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Thursday, February 26, 2009 
sunset over tax city
i finished this last night: another collage landscape similar to the one i posted last week. this one is also for the april show at 111 arts gallery and tattoo studio in muncie.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 
the right-wingers are revolting!
one of the drawbacks of doing most of my blog-reading using a feed reader is that i seldom read blog comments anymore, unless those comments have a feed of their own. in particular, this means i rarely read comments on blogger blogs (other than my own). and since blogger is the platform of choice for most of the local right-wing bloggers, that means i rarely read the comments on those blogs... and the comments are often where the wackiest stuff goes on.

because of this, i hadn't realized just how bad things had gotten on the local right-wing blogs. they are cracking up over the inept leadership of mayor ballard and the republican-controlled city council. i knew that gary welsh had turned on mayor ballard not long after the election, and i knew that paul ogden—a former commenter who now has his own blog—was also critical of the ballard administration. but i didn't know that melyssa donaghy—once one of the mayor's most vocal supporters—had finally turned on him as well. (i knew it would happen, and predicted it here more than once, but didn't know when. though i had noticed she wasn't coming around here and defending the mayor in the comments anymore.)

melyssa and paul are planning a protest at the statehouse for next month, calling it "revolt at the statehouse". apparently they hope to recapture some of the attention they got for the property tax protests of 2007. but while those protests were narrowly focused on an issue that had upset a lot of people, their new protest is vague and hard to grasp, spilling over a number of right-wing grievances:

The rally will focus chiefly on issues relating to corporate welfare, Indiana style "pay to play" politics, property tax reform, and the need for transparency and ethics reform. Particular topics are likely to include: "The Colts, Pacers & the Capital Improvement Board, "Pay to Play Politics, Indiana Style: Campaign Contributions & Government Contracts," "The Executive and Legislative Revolving Door," "Corporate Welfare – How Politicians Have Used Our Tax Money to Make the Rich Richer."

if you even know what all that means, you're probably one of the event's organizers. i don't see this protest attracting a lot of protesters nor much media attention. the whole thing is too vague and ephemeral for tv reporters, who won't have a clue how to cover the thing. and in today's economy, i don't see the typical taxpayer getting too riled up about "the executive and legislative revolving door"—these days, people are more worried about just finding jobs and making ends meet. if this were a focused protest centered around, say, the mess at the CIB, i could see it being a moderate success. but a kitchen-sink protest of complaining about "corporate welfare" is doomed to failure.

the press release for the protest is posted on paul ogden's blog, and while i was there reading it, i noticed a link in the blogroll to an anti-ogen blog. now, i must give ogden kudos for blogrolling his own haters. that takes confidence. the "ogden truth squad" is a ballard apologist blog devoted to attacking ogden (and by extension, gary, melyssa, and others). in other words, it's a pure drama blog: right-wingers attacking other right-wingers in defense of republican politicians. the drama itself is not as exciting as you might have hoped, but the fact that such a blog even exists is evidence of how much things have changed in recent months. not that long ago, greg ballard was a hero to all these people. now, he's hated by many, and the source of much bickering among his former followers.

the feeds seem to be busted today—clicking the links leads to a database error instead of a story—but if you can get around that, you might have read the story "IMPD supporters caution don't rush to judgment in OmniSource scrap metal case".

omnisource deals in metal recycling. monday, the company was raided for buying stolen scrap. it's no secret that thieves all over the city have been stealing any metal they can get their hands on and selling it for scrap. apparently they've been selling it to omnisource.

the surprise is that omnisource has hired 51 off-duty IMPD cops to work security. this is only the latest in a slew of stories that make IMPD look bad—corrupt, inept, or both—and the "supporters" story is a plea that we shouldn't rush to the judgment that those 51 cops were in on the scam. none of those cops have been charged with anything, supporters say. there's even a quote from the local FOP president stating that he's "confident" that none of those cops were involved in law-breaking.

common sense suggests that at least one of those fifty-one police officers running around the place should have noticed that some shady stuff was going on. so the idea that none of these cops were in on it fails the sniff test.

but it gets worse. i first read these details in today's star editorial:

The list of off-duty IMPD officers that OmniSource employed includes Detective Jason Prendergast, the department's lead investigator of scrap metal thefts. His employment by a company working in a field directly related to his on-duty responsibilities is an obvious conflict of interest.

