New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for November/December 2007

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

I saw a most distressing sight at the mall last week–Christmas decorations! Before we even celebrate Halloween, not to mention enjoy our Thanksgiving turkey, we have officially entered the holiday season. As usual in November and December, NOM activities are somewhat limited. The Celebration and Eclectic SIGs will not meet. But Gerry has scheduled two great restaurants and Jim will host the November NOM Night. Bart and Lovie are hosting the annual holiday party–the date has been moved up to the first week end in December.

Before we start the celebration NOMs have to elect officers for the next two years. This year we have two candidates for LocSec. We have included campaign statements from them as well as a ballot listing the other candidates who are unopposed.

In this issue, Nick Gebhardt gives us his thinking about the difference in intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom. Henry Bertrand ponders the way the world turns and raises some questions. Cover art is by Kathy Walker.

RVC6 Column

by Ralph Rudolph

I just returned from the Sept 7th planning session and the Sept 8th AMC Meeting. The planning session was lead by Jeff De Cagna, who basically told us to make our AMC meeting more efficient through more debate on e-mail lists and less debate during meetings so there is time to concentrate on ideas that are beneficial to our organization. We spend too much time trying to place blame and too little time innovating. Doh!

The AMC session produced few surprises. ALL local groups will be required to produce a statement of their treasury cash balances each March plus the EIN, TIN or SSN used on their accounts. This reporting will expand in the future to include more than cash balances. I was one of two people voting against this motion.

OOPS! It appears that AMC has been using the wrong method for the last thirty years to replace RVCs who quit, move out of the Region or die. AMC merely appointed a new RVC. In the future, we will be forced to have some sort of special interim election. Our Bylaws Committee will be studying the matter and will recommend bylaw changes.

Rules governing how the AMC Executive Committee operates have been changed to require it to consult with AMC members during emergencies.

I am pleased to announce that several groups have instituted new Gen-X groups, have started new yahoo forums, and are revamping their websites. Way to go! South Texas Mensa is taking the innovative step of forming an alliance with the Adventure Club of San Antonio which sponsors events every day of the week: canoeing, kayaking, skydiving, bungee jumping, etc. To me, this sounds like a GREAT way to get more Gen-Xers involved.

I am saddened to announce that I am working with Panhandle (Amarillo area) Mensa to merge them as necessary. Voting by the members is currently taking place. The group will be merged during October.

I’d like to ask our groups to remind members about the SIGHT program which offers services to traveling Mensans. As a past SIGHT Coordinator, I had great times hosting folks such as a gentleman on the way to the National Storytellers Convention in Tennessee. I made a few calls and he entertained many members with his tall tales. I even hosted the Secretary of British Mensa, a very funny lady.

I will be at the North Texas Mensa Thanksgiving Feast of Pleasures and Delights RG with my wife Penny who will be giving a talk on her writing career. Naturally there will be a meet and greet your RVC function somewhere in the schedule. I mention this in advance as I do not plan on writing a column next month; I’ll be visiting my son and grandson in Seattle.

Have a great autumn!

Intelligence, Knowledge and Wisdom

by Nicholas Gebhardt

I have noticed that when my affiliation with Mensa comes up, it's met with one of three attitudes by those that are familiar with us. Rarely, I see appreciation and respect. More frequently I see incredulity. Most often, I see scorn. I've spent some time listening to the ideas that accompany these attitudes and have concluded that most people do not properly understand the rationale behind the intelligence quotient.

In my opinion, there are three main parts to a well rounded intellect, which are all interconnected. First, there is intelligence. This is the processing ability. It controls one's speed in assessing, and their comprehension of, a situation; and how they use any available information to deal with each situation. Then there is knowledge. Knowledge is information gathered by learning from your experiences, and those of others. You learn by experiencing directly, and by experiences learned directly or indirectly from others. And lastly there is wisdom. This is perhaps the most elusive of the three aspects. Basically, wisdom in this context is life experience and how it interrelates with different situations. This may sound like a cross between the other two, but the ability to process a situation and knowing how other similar situations in the past turned out do not necessarily mean that you will choose the correct path. Wisdom can only be accrued with time. There are children that seem to be wise, and that is interconnected with their intelligence - they have rapidly understood a situation and have identified how to deal with it using limited data. They then are able to correlate similar situations in the future.

