links for 2010-03-04

Continue Readinglinks for 2010-03-04

Homespun: Modern Handmade

I’ve mentioned INDIEana Handicraft Exchange here before; Stephanie and I were introduce to the contemporary craft fair by a friend and have attended their events twice. It’s helped inspire the two of us to plan and scheme about our own crafting projects and what we might be able to do someday as a potential vendor.

In their words: “The INDIEana Handicraft Exchange is a D.I.Y. contemporary craft fair that showcases the work of artists and crafters who use traditional crafting techniques mixed with a contemporary edge.”
Now the folks who run the Exchange — Neal and Amanda Mauer Taflinger — are opening a new venture in Indianapolis – a store for local artists to sell their work. Homespun will be opening up on east Washington Street in the Irvington neighborhood.

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SJR-7 Will Eliminate Purdue’s Health Care Benefits

As Gary Welsh rightly points out in a must-read article on SJR-7 and Purdue University’s health care benefits, the infamous second paragraph of the proposed amendment will indeed eliminate health care benefits for unmarried partners that are currently used by 31 employees of the university.
The question is raised in the Lafayette Journal and Courier – where the university employees express concern, and are given completely false assurances by the SJR-7 author Brandt Hershman, and by “constitutional scholar” Jim Bopp that their benefits won’t be affected.
Trouble is, people like Bopp gave the same false assurances to Michigan state employees before the passage of a bill with the same sort of ambiguous paragraph in that state. And those unsuspecting people recently had their benefits strip from them by the courts.

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Drinking Liberally: Indianapolis

Great idea — Drinking Liberally: “An informal, inclusive progressive drinking club. Raise your spirits while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher. Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place to talk politics. You don’t need to be a policy expert and this isn’t a book club – just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent frustration and hang out in an environment where it’s not taboo to talk politics.”
Indianapolis has a chapter, with an email mailing list and forums. I signed up, and I’ll be going once we get the house squared away.

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RiShawn Biddle Doesn’t Know Anything About Blogs

I participated in a panel of bloggers this morning, addressing the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America, Hoosier Chapter) to talk about local blogs with public relations people. Here are my fellow panelists:
RiShawn Biddle, Editorial Writer, The IndyStar, and Expresso blog
Jennifer Wagner, Taking Down Words blog
Gary Welsh, Advance Indiana blog
Matt Tully, political news writer, and IndyStar blog

The Indy Star “bloggers” (I’m sorry, you can’t “blog” inside a newpaper, no matter what bandwagon you’re trying to get on) dominated a lot of the discussion and seemed a bit self-important about their status as “real” writers. That’s nice. I have a journalism degree, too, kids. I thought it was interesting that Matt Tully only has to write three articles a week. I should have stuck with that journalism thing, because that’s pretty slackerish to me. I have to write a lot more than that at my job, and I’m a designer for pete’s sake.

Of the five panelists, I’m the only person who has a technical background and did all the set up for my own blog. I’ve met Gary Welsh before and read his writing every day, and I read Jennifer Wagner’s blog every day also. Both of them cover political issues and are fascinating to read — they know way more about politics than I do and I learn a hell of a lot about what’s going on locally from both of them.

When it comes to RiShawn Biddle, I think the “doesn’t know anything about blogs” is pretty fair of me. What tells me this is the list of “big national bloggers” he threw out — who he thinks the major league players are. His was a pretty comical list — he mentioned “Instapundit” three times, and someone from a news site twice. I know that Instapundit falls into the top list of unique links, but that’s not the only measure of “big.” I factor “awareness of new media trends” and “tech saavy” into the the mix, which means they not only have a large audience currently, but will adjust with the changes when the “blogosphere” morphs into something quite a bit different, which it’s currently poised to do. He also threw out Movable Type as the hot new blog technology for savvy bloggers. I have this site on Movable Type, but it’s about 3 years out of date as the hot technology. I’m looking at coding my own content management software in Django right now.

Here are some actual “A-List” national bloggers according to me, but with some backup from Technorati:
Boing Boing
Jason Santa Maria
Signal vs. Noise
Creating Passionate Users
Daily Kos

Also, I don’t know if Rishawn knows a lot about education. Not that I do either, but his example of educational shortcomings was pretty off. He mentioned that in his blog he covered an issue about the fact that the standard “passing level” for the driving test is higher than the standard “passing level” for the ISTEP — and how wrong that seems to him. This is a really dumb example about education for a couple of reasons — one being that you’re comparing apples to oranges. For one thing, the driving test is way more important, so the standards for it should be higher — it keeps people from killing me with their cars. And for another, the driving test is an accurate measure of people’s rote memorization of the driving rules they’ll be applying on the road. But the ISTEP isn’t in any way an accurate measure of what students have learned in school. Students learn way more than the ISTEP really measures, and part of the reason they’re “failing” the ISTEP is because it isn’t asking the right questions. ISTEP is a poor yardstick with which to measure education, so it doesn’t matter that the “passing level” is low. Comparing a test we need that helps keep us safe with a test that is irrelevant and needs to be thrown away is silly.

