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Friday, January 30, 2009 
snowed in? grab a shovel
shorter DPW director david sherman: the city didn't botch its handling of this week's snow storm. on the contrary, our snow-plowing strategy is intentionally crappy. if you want your street plowed, plow it yourself!

no, seriously. check it out:

But the city's chief snow fighter, Department of Public Works Director David Sherman, calls it business as usual.

The city's snow strategy "is not designed to remove snow on all residential streets," Sherman said. "We've already done the streets we normally do."

With more than 4,100 miles of roads in the county, Sherman said, "we just don't have the capacity" to clear them all. And because massive snowfalls are rare in Indianapolis (to match this week's, you have to go back to 1996), it would not be practical "to build such capacity."


Sherman called on residents to take responsibility for their own streets and sidewalks.

"Get with your neighbors," he said. "Get some shovels and plows. There's a lot of people who just need to do it themselves."

let that be a lesson to you, indianapolis. get off your lazy ass and plow your own damn street. and if you don't like it, don't bother trying to take it to the mayor, because he's not even here:

Robert Vane, Mayor Greg Ballard's spokesman, said snowplow crews are working hard and making progress. Ballard could not be reached for comment because he was en route to Tampa, Fla., where he will go to meetings and attend the Super Bowl.

a man's gotta have priorities, after all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 
why those homeless donation boxes were doomed to fail
over the weekend, two more of those homeless donation boxes were broken into. this sad story is made all the more shameful because it was utterly predictable... and preventable.

the entire concept behind the city's homeless donation boxes is fundamentally flawed because of the way it dehumanizes the people it's supposed to help. give money to the homeless, the boxes say, but for god's sake don't look at them or speak to them. put a buck in this box and you won't have to deal with those dirty, smelly people. the mayor doesn't even want to look at them, and you shouldn't have to, either... but give them your money!

these mixed messages only serve to confuse people. the homeless aren't worth your time or attention—not only should you not have to deal with them, but you shouldn't deal with them! don't engage panhandlers as if they were actual human beings; just put some money in this box and those annoying poor folks will leave you alone!

it's no wonder that now these donation boxes are being broken into. the mayor is on record as believing that panhandlers are scam artists, addicts and drunks who live comfortable, cushy lifestyles without ever having to work because of saps who give them handouts. and from there, it's not much of a stretch to think that if panhandlers are all thieves and con men—and the official position of the city of indianapolis is that they are—then why do they need my donation? shit, i'm poor, too! i need that money more than those assholes do! where's my crowbar?

and this is why the program could never work. it treats the people that it's supposed to help like crap. the goal is ostensibly to help the homeless, but the basic assumptions behind the program are rooted in a lack of respect for the poor and homeless.

now the mayor is promoting a government consolidation plan that would give him control over poor relief. talk about a disaster in the making.

Sunday, January 25, 2009 
daniels wants to eliminate funding for PBS, NPR
gov daniels continues to use the economic climate as an excuse to slash funding for programs that he and other republicans don't like. the latest example: his proposal to eliminate funding for public broadcasting.

The economic downturn has forced Public Broadcasting Service affiliate WFYI to lay off staffers and cut programs. Now, like public stations across Indiana, it may be forced to make further cutbacks under a proposal by Gov. Mitch Daniels to strip it of all of its state funding.

The state's support of WFYI (Channel 20), amounting to $517,000 this year, represents less than 5 percent of the station's annual operating budget. Despite that small share, every dollar the station gets from the state can help it bring in up to $8 in additional funding from foundations, corporations and individuals, its officials said.

Daniels' proposed budget, unveiled earlier this month, would cut spending in a number of areas, including $3.5 million from public broadcasting statewide.

Weak fundraising already has hurt public broadcasters across the nation, and many have had layoffs. State subsidies are threatened in many cases, according to Lloyd Wright, president and chief executive of WFYI. But, he said, he didn't know of any other state considering wiping out its support entirely.

given the state of the economy, it would be hard to argue with a proposal to cut funding for public broadcasting by, say, 10%. times are rough, after all, and some belt-tightening would make sense. but instead, daniels wants to eliminate that funding altogether, which suggests that his primary motivation to cut the funding isn't economic but ideological.

the ploy is reminiscent of mayor ballard's recent proposal to completely eliminate city arts funding—use a tight budget and harsh economy as an excuse to eradicate much-loved arts programs. like many of his bone-headed ideas, ballard had to backtrack from that proposal once word got out. here's hoping the same thing will happen to this terrible plan to strip state funding from local PBS and NPR stations.