Two years ago, Prendergast and Maj. David Allender, a district commander also employed by OmniSource, led an investigation into one of the company's top competitors in the city.

the top guy in charge of scrap metal thefts was moonlighting as a security guard at a company that was buying stolen scrap metal. why would prendergast even want to work security there? even giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he didn't know about the crimes there, how could he have thought it was a good idea? and even worse, why would his bosses agree to let him do it?

the investigation into omnisource has been going on for a year. top brass (including, we must assume, mayor ballard's office) have known about the investigation all this time. yet prendergast and others were allowed to continue moonlighting there. clearly something screwy has been going on.

mayor ballard, who eagerly seized control of the police department last year, steadfastly refused to comment on the story during a video chat yesterday with the star ed board. the ed board valiantly tried to get him to comment, but he refused. today's editorial takes him to task for being invisible on this issue, as he is on so many others. ballard's defenders will surely try to blame former mayor peterson and sheriff anderson, as they do whenever ballard is in trouble. (no doubt abdul is already working on his post blaming the prior administration.) but ballard is mayor now, and it would be nice for him to show some leadership on this issue (and a number of others). the man likes to talk about leadership. he wrote a book about it, and even teaches leadership classes to IMPD officers. but when it comes to actually stepping up and exhibiting leadership, he's nowhere to be found.

as tully wrote in today's column, ballard has no political instinct. he says he hates lame photo ops, but he doesn't seem to understand that one of the main ways politicians lead is by getting in front of a tv camera and showing people you're in control. and since ballard made it a point to take personal control over the IMPD, that only makes it more important that he get up there and say, "we're investigating, we hope none of our officers were involved in wrongdoing, but if they were they'll be punished." his unwillingness to do so is troubling.

we haven't heard the last of this story. this is shaping up to be yet another black eye for a police department that has had a lot of bruises lately.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 
too little too late
i noticed that IHOP is trying to duplicate denny's' success by offering people a free short stack of pancakes today. it might even work—to a degree, but it surely won't be as successful as the denny's promotion for a few reasons:
  1. they're offering less. denny's gave away free grand slams, which include eggs, sausage, and bacon. IHOP is merely giving away the pancakes.
  2. they're getting less ad exposure. denny's advertised their offer during the super bowl to be sure everyone knew about it.
  3. this won't be true for every market, but... i don't know where there is an open IHOP anymore! the one in castleton has been shuttered for months, and the one in downtown indy was recently demolished in order to build a CVS even though there's a walgreen's right across the street! (looks like there's one in avon, one near lawrence, and one near greenwood if you're really itching for a short stack.)

my wife loves free food—just yesterday we got free coffees at einstien brothers, and tomorrow we're going to denny's because we have coupons—but i'm not driving to avon just for a free short stack.

Sunday, February 22, 2009 
the city reacts to ballard's bold vision of livability
a day has now passed since mayor ballard gave his state of the city speech (on a saturday morning, when the fewest number of people possible would be paying attention). so how are people responding?

"The biggest complaint I have as a resident is that livable isn't a goal," said Adam Kirsch, executive director of the Marion County Democratic Party. "It is the bare minimum the city should expect.

"The speech didn't provide a bold vision. It was just filled with a litany of minor accomplishments during his first year."

Republican City-County Council member Michael McQuillen disagreed, saying, "Livability is a big issue that will put Indianapolis a step above other big cities in this nation."

imagine... a city that's livable! it sounds far-fetched, i know—like something out of a grant morrisson comic book—but just try to picture it: a city where you can actually live! if ballard can somehow pull it off, then that would really put indianapolis a step above other big cities!

Ballard was asked after the speech if he thought he'd provided the vision his critics had found lacking.

