now listening
shared items
...more shared items

11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003

12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004

01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004

02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004

03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004

04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004

05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004

06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004

07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004

08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004

09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004

10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004

11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004

12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005

01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005

02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005

03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005

04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005

05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005

06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005

07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005

08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005

09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005

10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005

11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005

12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006

01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006

02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006

03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006

04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006

05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006

06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006

07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006

08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006

09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006

10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006

11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006

12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007

01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007

02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007

03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007

04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007

05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007

06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007

07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007

08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007

09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007

10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007

11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007

12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008

01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008

02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008

03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008

04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008

05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008

06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008

07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008

08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008

09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008

10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008

11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008

12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009

01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009

02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009

03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009

04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009

05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009

06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009

07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009

08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009

09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009

10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009

11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009

12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010

01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010

02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010

03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010

Thursday, July 31, 2008 
ted stevens's indiana connection
you probably heard that sen. ted stevens of alaska has been indicted—the first sitting US senator to be indicted by a federal court in 20 years. stevens was notorious for "pork" spending (including the famous "bridge to nowhere") and for declaring that the internet is "a series of tubes".

but did you know where he was born? susan guyett knows!

Hoosiers in the news include U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. The longest-serving Republican senator was indicted this week on several felony counts of accepting unreported gifts amounting to more than a quarter-million dollars. Stevens was born in Indianapolis in 1923 and was an Indianapolis Times delivery boy in the 1930s.

welfare privatization halted
governor daniels loves talking about how he balanced the state budget, but he really only has a couple budget-balancing tricks in his toolbox. his favorite is surely privatization, in accordance with his belief in running government like a business. there's only one problem with that: government is not a business and shouldn't be run like one.

last month, the state halted the rollout of one of its more controversial privatization programs (though they're all controversial): the privatization of the FSSA, the people who administer the state's welfare program. at the time, they claimed that they had to halt the rollout because they were so busy helping flooding victims. but now we learn the truth—the federal government made them stop:

The problem centers on the performance of a team of vendors led by IBM Corp. and Affiliated Computer Services, which last year won a $1.16 billion, 10-year contract with the Family and Social Services Administration to process applications for Medicaid, food stamps and other welfare benefits received by nearly one in six Hoosiers.

The effort has in many cases replaced face-to-face interviews for welfare assistance with call centers and computers, creating an obstacle for people without easy access to those technologies, said Glenn Cardwell, a former Vigo County state welfare director who is among the more vocal critics of the new system.

naturally, the people most likely to need welfare assistance are those who are least likely to have computers with internet access or lots of time to dick around on the phone. so how bad are things at FSSA now under mitch roob? this bad:

Roob said FSSA has a 60-day standard for approving food stamp applications rather than the 30-day standard followed by Food and Nutrition Services and most states.

FNS expects states to process 95 percent of food stamp applications within 30 days. Indiana's average is about 83 percent.

Beyond timeliness, advocates are concerned that the system is dumping people off welfare rolls.

State data show the number of people receiving food stamps has dropped more than 11 percent -- from 67,370 to 59,617 -- from May 2007 in the 12-county region centered where FSSA rolled out the changes in October.

Medicaid enrollment dropped by more than 4 percent -- from 86,574 to 82,874 -- in those counties.

In the state's remaining 80 counties -- which largely went unaffected by the welfare changes since they were rolled out -- Medicaid rolls grew from 735,703 to 755,623, or 2.7 percent, Cardwell said.

The privatization expanded to 27 counties in western and Southern Indiana on March 24. It reached 20 additional counties in northeastern and southwestern Indiana in May.

The Family and Social Services Administration's own numbers appear to indicate the volume of calls coming in is overwhelming the vendors.

Zach Main, director of FSSA's Division of Family Resources, released statistics last week showing 11.5 percent of callers to the vendors' 800 number abandoned their calls, or hung up, without completing them. Some were on hold more than 10 minutes.

The goal is to eventually reduce the abandonment rate to 7 percent, Main said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 
what does a city controller do, anyway?
because apparently "know what's going on with the budget" isn't in our city controller's job description. from today's indy star:

[City Controller David] Reynolds said he was surprised to find out that last year's county income tax increase -- to 1.65 percent from 1 percent -- did not set aside money for police and fire pensions. The General Assembly earlier this year agreed to assume those pension costs. But Peterson had promoted the tax increase to the public partly as a way to pay for the pensions. Instead, Reynolds said, the extra money went to public safety operations.

he was surprised, huh? that's funny, because i've known since november!

