutions to problems, especially ones that involve math or logic. You're also resourceful and able to think on your feet."Hee hee. Yeeeeah. That describes me to a T. THAT's why I went into journalism. Great math skills. Emode told Schmeff he was a "visionary philosopher."(Coughing sound.)But Schmeff found some Web sites that said we were both in the high-90th percentiles of smartness. Of course, that and a quarter will get me a piece of chewing gum from a machine. Schmeff, meanwhile, is considering an application to Mensa.I told my boss about the test. He said he took it a few weeks ago, got a 139. He asked how I did. I told him I got a 140. I was smart enough, at least, to let him tell me his score first.In any case, I no longer have to worry about being dumb. I've got my piece of paper -- a printout from Emode.com that I will have lovingly framed.Other thoughts * Saw "Whale Rider" at Liberty Hall Tuesday. Good movie, nearly great, but not quite. I heard one audience at Liberty Hall actually gave it a standing ovation. It wasn't that good, but I can see how -- in yet another depressing summer of big loud Hollywood sequels that are indistinguishable from each other -- how a quiet, thoughtful movie might have inspired such a response. * Some friends from Indiana once made me promise to regularly attend Liberty Hall movies Not many places outside of real big cities offer the kinds of movies they show there. We're lucky to have it. * Most recent book I've read: "Straight Man," by Richard Russo, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Empire Falls." As always, Russo makes an entertaining read. Still, I wonder if the sheer number of university creative writing programs in the country means that every author, sooner or later -- no matter how talented -- will give us a novel with a university English professor as a protagonist. Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" is a pretty good book, with an English professor as the protagonist. And so on and so forth. [1]: http://www.emode.com


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