The Ecphorizer

Editorial Issue #35
John Cumming

Issue #35 (July 1984)



Several months ago we sent copies of the ECPHORIZER to all members ofthe Mensa Newsletter Awards Committee with a cover letter inviting them to widen the scope of their judging to include Mensa-based publications that were not properly newsletters. In a reply received just recently, the Chairman of the committee, Gene Mc Mahon, expressed his regrets at being unable to include the ECPHORIZER in the judging. The judging criteria still require local group newsletter status: that is, to be considered, a publication must publish a calendar of activities for a recognized Mensa local group.

There is nothing surprising in this conclusion, but Gene added a rather creative touch to an otherwise routine restating of familiar principles by suggesting that the ECPHORIZER "adopt" a small local group and publish their activities calendar. If such an arrangement could he made with a (very) small local group, the ECPHORIZER could get a boost in its circulation and that group's subsidy to boot.

This ingenious compromise is impossible, unfortunately. A local group must have close control of its publication in order to get full service from it. The newsletter is the one thing that binds all the membership together, and its staff must be of the local group in order to properly meet the local group's needs. Also, all the readers who are not part of this hypothetical local group would have no incentive to subscribe to what would become a local group-orierted publication.

The status of the ECPHORIZER remains imperfectly defined in Mensa. Though assigned to San Francisco Regional Mensa for administrative reasons (someone has to insure that we use the money honestly) there is no routine category into which it can be placed. The "Special Interest Group" or SIG designation might be imposed on the ECPHORIZER, but the interests the ECPHORIZER seeks to stimulate (or ecphorize, so to speak) are far from "special." They are, rather, as broad as any the world of letters can entertain.

In a sense, Gene's creative attempt at a solution to the problem of how to judge the ECPHORIZER arises from his attempt to deal with the ambiguous status of the ECPHORIZER itself. I am tempted to assert that creativity is stimulated by ambiguities, and in fact is probably stifled in an environment where everything is determined with predefited certainty. As our skilled administrators and managers continue to build the formal machinery for carrying Mensa forward, I feel that it is essential that the members keep challenging, if in a friendly and constructive way, the static definitions and organizational structures that a large organization like American Mensa accumulates with time.

We cannot change the ECPHORIZER to better fit the formal definitions that have been developed by "official" Mensa. In addition, we do tot think that members with other ideas for Mensa projects should feel inhibited by lack of predefined categories. They should carry on and let the official machine catch up in its own good time. Now, does anyone have any interest in starting a Mensa-sponsored Computer Bulletin Board System? Of course it would take a lot of explaining, I mean, there Isn't a category for something like this... 

Contributor Profile

John Cumming

john served as a medic in the Vietnam War then returned to Silicon Valley where he has worked as a tchnical writer and programmer at a number of Valley firms. In the 70s - 90s, John held many appointed and elected positions in local and national Mensa - notably as editor of the SFRM newletter Intelligencer and Local Secretary of SFRM, as well as serving as Regional Vice Chair for a number of years. John enjoys a good game of chess and likes nothing better than to curl up and read ancient or niche dictionaries, many of which are reviewed in these pages.




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