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Tuesday, October 31, 2006 
symbolic victories, or why indiana is important this year
election day is one week from today, and most polls suggest that democrats will retake the house, if not also the senate. but liberals, progressives, and even moderates and conservatives who are sick of bush and his GOP enablers shouldn't get complacent. in order for democrats to retake congress, it's essential that we get out the vote. indiana is a particularly important state to win, and not just for the reasons you might think.

depending on who you ask, three or four republican congressmen are in serious danger of losing their seats: john hostettler, chris "the count" chocola, mike sodrel, and (debatably) mark souder. so the first reason why indiana is important this year is obvious: the more seats democrats pick in indiana, the fewer seats they need in other states. but there's also a more subtle dynamic going on, one which cq politics hints at in its final review of this year's congressional polling:

Barring major glitches in Election Day vote counting, there should be an indication whether the Democrats' momentum will overwhelm the Republicans' barrier or whether the GOP barricade, though leaky, will be left standing.

The early poll closings, at 6 p.m. Eastern time, are in Indiana and Kentucky, states with high concentrations of Democratic House takeover bids.

In Indiana, Democrats' oft-thwarted efforts to oust staunchly conservative Republican John Hostettler from his seat in the state's southwestern corner may be coming to fruition at the hands of Democrat Brad Ellsworth, the sheriff in the district's most populous county. If Hostettler hangs on, it will send a strong signal that Republican damage will be limited. If the Democrats win a pair of rematches — in the state's southeastern corner, where Baron P. Hill is looking to get back the seat he lost two years ago, and in the district around South Bend, where lawyer Joe Donnelly is taking a second shot at Republican Chris Chocola — it could herald a big night for the challengers.

yes, indiana's famously early 6pm poll closing will be a big deal this year, and this is one instance where i'm glad that most of the state is still in eastern time rather than central: 6pm EST is 3pm pacific, 4pm mountain.

the media loves to project election winnings as early as possible, and the entire country will be watching this time. unless the races are extremely close, the media will project the winners in indiana house races hours before polls close out west. cq politics mentions this offhand: indiana's election results should be an early indicator of whether democrats will take the house. but cq doesn't mention the potential effect that these early results might have on western voters.

in a phenomenon that is most often seen in presidential elections, voter turnout on the west coast can become deflated in the event of a landslide. voters out west see on the news how the election is trending, and if it looks like their favored party or candidate is bound to lose, they conclude that there is no point in voting and they don't bother to go to the polls.

obviously there's a difference between a presidential election (based on the electoral college) and elections for the house (which is technically 435 or so separate elections). but psychologically speaking, many of the same forces apply, especially if voters think of congress in gestalt instead of local terms. (if the gop can convince voters to vote for gop candidates because they think those are the best candidates, what's happening elsewhere won't matter. but if the best argument the gop can come up with is "if democrats win, pelosi will be speaker!" then it won't really matter to gop voters whether the dems gain 15 seats or 50.)

in other words, the better democrats do in the indiana house races, the more it will psyche out and demoralize gop voters who live out west, which in turn means even better results for western democrats.

(conversely, it could be argued that big democratic wins in indiana and kentucky would energize western republicans and cause western democrats to become complacent about the impending democratic wave. to be sure, at least a few voters would act this way, but i suspect the net result would be far more advantageous to democrats.)

voter registration is over in indiana for this year, so if you aren't registered, it's too late. but if you are, you had better make sure you get out there and vote, because hoosier votes matter more than ever this year.

happy halloween
it's that time of year again. i don't have anything planned for the holiday; we're probably just going to get some candy and see how many trick-or-treaters we get at the subdivision.

if you're looking for some halloween fun, may i remind you of my mighty collage, "halloween monster mania"? it's been on my mp3 page for a couple years now (since i made it back in 2004), so it might be old news to you.

and hell, speaking of old tracks, i've even re-uploaded my track "boo!" from maura's milk chocolate bath. serious fans will already have that one, too, but it's holiday-appropriate, so enjoy.

Monday, October 30, 2006 
some notes about my weekend in chicago
  • chicago can be a lot of fun... once you reach your destination. the process of trying to reach your destination can be extremely aggravating. driving (or should i say "parking"?) on i90 is ridiculous. and while the public transit system is fantastic (definitely better overall than san francisco's, though in sf the trains are a bit fancier), the transit map is so complex that it's difficult to understand if you aren't intimately familiar with chicago geography. and that's assuming that all the trains are actually running. (the orange line is apparently out right now, for example.)

    sitting on the blue line inbound as we soared past all the cars that were stuck on i90 was immensely satisfying. sitting on a stopped train for 20 minutes outbound at 2am while crews worked on the tracks was not as much fun.
  • the negativland show was really good, though not much to look at. it was basically a rendition of their radio show on stage; they even provided blindfolds to better duplicate the "radio" experience. jima has more, and here are a few photos. we remembered to bring virago's camera, but not to check whether there was a memory card inside it (oops!), so we didn't take any pictures.

    that said, the venue didn't do a good job handling the show. tickets had assigned seats, but a sign at the venue informed us that the show was general admission. the venue doors opened on time at 10pm (which seemed late, but i guess the venue had another show earlier in the evening), but then we were all stuffed into the lobby, where we were forced to stand around in an increasingly dense crowd for a half an hour before finally being admitted into the theater itself. also, drink prices were ridiculous: $8 for a cocktail!
  • before the show, we met jima for dinner at the casbah cafe, down the street from the lakeshore theatre. we had eaten a large "snack" a few hours earlier, so virago & i shared the lamb brochette, which was excellent. if i lived in the area, i'd definitely go back there sometime.
  • right before dinner, we spent some time at nearby reckless records, where i snagged a bunch of vinyl goodies, including thom yorke's the eraser, this is stunt rock volume three, and a few other things.
  • virago wanted to check out the skydeck at the sears tower, so we managed to navigate our way there, but when we got to the basement and saw 100 or so people in line ahead of us, we gave up on the idea. i seem to recall reading something on the blogs about intense security at the sears tower negatively impacting the service there, but if so i can't find a link.
  • the field museum was pretty cool, and the king tut exhibit was full of interesting artifacts (as well as comma errors). but we were in for some sticker shock: not only was it $25 each to see the tut exhibit (which we knew in advance), it was $15 for parking, which seemed excessive. at least the hot dogs we got at the stand in front of the museum were reasonably priced. virago had really wanted to try a chicago-style dog, and got her wish. i had mine plain, with just mustard, because i didn't want all that crap on my weiner.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 
save natural time

skip to about 2:00 in this video for a vintage anti-DST announcement.

Thursday, October 26, 2006 
on vacation
i'm off to chicago for a couple days, to see negativland at the lakeshore theater on saturday night. (tomorrow, we'll try to check out the king tut exhibit at the field museum.)

the hotel where we're staying looks pretty nice, and offers in-room broadband internet access... but i don't have a laptop, so it's a moot point. as such, i probably won't have much computer access until i get back sometime sunday night. (though the hotel also has "Computer Use Available", whatever that means.)

it should be a good time, and i'll probably see a couple of you there.

stop misnaming news stories
an anonymous blogger has managed to loosely connect congressman mark foley's downfall to someone at the human rights campaign. note that i say loosely, as it's fairly clear on sober analysis that HRC's role in the story is little more than a cameo.

as we already knew, the original foley emails had been circulating through the media for months, but no media outlets picked up on the story. those first emails were suspicious, but they weren't sexually explicit, and most media outlets that received copies of the emails decided that they didn't have enough evidence to publish the allegation that foley wanted to boink teenage boys, so the story languished.

eventually, copies of the foley emails made their way to an anonymous blog called stop sex predators. in mid/late september, SSP began receiving tips about foley, and soon published the first batch of emails. after the emails showed up on SSP, abc news published its first story. after publishing that story, former pages immediately started sending in old sexually explicit instant messages. when foley found out that abc had those IMs, he immediately resigned.

now, a new anonymous blog called stop october surprises has discovered that someone involved with SSP was also connected with the HRC. the HRC has now fired that person (so they say).

A spokesman for the group, the Human Rights Campaign, said it first learned of its employee's role this week and immediately fired him for misusing the group’s resources. The scandal surrounding Mr. Foley, a Florida Republican, has been a burdensome distraction for members of his party in the month before the midterm elections, and some Republicans have speculated that the e-mail messages were planted by a Democrat.

The rights campaign's spokesman, David Smith, said the employee, whose name he declined to disclose, was a junior staff member hired last month to help mobilize the organization's members in Michigan. "The minute we learned about it we took decisive action," Mr. Smith said.

on one level, you have to admire the person behind stop october surprises: this person had a concrete goal ("out" the author of stop sex predators) and then carried it out, using investigative skills to tie the person to the HRC.

but unfortunately for this person (and also for other silly right-wingers like gary), the foley story was simply not an october surprise. people had been trying to get the media to cover that story for months, and the media simply wouldn't do it until abc finally got around to it in late september. gary quotes from the new york times but conveniently ends his quote right before this part:

The Miami Herald and other news organizations have acknowledged obtaining copies of the same e-mail messages months ago but declining to publish them because of their potentially ambiguous contents.