Bond Buyer reports that "Indianapolis' planned $460 million pension obligation bond issue, a key piece of Mayor Bart Peterson's plan to shore up the city's finances, is up in the air following his surprise defeat last week at the hands of Greg Ballard, who campaigned on promises to hold down debt and eliminate property taxes. With Peterson out at the end of the year, the pension obligation bond is one of several projects and financial plans that have come under renewed scrutiny. As a result, officials have yet to decide whether they will move forward with the deal under the current administration or wait until Ballard takes office, said Barbara A. Lawrence, executive director of the Indianapolis Bond Bank. "It was our intent to move forward with the bond issue, and obviously that is still an option, but we are weighing our options given what happened in the election last week," Lawrence said. The bank — which would serve as the issuer for the pension deal — plans to decide by next week. While Lawrence left the door open to moving forward, it still requires city/county counci approval. If the deal is put off until Ballard takes office, it's uncertain whether the city would proceed as Ballard has said in published reports that he wants the state to assume the liability.

here's a little history lesson for mr. city controller. see, the deal was all set up and ready to go. then mayor peterson lost the election. ballard had made it clear that he didn't want the COIT increase money to go to the pensions. so, rather than bind his hands into a deal he didn't want, peterson officials decided to wait until ballard was in office and let him make the call. ballard, obviously, decided not to go through with the deal, and spent the money on public safety . later, during his embarrassingly ill-prepared state house testimony, carolene mays criticized ballard for not using the COIT money to pay for pensions and instead asking the state for a handout. (in the end, he lucked out and got the handout anyway.)

how is it that i, a lowly blogger, know all this stuff, but our city controller claims to be surprised? it seems like the kind of thing he should be aware of, and it wasn't exactly a secret.

higher up in the star story, we see that the city needs to borrow $154 million to cover expenses for 2008. apparently, the property tax reassessment ordered by governor daniels has led to a major revenue shortfall, forcing the city to borrow more than usual. thanks, mitch! then again, i'm sure everything will be fine once the mayor cuts all that "fluff" out of the budget, right?

Ballard on Monday declined to reveal any more details about how his budget will make up for lost property tax revenues or fulfill his campaign promise to cut $70 million in "fluff" in three years, aside from spending cuts of nearly $8 million so far this year.

oh... well, with quality help like city controller reynolds, i'm sure the mayor will find that pony fluff any day now.

Friday, July 25, 2008 
nuvo on panhandling
nuvo (or at least seems to be having issues, causing its weekly email update to go out on friday afternoon (two days after the paper edition). but at least i got the email, because otherwise i would've missed this story on the city's campaign against panhandling, which is excellent. it's much more in-depth than anything that's appeared in the star or IBJ, and actually includes some criticism of the project (gasp!).

here's a key criticism, which i don't think i've seen in print anywhere other than this blog:

Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, a coalition of social justice-based homeless advocacy groups in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles, opposes the donation box approach and the accompanying efforts to rid the streets of "undesirable" individuals.

"You can't replace the immediate needs of individuals by giving to bureaucracy," Boden believes.


"The idea that programs like these boxes and meters are a good way to help the homeless seems to suggest that the governments who propose them see homelessness as the individual's problem," says Boden, who was homeless himself for a while, and believes this approach to "helping" is "incredibly callous, discriminatory and classist."

One of the actual roots of this problem, according to Boden and many other homeless advocates, is decreasing funding for affordable housing.

"If you don't address the cause, whatever program you adopt isn’t going to have its desired effect," he said.

boden goes on to state that "these meter projects are really about pushing the homeless out of downtown areas", something i've been arguing for some time now. i'm sure the homeless advocates who are in favor of the program mean well and don't feel that way—as they insist in the article—but mayor ballard has stated explicitly that his primary motivation is "to get them out of Downtown so that citizens and visitors don't have to look at it".

here's another important bit:

Larry Zimmerman, an anthropology professor at IUPUI, has serious reservations about the boxes campaign. Since 2003, Zimmerman has been doing research on the archaeology of the homeless.


From his own research, Zimmerman has seen that in general many people who mean well fail to understand the complexity of the problem because they just have no idea of how the homeless really live.

Zimmerman and his research assistant Jessica Welch recently published an article based on their research, which examined the types of items homeless individuals often leave behind in their temporary shelters. A large number of toiletries are frequently found, most often donations from local churches.

"For the homeless not to have greasy hair or not to smell would make them easier to deal with," Zimmerman notes, "but the reality is that using hair conditioner isn't all that realistic when you don’t have water."

Similarly, their research found that while churches often bring the homeless canned food, they also rarely think to bring can openers and, as a result, much of the food ends up thrown away.

In much the same way that these types of well-intentioned donations reflect a lack of understanding of the practical daily needs of the homeless, Zimmerman and others worry that the boxes reflect a misunderstanding of homeless people who live their lives outside of the shelters and are being excluded from the money raised by the boxes campaign.

"The shelters are part of the solution but not the whole solution," Zimmerman says.

Demand frequently exceeds supply where shelters are concerned, particularly in bad weather. It is not rare for homeless individuals to be turned away from area shelters for lack of space. And with limited resources, those who need help the most are often unaware of social service providers or even the locations of shelters. Still others are unwilling to adopt the usually religious, often stringent, conditions attached to accepting help at a shelter.

