Archive for the ‘Poll’ Category

Why I prefer NY’s new polls

November 2, 2010

The United States required New York state to change their polling machines. The old machines required people to walk into a curtained booth, pull a lever, mark their votes by flipping a switch for each position/policy decision, and push the lever again.

The new voting process debuted in the September primary and was panned by many voters, including NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, I prefer the new voting process.
Old and new polling layout
1. Location, location, location: Under the old process the back of the machine faced the people. The curtain was supposed to protect the voter’s privacy, but too often had gaps which deprived the voter of privacy. The new process has 3-sided enclosed stands that opens facing a wall. No one can see from in front of you, and there IS no one behind you to see what you are doing.

2. Simplicity: The old machine required the voter to understand how the machine organizes information and polls. The new ballot is a piece of paper that just requires the voter to fill in ovals in appropriate places.

3. Write-In: The new process makes putting in a write-in candidate extremely simple. The old machines made it very complicated to write-in a vote. There were a few elections that I wanted to write-in a candidate, but I couldn’t get the machine to allow me to do so and I couldn’t ask for help with out….

4. Privacy: Because of the simplicity of voting and the ease of writing in a candidate, voters don’t need as much help from poll volunteers. Poll volunteers’ help decrease privacy. I once asked a volunteer for help under the old system. She saw my ballot and chewed me out for not voting for the candidates she preferred.

5. Speed: The old process had one dedicated polling booth per district. If one district had 10 people waiting to vote, and another district in that same polling center had none, the 10 people had to wait in a queue to use their district’s machine while the machine wasn’t used. Under the new process the enclosed stands and the scanning machines can be used by anyone from any of the districts.

6. Pressure: Because of the bottleneck that built up from the wait time to use your district’s voting booth, there was a lot of pressure to vote quickly. In fact, I’ve seen polling volunteers get upset with voters who took too long in the voting booth. Under the new system there isn’t the same pressure, so people have more time to mark their ballots correctly and answer all the ballot initiatives completely.

There are two caveats.
1. Type: It was rather small and probably difficult to read for people with sight issues.

2. Layers: There were so many candidates for governor that it went onto two rows. People might have gotten confused and thought they were supposed to vote for one from the first row and one from the second row.

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Mind and Body Control

February 25, 2010

Until I was three, my hair was not cut. Shortly after my third birthday my grandmother came over and gave me a haircut. From age three until after I was thirty years old, a relative cut my hair at a minimum of once every 55 days. Occasionally, I’d request a haircut, but, more often or not I’d be against a haircut.
I didn’t have a choice. I had no control over how often they cut my hair or how much of my hair they cut.
My parents, my yeshiva, and, later, my wife wanted my hair cut. Any attempts to refuse a haircut were for naught.
If I specified one area not be cut or not be cut “so low”, my specifications were promptly ignored.
Now, does that make my grandparents, parents, siblings, and wife bad people? Not necessarily. You see, they weren’t cutting my hair against my will to torture me. They were cutting my hair because their god demanded it.
Their teachers taught them, that the horrible god of the Jews required men’s hair be short.

“god” requires short hair for men because:

  • Long hair is considered “women’s garb”. Men are forbidden to wear women’s garb according to the Bible.
  • Long hair can get in the way of donning tefillin. (While this is patently untrue, it is the main reason Rabbis advocate short hair for men.)

Simultaneous to being forced to have short “manly” hair, I was prevented from shaving, trimming, or cutting my beard. Once again god was keenly interested in making me appear in “his” image.

I thought the beard made me look disgusting. (When I look back at my old pictures, I often feel revulsion and anger.) I thought it was good for me to appear disgusting, as it would help me in my devotion to god.

When I used a scissor to cut my beard for the first time (at age thirty!) in the Summer of 2008, my father-in-law spent at least ten minutes in every subsequent face-to-face meeting making fun of my beard.

From the June 2008 until November 2008, I slowly lowered the beard. People at work noticed. They asked, “What is different about Alar Bean?”, and they answered, “I don’t know, I think he’s smiling more.”

As I lowered the beard, I felt better and better.

In November 2008, after my sister begged to be allowed to cut my hair for two days straight, I got my last haircut. After that haircut, I decided I’d had enough of the degradation of no choice and of being forced to look the way someone else’s god wanted me to look.

Since November 2008 I have not gotten a haircut. In March 2009, a couple of times, I used a scissor to even out my bangs.

I think the real reason “god” requires men to cut their hair short and grow their beards long is the same reason “god” requires women to wear a hair covering once they marry. “god” wants to control people’s minds by controlling their bodies. If you can force people to appear a certain way, especially if it’s making them look ugly, you have control over them. If you can make someone feel ugly, you will mess with their self-confidence. You then control who they speak with, what they do for recreation, where they go, etc.

Recently, an internet friend suggested I get my hair evened out at a barber or a salon. I am definitely not interested in getting my hair shortened. Not yet. I could be open to a styling or getting my hair evened out. However, I would need it to be done by a professional. (Though, I’ve never before had a professional cut my hair.) There’s no way I could trust a religious Jewish person to cut my hair. god might tell them to give me a crew cut!

Below is a picture of the back of my head. What do you think I should do?


A year hair, a year thair

A year hair, a year thair