Rand Paul Drone Drone Misses Point

Senate Republicans Present Alternative 2013 Budget Proposal

The Rand Paul filibuster about drones boiled down to a simple question…whether the White House believed it had the authority to kill Americans on U.S. soil using an unmanned drone.

Drones are a hot topic for Libertarians, as well as for conservatives whose goal is to make Obama look bad, no matter the cost. To that end Rand Paul spent 12 hours pandering to that libertarian itch. The paranoia that, if we are using armed drones against targets in Pakistan against terrorists, we must certainly be thinking about using them on US soil against terrorists…or maybe Jane Fonda. Logic leaping should be an Olympic sport.

But let’s look at what the subject really is in its most simple form…drone attacks on US soil [Paul’s phrase]. Since the “targets” of such an attack are somewhat nebulous…are they terrorists, protesters, militia, Jane Fonda…let’s look at the hypothetical by looking at the process and see where Rand Paul’s question fails simple critical thinking.

Just how would this attack happen? Bad guy identified, located and target acquired. From this point a policy would trigger an attack by the unmanned, armed drone and – done. That’s pretty simple on the surface but let’s look deeper.

First, the drone weapons’ system is not “unmanned”, though the drone itself is. The personnel flying the drone are certainly alive…and the decision making is certainly human. BUT…why would anyone chose a drone to task against bad guys in the United States? We use drones in places where we don’t want to put boots on the ground, where we don’t want to overfly. We use drones because we don’t want to risk our troops or other personnel. Those conditions do not exist on the soil of the United States. We have civilian law enforcement, we have due process, we have scores of ways to ARREST bad guys here in the US…there is no logic to stand-off attack with a military weapon.

Today I looked up while going to lunch to see a pair of Apache helicopters flying from Bluegrass Airport to Lexington Bluegrass Army Depot for electronics and toy installation. Hmmm… armed Apaches, with 30mm depleted uranium chain guns and pods for multiple air-to-surface missiles such as the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

Then I thought about the thousands of F14, F15, F16, F18, A10, F22, B2 and B52 that fly over US skies each and every day, for the last sixty years…and most are fully armed as they have to be ready to go to hot conditions at any moment. We have platforms, on both aircraft and ships that can launch a tomahawk cruise missile from up to 1300 miles away.

Then I look a bit back in history, during the cold war. We had nuclear armed B52, B58, B1 flying at each and every moment, ready to air-fuel and go to the Soviet Union or China or where ever the threat was. We even have permanently deposited nuclear bombs on the soil of America thanks to accidents in the 1960s involving B52s and B58s and their nuclear payloads.

The point…there is absolutely zero difference in POLICY in use of a drone than use of any one of the other, many military assets from the past 100 years. The reason it is not done is because it is against the Constitution, against every military doctrine in US military history, and against the many laws in place that keep military assets from civilian use.

Each and every president has had a “theoretical opportunity” to use military assets against civilians. And Paul should know that. But he doesn’t…or just wants to expose his paranoia to the world that drones are somehow different, or that he doesn’t trust the system of government which he spent $8,000,000 joining.

The assertions made by Paul that we would suddenly use drones against US citizens is based on the partisan premise that somehow THIS president is different than all other presidents who have had the same set of powers, the same options. Yet nothing Obama has done has even remotely proven that premise.

Put simply…Rand Paul tried to raise an argument for which there is not a reality. The concepts about which he worries have been present for decades, just not the shiny bauble of a drone that is currently so upsetting to many of his followers.

So the question was asked and the question was answered…all without the fundamental reality that the policies of drones, or any other military asset, and killing of US citizens on US soil have been around for years…decades. It is really simple but it does require critical thinking skills. Pandering to your base – not so much.
rand militia 1Rand Paul at 2010 Kentucky Gun Rights Rally with the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters Militia

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

More Gun Laws = Less Gun Deaths… JAMA

Gun Crime MP45a1 33

There is one absolute when it comes to the defense of gun rights by the vocal gun enthusiast community…more guns mean a safer America. I have heard it put another way, “An armed society is a polite society.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Joseph McCarthy apologist and author of Beyond This Horizon.

In principle it sounds right…and it works out well in science fiction, in movies were the script is crafted to support the perception. But how does it work in reality? How does the philosophy of guns fare when placed under the harsh spotlight of statistics, historical trends and analysis?

Would a study, over time with the objective to evaluate whether more firearm laws in a state are associated with fewer firearm fatalities draw the conclusion that “An armed society is a polite society” or that a regulated population was statistically safer. It should be pretty easy since statistics are available for murder and aggravated assault from all 50 states and the laws and regulations governing firearms are also available from each state.

The Journal of the American Medical Association this week released a four year study [2007-2010] of both gun regulations in all fifty states and a statistical analysis of gun violence data from those same states during that same time period. The study BOTH takes into account the total gun violence [murder, injury, suicide] AND gun violence confined to murder and gun injuries.

The JAMA study, through research from Boston Children’s Hospital drew the following conclusion…

“A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually.”

fatalities chart2

If the JAMA study was alone in its conclusions you could possibly draw a conclusion that either their analysis was flawed or the data was not representative of factual reality. So, let’s look at another study, from The Atlantic which drew the following similar conclusion…

“While the causes of individual acts of mass violence always differ, our analysis shows fatal gun violence is less likely to occur in richer states with more post-industrial knowledge economies, higher levels of college graduates, and tighter gun laws. Factors like drug use, stress levels, and mental illness are much less significant than might be assumed.”


