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    Letters to the editor of the Globe Magazine

    Readers write in about ranked-choice voting, the aging brain, playing favorites in families, and more.

    Holiday Blues

    I was moved by Stanton Lee’s “Blue Christmas” essay (Connections, December 9). She expresses beautifully the implicit sadness we have all felt or are destined to feel during the holiday season sometime in our life. I am heartened by her closing words: “Just like the fir trees, though, we are evergreen for as long as there is breath in our lungs. We were made to withstand hard seasons, no matter the weather.” I will take those words with me into the new year.

    Peg Merzbacher Orleans

    Ballot Innovation

    My objection to ranked-choice voting is that it just amounts to another form of gerrymandering, particularly in areas such as Eastern Massachusetts or the west coast of California where one particular party — the Democratic Party — is dominant (Perspective, December 9). Suppose a Republican candidate in an election there wins a plurality of votes but less than 50 percent. The likelihood of the independents there ranking [a Republican] as their number two candidate probably is very low. Therefore, the Democratic candidate, who probably came in behind the Republican, gets enough number two votes from independents to win the election. The same pattern would emerge in Republican areas such as Utah or Alabama, thus ensuring that the dominant political party in such areas remains in power.

    James Keeney Boston

    Thanks for the informative article on ranked-choice voting. More people need to know about it because the country needs a better way of electing our representatives.

    Steve Smith Newton


    Please keep educating us on ranked-choice voting. It’s terribly important.

    Mary Ann Cluggish Wellesley

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    Eric Maskin’s bold claims about ranked-choice voting include his opinion that “voters will not be confused by the ranking system.” In the 24 years that I have lived in Cambridge, I have yet to find anyone other than a few local politicians who can begin to explain our city’s system of proportional voting and the “Cincinnati method” whereby so-called surplus votes from the accumulating winners are reallocated at random using an arbitrary starting point. Cambridge municipal elections should be invalidated because even our so-called intelligentsia do not understand the arcane voting process.

    Brett W. F. Randolph Cambridge

    Brain Pickings

    The article on brain function as we age was informative and encouraging (“Don’t Be Afraid of Your Aging Brain,” December 16)! As someone who continues to work at age 69 in a medical office, I can tell you that the “youngsters” are still coming to me to pick my brain after being there 25 years!

    Virginia Daly East Kingston, New Hampshire

    I was 59 when I discovered square dancing, an activity that gives me exercise, stimulates my brain, and provides lots of talk, laughs, and sharing of food with others. Susan Moeller lists “exercise,” “socialize,” and “stimulate” as goals to keep a healthy brain, and I would agree that square dancing provides all that. I am so grateful that I found such a fun activity that benefits me so much and costs so little.

    Ruth Orenstein Needham

    Family Favorites

    I absolutely love Miss Conduct’s column, and her response [about the aunt who buys gifts for her nephew but not her niece] was both hilarious and dead-on (“Unplaying Favorites,” December 16). My grandmother did this to us, but my father stood up and made my sister and me return gifts that were anything above and beyond what she gave to my brother. And then my dad explained to the three of us that my grandmother raised four boys and she desperately wanted girls. It had nothing to do with my brother being unworthy of equality through gifts and love. So thank you for the laugh, for pointing out that more “men” need to stand up and be men.

    Jennifer Cole Dorchester


    [The letter writer’s son] should tell his aunt, saying something like, “Thank you for the gifts. I’ve been sharing them with my sister. She deserves nice things too.” Yes, perhaps this is passive-aggressive, but the aunt’s behavior won’t change unless she is confronted in some manner.

    David Valade Melrose

    I agree that Aunt Jerkface needs to be confronted; however, there is one part where I disagree. I don’t think the redistribution of gifts should be a secret. If Aunt Jerkface is there when the gifts are unwrapped, sister should open hers first and then brother. If there is that imbalance, then brother should give the gift to his sister in front of Aunt Jerkface so that she can see it. I just don’t think keeping it a secret is the way to go.

    Maria P. Jordan Lawrence

    Year-End Reflections

    As a Globe home and online subscriber, I really enjoyed Dave Barry’s review of 2018 (December 30). It is unfortunate that he does not write more frequently. “LOL” for me reading the article means “Laugh Out Very Loud.”

    Leighton York Belmont

    Words of Comfort

    I was just out for a walk and thinking about my mother who died 24 years ago. I was missing her but feeling, as I often do, that I carry her with me as my life goes on. I came home from my walk, picked up the Globe Magazine, which I had not read yet, and turned to the last page (Connections, “One Last Toast,” December 30). I felt like the column I found there was like a message from my mom. Thank you.

    Blanche Dietz Framingham

    CONTACT US: Write to or The Globe Magazine/Comments, 1 Exchange Place, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109-2132. Comments are subject to editing.