Friday, December 30, 2011

Year-end thoughts and thank you's

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

I thought that I would share some year-end thoughts as we bid good-bye to 2011 and prepare to welcome 2012.

First of all, following a suggestion from my wife, I (we) would like to send out a thank you to everyone who took the time during this busy holiday season to decorate their home with Christmas lights.

I think that many of us take these festive decorations for granted as we drive by, casually or on a deliberate search for, houses and yards with hundreds, or even thousands, of multi-colored lights. I know that many people enjoy the task of decorating for Christmas but we should recognize that the time and expense to make a home twinkle merrily for the holidays can be a chore.

Few things say "Christmas" like driving into a neighborhood filled with homes dressed up for the season.

To each and every person and family who has taken the time to decorate, a big thank you for making our Christmas brighter. I don't know if you realize, but your efforts are a gift to the entire community.

Another year-end thank you goes out to the folks at our local sanitation departments. I could not help but notice as I made my way through neighborhoods this week that the Christmas holiday had generated quite a bit more trash that usual.

I know that these guys are "just doing their job," the same as everyone, but we all like to know that our efforts are, if not appreciated, at least recognized. I can't help but feel that as they made their way through their daily routes this week, the guys driving the trucks and the guys taking care of our trash and recyclables, as well as the guys and gals at the Miami County transfer facility, couldn't help but feel the extra weight of the holidays. (Pun intended.)

Recognition and un-dying appreciation also must go out to our police, fire and rescue personnel. While we are home with our family and friends during the holidays, these men and women are out there to watch over us. Some are full-time, some part-time and some are volunteers, but all of them stand ready to respond when and where needed.

Many of us take these men and women for granted. I suppose that is mostly because they do their job in such a manner that we just know they will be there for us in a time of need.

I was reminded of their professionalism and dedication on Christmas day when a tragic crash on U.S. 36 called emergency workers to action. Full-time sheriff's deputies and paramedics worked alongside volunteer firefighters at the crash site. One never hears someone complaining that an incident took them away from their family. Their only thoughts are of getting the job done and helping in whatever way possible.

For those of you who do not work closely with or around our Miami County emergency workers, I would like to let you know that we should feel very blessed and fortunate to have the men and women that we have on our local departments. Each and every one of them are dedicated and talented professionals. We can all sleep more soundly knowing that they have our back.

To our law enforcement officers, firefighters and medics, I offer a most sincere thank you and a "well done."

I need to remember, too, the men and women at the Miami County 9-1-1 dispatch center. Their work to organize and make sense of often chaotic and potentially dangerous situations, while seeing that help is sent quickly, goes all but unnoticed. Thank you for all that you do, as well.

All of these individuals and groups have had an effect on my life, as well as most your lives, during 2011.

I appreciate all of you and look forward to continuing to our journey in 2012.

My family and I wish all of you a very safe and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Feds attempt at cell phone ban about stealing our tax dollars, not safety

I doubt that anyone has not heard about the call by our federal government this week to ban the use of cell phones while driving.

It is not hard to see that this fight is only beginning.

Keep in mind that the government will not ban the use of cell phones. They will make a recommendation to state governments, leaving the final decision to individual states. The feds, in their own quaint little way, are only suggesting the ban. Oh, they say, but if you decide not to follow the recommendation, the state will not get billions of dollars in highway money.

The word “blackmail” comes to mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that texting while driving should be illegal. I believe that a law should be in place stating that if you were engaged in a phone conversation and are involved in a crash that is your fault, an extra charge should be applied for neglect. I believe that people should keep mobile phone use to a minimum while driving.

I would even attempt to find a way to get hands-free devices into use for everyone who uses a cell phone in a car.

The bottom line though, is that this is one more case of our federal government sticking their nose into something that is a) none of their business, and b) nearly unenforceable.

Lawmakers in Washington must be proud of themselves over this one. They get to look like good guys, concerned for the safety of the motoring public while pulling yet another slimy scheme to withhold our own tax dollars from state coffers.