"As often as not," according to Zimmerman and Welch, "people don't go to the service providers because that can involve certain 'costs' that they would rather avoid." These costs often include subtle forms of religious indoctrination that accompany accepting a bed at one of the shelters (all of the overnight shelters in Indianapolis are operated by religious groups). Other "costs" are the regimentation and rules that even secular centers may impose, that often "feel like jail."

i could quote more, but i've probably quoted too much already. just go read the article.

update: when i wrote that i hadn't seen these criticisms "in print anywhere other than this blog", perhaps i should've looked around a bit first. kelley curran made some of these points in the news tribune, as did dustin at a blog called on the margins, both from a christian perspective. and while the star's news coverage didn't include much criticism, dan carpenter did a column about the issue last month.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 
council coincidence, or cause and effect?
earlier today, republicans called for councilor paul bateman to resign his seat from the council ethics committee. bateman is affiliated with the russell foundation, which is being investigated for missing or misspent funds. bateman has denied any wrongdoing, but republicans claimed he was unfit to serve on the committee, and he diplomatically agreed and stepped down.

a few hours later, this happened:

Two members of a bipartisan City-County Council ethics committee today recommended City-County Councilman Monroe Gray be censured for failure to disclose his company's subcontracting work for a major city contractor.

Last year, the Marion County Ethics Board decided that the former council president violated ethics rules by answering "no" to a question on an economic interest statement asking whether he received compensation from any business entity doing business with the city.

As penalty, the board recommended he file an amended ethics form.

The council committee's report today suggests stronger action be taken.

do you think it's a coincidence that both these events happened on the same day? or did perhaps tom john deliberately force bateman off the committee in order to shift the partisan balance in preparation for today's 2-1 vote against monroe gray?

p.s. cue right-wing whining about how all democrats are corrupt scumbags in 3,2,1.

update: the updated version of the star censure story now mentions the fact that no democrats were present to vote:

Democrat Paul Bateman said Thursday that he would give up his seat on an ethics committee after news he is being investigated for his ties to a bankrupt charity. Democrat William Oliver did not show up.

that kind of hurts the bipartisanship of the panel, if there are no dems present. this seemingly important detail is buried in the final paragraph of the article.

2nd update: when i wrote "cue whining about how all democrats are corrupt scumbags", i wasn't expecting that whining to come from matt tully. but i suppose it's not so surprising, considering all his recent love letters to republicans, that he would start writing more hate mail to democrats. wake me up the next time tully writes something about a republican that's half as critical as this column, because that's when i'll know i'm dreaming.

astronaut claims UFOs are real
in a surprising radio interview, dr. ed mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, claims that extraterrestrials are real, have visited earth multiple times since WWII, and the truth about it all has been covered up... though he suspects the truth will begin to come out soon.

generally, radio interviews about UFOs are a dime a dozen, but this one is striking considering the highly respected source—dr. mitchell holds the record for longest moonwalk. in the interview, mitchell claims to have been "briefed" about the existence of alien visitors and to have worked closely with scientists who have first-hand knowledge of the subject.

the radio producers later contacted NASA, which issued a statement denying involvement in "any sort of cover up".

there's no way to really know whether dr. mitchell speaks the truth, whether he's simply mistaken or delusional, or whether it's all some sort of hoax (and if so, whether he's in on it). the laws of probability suggest that intelligent life must be out there somewhere, but stating that aliens have been to earth—and their visits have been covered up—is the type of claim that usually gets you branded a crackpot.

you can listen to the interview here. at the very least, it should make for good sample material.

update: this is not the first time dr. mitchell has spoken on the existence of UFOs, though this interview may contain his boldest statements yet on the topic.

also, his wikipedia entry and official bios suggest an interest in other paranormal subjects.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 
maybe this is why the RNC is out-raising the DNC
the RNC has apparently taken to guilt-tripping former donors into giving:

Dear Ms. Luidhardt,

I don't want to believe that you've abandoned the Republican Party, but I have to ask... Have you given up?

Our records show that we have not yet received your Republican National Committee membership renewal for the critical 2008 presidential election year.

As the Treasurer of the RNC, I know our Party's success depends directly on grassroots leaders like you.

So I am surprised and concerned especially because I know how generously you supported President Bush and the RNC in the past. You helped to advance our vision for America and elect Republicans at all levels of government.

Ms. Luidhardt, I know other things come up, and perhaps you've just been delayed in renewing your membership. If that's the case, I understand.

But we've not heard from you this year - - and I hope you haven't deserted our Party.

nice country you got there. it would be a shame if democrats got elected and ruined it! OMG obama is so scary! donate now!

this letter reeks of desperation. i'm not an expert in fundraising—that's my fiancée's bag—but i suspect that badgering your prospects and insinuating that they're a bunch of traitorous quitters probably isn't the best way to win their loyalty.

(h/t bilerico, where alex was nice enough to type out the email, making it easier to cut-and-paste.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 
shorter gary welsh
shorter gary welsh: you should totally believe what you read in tabloids like the national enquirer. enquiring minds want to know!

