Tuesday, November 28, 2006


One of the nice features of my car is that it's stereo plays MP3 CDs. However, the display is kind of annoying. One of the great things about MP3s is that they have embedded metadata. So notice that the artist (A Tribe Called Quest) is being displayed on left side of the display and that the name of the current song ("Butter") is also being displayed. So what is up with "TITLE 004"? What ID3 tag is being used for this? Why doesn't it say the title of the song ("Butter") there instead? Also, up in the right corner notice FOLDER 04. What should be there?

The CD in question was made using iTunes. Admittedly, iTunes' support for MP3 CDs is not exactly extensive. It burns them just fine, but it doesn't expose the folder concept. The only way to get folders on the MP3 CD is to sort the playlist by the Artist. If you do this, iTunes will create a folder per artist, and the inside that folder, a folder per CD. So in the case above, there was a "A Tribe Called Quest" folder and it contained a folder called "The Low End Theory." The song "Butter" was in this folder. So instead of FOLDER 04, I would have really liked it to say THE LOW END THEORY.

Anyways the TITLE 004 is more annoying. Even if it said the title of the song, it's still weird. There are four fields for displaying data, but only three logical pieces to show (song title, artist, and folder/CD.) I guess you could also show something else like genre or year, but that doesn't seem like what my stereo is trying to do.

So maybe there is better software out there for creating MP3 CDs. I have used Nero, and manually created the folder structure. I got similar results to what I got with iTunes, but obviously spent a lot more time creating the CD. Time to do some research...

Monday, November 27, 2006

JRockit and Tomcat

I decided to try out BEA's JRockit JVM a try as my server JVM. It bills itself as being a much faster JVM on x86 machines. So far it doesn't seem that much faster, except when running the JVM in debug mode. For that, it seems to launch much faster than HotSpot did. Actually there seems to be little difference in its startup time in debug mode vs. "normal" non-debug mode.

The only weird thing was that when I attached Eclipse to it, Eclipse complained about some line numbers not being reported by the code. This had no effect on any of the breakpoints I had set. Those worked flawlessly. It seemed to be around CGLIB enhanced byte-code, but there were obviously no breakpoints set in such code. I set a breakpoint in code that I knew would be CGLIB enhanced, but that still worked fine.

Just for kicks, I decided to also use JDK 1.6. I had a colleague tell me that "Mustang" was a lot faster than JDK 1.5. I was in for quite a surprise. My application threw an NPE while starting up. Why would changing JVMs cause an NPE? The startup was indeed much faster, but that was because the NPE caused less things to load. The NPE happened while Spring was "gluing" together several beans. I investigated a little, but found nothing obvious. Maybe I will dig deeper later.

Update: Not sure what caused the above problem, but since the official release of Mustang, I've switched over to using very successfully. There are definitely some big performance improvements, both in the client and server modes. I'm looking forward to making use of its scripting language features.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

This Week's BCS Musings

I have to admit, I was more relieved that Florida beat FSU than thrilled. It wasn't because I'm getting caught up in the hopes of a national championship for the Gators, it's just because it was so obvious that Florida was a much better team, yet the game almost got away. The Seminole defense really rallied at halftime and the team played with a lot of emotion. That was scary. Having two drives deep into FSU territory that resulted in zero points in the first half was scary. Picking off FSU three times in the third quarter and getting nothing from it was even scarier. Losing Deshawn Wynn and Percy Harvin (Harvin's injury particularly scary) was even scarier. So it was a relief to watch Chris Leak being allowed to just drop back and throw the ball down the field and put up a go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter. Coach Meyer let Leak do what he does best, and Leak responded with a huge day overall and a clutch performance in the fourth quarter.

Once the feeling of relief was over then it became a thrill to have beaten FSU three years in a row. Then it was time to start thinking about the BCS. The big game was Notre Dame at USC, of course. The "smart" thinking is that USC needed to knock off Notre Dame and then lost to UCLA if Florida was to have a chance of going to the BCS title game. Well USC took care of Notre Dame. Yay.

There were a lot of other BCS storylines this weekend though. First, LSU knocking off Arkansas was probably a bad thing for Florida. It means that beating Arkansas next week (big assumption there by the way) will not boost Florida's BCS standing as much as it would have if Arkansas had beaten LSU. Of course it shouldn't matter if Team A beats Team B, as long as Team C beats them both, right?