Congress has turned into a bunch of thugs, preying on Americans by stealing their tax dollars. We pay taxes on everything we see and do while our congressmen look for ways to put that money to use, at best, for their own pet project and, at worst, into their own greedy pockets.

I believe that this legislation on banning the use of cell phones while driving is an attempt to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

I expect that the automobile manufacturers will put up a fight over this, as well as cell phone companies. Both have been working for years to integrate all of this new technology into our driving “experience.” Now, the feds are looking to make motorists take a two-decade step backward.

I wonder if the government complained when AM car radios began to appear as accessories early in the 20th century. I doubt it. The corruption of our federal government was not quite so prevalent in those days.

Let us hope that the government does not pass this legislation. In itself, it is just one more way that Big Brother is controlling our lives.

Factored in with all of the other rights-grabbing policies that have been, and are continuing to be, thrown about in recent years, it is one more bar in the cell of the prison our government seems to be building around us as our formerly inalienable rights are grabbed away.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Honoring our national treasures

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

As I have written before, my job as a photographer carries many benefits, chief among them, the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Will E Sanders and I visited local resident Roy Woolridge, a veteran of the United States Navy and a Pearl Harbor survivor, to hear a first-hand account of the “date which will live in infamy.”

I grew up as the son of a World War II veteran. Many of my uncles, as well as a number of family friends, also served during the Second World War. Rarely did anyone discuss their personal experiences, and if they did, it was almost always something of a lighter nature.

The history of World War Two has been my passion for years. I have studied both the European and Pacific Theaters but the war in the Pacific has always been most interesting.

The story of the attack on Pearl Harbor has been well-documented. Unfortunately, we are living in a generation of revisionist history, folks, nay, nut cases, who refuse to believe the facts of history as it occurred. They would rather make up new facts that are more politically correct.

When the opportunity came for Will E and I to actually meet a man who witnessed and participated in one of America’s most tragic moments, I found myself almost shaking with anticipation.

Historians are aware that on the eve of the attack, there was a formal dance at the Pearl Harbor Officer’s Club. Mr. Woolridge was a member of the band who played in the club that fateful evening, the last evening of peace for four long and terrible years.

I hope that most of you read Woolridge’s account in our December 7 edition of the Piqua Daily Call. It is a story that we rarely have the chance to hear first-hand anymore. It won’t be many years until no one will be left who can say, “I was there.”

Will E received a letter, via fax, a couple days ago, from Woolridge’s daughter. She included an account her father’s recollections of December 7, 1941, that he had written on the 62nd anniversary of the attack.

Woolridge was 100 years old as he recalled the attack to us. His hearing is not what it used to be either. I would describe his recollections of his naval service as pretty good for a centurion.

When I took the opportunity to read his account from eight years ago, I was nearly speechless. Not only were the details very sharp and clear, but I was astounded by Woolridge’s writing ability. His account of the attack and it’s aftermath was a wonderful thing to read, nearly poetic in nature, as he describe the views of the peaceful harbor during the dance and the chaos and tragedy, death and destruction, that began less than 12 hours later.

It is events such as these that make me want to cry in despair as I realize that we are losing our World War Two generation far more rapidly with each passing year. Our “greatest generation,” as described by Tom Brokaw is responsible for making America into a world leader.

I recall when I first began hearing that we were losing World War II veterans at a rate of 1000 per day. That was 15 years ago. The figure, I believe is now closer to 1500 per day.

If there was a more defining historical event than World War Two during the 20th century, I don’t know what it was. Time is running out to talk to these living participants of the century’s most influential years.

When we were growing up, they were “just” Dad, or Uncle Charlie. Most are now gone. And, to a man, their take on those war-filled years was, “We were just doing our job.”

