Ken Shirriff: ‘You recently mentioned IQ 83, saying it is out of print ‘but Amazon has three copies.’ In my experience, Amazon has been useless for out-of-print books, but has found almost all of the obscure books I’ve wanted. They have 62 different copies of IQ 83, for instance.’Craig Furnas: ‘I think that book’s plot [a fiendish scheme to lower the average IQ of the humane race to 83] contradicts itself. Binet made the average IQ score 100, and scored other IQ’s in relation to that. If every IQ were 83, an 83 IQ would actually be – as the average – an IQ of 100. Wouldn’t it? I guess I’ll have to read the book.’

☞ Well, it’s true that 100 is the median IQ, as I understand it – with as many folks below as above. But clearly that doesn’t protect us from getting collectively more stupid, if we were all, say, to ingest massive doses of stupid pills.

Meanwhile, I have just added a new gadget to my high-tech arsenal. And I don’t mean the TiVo’s I have bought and will soon write about. (What amazing gadgets they are.)

No, this thing weighs about half an ounce and is about half the size of a pack of gum. If anyone buys packs of gum anymore. It has a hole at one end, to fit on your key chain, and a USB connector at the other end. You stick it into your computer’s USB port and – presto – it’s a new hard drive. Either 16 megabytes, 32, 64 or, coming soon, 128.

I got the 16MB version for $69. Not cheap, I suppose, but consider: I have written 1,244 of these daily columns by now. All of them – unzipped, uncompressed – fit on my little Q (as the device is known) with room to spare for my last five years’ financial records and all the books I have ever written.

OK, so for all I know it’s flaky – I’ve only had it for a day.

Or perhaps when I approach my car and remotely pop the trunk (I have one of those little key chains you point at your car to make it do things), the trunk will explode, in some kind of unforeseen key chain reaction, juiced up by the power of my Q.

So I’m not saying you should run right out and buy one. Or that if you do it will be your Q they use in the next Bond thriller . . . your Q that contains world-dooming secrets people are rappelling down skyscrapers and risking their lives to keep from falling into the wrong hands – or attempting to steal in order to blackmail the world for $20 billion.

I’m not saying that.

But if you want to see the thing, and perhaps try one yourself as a way to take key files back and forth between your home and office computers, or an easy way to copy large files from one computer to another (assuming they both have USB ports, and you’ve installed Q’s little driver on each) – well, then, Mr. Bond, I should say you will want to click here.

And in keeping with the bioterrorism theme of late, and potentially world-dooming technology, you might want to click here. (Warning: worry worts and hypochondriacs – steer clear.)


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