Letters To The Ethical Spectacle

I have been buying stuff on Ebay all month. I had hoped to write a piece about it for this issue but ran out of time. While the Net itself is morally neutral--it can be used for good or for evil--Ebay is a fascinating example of a hermetically sealed community where all actions have consequences because we will all meet each other again; it is a solution to the Prisoner's Dilemma where everyone cooperates all day long. Contrast the noisy free for all on Usenet, where there are no consequences and eventually the obstreperous drive out everyone else. I like stable communities, and Usenet is too raucous for me; but Ebay can be so peaceful its spooky: a place where we are all happy together, buying and selling "1950's Toy Jeep Towing Cannon" for $13.00.

The Spectacle is my community, and its rather peaceful; letters like the one below from Scot Hartwell are rare. This is the sixtieth issue--five whole years. You can reach me, as always, at jw@bway.net.

Flame of the Month
Moral relativism is what you practice and spew as tho you were granted a license from a god you don't even believe in. Tell god you are wise and watch him laugh in your face hypocrite.

Practicing the art of free speech.

Scot Hartwell Scot.Hartwell@PSS.Boeing.com

Responses to the November issue
Dear Jonathan:

In "Is Software Art or Engineering?" you say

perhaps what we need now is an "auteur" theory of computer software. This implies finding and fostering the "artists"--the creative talent who will be at the center of a project, if not working solo on it.

I am a computer consultant about to be engaged (I hope) in rewriting an entire system built on just such a premise. The original author did not document his code, has no written specifications and has written kludged-together spaghetti code that keeps ten other programmers engaged full time in maintenance. This system is the core of my client's business, and it is a mess.

My task is to rewrite the system by using sound software engineering principles. First I'll document the functional specifications, then create software specifications (data and processing) that implement the functional specs in a modular and easily maintainable way, and then build and test the system to those specs. When I am done, my client will have a well-documented, robust and easily maintained system and will have no fear of pre-IPO due diligence investigations.

I do _not_ recommend letting "artists" take control of mission-critical production software. An engineering approach is far better, as has been proved countless times. Contact the Software Engineering Institute (www.sei.cmu.edu) to find out more.

Bill Meacham bmeacham@mailcity.com


I was wrong. Ben Price's fifty-five hundred-word epistle entitled Authoritarian Grammar and Fundamentalist Arithmetic is amazing! It is labeled "Part 3" and he has a "Part IV" yet to come. My criticism of Ben was that he "fired all his liberal guns at once" when he wrote a yawningly obtuse and verbose retaliation to my assertion that he lacks experience with reality. Ben defended the morons who turned out to defile Grissom AFB near Rome N.Y. with "Woodstock 99" by essentially saying that these people were disenfranchised people who ideologically opposed the overly militaristic and oppressive power structure of the United States. In truth, they were just a bunch of mushy headed, spoiled kids looking for a party that included drugs, sex, and what passes for music. They trashed the place when they realized that the party was over, and they thought the people who charged too much for bottled water and pizza were ripping them off.

Some ideology, huh?

My apology to Ben. He obviously had not "fired all his liberal guns at once" in his rambling and unnecessarily scattered reply to my response. He has even more guns to fire. This piece proves that Ben, much like a Fidel Castro speech, goes on ad-nausium apparently out of some attraction to his own ability to drone on. He even listed about a hundred words and phrases (mostly negative) that he felt were synonymous to advertising. Ben says that people (mainly evil conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh) use "words" to persuade other people to adopt their (demonic) point of view...Duh again, Ben! He made the remarkable observation that (these) bad people use words (Authoritarian Grammar) to "control" others... That's all Ben said, but ironically he used 5,500 (many arcane and overly pretentious) words to do so...

Ben, simplify. Using big words for their own sake does not lend credibility to your writing. In your case, it makes it appear that you have a problem with authority, and that you resort to such laughable and ostentatious verbiage as a coping mechanism.

