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.