(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Nero Wolfe

“It’s not opinion polls that determine the outcome of elections, it’s votes in ballot boxes”*…


This Nov. 8, even if you manage to be registered in time and have the right identification, there is something else that could stop you from exercising your right to vote.

The ballot. Specifically, the ballot’s design.

Bad ballot design gained national attention almost 16 years ago when Americans became unwilling experts in butterflies and chads. The now-infamous Palm Beach County butterfly ballot, which interlaced candidate names along a central column of punch holes, was so confusing that many voters accidentally voted for Patrick Buchanan instead of Al Gore.

We’ve made some progress since then, but we still likely lose hundreds of thousands of votes every election year due to poor ballot design and instructions. In 2008 and 2010 alone, almost half a million people did not have their votes counted due to mistakes filling out the ballot. Bad ballot design also contributes to long lines on election day. And the effects are not the same for all people: the disenfranchised are disproportionately poor, minority, elderly and disabled

More– with some encouraging examples of remedies– at “Disenfranchised by Bad Design.”

* Nicola Sturgeon


As we pull the lever, we might spare a thought for Rex Todhunter Stout; he died on this date in 1975. A writer of detective fiction, he created master sleuth Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin, who were featured in 33 novels and 39 novellas between 1934 and 1975– earning Stout the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award.

But as importantly, Stout had a vital career as a public intellectual and activist: he was active in the early years of the American Civil Liberties Union and a founder of the Vanguard Press. He served as head of the Writers’ War Board during World War II, became a radio celebrity, and was active in promoting world federalism, and was the long-time president of the Authors Guild.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

If I do say so myself…


Lest readers’ lights be inappropriately hidden under bushels:  “Don’t Be So Modest“– a “humblebrag generator.”


As we tune the horns that we’re about to blow, we might send curmudgeonly birthday greetings to Alexander Humphreys Woollcott; he was born on this date in 1887.  A critic and columnist, Woollcott was well known in his time as a radio commentator, a contributor to The New Yorker, and a member of the Algonquin Round Table.  These days, he may be better recognized as the model for Sheridan Whiteside, the main character in the play The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939) by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, and for Waldo Lydecker in the 1944 film Laura.  (Woollcott himself believed that he was the model for Rex Stout’s famous detective, Nero Wolfe; but Stout suggested that his friend was flattering himself.)

The two oldest professions in the world — ruined by amateurs

– On actors and prostitutes, from his column, as republished in Shouts and Murmurs: Echoes of a Thousand and One First Nights (1922)

All the things I really like to do are either illegal, immoral, or fattening.

– “The Knock at the Stage Door” in Reader’s Digest (December 1933)


Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 19, 2013 at 5:37 am

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