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Outword Bound Bookstore seeks horse, sheep for Brokeback Mountain video release party

Yup, Outword Bound Bookstore (at 625 North East Street downtown, near Massachusetts avenue) is planning a party for the video release of the film Brokeback Mountain. Here’s an appeal they sent out for some help with the party planning:

We are planning a Brokeback DVD release party for April 3 starting at 9PM. (Call or stop by the store to reserve your copy! 317-951-9100.) So, in order to have an interesting party, we are looking for someone who would let us borrow a horse and a couple of sheep. We also need to find someone(s) who knows how to lasso, willing to let Tammara borrow their rope.

Heck, that sounds like an interesting party. I’d stop by to see what happens. I’m curious to see what Tammara’s going to do with the rope.

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Stakeout on Millennium Drive

I hate throwing in the towel on books. I feel guilty if I can’t get through one, and I will struggle to the end of even the most difficult stuff. And I wanted to like Stakeout on Millennium Drive; I really did. It is, after all, a book set in Indianapolis, by a native writer, Ian Woollen. We just don’t have enough of those, so I was hoping to write a glowing review of a “must read” book. He even sent the book to IndyScribe so we could review it. It’s a murder mystery, and I love those.

The premise of the story is that a police officer shooting has occurred on “Millennium Drive” (a fictional street the approximate location of which I wasn’t able to determine) witnessed by a reporter named Kurt Blackwood on a ride-along with said policeman, Louis Garcia. Blackwood is a bit of a crackpot and writes for a fictional alternative local paper — the “Whipping Post” — where he writes a tinfoil-hat column called “Naptown Nuggets” (that name alone made me want to reject the book). Officer Garcia gets shot and killed by a woman as he tries to knock on her door to break up a domestic dispute between her and her husband. Despite the testimony of the reporter, the inquiry into the shooting determines the husband fired the gun, and that the incident was an accident, so the case is closed.

But Blackwood, who hears the voice of the slain policemen in his head, believes that the real facts of the shooting were covered up because there was some connection between the quarreling couple responsible for the shooting and the Mayor of Indianapolis, a fictional character that seems to be modeled on former mayor Steve Goldsmith (references to privitization and corruption abound). So Blackwood begins a stakeout of the street to gather more information, and at the same time begins writing reports on his progress in the form of long, rambling, disjointed letters to the Assistant Deputy Mayor of Indy (Randall Fleck), whom Blackwood conveniently has dug up some dirt on. The novel is composed almost entirely of these letters, with some short snippets of narration about Fleck’s reaction (or non-reaction) to these epistles.

You can see my problem, can’t you? If you were given a bunch of nutty ramblings about something you didn’t have a reason to care about, would you sit and read them? Even if they were conveniently bound in book form?

Woollen inserts a lot of interesting Indianapolis history into Blackwood’s ramblings through the character’s backstory; his family were long-time residents and had connections to early local architecture and culture movements. But I was bothered by the character expressing scathing feelings about the city. Everyone’s entitled to his own opinion, of course, but I wondered why an author would bother to set a book in a city that they appear to strongly dislike.

And as the letters to Fleck progress, Blackwood seems to lose track of his goal of ferretting out the truth as he interacts with the “colorful” characters of Millennium Drive, who hang out at his van and talk to him, and later invite him into their homes, instead of calling the police as anyone with an ounce of sense would do. He even becomes friends with the woman who shot officer Garcia and contemplates attempting to sleep with her. The point at which Blackwood begins a discourse on his sexual proclivities was one of my stopping points. I tried to power through it, but I got as far as the street’s pro-wrestler native american attempting a spirit-cleansing to exorcise the spirit of Officer Garcia from Blackwood’s head before I had to stop.

There was every reason for me to enjoy this book, but I couldn’t wait to put it down whenever I had it in my hands, and I dreaded picking up again. I even began cheating on it with other books on my to-read list. If you want to tackle the book, let me know how it wraps up. I wouldn’t mind knowing how it ends, but I just can’t devote the time to get there myself.

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Kerasotes Theaters (Glendale) 5 Buck Club

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Kerasotes Theaters is offering a five dollar club, with a discount card that you can use to see movies for five dollars any time for movies that have been playing at least two weeks.
That’s a pretty nice deal for movies when the regular matinee price is $6.25. And the theater at Glendale is one of my favorites (stadium seating, comfy flip-up arms on the chairs).

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