Still the LSU win was part of several wins that show just how tough Florida's schedule has been. LSU, a team Florida beat, is a top ten team and they beat another top ten team. South Carolina, another team Florida beat, defeated a top 25 team in Clemson. Georgia, another victim of Florida, beat another top 25 team, Georgia Tech. Tennessee, a team Florida beat on the road, beat a seven-win team in Kentucky. Altogether, teams that lost to Florida earlier in the season knocked off four teams with a combined record of 33-10. Interestingly, 33-10 is also the combined record of LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia if you leave out their losses to Florida.

So what was I saying about not getting caught up in the BCS madness? I'm really not. Numbers are just interesting to me. Florida has very little chance of playing Ohio State. I will be happy if they just beat Arkansas next week. Arkansas's McFadden is the scariest player the Gators have faced this year, and that's saying a lot. Hopefully the Gators can force Arkansas into passing, because that's obviously a weakness for them. If so, it will be Florida's first SEC championship since Spurrier left, and that's a big deal.

I really think that Florida's offense is two (no, not one) years away from being the explosive offense that Meyer can produce. Chris Leak is a great quarterback, but he is a bad fit for Meyer. I think that Meyer has done a poor job of making use of Leak, Dallas Baker, and Andre Caldwell. They aren't his kind of players (Caldwell can fit into his offense, but it's not a great fit) and he hasn't done a good job of adjusting to them. Next year he will have Tim Tebow in there, but I really think it will be 2008, with Tebow as a junior, that the offense will put up huge numbers.

The defense is championship caliber this year, though. People love offense though, hence all the talk of "style points" and Florida's lack of them. Could Florida run the tables in a playoff? It's hard to say. The defense has been great, but in all fairness, they haven't played any really elite offenses. Tennessee is the best offense they've played, and they were very good against them. LSU is also a good offense. They will be tested next week against Arkansas, but it's hard to say if they could shutdown an elite offense like Ohio State, Michigan, USC, or Notre Dame. Maybe we'll get to find out in the Sugar Bowl...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Food, food, food

I changed my diet and lifestyle in August of 2004. Since then I've lost 135 lbs. and I'm planning on losing another 20 lbs. or so. That doesn't change the fact that I love food. My "diet" has been counting my calories and fat very closely during the week, but eating pretty much whatever I want on weekends. Since this is Thanksgiving weekend, I thought I would write about some interesting eats I've had recently.

Last weekend, my sister Jeana was visiting from Florida. She's been out here several times over the years, so she's seen most of the typical tourist things in the Bay Area. We decided to take a little trip down to Santa Cruz. It's the off season there, but as somebody who grew up in beach town, I know how pleasant it can be to visit the beach in the winter.

I could write about a lot of things in Santa Cruz, but this is about food. We had lunch a little Mexican place right across from the Boardwalk called El Paisano Tamales. The remarkable thing about this place was its giant burritos -- fifteen inches. I had to order one. It was a pretty good burrito, and it was huge. I've had better burritos, but never a bigger one.

Next, back at the Boardwalk they had the kind of food you usually find at carnivals and fairs. That included a fried cheesecake. I had to give one of these a try. It was a lot like fried ice cream, but with cheesecake inside the fried tortilla instead of ice cream. It was good, but I think it could have been better if the cheesecake would have been cooler.

For Thanksgiving, I like to make a pie every year. Other people make the traditional pumpkin pies, so I try to do something a little different. Last year I made a cherry-red raspberry pie. I liked it, but everyone else seemed to think it was too tart. I probably needed to reduce the filling more than I did, which would have sweetened it up. This year I decided to make an easier pie, a traditional apple pie. I found a great recipe that was both really easy and very good. The key ingredient was applesauce. More gourmet recipes use Cortland apples that reduce into an applesauce during cooking, so this is kind of a shortcut to accomplish the same thing.

This was a Paula Deen recipe. My wife and I were watching her show and she had an interesting recipe for the classic cheeseburger and fries. We tried those this weekend, and they were great. We only made "one level" burgers instead of the giant duplexes from Mrs. Deen's recipe, but they were still delicious.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Eclipse Tuning

Everybody loves Eclipse, right? It's become ubiquitous, right? It's been my primary IDE for a couple of years now. Lately, I've run across some issues with it though. And when I say issues, I mean crashes.