(gary also can't help but take a cheap shot at julia carson. he has a pathological need to bash julia whenever possible.)

we know that CREW received the emails back in july and couldn't get the fbi to investigate. other news outlets had the first letters last year but didn't publish. so how is this an october surprise exactly?

for the politically naive, "october surprise" is a term for a news event deliberately timed to influence elections. thus various wingnuts claim that the foley scandal, because it finally broke a month before the election, must have been deliberately timed to hurt them. but this is plainly not true: the story had been floating around behind the scenes for nearly a year before abc picked it up. if you wanted to create an october surprise, why would you start leaking information a year in advance? the whole idea is ridiculous.

the timing was a coincidence, GOP. get over it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 
don't touch that auto-dialer
automated political phone calls are still illegal in indiana:

A federal judge has ruled Indiana can block a California-based group from making automated calls that attacked Democratic congressional candidate Baron Hill, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel in the 9th District.

In September, Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter sued the Economic Freedom Fund in Brown County after receiving 12 consumer complaints about the calls, which are prohibited by state law unless previously agreed to by the recipient. The fierce 9th District race was expected to be one of the closest in the country as both parties fight for control of the U.S. House., the Virginia company that made the calls on behalf of the Economic Freedom Fund, later filed a federal lawsuit against Indiana claiming that its ban on such calls is an unconstitutional restraint on free speech and interstate commerce.

Tuesday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney denied FreeEats' motion, saying the automated calls ban does not violate the First Amendment nor restrain interstate commerce.

Earlier this month, the company lost a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to a North Dakota law that bars telemarketers from making prerecorded interstate calls to that state's residents.

it was surprising that freeeats had the audacity to sue the state, considering the brazen "push poll" nature of the anti-hill calls. now they've lost, and even if they appeal, there isn't enough time for anything to happen before election day.

of course, it was also a bit surprising when carter announced earlier this year that he would begin enforcing the ban, which was apparently passed in 1988 but has been ignored since then. still, you can't say that carter is being partisan in his enforcement—this, the highest-profile case, was against his fellow republicans. and automated phone calls have pretty much been carter's signature issue: he championed indiana's extremely popular do-not-call list.

stunt rock comes to indianapolis
yes, stunt rock is coming to town... but not to play music. (he "retired from performing" in june.) he'll be doing stand-up comedy during a show full on indie rock bands. i'm not sure what to make of that.

apparenly the roster for indie rock band collections of colonies of bees includes tom from emotional joystick and jim from pressboard.

Monday, October 23, 2006 
my head just exploded

happytree8, originally uploaded by stallio.

if you have satellite tv, this might look familiar: as i've discussed before, when it rains, the signal gets all glitchy. i've been collecting video like this for awhile, and released a music video in july using glitched satellite footage.

i was concerned that, now that i'm moving from a satellite house to an apartment with digital cable, i wouldn't get to see much more footage like this. but i've since learned that i can intentionally create mpeg glitches by loosening the coax cable going into my dvr. of course, this comes with a slight amount of risk (as i could damage the cable, or theoretically even the input on the dvr). still, it'll be fun to play with occasionally.


new polls show brizzi, carson ahead
wish-tv has new poll results in the 7th district and marion county prosecutor's races:

In the prosecutor race, Democrat Melina Kennedy is not just going door to door, she is also making personal phone calls to independent voters. The 24-Hour News 8 Indiana Poll shows she has ground to make up. Kennedy trails Carl Brizzi 50-to-42, but she says the race is not over.

bad news for kennedy, whose chances of defeating brizzi are starting to look bleak.

The race for 7th District Congress has narrowed over the last six weeks. Democrat incumbent Julia Carson now leads by just five, 48-to-43. Six weeks ago the lead was 20, 55-to-35. Nevertheless, Carson, who has never lost an election, says she feels as good about this one as any.

this is a bit more believable than last week's wthr poll, which i was skeptical about. the article doesn't state the margin of error for this poll, but i suspect it's lower than 5. in the wthr poll, carson was down 3 points, which was within the margin of error.

update: margin of error for the poll is +/-5%.

y kant gary read?
when i first saw that gary welsh, steph mineart, and i would be all in the same room for last week's blogger forum, i wondered whether that was a recipe for conflict. after all, things got pretty heated in august when gary called steph an "extremist liberal", and after all the harsh criticism i've directed toward gary in the past two months, he can't be fond of me, either. but he was very cordial when i met him—i shook his hand but we only spoke for a moment—and steph showed up late, and nothing happened. at least not there. so i decided i'd try to go easy on gary, because he sincerely came off like a nice, intelligent guy who just happens to be horribly wrong on certain issues.

but every time i decide to go easy on gary, he posts something so ridiculously wrong, so beyond the pale, that it forces me to action. sometimes it takes him days or even weeks to go too far. this time, it took about six hours.

sometime friday evening, gary stumbled across steph's post from that morning, in which steph alleges that the dickerson campaign has been "feeding libelous allegations and smear tactics to the IndyUndercover site [...] and to Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana". predictably, gary got upset, but i was astonished by what he wrote in response, which i will quote here just in case gary someday decides to edit it (though i suspect he never will):

Steph Mineart at a Commonplace Book thinks that I'm behind IndyUndercover. Of course, she saw me today at the blogger's forum and the professional thing to do would have been to ask me to my face if I was a part of the IndyUndercover blog site. Instead, she posts an outright false assertion stating that Ike Randolph and I have teamed up to do this blogsite. Anyone who knows either of us would know we wouldn't be teaming up together on any project, let alone a political blogsite. I have to say this is the absolute lowest thing any blogger could do to another blogger, but having observed her style for the past year, I have to say I'm not the least bit surprised.

unfortunately for gary, steph didn't say anything of the sort. as i've explained before, she did accuse gary (and, separately, indyundercover) of carrying water for the dickerson campaign, but she certainly didn't claim that gary was "behind indyu" or that he had anything to do with that site. i'm not even sure how he got that from what steph wrote, but i'll be nice and give him the benefit of the doubt that he just misread her and wasn't being intentionally disingenuous.

three different people, including steph and myself, repeatedly tried to explain to gary what steph actually wrote, but he has yet to even acknowledge his error.

i waited all weekend for gary to post an update, a correction, a comment... something acknowledging his flagrant misinterpretation of steph's words. no update came. i posted a comment this morning, directly challenging him to update his post... nothing.

this is the same gary welsh who wrote in a comment to me: "When I make a mistake Stallio, I'm not afraid to own up to it." (he then proceeded to question my masculinity because i blog under a pseudonym, which as i've explained before is not the same as blogging anonymously.) so, gary, when are you going to "be a man" and own up to your mistake? you have every right to be angry about what steph actually wrote without inventing a ludicrous straw man argument to attack her.

i find it the height of irony that gary would go to steph's blog and demand an apology for an accusation that she didn't even make, and yet gary seems unwilling or unable to even acknowledge his own blatantly false accusation against steph. (his accusation being that she made an accusation which she did not in fact make... and he was in the process of making that false accusation when he demanded steph apologize for something she didn't do; i know, it gets a little confusing.)

note also what gary doesn't say: he never actually denies steph's real accusation: that the dickerson campgain has been feeding gary anti-carson smears. does he not deny this because it's true? or because denying this would mean acknowledging that his original reply was totally wrong-headed?

