Here in San Francisco, a member of the Board of Supervisors is taking a lot of political flak because she referenced wormholes in a recent speech.

It started because Supervisor Julie Christensen was giving a talk about the Stockton Street Tunnel, which connects the neighborhoods of Chinatown and Union Square by cutting through one of San Francisco’s famous hills. Christensen has secured $100,000 to study bicycle and pedestrian safety in the tunnel, and was arguing that it’s an important piece of infrastructure.

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Said Christensen, “Union Square is known all over the world. Chinatown is known all over the world. This is the wormhole that connects the two of them, and we’ve sort of left it as a transit afterthought.”

Her use of the word “wormhole” started a huge political blowback, including protestors showing up at one of her recent speeches. “A wormhole is a hole into the dirty ground — is that what she wants people to think about Chinatown?” said Henry Der, the former executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, who called Christensen’s statement “very inappropriate.”

Asked to clarify her statements by one local newspaper, Christensen explained that a “wormhole is a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe.” She added to the San Francisco Weekly that for “those of us who love sci-fi, the wormhole is an intriguing topic.” Christensen also pointed out that some of the people who have complained about her use of that term have already endorsed her opponent in the next election, and may be intentionally misinterpreting her words.

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Some local Chinese-American politicians have come out in support of Christensen, and two of them wrote letters to the local Chinese language newspaper to protest its coverage of this topic. For his part, Der says, “Maybe she’s a big science fiction fan... Maybe she’s quoting something dear to her heart. I’m not into Star Trek or Star Wars and couldn’t say.” He still insists that she should apologize and admit that she was being insensitive. “People do understand when you make a mistake and admit that.” [SF Weekly]