Once we have reviewed both the JAMA study and The Atlantic study we begin to see a well established pattern…that tighter gun regulations instituted in states have fewer gun related violence. We see this internationally, when comparing gun violence in the United States against countries such as Germany, Japan, Canada, Great Britain or Australia, where gun deaths per 100,000 are as low as 1/100th of the US homicide rate by firearms.

Homicide Rates


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

Mexican Standoff: NRA – Manufacturers – Police Departments – Gun Owners – American Public

Shot Glass 7

“Law-abiding gun owners.” That is the collective that many in the gun enthusiast’s community would like everyone to believe defines their unity. They want to project a singular voice to fight those who they believe are “taking their rights”. But they are not unified. They don’t have an across the board message that defines their fight. And now, they are beginning to draw lines to fight each other as owners, fora, lobbyists, manufacturers, pundits and celebrity spokesgoons [I’m looking at you Nugent] posture to sell their particular case.

The subject…expanded background checks. It seems simple enough. Having each and every gun sale, whether from a gun shop, a gun show, the parking lot behind the gun show, an internet driven face to face sale in a Walmart parking lot or a transfer between friends verified. The process would drastically cut down on “off the books” sales that criminals use to buy and sell weapons, usually stolen from “law-abiding gun owners” or from straw purchasers. It seems simple…

The NRA drafted their opinion on the subject with a simple statement…

“We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.

This isn ‘t new, or a change of position, or a concession. I’ve been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to news interviews and press appearances.” Wayne LaPierre, May 27, 1999

Well, that was their statement in 1999. Now leap forward 13 years and the NRA spokesman…wait, could it be the SAME Wayne LaPierre has a slightly different view…

“And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.” Wayne LaPierre, January 30, 2013

And the NRA released a more defined statement from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox in January 2013…

“NRA does NOT support universal background checks and is not working with [Senator Joe] Manchin [D-WV] to implement this type of legislation.  NRA opposes, and will continue to oppose, universal background checks and registration schemes.” Chris W. Cox, NRA Chief Lobbyist, January 25, 2013

And by slightly different view, I mean opposite. Then again, in 1999 LaPierre presented the NRA position, “We think it’s reasonable to support the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act.” In 2012 he said “Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

Besides the conflicts between the NRA and the NRA, the gun manufacturers’ lobby further shows that fracture to the unified front. National Shooting Sports Foundation president Steve Sanetti said in an interview…

“From the commercial side, we’re already there, and we’ve been there, and we were the ones that have been the strongest proponents of an effective, complete background check.” Steve Sanetti, NSSF, March, 2013

In the day since the Washington Post ran the story with the direct quote from the NSSF president, the NSSF have been trying to backtrack neither explicitly refuting their statement nor its intent.

Looking further into the fracture of opinion within the gun community…the January 9, 2013 CBS/NYT survey shows that 85% of NRA households support background checks, in direct opposition to the NRA’s stated position.

To further contribute to the fracture within the gun enthusiast community, one group of gun manufacturers and dealers has pushed an attempt at a boycott of police in states that enact gun regulations. That has been met by a group of large city mayors and police chiefs who are telling gun manufacturers that they will focus their lucrative police department gun contracts only to manufacturers, as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak put it “that share our values and support our strategies.”

Removing the conflicts from the big lobbying organizations and manufacturers sales to city and federal governments, we still have THE “gun owner”. Unified except that some gun owners represent an intractable position on gun regulations, some represent an understanding that some regulation is required to maintain a reasonable society, and some just want to hunt and target shoot…unfazed by the whirling dervish that is this gun violence conversation.

So the Mexican Standoff is complete. NRA v NRA v NSSF v gun manufacturers v government checkbooks v NRA members v liberal gun owners v hunters v police chiefs v the American public.

Mexican Standoff

“I’ve got a big suspicion ’bout ammunition. I never forget to duck.” Jimmy Buffett, 1996


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

A Liberal Gun Owner’s View, From 50 Years of Shooting

Something today triggered some reflections of my, and society’s gun use through the last seven decades. This will be an opinion piece, not my normal writing laced with statistics and a collection of links to “prove” my points. It is just my opinion from observation and participation.

I was in my gun safe today, not for anything firearms related but to stow the mighty Pentax 6X7 camera. To get its case to fit I had to move one gun, a Mossberg Model 46a 22 rifle that my dad bought back in the mid 1930s for $14.00. It was the gun that I used to learn to shoot – when I was five, shooting rats at the garbage dump on Pine Mountain in Harlan County, Kentucky.

I bring that up because I started shooting during the Eisenhower administration, 1960, about twenty years longer ago than the median age of Americans [35.3]. And I bring it up to point out just how much gun ownership has changed since. Also, I don’t mean to imply that, because of my history of shooting since I was five that I am an awesome shot and the end all of gun knowledge. I most certainly am not.

When my father took me to Pine Mountain to shoot, it was a Sunday, after lunch tradition…with several of my new found kindergarten friends and me, along with our dads, well, we were along with them. At the time there was not pro football, NASCAR or baseball on television and it was one of the few “things” that dads and their sons could do together [scrubbing the coal dust deposited by passing coal trains from the side of the house with Spic ‘n Span was the less fun choice].

Eight or so years later my shooting had moved to the Boy Scout camps…Camp Blanton in Harlan and Camp Pellissippi outside Knoxville where my uncle – Coach Charlie “Big Man” Davis was camp director. And it had taken on a more adult “training”, both for safety and because our scout leaders and fathers saw a looming Viet Nam in many of our futures. So we learned military M1 rifles, M14 and later M16 assault rifles, compliments of the Kentucky and Tennessee National Guards and their fine instructors.