(regardless of whether the dickerson campaign has been directly working with gary, it's hard to deny that advance indiana and indy undercover are repositories of anti-carson mud, based on the commenters alone. those commenters are rabid, and we already know that someone affiliated with the campaign used to comment frequently on tdw. it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that these forces are still out there commenting on blogs, just covering their tracks better. that said, gary has recently begun deleting comments by jocelyn-tandy accusing carson volunteer wilson allen of felonious conduct, so he does have some kind of standard, however loose it might be.)

then on sunday, when he could have been correcting his faux-pas, he was actively digging up dirt on julia carson. in a lengthy post, he tries to take me to task for referring to "dickerson's failed buick dealership". the delicious irony underlying this screed is that he begins by complaining that i accused him "of slinging mud on behalf of Dickerson", and then proceeds to show off his research skills by cataloguing virtually every negative article that has appeared in the indy star or the defunct news from the past 16 years. (another irony: he constantly whines that carson dared to bring up dickerson's 15-year-old arrest for domestic violence, but he gleefully posts excerpts from even older stories about julia's past businesses.)

of course, "failed buick dealership" were actually jen wagner's words. i had mistakenly guessed that dickerson supporter "someonewhowouldknow" had been posting comments from dickerson's campaign headquarters; jen set me straight that he was in fact posting from the old buick dealership, so i posted a correction. but whatever.

but my question is this: isn't it a failed dealership? it used to be open, but it wasn't profitable so dickerson was forced to sell it off. regardless of whether it failed because of mismanagement or market forces (namely, because the entire buick brand is a huge failure these days, and will probably be dead in a couple years), the fact remains that it was a failure. thus "failed buick dealership" is accurate, no matter how much it might irritate dickerson supporters.

orentlicher and densborn raise more $ than dickerson
the indy star has a "horse race" piece about indiana's 86th district (state house) race between david orentlicher (who i met last week) and kathryn densborn. the focus of the story is on the GOP's intensive efforts to dethrone orentlicher, but what really stood out to me was this fact:

The intensity of the race can be seen in fundraising reports, which on Friday showed both Densborn and Orentlicher having raised more than $220,000 each for a job that pays a base salary of only $11,600 a year.

wow, both candidates have raised more than $220 grand in a race for the state house? that's a lot of money, relatively speaking.

in fact, that's not just a lot for a state legislature race, it's substantially more than eric dickerson, the GOP candidate for the US house in the 7th district (which overlaps but does not fully envelop indiana's 86th district). dickerson intially claimed he could run his campaign on $200,000, but now acknowledges he won't raise even close to that. as of september 30th, dickerson had raised a paltry $58,575.

that's pretty pathetic, if you ask me, and it should tell you a thing or two about the seriousness of dickerson's campaign.

Friday, October 20, 2006 
the blogger forum part 2
continuing from the previous post...

question #4 from manfred of manfredeye was "what do you think of the increasing trends toward privatization and corporatization in government?"

  • brown mentioned that he came from state government—he worked for governor o'bannon and then spent a couple years at the dept of workplace development—and that people generally don't go into government to get rich. but "you don't get the same feeling from corporations". in other words, people go into public service in order to help other people; corporations get involved with public service because they think there's a profit to be made.
  • orentlicher explained his opinion that sometimes privatization can be good; other times it can be bad. but this administration seems to be ideologically driven to privatization, even when it doesn't make sense.
  • barnes argued that it's dangerous to privatize public services. "talking about the bottom line instead of compassion is a mistake," he said. barnes drew on his experience as a teacher, explaining that running schools "like a business" doesn't work because "education is not a business."

#5 from rob of confessions of a hoosier democrat was a question about how representatives can avoid conflicts of interest, considering that indiana has a part-time legislature and most legislators need to work another job to get by.

  • dr orentlicher explained that it's a difficult balance. since he is a doctor and a lawyer and also teaches at IU, he couldn't possibly recuse himself from all issues that touch on those fields (or there wouldn't be much left to vote on). but he believes legislators should recuse themselves from voting on bills that will directly benefit them financially, which not all do. (without naming names, he cited a couple legislators, like one who works as a pig farmer and proposes laws that fatten his pocket.
  • barnes noted the irony that the original intent behind the part-time legislature was to bring diversity of opinion. he went on to lament that the legislature gets too tied up in unimportant pet projects and "wedge" issues to get more important reforms passed.
  • brown commiserated that conflict of interest is tricky, but he believes the state senate does well at ethical issues.

#6 from steph at commonplace book was "what are the first bills you would propose/pass upon your election?" (in other words, name your top three issues.)

  • brown: #1, full-day kindergarten, preferably statewide.
    #2, graduate retention: incentives for graduates of indiana schools to stick around.
    #3, state-sponsored access to health insurance for small businesses.
  • orentlicher: #1, full-day kindergarten.
    #2, property tax reform (to be replaced with other taxes that make more sense).
    #3, health insurance reform. (orentlicher thinks the VA health care system would be a good model to follow)
  • barnes: #1, health care, especially on the east side, which is particularly poorly served.
    #2, education funding. (barnes noted that administrators at warren township schools are thrilled he's running.)
    #3, property tax reform.

#7, don sherflick at bilerico asked candidates what they thought about SJR7 (the proposed amendment to the indiana constitution banning gay marriage) and in particular the SJR7's puzzling "second part".

  • orentlicher thinks SJR7 should not pass. it should either not come back, or come back in a new, reworded form.
  • brown dislikes the entire amendment, but in particular dislikes the second part, the part that has gotten other states in trouble. brown complained that the language is so ambiguous, the bill's sponsor, on the floor of the senate, could not explain what it means.
  • barnes complained that the amendment is a redundancy. gay marriage is already illegal, so why do we need an amendment banning it? he also wondered whether the state has ever repealed an amendment to its constitution. (anyone know?) also, yeah, the second part of the amendment is "troubling".

#8, bil from bilerico asked whether the candidates would support legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation/identity in fields like health care, employment, housing, etc. throughout the state.

  • barnes said he would support such legislation.
  • orentlicher: when passing statewide laws, we must be careful that the laws do not override local ordinances. orentlicher said he considered passing a statewide smoking ban, but anti-cancer organizations were against it because it would override local smoking bans. for example, marion county cannot pass tight gun laws because state law won't let them. but if a nondiscrimination ordinance could be worded so it wouldn't override local ordinances, he'd support it.
  • brown: "yes! that's my answer."

#9, gary from advance indiana asked candidates' opinions of the indiana voter id law.

  • brown said there are lots of voter reforms he'd love to enact; for example, our polls close too early. requiring voters to show id isn't a bad idea per se, but the indiana law is way too restrictive: the most restrictive in the state.
  • orentlicher said the indiana law wasn't a good-faith effort to improve voter integrity. most voter fraud involves absentee ballots, which are not affected by the law. the law was written in such a way to disproportionately disenfranchise democrats.
  • barnes: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." what's the motivation behind the law? the law causes long lines at the polls, and long lines disenfranchise: people will go home rather than wait hours to vote.
  • brown again: loaded voter rolls is a problem, but rokita hasn't purged the rolls like he should've. also, brown agrees that long lines disenfranchise. he's heard of people waiting in line for two and a half hours.
  • orentlicher again: the more hoops people have to go through in order to vote, the fewer people will vote. election results are closely analyzed, so if there were significant fraud, it'd be noticed.

that was it for the questions. there were some closing remarks, which i won't go into other than to note that russell brown claimed that "i read most of your blogs every day". i don't think it was a bluff, either: he handed out folders containing all his press releases and clippings, and inside i noticed printouts of blog entries from advance indiana and bilerico, along with clippings from more traditional media sources like the howey political report and nuvo. it's kind of weird to think that these days, printouts of blog entries count as press clippings.

overall, it was a good event and i was pretty pleased with what i heard. obviously, this was a friendly audience—only democrat candidates and "progressive" bloggers—so it was non-confrontational. nothing like a debate, just a conversation between bloggers and candidates. even though i cannot vote for any of the candidates, i'm glad i got a chance to meet with them, and i hope more candidates reach out to bloggers in the future.

the blogger forum
i just got back from the blogger meetup a few minutes ago. first, some notes about the attendance:

mike kole, libertarian for secretary of state, had to pull out of the event. apparently he had a last-minute can't-pass-up opportunity to record some radio ads, so he couldn't make it. and that's cool: he called ahead to say he wouldn't be there. in contrast, it would seem susan fuldauer pulled a no-call no-show. she apparently just didn't show up (though it's conceivable that she was given bad information from the library's information desk; steph arrived late and yet she was told nobody was there yet, which was certainly false). [see update below]

similarly, melissa from shakespeare's sister couldn't make it due to transportation problems, but i hear she might still post about the event.

so it was a bunch of bloggers and three candidates: rep david orentlicher and john barnes, running for the state house, and russell brown, running for state senate. i can't vote for any of these guys because i'm not in their districts, but if i were, based on what i heard today i'd be happy to vote for any or all of them.

we had assigned seats; i was seated between jen wagner of tdw and kaj of resisting inertia. also, because i was near the end, i got to ask the second question. i didn't have anything prepared, but i was able to come up with something in time, however half-assed my phrasing might've been. i'll just cover it all briefly, in order of questions posed, because that's easiest. i didn't write any of the questions down, so they're all paraphrased.

#1 from jen tdw was something like "how do you plan to move indiana into the future instead of being a backwater hillbilly state as we're often perceived?"
  • dr orentlicher discussed stem cell research, stressing that scientific researchers want to go to states where they know their research will be legal (if not encouraged). states like CA, NY, NJ, and WI are all investing in stem cell research, but in states like indiana, the legislature is considering banning such research. obviously, if you're a researcher, you're not going to go somewhere that might pass a law banning your work (putting you out of a job).
  • russell brown discussed his plan to "plug the brain drain", the torrential flood of graduates from indiana colleges moving out of state rather than putting down roots here.
  • john barnes talked about indiana's poor image nationwide, and talked about diversity programs, mentioning a program he'd worked on in warren township (where he's a schoolteacher).
  • dr orentlicher came back for a moment to discuss improving our communities in a "race to the top"—building better schools and services will encourage more people to move here.