The late Dr. Carl Sagan's biographer recently revealed that the good (liberal) Dr. smoked marijuana daily since the early 1970s. Sagan (according to his biographer) said that the dope helped him think more clearly. After wading through Ben's wandering exercise in verbal masturbation, my only question is: "Are the drugs Ben uses prior to writing such stuff approved for consumption by the evil state Ben abhors??" If so, Ben should check the dosage and perhaps consult his physician about a reduction. If not, watch out Ben, the evil conservatives might raid your home and take away your stash.

Bob Wilson

Dear Jonathan:

In the essay Mayor Giuliani's Nervous Breakdown you wrote:

Why not require all demonstrators to wear name tags and register with the police? Come to think of it, for thirty years New York's finest have been notorious for covering their own name tags with tape

That's not as far fetched as it sounds. Robbin Stewart (Brother of cypherpunk Bill Stewart) is a lawyer in Indianapolis who subscribes to my mailing list. He read a comment I made on anonymous political speech several years ago where I mentioned the implications of McIntyre v. Ohio Election Commission. Below is an excerpt from a current case Robbin has filed in the US District Court Southern District of Indiana Indianapolis Division in which I'm a plaintiff.

23. Plaintiff Matt Gaylor, living in Ohio, followed this case closely and wrote an article about it in his Internet column, Freematt's Alerts. Robbin Stewart, undersigned counsel, read that article and understood that his rights were being violated in 1996 when one of his campaign signs in Marion County was taken down for lack of a disclaimer. When the election board refused to provide a letter of apology, he sued, resulting in Stewart v Taylor.

In addition to Stewart V Taylor Robin had another spin off case where he invalidated the requirement that petitioners wear name tags when they go door to door for political signatures.

I hope everything is going well with you and your family and keep up the good work with the Spectacle. November's issue looks especially good.

Matt Gaylor freematt@coil.com

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you for this. I have read up to "B" - and already feel I need a rest. I have forwarded this on to my family and church friends - along with the message of what will happen when the last survivor of the camps passes away? The last guard? The last WWII vet?

I saved your site, although it feels rather strange to be saving it under the AOL listing of "Favorite Place" - makes it seem rather sweet.

One of my best friends growing up was Margy R. - I went to her bat mitzvah - she had a whole pew of us Gentile girls - I still smile thinking of the sweet ladies guiding us through the prayerbook. Her older brother was my older brother's best friend also. I remember watching a movie with her at her Sabbath School - called "Friends" or something like that. It was in the late 60's, about two young girls who were best friends - until the one girl comes up with the "you killed my Lord" line. I had never heard that - born and raised a Christian, but had never heard that line used before. It made me cry. The young Jewish girl took her Catholic (I think that's what she was in the movie) to her house on Sabbath - and the girls celebrated together. I thought the candles were beautiful, and the mother's look of Peace. I just have always carried that movie with me.

But another movie I carry with me is, of course, the mini-series "Holocaust." I, of course, had always heard of the evils done there, my dad had friends who had lost families there. Holocaust surivivors spoke in my hometown library. It was nothing new. Yet, seeing the movie, was still shocking. But the reaction that struck me to my soul was my AFS sister (an exchange student) from Brazil. She sat in front of the tv night after night in tears. She had never seen or heard anything like this before. The Holocaust is NOT taught in South America. World War II is taught from an economic standpoint. When I was an exchange student myself in Paraguay, I was thrilled to finally find the "Diary of Anne Frank" translated into Spanish. It was edited! And my AFS sister thought it was fiction. She couldn't believe it when they took the Frank's bicycles away. It was heartbreaking - how little they learn - some think they are protecting themselves - yet - they are only in for more pain. I hope and pray that the Internet and pages like yours will serve to educate and serve to the world as a reminder.

Thank you again for this page. I will be going back to it, a page at a time, in prayer and sorrow.