The men who taught us were men forged by war, having fought at Normandy, at Anzio, Okinawa, the Battle of the Bulge and the younger guys…Chosan in Korea. They knew firearms and had used them in anger. And in talking with many of them…they were different than today’s gun owner. They didn’t have 10, 20, 50 guns. They didn’t talk about their guns; they didn’t define their lives with the possession of their guns. A gun was a tool, albeit a very violent tool and they taught respect for the gun and to always be responsible in actions and decisions. I was taught that you never pull a gun unless you intend to shoot and never shoot unless you intend to kill. That philosophy was driven into me by my father, not to insure that I shot quick but to the contrary, that any decision to kill should be extremely deliberate and well thought out and not an act of bravado or impulse.

After Scout Camp shooting there was the Harlan County Sportsmen’s League…the only real range in Harlan County. And it required membership…thank you Arvetta Middleton. With membership came a membership card to the Sportsmen’s League and another to the NRA.

The point…there were not “gun rights defenders”, even from the pages of American Rifleman, the NRA magazine for members. And the NRA, through its magazine supported the Gun Control Act of 1968, much as they had supported the National Firearms Act of 1934. “The National Rifle Association has been in support of workable, enforceable gun control legislation since its very inception in 1871.” – NRA VP Franklin Orth, March, 1968.

We were taught that we had a Constitutional right to have guns…it was always taught that the right was for our personal protection and as a skill and discipline, because we had, in our history protected ourselves from foreign government. It was never… NEVER… N.E.V.E.R. taught that it was to fight our own perceived tyrannical government. Maybe they had too much faith in the American voter, that we would always use the ballot box to change that which we did not approve. And they certainly never suggested it was for overthrowing a duly elected government, just because the losing side didn’t like what the winning side was doing.

But that is where we are now…the fringe gun owner wagging the dog for all gun owners. While I promised no statistics…here are just a couple. There are 313 million Americans, 60-80 million gun owners and just 4.5 million members of the NRA and the many gun fora. The wagging is coming from just SIX percent of gun owners, from ONE POINT FOUR percent of Americans.

So when folks argue that “you aren’t a gun owner if you support regulations” or “you aren’t a real gun owner if you vote to let tyrants take our guns”…you are arguing from a distinct minority, both a minority of Americans and a minority of gun owners. And that doesn’t even address that you are arguing that a contemporary interpretation of the Second Amendment is more important than life and general welfare.

I was taught by those who supported reason, those who supported rational solutions for problems of society. I was taught by those who represented the majority view of gun owners…and I still believe that majority holds.  So when you ask…”how can I support regulations”…I have to answer that is what every generation of gun owner has done in the past, supported regulations to make society safer, and in an indirect fashion show gun owners as responsible, well thought of citizens…not the intransigent gun crazies that now “speak” for other gun owners, without our permission.


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.


Gun Manufacturers Boycott Copshops in States That Fight Gun Violence With Laws

The gun industry, which is made up of large manufacturers like Colt, Smith & Wesson, Glock, and Beretta; small bespoke manufacturers like Wilson Combat and Magpul; as well as internet commerce businesses like Cheaper Than Dirt and MidwayUSA are each staking out their positions in the highly polarized battle that encompasses the gun violence debate and associated legislation. The primary tactics of the manufacturers are three-pronged. First, they are flooding their lobbyists at the NRA with money. Then, they announce variations of boycott, either threatening to move their manufacturing out of states that pass laws or threatening police, states and government agencies that, should gun regulations be applied, they will not sell firearms or accessories to cops and police agencies “that citizens can’t buy”. In other words, if a state votes to limit magazine capacity to 7 [such as New York State], none of the boycotting manufacturers would sell magazines to cops, federal agents or any other law enforcement magazines that have higher capacity.

I would point out that many of them, while “standing on principle” with their boycott are also raising their prices and price gouging current customers under the cover of current panic buying by gun enthusiasts but that would just be a cheap shot. Principles are, apparently a moving target.

Magpul, the AR-15 magazine and accessory company in Colorado was the first, most vocal protester in support of their vested economic interests. Magpul declared, in no uncertain terms that, should Colorado pass HB 1224, which limited magazine capacity they would move out of Colorado and take their 300 jobs with them.

To date the measure, HB 1224 has passed the Colorado House and it is scheduled for March 4th in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The threat of boycott remains.

Beretta upped the ante by threatening to leave Maryland should that state’s legislature pass an assault weapons ban and other gun regulations. Beretta, current supplier of the sidearm for the US Military is the US arm of Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta, the oldest firearms manufacturer in the world, in business since 1526. BerettaUSA threatened to move manufacturing away from Maryland should the bill pass. It passed the Senate earlier this week and is in House committee today. Maryland’s governor supports the measure.

The second element of the boycott is to refuse to sell to cops, to police agencies or any law enforcement firearms which can’t be bought by “civilians”. This was begun with folks like Cheaper Than Dirt and MidwayUSA, large internet gun shops that are intrinsically tied to the NRA with their extensive advertising in print, broadcast and internet media.

These retailers are joined by dozens of small, bespoke manufacturers and accessory dealers like Wilson Combat and Barrett who have said they will either 1) move out of states which pass laws and/or 2) will not sell to anyone, law enforcement included items that are not available to everyone. Their strength, however is diminished because the large manufacturers, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Sig Sauer are NOT part of the boycotts. And as the heavyweights in the discussion, if they decide to continue to sell to their primary customers…the boycott will have little or no effect.