#2 my question was an open-ended quesion about transportation issues, toll roads, public transit, etc.

  • dr orentlicher stressed that public transportation is a big issue, and an area where indiana historically has been awful, but he sees areas of improvement.
  • barnes talked about "major moves" and the toll road lease. he said that many people's complaints about major moves is with the way it was "ramrodded" through the legislature with little discussion, not that there were no good ideas in the governor's plan. people are upset that major moves wasn't explained to them before it forced through the legislature.
  • brown also spoke briefly about public transit, and how the state government has "not been proactive" in that area. he then went on to talk about things like sidewalks and bike lanes, arguing that we don't put nearly enough money into infrastructure. he had some good examples, including a nice soundbite: in response to his opponent's claim that one neighborhood in his distrcit, got $11k from major moves, barnes said that $11 grand is only "enough for one pothole".
  • orentlicher had a follow-up comment that his biggest objection to major moves is that the legislation gives any future governor permission to lease off chunks of the state's infrastructure with no oversight.

#3 from kaj of resisting inertia was something like "how do you overcome the fact that it seems like the media is more interested in scandals and controversy than in discussing the issues?" (she used examples of controversy surrounding mailers and the defacement of yard signs in the orentlicher/densworth race)

  • orentlicher took the opportunity to discuss stem cell research again (one of the controversial mailers was about stem cells). he said that he talks about stem cell research because it's an important issue, going back over some of what he said for question #1. but he also discussed cloning: he's against cloning for reproduction, but believes there is useful research that can be done involving cloning technology, but that is illegal in indiana. thus it's not a question of if indiana will ban useful research, because "we already have".
  • brown discussed some issues he's tried to draw attention to, agreeing that it's difficult to get media attention. however, he noted that he's gotten a lot of coverage on blogs.
  • barnes noted the difficulty of getting coverage, saying that the best coverage he'd gotten was in an advertorial in the herald weekly (neighborhood newspaper).
  • orentlicher piped up again to note that he's been trying to talk about health insurance for months, but has had difficulty getting the media to pick up the discussion.

that's it for now... we're going to get some chinese food, and hopefully i'll have more later tonight.

update: susan fuldauer emailed me apologizing for missing the blogger meeting. she writes "Although my company has been very generous and supportivie with my campaign, there are occaisions when I need to be diligent in my work. Today was one of those days and I just could not get away in a timely fashion [...]"

bloggers up, down
this afternoon, i'll be participating in a blogger event, where a handful of "progressive bloggers" will meet with some "progressive candidates". i'm not entirely convinced that everyone in attendance is truly progressive (hence the scare quotes), but it should be interesting.

Participating candidates will be:

Russell Brown (D - State Senate)
Rep David Orentlicher (D - H86)
Susan Fuldauer (D - H88)
John Barnes (D - H89) and
Mike Kole (L - Sec of State).

Participating blogs are:
A Commonplace Book
Advance Indiana
Resisting Inertia
Shakespeare's Sister
stAllio's Way
Taking Down Words

most of these are not my candidates (i'm in the process of moving from greg porter's district to vanessa summers's district), though i conceivably could vote for mike kole if he can convince me he'd be a better choice than joe pearson. but bil from bilerico invited me to attend, and i have no good excuse not to go, so that's that.

i hope to post my thoughts about the event sometime this afternoon or evening... though has been quite fussy today and might throw a fork into those plans.

yesterday, wthr released some surprising poll results. in indiana's 7th district, their poll shows eric dickerson up three points, 45-42. the last poll of the district had carson up 20 points, 55-35. this is a massive shift, which is peculiar considering that dickerson has almost no media presence, which suggests that something is wrong with one or both of the polls.

what makes it all the more suspicious is that the same poll shows brizzi ahead of kennedy 51-35 in the prosecutor's race. while it's not strange that brizzi would be ahead, what's bizarre is that this is again a huge shift from previous polls, which had things about even (for example, kennedy ahead 43-42). so while the poll results for each race are surprising in themselves, when taken together, they get even more suspicious: 20+-point swings in favor of republicans, in a year when people nationwide are so disgusted with the GOP that democrats seem sure to take back one if not two houses of congress? in a year when 3-4 of indiana's republican congressmen are in serious danger of losing their seats? it's improbable to say the least.

of course, julia historically doesn't poll well and yet she still manages to win:

In 2002, a poll taken just before the election showed Carson with only a 1 percentage point lead over Republican Brose McVey. She won, 53 percent to 44 percent. And in Carson's first congressional campaign in 1996, a poll taken just before the election showed her trailing Republican Virginia Blankenbaker by three percentage points. She won by eight.

tdw pokes some holes in the poll results:

  • TDW has been told that the sample for the poll favored Republicans by 7 percent, despite the fact that John Kerry won Marion County in 2004.
  • The Seventh District was a much smaller sub-set of the whole sample.
  • The entire sample was only 19 percent African-American, compared to the estimated 23-27 percent of the county who are African-Americans of voting age.
  • The pollsters called randomly selected listed numbers, which excludes those who do not have land lines or who have unlisted numbers.

tdw also posts a curious campaign email she just received.

rishawn biddle also analyzes trends in the race, but he's skeptical whether the poll results are really accurate, and even if they are, he's unsure whether dickerson can pull off a win. rishawn says, "Considering that [the Dickerson campaign] hasn't been nearly as savvy as it needs to be given what is at stake, this means stepping up the game. Fast."

tully analyzes the race and makes the curious claim that dickerson has been running a clean campaign and has "remained positive". steph mineart takes him to town for his naivete:

WHAT? This campaign is the dirtiest, slimiest one I've ever known, and it's not coming from Carson's end. I'm sorry -- Dickerson is slinging more than any candidate I've ever seen, but it't not mud he's slinging -- it's shit, plain and simple.

He's feeding libelous allegations and smear tactics to the IndyUndercover site (which is run not by cops or sheriff's officers, but by the Republican Party -- current investigation points toward Ike Randolph as the responsible party) and to Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana. Go to these site and read what they're saying about Julia Carson.

They're alleging she stole someone's wallet, for pete's sake. Tell me that's not shit-slinging. Tell me that's positive campaigning.

dickerson's campaign (or at least his supporters) have been unleashing "lollapalooza '99"-sized tidal waves of mud for months. i generally don't read indy undercover, but gary at advance indiana has been spewing all kinds of nonsense about julia, and the commenters there are even worse. furthermore, while tdw won't confirm it (because she swore to stop "outing" her commenters by pointing out where they're posting from), operatives from the dickerson campaign, posting from campagin hq dickerson's failed buick dealership, no less, infested her blog comments for some time, defending dickerson at every opportunity and generally defaming julia. (this person used to post comments as "someonewhowouldknow"; i don't know if they stopped commenting, which seems unlikely, or just stopped going by that name.)

if anything, dickerson's surrogates have been slinging far more mud than carson's. the only difference is that julia has been personally linked to the mud-slinging (it has been reported that she told the star ed board about dickerson's domestic arrest), while dickerson gets to maintain plausible deniability. that doesn't mean his campaign has been anything resembling clean; he just relies on people like gary welsh and jocelyn-tandy adande to do his dirty work for him.

Thursday, October 19, 2006 
marsh: we value you less than our previous owners did
locals know that marsh supermarkets are not only one of the largest (and arguably best) supermarket chains in the region, but marsh (and the marsh family) have historically been quite active in the community, sponsoring lots of community events, donating to charities, and so on. so it was obvious that when the marsh family sold their namesake company to sun capital partners, it would have a negative impact on central indiana.

the first shoe has dropped:

Marsh Supermarkets' new owner said today it plans to close 16 locations before Thanksgiving and will lay off or reassign 10 percent of the corporate staff.

The store locations were not immediately available, but those being closed include one Marsh Supermarket, seven LoBill stores, two O'Malia's Supermarkets, both Arthur's Fresh Markets and four Village Pantries. Seven of the stores are in the Indianapolis area, according to Frank Lazaran, the new chief executive officer of Marsh.

Lazaran said the stores are being closed because they didn't meet the performance expectations of Marsh's new owner, Florida-based Sun Capital Partners.

After the closures, the company will operate 66 Marsh Supermarkets, 24 LoBills, four O'Malia's and 144 Village Pantries.

the indy star site says this story will be updated, so maybe by the end of the day we'll know which stores are being closed. but until then, we can speculate.

in the star's talkback section, the people of new palestine are understandably upset that their arthur's market is closing, as they don't have many grocery options around those parts. only one actual "marsh" store is being closed, which could be anywhere. and the same goes for the village pantries: those things are so ubiquitous, it's hard to guess which branches might be shuttered.

but which o'malia's locations? sun would have to be crazy to close the one downtown, as there are only two supermarkets anywhere close to downtown... and as much as i dislike that downtown o'malia's, it's still cleaner & nicer than the downtown kroger. i'd suggest closing the one at 86th & township line (which oddly isn't listed on the store locations page): there are lots of other grocers in the area, perhaps too many. i know i'll never go to that o'malia's when there is a marsh and a trader joe's in the same neighborhood.

update: commenters have already posted much of this info, but here it is from the updated star story:

In Indianapolis, the soon-to-be shuttered locations are Lo Bills at 3919 Madison Ave., 1107 N. Arlington Ave and 3737 E. Washington St; O'Malia's at 2342 W. 86th Street and 7405 W. 10th St. Also closing are the Arthurs in New Palestine and the LoBill in Danville.

