The Ecphorizer

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Editor's Notes Issue 16
George Towner

Issue #16 (December 1982)

It seemed to us that the people who attended the First Mensa Annual Colloquium last month would also be the sort who would appreciate the deep intellectual tone of THE ECPHORIZER. So we asked local subscriber Ned Chapin to carry two dozen assorted back issues there and place them on the publications table. We are pleased to report that they were all promptly stolen. We have received several new subscriptions as a result, which is what we had in mind all along.

Reader and contributor Stan Knight of Alameda, CA, wrote us a thoughtful letter about the Second Class mailing procedure, which ecphorizes some comments we have been wanting to make. On the theory that sorting mail constitutes a large factor in the cost of postal deliveries, the US Mule offers publishers of periodicals a dramatic price break in return for pre-sorting their mailings. Our 1-ounce magazine, which costs 20 cents to send First Class, gets delivered locally for 2.64 cents and nationally for a maximum of 5.4 cents. However, in return we must go through an elaborate ritual of zip sorting, bundling, bagging, and record keeping. This process would take several pages to define; if you want to see it in action, go to one of the evening parties where the Intelligencer (or your local newsletter) is prepared for mailing, or phone me for an invitation to help do it to THE ECPHORIZER.This brings up the whole crazy subject of postal rates, something that Lewis Carroll would have relished. Let's ignore the fact that publishers who go through the agonizing process of becoming classified as "non-profit" wind up paying higher rates; let's just talk about First Class mail. If you send a 1-ounce letter and a 2-ounce letter to the same destination, you will pay 17 cents more postage for the latter. Since the difference in the cost of handling the two letters must be negligible, presumably the extra cost is for transporting the extra weight. But this works out to $2.72 a pound. We pay $544 for a one-way ticket for 200 pounds of mail sacks, substantially more than the airlines charge to fly 200 pounds of human being (with baggage) anywhere in the country. It conjures up the image of a Gucci-tailored bag snuggling into a first-class lounge chair, while attentive postal stewardi ply it with champagne and filet mignon.

International air mail is even worse. A 1-ounce letter costs 80 cents. If it costs 20 cents to get it from here to the international airport and 20 cents more to get it delivered at the other end, that leaves 40 cents an ounce for the plane ride. Now our pampered 200 pound mail sack is paying $1,280 to go abroad, without even watching a Clint Eastwood movie in flight.

At the risk of cutting our own throat, it seems clear that there is a connection between all this and our paying 2.64 cents to mail THE ECPHORIZER. Congress, in its finite wisdom, once decided that the "dissemination of knowledge" (including notices of the latest drug store sales) deserves special treatment. We don't agree, but the magazine is enjoying it while it lasts.  

More Articles by George Towner

Contributor Profile

George Towner

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.

Letters - Issue 16

Issue #16 (December 1982)


I am in the process of writing an instruction book for life, which I hope to bequeath to my forthcoming first child "just in case." All of that material a parent might wish to be offered to a child. All of the tips and warnings and "rules for life" and some of the better questions will hopefully be inside that book. Not that I offer myself as someone who knows all the answers, but what good is a father who doesn't enable his child to have access to whatever it is that he has been able to learn.

Under the heading of "Goals" one item I want to present is the memory of a man who had goals ...and worked to accomplish them. Way too late I am realizing that those years spent dreaming of being a messiah, and Alexander the Great, and a writer, and everything else, were years spent dreaming. I remembered an article about this guy who had a hundred or more specific goals that he wrote down and has spent his available time achieving. I had no idea when or where I saw the story. I thought it was Life, which had been out of business for many years prior to its rebirth; and I thought it was probably from about 1956-58. Without a name to go on I couldn't look up anything.

So I wrote THE ECPHORIZER, the Intelligencer and the  Bulletin and asked my question ....John Goddard was born in 1925 and when he was 15 he wrote a list of 127 goals on a pad of yellow paper. In 1972, at the age of 42, he had achieved 103 of his original goals. From exploring the Nile and the Great Barrier Reef to visiting every country on the globe and climbing Mt. Everest, John Goddard is the perfect illustration for the example of achieving goals through planning and working rather than dreaming.

And here's the last fascinating fact from my search for this man. I went backwards and forwards in the Reader's Guide Periodic Literature from 1940 till 1982 and there is not another entry for the man. Make of it what you will, but the way I see it, John Goddard isn't spending his energies seeking publicity. He is busy attaining his goals.

I'm getting all I ever hoped for from Mensa. Thank you to every one of you who helped me to get my answer, particularly to those of you who put those three Mensa publications together.


Jerry D. Moore
San Rafael, CA

[Editor's Note 1982:  ECPHORIZER subscriber Lee Erickson was the first to direct Jerry to an article about John Goddard in the March 24, 1972, issue of Life.]

[Ed Note 2006:  A Google search brings up a number of hits, including Goddard's own web site where he lists his goals (and has checked off those completed).]


Barry Leff's "Mensa Politics" in the November ECPHORIZER reminded me of a small ditty, which is hereby revised and updated to make it apropos to the continuing Mensa political saga.

Once upon a time in Mensa there were two groups, named politically the "Ins" and the "Outs." Both attempted to occupy the limited number of available offices simultaneously, which was of course impossible After much slaying, slewing, mayhem, and tongue-outsticking, they agreed on a compromise: when "Outs" were in, "Ins" would stay out, and when "Ins" were in, "Outs" would stay out. One time, however, when "Ins" were in and "Outs" were out, "Outs" sniffed the political wind and knew "Ins" were in, but had become rotten with fraticide inside

How did "Outs" know this? "Ins" stinked.

Burt Schmitz
Cupertino, CA


Thought you did an excellent job with the picture of Mr.Dooley. However, by inverting the third digit of F.P.Dunne's birth (9 instead of 6), you had him writing the first Mr.Dooley at the age of one. Would that Thomas Paul Healy, christened last Sunday here in Pleasant Hill, were so precocious.

Paul W. Healy
Walnut Creek, CA

I have come to enjoy THE ECPHORIZER. Congratulations on having put together some good humorous stuff, and thanks for the pleasure of reading it.

The publication is, however, substantially or completely on the light side, whereas your avowed theme "to ecphorize is to evoke ideas ...from latent to manifest" doesn't limit to humor. Are you going to tackle serious submissions?

I have found the typical Mensan references to the country's political life superficial and no credit to our group. Many of the comments are downright embarassing, and come from talented thinkers unawakened ("presumably intelligent" one of our guest speakers said at a Colloquium).

Enclosed is a more serious submission, and one with conclusions differing from much of what I have read by Mensans. Can you run it? Can we get a dialogue going?

Charles Walton
Los Gatos, CA

Editor's Note: Charles' article appears in this issue.


I read "Those dedicated to death salute you" by Gareth Penn in the November issue with great interest, for ciphers and such have always intrigued me.

I find that the proofreader probably is not too well acquainted with metric practice, however, as evidenced by the periods after the symbol for millimeters (mm).

People often mistake the metric symbols for abbreviations, which they are not. The standard (ISO-1000) clearly states they are symbols. They also take neither plurals (much easier to accept) nor mixing with written-out words when a ratio is implied with a solidus (rarely in error, but it happens). They also require a space between the numeral and themselves (happens as often as not).

Perr Cardestam
Manager, SC County Chapter, US Metric Assn
San Jose, CA


Re: THE ECPHORIZER No. 14, Page 22, center

Is a letter all you can get out of Keith Woodmansee? He must have written more than just "a short history of aviation."

ted kelly
Santa Monica, CA 

Contributor Profile

George Towner

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.