What does this all mean? Right now the two most vocal, largest manufacturers who have decided to boycott are awaiting their respective state legislatures to finalize votes on gun bans or magazine bans. If they pass, as expected the manufacturers have to decide to either commit to their rhetoric or figure out a way to rationalize their business decisions should they stay. The rest of the small businesses…well, they will have little impact. For each of them there are multiple alternatives in the marketplace who have not restricted purchases for law enforcement.

It also means that the decisions regarding regulations that are intended to impact gun violence will be played out in both legislative houses across the country as well as in the free market with businesses and consumers alike able to “put their money where their mouth is”.  Some companies, like Barrett would likely fold if they maintain and extend their boycott to the federal government should the federal Assault Weapons Ban pass…the main customers of their $10,000, 50 caliber sniper rifle are government…and that is how the free market works.


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

Gun Forum Purges Differing Point of View – Enforces Echo Chamber

The phone rang this afternoon and the only way I knew who had called was from the CallerID. The roisterous laughter at the other end of the phone prepared me that something good was coming. But what would just have to wait until the caller could gain control of his humor [humour for our British Commonwealth friends].

I have known Ray Vaughn for years…we work together in the same profession and share some hobbies, seeing each other as time and work permit as he lives mostly in New York City and I am mostly in Kentucky. Today, I found out how much we are alike which is a bit of a surprise as I am mostly liberal and he is mostly conservative. One of the hobbies we share is target shooting, killing paper at the gun range whenever it is possible to get together. Neither of us is a gun “enthusiast”, while we have both been shooters since we were kids and like the skill of “competitive plinking”, we do not define our lives by an enthusiasm toward guns.

And today I found out we have one other thing in common…we have both been banned from smith-wessonforum.com. Not for being rude, not for posting obscenities, not for name calling, and not for being confrontational. Both of us, a bit over six months apart were banned for the sole reason of disagreeing with the established forum position on the NRA and on our opinions of gun rights/responsibilities/regulation.

Let’s look at Ray’s experience. The simple, and very good question asked on the forum was “I am curious, how many people here own firearms but are not NRA members?” The debate on that began in 2011 and continued through today. Ray’s answer was equally clear…

“I don’t support Big Pharma lobbyists; I don’t support Wall Street lobbyists. Lobbyists are killing this country; buying votes, limiting debate to those with a big checkbook.

From that position I won’t be a member of NRA just because they support something to which I agree.” – Ray Vaughn

One might think it was simple, an honest answer to an honest question. But it was not. The forum, from the owner to regular participants doesn’t want to listen to a different point of view, they don’t have the capacity to take honest debate and learn from it. In their narrow little world, if someone doesn’t support the NRA or support their personal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment…they are the enemy, and treated as such. They name call, they insult, and they make up “facts” to reply to that differing view.

Now, if Ray was anti gun, interested in “gungrabbing” as they call it, it might be different. But that is not the case. Ray is a gun owner…has been for nearly as long as I have and his pretty conservative views on the subjects of guns and addressing gun violence are reasonable. And that is the problem. Taking a reasoned approach to the very real subject of gun violence in this country is looked down on, it is scorned, and it is rejected because it is not what their echo chamber wants to hear.


So they act like petty little girls and run and ban someone just because the point of view they hear is different. I could understand it if the general membership took that position – it is their right as they play in a public sandbox. But when the forum owner is just as childish, just as biased, and just as myopic…that becomes a problem. One person decides what opinion is important. And from his hand built echo chamber…if it is not his opinion it has no right to exist.

So we have a paradox, a gun forum that adamantly supports the 2nd Amendment at the expense of intentionally turning its back on the 1st Amendment and free speech.

What can we learn from this? Well, first we have learned that gun owners, at least those who participate in gun fora have no interest in solving the problems associated with gun violence. They do have an interest in protecting their point of view, and only their point of view, as if they speak for all gun owners. And they have an obsessive, hero worship view of the NRA and its spokesmen – they can do no wrong.

We also know this. When you tally up the total number of members of gun fora, members of NRA and other lobbying organizations like GOA we see that the myopic, intransigent, yet vocal collective of “gun enthusiasts” make up less than 5,000,000 people. That is just SIX PERCENT of the estimated 75-80 million gun owners. The rest fall under several categories…liberal gun owners [we make up at least 33% of that 5Million total] like me, conservative gun owners who don’t believe in or support the NRA, like Ray, and a third, apparently very large group…that group of gun owners who keep guns as a tool, not a hobby, not an obsession, and not a statement of their manhood or their patriotism.

When everything settles in the conversation regarding gun violence, and what laws to be implemented are settled, look at those fringe gun owners, those who refuse to listen to differing views, instead holding onto intransigent views as one of the reasons the laws passed.


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

Just Another Spree Killing – The Price of Freedom

Spree shooting. It is the disorganized cousin of mass murders. They are separated only by definition. A spree shooting is when multiple people are killed by someone in various locations over a short period of time…mass murder occurs when a shooter kills multiple people in one location, at one time. And don’t confuse them with serial killers.

Today’s spree shooting comes to us from Orange County, California…four dead including the shooter who killed himself after a series of murders, carjackings and a chase with police.

Last week it was former LAPD officer Chris Dorner who went on a week long rampage, killing four, wounding others and then killing himself in a cabin at Big Bear.

Last May, shooting erupted on the streets of Louisville. In the end three were killed, three more wounded as at least some of the shootout was in front of the crowd of onlookers, police and press. In 2009, in Geneva County, Alabama a shooter went on a spree that crossed three towns in two counties and left 10 dead besides the shooter who committed suicide when confronted by police.