Sunday, July 20, 2008 
you can take the man out of middle management, but you can't take the middle management out of the man
there's a profile of mayor ballard by brendan o'shaughnessy in today's star. the piece is somewhat balanced in that newspapery way, in the sense that it tends to alternate between praise and criticism. but it still includes a couple misconceptions i'd like to address.

the thrust of the piece is that ballard acts more like a middle-manager than an executive-style leader, and some of his supporters actually claim to like that. (we'll see if they're singing the same tune in a couple years.) so, instead of holding press conferences or doing stereotypical "mayor" stuff, the new mayor is more likely to give a four-hour presentation to a bunch of police sergeants about management (based on his book, natch). while the article does offer the suggestion that doing such motivational speeches might be a waste of the mayor's precious time, it neglects mention that the presentation sounds a bit crap. (on the contrary, the article states that ballard "was speaking with the command and confidence of an expert", something i've sure never seen—every time i see him on tv he comes off like a doofus. then again, this is a presentation he's given dozens of times before, so he's had years to practice the material.)

the article is notable for a few reasons: for one, it contains on-record quotes critical of the mayor from the county GOP chairman, tom john, which is surprising, though why john chose to attack over those particular issues is puzzling. also, it mentions ballard's idea to "build a chinatown" on the south side—surely the stupidest thing an indianapolis mayor has said in at least a decade—without a tully-esque "i think a chinatown would be kewl" defense. but on other key issues, the mayor's position is left unchallenged.

for starters, the article mentions that "one of his most controversial moves" was seizing control of IMPD because he "ran the risk of alienating the black community" by "taking power away from Anderson, who is black". that's all true, but it doesn't mention that IMPD remains as controversial as ever: ballard's been in control for six months now, but crime hasn't really gone down, the murder rate is on pace with last year (when he and his supporters screamed incessantly about it), and the IMPD is facing a crisis of public confidence after this year's arrests of eight law enforcement officials. those are some glaring omissions.

then there's this howler:

The mayor also has avoided a mainstay of modern politics -- using polls to help tell him what voters want. Instead, he relies on meetings in the community and claims his best skill is listening.

After all, he said, attending community meetings of fewer than 50 people is how he ran a campaign that led to the biggest political upset in recent city history.

this is simply ridiculous. the 2007 election was not about ballard. the vast majority of voters knew little to nothing about ballard, who he was, or what he stood for. they just knew he was not-bart; they voted for the Other Guy, whoever he was... and some of them have since realized their mistake. (ironically, the issues that people claimed to be most upset about in 2007 were issues that mayor peterson had little to no control over, but they led to his ouster anyway.)

the piece concludes with a retelling of ballard's appearance at the statehouse, where he disagreed with every other mayor in the state in asking the legislature to slash local budgets... oh, and take my pensions, please! you know, the time when he came "without charts and slides to help illustrate his point" and "stumbled in answering some of the lawmakers' questions"?

But mayors around the state now owe Ballard their thanks. In passing the tax package this year, lawmakers agreed to pick up those pension costs. The move also helped save taxpayers up to $500 million in interest costs.

this is straight republican spin. mayors around the state owe ballard exactly squat. the legislature didn't suddenly decide to take over pension debts just because ballard asked for it. even tully didn't try to pull that one (his exact words: "To be clear, lawmakers decided to take over pensions independent of Ballard.") so how did such crap make it into a supposed news article?

not just that, but the article doesn't acknowledge the dark side of ballard's pension bid. last year, indianapolis raised the county income tax in order to pay those pensions. at the time, ballard and his crew crowed endlessly about how horrible and out-of-touch this tax increase was. now ballard is in office and the city no longer has to pay for those pensions, so you would think ballard would want to repeal the tax increase he campaigned against mightily, but of course, that's never going to happen.

the article's sidebar is a good read, though: direct, to-the-point, and informative.

Friday, July 18, 2008 
post-roselyn rebranding
last month i mentioned my dream of taking photos of all the former roselyn bakery signs that have been rebranded by their new tenants.

yesterday, i happened to be in the neighborhood with a few spare minutes, so i parked and got some cellphone pics of this sign, at 38th street and ruckle. i particularly like the big green spot.

i tried to get some shots of the one downtown (now dunkin donuts), but i was driving and it was backlit, and my phone doesn't take very good photos, so those didn't turn out. (i've posted them to flickr anyway, so at least you can see what the sign looks like now.) i'll probably have to (pay to) park and bring a real camera in order to get some decent shots of that one.

i'm pretty sure there are more signs still out there, perhaps on the east or south sides, but i'm not exactly sure where.

update: post edited to reflect the correct spelling of "roselyn". a google image search for the correct spelling returns a couple tiny pics of old, unaltered signs, but i'd love a larger, better photo if anybody has one.