"What I said today is not much different than what I've said the last eight to 10 months," he said.

in other words, no, not even ballard thinks he articulated a vision in this speech.

even the mayor's top apologist, abdul hakim shabazz, concedes that the mayor has no vision, but tries to spin it as a positive. "I think this city has enough of that 'vision' for a while," he writes. and for those of you who think abdul's opinion on ballard, who he has literally never criticized for any reason whatsoever, isn't worth the pixels it's printed on, abdul has this to say: you should listen to him because he was actually in the room during the speech. so there!

gary welsh has, in recent weeks, found something to write about other than his distrust of president obama: the troubles at the CIB. he was hoping for the mayor to say something of substance on the subject, and was naturally left empty-handed. paul ogden concurs, and promptly takes the opportunity for a shot at former mayor bart peterson.

amazingly, matt tully, who just the other day wrote a column begging the mayor to show some vision for god's sake, gave the speech a B. why? because ballard's delivery wasn't as embarrassing as at past speeches. apparently ballard's decision to skip meeting the president in order to practice his speech helped after all. perhaps tully's next column will explain why the speech was actually good despite not delivering on the stuff tully said he wanted. (to be fair, in today's tully's corner feature, tully takes ballard to task for skipping the obama meeting, so he's not completely soft on the mayor.)

at her latest blog, envision indy, jen wagner has been offering a detailed response to the speech, including fact checks, detailed rebuttals, and the full text of the speech. let's hope that envision indy sticks around longer than some of her previous blogs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009 
the high standards of livability
the indianapolis star, tired of giving mayor ballard a pass these past 14 months, has been begging him to articulate some sort of vision in this morning's state of the city address. after all, the mayor allegedly passed on the opportunity to meet president obama just so he could practice the speech.

i imagine they'll find the speech as underwhelming as i did.

so what's the mayor's vision for indianapolis? he wants to make us a "safe, livable city". hoo boy, don't throw out your back aiming so high! making the city livable is an awfully high standard to aspire to! (in contrast, former mayor peterson merely hoped to make indianapolis "world-class".)

now, i agree with the mayor's plans to add sidewalks and bike lanes. the city is sorely lacking in both (though the sidewalks would be more useful if we had a decent public transit system). but when sidewalks are the most exciting part of your plan, there's something wrong with your plan.

and of course, it wouldn't be a ballard speech if it didn't include at least a few minutes of griping about prior administrations. judging from his speech, you'd think bart peterson was the sole reason for the city's economic woes—not the nationwide recession or property tax caps that will only continue to slash the city's budget in the coming years.

if you were hoping for something resembling vision from the mayor, it's time to abandon that hope, because he ain't got it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 
photoshop city
in an earlier post i mentioned that for my visual art, i'm trying to get away from purely abstract work toward a style that's more representational, so i can hone my illustration skills. this applies somewhat to databending (i'll still do pure databending, especially when i discover new bending methods), but especially to collage work.

this is a piece called photoshop city that i made several weeks back—the first in a series of representational collages. if you can't tell from the photo, the skyscrapers are made of dialog boxes from photoshop 6. the background is acrylic paint. at 30"x20" it's too big to scan, so i'll have to settle for photos like this.

this piece and much more will be on display (and for sale) at my first-ever solo gallery show, coming this april to 111 arts gallery and tattoo studio in downtown muncie. i'm hoping to sell a few pieces at that show... if only because we're running out of wall space in our apartment for all my art.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 
indy star zen: redirect edition
i thought i was pretty much done with the indy star zen feature, but just when i'm getting out, they pull me back in:

i don't think i have the permissions to do that.

Sunday, February 15, 2009 
back home again in indiana
hello there! a week has passed since last i blogged—a week of much vacationing—so here's what you missed.

monday it rained all day, which as you might have guessed wasn't the sort of weather we'd gone to palm springs for. so while we went out to eat, we didn't get to do everything we'd hoped. in the morning, we went to breakfast at pinocchio's in the desert, where we sipped bottomless glasses of champagne (technically sparking wine, but for $3.95 it was good enough). virago dined on lobster benedict and i jumped at the rare chance to enjoy a monte cristo. (monte cristos seem to have vanished off most menus by the early '80s.)

from there, we went to the palm springs art museum, figuring it was something indoors we could do while we waited for the rain to stop. naturally, the meseum is closed mondays, so off we went back toward the motel. we promptly got lost and ended up at the target in cathedral city. this was fortunate because we needed to buy some stuff there anyway. then it was back to the motel, hoping the sun would eventually come out.

it never did; the rain didn't stop until the evening, as we were on our way to a sushi dinner at kiyosaku. dinner was delicious but expensive. afterward we went to a local indian casino and played video poker for awhile.

tuesday (virago's birthday) we drove down to the san diego area, but first stopped at cabazon to see the dinosaur statues, which were featured in pee wee's big adventure:

dinos at cabazon

as you can see in the photo, at some point ownership of the dinos passed to a group of creationists, who have put up signs proclaiming that evolution is a myth. we also spent a few minutes inside the wheel inn next door, where we bought some souvenirs.