Beyond definition, how do these sprees differ from mass murder? What is the motivating trigger? In mass murder we like to blame mental illness, in spree killings the trigger is more than likely anger; domestic violence to the extreme [like the Appomattox shootings in 2010] or a workplace shooting that spills out into the community like the Accent Signage shooting in 2012 where five were killed besides the shooter.

A second differentiation…this event will get minimal media coverage…it will be a regional or national news story only until either then next multiple death shooting or until the American Idol broadcasts during sweep week [ratings count]. But the murder count will continue unabated…12,000 Americans will die by gun violence again this year – 250,000 will be injured. It is, as someone on a gun forum said “the price of freedom.” A very high price indeed.

A Blog Transfer from Deviant Art…2007-2012

What follows is a re-posting of various blog entries from my previous digital home. I re-post them, not because they provide awesome insight [don’t get your hopes up] but they cover from the end of 2007 until October of 2012 and show my thoughts on politics, photography, friends, and life through some very interesting, turbulent, hard times.

At some point the entries took on a seasonal theme…hence the titles.

EDIT: I removed the On Photography sections, this thing is just too long…they are still on my deviantart page.

There might be something of interest. Or not.

Falling Forward…again

Oct 6, 2012, 5:47:16 PM

On Life…
Fall is back. From the looks of my photo gallery that is my favorite time of the year. At least that is when I am most motivated to go out and enjoy nature and take the cameras with me in case something interesting comes along.

I am in a better mood than I was in the last journal…we have not had a drive-by of mass murders in over a month. The multiple instances of senseless slaughter in July and August were too many…that tears at the fabric. The ONLY good thing to come from all that is that we, as a society were still greatly offended…still pissed that people can and do act that way against fellow human beings. I was beginning to believe we had become too calloused but this was a hard way to prove me wrong. Now, it is time to figure out how to solve an imponderable. They say it can’t be done. Challenge accepted.

On the Election…
It is just over four weeks until the National Election here in the United States. Tempers are on edge…folks are taking and twisting every little nuance of every word and spinning it to the benefit of their favorite candidate or party. That part has been going on for decades…centuries. But this one has something else. This one is trying to split the people, trying to pit one group against another, US v THEM, Democrat v Republican, Smart v Common Sense, Roadrunner v Coyote. We thought after the 2008 election that folks would pull back together and work as a team to dig out of the worst recession that this country has had since the Great Depression of 1929. Boy, were we wrong. While the President was being sworn in a meeting on K Street with opposition party leaders was mapping a strategy to make sure the brand new administration failed. At no point in the last four years has it gotten any better. And the country has suffered because of it.

I make my voting decisions based on one really simple rule. Will this candidate promote the ideals of a society that is strong enough and moral enough to take care of those who are least able to take care of themselves, even if their votes are against their own personal interests?

If you have not registered to vote…DO SO NOW. It is most important. The fabric of this nation depends on everyone participating in every way they can. Voting is one of the most important ways in which you can participate.

And no matter who wins this November, we have to remember that if we act like the losing side did in 2008…everyone loses. We are ONE COUNTRY…it is time we began to act like it.


Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues.

Aug 6, 2012, 9:09:55 PM

NOTE: For those who read these, this won’t be normal, Sunshine. Bear with me.

On Life…
This is where I like to write about going out and shooting photographs, about enjoying nature and seeing what life has to offer. There be clouds. No, not the towering Cumulonimbus or wispy high Cirrus — I can work with that, and some of my best photographs come in weather than others call inclement. These clouds come through the TV, through radio and over the interwebtubes. We seem to now get weekly reports of folks going off with firearms and either killing or trying to kill many people. 12 were killed in Aurora LAST WEEK, Seven in Wisconsin YESTERDAY and the now forgotten Tuscaloosa Alabama guy who “just” went into a bar with an AR-15 and started firing and injuring 17. That was WAY BACK 20 days ago. And none of this counts the guys who decide to kill their family and then squirrel away to the bunker and, after they have figured it out…kill themselves. I can’t begin to count those, there are just too many.

And since the shooters are all “lone gunmen”, the spin to try to attach them to one political dogma or another has become blood sport. Then they are just marginalized as “crazy” or “angry”. What made them get to that point? What pushed their buttons to the point that they moved from Facebook pontificator to cold blooded murderer? What brought them to boil?

I think Aurora will be different, that it will cause that big middle of America, those neither pro gun or pro gun contr0l to stand up and demand that something be done. And it has to. Neither the public nor commerce will stand for our malls, restaurants, schools, churches, and theaters being unsafe.

Just before writing this I read of a mosque burned in Joplin Missouri. It is its second arson in a month. We have watched as folks, armed with hate and bigotry have protested the opening of mosques and community centers throughout the country. Besides the loudest, most obvious one near Ground Zero in New York City there are examples in Murfreesboro, TN to Mayfield, KY to Buffalo to Wisconsin to Ohio or California, and those are just the ones making national news in the past year. The protests are all generated by hate and rationalized by demonizing “those people”…those who attacked on 9/11 or in Afghanistan or Iraq…even though that radicalized minority represents less than 1/10th of 1% of the Muslim faith.

Then there is the Great Chick-fil-A scandal of 2012. Much ado about nothing until you realize that CFA donates millions of dollars to hate groups that openly lobby to deny equal rights for some people. And folks lined up for hours to support their hate. That cannot be something of which you can be proud.