Eclipse has a relatively easy to find log file (in $project_home/.metadata/.log) and I quickly found the problem:

!MESSAGE Failed to execute runnable (java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space)

The dreaded Java out of memory problem. I found a couple of interesting bits on this particular variant of the out of memory problem, i.e. PermGen space. This article points to using the JVM flags for increasing PermGen size, while this one claims that HotSpot has garbage collection problems on long running processes (I have Eclipse open all day usually) but that JRockit does not have these problems.

I have some experience with tuning my JVM, so I decided to tune Eclipse as my first option. To do this, you just have to edit $eclipse_home/eclipse.ini. Here is what mine looks like now:


This seems to work pretty good. I haven't had any crashes since then and Eclipse launches much more quickly. I threw the UseParallelGC in there to take advantage of the extra core on my CPU, but I'm thinking of removing that. Seems like Eclipse is a little less responsive with that option, but that's very subjective.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another Year, Another BCS Controversy

I wasn't too worried about the "what if Rutgers goes undefeated" talk and how they would "deserve" a shot at the BCS title. However, as I suspected, Michigan's loss to Ohio State only dropped them to #2 in the BCS standings.This has caused Urban Meyer to go crazy about the possibility of a rematch between these two teams.

First off, I don't think Michigan should be #2 in the BCS. They only lost by a field goal, but the game really was not that close. They stayed in the game because of Ohio State turnovers, and they were lucky to get two of those three turnovers. They had luck on their side and they still needed a late TD + 2pt conversion to get within a field goal. If it wasn't for the turnovers, they would have been blown out. Ohio State was clearly the better team. If the two teams do play again in January, there is no question that Ohio State will win by double digits.

That being said, Michigan is probably just as deserving as anybody else out there, where anybody else is USC, Florida, Arkansas, and Notre Dame. I would love for Florida to play Ohio State, even though I would also be very nervous that they too would get blown out. However, USC has the inside track, current BCS standings be damned. Michigan is done. USC's ranking will go up if they beat Notre Dame and UCLA, and they don't have go up much to put them ahead of Michigan. They control their destiny.

Things only get crazy if USC loses. I don't think Notre Dame will go ahead of Michigan or the SEC champion. It seems very unlikely that The Irish will play Ohio State. It seems like the SEC champion should move up to pass Michigan, but it's a little bit of a crap shoot. Certainly if something bizarre happened like Florida lost to FSU, but then beat Arkansas would lead to the Big 10 rematch.

I still think it's unfair to Ohio State that they would have to beat Michigan twice, but Michigan would only have to split with them to win the national championship. However, I think Ohio State would handle Michigan easily, but who knows. Many people have pointed that Florida State faced a similar situation in 1996 when they had to play Florida again the Sugar Bowl. That was probably unfair for FSU, but that was also one of the "problems" that the BCS was supposed to solve. That year, FSU was #1 and Ohio State was #2, but they did not play because the Big 10 did not participate in the BCS at the time. So Ohio State went to the Rose Bowl and was upset by the Jake Plummer lead Arizona State. The next day, FSU played #3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl, and was completely crushed by the Gators. It only became a national championship game because of Ohio State's loss. If Ohio State had won the Rose Bowl, then they would have been national champions without having to beat the #1 team, FSU. So a lot of things were messed up then.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Milton Friedman 1912-2006

This week saw the passing of the great economist, Milton Friedman. There is a nice homage to him on Cato. I can proudly say that I am one of the many people influenced by Friedman. I double majored in economics for three years in college, before I wimped out and settle for a single degree in math. The economics classes at Caltech were definitely tilted to the highly analytical theories of Keynes. I would often find myself dreaming of IS-LM curves. I knew about Hayek and the Austrian School, but they seemed to be saying "it's too hard to use math on economics, so don't even try." A lot of their theories were reactionary ones to the rise of fascism and communism as well, so they seemed dated in the 90s. Then I read Friedman.

Actually it was Friedman's writings on health care and the AMA that really got to me. When I learned this was from his book Free to Choose, I had to read that. It made me question some of the "traditional" interpretations of the causes of the Great Depression. It occurred to me that it was a revisionist view that the Depression was caused by "capitalism gone wild" and that it was government regulation, particularly the Federal Reserve monetary policy, that had really aggravated the Depression. Suddenly the Depression was no longer an IS-LM consequence, and the kind of "solution" implied by that kind of analysis actually made the Depression worse.

