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Wednesday, March 10, 2010 
This blog has moved

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this blog may break
as you may have heard, blogger is eliminating support for ftp publishing. since stAllio!'s way is currently published via blogger ftp, that means i need to change my setup.

you may be thinking that this is perfect opportunity to switch to a different blog provider, and you'd have a point. however, over the years i've built multiple web sites for other people using blogger ftp, so i need to know the new blogger systems work for their benefit.

as such, stAllio!'s way will soon migrate to blogger hosting, most likely in the new few hours. as such, you may notice the following changes:
  • the URLs for the blog and its feed will both change—a redirect will be posted but you'll want to change your bookmarks.
  • the blog layout may get all wonky as i switch over the new blogger layouts. (this isn't required, but if i'm migrating anyway then what the hell, right?)
  • i may get inspired and design all new blog graphics. (this will happen eventually, but as i have other ongoing projects, i'll probably wait a bit.)
  • some links may break, though they should redirect to the new location.

i've already migrated the AWIA news blog (and updated its graphics), which was relatively painless, so i predict this will go smoothly. but, you know, do not adjust your set. we control the horizontal and the vertical, and all that.

transparency in local government?
when mayor ballard talked about transparency in local government, he must've been referring to the powerpoints he'd use to present his closed-door dealings:

The city is close to selling its water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group in a $1.9 billion deal that leaders say would minimize future rate increases and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to improve roads, bridges and sidewalks.

Today, Indianapolis officials will give details of a nonbinding agreement between the city and Citizens, a public charitable trust that provides gas, steam and chilled water. Under the proposed terms, Citizens would pay Indianapolis nearly $2 billion for the two utilities, which now are owned by the city and run by private operators.

Citizens would acquire Indianapolis' water and sewer utilities and have full control over their operations. It also would become responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvement projects to be completed in coming years.

City officials touted the benefits of the plan, but some are concerned about the arrangement, which would limit the city's oversight of two integral utilities.

Under the new setup, no local elected officials or their appointees would be responsible for approving or suggesting rate increases. Instead, it would be left up to Citizens' board of directors, who are not accountable to Indianapolis voters, to decide when to seek rate increases and how big they should be. Final say on rate increases would be in the hands of state utility regulators who are appointed by the governor.

so he wants to sell our water & sewers to a utility company, giving up any semblance of oversight, and in exchange we'll get to fill some potholes.

it should be noted that when democrats on the city-county council asked about rumors of a water deal, they were repeatedly told no deal was in the works. transparency!

Friday, March 05, 2010 
a little too prescient?
when i predicted that the new let's-all-bring-weapons-to-work bill would lead to an increase in workplace shootings, even i didn't think it would start happening quite so soon... the governor hasn't even signed the bill into law yet!

PORTAGE, Ind. -- Police say an Indiana Department of Workforce Development auditor who had just received a poor job review shot at co-workers at the agency's office in Portage.

No one was hurt.

Police in Portage, about 10 miles east of Gary, aren't identifying the worker until formal charges are filed.

Sgt. Keith Hughes says the 60-year-old man became upset during his job review and told his supervisor he needed to go to his car. After he retrieved a shotgun, a manager locked the front door and ordered the other 15 employees to the rear of the office.

Police say the man fired one shot at the front door and another inside the office as his co-workers fled. They say he surrendered at gunpoint to officers while trying to reload.

now if you'll excuse me, i'm going to rush off to vegas while i'm on a roll...

shoot-your-boss bill passes
i don't often agree with chambers of commerce, be they US, indiana, or wherever. seeing as how their primary purpose is to support big business over the interests of the little guy, i generally find them to be horribly, even selfishly wrong on most issues. in fact, you could even say that on a typical day, i'd probably be pleased to hear that the state legislature was willing to openly defy the indiana chamber.

but dear god, why would they pick this issue?

Most Hoosiers could take a gun to work as long as the weapon is stored out of sight in a locked vehicle, under legislation enacted Thursday to the delight of gun-rights advocates and the alarm of Indiana businesses.

At least 12 other states, including Kentucky, have passed similar legislation.