Thursday, January 22, 2009 
new state appointee is pre-scandalized
governor daniels made an appointment today that turns the traditional scandal timeline on its head. mark w everson has been appointed as the new head of the indiana department of administration.

everson has held a number of jobs: he served under daniels at the OMB, and he once was head of the IRS, but he's possibly best known for being head of the red cross—a job he lost in 2007 when he was fired for a sex scandal involving a subordinate. the red cross declined to name the subordinate involved, but the new york post and other outlets had no such qualms identifying her.

everson is the second person in the past year to be appointed to a local position after being involved in a recent sex scandal. randall tobias was appointed to head the indianapolis airport authority almost exactly a year ago. in 2007, tobias had resigned from a prominent federal position after it was revealed that he had solicited "massages" from a washington DC prostitute.

media still repeating myths about clinton admin
i was reading this otherwise interesting wapo story about obama staffers adjusting from the ultra-modern campaign to the more primitive and restrictive white house environment, when i spotted this falsehood at the end:

But there were no missing letters from the computer keyboards, as Bush officials had complained of during their transition in 2001.

of course, this never happened—it was a myth dreamed up by bushies to advance the notion that "the grown-ups were now in charge"... and we all know how that turned out.

apparently the washington post isn't alone in propagating this myth. mark crispin miller notes that nbc and abc also repeated the lie with no attempt to point out that it's false.

donation box fail
i knew mayor ballard's homeless donation boxes were a dumb idea, but i didn't see this coming:

One of the boxes installed Downtown for people to donate to the homeless has been vandalized.

The broken box was reported to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department around 10:16 p.m. Wednesday, according to a printed police report. The box is on the south side of Monument Circle.

Police found pry marks on the box and discovered that the lock mechanism had been broken when the box was forced open. No money was found in the box.

In May of last year, several of the boxes were installed on Downtown corners in the first of a series of moves intended to discourage panhandling. The boxes were described as "tamper-proof" at the time.

many people had questions about whether the money donated at these boxes would ever reach actual homeless people, but i always just assumed the money would be mishandled by the city. looks like i overestimated the administration.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 
oh frabjous day!
just a few hours ago, barack obama was inaugurated as the president of the united states.

it's still hard to believe this is really happening after the nightmare of the past eight years. truly this is a day for all of us (well, other than the crazies) to celebrate.

Monday, January 19, 2009 
movin' on up
shorter abdul hakim-shabazz: some people accuse me of turning my back on my fellow blacks once i became successful, but they have it all wrong. in fact, turning my back on my fellow blacks is how i became successful in the first place.

bonus abdul: it's hard to know what the most obnoxious thing about this post is. the smug attitude? the fact that he does his own call and response? ("truer words were never spoken," he pats himself on the back at the end.) the audacity of rerunning it every martin luther king day, as if to flip everyone the bird while be pretends to give them advice? no—those are all annoying, but worst has to be the complete lack of self-awareness:

Recently I had a conversation with a black friend of mine and she told me something I found was a bit disturbing. We were arguing over crime and how to deal with it when she told me, "Abdul, your attitude is typical of middle-class back folk." I asked her to tell me what that meant. She then went on to say as middle-class blacks tend to move up the socio-economic ladder, they forget their origins, and treat poor blacks the same way whites do. I have to say I was a bit taken back by all this, because I was being attacked for my status in life which I had no control over.

no, abdul. you weren't being attacked for your status in life. you were being attacked for your behavior. she wasn't complaining that you were middle class; she was complaining that you treat poor blacks the same way whites do (i.e., like shit). which is what makes the following sentence from later in the post particularly ironic:

I for one have no such guilt because there's a big difference between closing the door on people because of race, which has nothing to do with behavior, and having serious concerns about people who haven't learned how to honor the social contract, which does have a lot to do with behavior.

so abdul writes that people should be judged for their behavior rather than their race or class... but when people criticize him for his behavior, he gets defensive and pretends that they're talking about his race and class. funny how that works.

Friday, January 16, 2009 
forgive me, sire; i don't know what came over me
shorter matt tully: in my previous column, i briefly criticized my idol, governor mitch daniels... and then i felt so bad about it that i had to write another column praising him. i'm sorry, lord daniels! forgive my impudence!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 
shorter state of the state
shorter mitch daniels: when i say that indiana is an "island of growth", i don't mean that indiana is doing well—i mean that every other state sucks balls.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 
dear indy star: look up the meaning of "protect"
there's an unusual headline in today's star:

New proposal to ban gay marriage protects partner benefits

wow, really? the proposal bans gay marriage, but protects partner benefits? that's surprisingly progressive for an attempt to enshrine bigotry into the state constitution.

An effort to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in Indiana is being renewed, this time with new wording that supporters hope will sway critics.

Its supporters said the new version would prohibit civil unions -- which are already not recognized in Indiana -- without affecting domestic partner benefits offered by some employers.

wait, what? but the headline said...