Thursday, July 17, 2008 
new airport terminal to feature local restaurants
traditionally, flying out of town has often meant getting something to eat at the airport, which has generally come down to a choice between mcdonald's, au bon pain, or the asian place with the bourbon chicken. maybe the kolache factory, if you could find it. slim pickin's.

when the new terminal opens in october, the airport will still have a mcdonald's, three starbucks, two au bon pains, a qdoba, a tgifriday's, and so on. but it'll also have a number of locally owned restaurants: harry & izzy's, shapiros, king david dogs, 96th street steakburgers, a scaled-down version of cafe patachou, and more. (unfortunately, no yat's.)

i must admit that other than patachou and shapiro's, i've never eaten at many of these businesses. (these days, we tend to eat at a lot of chain restaurants because we're dieting and it's easier to get nutritional info.) but it's pretty exciting that they'll be opening up locations in the airport. i know that if i had to eat at the airport, i'd happily choose a locally owned business over eating at another mcdonald's or qdoba. and the addition of patachou promises to really improve the breakfast situation, where the choices at IND have been particularly meager.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 
mayor cancels on the quitter
when i read it on HPR i could hardly believe it.

in these times when the mayor is getting a lot of flak for his seeming inactivity on crime, when the indy star has daily health updates about a local cop who was shot in the head in the line of duty, on the very day when the star publishes another editorial begging the city to "drive down the crime rate" alongside a letter from the prosecutor about his "battle plan", you would think that mayor ballard would be focusing on crime. after all, crime was the signature issue of his campaign, and he threw such a fuss about putting himself in charge of the police department.

so when i saw that the mayor was scheduled to hold a press conference this morning announcing that he's going to be the new campaign chair to re-elect jon elrod, i was surprised, to put it mildly.

we're counting on mayor ballard to run the city, especially since right-wingers keep telling us how mayor peterson left it in such a shambles. but instead of taking charge and gittin' 'er done, the new mayor was spending his time helping his buddies campaign for the indiana statehouse?

it seemed bad enough for the mayor to be playing politics instead of running the police force that he fought to win control over (let alone the city he was elected to run). but to campaign for jon elrod, who famously abandoned his state seat in order to run against andré carson for congress, only to quit and run crying back to indiana house 97 after that proved to be too hard? it didn't seem real.

in the end, someone at the mayor's office must've realized what a PR nightmare it would've been for the mayor to be seen stumping in this political climate (particularly for an opportunistic quitter like elrod) and cancelled the mayor's appearance. of course, cancelling the press conference isn't the same as cancelling his involvement with the elrod campaign. i imagine ballard will continue to waste time he could be spending running the city on helping his buddy jon elrod run for re-election; he just might not want to advertise that he's doing it.

apple basic I as a sound file
back in the '70s and early '80s, one major way of storing software was on audio cassette. a sonified version of the program data would be stored on the tape, and you would plug your cassette deck into a port on your computer and play the tape to load the program. i had a TI-99/4A and used to play old zork-style text adventure games that i had to load off cassette (and with multiple games on one tape, it was easy to load the wrong one by mistake).

someone has posted an mp3 of the original version of apple basic I that came with the rare apple I computer, way back in the '70s—and they took it a step further by decoding the data and posted the binaries, too.

the sound of the mp3 is quite similar to what you get when doing audio databending—and i imagine the process of sonification used back in the day isn't much different from what happens when you convert a binary file into WAV format. in other words, databenders should check this out, as you might learn something.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008 
shorter gary welsh
shorter gary welsh:

[graphic found on net; source unknown]

new track: rockin' the pop charts
recently i was invited to contribute to a compilation for a new record label out of france called handicap records. the comp, which will be the label's first release, will be 12" featuring tracks by six artists, including the wood crew, killjoy, and doormouse. the record is scheduled to come out in the fall, around the same time as my wedding show (featuring doormouse), which i thought was appropriate. (we'll see if it actually comes out by then; having put out a record myself, i know how easily the schedule can slip.)

so here's my new track, soon to be released on vinyl. it's titled "rockin' the pop charts". if you liked my last EP, mash smarter not harder, then you'll love this track, because it continues on in the direction i embarked on with that that EP. (if you're not familiar with mash smarter not harder, what the hell, man? it's been available for free download since may!)

with the mash smarter material, i let the tracks move organically, at a natural pace, to really explore some of the ideas without rushing anything. as a result, some of those tracks were pretty long—the epic closer "the future sound of retro" clocks in at almost 9 minutes. but since this track is for a vinyl record with five other tracks on it, i didn't have time for such nonsense. in other words, this track is like mash smarter but moves twice as briskly. if that sounds like your cup of tea, then hurry up and get to clicking.

Sunday, July 13, 2008 
condensed matt tully
i was considering doing a "shorter" version of today's tully column, but after reading it, i've concluded that the only way i can really communicate the stupidity, laziness, and utter thoughtlessness of this piece of writing is by quoting it. so join me for this condensed version of today's tully.

here's the setup: tully has "never understood the controversy" around the lease of the indiana toll road. so, rather than, you know, sit down and review the arguments pro and con, as you might expect a political columnist to do, he simply decides to drive down the toll road one day and tell us about it. cue tully:

This column probably would be more interesting if I'd found anything to complain about: A traffic jam. A pothole to rival those that marked Indy's streets this spring. An obvious sign of mismanagement.


really, he found nothing to complain about while driving the toll road? well, maybe that is...

