The Affair of the Al-For-Bet started in our August issue with a contribution from Claire Taylor - a recondite mnemonic alphabet (F or vessance, etc). Unknown to your humble Editor, Claire had learned it years ago from a British gentleman. She had dredged it up from memory with additions by Charles Schultz and Dave Kirby. Never one to sleep at the switch, magaziner Paul W. Healy set us right in the September issue, quoting an article from 1947 that traced the Al-for-Bet to the Royal Navy. We culpa-ed in an Editor's Note, but added that we felt Claire's "X for izer" was an improvement on "X for breakfast."
Well! Never trifle with Royal Navy, 'swot we learned (Argentina, please copy). In true Mensa fashion, a printed questionnaire popped up at Ed Van Vleck's Silicon Valley SIG meeting September 10th. It asked for votes on those letters where the inventions of Claire, Charles and Dave differed from the canon originally fired off by the RN. 18 ballots were cast. The Lads in Blue came out on top in 4 letters (G, K, M, W), while our own wordsmiths won in 9 cases (C, D, E, I, N, 0, R, V and Z). P, U, and X were tied. The only Mensa contribution nobody liked was "W for two rams"; is this the beginning of the New Morality? "X for izer," which started it all, tied with "X for breakfast." One voter wrote across the ballot "Don't like any of them -- suggest you for-g-et the hole thing." This seems like good advice, which we shall now follow.
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.
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