Those who are still with us need to be remembered by each and every one of us as what they have become — national treasures.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Chief Roy Woolridge, USN (ret) and the millions of men and women of our Greatest Generation. Your generation was defined by a quote from one of your own …

“There are no great men. There are only great challenges that ordinary men are forced, by circumstances, to meet.” - Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., USN

Friday, November 18, 2011

Line between reality and fantasy increases as ethics erode

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours photographing the We Are IT conference at Edison Community College this past week.

For those who may not be aware, each year Edison hosts area high school girls for a day of learning about cutting edge technology careers that have been, for many, considered male-oriented fields.

Students could choose between sessions that featured hands-on experiences in robotics, digital animation, forensic computing and even testing for DNA.

One of the things that I noted as I made my way between sessions was the number of technology careers that rely on Photoshop and related programs to create a finished product.

The possibilities are endless. The only boundaries are the limits of one’s imagination.

The final session that I visited was on media and marketing, taught by Edison’s director of marketing and community relations, Ryan Honeyman.

Honeyman showed participants a slide show on marketing and many of the ploys used by manufacturers and their ad representatives to boost sales. The gist being that what you see is not always the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

A number of examples were shown of ad campaigns where well-known and not-so-well-known models were manipulated to provide a more “appealing” image on the printed page. Some of the examples highlighted inept attempts at adding or removing people and body parts from images.

As I was driving back to the office, I began to think about what I had seen. I was struck with the feeling that we have become a society that is part of a fantasy land.

We are increasingly developing into a world where “reality” is computer-generated. The alarming thing about that is that, while most people do understand the difference between reality and fantasy, there are some out there — too many, who fail to differentiate between the two.

Granted, altering photos, goes back to the days of film. For example, most of us know, or at the very least suspected, that the Playmates featured in Playboy Magazine have, for decades, been airbrushed to a level of perfection that does not really exist. The introduction of Photoshop and digital photography have only changed the means to arrive at the same end.

Most magazines at least gave lip service to ethics in photography. Now, the phase, “adhered to accepted industry standards,” is thrown out every time another publication is caught using an altered image. That phrase has a gray area the size of a battleship and is getting more gray all the time.

The examples are becoming too numerous to mention. Time Magazine’s altered image of O.J. Simpson and the Photoshopped image of a computer-aged Princess Diana “walking” along side her new daughter-in-law are but two examples of an increasingly unscrupulous “media” who care only about sales. The word “ethics” disappeared from their vocabulary years ago.

All of this adds up to such a blurred version of “reality” that many cannot find what is real and what is not. Sadly, fewer and fewer numbers of people seem to even care that they are not looking at something that is real.

How can we make hard decisions on so many important issues when we never know if what we are seeing is real … or a computer-generated version of “reality” meant to sway our opinion?

We need to get a better handle on reality. We need to, once again, understand and live by ethical standards that we will not compromise for any reason — before it is too late.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spare the rod and spoil the child ... period!

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Spare the rod and spoil the child. We have all heard the phrase, which traces its origins to the Bible.

Some media outlets have been giving a lot of press this week to the issue of corporal punishment. The issue has risen to the top again due to a young lady who came forward to show that she had been beaten as a child, by her father, a pillar of the community.

The media, of course, was quick to cite examples of countries, such as Sweden, where corporal punishment is not allowed.

To get straight to the point, there is a difference the size of the Grand Canyon between a swat on the rear end to discipline a child and the beating or abuse of a child.

Granted, there are adults who do not seem to understand that difference and they should be dealt with in a manner that they will never forget.

If you have not guessed, by now, I have no objection to physically disciplining a child. One of the main reasons why today's teachers have so much difficulty with some students is that we have a generation of children who are growing up knowing that there are no real consequences for bad, even violent, behavior.

It is growing increasingly difficult to physically discipline children at home. They are quick to threaten parents with a claim on being beaten. Nosy neighbors are quick to call the police if they hear so much as raised voices.

One only has to look as far as many of your young adults, the selfish and entitled generation. For the past 25 years, teachers have been unable to adequately discipline students and far too many parents don't care or have been scared into not taking matters into their own hands at home. The result is a generation of adults who have no respect for themselves or anyone around them. They feel that if they want something, they can just take it. Why? Because they deserve it.