Elsewhere in Indiana, Marsh will close the Marsh Supermarket in Winchester; One LoBill in Richmond and one in Greencastle; the Arthurs in Syracuse; two Village Pantry locations in Muncie and one each in Kokomo and Chesterfield. The LoBill in Greenville, Ohio, also will be shuttered.

After the closures, the company will operate 67 Marsh Supermarkets, 31 LoBills, six O'Malia's and 148 Village Pantries.

note the corrected numbers. it would seem the star initially made the same mistake i did: for example, i checked the o'malia's store locations page, saw six locations listed, and assumed two of them would close (leaving four). but in reality, there used to be eight o'malia's stores, and the two that are closing have already been removed from the website. i assume the same thing happened for the other stores, which would explain the updated numbers (67 marsh - 1 = 66; 31 lobills - 7 = 24; 148 VPs - 4 = 144).

as i said, i won't miss the o'malia's on west 86th (at township line). there is a kroger across the street, a trader joe's a few blocks down, and a marsh a few blocks away in the other direction. that's actually in my new neighborhood, but there is a glut of grocers in the area, so i won't even notice the loss of o'malia's... unless the space sits there unoccupied and deteriorating, like the old atlas location (though i hear a new store will finally go up there next year), or, even worse, like the ghost o'malia's on north college near 106th... that place is either an eyesore or a beautiful example of urban/suburban decay (depending on whether you enjoy urban decay).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 
bush bans enemies from building orbiting death stations
if anyone's gonna build a death star, it's gonna be us, dammit!

President Bush has signed an order asserting the United States' right to deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes.

Bush also said the United States would oppose the development of treaties or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space.

of course, this doesn't mean bush actually wants to build a death star (yet):

The White House said the policy does not call for the development or deployment of weapons in space.

that's a relief! but what i don't get is, even if the technology to create enormous space-borne weapons existed (and if it did, you can bet the US would be the first to develop it), does bush really think that future mad scientists would seek our permission before building their orbiting death rays? (via shakespeare's sister)

not till i'm 18: foley had sex with "barely legal" pages
via tpm muckraker and abc's brian ross, the latest on the fbi's investigation of mark foley:

After interviewing some 40 former congressional pages, FBI agents have yet to turn up any evidence of direct sexual contact between underage pages and former Congressman Mark Foley.

Instead, according to law enforcement officials and several former pages, a pattern is emerging of seduction by Foley that began when the boys were 16 and 17. In cases where actual sex followed, it was not until the boys were at the legal age of 18.

"He spotted me when I was a page and set the hook while I was still in high school," one former page told ABC News. "He didn't reel me in until he showed up at my college campus on a congressional visit. We had sex," said the page, who has been interviewed by the FBI.

(of course, this is pretty much what i said two weeks ago:

now we know what foley's attorney meant when he said foley "never attempted to have sexual contact with a minor"—foley sexed them up online while they were underage, but waited until they were 18 before he actually had sex with them. still illegal, but not as illegal as sexual contact when they were still 16 or 17.

but i hate it when bloggers say things like "the fbi agrees with me that...", as if the fbi gives a toss what some jackass blogger says.)

but even if foley always waited until the pages were "legal" before physically getting jiggy with them, foley could still be indicted for all that cybersex he had while the pages were still underage:

Former prosecutors and FBI agents who have worked on similar cases say, depending on the prosecutor, the instant messages contain more than enough material to bring a charge of soliciting sex over the Internet.

"I know some that would have him arrested tomorrow, and there are others who would seek actual contact," said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, now an ABC News consultant.

meanwhile, DoJ and the house ethics committee are now investigating allegations about a second republican congressman, jim kolbe of arizona:

The House committee looking into allegations that former congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) had improper contact with male former pages has been asked by lawmakers overseeing the page program to look into allegations involving a second lawmaker, House sources said yesterday.

Members of the Page Board sought the review after news reports last week that the Justice Department had opened a preliminary inquiry into a camping trip that Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) took with male former pages in 1996.

... The Washington Post has learned of a potentially inappropriate incident involving Kolbe and a male page. The man recently told the House clerk's office and the FBI about an encounter with the Arizona Republican that occurred about five years ago when he was 16, according to someone familiar with the man's account. The page told authorities that he was "uncomfortable with a particular social encounter" that involved physical contact when he and Kolbe were alone, the source said yesterday.

The event that captured the Page Board's attention was a camping trip that Kolbe took with two former pages and others in 1996, an outing first reported by NBC News and now under review by the Justice Department. One law enforcement official cautioned that the inquiry is based on allegations from an unidentified source that have not been substantiated. The allegations involve Kolbe's behavior toward one of the former pages, the official said.

there's lots of juicy detail in the full washington post article; if i quoted all the intriguing bits i would end up quoting half if not two thirds of the article.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 
peppered: when flacks collide
tdw links to an interesting story in the post-tribune about hunting at lake michigan. apparently hunting season began this past weekend, and already innocent park visitors have started getting "peppered" with buckshot:

Hunting season officially started this weekend and while those who practice the sport were grabbing their guns and heading to the fields with smiles on their faces, others were reaping the fallout of Indiana's relatively loose hunting regulations.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources allows hunting along Lake Michigan shorelines, unlike Illinois where shoreline hunting is against the law, said Carolyn Marsh of the Lake Michigan Calumet Advisory Council.

Marsh is against the practice in areas that tend to be populated by people, and has urged Gov. Mitch Daniels to take action for safety reasons.

But Gene Davis, conservation officer with the DNR, said there aren't safety problems, even in areas that may be populated by people, because the gun pellets don't typically pose a threat to safety.

"The people were at no risk of being injured, because when the shot pellets fall down, they don't have any more energy left in them," said Davis, who wasn't aware of Sunday's incident.

tdw notes the absurdity of gene davis's claim that falling pellets pose no risk of injury: even if this were true, getting hit by falling buckshot is surely not a pleasant experience. "it felt like hail," one of the victims said of the experience. maybe moutain dew-chugging "extreme sports" enthusiasts would jump at the chance to dance in a pellet rain, but the average person would not.

perhaps a physics lesson is in order. i took physics during last period of my senior year in high school, a class that was completely overcome by senioritis, so correct me if i'm wrong here, but i'd think the standard laws of gravity would disagree with davis. from wikipedia:

Every planetary body, including the Earth, is surrounded by its own gravitational field, which exerts an attractive force on any object that comes under its influence. This field is proportional to the body's mass and varies inversely with the square of distance from the body. The gravitational field is numerically equal to the acceleration of objects under its influence, and its value at the Earth's surface, denoted g, is approximately 9.81 m/s2 or 32.2 ft/s2. This means that, ignoring air resistance, an object falling freely near the earth's surface increases in speed by 9.81 m/s (around 22 mph) for each second of its descent. Thus, an object starting from rest will attain a speed of 9.81 m/s after one second, 19.62 m/s after two seconds, and so on.

in other words, if you shoot your buckshot 32 feet into the air, it will come back down at "around 22 mph". if you shoot 64' into the air, it'll come down at around 44mph, and so on. maybe not enough to kill you, but surely enough to take out an eye or bruise your children. and i've never been hunting (no desire), but i don't imagine it's too uncommon to shoot 64 feet or more into the air.

but what's really funny is that marion county prosecutor carl brizzi said virtually the opposite last week when trying to persuade the press why his prosecution of indiana pacer stephen jackson wasn't just grandstanding:

Carl Brizzi charged Fingers' cousin, Deon "Dino" Willford, with battery, failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident and operating a vehicle without a license. But what bothered the prosecutor even more is when Jackson kept shooting his 9 millimeter with a parking lot full of people.

