The reasons are several, but the immediate problem is money. To qualify for very low, second-class postal rates, every copy in a mailing must be identical; thus every word in the Intelligencer must be printed and distributed in 2500 copies. The money for this, however, comes from a limited subsidy granted by national Mensa and intended primarily for the distribution of our local activities calendar. By various economies we have stretched this subsidy to support a 32-page newsletter, but that seems to be the limit.
As the local group grows, so does the demand for space to print activity notices, SIG and Area news, and business reports, lately, there has been hardly any room left over for non-business material. There is no reason to expect that this situation will improve.
Then why not raise additional money to expand the Intelligencer — say, by assessing local dues or subscriptions? One problem is that there is no practical way to require payment from every local member. A fraction of the local membership (in fact, a small fraction) would wind up subsidizing ever-larger mailings to the "closet" members, who do not participate in Mensa activities. This is clearly unfair.
There are further reasons why making our single newsletter bigger is not the best answer. Its size already throws a burden on the dedicated volunteers who edit, type, produce, staple and mail each issue. Contributors feel that non-business items tend to get lost among the party notices and AreaSec columns, so that they stop submitting them and readers stop searching them out. And when push comes to shove, some bit of trivia about palindromic limericks (lovingly crafted by its author) gets thrown out in favor of the statutory Treasurer's Report.
Yet we need such bits of trivia. Part of the Mensa experience consists of exploring odd corners of the members' minds, and trading ideas that do not gain currency in the public press. Every reader of this magazine is a potential contributor of worthwhile material. What you have to say deserves to be printed.
Hence the concept of a separate, subscription-financed magazine. THE ECPHORIZER will not concern itself with Mensa business, politics, or activities; these belong to the Intelligencer. But it will be rich with intelligent commentary, whether respectable or outrageous, and with ideas, humor, and literary craft. Our purpose will be to make its arrival in your mailbox each month a stimulating event.
Are we creating a new "in-group"? If so, it is one that anybody can join for only $5 a year. For this reasonable ticket price you get a box seat at a fascinating intellectual circus, where your own ideas leap through fiery hoops and balance miraculously in midair. In this, our first issue, we hope we have made you glad you subscribed. Next, we look forward to hearing from you as a contributor. Meanwhile, ON WITH THE SHOW!
George Towner was born in Reno and grew up near Berkeley. As a teenager he began making gangster movies using an old 8mm camera, one of which featured a car being pushed over a cliff off State Highway 1. He has started and sold two successful technology firms, and currently works for Apple Computer, where he is the most senior in age. He lives with his wife in Sunnyvale. They have two daughters and a son.