Today's children don't respect their parents. They don't respect their teachers. They don't respect themselves.

The above statement can be traced to one significant change in America — the failure to discipline children.

In sports, there is a motto, "no pain, no gain." The same can be said for children in growing up to be respectful.

We have become a nation where is our kid places 57th out of 57 teams in a contest, we must give him/her an award for participating. They are entitled to it because they tried. They are all winners.
Again, there are no consequences to losing. Yes, I said losing. Not everyone wins. Winners are those who work harder. They feel the pain, even at a young age. Winners earn the victory.

We all would love the luxury of raising our children and have them avoid any sort of pain in their lives. Unfortunately, "No pain, no gain," relates to life, not just sports.

Sometimes as parents, is it necessary to inflict a little pain on your own child in order to make them a better person. Yes, it hurts you as a parent to carry out the punishment.

Kids must learn that while good behavior and high achievement carries rewards, so does bad behavior carry a penalty, a penalty that must be carried out, not just threatened.

And to parents who claim that, "My kid shouldn't be treated like that. He/She is more gifted or smarter than the other kids," I will say that you, and your kid, probably need a good whack on the butt. That is the kind of attitude we need to get rid of in this country.

Those of us who grew up in a society where teachers doled out appropriate penalties for our childhood indiscretions know that we became better citizens for the efforts of our teachers. We are the same group who knew that when our parents said, "If you get spanked at school, you will get the same thing when you get home," they meant it. Our parents respected our teachers, and their judgement, because our parents had been raised properly — quite unlike most children being raised today.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Local high school volleyball action is worth watching. You will be amazed.

It is the first weekend of November and all around the area, “water cooler” talk is about sports, specifically football.

No doubt there is much excitement from watching our local football teams compete in the Ohio playoff process, no matter how flawed, but that opinion is for another time.

I would like to take an opportunity to remind folks that there is another sport heading deep into its own tournament season. Volleyball teams still in competition are wrapping up regional tournaments this weekend.

Many of you may not realize it, but we are fortunate to live in a high school volleyball Mecca.

How many of you realize that Lehman Catholic has made seven trips to the state tournament? They have earned three state titles and three state runners-up.

The Lady Cavs are competing today, at Tipp City, for another trip to the state tournament this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Lady Vikings from Miami East are knocking on the door, hoping for a trip to state.

Our own Piqua Lady Indians earned a GWOC North title followed by their third straight sectional title this season.

As teams from our immediate area work their way through the annual tournament, their toughest competition almost always comes from our next-door neighbors to the north. Versailles, Ft. Loramie, Russia and St. Henry are among teams always in the running for a title.

Anyone who has the opinion that watching area high school volleyball can’t be exciting or enjoyable, maybe because it is a girl’s sport or just because it is not football, really should take the time to come out an watch a match.

I find myself in awe of these young ladies’ athletic ability. The gracefulness of an outside hitter, hanging in the air as she soars above the net to smash the ball with explosive force for a kill is at least as exciting as a high-flying slam dunk by college and NBA basketball players.

What is most awe-inspiring is watching the ladies as the action moves close to the net. I have always been fascinated by reaction time. That is the time that it takes a human being, after seeing or sensing a “danger” to have the information processed by their brain, send the message to the muscles, and then to actually accomplish the action.

These young athletes continually make astounding plays that require top-notch reaction time and then moving their bodies and hands into position to save, or score, a point for their team.

I am not taking anything away from athletes competing in other sports, boys or girls, but have formed the opinion that with the probable exception of hockey and soccer goal-keepers, a volleyball player must have the quickest reaction time and most accurate hands of any athlete.

The season is coming to a close but some exciting volleyball action remains. Come on out this Saturday to watch either the Lehman Cavaliers as they take on neighboring St. Henry in Division IV at Tipp City or you can head down to Kettering Fairmont to watch the Lady Vikings of Miami East as they battle Middletown Fenwick for the Division III regional title.

