San Diego Business Journal

Happy New Year! We’ve rung out the old, so let’s ring in the news. Vista’s irascible U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa is backing a ballot measure that would change California’s winner-take-all system now used in presidential elections, according to Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain. Direct mailing magnate Ted Costa is proposing an initiative now before the state Attorney General’s Office that would divide state Electoral College votes according to congressional districts. If all goes according to Costa’s plan, the measure could be on the ballot before the 2012 presidential balloting rolls around. Costa will have Issa’s backing as the richest member in the House to finance signature gathering. Republicans hold 20 of the 53 congressional seats (California cast 55 electoral votes in the last presidential election).The proposed change in vote counting could make the difference in a close race for the White House, because it would change the electoral map … Is that the sky falling? Caltech Astronomer Mike Brown, working at North County’s Palomar Observatory, decided that Pluto was a dwarf planet, not a regular-sized one like Mercury or Mars or Venus. That was five years ago, and he’s been subjected to hate mail from disappointed elementary school students ever since. He’s just published a book on his experiences, “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming.” I have to credit this item to the voiceofsandiego.org, which did a wonderful interview with him Dec. 16 … San Diego Symphony’s Jahja Ling joins San Diego Opera’s Nick Reveles (no mean composer in his own right) to discuss authentic Chinese melodies in Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot” on Jan. 10 at Point Loma Nazarene University. The two will discuss how Puccini composed his score and used his political connections to find original Chinese music to include in his masterpiece. The popular opera opens Jan. 29. Go to sdopera.com for ducats and details … Here’s an announcement that will bring a smile to your lips. San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies says Lisa Redwine, an instructor in the school’s Business of Wine program, has advanced to become an advanced sommelier, the second-highest distinction awarded by the Court of Sommeliers. Redwine (yes, that’s her real moniker) is wine director at The Shores Restaurant in La Jolla … Not bad for a few hours worth of work in a recording studio. Poway resident and cowboy singing star Buck Howdy, who’s real name is Steve Vaus, has apparently made it big in the cyber world with his parody of the TSA’s controversial new airline passenger screening methods. The video, recorded in November, had received more than 2 million views on YouTube.com as of mid-December. Howdy won a Grammy award in February. Search for buckhowdy at YouTube to view his video about the government’s new pat-down policies.

Veteran journalist and Contributing Editor Tom York pens the SDBJ Insider. You can reach him at tyork@sdbj.com or tom.york@gmail.com.