Odds & Ends

Those Dastardly Mailmen

By From the April 2013 issue

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Correspondence:

I SUBSCRIBE TO MANY magazines, and try to read most of them. Of course, I’m saving up National Geographic until I’m paralyzed, retired, or dead. I’ve noticed that my favorites, like The American Spectator, National Review, Weekly Standard, and American Rifleman sustain considerable damage in transit through the USPS. Commentary is too thick to damage, and Playboy has a plain black wrapper, so they are OK.

Reading the March letters, I see that several people don’t like the new, improved, larger format. I have to agree. My mailman, I suspect, doesn’t like it either, since in the past he only tore it a few inches in. Now he tears it halfway through. Also, I disagree that the past format was particularly ugly. And since Mr. Clinton was the main topic, years ago (he misses it), the magazine has greatly improved in content and relevance.

Stephen DeGray

Via the Internet

I TOO DISLIKE the new format. I keep my back issues of many magazines and the size is not compatible with this storage...

Also, it is cumbersome to read, I’m used to the customary size. It also tends to get mutilated more by the USPS than other sizes. Please return to the former size.

Anonymous
Via the Internet

I RECEIVED MY FIRST American Spectator today. While very pleased with the content, I’m not pleased with the size (neither is my mailman, who could barely fit it into my apartment-size mailbox). The thing won’t fit in my purse for take-along reading (thus sharing my good taste with those around me), it is difficult for my arthritic hands to hold, and I won’t be able to stand it up to read while eating. It will be ungainly to pass on to others, which I do with my National Review.

Mary Lou Ferreira
Via the Internet

Managing Editor Kyle Peterson replies:
DID YOU HEAR the recent news that the U.S. Postal Service is launching a line of clothing and accessories with the slogan “Rain Heat & Snow”? Perhaps this additional burden has proved too much of a distraction for our nation’s crack bureaucrats.

In all seriousness, if the USPS mangles, lacerates, incinerates, irradiates, putrefies or otherwise despoils your issue, please let us know. If your copy is unreadable, we’ll furnish another. And if the damage is serious, we’ll file an official complaint and—with any luck—have the postmaster general facing court-martial by the month’s end.

To report damage contact us at 800-524-3469 or customerservice@spectator.org.


FORGETTING THAT THE NEW TAS magazine very closely matches the size of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, I nearly tossed it into the recyclable bin as soon as it entered my house.

If that had happened, I would have been deprived of the opportunity to mimic the suburban sophisticate on my commuter train who proudly waves his NY Times Sunday Magazine around—all week—as he pores over every article. Keep up the good work.

John Patterson
Ridgewood, NJ

THE SIZE OF YOUR MAGAZINE is too large. It is not comfortable to hold and read! Why the change? Also, I am not at all interested in Ben Stein’s day-to-day activities. You actually pay him for that nonsense? His comments on the economy may have some value, but his love for his dogs, etc. Really, too much!

Ron Hatfield
Via the Internet 

I'M A SUBSCRIBER for many decades. I clearly remember when the Spectator was in a larger format and how chagrined I was when you shrank down and became the common size. I like your new (old) size. And I love Ben Stein. Complaining about Ben Stein is like arguing about the color of the Pearly Gates whilst being ushered into Heaven!

Virginia Mulhern
San Jose, CA

WHEN I RECEIVED the March issue, I looked immediately at the correspondence pages to see what others had written about the new format. I remember around 25 years ago, The American Spectator used to be in a large format, but on newsprint. I was a bit disappointed when you became like every other magazine. Now it’s back to large format, though not as large as it used to be. I like it. The larger format is easier to read and to find when in a magazine rack or in a pile with other publications. To so “stick out” is a good thing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Never go back!

There were also a few letters about the nanny state and its assault on our freedoms. As we get more and more government, we also get more rules and a bigger bureaucracy to write and enforce these rules. If you let a bureaucracy have a choice between allowing the public freedom to engage in an activity or to regulate it, the bureaucracy will always choose to regulate, lest it be blamed when the slightest thing goes wrong. And so a bureaucracy with enforcement power is ever more creative in finding violations of law. The populace is not blind to these assaults, and so we will warily watch the bureaucratic cost and nightmares that arise from Dodd-Frank, Obamacare, and whatever other Acts our governments may enact. Someday even the state will recognize what we have done to ourselves and dismantle the worst of these bureaucracies, or so I hope.

P.S. Don’t ever get rid of Ben Stein.

Anonymous
Via the Internet


I JUST LEARNED from the Duke Law School alumni email to my class that my classmate and our longtime friend Jerry Gerde died on Jan 29. Jerry, as you know, was one of a kind. He was strong in his convictions to a degree that shocked many of us young strivers who weren’t sure exactly what we believed. But Jerry’s good humor, generosity of spirit and gift of friendship soon won him a lifetime of friendship from all of us in the class of ’65. A measure of that affection surfaced 40 years later when plans were being made for what would be the last reunion for many of us.

The organizers, which included his old roommate, were surprised to find Jerry’s name absent from the list of extant alumni; it turns out Jerry had written a sharply worded letter to the self-absorbed president of the university to protest her policy of imposing diversity standards on faculty appointments. In retaliation, she ordered Gerde’s name to be struck from the alumni rolls and the law school cravenly did so.

I have long believed that one measure of a man is the friendships he keeps through life. Even though I only went that first year, friendships made there have been among my most valued possessions. And it is a measure of Jerry’s life that the Class of ’65 insisted that he join us for one last grand reunion. Jerry and I had kept a long-running contact in the intervening years and it is through him that I first learned, way back in the 1960s, about The American Spectator, and for that and so much more, I will miss him greatly. I know you were his friends and loved him and so we will mourn his passing and not see his like again.

Jim Srodes
Washington, D.C.

CLIFFORD D. MAY SPENDS several column inches discussing reasons for the epic failures of Irish whiskies to be accepted in the U.S., especially when compared to single malt scotch (“The Spirits of Erin,” TAS February 2013). However he seemed to pass over the most obvious explanation: Scotsmen do virtually everything better.

Matt Stuart
Altoona, IA

SINCE IMITATION IS the sincerest form of flattery, I feel compelled to inform the Spectator that I plan to imitate Mr. Ben Stein to the point of plagiarism.

Mr. Stein’s uxorial advice to his very close relative “T” impressed me as wise, practical and profound (“The Economics of Love,” TAS March 2013).

In addition to forming the intention to apply the precepts of The Economics of Love in my own marriage, I confess that I covet Mr. Stein’s words themselves.

As the father of two young daughters, I will someday be called upon to offer ceremonial thoughts at at least two weddings. In the unlikely event that Mr. Stein should find himself in the audience, he may find my remarks familiar.

With gratitude, and craving pardon of both Mr. Stein and you I am.

David Markus
Kansas City, MO

REGARDING JOHN DERBYSHIRE'S review of Roger Scruton’s book (“The Church of Somewhere,” TAS March 2013), Richard Winston’s biography Thomas Becket (Knopf, 1967) reads as follows: “In contemporary documents the name Thomas Becket is found only twice. Contemporaries referred to Gilbert Becket’s son as Thomas of London, Thomas the Archdeacon, Chancellor, Archbishop—according to the office he held at any given time. After death he was known as Thomas the Martyr. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the prepositon a or à (from the Latin a, meaning of ) crept into the name by analogy with such names as William atta Beck and Thomas à Kempis.”

I hardly think such simple facts deserve the epithet “footling pedantry.”

Robert J. Powers
Shreveport, LA

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