Do We Need Rules?

Voice Card  -  Volume 1  -  John Card Number 21  -  Mon, Sep 19, 1988 2:52 PM

This issue of Archipelago marks the very first meeting of the Royal Society of Ponarvians. Do we need rules?

As a general principle, I am opposed to rules unless they are of no apparent redeeming value. When Paul and I were fresh out of college we formed a corporation and were required by the state to provide a set of rules governing shareholder meetings and the like. We came up with a number of odd rules such as "the number of officers may be increased at any time but must always be a prime number (2, 3, 5, 7, 11,13,17, etc.)"

Recently I came across an essay by the nineteenth century mathematician Augustus De Morgan in which he describes an odd organization called the Mathematical Society. I rather like one of the rules of this group, to wit: "If a member asks for information, and applies to anyone who can give it, the second member is obliged to give it or be fined one penny."

The only rule of a practical nature that I could be talked into would concern members who are tardy in returning their mailers. I know for a fact that several of you are unrepentant procrastinators (it takes one to know one) and I fear that this may become a problem. Since our entire process of communication depends on developing a regular rhythm, such procrastination could cause delay and confusion for the entire group (as well as headaches for the unhappy editor).

Should I send disks to members who failed to return the most recent mailer? If so, I will have to be compensated for the disks. If not, these members will be out of sync with the rest of the group. And what do I do with mailers that arrive too late?

For now, I propose that if any of you are unable to meet the return deadline that you at least give me a call so that I don't hold up everyone else. Perhaps procrastinating members can pay a fine which I can apply to the added costs of sending new disks (unless I am notified in advance). These fines could even escalate like library card fines (!)

We can use the Automatic Survey Kit to generate ballots to vote on things like this. But do we need unanimous consent or two thirds or what? Maybe we should vote on whether or not we need unanimous consent!