The Ecphorizer

Letters

Issue #11 (July 1982)



Editor:

I wish to congratulate Gareth Penn on a truly significant discovery, the relationship between the planets and their distances from the sun in Jovian Units. [Pythagoras Was Right! in Ecphorizer #8'/> I would also like to add a few facts.

In the Dover Press edition of Euclid's Elements, Sir Thomas Heath points out that the ancient geometers never were really definite on the most basic things in geometry: the meaning of a point, and the truth of parallel lines, to name a couple. But there is also a deeper significance in the us of human consciousness, and that any human, discontented with his culture and what that culture is doing, needs an opportunity to explore the universe unburdened by the aftereffects of what was thought before. The fear that by being creative we may accidently transport ourselves into oblivion, may be set aside if we would stick to fundamentals.

It just happens that a friend of mine, Hemlock von de Schlippensshlopper, has derived a few geometrical laws on his own which, he says, contain the elements of all physics and mathematics. As faithfully copied by yours truly, these are:

1  A point is that space to which no other space is identical.
2. A line is a path in space.
3. A plane is that which when cutting another plane, makes a line.
4. An angle is the space between two lines that meet.
5. Lines which are equally spaced are said to be parallel.
6. Lines made equal to each other are identical.
7. Straight lines contain no angles.
8. Two right angles make a straight line.
9. If a line be distorted, it obeys its own rules.
10. Closed figures are those figures whose angles are either limited or non-existent.
11. A circle is a figure along which a point may be taken for any other point.

Needless to say, the accuracy of the above can only be determined by those willing to embark on a journey of the sanest nature.

John Caruso
Ojai, CA

Why Cucumbers Are Better Than Men
Editor:

My friend, Professor Wolfgang von Schmutz M.S. (Mad Scientist), read the May issue of THE ECPHORIZER. Inspired by the cucumber item and ever alert to enhance the quality of life, the good Professor hurried to his greenhouse, where he crossed a cucumber with a Mexican jumping bean. If all goes well, in mid-July he hopes to harvest the world's first crop of organic vibrators.

On a different subject, did you hear about the naive M, a new member, going to his first Mensa party? In the Calendar the list of amenities available ended with "secluded pool, suits optional." So our boy wore a sport jacket and slacks.

Stan Knight
Alameda, CA

Editor:

I have often felt that I'd like to contribute something to THE ECPHORIZER, but it was Elna Tymes' dissertation on the cucumber that finally motivated me to take pen in hand...

Actually, I happen to think the cucumber is greatly over-rated. The cucumber, at least all of the cucumbers I have met personally, are sadly lacking in some of the social graces.

For instance:

Cucumbers don't hold hands.
Cucumbers don't give good back rubs.
Cucumbers do not warm up your bed.
Cucumbers don't whisper sweet exaggerations of the truth in your ear.
Cucumbers never surprise you with a new way to do it.
Cucumbers have a very poor sense of humor. They never laugh at your jokes.
Cucumbers don't breathe softly in your ear.
Cucumbers are no comfort when things go bump in the night.
Cucumbers never hold you and dry your tears. They have no empathy.
Cucumbers just like to sit around looking cool.

Cucumbers are like some of the men I've met. It's not that they do anything that's so bad. It's just that they don't do much. I've recently planted some zucchini in my garden. If you're interested I'll give you a report on them in a few weeks.

Esther Seehof
San Jose, CA

Mobilizing to Halt the Continuation of Dumb Stuff brought in a few responses:
Editor:

I've been a member of Mensa for about 17 years, and the one thing that I've learned during all of that time is to never, ever be amazed or surprised at what I see and hear. I saw something recently that almost got me before I remembered that it was written by a Mensan.

It was an article in THE ECPHORIZER written by someone who evidently took offense because the girl in the donut shop put a piece of paper in her bag, and because she saw cars sitting at red lights in the left turn pocket with their signal lights blinking away. Boy. The things some people choose to be upset about.

Let me clarify these two points. The paper in the bag? It's not for germs. It's so the girl in the donut shop doesn't get her fingers all sticky. She puts it in the bag so that you can take them out without getting your fingers all sticky. If it were for germs, they'd use alcohol swabs. Were it not for these pieces of paper, donut shop employees would all have calloused tongues from licking their fingers between donuts.

The left turn pocket. I don't know about where you are, but here in California we have to signal left turns, even if it's to get into a left turn pocket. Once I'm in there, it would be dumb to reach up and turn it off, since the car will do it for me as soon as I complete the turn. Besides, it seems to me to be a good idea to let oncoming traffic (who may not know you're in a turn pocket) know what you're doing.

I really don't know why I took the time to sit down and straighten these things out. Being a member of Mensa and of above average intelligence, I have much more important things to do. For example, I am in the process of circulating a petition, that I hope to have introduced at the next session of Congress, making it illegal to sew those little tags on pants. Masking tape is far superior.

Bill Harvey
Huntington Beach, CA

Dear Editor,

This is in reply to Lisa Barrigan Basker's article in the last ECPHORIZER (June, 1982) and her campaign to stop "dumb" stuff.

Perhaps Ms. Basker is not aware that, in regard to using the left-turn signal while in a left-turn lane, it is simply the law. Now, I know that many laws seem dumb but some pretty wise folks put together the California Vehicle Code with the safety of us motorists foremost in their minds. The reason for using the turn signal is simply to provide a visual signal not just to those behind us, but more importantly, to oncoming traffic. I would much prefer that oncoming drivers be aware of my intention to turn left by seeing my signal than to bend to Ms. Basker's campaign.

If she really wants to get picky about driving habits, how about going after the real menaces: Those whose cars have automatic transmissions and an extra wide brake pedal. How many times have you followed a fool who rode the brake pedal, and whose brake lights were lit, not knowing whether he was braking or just has his driving lights on. Which brings us to an equally maddening practice: Driving in early dawn or late dusk using only parking lights. The CVC states that while driving, only driving lights will be used, not parking lights. The very sound reasoning behind this is that an oncoming driver is less able to judge the distance to a moving car with only its parking lights lit than if its driving lights are on.

Let's help stamp out poor and unsafe driving habits and obey the laws. Keep your left foot off the brake pedal (it's unnatural to hold both feet over pedals like that) and drive with only your driving lights (and keep 'em dim unless out in the woods with no one within 500 feet of your front!).

Tod Wicks
Palo Alto, CA
Editor:

If, as Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines," then on that ground, at least, Lisa Barrigan Basker needn't worry about being accused of having a little mind. Granted that it is thoughtless, dangerous, and possibly illegal to leave a turn signal flashing for miles while driving straight ahead, it is none of these things if you are turning left and there is anyone around to see your signal. According to our friendly Highway Patrol, state law requires you to signal a left turn if anyone is present to see the signal - regardless of how the lane you happen to be in is marked. Since when was it dumb to obey traffic laws? Also, some careless drivers get in a left turn lane and then drive straight ahead (one did before me, today). If he is signaling, I know he intends to turn left, in earnest.

I do not need a piece of paper to remind me what my share of a check is (the really dumb thing here is not asking for separate checks when the waitress (-er) takes the order). If these are the worst truly dumb things around, I guess I'll cheerfully settle for being dumb!

Paul W. Healy
Walnut Creek, CA 


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