pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Sun Apr 27 02:08:26 EDT 2003
Mail*Link¨ SMTP E-Voting/Free-E
Another issue of Bob Park's "What's New" worth sending you. If Bob
strikes you as sounding a bit shrill, it might be a reaction to
alarming declines in reasoning, quantitative and otherwise. --PJK
Date: 4/25/03 4:02 PM
From: opa at aps.org
WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 25 Apr 03 Washington, DC
1. ELECTRONIC VOTING: YOU THOUGHT "HANGING CHADS" WERE A PROBLEM!
The Florida fiasco in the 2000 election sent officials across the
country scurrying to modernize voting in their jurisdictions.
Touch-screen electronic voting machines suddenly became a hot
technology. They are fast and convenient, but are they reliable,
tamper-proof and free of programing errors? There is absolutely
no way of knowing! The machine code is a proprietary secret of
the company that supplies them. This puts vote counting under
the full control of a private company, with no independent checks
or audits. Such machines are a serious threat to democracy, yet
few people are even aware that there is a controversy. Touch-
screen machines that print paper ballots would do, so long as the
voter can check the ballot, which would go in a secure box to be
available for manual counting. Opposition to paperless electronic
voting machines is being organized by David Dill, a computer
science prof at Stanford http://verify.stanford.edu/evote.html.
He is seeking signatures of technologists, on a statement to warn
the public of this threat to the integrity of the voting process.
2. FREE ELECTRICITY: THE PAIN IN MAINE IS PLAINLY ON THE WANE.
Notorious perpetual motion huckster Dennis Lee, barred from doing
business in the State of Washington last year (WN 4 Oct 02), has
now gotten similar treatment on the other side of the country.
Armed with a report from a physicist familiar with Lee's free
energy scams, the Maine Attorney General filed a Complaint in
Superior Court citing Maine's consumer protection laws. The
Court enjoined Lee from doing business in Maine and required him
to conspicuously state on his website that his products and
services are not for sale in the State of Maine. At its meeting
on April 4, the APS Council adopted a Statement on Perpetual
Motion Machines, deploring "attempts to mislead and defraud the
public based on claims of perpetual motion machines or sources of
unlimited useful energy" http://www.aps.org/statements/03.3.htm
3. HOMEOPATHY: JAMES RANDI FLAUNTS HIS PSYCHIC POWERS. The BBC
program Horizon did a thorough job of debunking homeopathy last
year, with legendary debunker James Randi devising a simple test,
which of course the homeopathists failed miserably. However, an
Australian psychic saw right through it. Randi, she explained,
is a secret psychic who used his awesome power to either alter
the test results or the perception of the results. "Damn!" Randi
replied, "You got me, Marylou." He warned her he would "make your
hair fall out," and if she persisted, "give you a rash all over
your body." Whew! You don't want to mess around with psychics.
Meanwhile, according to the Daily Mail, the UK is dumping more
than a million pounds into research on alternative medicine,
including homeopathy, at the urging of Prince Charles.
4. ISS: O'KEEFE PLEDGES TO RESUME SHUTTLE FLIGHTS ASAP. The NASA
Administrator promised quick implementation of the Columbia
investigation board's recommendations, since the shuttle is
important to the ISS. He didn't say why the ISS is important.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND and THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY.
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the
University or the American Physical Society, but they should be.
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