Now I can't say that Friedman turned me into a Republican or even a Libertarian. I know he advised Regan, but I really don't think Reagan's economic policies reflected the kind of theories presented by Friedman in Free to Choose. I am still convinced that despite Friedman's opposition to communism, that his theories were totally incompatible with Reagan's policies towards the former Soviet Union. Embargo and massive military spending had no place in Free to Choose. I will say that my opposition to public education is tied to my interpretation of Friedman's theories.

So I must pay my respects to Friedman. A lot of people claim that times has shown that Friedman was wrong and that Keynes was right. What's funny to me is the revisionism at work. The great success of capitalism in the 90s has been racked up to successful monetary policy. They say that Keynes stood for this, not the fiscal policy of the New Deal or the socialist democracies of Western Europe. That's the real legacy of Friedman. He's caused history to change its version of Keynes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It's that time of year again. Time for BCS controversy. I have a particular interest this year, as the Florida Gators are ranked #4 in the BCS. Clearly the winner of this weekend's Michigan vs. Ohio State game will be #1, so the question I am most interested in is, can Florida make it to #2?

It seems to me they will need some luck. Their final two regular season games are against Western Kentucky and FSU. Now in most years a game against FSU would be a chance to improve your BCS ranking, but not this year. The Seminoles are only 5-5 going into this week and just came off a game where they were shutout at home. In the BCS view of teams, they are a cupcake, only slightly better than Western Kentucky.

So that would leave the SEC Championship game as Florida's best chance to improve its BCS standing. Indeed, Florida could play Arkansas, another one loss, top ten team. A win over Arkansas would be huge, and could really push Florida forward.

Still, I think Florida needs to hope for USC to lose. They have home games against Cal and Notre Dame is ranked similarly to Arkansas, and Cal is far ahead of Western Kentucky or FSU. So if they "take care of business" it would seem like they would stay ahead of Florida. If they lose to Notre Dame, the Irish would seem like they would have a decent chance of passing Florida. It would be close, but I think Florida would stay ahead.

Of course the other wildcard in things is the loser of the Ohio State/Michigan game. Would it be too far fetched to see the loser of a close game, particularly if it was BCS #1 and road team Michigan, stay ahead of USC and Florida? It would seem kind of unfair for the winner of that game to have beat the other team twice to win a National Championship. That's what FSU couldn't do in 1996 to setup Florida's only National Championship. How many more years like this before we finally get a playoff...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Slideshow Software

This past weekend was Raymond's first birthday party. One of the things I did for Michael's first party was make a slideshow video of the best of the many, many pictures we had taken of Michael. Of course a lot of the pictures were really cute, and it's also interesting to see him grow up in the pictures. I thought I would do the same thing for Raymond.

When I did Michael's slideshow, I used my G5 with the iPhoto/iDVD integration. It's been almost two years since then, and I am no longer a Mac user. I didn't think something as simple as making a slideshow would be require very sophisticated software. I decided to try Windows Photo Story. This was a disaster.

It was easy enough to add photos, edit photos, etc. It was the music that became the first problem. First, you have to place the music in the slideshow manually, i.e. pick which picture to start each song on. There is no fit to music. It default to 5s durations per slide. So you basically have to either pick enough music to take 5s * number of pictures or edit the duration of each slide. If you go the second route, it gets worse. There is no way to change the duration for all the slides or even two slides at a time. That's right. If you wanted to make it 6s per slide and had 200 slides, then you have to change this one at a time on all 200.

But wait, it gets worse. Photo Story incorrectly calculates the length of variable bit rate mp3s. If you're like me and use LAME to rip most of you music, then most of your mp3s are variable bit rate mp3s. So for example, I wanted to include the song "Close to Me" by The Cure. If I look at this song in iTunes, it correctly shows it as being 3:40 long. In Photo Story, it was convinced the song was over 6 minutes long. So in my editing of the slideshow, it showed what slide the song would end on. Of course I picked the next slide to begin the next song, and what did I get? Three minutes of slides with no music behind them.

I thought about trying Windows Movie Maker instead, but then I figured that a more general purpose program for Microsoft would probably not be any better at a specialized task. So at the advice of my wife, I tried using Adobe Photoshop Elements.

