I'm not sure I really want to know what the issue Lamberto has with the supposed "fake" Lamberto is but it seems to be aggravating him immensely.
The system was in development for some time and I really think the only way to improve it from there was to activate it.
Regarding the issue of placing "popular" comments first, between giving users the ability to sort the comments by their preferred order and giving clear prominence to highly rated comments for the benefit of users who would not otherwise be persuaded to wade through the entire comments page to get to them, I think an acceptable compromise has been reached.
My understanding of general comment reading behaviour is also that most users will never comment and may only read through all the comments once, if that, so it may be the case that by presenting a selection of the best threads first we are improving the content offered to these users a great deal.
I think I addressed the voting issue in the post which introduced that system. I suspect the vicarious aspect of being able to plus or minus a comment you agree or disagree with is inevitably going to be a component of any voting system, including the ones used to form governments, so I don't think anything can be done about that.
If it increases user engagement and improves the quality of comments then it has performed valiantly - I am fairly resigned to the fact that voting is going to be used to cosh dissenting opinions into submission in any such system.
You can still ignore ratings completely in any case - the fact that users become so preoccupied with a single negative vote they receive is actually indicative of the success the system has in promoting "engagement," as from this perspective the worst that could happen is for a user to not care about making or reading a comment, let alone what anyone thought of it.