Charles_atlas_ad Here I am, still learning my lines for The Odd Couple.

I've almost ready: maybe 97%. And I have a few more days to get to 100%. I'm working on it.

Along the way, I've been thinking: I sure could use a wee bit more brain power for this exercise.

There's nothing like memorizing (especially on deadline, for a public test) to make me feel like a mental weakling.

Oh, what I would give for a little more smarts!

What Would You Give For A Little More Smarts?
We all know about steroids and athletes. Take a few pills, accept tremendous long-term risk, and you, too, can be built like Charles Atlas.

On Monday, I'm speaking at the Columbus Rotary about Creativity: How to Live A Creative Life. In preparation, I'm wondering:

If I could just take a pill that would make me, say, 25% smarter than I am, would I? Maybe, I wouldn't. Perhaps I'd think it wasn't worth getting smarter from a pill.

But maybe I would. And, if I would, what side effects would I be willing to tolerate in exchange for 25% more smarts?

As Mr. Hess said in ninth grade biology, "the meaning of life" — at least for Mr. Hess in ninth grade biology — "is that there is no free lunch. There is always a trade-off."

So, what trade-off would I accept for 25% more smarts? What would I accept for 50% more smarts? What for 100%?

This isn't really so far fetched. After all, we drink coffee. And, it's the same sort of deal: alertness
for a price. Is the price anything more than the cost of a cup of

Hey, if I were 100% smarter, I'd be able to blog and blog and blog — and I'd already know all my lines cold for The Odd Couple.

A Great Article On Neurotechnology
Kids on college campuses are taking drugs. Go figure.

But these aren't the goofy drugs (the ones that make you goofy). They're the non-goofy drugs (the ones that make you serious — but are still plenty goofy to take).

For a mind-expanding review of this drug use, please read Margaret Talbot's "Brain Gain: the underground world of 'neuroenhancing' drugs" in the April 27 issue of The New Yorker.

Who Would Ever Take Drugs To Become Smarter?
Until the 1950s we lived in an Age of Aristocracy. That means that if you were born rich on land owned by your family, you lived rich. Born fortunate, you were a member of the Lucky Sperm Club. Congratulations!

On the other hand, if you were born on someone else's land, not rich, you had almost no chance of ever becoming rich. Sorry about that!

Then, along came the Age of Meritocracy. That's when, if you are smart and work hard doing the right things, your achievements win you merit. And that merit could be exchanged for valuable prizes.

Again, on the other hand, if you are a slacker, you lose — even if you were born rich.

As a (naturally) smart friend said recently, "In America, families go from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations." That is, in a meritocracy your laboring grandfather could look up from his shovel to witness his son (your father) becoming an executive. But, since you aren't as smart-ambitious-disciplined as your father, you soon find yourselves holding a shovel.

Sorry about that.

Your Times Define Your Drugs
In any case, it makes sense to take goofy drugs in an Age of Aristocracy, because — since you can't change your world — you might as well enjoy some goofy moments.

And, in an Age of Meritocracy, you're going to want neuroenhancing drugs, because a slight edge might disproportionately win you a fortune.

In Available Light's Dirty Math, we are asked, "Why does a person who has spent his life amassing a fortune of a billion dollars, devote the rest of his life to earning another billion?" To that question, we might add "…and taking drugs to do it?"

My brain hurts. I'm going to bed.