We use Picasa for organizing our pictures, but before we switched to using Picasa, we used Adobe Photoshop Album which then became Adobe Photoshop Elements. This was a much better experience. First off, it had the coveted "fit to music" feature. However, it still had issues with vbr mp3s. All was not lost. It allowed me to simply edit how long each song was to play. So I could look at iTunes and see how long each song really was, edit it to play for that much time, hit the fit to music button and I easily had seamless music for my slideshow.

There were some things that were nice about Photo Story. It automatically did the Ken Burns effect, something I liked from using iPhoto. I'm not sure if there was an option for this in APE. I liked Photo Story's UI a little better too.

Now it was time to burn my little slideshow so I could play it at the party. Here is where things were not so good again. APE did not have any kind of DVD burning option. It did have a VCD option, so I thought I would give that a try. First it converted the slideshow to Windows Media Video file (why oh why this option) and then it tried to burn it to a CD. It took forever for it to make the WMV file and then it had an error burning the CD. I couldn't just put in a new CD for it to try again, it had start over. This was really annoying.

So instead of doing the burn VCD option, I decided to just export to WMV so that at least the fruits of the labor would be persistent. Again this took a long time. I had done this on Photo Story and it was much faster (and gave a lot more options on the quality, and it was encoding a slideshow with the aforementioned Ken Burns effect enabled, which would seem like a more complex encoding task.) The encoding did seem to make use of both cores on my computer, keeping one core maxed out and the other at around 70%, but it still took close to an hour to encode a 20 minute video.

Once I had the video, I decided to use Nero to burn it. My only option with a WMV on Nero was a Super VCD, so I went with that. Again, Nero had to decompress the video before burning it, which took awhile. Once it did that, it burned rapidly. The quality was really not that great. The WMV movie looked very good, but the burned result was so-so. I made the WMV at 800x600, the highest quality offered by APE and a much higher resolution than Super VCD supports. Still the encoding-decoding-encoding process is going to be lossy, no way around that.

So all this made me really miss my Mac! It was so nice being able to create the slideshow in iPhoto, then just export it to iDVD. The DVD it would burn was really nice, and of course I could do other fun things like create menus, etc. for my DVD. The WMV creation with Photo Story was definitely a lot faster than the similar step on the Mac, but was painfully slow from the Adobe program. I'm not sure if it was slower than the same thing on the Mac. The other steps were a lot faster than they were on the Mac, but again I'm comparing a first generation G5 Power Mac to a year old, custom built Athlon 64X2. Still, I would have gladly traded a slower encode/burn process for an easier creative process.

Now there are other software packages out there. I used Roxio Easy Media Creator at the recommendation of my brother-in-law. It was an incredibly slow program to use, and seemed very unstable. Perhaps it is better now. Still, it's really disappointing that there's not an easy way to do something like this on Windows.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Data Islands

My company's resident JavaScript guru likes to use a technique called Data Islands. While I can roll some JS and have even been known to make asynchronous calls before there buzzwords to describe such a thing, I had never heard of this term until a few months ago.

The idea is simple. You have some server side technology that is serving up data as (drum roll please) XML. This XML is consumed by the client side. If you're doing a lot of AJAX after the initial page load, then you might already have client side assets for reading XML and rendering it in the browser. This technique leverages the same thing, only the XML comes over with the initial load of the page.

So how to embed XML? Well somebody at Microsoft apparently decided it would be great just to have an XML tag in the page and dump it all inside that tag. Hence the term data island.

Surely you see where this is going. The data island is a Microsoft thing and its corresponding implementation via the XML tag is only understood on IE. Still it seems like a technique with some merit, and there are ways to get it to work on Mozilla based browsers, too.

Mozilla will ignore the XML tag as just some unknown HTML tag. However, it will try to show the contents of the tag (and the child tags) so first thing for cross browser support is to give your island an invisible style (style="visibility:hidden".) Next you can slurp up the contents of the tag since it still part of the page DOM. You can pass the contents into a DOM parser, a voila!

A couple problems, though. Mozilla still thinks everything is HTML and "reads" it that way first. So if you have a tag that shares its name with an HTML (or JavaScript) tag/reserved word, you'll have issues. No label or title tags. In fact, even an image tag won't work because of it's use in JavaScript. Similarly, no self closing tags like . If you do it like it won't cause problems, but it will be ignored completely, like it wasn't even there.