In the past, the amendment has been opposed by businesses and universities in Indiana that feared it would conflict with their policies granting benefits to the partners of gay employees. They also worried the amendment would make Indiana seem like an intolerant place, hurting economic development.

Turner and Cheatham said the new language is identical to the wording of amendments in Wisconsin and Kentucky, and has not hurt domestic partnerships, domestic violence laws or economic development in those states.

note to the editors at the star: protect does not mean "not hurt". if i point a gun at your face, and then lower it, i'm not "protecting" you... i'm simply no longer threatening you. an amendment that protected domestic partner benefits would be one that, you know, specifically states that employers may offer domestic partner benefits. this proposed amendment does nothing of the sort.

Sunday, January 11, 2009 
new backgrounds for a new year
i meant to have new blog backgrounds up on new year's day, but due to threadless designing and an ongoing home reorganization project, it didn't come to pass. but new backgrounds are up now, and in addition, new post borders!

the new backgrounds are based on illustrations i did for threadless t-shirt designs (if you haven't voted for escape and stickers on the wall yet, i'd really appreciate it). the new post borders use halftones (a fancy shading technique i picked up recently) and are much snazzier than the old sloppy hand-drawn ones.

Thursday, January 08, 2009 
ballard on the poor and homeless: "we don't want them around"
more on mayor ballard's latest plan to sweep the city's poor someplace where he won't have to look at them:

Though advocates for the homeless questioned the effectiveness of such measures, the Republican mayor plans to ask the Indiana General Assembly to expand state law to include a 20-foot radius around any spot where monetary transactions take place.

Those spots would include parking meters, vending machines, newspaper stands and charity donation boxes designed to curb panhandling.

Current law already prohibits people from asking for money near ATM machines and outdoor dining locations.

yes, it's already against the law to panhandle near ATMs. in other words, this law is completely unnecessary. (tangent: the AP stylebook specifically says not to use the redundant "ATM machine", but in the indy star's defense, i think they've laid off all their editors.)

"Anywhere money is transacted, we don't want them around," Ballard said.

Administration officials said they knew of no other city that had pushed its anti-panhandling laws this far. Panhandlers who sit quietly with a sign would not be affected.

ballard apparently wants to set the record for the city most inhospitable toward panhandlers. he'd probably have them all put in camps if he could... anything to avoid being reminded that some people don't live in cozy houses across the street from a golf course like he does.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 
stickers on the wall: yet another shirt design
my third t-shirt design for threadless is up for voting now! it's called stickers on the wall:

My Submission

this will probably be my last threadless submission for the time being, as i have too many other art projects i've been neglecting. (if you've been waiting for part 2 of the databending primer, sorry—i might get around to finishing it this month.) i'll probably return to t-shirt design sooner or later (sooner if the designs up for voting now do well), but right now i need to prioritize.

ballard's vision: a city where he doesn't have to look at poor people
mayor ballard's crusade against the poor and homeless continues:

Mayor Greg Ballard will ask state lawmakers to broaden limits on aggressive panhandling.

He plans to ask the General Assembly to expand current limits on asking for money near ATM machines and outdoor dining locations to include a 20-foot radius from any spot where money is transacted.

Those spots include parking meters, vending machines, newspaper stands and charity donation boxes designed to curb panhandling.

i might be able to understand a moratorium next to ATMs, but parking meters? most of the streets downtown are lined with parking meters—so if this legislation passed, panhandling would effectively be illegal throughout much of downtown.

we already knew that the mayor would rather not have to look at homeless people. but don't we have more important things to worry about?

the economy is in shambles. the city budget is impossibly tight, and will only get tighter in the coming years. the city's murder rate—which candidate ballard spent so much time complaining about—went up in 2008. the city's police department—which he made a big deal about seizing control over—is once again mired in controversy. doesn't the city government have better things to do than obsess over how panhandlers make the mayor feel uncomfortable?

Monday, January 05, 2009 
more t-shirt news
1. there are only a few hours of voting left for my belt printed circuit board t-shirt design! if you haven't already voted for this design, please take a moment to sign up with threadless and do so:

My Submission

2. i have another new design now beginning voting, titled escape. check it out and vote!

My Submission

3. i'm now officially out of stock of black recycle your record collection shirts in size L. i still have XL, XXL, M, and girly M in black, and i still have all those sizes in purple (or lavender for girly). but some sizes i only have 2 or 3, so i recommend ordering now before i run out of those sizes as well.

Friday, January 02, 2009 
comic sans comics
this is a comic strip about comic sans... made entirely out of comic sans. even the panels are made out of lowercase L's. i was inspired to put this together by a threadless text-based design challenge, but i think it works better as just a comic strip than as a t-shirt. (i should have one or two text-based shirt designs up for voting somewhat soon.)

view large to see the detail.

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