that night we stayed at the famous hotel del coronado—quite a change from the motel 6 in palm springs. for dinner, we went to red lobster. (yes, there are red lobsters in indy, but we had a $45 gift card that paid for most of our meal.)

the next morning, we got up bright and early to enjoy some of the hotel's facilities before we had to go. first we had the fantastic breakfast buffet at the sheerwater, which has wonderful pastries, lovely quiche, delicious omelettes to order, and much more (even brie). it was even better than the breakfast we had at one south in downtown indy the morning after our wedding (though the waffles weren't as good).

then we went down to the beach to see the ocean and take some photos:

virago del coronado
virago's hat purchased at target in cathedral city.

stAllio! del coronado
stAllio!'s hat purchased at the wheel inn.

alas, it was time to check out. we drove into downtown san diego to meet virago's dad at balboa park and visit the museum of man, where the exhibits were a striking contrast to what we'd seen in cabazon the previous day. on our way back to our car, we managed to get completely lost and walk around in a circle for 45 minutes. then we stopped by to see a couple of virago's relatives on our way out of town, before getting stuck in rush-hour traffic on the interstate. you haven't really been to southern california if you haven't gotten caught in heavy freeway traffic.

thursday was our last full day in the palm springs area, so we drove over to palm desert to see the living desert, a nature preserve and park where you can get amazingly close to all sorts of desert animals. we took tons of pictures there:

wild desert rabbit
this wasn't in an exhibit—this was a wild rabbit who just happened to hop up within a few feet of us near the butterfly preserve.

you can walk right into the aviary where some of these birds live.

the park closes at 5 (it closes even easier during summer hours, when nobody wants to be out in middle of the desert), so we drove back to town and had dinner at the blue coyote grill. i ordered the ceviche, not realizing exactly what it is or that it's served cold. the portion of scallops was massive, but it was more sour than i'd realized it would be and so the meal wasn't as satisfying as i'd hoped. i blame my own ignorance for the misunderstanding, though the menu wasn't exactly clear, either. virago had the mahi-mahi, which was tastier, and was served with bland vegetables and a delicious potato chimi.

much to our surprise, a mysterious street festival was being held on the strip a block from the restaurant. we never did figure out the name or purpose of the street fair, but we took advantage of it, taking in the sights and buying a few souvenirs. if we'd known in advance, we might have skipped the restaurant entirely and just eaten street food from the vendors. oh well.

we ate well that week. the best meals we had were the aformentioned breakfast at the sheerwater, and a fabulous dinner at pepper's thai sunday night. pepper's was simply wonderful. i had the sole fillet (shoo shee—fried and served in red curry sauce); the fish was delightfully tender in the middle and crisp on the outside, and the sauce was delicious. virago had pineapple curry with duck and loved it, declaring the meal to be the best thai food she'd ever had. i wish we'd had the opportunity to eat there again before we had to leave.

we also had our share of fast food, from places we don't have in indy like del taco, el pollo loco, hot dog on a stick, and in n out. and on a few occasions, we enjoyed wonderful donuts from an asian-owned place called swiss donut, not too far from the motel. those donuts were much better than we can get in our neighborhood here on indy's northwest side.

friday we flew back to indy. both of our planes were late getting in. saturday we slept.

you can see all of our photos from the vacation here, or just the shots from the living desert here.

Sunday, February 08, 2009 
greetings from palm springs!

we arrived safely in palm springs last night. the rental car folks gave us a free upgrade to a nissan 350Z, a sporty little two-seater that's possibly the nicest car i've ever driven (of course, i haven't driven that many cars in my day.)

our current motel—a motel 6—isn't quite as nice as the car. other than having a swimming pool and a bunch of tv channels, the motel has few frills. in fact, when we arrived our room didn't even have a bar on the toilet paper dispenser. (thankfully, the maids gave us one today.) but it's cheap and has wifi, so i can't complain too much.

today, virago's dad drove up from san diego to meet us. the three of us went out to breakfast, then over to the nearby town of joshua tree (where, despite what the song says, the streets do have names) and drove through joshua tree national park. check out our vacation photos here. the set will presumably be updated as we take & upload more photos.

