Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

Email is the main reason I write the Spectacle. You can contact me at jblumen@interramp.com. I will print name and email address on all letters unless otherwise requested.

Dear Mr. Blumen:

My name is Marc Schwartz, and I am currently a third year law student at Pepperdine University School of Law. The reason that I am writing is that I recently read your article about no new laws on the net, and I am interested in writing a more in depth article on it for the law review at my school. I respect the fact that the idea is yours, and I want to get your permission before I write it since there is a chance that it will be published. I have to submit a proposal to my editor soon, so if you could respond as quickly as possible, I would appreciate it.

Thank you for your time!

Marc J. Schwartz mschwart@pepperdine.edu

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I don't understand how someone who has NOT read Rice's Vampire Chronacles can possibly even pretend to understand the underlying meanings of her vampires.

By saying that the women are being portrayed as timid, helpless, vulnerable creatures is absurd. Had you read the novel, you would understand the this is the Vampire's nature. Vampires ARE seductive creatures that enthrall their victims. The character of Lestat likes to feed off of the strong young men (this is stated in the book, as at least one chapter is about him stalking a strapping young man). Louis doesn't like killing at all.

As for the character of Claudia...she is representing the daughter Rice lost at a young age. She is not symbolizing the frailness of women, but the devestating loss of a young daughter.

Comparing vampires to Nazis is absurd! Vampires MUST feed on blood to survive. That is the vampiric nature. Jews were treated unfairly, and I am not an advocate of the camps.

I myself am seduced by Rice's vampires. I find them the creatures they are...beautiful, mysterious, seductive. "Our pale skin, our fierce eyes." (Louis...IWTV movie)

Let me tell you a little something about myself. I am 15 years old. I have read all of the Chronicles. You should take the time to do the same. If I can understand the meaning behind them, one twice my age should be able to do the same. Once you read the novels and try to understand them, you will feel differently about the Vampires.

There are about 400 people that are on a mailing list called VAMPYRES. There was a message sent out about your article and the web site. Believe me, you have offended people by expressing feelings you have no rite to. Once you read the novels, THEN write the article. If you still feel the same way, all power to you.

Best Wishes,

Alli FWCD90B@prodigy.com

Dear Mr. Blumen:

your accessment of INTERVIEW WITH A VAAMPIRE, is sad !! Not only is it uninformed you even admit this. The moive has been Hollywoodised to suit the homophobic nature of actors like Tom Cruise. If you took the time out to read the actual novel before ragging on it you would know that Vampires, as depicted by Anne Rice, are asexual and therefore it is not sexist for them to attack men or women.

All I really want to say is read the source before you draw an uneducated opinion.


Nick Teoh n/a@ntu.edu.au I seem to get more mail when I write about movies than any other topic.

I thought I made clear in the piece that I was criticizing the movie. I have not read anything by Anne Rice. I will, though, and get back to you.

Please include the Oxfam site at http://jumper.mcc.ac.uk/~timw/home.html in your links listing. Please also mail me a page that you would like linked from our site too.

Thank you for your time.

Simon Graham
Oxfam Campaigns Liaison Co-ordinator


Dear Mr. Blumen:

I am currently a sophomore at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, and I am enrolled in an Art History course titled: "Visualizing Memory: Holocaust Museums and Exhibitions". I am about to start a research project that will focus how the Holocaust should be exhibited in a multimedia enviornment. I am going to focus on the role of the World Wide Web, the upcomming Spielberg project, and the more standard role of video as a means to represent the horror of the Holocaust. One of my focus areas will be whether these profane images should be public. If possible, I would love to either talk with you at some point or have an email correspondence about your research and the presentation of "An Auschwitz Alphabet." I was also intrigued in your introduction that as a twelve year old you were shown Night and Fog at school. As I watched in last week (I am 19 years old), I was taken aback at almost every scene. I am curious how you and your peers reacted at such an early age to the shock of the horrors of the Holocaust. Also, if you have never seen Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah", I would highly recommend it. It was very lengthy (9 and 1/2 hours), but quite possibly the best movie I have ever seen made--and definately the best film about the Holocaust. Thank you for your time.

Jonathan King 98jdk@williams.edu

"Warmed over Reaganomics" writes one person...we should be so lucky! Visit the Reagan Home Page (http://www.erinet.com/bkottman/reagan.html) and decide for yourself whether to believe the liberals: tax cuts were only for the rich, only the rich got wealthier, jobs didn't pay anything, the standard of living went down, etc. etc. etc.; or whether to believe the facts. (I guess it's obvious which side of the fence I'm on here....)

Brett Kottmann
Webmaster, The Reagan Home page


First off, I would like to thank you for publishing my article in spite of my very late delivery. I claim not to be a procrastinator, so when I get caught it is really embarassing!

Now some comments on the current issue. I have not read it completely but have sampled it here and there. I do look forward to reading the whole thing, as time permits. I am amazed at how much you personally contributed.

1. A technical detail. "Return" to the menu doesn't work. It tries to find something with "/995" in the address. There are a few misspellings.