House Bill 1065, which passed the House 74-20 and the Senate 41-9, now goes to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature.

the business community unanimously and vigorously opposed this bill because like me, they know it will only be a matter of time before someone gets killed, and they don't want their asses to get shot up. i don't want them to get their asses shot up either, which makes this a rare issue we agree on.

workplace shootings happen. just three weeks ago, a university of alabama professor killed three of her colleagues after being denied tenure. two months ago, an employee at a st louis power plant went on a shooting spree, killing three and wounding five before turning his guns on himself. in 2008, a man in henderson kentucky (just miles from the indiana state line) killed himself and five others after an argument with his boss. but rather than pass a bill that might protect hoosiers from being slaughtered at work, the legislature has passed a bill that will make going on a murderous rampage easier. how could they think this is a good idea?

there's still a chance the governor could veto the bill, but don't hold your breath on that one. so it looks like our only hope to stop the madness is the inevitable court challenge by local businesses that don't want to get shot by their employees. it's sad that it has to come to this, but at least it's better than the alternative.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010 
ballard's continuing war against the city's homeless
at first, we were told it was just about panhandlers. mayor ballard announced that he wanted "to get them out of Downtown so that citizens and visitors don't have to look at it." when criticized for this dehumanizing attitude toward the homeless, ballard scoffed and said panhandling was a "scam". (never mind the studies showing that most panhandlers are indeed homeless.) eventually, the mayor got what he wanted: a "pahandling bill" that made it illegal to stand near a street corner while holding a sign. how's that bill working out, anyway?

but the city's homeless came back into the news recently, as word spread of a homeless camp under the davidson street bridge downtown. the mayor sprung into action:

Mayor Greg Ballard took a look at the shantytown under a bridge on Davidson Street on Friday, and a decision followed.

Get them out and lock the place up.

ah, the return of the i-don't-want-to-look-at-them policy. homeless people are upsetting the neighbors? then get them outta there! problem solved.

of course, if the goal was to get those people help, then closing the camp was a clear failure:

Shiny metal fence posts have replaced dome-shaped tents at a former homeless encampment on the fringe of Downtown.

Now the question remains: Where have the homeless gone?

Agencies and social service teams asked by the city to reach out to the so-called "bridge people" who had taken up residence under the Davidson Street railroad bridge could not persuade the homeless to move into shelters.

"Not a single one of those individuals went into shelters Monday night," said Michael Hurst, program director for the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.

Hurst said all of them went to a "safe place," such as a viaduct on Pine Street, which is a few blocks from Davidson Street, or to other alleyways and doorways in the city.

"They all kind of scattered and went," Hurst said.

so we spent $10 grand on a fence, and in return all we get is a more-spread-out homeless population?

the ballard administration immediately disavowed all responsibility for their failure:

"If an individual makes a choice to sleep on the street despite all the help the city and homeless shelters and advocacy groups have offered to them, there's little the city can do," said Robert Vane, Ballard's chief of staff. "All we can do is offer."

well, that and bust up their camps so the streets are so inhospitable that they all hop a bus to cincinnati, that is.

but it could be worse. for one thing, the city could go with abdul's hare-brained idea to just throw the city's homeless into the nuthouse. i didn't think it was possible to top abdul's previous statement that "Someone whould get a giant broom and sweep them all away! [sic]" in terms of heartlessness or thoughtlessness (how are we going to pay for 3,000 new mental patients?), but there you go. it's funny how the people who talk most loudly about individual freedom and personal responsibility are often the ones who are most upset when the homeless decide that living on the streets is more comfortable than living in a shelter.

as the saying goes, the law forbids the poor and rich alike from sleeping under bridges.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010 
fool me once, shame on you. fool me 17 times...
how many times do your projections need to be off before you realize that you're doing it wrong?

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's budget situation worsened again in February when tax receipts fell below expectations for the 17th consecutive month.

State revenue is now $895 million less through the first eight months of the fiscal year than lawmakers thought when they wrote the two-year spending plan. It's also 10.5 percent below the same period last year, a time when lawmakers hoped the numbers couldn't worsen.

the cynic in me wonders whether projections have been intentionally too high, in order to make the governor look better: mitch balanced the budget somehow—what a genius! what a bold leader he is, managing us so well in these hard times!

it would seem the state's monthly tax projections are as untrustworthy as our list of economic successes.

Monday, March 01, 2010 
"in real life" t-shirt now on sale!
it took a while, but my first printed threadless design is now on sale!

In Real Life - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

this one was actually a collaboration with a finnish artist named marika mattila. when i came up with the idea, i knew it needed to be done right in order to work. the art style needed to be fairly realistic, but i didn't want it to just be a shopped photo, because stuff like that often doesn't score well on threadless.

realism isn't exactly my strong point, so i started looking for someone to collaborate with, and marika volunteered. i checked out her past stuff and could tell right away that she had the drawing chops necessary to pull off the concept. a few drafts later and the rest is history!

i used a bit of the prize money to buy myself a little something—a wacom tablet! i've been using the tablet for a few days now, and already i can spot a big difference in my illustration. plus, it's fun!

my next goal is to get a solo print, but i'll probably still do collaborations from time to time, when i have an idea that i feel could be better executed by someone else.

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