Voting

Satya and I have been watching the election very closely.  He noted a few differences in how voting is done here vs. India.  I think the differences are very interesting and maybe in the future the U.S. will adopt some practices.   Here is how the largest democracy in the world operates its elections:

 

-Election Day is a holiday in India.

 

-There is not just one Election Day for the whole country.  This is because the military and the para military keep a close watch to ensure violence does not break out.  The whol military cannot cover the whole country on the same day. 

 

-There are symbols for each candidate (a wheel, hand, etc.) so that even illiterate people or those unable to read the local language can vote.  This already happens in some places here.  A woman from NY was saying that there people stamp either an elephant or donkey for their choices. 

 

-Voters get one of their fingers dipped in indelible ink to prevent repeat voting.  The ink is very noticeable and lasts for nearly a month.  When Satya’s parents arrived here last May, this ink was on their fingers and lasted for a long time.  The ink is called “Mysore Ink” and is owned and operated by Karnataka’s government.  Other countries using the ink include such varied countries as Canada, Singapore, Afganistan, Ghana. http://www.mysorepaints.in/profile.html

 

-Electronic voting machines.  I think the whole of India uses the same style of machines vs. the U.S.’s variety of voting mechanisms (touch screens, pencil and paper, stamps, etc.).  I think for fairness that the whole country should use the same type of machine. 

 

-Campaigning stops 48 hours before the election.  In the U.S. both Obama and McCain were campaigning the morning of Election Day.

 

-People in India do not directly vote for the prime minister or president.  They are selected by the parties in power and are chosen from the members of parliament. 

 

I do think that Election Day should be a holiday so that everyone gets a chance to vote and that the same style of voting machine should be used by all.  That will increase fairness and help those who move often. 

 

Also, I think all U.S. states should agree on how people can register to vote.  In my home state of Minnesota, people can register to vote on the day of the election itself.  Where I live now, the deadline to register was one month before the election which I think is ridiculous because it potentially excludes a lot of people because people may not know about the registration deadline.  Without being registered, people cannot vote.  Voting should be made as simple as possible to include the greatest number of people.

 

Overall, both Satya and I were very relieved that yesterday’s election went much smoother than those of 2000 and 2004.  The results are clear-Obama won both the popular and electoral votes and there were no major repeats of the previous fiascos in Florida and Ohio.

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Personality Map of the U.S.

Ever notice how places seem to have unique personalities?  Or feel like certain areas “seem like home”?  A researcher from Cambridge, Jason Rentfrow, confirmed this with his personality map of the U.S.  Certain personality traits seem to be more common in some areas than others.  Rentfrow asked people all over the U.S. to complete online personality tests.  The tests categorized personalities according to:

  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness to Experience

 I’ve had the experience of living in many different places for educational and career reasons.  Some of his findings do match my own findings. An article in the Boston Globe says

Or perhaps, personality is influenced by our surroundings. More emotionally stable people who live in places where neurotic types form the majority may become irritable and stressed because the people around them are getting to them.

Satya and I have experienced this on the East Coast.  While there are many things I love about the East Coast, like the museums of NYC, it is not a very gentle or polite place.  It does tense our shoulders and quicken our pace.  The energy of New York City is palpable and can be intoxicating, but can also leave us exhausted. 

We know we’d like to leave the East Coast to raise a family, but aren’t sure where yet. For educational and career reasons will be most likely be here for at least another year.  Our short list of places so far is CA (either San Diego or Silicon Valley), MN (Twin Cities, or Rochester), WI (Madison), or MA (outside of Boston). 

Here is an article from a Kansas newspaper about Rentfrow’s research.  Hmm, it says that mathematicians and computer scientists would match well with Kansas’ high conscientious ranking.  Maybe we should move to Kansas?  I do have some relatives there.  Here is what else Rentfrow says about Kansas:

In an e-mail from Cambridge, Rentfrow indicated that Kansans are more than dour drones mindful only of structure and rules.

Kansas’ complete profile, he wrote, shows that Kansans are friendly, trusting and kind.

“It’s probably a place where people feel connected with their communities and are able to rely on family and friends,” he wrote. “The low Neuroticism score suggests that people are fairly relaxed, calm, and easygoing. And the low Openness scores suggest that people value tradition, are pragmatic and down-to-earth.”

I’d worry though about Kansas’ low ranking on openness (38 of 50).  Would a mixed couple be accepted there?  Would they accept a half Christian/half Hindu family?  I don’t know. 

Do you think that research like Rentfrow’s is helpful or reinforces stereotypes?  I’m not sure.  Where in the U.S. do you feel most comfortable?  Is where you live a result of happenstance or a conscious choice?  Would you move to a place based on research like this?

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

I will be posting notes on our wedding planning.  Altogether, we will probably have done 5 different ceremonies/blessings by next spring. 

In March we had a tiny wedding in my old apartment.  We had only 7 people present, including ourselves. We eloped.

In August we will be going to Minnesota so that his family can meet my family.  We will have one ceremony in a garden, and the other at my 90 year old grandmother’s nursing home.  She is very frail, but still loves a good time. 

At this time, we are unsure what kind of ceremony we will have in the garden.  We will need to create our own ceremony, but have been putting it off.  I was raised Catholic, but as we are already married and as we have no intention of raising our future, hypothetical children as Catholics we will not have a Catholic marriage mass.

Sometime next spring we will be going to India to have a Lingayat ceremony.  One celebration will be at his parent’s home and the other will probably be at a marriage hall.  The second will be a “small” wedding by his family’s standards-about 500 people.  It will be Satya’s first time in India since he left in late 2000 and my first time in India, period. 

We figure at the end we will be truly blessed!