2. For your "Sources", I strongly recommend the web site, . The humorous graphic there is worth the trip. Dr. Huberman has many papers there on the dynamics of the individual in society. One of his papers, co-authored with Dr. Glance was published in Scientific American last year, which is a fair endorcement. On the down side, the papers are somewhat mathmatical and they tend to simulate everything on the computer.

3. I think you should have mentioned the "multi-person Prisoner's Dilemma" (which I call "Voter's Paradox") in your introduction area. It would have served as an introduction to my paper, tying it in a little better, but also it is just a more realistic problem than the "Prisoner's Dilemma". As my paper discusses, in the "multi-person Prisoner's Dilemma", it is the individual vs. the rest of society. The reason the 2-person Prisoner's Dilemma is discussed so much is that the problem is understood well enough to propose some solutions. If I decide to dump my waste into the environment, I do so because it is economically rational for me to do so, even though I am a member of society and will have a small price to pay as a result of that membership. That "defection" is far more common and realistic that the somewhat academic "Prisoner's Dilemma". And there is no "tit for tat" solution.

Recent news provided an example of the "multi-person Prisoner's Dilemma" with the story of the girl who jumped off the bridge to get away from her attackers. The "community" that was watching could have helped but for each individual, the potential cost was far greater than the _personal_ reward. If everyone had cooperated, the attackers could have been overcome -- at some potential cost to maybe one or two individuals.

4. Some additional comments: Your statement, "Because you do not know whether you can trust your partner (there is no opportunity to communicate when deciding your move), most rational players will choose to defect . ": It is not necessary to add the condition, "there is no opportunity to communicate when deciding your move". It does not change the reward structure and since, as you say, "you do not know whether you can trust your partner", nothing is changed.

"Shadow of the future" has limited applicability in the "multi-person Prisoner's Dilemma". In this large anonymous society we live in, I will never meet all these people who contribute to my cheating on welfare, Medicare, or $million jury awards.

" I was not able to understand the mysterious motivations, the self deception, that leads other people to defect when there is no long term benefit to be gained". I disagree. As any congressman can tell you, there are rather impressive " long term benefits" from defection.

You say you are a cooperator. An interesting issue is why do people cooperate when, in general, it is irrational (not the best return for the individual). Some of my correspondents say it is genes, but I say it is memes. Dawson says our genes are selfish but we can be _taught_ to cooperate. It is a fact that cooperation is better for society. The solution is to establish a powerful meme that says "cooperate!".

"Be fair, be strong, reward cooperation and punish defection, and you will have nothing to regret." Not practical when the other "prisoner" is all of society. Personally, I can do little about the freeloaders, crooked cops and greedy corporations.

"Most of us do have the ability to walk away from at least some prisoner's dilemmas. Looked at this way, you are only a prisoner if you want to be." If only this were true! I can't walk away from my country (another country would be just as bad). I have to live with the results of the thousands of "Prisoner's Dilemma" situations: massive spending by politicians, ever growing crime, ever growing welfare, ever growing restraints on freedom (to solve PD situations!), and so on.

Enough for now. I hope this is as entertaining to you as it is to me.

Leon Felkins leonf@cora.com

Congratulations on being one of the 9 Web Sites selected for inclusion in the September 5th HotSpots on the Web at GEnie.

Twice a week, the HotSpots are published for GEnie members accessing the Web from the internal starting page as well as on the public GEnie WWW page.

Thank you for maintaining an interesting site with up to the minute content and user friendliness for Lynx users. I will keep the reference in our archive of previous sites, too.

HotSpots will be updated sometime on Tuesday, when you'll be featured. These will remain on the main HotSpots selections until the next update, which is Friday. Please feel free to stop by. If you have any questions, drop me a note.

Thank you once more,

deb Christensen debc@cris.com

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I enjoyed your discussion with Bob about welfare, and I thank you for letting the rest of us read it. Your discussion reminds of discussions I have with my college students. As a science teacher, I am concerned about critical thinking, and I often get into discussions about the role of the student and the role of the teacher.

One camp says that if the teacher does all the thinking for the students and gives all the answers, the student will never learn to think for his or herself. So the teacher needs to turn the student loose to allow for the freedom to think and for the choice of whether he or she wants to learn. The student can only gain strength by solving the problem alone with little or no interference from the teacher, who need only serve as judge and authenticator of their solutions.

Another camp says the student may not have the necessary resources or skills in order to solve the problem, and the teacher must instruct the students on what to do and how to solve the problem. No one gains anything if a student struggles helplessly and then fails out of school, especially when the teacher can show the student the correct answer.

So which is the most "compassionate" method to teach? What is best for the student?

Personally it seems to me that it is neither compassionate to give the students all the answers, nor is it compassionate to let the students fend for themselves with little or no help from the teacher. Giving answers without teaching problem solving skills does the student little good. And assuming students already have the necessary skills (and they simply choose whether or not to solve the problem) is usually not a good assumption. I'd like to believe that there is a middle ground, in which the teacher serves as a helpful guide, as a resource to learn problem solving skills, as someone who *helps* find answers, neither giving *all* the answers nor giving *none* of the answers.

I don't know if that made any sense, but I'd like to believe there's an analogy somewhere in there for the welfare problem.

Thank you for a wonderful WWW page. Keep up the outstanding work!!

BOB (well... *another* Bob)