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Attack of the Democrobots

Posted 12/18/2002

Maryland voters, like the rest of us, should be questioning our legislators about purchasing computer voting machines without transparency in their systems ("Future Vote," Dec. 11). A company that supplies closed-system proprietary voting machines with Saudi financing and ties to one of the major political parties, you say? I smell a rat, if only coincidentally.

Beth Feehan
Princeton, N.J.

Mixed Feelings

I can certainly identify with Sandy Asirvatham's piece "People Like Us" (Underwhelmed, Dec. 11). To explain, I am a lifelong Texan of mixed descent (Mexican-American, German, and Spanish) who has lived in Baltimore for a year and a handful of months. When I was living in Texas, being Mexican is so common that no one ever questioned my ethnicity. However, during my time in Baltimore, I've gotten dozens of "What are you?" type questions from strangers.

I've heard it all: People think I'm Hawaiian, Thai, and everything in between. Most of the time, they will give me a strange look, approach, and not even say "hello." Just "What are you?" I've never felt attacked by these questions, per se, and have never detected hostility, just curiosity. Usually, I'm pretty good-natured about it, but sometimes I feel like I belong at the Dime Museum!

It would be nice if people would accept that not everyone is going to look "exactly" white, black, Mexican, Indian, or whatever. People are who they are. But I suppose it is human nature to catalog and categorize everything, including people. Thanks for a great column.

Monica Salazar

Harper's Bizarre

If I read him correctly, it is James Harper's belief that the city is the natural and rightful property of the poor, that the importation of middle-class values--restored houses? clean streets? safety?--is tantamount to cultural genocide (The Mail, Dec. 4).

Someone should really remind Mr. Harper that neighborhoods like Reservoir Hill were once stable middle-class areas. Did anyone cry "genocide" when the families who had lived in these neighborhoods for generations were driven from their homes by the druggies and sociopaths?

Drug dealing, vandalism, arson, street crime, and other forms of urban terrorism are not Baltimore's natural state. They are pathologies that are killing our people and our communities. It's absurd to think that a sick body is more "honest" and "handmade" (whatever that means) than a healthy one.

No one wants Baltimore to become another San Francisco, say, where no one but dot-com millionaires can afford even modest housing. But Adam Meister and his "rybbies" don't look like yuppie speculators to me (Mobtown Beat, Nov. 20). They are prototypical Good Guys: people with the conviction that "livable urban neighborhood" is not necessarily an oxymoron. They understand that our once-beautiful housing stock is worth rescuing. They believe that educated young people with more energy than money have a right to live here.

They're right. May their numbers increase.

Lynn Williams

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