Mile Marker 121: [...] One valid complaint: Gas prices are roughly 20 cents higher per gallon than what I saw at gas stations off the Toll Road that morning.

but... i thought you said...

Mile Marker 56: [...] Greenwood [a fellow traveler] asks why the state didn't fix up the road itself and use maximized profits to fund other road projects. Indiana Democrats have asked the same question for years.

that is a good question. if only there were a political columnist, perhaps working at a large newspaper, who could maybe write a column about it.

the trek goes on. at the same mile marker, another traveler tells tully that further west, the roads "are a little beaten up".

Exit 23: I have to wait about 30 seconds to pay my 50 cents. Construction crews are rebuilding the exit ramp area. Road construction can be a hassle, but as a rule I never complain about roads under repair.

it's not worth complaining about because you have a rule that you won't complain about it?

Mile Marker 21: [...] the biker from Chicago, was right. The roads are bumpier. For the next 15 miles, construction and traffic are heavy, and my car endures a few shakes, rattles and rolls.

then, after a mere 15 miles of "heavy" construction, he reaches his destination and the column is over.

let's review. he whines that he "doesn't understand" the toll road controversy, but rather than demonstrate why critics of the deal are wrong or analyze their complaints, he decides to drive down the toll road and tell us about his trip. this is like responding to complaints of unethical business practices at mcdonald's by ordering a big mac and reporting that it was hot, delicious, and covered with secret sauce.

he declares that he didn't find anything to complain about, then in the course of the column lists 3–4 things to complain about! and then he concludes by saying he doesn't understand the complaints!

some of you may recall a post i wrote back in april titled "tully needs to read tully, where i pointed out a blatant contradiction between tully's then-current column and one he'd written a few months before. but now he has truly topped himself by thoroughly contradicting himself within six paragraphs.

don't they have editors at the star who are supposed to read these things?

Saturday, July 12, 2008 
opera relocating to old greek church
i know they've been working on getting this deal together for awhile. it's great for the opera, and good for the neighborhood, which was understandably concerned about finding a worthy new tenant:

When Indianapolis Opera relocates next spring to a Greek Orthodox church building on Pennsylvania Street, the move will put the company less than half a mile from its current headquarters.

But the relocation could revolutionize the opera's performances, adding edgier shows to the standards it will continue to perform at Clowes Hall.

"We would be in a better position to take risks in a smaller space, because we wouldn't have to depend on filling a 2,000-seat hall," Jim Caraher, the opera's artistic director, said after Friday's news conference announcing the move from a brick house at 250 E. 38th St. to property formerly owned by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 4011 N. Pennsylvania St.

Because the Holy Trinity sanctuary will be converted into a roughly 400-seat theater, Indianapolis Opera will no longer be faced with performing only favorites such as "Carmen" or "La Boheme" that fill Clowes and help balance the budget.

i grew up right around the corner from holy trinity—people would park in front of our house to attend the annual greek festival. so it's sad to think that the church is relocating to the suburbs, presumably taking the festival with it (greek fest 2008 will still be at the old location). but mini-opera house... that's pretty cool, too.

Friday, July 11, 2008 
trafalgar councillor on kiddie porn: "it wasn't a turn-on or anything"
shocking news out of trafalgar, a smaller indy exurb in johnson county: the head of the town council has been arrested on child porn charges.

allegedly he took his computer into the repair shop, and his local geek squad or what-have-you discovered his kiddie porn stash: 74 files, allegedly including images of kids "as young as 2 years old." pretty sick, perverted stuff.

but perhaps the oddest part of the story is his (alleged) half-assed confession:

Knapp told police he did not derive pleasure from the images and did not know why he had downloaded the files, the affidavit said, aside from simple curiosity.

"I might download four or five and never watch them," Knapp told a detective, according to the affidavit. "Why I did it, I don't know. It wasn't a turn-on or anything."

Knapp said he began downloading the files "a year ago or so" from the "LimeWire" Web site, which police described as a free file-sharing site on which users download music, videos, images and other files.

"I'm not a pedophile and I don't mess with kids or anything," Knapp reportedly told the detective, further admitting that his actions were "stupid."

maybe next he'll say, "yeah, i watched the videos, but i didn't touch myself or anything."