Saturday, February 07, 2009 
beautiful palm springs
that's where virago & i are going for our belated honeymoon! we leave this afternoon and will be gone for a week.

we're taking the laptop so we should still be reachable online, but i won't be hunched in front of the computer all my waking hours as i typically am. it's possible that i'll pop in here at the blog (or just upload some vacation photos to flickr), but don't count on it.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 
be careful who you give the keys to your blog
popular blog boingboing has had a lot of guest bloggers lately. there's nothing wrong with that: if you pick the right people it can spice up your blog and take it in new, exciting directions. (note: this is my personal blog and mine alone. no guest bloggers here.) but you don't want to just let anyone be your guest blogger, because if you pick poorly, it could damage your blog's reputation. that's a lesson the boingboingers seem to be learning.

it turns out their current guest blogger, charles platt, is a global warming denier. overnight, charles wrote four posts in a row of climate change "skepticism". this caused an ashamed cory doctorow to follow up with his own four posts full of actual scientific information about climate change.

the result is that if, like me, you just woke up and checked your feed reader (or boingboing itself), you were overloaded with posts about global warming and climate change. and because of the descending chronological nature of blogging, my initial reaction was "why in the hell is cory going on about climate change today?"... that is, until i scrolled down far enough to start seeing charles's posts.

maybe next time the boingboingers will be more selective.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 
lunch fail
we tried to go out for lunch today to get in on that offer of free grand slams at denny's, but to no avail. we hoped that going at 11:30 would be early enough to get us in, but there was a line out the door even then. we weren't about to fight for a parking space only to stand around in the show, so we shuffled on.

of course, the roads were a disgrace. (messy roads during the morning rush hour are forgivable, but by lunchtime there's no excuse for the roads to be as sloppy as they are now.)

we ended up settling on lunch at the local chinese buffet. food there isn't particularly good at the best of times, but lunch was worse than usual—half of what i ate was cold, or at least not hot. the one bright point of the meal was a dish labeled clispy chicken. i tried to get a photo, only to discover that my cellphone camera is fubar. fortunately virago had her phone with her.

anyway, congrats to denny's on what seems to be a successful promotion—no doubt many thousands turned up today for free grand slams. hopefully, for denny's's sake, some of those people will turn into repeat customers.

Monday, February 02, 2009 
new shirt design: the arsonist
i have a new t-shirt design up for voting at threadless:

My Submission

this is a new style for me; i guess you could call it a databent illustration. but it's not an illustration that i made and then glitched; rather, it's an illustration created using bent JPEGs for the textures—the colors are really vibrant.

i think it came out quite well, but the threadless voters are fickle, so i'm curious to see how it'll score. i suspect it'll do better than my past submissions, but we won't really know until voting ends. (if it does poorly, i'll probably adapt it into a framed piece for a gallery showing i have in the works.)

so please check it out, and if you like it, register with threadless and vote! you can see the design in detail on flickr here.


FSSA fails in its duty to help people register to vote
from the indy star:

When low-income Hoosiers turn to state social-services offices for help, they're supposed to get something more than financial assistance. They're also supposed to be able to register to vote.

But two national voting-rights groups say Indiana is failing that federally required responsibility, and, as they have done elsewhere, are threatening to sue the state.

Project Vote and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, say their November survey of nine Indiana Family and Social Services Administration offices in Lake and Marion counties found that none were providing voter registration forms to clients. Eight didn't even have the forms available, the groups said.

Nicole Kovite, a Project Vote official, said workers at the FSSA offices were unaware of the federal law that makes social-services offices -- along with Bureau of Motor Vehicle branches and some other public offices -- responsible for helping people register to vote.

a reasonable person would read this story and think, "hey, the FSSA should probably start obeying the law and help people register to vote!" so it should come as no surprise that gary welsh had a different reaction:

It's obvious what is going on here. These groups like ACORN operate as extensions of the Democratic Party. They are going to coordinate these efforts with the Obama administration to step up voter registration activities at welfare offices with the intent of adding more Democratic voters to the voting rolls. Democrats inherently are unable to separate the government's role in dispensing public benefits and partisan political activities. To them, the two go hand in hand.

sheesh! that guy became a caricature of himself months ago. if you've been wondering why i don't make fun of him as much as i used to, it's not because he's regained his sanity (far from it), but because half the time i don't even have the heart to read that drivel anymore.

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