Friday, March 29, 2013

Dodgeball = bullying? Really? Stupidity reigns in America

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Stupidity in America strikes again!

This past week, a New Hampshire school district, Windham Schools, banned the sport of dodgeball.
School officials cited bullying as the reason for banning the activity. The sport was banned after a parent allegedly complained. No doubt, this parent was probably a former wimpy kid who is now a wimpy parent.

I am so sick and tired of the wimpy, pacifistic attitude in our country today. Competition is a good thing. Okay, some kids are not as athletic as others. I get that part. But they should at least be required to get out there and give it a good effort.

Windham school superintendent Henry LaBranche reportedly stated, "We spend a lot of time making sure our kids are violence free." Violence, really? Since when is throwing a soft rubber ball violent?

What exactly are we supposed to teach our children about life? Is life without pain? Is life without risk? Is life without competition?

We are increasingly teaching a couple of lessons to our children that scare me to death. One, if you don't feel like doing something, you don't have to. Two, if you don't like something, ban it.

I have a news flash ... life is not that way. Or, at least it should not be.

A phrase that I heard frequently when I was growing up was, "survival of the fittest." That is the very basis of nature.

We had bullies when I was in school. I know first-hand, as most of us do, about being on the receiving end of bullying. I was one of the smallest kids in my school.

I can remember being pushed and shoved. I can even remember being shoved into a locker and the door shut behind me.

Did I like it? Heck no. Did I go home and cry about it? Heck no. I learned to stand up for myself. I learned to fight back when necessary. There is nothing wrong with fighting back.

Do you really want to stop, or at least curb bullying? Try teaching kids to fight back.

As I see it, if you want to read something about bullying into a harmless activity such as dodgeball, how about it being a harmless way to teach a kid to stand up for him or her self? They can submit and be quickly eliminated from the game, or they can fight back and learn how to block and defend themselves with a little pride. They can learn that taking the offense back to the opponent can even the odds, and even make them the winner.

As far as I am concerned, the parent who went crying to the school board should be told to butt out. The school board should be removed from office for failure to represent a majority of citizens.

We live in a time when the majority opinion is all-too-often shamed into silence by a vocal minority. It is no longer acceptable in the United States of America to stand up for one's self.

The minute someone dares to stand up and declare that they are going to buck the system that is dragging us ever-closer to a future as a submissive state, they are, themselves, immediately labeled a bully.

Our children need to be taught the difference between right and wrong. They need to learn to treat others with respect. That single word, "respect", is the most important life lesson we can impart on our children.

Far too many parents just let the "system" raise their children. All kids will face bullying. If they are raised to respect themselves, as well as others, they will learn to deal with it.

As for the parents who oppose dodgeball and the school officials who are too weak and sissified to stand their ground, you are all examples of the sad situation our country is in. None of you deserve to live in this once-great country. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Where were you 100 years ago, at this very moment?

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Where were you 100 years ago at this very moment?

I know, it is a dumb question, but I cannot help but look around me and think about the fact that exactly 100 years ago, at this very moment, on ground we stand upon, the greatest local natural disaster in our history was wreaking havoc, destruction — and death — upon area.

I hope that you have been following our Piqua Daily Call flood series over the past several weeks.
I believe that I can speak for our entire staff when I say that the research, the writing and taking current, related photographs around the area in preparation for the series has been a great learning experience for all of us.

One has only to look at the many historic images from March of 1913 to get a small sense of the destruction that devastated Piqua, Troy and Dayton.

Most evidence of that terrible time is lost to the ages. Thank God for memorabilia such as Mr. Arther Adams’ diary, that I was so fortunate to be able to look at as I prepared by portion of our flood series. I could not help but think as I held that invaluable book in my hands, that a century ago, a young man, just about the age of my son, Ryan, was writing his experience on those very pages. He and my son have much in common, Mr. Adams was serving in the Ohio National Guard, based in Covington. Ryan currently is serving in that same Ohio National Guard, although his unit is based in Piqua.