The winners of these matches will advance to next weekend’s OHSAA state volleyball tournament at the Nutter Center at Wright State University.

Even if you are not directly involved with one of the schools, come out and enjoy a volleyball match. I’ll bet you won’t be disappointed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Only way for "Occupy ..." to succeeed is to un-employ a lot of politicians

Occupy Wall Street, or any other convenient location where newspaper and television coverage might be, has become the latest American fad.

Right now, it is cool to be among the protestors. It is fashionable to make a little sign claiming to be among the “99%” of Americans oppressed by big business.

Let me first say that, I too, believe that Wall Street, or big business is partially responsible for much of the financial woes we face.

The other piece of this two-piece puzzle of what is wrong with America is our own government. Big business and our government have created a monster so large that I don’t believe even they can bring it under control … not that they want to.

First of all, I believe that a majority of the protestors, while they may believe in the cause, are only marching in protest in hopes of making the six o’clock news.

Americans are such hypocrites. They claim to want to tame big business but do their shopping at big-box stores that are among the leaders in corporate greed. They probably purchased the paper and markers to make their protest signs at the very same retail establishments that have made it their goal to put local family-owned companies out of business.

For many years, the word “monopoly,” was whispered any time a business became large enough to control even a regional market. Yet, with great skill and deliberation, a number of large businesses, from oil companies and grocery stores to lumber yards and even tax services have managed to organize into companies with enough clout, meaning money, to purchase political votes. That is what it is all about.

Protesters are saying, “Let us change big business.” We will never change big business until we succeed in getting rid of the corrupt political game. Our legislators don’t base their votes on what you, or I, want to happen in Washington. They vote based on what lobbyists for big business say. 

What is the most scary part of the whole scenario is that some politicians are becoming so brazen as to come right out and say, “We are doing it my way, I don’t care about your opinion.” We are dealing with just such an individual with our current governor who rammed Senate Bill 5 down our throats. Just how much money is it costing Ohioans to repeal Kasich’s idiocy?

My message to Americans is to stop looking for your personal 30 seconds of fame of having your face and cute little sign on the evening news. Exercise your right to vote and get the blood-sucking politicians who think that everything should be handed to Americans on a silver platter, a platter that they own and control, out of office.

Remember this as you watch the politicians make their speeches on how they will fix things and make life all rosy for you, if it looks too good to be true … it is.

Friday, October 7, 2011

10th anniversary of Afghan war means it is time to come home ... before it is too late

As we begin this last quarter of 2011, our country marks another somber milestone, the 10th anniversary of our war in Afghanistan.

For our troops it will be business as usual, for our military personnel are operating as they have for the past two-and-a-half centuries. They fight whomever they are told to fight, and they do so in a manner which does credit to themselves and to our country.

As we mark this anniversary, it is time to step back and take a look at what we have gained. No doubt, our world is safer now than ten years ago, at least from some aspects.

I am bothered by the stories I see, and read, about the Afghan people. My take is that they really do not want us there in the first place. 

This seems to be not much different than the war the Russians fought on that same ground. I see shades of Viet Nam. The French fought, and lost, their war in Viet Nam some years before we arrived on the scene.

We are in danger of allowing history to repeat itself. The war in Afghanistan runs the same risk as Viet Nam. The minute that American troops cease to be in the front lines, taking an active part in the fighting, the Afghan army will fold and war lords will again seize control of the ground that our troops fought, and died, to win. We will, once again, have spent more than a decade fighting and dying for … nothing.

Yes, we are fighting for human rights, too. No one wants to see the brutality that goes on in many other areas of the world. The question becomes, “Is it really any of our business?”

America has, since the post-Civil War era, considered itself the watchdog of the world. The problem seems to be though, that we think that our ways are always the best. This trait was not formed in America, it was brought across the seas from our European forefathers, but once on American soil, we sure perfected it.

