Sunday, January 3, 2016

My 2nd Attempt To Read "Robert 's Rules Of Order, Revised"

My first attempt was when I came across a hardcover copy among my father's books. This must have been before I was full-grown, in the 1970's or even possibly the late 1960's.

It didn't hold my interest back then. I found it literally impossible to read. I was not able to maintain my focus upon it. In short, it was appallingly boring.

Decades later, disappointingly, it still is. More than that; now, not only do I find General Henry M Robert's book impossibly tedious. I am now also convinced that I would have disliked the man himself intensely. That's a rash sort of judgment in cases, like this one, where someone can't write very well at all, giving hope that there may be a personality not reflected in their writing. Still, I think that enough of Robert's personality shows here and there through the mud of his prose to allow me to make that judgment. I admit, I make this judgment on scant evidence.

Unless I have overlooked something, there is not within this entire wretched volume (Robert's Rules of Order, Revised, with a Foreword by Henry H Robert III, New York: william Morrow, 1971, ISBN 0-688-31374-4) a single reference to another written work, except in a footnote on p 300, and I quote: "Watson vs Jones, 13 Wallace US Supreme Court Reports, p 679. This case was decided April 15, 1872." Watson vs Jones was a dispute over the rights of ecclesiastical councils.

The subject of Robert's entire book, the rules and procedures by which Murrkin legislatures and other groups go about their business, is very interesting to me. This makes Robert's Rules of Order different than the Dover reprints of textbooks on advanced mathematics and physics which I got at places like Salvation Army thrift shops in recent years, hoping that perhaps I could kindle an interest in such things in myself. I held those hopes for various reasons: for one thing, as a schoolchild I showed prodigious abilities in math, up through intro to calculus in the 10th grade, after which I was not required to take any math courses. Because I hated math. I never took an elective math course, not in the rest of high school and not in college, was never even slightly tempted to do so. This was a great disappointment to my mother and to various math teachers. They thought that if my talent could be combined with an enthusiasm for math, I might do great things.

And from the time I was a small child until now, I've easily been able to see their point. And a further reason was that my brother, an engineer, has some familiarity with advanced math and physics, and I thought that if I did too, he and I might have more to talk about. So I got those Dover reprints of textbooks from the thrift store, and -- that hoped-for enthusiasm was not kindled by contact with advanced math. It seems I'll remain just something of a Rain Man-type arithmetical prodigy (although not quite as good as Rain Man), and never a actual mathematician. And of course, the Rain Man-type stuff is much less in demand these days, now that calculators are so cheap and plentiful.

On the other hand, it scarcely needs mentioning that neither I myself nor anyone at all acquainted with me and my abilities would have the slightest difficulty imaging me as a US Congressman or Ambassador to the United Nations or POTUS or Pope.

Perhaps Alice Sturgis' Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure will prove more helpful to me, than Robert.

Or perhaps it'll be even worse, how the Hell should I know?

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