I imagine that Mr. Adams was much like Ryan, a young man who was enjoying life … when duty called.

Residents in, and around, the Piqua area lost homes and property during that horrible time. Some, lost their lives.

The building that served as a temporary morgue for those who perished in Piqua’s flood waters is now gone. A parking lot stands on that spot.

With few exceptions, one of them Lock 9 Park in Piqua, the flood closed the book on the Miami & Erie Canal.

Today, high levees line the banks of the Great Miami River where it winds its way through our city. Most of us give little thought to rainy spells and the accompanying rushing water. We take for granted that the levees and safety features built by the Miami Conservancy District in the years following the flood, will do their job and allow us to continue business as usual.

For those who survived the flood waters of March 1913, I doubt they ever felt completely secure when news of possible flooding reached them.

Most of us have been complaining recently about “Old Man Winter” hanging on too long. As we celebrate our weekend, and prepare for the upcoming Good Friday and Easter holy days, I hope that we all take a moment to give thanks. We really don’t have it so bad.

For that, we also owe a debt of gratitude to our forefathers, who worked to insure that their children and grandchildren did not suffer the same fate. They paid a terrible price as a “perfect storm” taught them that no matter how hard we try, it is difficult to overcome nature.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Big Brother" - Is he Superman, or is he Lex Luthor?

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Do you ever have the feeling that you are being watched?

The proliferation of surveillance cameras has made it likely that you could be under the watchful eye of … someone, at almost any time.

Cameras have been found inside retails stores, banks, and convenience stores for years. In recent years, that has spread to shopping malls and even outdoor locations. All in the name of keeping us safe.

The most recent buzz is the federal government’s use of military drones to spy on American civilians.
I am probably going to surprise many of you with my statement that, for the most part, I see nothing wrong with this.

The caveat to my statement is that this is sort of like Superman. It is great to have those super powers — as long as they are used for the good of mankind and you can keep Lex Luthor’s fiendish hands off.

No one wants to feel like they are being spied on. No one wants to be watched by “Big Brother.” And, we shouldn’t be.

By and large, there is no reason for someone to continually monitor each and every camera. Plus, continuous monitoring would be nearly impossible.

If used wisely — and discreetly — surveillance cameras have the potential to curb crime and get the bad guys off the streets.

How many of you have had the bad luck to have someone hit your car and then take off in an attempt to escape owning up to their mistake? How many times is there a burglary or robbery in which the crooks take off in a vehicle but police aren’t close enough to pinpoint a location or directions of travel?

These are but two scenarios of ways in which cameras could be useful.

If you stop and think about existing laws, this just fits in. If you are engaged in any activity in a public place, by and large, you are fair game for anyone who wishes to photograph you.

Another way to look at it, is that if you are not engaged in a criminal activity, what should it really matter if someone could potentially see you? Granted, I do not want some peering into my back yard while I sit in a lawn chair and relax. But, if someone breaks into my home, I sure wouldn’t mind an eye-in-the-sky to help track down the bad guy, get my stuff back and put him away.

There is an old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”

“Big Brother” cameras are a prime example. The list of possible good ranges from catching crooks to saving abducted children and so much more.

The bad, obviously, is that no one wants to feel as if they are being watched.

If a camera is accessed only when need to assist a citizen or catch a criminal, then they will be a welcome addition to any community.

It should be mentioned here, that “red-light” cameras should be totally outlawed. No, they are not entrapment. No one is being set up to run a red light. They are, however, in my opinion, illegal from a standpoint that Ohio law always stated that traffic offenses had to be witnessed by a uniformed officer in a marked police unit. Now, maybe some of these jurisdictions have altered their ordinances in order to pad the public coffers but, in my mind, traffic enforcement cameras are nothing more than a means to steal money from the motoring public.

On the other hand, how many times have two vehicles crashed in an intersection and both drivers claimed to have a green light? Those cameras could solve any dispute in the matter.
It is all in how the cameras are used.

Are we being protected by Superman, or monitored by Lex Luthor?