That's a lot of baggage to deal with. I investigated some alternatives.
  1. Load the island asynchronously. Chances that the reason you would use the data island technique is that you are also using AJAX for updates to your page, thus you wanted to re-use script written for that XML. In that case, you could just load the data island with a separate AJAX call after the page loads. Obviously the big drawback here is that you have to make a second call to your server to load the page.
  2. Emebed your XML as a JavaScript string instead of an HTML tag. In this case Mozilla won't try to read it as HTML, so it won't give you all the weird things mentioned above. The big drawback is that this is not as efficient on IE, since you aren't making use of the special mechanism, and you have to make sure to make your XML string JavaScript string friendly.
  3. If you're going to go the route in #2, then you might just consider going one step further. Don't use XML at all, and just make your data into a JSON string that is evaluated when your page loads. I didn't do any testing, but this would seem like it has to be pretty close to being as fast on IE as the data island, while still being cross browser. Maybe I'll put that hypothesis to the test. Obviously the big drawback is that you'll want all your client-server communication to use the same mechanism, so you don't have redundant code. Thus you'll probably want to use JSON for your AJAX calls.
I'm kind of partial to #3, which is probably the biggest mutation of the data island technique. I can hear a lot of people saying "well you shouldn't try to make use of an MS extension to HTML anyways..." Don't forget that XMLHttpRequest was once an IE-only extension from MS, but became a "standard" that is now the cornerstone of so many web applications. The data island technique is very complimentary to AJAX, so maybe it will see the same kind of adoption.

Friday, November 10, 2006

San Jose and Pro Sports

There's been a lot of interesting south bay/pro sports developments recently. There's been a lot of speculation that the Oakland A's would move to Fremont, and that seems to be coming true. I was near the proposed site of the new ballpark, just a few weeks ago. I was eating at what used to be my favorite restaurant when I was in college. It should be a great place for a ballpark. Their is already a lot of progress in widening 880, the freeway that would run by the park, and BART is being expanded down there, too. There is speculation about a name change for the A's, to either the Silicon Valley A's or San Jose A's. I like the latter. I don't know of any pro sports team named for a region instead of a city (or a state, and the California A's seems unlikely.)

The more surprising news was that the San Francisco 49ers want to move to Santa Clara. I'm not sure if this is just a scare tactic to getting a new stadium in San Francisco, but really it makes sense for them, just as it makes sense for the A's. The San Jose/Silicon Valley area has more people than San Francisco or Oakland, and more importantly, they are more affluent. There's a lot more land in the valley. There's a lot of rich companies who could be corporate sponsors for stadiums, scoreboards, whatever. More money and more people ... what's not to like about that? The Sharks have been very successful in San Jose. Now we just need the Warriors to move down here, since Larry Ellison failed to bring the Sonics here. I'm guessing the 49ers might want to keep their name, but I like the sound of the San Jose 49ers.

Election Results

There's a lot of happy Democrats these days. Tuesday's elections could not have gone much better for them. Crazybob pointed out that a big win on Tuesday was not necessarily a good thing in terms of winning in 2008. I'm generally pleased. Many libertarians like to point out that gridlock is a good thing in Washington. I'll more or less agree with that.

Of course part of me wonders why it took two years for people to realize what a terrible mistake Iraq was. That's the real difference between now and 2004, right? There are a lot more people willing to say something negative about us being in Iraq now, but in 2004 such people would be quickly labeled unpatriotic. So what's changed? It may sound glib, but I don't think most people are that bothered by the American casualties and they certainly don't give a damn about the Iraqi casualties. So I guess the main reasons are just the general lack of progress and probably more importantly, the fading of the blood lust inspired by 9/11.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election 2006 -- Propositions

I didn't get to post this before I voted this morning. So here's how I voted on the many state propositions.