Look at our ancestor’s attitude toward the American Indian tribes. Rather than even attempt to live with them, we just decided force them to live by our rules, in the tiny corners of the country that we were “kind” enough to grant to them. What gave us the right then? There were more of us and we were better armed. But, were we better people for it? 

Along the way, we also fought for some legitimate and noble causes, primarily in the two World Wars.

By and large, though, the majority of our wars have had serious political undercurrents. Afghanistan is no different. One has only to look at President Obama’s timeline for troop withdrawal. Do you think it coincidence that the bulk of American troops are scheduled to come home two months before the 2012 presidential elections? It is not just Obama. Politicians have been using our military as pawns for years.

Our political leaders’ single biggest mistake in wars is in not fighting to win. Sure, there are political implications with bringing in additional troops or taking a certain piece of ground. But we owe it to our troops to fight to win, rather than feeding them piece-meal into a grinder.

During the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur said, “There is no substitute for victory.” This American hero and Medal of Honor holder was relieved of duty shortly thereafter. The American political machine did not listen then and they still are not listening.

It is time for America to get out of the Middle East. It is time for Americans to live and let live. We must stop trying to force our way of life on others. I wonder if it ever occurred to our leaders that “they” would leave us alone if we would only leave “them” alone.

Friday, September 30, 2011

"The Onion" should be criminally charged for latest tastelessness

Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Earlier this week, a Web-based satire “news” source, The Onion, released a story stating that U.S. Congressmen were holding school children hostage, at gunpoint, inside the Capitol.

The Tweets caused quite a stir around the country.

News stories, legitimate news stories, on Friday, were discussing The Onion’s latest escapade. One news source defended The Onion’s right to post such crap, claiming their “humor” is protected by the First Amendment.

I sincerely hope that federal investigators find cause to charge Onion officials with felony counts of inducing panic. The Onion, and their followers, can claim an attempt at humor all they want but the fact is that, not only, is such a “joke” not humorous, it is downright cruel.

I am all for protecting the First Amendment. I am also for prosecuting, to the full extent of the law, anyone who causes grief or panic among Americans by their blatant disregard for their fellow citizens.

I saw a post on Facebook following The Onion’s assault on the American public, to the effect that “It’s The Onion,” In other words, one should automatically know the information was false. I do not agree.

As our country slips more and more to “citizen journalism,” the line between real, professionally-gathered news and the unconfirmed and many times just flat out untrue reports is growing increasingly difficult to decipher.

Throw in the tragic events of incidents such as Columbine, and you have to realize that even attempting humor related to potential harm to Americans, especially in the halls of Congress, is far beyond distasteful. It is, in fact, criminal.

It is sad that Americans have descended to the depths of what is considered humor and satire. Even on the “higher-class” end, you have late night talk show hosts such as David Letterman, using the misfortune of others as the basis for the rants that he calls humor. At the other end of the spectrum, we have Websites like The Onion. Nothing they say is humorous. They are an insult to the intelligence of the American people.

On television, programs like Family Guy are just downright vulgar. I believe that the reason they do the shows in cartoon format is lull viewers into thinking the “characters” are funny. Have our values sunk to such levels where we actually mistake this crap for entertainment?

That fact that these shows are cartoons just invites our children to watch. Too many parents, who are more worried about themselves than family values, just sit there and allow their children to watch the programs.

Some of you, especially the younger crowd, will undoubtedly say that I am just old-fashioned. Yes, I am. What is wrong with that? I was raised with the values set by my parents. They would have been just as disgusted with what is going on in America today as I am.

This is not about a generation expressing themselves and we old fogies just don’t understand. This is about basic values that we all should have, and live by.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dog attack incident reveals mis-placed values

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Last Sunday evening, a Piqua woman suffered horrific injuries at the jaws and claws of two dogs.

Ms.Sandra Getzendiner was minding her own business, peddling her bicycle over a bridge, when out of nowhere, the two Pit Bull Terriers attacked her and were in the process of tearing her to pieces. If not for the brave actions of several passers-by, it is doubtful that Gentzendiner could have survived the attack.