Thursday, July 10, 2008 
shorter indiana blogs (tag cloud edition)
for the old-schoolers who don't know a tag cloud from a methane cloud: in a tag cloud, words that appear more frequently are shown in a larger text size. (stop words, or common words like "the" or "and", are removed from the data.)

so let's take a look at some blogs and see what they're talking about. tag clouds courtesy of wordle. you can click 'em to view 'em larger (and to create your own), but you'll need to have java installed.

shorter advance indiana:

in contrast, here's shorter blue indiana:

obama is the top subject at both blogs. but republican blog AI hasn't been talking nearly as much about mccain as has liberal blog BI. note also that words like "state" and "Indiana" are used frequently at BI but don't appear at all at AI.

shorter masson's blog:

shorter hoosier political report:

shorter stAllio!'s way:

i've been talking way too much about abdul lately, but that'll pass soon, as he's generally not worth paying attention to.

shorter commonplace book:

it's funny that "tags" is the #1 word here. that probably should've been treated as a stop word.

anyway, i could keep this up all day, but i need to get some work done. feel free to create your own and link to 'em in the comments.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 
leadership, not finger-pointing and yard signs
a year ago, marion county republicans couldn't stop talking about crime. they counted off every murder with delight, imagining that then-mayor peterson was somehow at fault. the foundation of then-candidate ballard's campaign was that he would put IMPD under his control, and together they would put an end to crime in the region.

this year, things are different. mayor ballard is the head of IMPD. the murder rate hasn't gone down—we've been averaging a murder a day for the past couple weeks. and the rate of crime committed by cops has seemingly gone up infinity percent.

now that their guy is in charge and things haven't gotten any better, you'd think republicans would be singing a different tune. in a sense they are, but really their song is exactly the same: six months into mayor ballard's administration, and they're still blaming everything on bart peterson and sheriff anderson.

yesterday, marion county democrats issued a press release demanding that the mayor do something about, you know, his signature issue, and complaining that he has been "oddly quiet about the mounting problems" facing IMPD.

cue abdul, official mayoral apologist, proponent of "police beatings", and the one person who was complaining the loudest about crime last year (though he did so anonymously under the name "joe friday"). today abdul responded to the dem press release, in his usual vapid style: he blames all IMPD's problems on the former administration, and provides three links as proof that the mayor has "spoken out" about IMPD's problems.

let's take a look at abdul's links, shall we?

link 1: IMPD works to solve several murders:
The murders have gotten the attention of Mayor Greg Ballard.

"I had a good-sized meeting this morning with [Public Safety Director Scott Newman] and senior officers and we talked about what's happening," Ballard said.

oh, they had a meeting and talked about it! i feel so much better now. but wait! there are more ballard quotes near the bottom:

"We want the neighbors to help out the police. We want these people off the street," Ballard said.


The nine murders in an eight-day stretch has the mayor putting renewed importance on the "Peace in the Streets" campaign.

"I'm hoping that [the Peace in the Streets initiative] becomes part of the community, that people understand that. I'm hoping to get yard signs and signs all over the city and the message itself so that people understand we don't want to go there. I'm hoping - we'll never know obviously - somebody may be thinking of doing something wrong in a domestic situation or whatever - and they say - no, we have peace in the streets," Ballard said.

see, the mayor does have a plan to address crime! he wants to put up a whole bunch of yard signs—i mean lots and lots of them, not just a few—and those signs are going to make people stop committing crimes somehow! brilliant!

link 2: Mayor Urges Safety Heading Into Holiday Weekend

"The weather promises to be hot and there's a lot of things the people with free time and hot temperatures can do that are harmful", said Ballard, " and I would be remiss if I didn't express my concern."

this seems to be an extension of the yard sign program. all the criminals are going to think about mayor ballard expressing his concern, and that will inspire them to stop their law-breaking ways. but wait, there's more:

Ballard, along with Public Safety Director Scott Newman, IMPD Chief Michael Spears, members of the Concerned Clergy and representatives of Peace In The Streets, discussed the recent rash of violent crime in the city and the arrest of several police officers.

Ballard, Newman and Spears all pointed to the fact that the arrest of those officers were the result of IMPD investigations and new policies will be announced soon on how the department plans to deal with it in the future.

it might be comforting to think that all the cops who've been arrested recently were busted by fellow IMPD officers, but it's not accurate. some were, but half of them were nabbed by the FBI... as is made clear by...

link 3: 3 Indianapolis Officers Arrested On Drug Charges

"I'm very much disgusted and outraged at the conduct of a small number of officers who chose to disrespect the trust that the public has in them," said Indianapolis Metro Police Chief Michael Spears.

"Nobody likes for this thing to happen, but it's important that it's rooted out," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

only one ballard quote this time around, and it's one sentence long. maybe in abdul's world, a one-sentence quote in a news article counts as leadership.

maybe someone could sit abdul down and teach him how to use a dictionary. because "oddly quiet" doesn't mean "completely silent". the mayor may have spoken once or twice about IMPD in the past month, but his statements have been rambling and, more importantly, devoid of substance. if anything, abdul's links prove how worthless the mayor has been on this issue. this was his signature issue, and yet nothing has been improved, and on those rare occasions someone with a camera asks him about them, he simply expresses his "concern" or talks about yard signs, or tries to blame it on the prior administrations. how pathetic.

bonus abdul: abdul claims to be "somewhat surprised" that there hasn't been a "bigger public outcry" about the recent rash of murders, and speculates that the reason is because the victims have all been po' folks. of course, he's being disingenuous here. he doesn't mention that last year, in the guise of "joe friday", he was complaining louder than anyone. so tell us, adbul: why aren't you complaining about crime this year? could it be because you you only used the issue for political reasons to attack a democratic mayor, and now that there's a republican in charge, you don't care about crime or murders anymore?