1A -- Yes. It's amazing this is even needed.
1B -- Yes. More roads are badly needed.
1C -- No. I don't need the state to support urban development.
1D -- Yes. This was a hard one for me. Public education is a disaster, thus it is easy for me to say no on this. However, a vote either way on this will not make it more/less likely for education to be privatized. So the positives outweigh the negatives.
1E -- Yes.
83 -- No. It doesn't make sense to me that the GPS monitoring of citizens can be constitutional. Right now it might just be "sex offenders" (which can include an 18 yr old boy who has consensual sex with a 17 yr old girl,) but maybe tomorrow it's speeders or whatever.
84 -- Yes.
85 -- Yes. As a parent, I would expect my consent to be needed for my child to have any kind of operation. Parents need to be responsible for their children.
86 -- No. A classic case of trying to use a tax to impose one group's opinion ("smoking is bad") on another.
87 -- No. I could actually stomach a big tax that made gasoline cost more. However, I can't stomach the money going to some new state bureaucracy.
88 -- No. Property tax is already ridiculous, especially given the housing market in California. Maybe my no vote here cancels my yes vote on 1D.
89 -- No. Tax payers should not pay for political campaigns, and citizens should not be prevented from making their opinion ("I want to vote for Mr. Smith") heard.
90 -- Yes. The anti-Kelo measure. Eminent domain has always been abused, but maybe this can decrease the number of instances of its abuse.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Election 2006 -- California State Races

Next up on my look at who/what I will be voting for on Tuesday are the state elections. Might as well start off with the big one.

Back in May I voted for Steve Westly over Phil Angelides in the Democratic Primary. I probably would have voted for Westly over Schwarzenegger, but there is no way I would for Angelides over Arnold. Honetly it would have been a tough call between Arnold and Westly, and I may have voted for Arnold anyways. I've agreed with most everything he's done the past couple of years. As for the Libertarian candidate, Art Oliver ... His stance on immigration is too extreme. Plus he likes to quote "think tanks" such as Cato and Reason way too much. Think for yourself, or at least pretend to. He strikes me as somebody who embraces the Libertarian philosophy simply as a means to an end. That's the exact kind of Libertarian I dislike, and the kind that is willing to support the massacre in Iraq all in the name of lower taxes.

Lt. Governor
Does this position matter? Anyways... First the usual Dem. v. Rep. ... In this case it's John Garamendi vs. Tom McClintock. I really don't like McClintock from the recall of Gray Davis. I agree with him on a few things, but there are too many things that I completely disagree with him on. Garamendi isn't that great either, but he'll probably get my vote. What about third party candidates? Well, the Libertarian candidate, Lynette Shaw, is interesting to say the least. Her major issues are medical marijuana and amnesty for illegal immigrants. I actually agree with both of these stances. However, she seems very ... out there. Her website rambles quite a bit, and it's just hard to take her serious. American Independent candidate Jim King wants to do away with the state income tax. That sounds good. However, he's also all about the family-unit. That smells like bigotry. All in all, no good choices. So I'll probably vote against McClintock, thus vote for Garamendi.

Secretary of State
This is an interesting race just because its a position that emphasizes the regulation of elections. In general I favor electronic voting. I don't have the paranoia about this that most Democrats do. Embrace technology. We should know who wins an election within minutes of the polls closing. I don't favor requiring photo ID to vote. I think that would just lower the number of voters in some demographics, and I don't see how that can be viewed as a good thing. Finally, I don't favor public financing of elections. If I want to run for office, I should be able to spend as much money as I want to get the word out. Similarly, if my friend is running, I should be able to spend as much as I want to get the word out. That's freedom of speech. So the candidate closest to my positions is probably the incumbent, Bruce McPherson. I guess my stance is actually pretty close to "status quo."

Attorney General
One last interesting position. There are a lot of candidates with interesting stances. Green Party candidate Michael Wyman and Peace and Freedom candidate Jack Harrison both oppose the death penalty, as do I. However, they both want to "prosecute corporate thieves" and I hate that kind of demagoguery. Ken Weissman has a degree in math and is a Libertarian. He's against victimless crimes like prostitution and drugs. However, he's pro-death penalty, and it's hard for me to accept a Libertarian who is pro-death penalty. Next up are the "major" candidates. First there's Jerry Brown, Democrat. He puts "controlling greenhouse emissions" and "protecting a women's right to choose" as high on his list of priorities. Should those be priorities for Attorney General? Just seems like party line BS. Finally there's Republican Chuck Poochigian. His priorities include sex offenders, gangs, and the three strikes law. There's no way I'd vote for this guy. I'm especially opposed to the three strikes law. So, I think I'll vote for Weissman.