October 2011

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Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at jw@bway.net. I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will do so. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.

Dear Jonathan:

I have two picky points about your September Rags and Bones. First, there is no constitutional protection for committing crimes, so the "(constitutionally protected) semi-automatic weapon with extended clip" wouldn't rally be protected because of its use in a crime. And felons can't own guns, just like they cannot vote.

Second, it's not a clip, it's a magazine. It's a very common mistake, partly because the term is so abused on tv and in films. What's the difference? A magazine is use to hold ammunition to be loaded into the chamber of a firearm. A clip is used to hold ammunition to load into a magazine.

For example, the M-1 rifle used by many US forces in World War II had an internal magazine that held 8 rounds of ammunition. To load the magazine, the shooter first loads 8 rounds into a rectangular en bloc clip made of spring steel, in which the rounds are held close together. The shooter then pushes the clip into the rifle's magazine, pulling the thumb out quickly before it gets mashed by the bolt as it closes. After shooting the 8th round, the bolt locks open and the clip is ejected with a characteristic CHING sound.

Bruce Clark

Jonathan, my as yet unmet friend,

I enjoyed your article on Class. You made many points with which I agree. Being someone with a union background, class is definitely an issue that needs to be discussed more in this country. I find myself, with some background in the left, in profound disagreement with many of the statements made by the US union movement, especially the AFL-CIO. They keep talking about the economic problems of the "middle class." Shame on them! They should know the difference between the middle class and the working class, and be familiar with the concept of "middle income" instead of "middle class."L\,p. In the Marxist tradition, from which I learned a lot, even though I am not organizationally affiliated in any way, the "middle class" are those with one foot in the working class and the other in the upper class. This refers mostly to small business owners and to professionals, like lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, etc. They have some ownership interest in their businesses, which technically puts them in the employer class, but they also have to work and get a salary, which puts them technically in the working class. Their reaction to political events is somewhat unpredictable because of their position.

This is where the AFL-CIO gets it really wrong. Instead of worrying about the "middle class," it should be worrying about the "middle income" (and lower income) members of the *working class*.

All of this might be a mite technical, but in my opinion, it's important to keep certain distinctions clear. It makes it easier to talk about things if everyone involved uses the same vocabulary.

For clarity I feel the need to clarify my position. I have been mostly unemployed for about 6 years, despite lots of knowledge and experience, and as of last June, I have no health insurance, so I hope nothing serious happens. I very much consider myself working class, although for much of my life I have been "middle income."

Please keep up producing such thoughtful essays that make us think about the real circumstances of our situation on not just accepting the propaganda that comes our way.

Bruce Clark


My name is Mary and I'm a college student. Currently I'm writing my senior thesis on "The Dead" by James Joyce and came across your Returns from "The Dead" - I was very interested in the section on Time in the Dead and liked the ideas.

Thank you!



Mr. Wallace,

I just read your article on the web titled Leadership. It was extremely informative. At the same time, however, I am looking for a specific answer to a question - and I have no peers to share their experiences with me.

The question:

How does one command / earn respect from a subordinate, when they themselves are not the supreme authority figure?