"Those bullets go up and have to come down at least at 90 miles per hour and they do have the ability to take someone's life," Brizzi said.

so stephen jackson firing into the air could take someone's life, but hundreds of hunters firing repeatedly into the air for weeks or months won't cause so much as a minor injury?

to be fair, jackson's 9mm bullets are larger than buckshot pellets, and jackson was firing straight up rather than at an angle, so his bullets went up higher and thus would come down faster. but the basic physics are the same, and bits of metal falling from the sky can most assuredly hurt you.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 
when i heard that the indy star was endorsing julia carson—giving her one of the most unenthusiastic endorsements i've read—i knew i needed to check in on what gary welsh had to say at advance indiana. gary has been frothing at the mouth about his hatred of julia for weeks on end, and i knew that the star's endorsement would have sent him off the deep end if he hadn't actually gone over the edge some time ago.

gary wastes no time attacking the star ed board:

Defying all logic, the Indianapolis Star editorial board proved to its readers just how incompetent and unreliable it has been on the subject of the 7th District congressional race.

and he quickly makes the argument personal:

You're a real riot Alice. As he has all too well demonstrated in his comments on this blog, editorial board member RiShawn Biddle can't keep his facts straight from something that happened 15 days ago, let alone 15 years ago. Hell, Bill Clinton said he "smoked [pot] but didn't inhale", and he still got elected president. And George W. Bush didn't remember a 24-year-old DUI arrest until he was reminded of it the weekend before he was elected president.

This is only a conclusion which could be reached by a group of completely out-of-touch eggheads who think they know better than the rest of us but don't have the collective common sense of an impulsive teenager. The Star speaks a totally different language than its readers. The newspaper and its readers are like two ships passing in the night. The newspaper's profits and readership will continue to plummet and deservedly so.

i like the moral equivalence between clinton and dickerson... because apparently smoking a joint is just as bad as biting your teenage daughter or trying to gouge your wife's eyes out.

rishawn, however, has grown tired of gary's nonsense, and hits back on expresso:

Today, we look at the congressional races, including the nastiness in the 7th district involving incumbent Julia Carson and Republican Eric Dickerson. As expected, some are already unhappy with the decision we made on this race. Yours truly would note the response of one commentator -- who called us "out of touch eggheads." But given his unreasonable statements of late -- including a continued insinuation of an event involving one of the candidates that didn't happen -- doing so would give his comments more creedence than they deserve. Nor will the endorsement in the 5th district, home to Dan Burton, will be any better received.

bodyslam! rishawn calls out gary for being full of crap and spreading false information even after it's been repeatedly debunked... right there on gary's blog.

the particular incident rishawn is referring to (though hardly the only one of its kind) came to a head last week. gary's favorite piece of misinformation about julia is that she "personally" gave a copy of the police report detailing eric dickerson's arrest to the star ed board. this is not even remotely true, and eventually rishawn commented to point out its falsehood. after all, rishawn is on the star ed board and was present at the meeting in question, so if anyone knows what happened, he would.

an hour later, gary responded, and i want to quote his comment in full:

RiShawn, you need to go back and read Schneider's story. She reported the Star got the police report from a Carson volunteer. It was not until later that she discovered there was still a file in the prosecutor's office.

with this, gary has already demonstrated his original assertion to be false: at first he claims that julia herself handed over the police report. but when challenged, he goes back and says that "a carson volunteer" did it. so he's already basically proven himself wrong, but does that stop him from arguing? hell no!

rishawn patiently tried to explain, even reposting the entire star article in the comments. i won't repost the article, but his own comment is enlightening:

Again, that's not so. As Schneider clearly mentions in her story, posted below this message, she actually got the report from the Marion County Prosecutor. It also clearly states that a Carson volunteer obtained the copy -- and didn't give it to the Star.

Sorry Gary, but the record speaks for itself. Have a nice day.

you might think that would be enough, but if so, you haven't been reading advance indiana in the past few months. naturally, gary kept on arguing, and rishawn kept trying to explain reality to gary before finally giving up.

a valiant effort, rishawn, but when gary has made up his mind about something, no matter how removed from reality that might be, there is no reasoning with him.

prior restraint against video games
yet another attempt to censor a video game... this time it's a game that hasn't even been released yet.

A Florida judge has ordered the maker of "Grand Theft Auto" to hand over an unreleased video game set in a high school, a move that raises questions about the legal protections that games enjoy.

The judge is being asked to grant a partial injunction against sales of the forthcoming Take-Two Interactive Software game, called "Bully" and set at a fictional private school named Bullworth Academy. "Bully" is scheduled for release on Tuesday.

Ever since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1931, the law has said that injunctions placed on material before publication run afoul of constitutional protections of freedom of speech. In a subsequent 1971 ruling, for instance, the justices warned that such an injunction "constitutes an impermissible restraint on First Amendment rights."

in other words, one of the tenets of first amendment law is that prior restraint is unconstitutional.

Other courts that have recently considered state and municipal restrictions on video games have taken a dim view of those restrictive laws.

Probably the most influential opinion was written by libertarian-leaning judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down an Indianapolis law restricting minors' access to arcade games that might appeal to a "morbid" interest in violence.

"The common sense reaction to the Indianapolis ordinance could be overcome by social scientific evidence, but has not been," Posner wrote in 2001. "The ordinance curtails freedom of expression significantly and, on this record, without any offsetting justification."

i'd be shocked if the judge actually grants the injunction, but then again, i'm surprised that the judge even appears to be considering it.

update: as syntax pointed out in the comments, sanity prevailed and the judge allowed bully to be released. jack thompson, who in this case was the bully trying to beat up on take-two, subsequently flipped out.

Friday, October 13, 2006 
all the news that's fit to steal
ne'er-do-wells in evansville have absconded with 2,500 copies (nearly the entire print run) of USI's student paper the shield.

Campus officials said someone stole nearly 2,500 copies of the University of Southern Indiana's student newspaper, an edition that featured a photograph of two women in bed, one of them nude.

Journalism instructor Patricia Ferrier, who is faculty adviser to student publications, said almost all copies of The Shield were taken from newspaper racks some time after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Another 2,500 copies of the edition were printed Thursday, and Ferrier said there were plans for increased campus security near newspaper racks. Ferrier said the student publications committee will decide whether to contact the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department about the theft.

Julia Hunter, managing editor of The Shield, said whoever stole the newspapers brought more attention to the picture than it would have received otherwise.

"I think their purpose was censorship, and they did themselves a disservice because this is a much bigger issue now," she said.

to be sure, i never would've heard about this nude photo if some jerk hadn't stolen all those newspapers. so what was this photo?

The edition included a photograph of two women together on a bed as part of a story about the controversy the picture created when it was published in a campus magazine. After the picture ran in the magazine, a group of college Republicans issued a statement condemning it as "soft-core porn" and noting that the magazine's funding is partially comprised of student fees.

the shield itself (reg. req'd) also has an article about the disappearance. if you register (or you're 1337 enough), you can also read the the original shield article about the controversy.

so... right-wingers threw a fit about the photo appearing in an art publication. (nudes in art? what will they think of next?) they threw such a fit that the student newspaper did a story on it, which only fueled more attention. then someone (let's face it, probably one of the prudes who was so angry about the photo in the first place) tries to suppress the news by stealing newspapers... which only draws yet more attention and news coverage in the associated press.

perhaps sensing that this approach of trying to overtly censor the photo wasn't working, USI's branch of the college republicans tried the reverse approach. they were apparently so disgusted by the photo that they scanned it and posted it to their website, thereby helping spread the hot lesbian action by ensuring that any hornball like me who hears about the story can see the photo, no matter how far from evansville we might live. thanks for the face full of titties, CR. i (and my readers) wouldn't have gotten to see them titties without you.

pirates of the internet - rapper's despair
a few years back, avon sold an easter toy called "hip hop harry", a white rabbit with a backwards hat. the thing was so ridiculously... white that i was compelled to create a parody that was eventually included in the liner art of the free speech for sale compilation (still available for free download). so when i saw a new children's tv show called hip hop harry, i had to check it out just to see whether it was the same character.

naturally, it wasn't. this new hip hop harry (check your local cable listings) is a bear. he looks kind of like winnie the pooh in a kangol hat. his show is pretty much what you'd expect: a costumed character hangs out with kids, singing and dancing (though in case rapping instead of singing), passing on educational lessons and what not.

what i didn't expect was that hip hop harry would have flow. sure, he's rhyming about topics like nutrition and why "i love to learn", so you won't hear him on mtv anytime soon, but harry's actually not a bad rapper. and some of the kids can really dance, too!

so here's a new video, with hip hop harry and friends set to new music by the pirates of the internet. this song has been sitting around for a couple years, but for whatever reason i never posted an mp3.


Thursday, October 12, 2006 
did rove coerce foley into running?
according to a a report in the new republic, mark foley was ready to step down from congress and transition to a career as a lobbyist earlier this year, but karl rove wouldn't have it:

According to the source, Foley said he was being pressured by "the White House and Rove gang," who insisted that Foley run. If he didn't, Foley was told, it might impact his lobbying career.

"He said, 'The White House made it very clear I have to run,'" explains Foley's friend, adding that Foley told him that the White House promised that if Foley served for two more years it would "enhance his success" as a lobbyist. "I said, 'I thought you wanted out of this?' And he said, 'I do, but they're scared of losing the House and the thought of two years of Congressional hearings, so I have two more years of duty.'"

if true, things didn't work out the way rove had hoped.

bad news for johnny ho and the count?
congressional quarterly has been watching the polls, and has bad news for indiana representatives john hostettler and chris "the count" chocola:

Democratic strategists for years have targeted six-term Republican Rep. John Hostettler for defeat without success, though they at times have come relatively close. But Hostettler — one of the most unorthodox and idiosyncratic campaigners in all of Congress, faces his most serious challenge yet, from Democrat Brad Ellsworth, the sheriff of the most populous jurisdiction in southwest Indiana’s 8th District.

