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May 10, 2011 / philosophermouseofthehedge

The smart of intelligence.

What an odd connection between intelligence and pain.

Just so, well, human.

“Smart as a whip” – This phrase loses a little now that few drive buggies, wagons, or ride horses.  It all comes from the wrist – that crack or pop from a bull whip.  The sharp pop is produced by swinging the long whip, then at just the exact perfect moment: a sharp flip from the wrist to produce a snapping sound.  But, warning, if you aren’t careful, you’ll pop yourself on the leg or wrap the whole darn thing around you….so maybe that’s why the phrase “smart as a whip” went out of favor…people just can’t do it right any more….smart.

“Sharp as a tack” – Explanation not necessary.  Pain can be a teacher and most have experienced getting stabbed by a tack – either on purpose by some annoying kid in school who would unplug tacks from bulletin boards and plague people with it all day. Or by accident:  ever try to stab a tack into a surface and have it malfunction and attack you instead? Anyway, tacks are sharp and the puncture wounds hurt.  So does that translate to “sharp as a tack” being so smart it hurts?  Does the “smart” hurt you or others, I wonder…this one is beginning to “smart” (consider the alternative meaning).

“Mind like a steel trap” – Probably started to mean able to understand or grasp information or ideas extremely quickly….before the steel teeth of the trap snaps shut ending the opportunity.  Certainly reinforces the “sharp” feel…back to pain again…is this a trend?

“Sharp as a razor” – Ouch! a person so smart he/she is sharp!  That’s cutting! “Cutting”, of course, with its multiple meanings, like: a cutting remark can be one that’s astutely “cutting to the bone” – although possibly a bit harsh and sharp comment.

“Pretty smart” – Is this an insult or compliment?  Not just smart, pretty smart. Is that almost “smart”, like “duh”, or very smart like genius?  Would you rather be pretty or smart?  Which would be smarter?  Research shows that attractive people do better in business and life in general.  How smart is that?

“Right smart” – an old rural slang phrase for very smart, pretty smart, or awfully smart.  Wait, that last one:  “awfully”?  Now sounds odd.  How could being smart be awful…oh, ask the really smart kid living through the middle school experience…

“Smart Alec” – Or Smart Alex – in any case a smart guy…He was, I guess, that original Alec. As a pimp he made some money.  Manipulation is clever.  No hurt or pain here

“Smart Cookie” – How sweet is that?  Used to casually praise a woman or girl…Now Star Jones, just ignore the diminutive noun..it’s not really a put down, come on. Don’t be so sensitive and get your feelings hurt over nothing.

“Smarty pants” – hurled in grade schools at those who were obnoxious and telling everyone everything…and probably was the teacher’s pet…and probably ratted out who got out of their seats when the teacher left the room…

Clever, commonsense, manipulative, sensitive, analytical, deductive, sharp, intuitive, socially adept, genius, brainy, brainiac, accomplished, canny, shrewd, talented. Explored, expanded and complicated even more by Howard Gardner with multiple intelligences.  The list goes on and on  – explore for yourself if you want to be a Know-it-all.

We have Smart cars ( Well, getting there. So far, not so smart: owners or cars).  There are Smart Electric Meters (Hey, the energy company saves themselves money by not having to send a technician out, gets the customers to bankroll the installation and switch-out costs, and better yet, once installed, the electric provider can monitor and control when the homeowner gets power – like if the grid is getting overwhelmed! Tres smart!).  And Smart Phones who are very smart and can do all sorts of things – like getting their owners trained to jump whenever they ring, chime, sing or vibrate (almost as efficient as a toddler!).  Of course there are also Smart Bombs and Smart Missiles – both pretty lethal in their wisdom.

Humans, too smart for our own good?

Well, Einstein, maybe those brain cells will spark a new line of thought, create something positive.

It shouldn’t hurt to think.

You think?

Thoughtfully yours,

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

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