Thursday, July 03, 2008 
understanding satire
i touched on this ever so briefly in the previous post, but wanted to come back to it again.

abdul hakim shabazz has been getting heat from fellow republicans for his blog post suggesting that "what this town needs are a couple good police beatings."

today, in his defense, abdul writes:

The way I figure it, if someone doesn't have enough synaptic activity to understand sarcasm and satire when they read it, then what would be the point of trying to explain it to them?

this is another one of those old soft-shoes that abdul knows by heart: i didn't mean that horrible thing i said; i was joking! the don imuses and ann coulters of the world regularly trot this out when they get criticized for tossing around racial or homophobic slurs, or fantasizing about their political opponents dying in a terrorist attack. but the only thing funny here is the thought of abdul trying to explain satire to someone else—because his post was not satire.

in situations like this, the coulters and abduls of the world compare themselves to jonathan swift. swift, their thinking goes, suggested cannibalism and infanticide in a modest proposal, which is considered a great work of satire. therefore, when i daydream of violence toward my political enemies, that's satire, too. but it doesn't work that way.

the core of satire is irony. the entire point of a modest proposal was to draw attention to the plight of the irish under english oppression. the english, swift wrote, "have already devoured most of the Parents", so they might as well eat irish babies, too. what swift truly wanted, though, was the opposite: for the english to treat the irish better.

abdul's post has no such irony. there is no sympathy for violent criminals. no, his post is not so much a satire as a revenge fantasy. he's sick of seeing violence against innocents, so he fantasizes about the aggressors getting beaten up, too. maybe he doesn't really mean it, and if there were a true upswing in police violence, he might be aghast. (then again, in the past when police brutality has been alleged, he's always been the first to write that he's seen the tapes and the police did nothing wrong, that guy was asking for it, etc.) but you can't help but sense that part of him would enjoy it.

we all want to see bad people get their comeuppance. we enjoy watching entertainment about people who punish evil, and root for those people, even if they're rule-breaking vigilantes like jack bauer or dirty harry, or cold-blooded murderers like dexter. one of my favorite shows is death note, and yes, part of me is rooting for the murderous kira. that's okay because it's just a story; if kira existed in the real world, i wouldn't be a fan.

if abdul's post is satire then tell me: what is he satirizing? is it the fact that we seem to have a lot of dirty cops in town? is he mocking the concept of biblical eye-for-an-eye justice? because i just don't see it. and abdul isn't known for being particularly deep.

hindsight, consequences, and all that
do you think that maybe mayor ballard would've thought twice about his central campaign plank—taking control of IMPD—if he'd known that 2008 would be the year of dirty cops?

naturally, ballard apologists are spinning themselves dizzy in their attempts to portray all these arrested cops as proof that things are getting cleaned up under valiant greg ballard after the two-headed abomination that was bart peterson and sheriff frank anderson. but that theory doesn't hold much water when you consider that most of this month's arrests were made by the FBI, not IMPD. (to be fair, the alleged police-pimp who was arrested yesterday was nabbed by IMPD.)

politically speaking, if everything's going to fall apart, you want it to happen under the other guy's watch, not yours. if sheriff anderson were still in charge of IMPD, this would be the perfect opportunity to hoot & holler about how they hate him. if this had happened under the peterson/anderson watch, no doubt bart-haters would be dancing in the street. instead, they're stuck doing the it's-not-our-guy's-fault-it's-the-guy-before-him's-fault, which is such a familar old number by now that they must be getting as sick of it as the rest of us. or maybe, when they hear people laughing at them, they'll claim they were just being satirical.

also, while we're speaking politically, do you really believe that when IMPD detectives were going through the books of alleged johns, they just happened to choose the name of a former bart peterson official at random?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 
shorter abdul hakim shabazz
shorter abdul hakim shabazz: what this city really needs is more police brutality.

new backgrounds
it's a new month, so enjoy some new blog backgrounds (or don't enjoy them, as is your wont). originally i meant to put up new ones at the beginning of june, but the storms hit right around then, and we were without power for 37 hours, which put a damper on my computer time.

these new backgrounds come from my databending experiments, but they're not as loud as the ones from february, which were bent jpgs. these are actually raw data, reinterpreted as images and then meticulously cropped to form patterns. (pattern 3 was originally grayscale, and i altered it to make it purple, but the others have no edits except crops.)

if you hate these, then oh well. the current plan is to put up a new set at the beginning of september.

Powered by Blogger hosted by Sensory Research