As is usual for me after covering an event, I came away with some observations.

It never ceases to amaze me when a situation such as this occurs, the number of people who seem to be far more concerned with the animal than the human being.

Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I love most all animals. Unlike some folks, however; I believe that I can put things into perspective.

I was at the scene of the incident. (The Piqua Daily Call was the only news organization there, by the way.)

After the investigation and activity related to the attack wrapped up on Sunday evening, I proceeded to do our "newspaper thing" of checking facts and details, along with gathering more information as it became available. Part of thiswork flow was to post what we knew on our Facebook page, along with a photograph.

We were quickly besieged with responses. One of the first was from a reader who demanded that I apologize for running a photograph of a dead dog surrounded by officers who had just shot it. Before I had time to form a response, a number of readers offered a differing opinion. The comments were interesting. I am pleased that many were sound and reasonable. A few of them just left me scratching my head.

I quickly saw two thing happening. First, I noted the few people who were flat-out more interested in "the poor animals," than in the fact that those two dogs had nearly killed someone.

I literally had more comments concerning a photograph of a dead dog than we received the last time we published an image of a deceased human. That fact alone turns my stomach more than any photograph ever could.

The second thing that I noted was, in these days of "I-Witness Reporters," an appalling lack of accuracy to "I-Witness" reports and just flat-out unsubstantiated incorrect information. It did not take long for me to wonder if I was covering a totally different dog attack.

Posts ran a gamut of whether, or not, the second dog had been apprehended or killed to people stating that they "had heard" that the dog attack victim had died of her injuries. I even heard someone claim that police found torn-off human limbs in the woods. Where do people come up with this stuff?

What is most sad is that many news organizations are using the "I-Reporter" route in an ever-increasing fashion. Why? They do it so that they can save money. They do it to make the general public feel "connected" to the station.

All that is happening is that, in exchange for an individual getting his thirty seconds of fame, the public is getting everything from incomplete facts to flat out lies.

The bottom line? Their company management cares less about covering news and doing so ethically and accurately than they do about their own bottom line.

The good news in all of this is that Getzendiner is reported to be doing well following surgery and is on the mend. She is proving to be a very popular lady and the outpouring of support and prayers for her is heartwarming.

I hope that we can all learn something from this near-tragic incident. Most importantly, a human life is far more important that any animal.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering tragic events ... now, and forever

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

It is difficult to believe that 10 years have passed since that tragic day in September of 2001.

Much has changed since four aircraft, taken over by terrorists, altered the way we live.

I am still saddened and angered by the alterations and adaptations we have been forced to make in the days and years following September 11, 2001.

In spite of the fact that many terrorists, including 9/11/01 mastermind Osama Bin Laden have been killed, we are still puppets being played by terrorists and terrorism.

Surveillance cameras can be found, (or not found), everywhere. Our every move is monitored. Some good has come from this as the cameras also serve to assist in identifying and locating criminals. The bottom line is that we have surrendered our freedom to not have lives monitored by “big brother.”

Anyone wishing to travel, especially by air, is subjected to time consuming and, in many cases, humiliating searches in order to board an aircraft.

The TSA released a statement this week stating that Americans are safer now that we were in 2001. My question is, “At what cost?”

In my mind’s-eye, I envision terrorists sending carefully worded messages to each other, hinting at possible terror plots in the United States, fully aware that these messages are being intercepted and read by our counter-terror experts. They write these messages, while seated in their Lazy Boy recliner, never intending to actually perpetrate the terror act. They can just have fun watching us go nuts trying to stop them … and at the same time, further eroding our formerly unalienable rights.

We will not have won anything until the day we can climb on a commercial aircraft in this country without undergoing X-rays and a full-body search.