So dire is the threat that Hostettler, with fewer than four weeks to go in the campaign, now appears the underdog. As such, has changed its rating on the race to Leans Democratic from No Clear Favorite.

The rugged national political environment for Republicans in general — and a well-funded attack campaign from Democratic and liberal groups — are the chief reasons why two-term Republican Rep. Chris Chocola of Indiana's 2nd District faces a tougher race in his rematch with Democratic lawyer Joe Donnelly than he did in their first faceoff two years ago. has moved its rating on the Indiana 2 race to No Clear Favorite from Leans Republican.

and in the "it shouldn't need to be said" category, only the delusional commenters at advance indiana think eric dickerson has a real chance of defeating julia carson in the 7th: does not presently rate any other Indiana district as highly competitive. Indiana’s 7th District, which is a Democratic-leaning area based in Indianapolis, is rated as Democrat Favored only because Democratic Rep. Julia Carson has a history of underperforming in her contests. She is heavily favored against Republican nominee Eric Dickerson, a car dealer.

update: kos points to this south bend tribune article about conflicting polls in the chocola/donnelly race. a DCCC poll has donnelly up 52-36, while chocola's personal poll only has donnelly up 44.7-44.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 
the carrier finally steps forward
hipsters will already be familiar with the term "weed carrier" (popularized by the salute to weed carriers blog): a member of a famous person's posse whose primary job is to carry the drugs, so that, in the event of trouble, the carrier gets arrested, shielding the celebrity (a.k.a. "weed owner") from any legal problems.

(for the hopelessly white, on hbo's entourage, turtle is the weed carrier.)

last weekend, four members of the indiana pacers got into a scuffle outside a strip club on the west side. pacer stephen jackson reportedly fired five rounds from a handgun (presumably into the air), but the other guy got him good, apparently hitting jackson with a car. all things considered, jackson seems to be in pretty good shape for a man who got run over just a few days ago.

aside from the shame of four pro athletes being at a strip club at 3am during training season (plus having and firing off handguns), attention has circled around a bag containing "a small amount of marijuana" that police found in the car of pacer jamaal tinsley. police apparently tested the sack for fingerprints, and finding none, announced that they would run DNA tests on the bag:

The DNA test will cost taxpayers $800, said Mike Medler, director Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency.

Such tests are commonly requested when officers seize large quantities of drugs, but experts say it is very rare for authorities to look for DNA in a misdemeanor case.

Officials did not say why the DNA test was ordered in this case.

as TDW pointed out, surely police have better things to do than run DNA tests on every little bag of herb they come across. fortunately, it looks like they won't have to complete the test. in the middle of the latest star story about how files are being charged against jackson was this tidbit:

Ramel Mattox, 29, is charged with possession of marijuana. Police found a bag of the drug in Tinsley's car as he was leaving the club. Mattox, a friend of Tinsley, said the marijuana was his, according to police.

so why did it take mattox almost a week to come forward? a weed carrier's job is to take the fall, which mattox should've done days ago, rather than let the issue sit unresolved for days.

Monday, October 09, 2006 
google buys youtube for $1.65 billion
this would seem to ensure youtube's survival, at least in the short term. i hope google doesn't screw up youtube (though i have no reason to believe they would).

Google Inc. is snapping up YouTube Inc. for $1.65 billion in a deal that catapults the Internet search leader to a starring role in the online video revolution.

The all-stock deal announced Monday unites one of the Internet's marquee companies with one of its rapidly rising stars. It came just hours after YouTube unveiled three agreements with media companies in an apparent bid to escape the threat of copyright-infringement lawsuits.

The price makes YouTube, a still-unprofitable startup, by far the most expensive purchase made by Google during its eight-year history.

Although some cynics have questioned YouTube's staying power, Google is betting that the popular Web site will provide it an increasingly lucrative marketing hub as more viewers and advertisers migrate from television to the Internet.

Sunday, October 08, 2006 
ground zero:
astute readers and AWIA fans might be aware that my friend bobby vomit, in addition to being a noise musician, is also a talented tattoo artist. i just finished designing and developing a new website for ground zero, the tattoo & piercing shop in muncie where he works. it's possibly my best design yet.

three tattoo artists and one piercing artist work at the shop. each artist has his own blog on the site (here is bobby vomit's) to highlight his work.

the site runs on blogger and flickr. in fact, one of the main reasons i signed up with flickr when i did was because i wanted to play around with flickr badges, which i knew would come in handy for this website. i'm extremely proud of my design for this site, but i'm particularly pleased with the badges.

take a look. and if you're in need of a tattoo or a piercing, consider going to ground zero in muncie. if i ever commit to a tattoo, i know that's where i'm going.

Friday, October 06, 2006 
three more come forward
abc news has spoken to three more congressional pages who foley tried to cyber.

page #1:

"I was seventeen years old and just returned to [my home state] when Foley began to e-mail me, asking if I had ever seen my page roommates naked and how big their penises were," said the page in the 2002 class.

The former page also said Foley told him that if he happened to be in Washington, D.C., he could stay at Foley's home if he "would engage in oral sex" with Foley.

yikes. here's page #2:

The second page who talked with ABC News, a graduate of the 2000 page class, says Foley actually visited the old page dorm and offered rides to events in his BMW.

"His e-mails developed into sexually explicit conversations, and he asked me for photographs of my erect penis," the former page said.

The page said Foley maintained e-mail contact with him even after he started college and arranged a sexual liaison after the page had turned 18.

i had to bold that last part: not only did foley allegedly "groom" this page, but apparently they had sex after he turned 18. now we know what foley's attorney meant when he said foley "never attempted to have sexual contact with a minor"—foley sexed them up online while they were underage, but waited until they were 18 before he actually had sex with them. still illegal, but not as illegal as sexual contact when they were still 16 or 17.

here's page #3:

The third page interviewed by ABC News, a graduate of the 1998 page class, said Foley's instant messages began while he was a senior in high school.

"Foley would say he was sitting in his boxers and ask what I was wearing," the page said.

"It became more weird, and I stopped responding," the page said.

All three pages described similar instant message and e-mail patterns, with remarkably similar escalations of provocative questions.

"He didn't want to talk about politics," the page said. "He wanted to talk about sex or my penis," the page said.

Thursday, October 05, 2006 
hastert: self-preservation that just won't quit
dennis hastert finally came out of hiding, but he still refuses to resign his post as speaker of the house. amusingly (considering my shorter foley post yesterday), he now says "the buck stops here". even abc news notes that this is pretty much the opposite of what he's said before today:

The House ethics committee opened an expansive investigation into the unfolding page sex scandal Thursday by approving four dozen subpoenas for witnesses and documents, as the House Republican leader held his ground against pressure to resign.

"I'm deeply sorry this has happened and the bottom line is we're taking responsibility," Hastert said at a news conference outside his district office in Batavia, Ill.

"Ultimately, the buck stops here," the speaker said.

Hastert was abruptly changing the tactics he has followed since the scandal broke last week. As recently as Wednesday, he blamed Democrats for the scandal and insisted he had done nothing wrong.

tpm muckraker has the video of the press conference, and also notes:

The House Speaker used his responses to reporters' questions to reiterate GOP successes at the end of this congressional session; take a shot at former GOP aide Kirk Fordham, who says he told Hastert's staff in 2003 about Foley's problems; and insinuate that the Democrats had created the scandal because they didn't have a message to win the elections.

even when "taking responsibility", hastert can't help but try to blame the democrats. (unfortunately for him, the whistleblower was a republican.)

according to fox news, the longer hastert remains speaker, the worse things get for republicans:

House Republican candidates will suffer massive losses if House Speaker Dennis Hastert remains speaker until Election Day, according to internal polling data from a prominent GOP pollster, FOX News has learned.

"The data suggests Americans have bailed on the speaker," a Republican source briefed on the polling data told FOX News. "And the difference could be between a 20-seat loss and 50-seat loss."

Most GOP lawmakers have stood by Hastert, pending a full airing of the facts in his handling of the Mark Foley affair, in which the former Florida representative was caught exchanging salacious messages with teen pages in Congress. The new polling data, however, suggests that many voters already have made up their minds.

as glenn greenwald explains (see update V), things went from bad to worse after the resignation of foley's former chief-of-staff, kirk fordham. fordham at first appeared to want to keep things quiet, but after his fellow republicans immediately tried to make him into a scapegoat, fordham seemingly had a change of heart:

I intend to fully cooperate with any and every investigation of Mr. Foley's conduct. At the same time, I will fully disclose to the FBI and the House Ethics Committee any and all meetings and phone calls I had with senior staffers in the House Leadership about any of Foley's inappropriate activities.