Back to hate…really it should be HATE for a moment. We spread hate through political beliefs, through religious beliefs, through social history and we now have the technical ability to propagate that hate and bigotry through social media, through blogs, through the news media, through TV at the speed of light. At some point, with saturation it becomes everyday, OK, part of our community fabric to speak openly about “those people”. But it really isn’t. It only seems so because we tend, in society to cluster with those who think like us, to agree with our positions and to support our thoughts. Hate, reinforced through a social echo chamber is still hate.

What to do…when you see or hear hate…point it out. It won’t make you popular but it might just sink in to one of ten folks, and that’s a start. We are all responsible for solving this problem…and the problem will not go away as long as it has fuel.

Regarding Resolve…
From the Richard Nixon 1972 Presidential Campaign…NOW MORE THAN EVER This below seems important and if nobody else reads it, that is OK. I read it myself and refocus.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”


Some, Some Summertime

Jun 26, 2012, 8:26:22 PM


On Life
Well, kiddies, I am back on my feet. After a nine month, extended recovery I can now pretty much walk and do steps and all the things I should be able to, albeit a bit slower right now. I should be off the Warfarin by July 4 and back to normal, rat poison free blood and PT is now “just the gym”. Travel and photography are next on the list. There have been a couple of small trips but I have so far been too tired to shoot or to process. That is coming back fast.


It’s Fall…I Fell

Nov 18, 2011, 12:56:03 PM

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. This was looking like it was going to be a beautiful fall, good rain, right temperatures and all the right ingredients for some great photography trips. And the rolling tripod [Jeep] was ready for the challenge. Just one little problem…
9/9/11, while walking down some steps at home my quadriceps tendon exploded. This pretty much stops everything. So, into surgery a bit later and a hip to foot cast that has/will last until the first of the year “if everything goes right”. Never one to just keep it simple, I managed to develop a 36 inch long blood clot. So now I am fighting that special fun with Warfarin, which is in essence rat poison. But I dodged the reaper which I consider a good outcome. So no new photographs for a while. The view from bed is just not that interesting.

My goal while being parked in timeout is to gather new perspective and to come out the other side a better person. That and to “Mind the Gap”.

Good holidays and good shooting to everyone. I look forward to seeing your always excellent work.


Spring has Sprung

Jun 11, 2011, 8:12:23 PM

On the World
When you do your work, your art, your life…look at those around you. They are important. Whether they are in your peer group, above you or below you we are all interwoven in our lives. Sometime in life someone has helped you. It might have been small or big; expected or unexpected. When you get the chance to repay that, pass it forward. Do something for someone else that is in need. They need it now and might not know how or who to ask. Don’t ask for or expect anything in return. If you are able to help you have already received that. Just pass your good fortune forward.


A New Year Begins

Dec 26, 2010, 8:37:55 PM

On the World
When you do your work, your art, your life…look at those around you. They are important. Whether they are in your peer group, above you or below you we are all interwoven in our lives. Sometime in life someone has helped you. It might have been small or big; expected or unexpected. When you get the chance to repay that, pass it forward. Do something for someone else that is in need. They need it now and might not know how or who to ask. Don’t ask for or expect anything in return. If you are able to help you have already received that. Just pass your good fortune forward.


To Every Season

Nov 21, 2010, 2:09:55 PM


Thoughts while sorting through thoughts
In going through the 400 or so photographs I took at the Rally to Restore Sanity I began thinking about all of the folks who have stood on that very ground at the National Mall, America’s front yard to plead their cause. Some have been very controversial, others seem so blatantly obvious that is was surprising that there was a need to bring the attention of a Nation together to point it out…but it was.

From the Woman Suffrage March in 1913 that started it all to the Civil Rights Rally in 1963 to the 1969 Viet Nam War Protest to rallies for Equal Rights, Civil Rights, Human Rights and protests of yet another war, folks have converged on Washington DC to present their case to the Nation, to those who represent us and to opposing views.

It seems odd that, after hundreds of rallies and protests to draw attention to the issues that plague this country we still have many of these problems. And that brings us back to the Rally to Restore Sanity and Reason. When did it leave? When did the ability to have reasoned debate stop. When did the allure of snake oil salesmen and their partisan hate-mongering, intent on dividing become so strong? When did the priority to “win majority” become more important than the priority to do what is right for the country, even if it means sitting down to compromise?

Before we can have success with solving the problems that we protest we first have to be able to have dialog with those who matter, those who make the decisions and to have that input mean something other than minutes of a meeting. We have to start by talking, by looking at the important issues realistically and honestly.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t read on a forum or blog an argument that is rife with errors or downright lies. Sometimes it is intentional, to “win” the day, other times it is simply repeating what was heard from someone else’s blog or forum and, since it fits in their view it is worth repeating…all without looking to see if the information is valid.  This happens on all sides of the discussion, not just that with which I might now agree.

The first step is going to be the hardest, for everyone. Change goals. The goal should be the success of this country as a whole, not success of this country “as long as my side is running things”.  It worked that way for a couple of hundred years. It can work that way again.


Fall Forward, Fall Behind

Nov 14, 2010, 3:00:36 PM


It’s Fall, the MIDDLE of FALL
OK, so I am late in writing my quarterly missive. I am smack dab in the middle of Fall and looking at the first cold snap of the year. Trees are losing their leaves and the squirrels are working to prepare for winter.

It has been an interesting Fall so far. I went to my High School/Boys Choir reunion which was much fun. Caught up with some folks that I had not seen in decades [Protip: DON’T wait that long to hook up with old friends, no matter how cool your excuse seems at the time].

