Saturday, July 18, 2009

In other words, is not a person

My favorite moment in the July 20th New Yorker is below.  It describes the attempts to hand-count every ballot in the closely-contested Franken/Coleman Senate election.

Each challenged ballot was projected onto a large screen visible to a roomful of observers from the public and the press. The members of the Canvassing Board scrutinized and debated the markings on each ballot to decide the voter’s intent, and their deliberations were videotaped and streamed live over the Internet. Minnesotans found the process mesmerizing.

Some ballots presented little difficulty; in one instance, a voter had clearly filled in the bubble beside Coleman’s name but had accidentally, or in a moment of indecision, touched his pencil tip in Franken’s bubble, leaving a small dot. The judges gave the vote to Coleman. Other ballots provoked long, absurdist exchanges. One ballot—from Beltrami County—became locally famous. The voter had filled in the bubble for Franken but had printed “Lizard People” in the write-in area. After a few minutes of discussion, Marc Elias, a lawyer for Franken, spoke up. “My argument would be that ‘Lizard People’ is not a genuine write-in,” Elias said. “In other words, is not a person.”

“Do we know that for sure?” one of the judges asked.

Another asked, “If it said ‘Moon Unit Zappa,’ would you say, ‘Oh, no, there is no such person as Moon Unit Zappa?’ ”

“I would say that that would be permissible,” Elias said.

“Well, but you don’t know that there’s not someone named Lizard People. You don’t!”

The judges voted to have the ballot tossed out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Self Promotion

Over at The Second Pass, John asks contributors to write about their most overrated classic--about canonical books you're allowed NOT to read.  My contribution comes at the end.  It's on A Tale of Two Cities.  The whole piece is worth reading, though.  I particularly admired--and agreed with--the entry on Lawrence's The Rainbow.  In the immortal words of Krusty the Clown: "Ughh.  That just kept on going."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rubik's Art

This more or less blew my mind.  (Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan).