August 31, 2003
The Granola State

When I used to live on the Left Coast, I found many folks who referred to California as the Granola State. When I innocently inquired as to why, the response was “because if you are not a fruit or a nut, you are a flake.” While this is a bit harsh, I discovered new evidence for this conclusion today regarding California’s governor recall election.

To my knowledge, in the other forty-nine States, when you have candidates running for the same office, they are listed alphabetically. Usually they are sorted by party affiliation, but the intent is to make it as easy as possible for the voter to find their preferred candidate. Not in California.

According to The Mercury News, California randomly creates a new alphabetical order for each election in order to remove any benefit to being listed first on the ballot.

Jeff Rainforth, chairman of the Reform Party of California, thought he'd won top billing after R was the first letter pulled out of the Keno-style tumbler.

"We were pretty ecstatic," said the 35-year-old Rainforth, whose name ranks first - alphabetically, at least - among 15 would-be governors whose surnames begin with the lucky letter.

But under the lottery-style system, the reordered 26-letter alphabet - beginning R, W, Q, O, J, M, V, A and eventually ending with L - is applied throughout candidates' names.

That means that David Laughing Horse Robinson, chairman of the Kawaiisu Indian tribe, goes first, not Rainforth, because O comes before A in the state's newfangled alphabet.

To avoid giving any one candidate a lasting edge, their names will be rotated one position for each Assembly district, of which there are 80. Robinson's name will be first on the ballot only in California 1st district, which stretches from the northernmost border to Sonoma County.

Clear? No wonder California is over $38 billion dollars in debt - they make even simple ideas complicated. So even if a voter finds the Rs when looking for Rainsforth, the Rs themselves are not in alphabetical order. So then the voter needs to just scan all the Rs to find his preferred candidate. Keep in mind, there are over a 100 candidates running for governor.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that there really is a bias in favor of whoever appears near the top of the ballet. So we are assuming California has a valid reason for being different than the other 49 States (and this is a big assumption, I am not impressed by the research that claims there is a bias). Why not use standard alphabetical order, but rotate the starting letter? For example, in California district 1 use a standard alphabetical list. In California district 2, start with the Bs and proceed normally to Z, then put the As at the end. For district 3, start with the Cs, etc... This would accomplish California's stated objective and be far less confusing. But if California politicians were competent, they wouldn't have an energy crisis.

For my part, I confidently make one prediction about the California recall election. I predict long lines in this election for Californians.

August 29, 2003
Howard, Dick, John, and Joe Pull Ahead

According to the most recent poll, one would think some presidential hopefuls should be dropping out soon. The poll’s margin of error is five points, so statistically Dean, Gephardt, and Kerry could be all tied. Lieberman struggles to remain with the leaders and the others are drawing insignificant support.

The laggards must realize they have no chance to win, so they are sticking around for other reasons. They may be in it for the press, or they may have other motives. Graham is probably sticking around just to increase his odds of becoming VP.

Does NOW Know?

What happens when you remove “out-dated Judeo-Christian ethics” from a capitalistic society? For one thing, you get a women’s soccer team advertising a whore-house on their chests… Today Berlin, tomorrow the world?

For the Child in All of Us

I have three young children, two of which are old enough to use computers even if they are still preliterate. There are a lot of great games for them on the internet, but there are also many, many sites they need to avoid.

After spending an embarrassing amount of time finding – and testing – various online game sites, I added two categories to my references section. A section of games for pre-literate children and a section of games for young literate children. But don’t let the categories fool you – even if you don’t have children, they are a lot of fun. The best site I found was Orisinal, make sure you check it out (in the pre-literate section).

And one of the great things about doing all this “research” was that my children really appreciated it. So not only did I have fun putting it together, my children now have a safe homepage for gameplay.

August 28, 2003
I'm back

It has been a chaotic summer. I've moved, bought a house built just after WWII, sold my old house, started a new job, and started unpacking while simultaneously spending some time with the kids and renovating our "new" house. I especially appreciate the help and good spirits of Lady Quixote during this transition.

I appreciate all your emails asking me to return to blogging, they were very thoughtful. I have had a lot of time for thinking over the summer and I look forward to making the time to actually blog about some ideas. I have also given some thought to how I want to grow Solport.

Before my break, Kevin Whited suggested I switch over to Nucleus. After seeing that Google wasn’t going to change the Blogger model (all the cool stuff is under Blogger Pro and even then it does not compare favorable to some of the alternatives), I decided to go ahead and switch. So my site will probably undergo many changes as I start figuring out how to use Nucleus.

One of the changes is that I have decided to allow comments on my blog. This was another reason for switching to Nucleus. I find that most of my readers – at least those who email me – are an extremely knowledgeable bunch and I wish to encourage their participation in the site. To better reflect this new emphasis, I am renaming my blog. Henceforth, it shall be called Admiral Quixote’s Roundtable.

August 25, 2003
Status Update II

Many thanks for the emails asking me to start blogging again. I will be resuming work on Solport this week and expect to be blogging again by Friday.