Allow me to demonstrate my theory. How many people have you known that can parrot back something you've told them, but cannot paraphrase? They have the knowledge, but lack the intelligence to be able to understand it. And how about the autistic--dump a bunch of matches on the floor and they can count them before you or I even realize it's happened. But we know the autistic see the world differently, they have trouble learning save through experience or repetition. And of course, people who seem intelligent and know when something is inadvisable often do it anyway. Obviously they do not yet posses the wisdom to avoid the problems that arise, even though they know there will be repercussions.

I am certain my understanding is flawed, and I am equally certain I will improve my understanding with time. I hope that eventually the people I deal with will understand. We as a group do posses a fair amount of knowledge as curiosity runs parallel with intelligence. And most of us who are active in Mensa have been around long enough to have a fair amount of wisdom. However, we know we're not omnipotent. We don't pretend to be smarter than they. Just like some of them can sing, or dance, or play an instrument better than some of us. We too have a gift. Our computer just runs a little bit faster than theirs.

So What’s Left?

by Henry Bertrand

Won’t you join me in a “thought-experiment”? It won’t take us anywhere, but maybe it’ll elicit a few smiles. And these days, smiles are worth their weight in eliciting energy. The subject of our investigation: a world gone left. So let us begin.

Our planet appears to be designed essentially by and for right-handed primates. Everything from shoelaces to hair curlers is intended for dextrorotatory clientele. Scissors, violins, bicycle kickstands, computer keyboards, microwave control panels, you name it. Until recently, scientists, politicians, religious advocates, inventors, even Hollywood producers have stubbornly refused to explore and explain this phenomenon. It’s about time that someone reviewed the situation and postulated what a levorotatory globe might entail. That’s where our “thought-experiment” comes in.

My own investigations into the matter are admittedly very limited and, perhaps, somewhat biased. As usual, I know practically nothing about what I’m discussing. On my part, there has been very little thought so far, and even less experiment. And, aside from some philosophical leanings, I am also an enrollee of the “right” stuff, if not the “moral majority”. Simple reflective considerations, however, have led to the following deductions and lunacies. Should you have additional data to offer, refutations, or if you just want to be supportive or contrary, send your comments to the editor of La Plume. I’ve heard she has a left-biased wastebasket at the ready.

Well, suppose we start this off cosmologically. Assuming a clockwise spinning and orbiting earth, as viewed from above the North Pole, it’s fairly easy to conceive the sun rising in the West and setting in the East. Perhaps the phases of the moon would be reversed, unless it too circled backwards. Pacific Standard Time would precede Mountain, Central and Eastern Standard Times. The dates of the equinoxes would be crisscrossed, and Daylight Savings Time would probably be thrust upon us in the winter by sinister governments (unless, of course, someone had the foresight to reverse the calendar running the year from December 31st through January 1st.) Hurricanes born off the eastern coast of the U.S. would slam into northwestern Africa. And the tides, solar and lunar eclipses, planetary conjunctions, stellar occultations, in short, the hard won insights of meteorology and cosmology would be screwed up.

And what about our art, music, culture and technology? What about our political agendas and our guns and toys? Would a left-handed global alteration possibly necessitate some of the following absurdities? :

Would our personalities and social encounters be affected, like the Wal-Mart lady telling you to “Have a Lousy Day!”? Would telephone answer machines say, “He’s here but doesn’t want to talk to you.”? Would four-letter words become popular with senior citizens? Would poetry scan like computer bytes and impassion us as much as bar codes? Would a road-rage scenario result in smiles and someone yelling, “Hit me, I’m a lawyer!”?

All of these possibilities have crossed my mind. If only Galileo, Newton, Einstein, even some other Mensan were around to give me a few left answers. But I’ll keep working on this, if you will, too, and maybe someday our pictures will adorn a commemorative wall in a government building, post office or other institution of human lunacy.

Yeah, right!

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