I do not care if it takes profiling to get the job done. I have no sympathy for Muslims living in this country. When their freedom of religion interferes with our freedom and endangers our very lives, get rid of them. From where I stand, they have done nothing to assist in our efforts to eradicate Muslim terrorists from our country. Sitting idly by is the same as offering a helping hand.

As we prepare to commemorate the anniversary of this solemn day, I know that all of us will take a few moments to remember exactly where we were, and what we were doing, when we began receiving news that those gutless hijackers-turned-executioners were killing thousands of innocent Americans.

We need to honor and remember the victims. We must also honor the sacrifices made by police, fire and rescue personnel on that day, and in succeeding days.

Many communities, including our own, are holding events to remember 9/11/01. The Piqua community will be holding A Day of Honor at Fountain Park on Sunday. It is important that we never forget and that we continue to honor everyone whose lives were touched by those acts of terror.

I can’t help but notice the comparison in this 10th anniversary of 9/11/01 to recent anniversaries of Dec. 7, 1941. Just because we have lost most members of the generations who were alive to witness the tragic “Day of Infamy,” does not lessen the day’s impact on our world. Yet, many of our children do not even know what happened on that December day in 1941.

Both dates mark terrible tragedies. Let us never forget either, lest we be doomed to let history repeat itself, again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Looking for a candidate? Don't trust national media for truth.

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

Some of you may have noticed already. Political “season” has begun.

Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party and others are digging their soap boxes out of the wood shed and getting ready to hit the campaign trail for Presidential Race 2012.

The list of candidates throwing their hat into the ring becomes longer each day. Many candidates have already begun campaigning.

I like to think of this initial phase of the campaign as the one in which candidates find out which election promises that will never be kept are the ones that get the most cheers in a given city.

I am also growing to believe that a majority of failed campaign promises are not necessarily the fault of any given candidate. Rather, once the newly-elected politician is sworn into office, he, or she, finds that the gargantuan bureaucratic monster that has been created over the past 235 years prevents most meaningful legislation from ever seeing the light of day.

I also believe that wealthy corporations and individuals who are powerful lobbyists for their personal agendas have been allowed to be the wrench in the machinery for far too long. Too many politicians are under the influence, in varying degrees, of these lobbyists. A majority of legislation that passes through our federal, and to a lesser extent state, legislatures, is in my opinion, formulated and filtered to make sure that powerful lobbies make money, or at least don’t lose money. What is best for citizens doesn’t even enter the equation.

So how do we go about choosing our candidates?

Some of us do listen to speeches and read quotes directly from the candidates. Many of us form our opinion based on what we read in the news. I believe that is a very dangerous way to make a personal choice for a candidate for office.

It is no secret that large news organizations are some of the most biased organizations in the world. When it comes to politics, America’s national media can make the National Enquirer look like a reputable news source.

All of them, yes all, love to do whatever they can to make a candidate, or office holder, look bad. I think back to the brew ha ha that was made when then-President Gerald Ford slipped coming down the steps of Air Force One. The national media laughed at him and implied Ford was clumsy. In fact, Ford was a very accomplished athlete, playing football for the University of Michigan. Ford was even offered a contract by the Green Bay Packers.

When our political candidates are not making physical missteps, the media searches for gaffes made in speeches. I know that I want the person who receives my vote for president to be able to think and perform well under pressure but anyone can make a mistake.

There have been studies done that show how our presidents age substantially during their term in office. I believe that it is as much due to a thoughtless and ruthless media as it is to the “normal” pressure of running our country.

I don’t claim to know the history of how or why our major news organizations became so one-sided for whatever political party they support but I am convinced that money was, and probably still is, involved.

I am in no way saying that the press should not report on the activities of our candidates and elected officials.

What I do know is that shopping for the candidate that deserves our vote in November 2012 is too important to be entrusted to our biased national media.

It is both sad and scary that our national media, in whom so much faith is entrusted to inform us of facts, is more worried about making sure that the proper political spin is put on a story so as to ensure that their personal favorite candidate or party is shown in light they wish to shine, than about truth and honesty.