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Knowing the answers

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I, Alison Rogers, am not smarter than a fifth-grader. I know this because I was watching the Fox network game show while I was making dinner (rice and beans) and I flunked the one-million-dollar question: "What was the name of the first U.S.-launched satellite?" To be fair, the show is set up so you can take the money and run at the half-million-dollar mark, and I certainly would have quit right then and there. I know what I don't know. And to be even more fair, the show's actual fifth-graders aren't smarter than fifth-graders either. If they had been the contestants, they wouldn't have even reached the half-million-dollar mark. A couple of them thought NASA stood for National American Space Agency; many of them were convinced that "Common Sense," the pamphlet that helped spark the American Revolution, was written by George Washington and not Thomas Paine. (I don't want to be too hard on the fifth-graders; after all, one of their parents may need help finding a condo.) Still, it was a...