My wife and I also went with friends to The Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC at the end of October. If you have never been to a gathering of 230,000+ folks for a political/social rally, do so. The energy is amazing and it puts much in perspective.


Summer in the City

Jul 16, 2010, 5:14:20 PM

Summer is here, baby!
Summer came in hot this year with many more 90degree plus days so far than the none of last year. That means playing in the pool and watching the stars at night while floating. Not a bad way to end the day. It has also meant more storms and thunderboomers rolling through. Pretty and great to shoot but they can be dangerous when they spawn tornadoes and violent wind. So we get the good with the bad.

Something came up the other day about resumes and whether it was OK to “embellish” or to “lie” on them in order to get your foot in the door for a job. It has bugged me enough that I am writing this everywhere. The long and short answer is NO! Either stand on your own accomplishments or stand aside.





June 9, 2010

An Eventful Spring

This has been an interesting Spring. Big storms blowing through Kentucky have produced some big floods, bigger storms, awesome lakes and a couple of drives that included avoiding three inch [7.6cm] hail. It has made for a lush, green spring in the Bluegrass with the downside of having to MOW twice as often.


I looked at the previous entry and decided I like it just find. Cut and paste is wonderful.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”.


Spring Rewound

March 27, 2010

A New Year
Blue Skies, chirping birds, cardinals, finches, buds on the trees. It is time for Kentucky to pop. And about time. Time to dig out of the malaise of a winter of cold, of politics, of levels of negativity that have permeated nearly every facet of everyone’s life.

Now we get to shoot new photography, square up the yard and address the ducks in the pool. No Duck a l’Orange planned, instead a remote control helicopter…Huey-a-Huey. You can bet there will be photos.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”


Skating through Winter to the New Year

Jan 6, 2010, 4:47 PM

New Year
Well, the New Year is off to a good start. TSA will most likely be checking underwear [now you know why your mom always said you should have on a clean pair], Play-Doh is the new WMD and Joan Rivers can’t board a flight. At least they got the last one right.

Friends lost work as shuffles occurred and with a cold wave wandering through the flaming electric transformer last night proved to be a fitting end of Week1 to Y2KX. As Tom Jones would lament – Baby, its Cooooold Outside.

I have already been warned not to resolve to “get in shape” as it just clogs up the gym for the hip and fit folks who live there year round. No prob, pizza is too important, style, not so much.

But the big resolutions are important. Responsibility and art. Nothing else is on the radar right now. Work and hobby both need to achieve a focus that allow growth and achievement of long term aspirations. There is much that needs done in the world besides just working to make money and pay the bills. Experience gives us the chance to combine our accumulated knowledge, our skills and motivation to do good. To do less is a waste.

The art [in my case photography and writing] allows me to project a point of view, to show what was, what is and what can be. It also allows me to meet many new folks as I look forward into this aspect of the hobby.

The work now has to be meaningful, not just profitable and to that end choices have to be made. I have done this to a degree all my live but now it is time to tighten the focus, to do it right.

NOW the fun begins. Let’s make art and make a difference.


Winter Highs and Sighs

Sun Dec 13, 2009, 7:03 PM

It’s that time of the year. No, the other one. A smidge to the right. Yeah, that one. It’s time for the Halloween to New Years Day “please, oh please make this a good retail season.” The mall, sorry MALL is packed to the gills with lookers but it is hard to tell who is buying. I really hope the season is a success. We, as a country can really use a boost of confidence. And nothing says confidence better than being in the black.

That other reason. Kids, let’s get this right. With Christmas, Hanukkah, Muharram, Amitabha Buddha Day and Winter Solstice all within a two week period, it is a wonderful time for everyone to celebrate your beliefs and have an opportunity to look upon the world with just a bit wider view. We are all in this together.

And don’t forget Festivus.

You gotta have friends
If the trip to Harlan this fall did nothing else it taught me that you gotta have friends. Most of the time we are busy working on work or something that has little consequence when it turns out that family and friends are what really matter. The rest is white noise. We know that but the key is to exercise that knowledge.

Phantom Reality
In 2009 we have switched between the best of this Country to the worst. From the celebration of an orderly change of leadership and the beginnings of our move out of this hard recession to the horrors of mass murder on an Army Base, the gunning down of four police officers in Oakland AND Seattle and others in between to the absolute absurdities that is Reality TV. Balloon Boy, Jon and Kate, and now the Tiger Woods Open. At least he has an even dozen “friends” which should make for a lovely Valentine Calendar gift.

There was a fear that the decade would start bad as clocks and computers converted to the year 2000. No Prob! For me this decade started January 1, 2000. With a new Mercedes and while driving home in upstate New York the driver in front of me blasted a very large deer. In the 12 degree evening my car was painted with deer blood and guts. So THAT’S how it is going to be. I am ready for REALITY to return and just write off “The Decade of Zeros”.

Everyone have fun at your many parties and get-togethers this holiday season. Be careful and make sure to come out of the season healthy and refreshed. There is a bunch of art to make.


Fall Out

Thu Sep 24, 2009, 4:55 PM

All Dem Leaves Must Fall
The Summer of Hate is slowing unwinding. I can’t tell if folks are finally getting a clue and checking their facts before typing and whining or if they have just realized that their leadership team of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, DeMint, Bachmann, Palin and Boner are the new…nee, NEO Confederacy of Dunces. Either way, Birther Nation appears to be taking a brief holiday.