Hillary Moldovan HMoldovan@aol.com

Hello Jonathan,

I just finished viewing your site. I thought it was very well done....concise, easy to get around in, and very imformative.

I have had a long standing interest in the subject of the holocaust, which started when I was a just a young girl reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" for the first time. I have since read many books on the subject. I'm not sure why my attention has been so drawn to this period of history...I'm just a child of the 1960s, a heinz-57 variety kind of an American. Maybe I see the vulnerability of us all as human beings and am attracted by the heroism, kindness, love, and self-sacrifice demonstrated by so many during that terrible time.

Anyway, I appreciate your efforts and am glad that I found your site!

Jodi White jodiw62@yahoo.com

Dear Sir:

I am a Sophmore In Milford, Delaware. I was currently asked to choose a topic to write a five page research paper. After ten short minutes of searching on the w.w.w. I had chosen my topic, the Holocaust. I was asked to condense my topic into a smaller topic, I then chose the Auschwitz Concentration Camp of Holocaust. I wish to use information off your site of the Auschwitz Alphabet, sited and sourced of course. I was wondering if you could give me some information about yourself. Where the information was obtained from, you interest in the Holocaust and how you saw interest. Any information I can recieve will be a major help in my paper and my own knowledge of learning more about the Holocaust. I'm not exactly sure why I became so interested in this topic, I'm simply a normal teenage girl with an average life and grades, but Holocaust interests me very deeply. I'm careful not to try to see any views or sides. I stay completely political and non-judgemental for all safetly of my ability to learn more. Thank you for your time, it's greatly appreciated!

Barbara Mullins

Dear Mr. Wallace:

To say there is no God is not a reasonable conclusion or argument in defense of genocide. Your work is very extensive and interesting and I am happy that you have posted it for many to see. However, there is so much depth to the entire subject of "social construct" and its effects upon mankind since its existence, that I feel using Auschwitz as a launching point for an atheistic viewpoint, while reasonable, is invalid.

However, your site is a good resource. Thank you for taking the time to do such a good job.

Michelle mmouton@uswest.net

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Janet regularly contributes her poems to The Ethical Spectacle.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

In your links index under "violence", there is nothing about rape. Is that because there are no sites about rape? This seems to me to be one of the most important forms of violence to deal with in this country. It is widespread and the worse kind of violence a human being can experience.


Dear Mr. Wallace:

I was wondering about the memory of Karla Fay Tucker's dreadful execution and if the media could be massaged to surface her spirit as pertains to Mr. Bush's run for the White House.

Since Bush tries to come accross as this wonderful Christian and tie up the right-wing vote and all that other political crap; Why did't he grant her some clemency? After all, the Pope, Billy Graham, Robertson, most of the influencial Christian teachers I know, and my self (a nobody)tried to get Bush to budge. Why does he get so much conservative support?

Could Karla be the straw that breaks the Bush back?

I wonder if the other Republican hopefuls could wake up the media to this.

Let's talk about it and plant the seeds carefully, so the tree will fall on Bush (I think he's phoney)at the right time.

What do you think?

Bob bobba@foxinternet.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

In an essay entitled The Future, you wrote:

"Heinlein also is the perpetrator of one of the most distressing of apocalypse stories, Panic in Year Zero, later filmed with Ray Milland. In the opening moments of a nuclear attack, a solid middle class citizen immediately abandons his wife and son, whom he believes do not have the right stuff for survival, and goes off to become a Nietzschean superman with his daughter. If I remember correctly, there is even an implication of incest-- anything to survive and to propagate."

Found it, and it wasn't by Heinlein.

The story was "Lot" by Ward Moore. Copyright 1953.

I read it in the anthology "My Favorite Science Fiction Story" Edited by Martin H. Greenberg (c) 1999 by Techno Books DAW Books

Chuck Stewart zapkitty@hotmail.com

I remember hearing in the sixties that the story was written by Heinlein under a pseudonym. Anyone know?