The fact is, even prior to the existence of the Foley email exchanges I had more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest levels of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene when I was informed of Mr. Foley's inappropriate behavior.

One of these staffers is still employed by a Senior House Republican Leader.

Rather than trying to shift the blame on me, those who are employed by these House Leaders should acknowledge what they know about their action or inaction in response to the information they knew about Mr. Foley prior to 2005.

josh marshall has more on fordham.

meanwhile, apparently abc apparently made a redaction mistake (corrected as soon as abc discovered it), which an obscure right-wing blogger used to discover and, unconscionably, publish the identity of one of foley's victims. i won't link to that; i didn't even want to know the victim's name, though it's difficult to avoid by now (my link is to think progress, which also refuses to link, so it should be safe to click). but high-profile right-wingers like instapundit eagerly linked, spreading the victim's name far and wide. as michelle malkin notes, the victim's name is now one of technorati's top search terms. (and seriously, when michelle malkin thinks her fellow republicans have gone too far, they have gone way, way too far.)

this story is developing so quickly that it's hard to keep track of it all, let alone actually write about everything. for the latest, i'd recommend checking tpm muckraker as well as abc's the blotter (which broke the story).

steph mineart is a proud gay woman who blogs at indyscribe as well as her own blog, commonplacebook. (she's also an extremist liberal if you believe gary welsh, though these days getting insulted by gary is like a badge of honor.)

a few weeks back, steph posted on indyscribe about a new law-enforcement-themed blog called indy undercover, which is purportedly written by a law enforcement officer. after examining the blog further, she came back to post an update:

UPDATE: After reading a good chunk of both the site posts and the comments from others, I'm dismayed at some of the virulently racist and homophobic attitudes expressed in both. The site goes beyond partisan politics and far into libelous territory.

Most people have the common sense not to blog about their jobs. No matter what the on the job circumstances, blogging about them doesn't help the employee, and it doesn't help the employer; it universally makes the issues worse. In this case, it's certainly not helping the city, the crime rates, or the taxpayers, either. If these were my employees, they wouldn't be for long.

she got a few comments, the first couple agreeing with her, and that seemed to be about it... until this week, when someone from indyu found out about her post, linking to it and flooding it with new comments from indyu loyalists. i'll let you read the comments to decide whether steph was "owned".

but then a funny thing happened. racist and homophobic comments started turning up on indyu, right there underneath the post claiming that indyu was not racist or homophobic... which is pretty much a textbook definition of irony. first some anonymous indyu commenter called steph the D-word, and then a couple screens down, another anonymous person posted a comment mocking sheriff steve anderson (who is black), pretending to be anderson and typing in the most absurd (and offensive) parody of the "black dialect" i've seen in some time. i took screenshots of these comments for posterity, in case "joe friday" wises up and deletes them: here's the D-word comment and here's the racist comment.

how big a homophobe do you have to be to respond to allegations of homophobia with a homophobic slur?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 
it only costs a dollar for a double cheeseburger sandwich
naptown rap has been blowing up lately. rhymefest, who won a grammy for co-writing kanye west's smash "jesus walks", dropped a new album this summer, which was subsequently ignored by local radio—you're more likely to hear rhymefest's PSA on 96.3 than you are to hear an actual rhymefest track.

meanwhile, trillogy got signed not long ago, "super clean" by locals young true & rokstar a.k.a. nappyville has been in extremely heavy rotation, and hoosya boyz have also been getting some play for their track "lollipop", a song about fellatio that samples the chordettes song of the same name.

of course, if you're plugged into indianapolis hip-hop, you already knew all that. but did you know about carlos loco?

carlos loco is a noblesville rapper who has written perhaps the most entertaining rap song about mcdonald's ever (except possibly "holla, mcdonald's big n' tasty burger is a dolla"). it's called "i love mcdonald's" and i don't think it's meant to be ironic... but who can tell these days?

his website,, currently points to his myspace page, with only the one song up. but he also has a soundclick page, where you can hear other songs, including an alternate version (called "come see me at mickey dee's") and a song about 9/11.

but what i really want to hear is his song "noblesville, indiana". his ringtones site (yes, he's selling ringtones) has a teaser, but i want to hear the whole song.

hat tip: this IMN post by landlocked music

update: it turns out that while carlos used to live in noblesville, he recently moved to bloomington. my bad, but an easy mistake to make.

also, nuvo's myspace blog has this carlos press release from january:

Noblesville,Indiana--January 19,2006 As an employee of McDonald's, Carlos Thomas was shocked to read in a March 28, 2005 edition of USA Today's Money section that McDonalds Corporation consulted an entertainment marketing firm to get brand name rappers to plug the Big Mac sandwich within the lyrical content of their upcoming songs. The newspaper article motivated Carlos, who himself is an aspiring rap artist that goes by the moniker Carlos Loco to break out his ink pen and tablet to create. Inspired by a Ray Kroc(McDonald's Founder) quote "The success of McDonald's depends on innovation from within" unquote had Carlos soul searching looking within the Golden Arches of McDonald's for his subject matter. What was soon to transpire is the beautiful, powerfully written lyrics of the song that Carlos respectfully titled "I LOVE MCDONALDS"

"My first job was at McDonald's..." recalls Carlos candidly.

Born and raised poverty stricken in Detroit,Michigan; Carlos is the second oldest child of his mothers eight children. Due to neglect and abuse he and his siblings were awarded to the custody of The State of Michigan, each child ushered into foster homes and group homes across Detroit. Confused and somewhat discouraged but determined to win inspite of his circumstances had Carlos searching and applying for employment as early as nine years of age. Told that he was too young and would need to apply for a job years later is what Carlos did. Securing his first job at McDonald's.

"Me working at McDonald's has been a life-long partnership. In urban communities such as Detroit McDonald's is such a staple providing employment right in your neighborhood. For a young guy like me having a place that I could work that was in walking distance was great because I was so poor. I wholeheartedly love and appreciate the skills and oppourtunity that McDonald's has given me."

"I LOVE MCDONALDS" is a great classic rap song versus being just classified as a commercial jingle. The song is a McDonald's Public Relations Dream come true that upsells McDonald's Food Products and uplifts McDonald's Company Morale all the while entertaining listeners and viewers of the songs performance. McDonald's has the opportunity to rightfully reclaim it's position as the forerunners of the marketing and advertising industries with this hit song. Worldwide, McDonald's can control the globe, spinning it like a strobe(light) as everyone dances to the new McDonald's Beat. The world deserves to see this super performer.

shorter foley scandal
since the mark foley story broke, new information has been coming out everywhere like a sexytime explosion. so much has happened in this story that the only way to cover it all is in "shorter" form:

shorter mark foley: i do not blame my attempts to sex up teenage pages on the fact that i myself was molested as a teen. i blame it on alcohol.

shorter john boehner: i'm 100% certain that i either did or did not tell denny hastert about foley's predilection for teenage boys.

shorter denny hastert: the buck doesn't stop here. in fact, the buck never came by here at all.

shorter tom reynolds: i see no reason why we can't have a frank, honest discussion about sex predators in a room full of preschoolers.

shorter kirk fordham: yes, i tried to supress publication of the explicit IMs, but i did it out of friendship.

shorter joe negron: "if you want to support the for mark foley." (this would seem to be a direct quote, but the current version of the story has been reworded slightly.)

shorter ben stein: my best friend is a gay man who loves young boys, so what's the big deal already?

shorter matt drudge: something needs to be done to protect our poor, defenseless congressmen from the beastly advances of predators like those 16-year-old pages.

in the tradition of the "shorter" meme (popularized by blogs like sadly, no and busy busy busy):

shorter rishawn biddle: the city of indianapolis sucks much harder than it used to before i moved here.

shorter advance indiana: while i can't prove that julia carson is an evil mastermind who controls everything in the city, circumstantial evidence shows it to be true.

shorter dennis ryerson: we at the star hope to increase readership by eliminating the middleman: we'll just have our readers write the paper, too.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 
lichen, bacteria mats, and a big ball of twine

DSCF0274, originally uploaded by stallio.

in the late summer of 2005, virago moved to indianapolis from san francisco. in order to get all her stuff to indy, she and her father packed up the car and drove cross-country. they took a scenic route, stopping at several national landmarks along the way, including mount rushmore, yellowstone national park, and even the biggest ball o' twine in minnesota.

during the trip, virago took more than 200 photographs. originally, she hoped to get those photos online last fall, but you know how these things go. still, there were some great photos in there, and i didn't want them to get lost. (also, some of them would be great source material for databending and glitch art. indeed, syntax already bent this photo of the twine ball after seeing it in my flickr badge.)

so this weekend i uploaded them all to flickr. view the whole set here, all 240 photos.

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