Addressing recent columns . . .


Joel Grimes: ‘You think Borealis is wacky? They look pretty normal compared to another company that’s going to revolutionize the power industry as well as our understanding of physics, chemistry, medicine, the nature of the universe and much, much more. In the process, Blacklight Power, may put Borealis, Shell, Exxon, Global Marine, PG&E and every other energy company out of business. Their theory (as yet, un proven and un peer-reviewed) is that they can create power for free and as a byproduct they’ll make hundreds of unique compounds that do everything from cure cancer to launch rockets on the cheap. Not a public company, but rumor has it Morgan Stanley wants to do the IPO. And they got Pacificorp to invest in them. I’m pretty sure they’re completely insane. But if I could just get a tiny piece of that company, I’d feel much better about saying so.’

☞ I e-mailed the contact at Boeing listed on the Borealis press release, to see whether he was really at Boeing, and if he might have something to say. He responded, in full: ‘I am at Boeing.’ Well, that’s something, anyway.


Chris Kueffner: ‘See: An Exaltation of Larks, by James Lipton.’

David LeFever: ‘A conspiracy of sharks.’


John Lemon: ‘You failed to mention another piece of anecdotal evidence of the Pope apologizing a few years too late. On a much smaller scale, but no less telling, was the Vatican’s 1995 apology to none other than Galileo, who was labeled a heretic and sentenced to life in prison for having the temerity to suggest that the sun did not revolve around the earth.’

Thomas Rashid: ‘I agree with your take in today’s column. But let’s remember that at least Pope John Paul is the only religious leader that I know of who has made some apologies and significantly reached out to other faiths … better late than never, no?’

☞ You bet.


Dale Stancil [Re: May 21]: ‘You might want to mention that these aren’t valid, countable votes. Describing them as ‘undervotes’ or ‘overrvotes’ doesn’t change this. Should we even be debating the franchise of people who can’t follow the instructions to punch a hole in a piece of paper?’

Warren Spieker: ‘You seriously undermine your own credibility when you subscribe to and publish opinion articles that pretend to understand voter ‘intent’ and use it to justify a Gore win. In what past elections have they gone back to count the ‘overvotes’ and used voter intent to pick the winner (which is what the article advocates for Gore’s win)?’

☞ While in no way meant to be a full a answer, here’s a bit of a longer opinion that suggests there may be more to this than you thought [emphasis added]:

. . . (T)he Legislature has mandated that no vote shall be ignored “if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter” on the ballot, unless it is “impossible to determine the elector’s choice . . . ” Section 101.5614(5)-(6) Fla. Stat. (2000). Section 102.166(7), Florida Statutes (2000), also provides that the focus of any manual examination of a ballot shall be to determine the voter’s intent. The clear message from this legislative policy is that every citizen’s vote be counted whenever possible, whether in an election for a local commissioner or an election for president of the United States.

You and Dale seem to believe that a valid vote is only one that a machine can read, whatever limitations that machine may have. Or that someone who fills in the GORE circle for the optical scanner but then invalidates his ballot by handwriting LIEBERMAN (or YOU GO, GORE! or whatever) is just too stupid to have his vote counted. But the Florida legislature seems to disagree.

There is a longstanding philosophical debate over whether people without property should be allowed to vote, women should be allowed to vote, African-Americans should be allowed to vote, felons who have paid their debt to society should be allowed to vote, people without education should be allowed to vote. But since 1789, the tide has been running more or less inexorably in one direction: one citizen, one vote.

Only on the issue of felons do the states vary. Most say that, once you have fully served your time, your eligibility to vote is restored. Others, like Texas and Florida, say no. Thus, writes attorney Andrew Shapiro, ‘an eighteen-year-old first-time offender who trades a guilty plea for a nonprison sentence may unwittingly sacrifice forever his right to vote.’ In my view, this is unfair.


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