That High School Reunion Thingie
The 100th Anniversary of Harlan High School brought out a very good crowd with folks from 90 to 18. I saw some folks I had not seen since I left Harlan over a third of a century ago [yikes!]. That was real good. It was the success that I hoped it would be. Now comes the hard part. Following through on those promises not to make it another 30+ years before we see each other again.

On a separate note, high school reunions were not anything like portrayed in Hollywood movies. There were no really catty fights between the “popular” folks and the “nerds” that switched places over the years as the nerds rolled up in the hot cars and there were no prom reenactments to highlight the worst of anxieties that many folks had with their first and last efforts on the dance floor. And there were no stalking killers roaming the halls waiting to extract revenge for that slight in Civics class back in 1969. Other than those disappointments, it was a very good reunion.


The Summer of Hate

Fri Aug 28, 2009, 10:29 PM

What the Hell is going on?
Between the whining and bitching and scare tactics used by those opposed to a reasonable healthcare bill and the loons that feel that expressing their 2nd Amendment rights include carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle into a crowd at a politically charged, heated debate, it seems that some 40 years on, the Summer of Love has dissolved into the Summer of Hate.

Add to that the machinations and paranoid delusions of Glenn Beck and the rest of the talking heads, preaching everything short of armed rebellion and it is time for some serious timeouts. Folks need to step back and suck in a few breaths of reality before someone gets hurt. Way to show maturity when losing an election.

On Friends:
The first break. It looks like I will be going to the Harlan High School 100th Anniversary All Class Reunion this Labor Day. It will be the first time that I have seen many of my class mates in 30 or more years, some since the day we graduated. It is time to start hooking back up with some of that group. You can only work and travel so much before it becomes time to reconnect with the roots that made you what you are. I hope that will be successful.


Spring Ahead

Thu Apr 9, 2009, 3:45 PM

Spring is here. The dogwoods are out, the trees are greening up, the foals are out in the paddocks, Keeneland in running, the sky is blue and it’s 30 degrees…wait…what???

Welcome to Kentucky in the Spring. It is the time of year where we go from 70 degrees to 30 degrees and back again a couple of times in a single week. No tornadoes so far this season [or tarnaders as some like to call them]. The good news/bad news is that the pool now has a pair of mallards that somehow feel compelled to nest in it. It has become “the cement pond”. Nice.

Since the world is somewhat upside down, the time has come to look into the past and find old friends and look to the present at new ones. THAT is going well. It looks like there is going to be a High School Reunion in my little town for all classes for its 100th year of sending kids out of the mountains with a very good start in the world. It should be fun and I look forward to it.


Winter on Ice

Tue Feb 3, 2009, 2:06 AM

I think I need a new section just for weather. We are now in the middle of the Great Kentucky Ice Storm of 2009, or as I like to call it, The Storm of the Century of the Year of the Month of the Week of the Afternoon. Yes there has been ice. The power was out for 25% of the population of our state of 4 million. As I told a friend in Beirut, we had NO Hellfire missiles coming through the roof, it is an inconvenience. Much like in photography, perspective is very important.

On Business I didn’t go to the North American Auto Show in Detroit. My understanding it was very cold and inhospitable in the area and getting to Cobo Arena would have been a pain. I missed some new car introductions but will catch them at the New York Auto Show in April. There is nothing quite like New York City in April. It really is nice.

On Politics Brother, can you spare a…WTF!!! We need to tell our politicians that it is NOT alright to throw the TRILLION word around like pocket change. First, it’s our change and second, apparently we are giving it to folks who don’t understand the concepts of gratitude and humbleness. $15Billion in bonuses for an industry that lost Trillions seems a bit…questionable.

I’m leaving the next part from the last entry. It is important.

We still have to fix this thing, It is NOT going to fix itself. So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.

Spring is just around the corner. The trees will be budding out and the leaves popping. Dogwoods in bloom and horses back on the track. MOST will be right with the world.



Thu Jan 8, 2009, 8:41 PM

It’s just cold. Wind and snow and rain and cold. Not the kind of cold that stops everything, just the cold that requires you to add extra layers and impedes outside work. But, thanks to a bunch of work, all the outside work is done except rebuilding the retaining wall [apparently they don’t do well when hit with a backhoe – who knew?] First few 50 Degree days will fix that.

On Business

I may or may not be going to the North American International Auto Show. I have still not heard back from the folks who make the decision and the show starts in just days. I can shoot during the public part of the show but it doesn’t do well for either the client or the manufacturer or the photos. Time will tell.

On Politics

And I thought things would calm down and folks would settle into a “let’s work together” mode and start fixing this thing. Apparently the knife fight that was the 2008 Election was just too bloody. I have not seen this level of hate and anger from a losing side ever. And what’s with the new found prejudices? WOW. It is as if we lost an entire century of national maturity in two years.

We still have to fix this thing, It is NOT going to fix itself. So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.


Heading toward Winter

Mon Nov 17, 2008, 12:15 AM

The seasonal theme takes an interim step with a post election, moving update. The move it in progress. Things are finally happening correctly and it looks like all the holidays will be at the new place. It is down to just nits now.

On Politics

It’s over, now the hard part starts. Digging out of a brutal Recession, restoration of our image throughout the world and re-instilling a moral compass into the fiber of this country. THIS IS GOING TO TAKE MUCH WORK BY EVERYONE.

So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.



Mon Sep 29, 2008, 11:32 PM

Yes, the seasonal theme continues. I am finally done with fixing up the house and that is behind me. Between painting and contractors and cement trucks taking out power lines and the local utility company taking over a month to hook up a line, it is TIME. Yeah. Now we can get to the work of learning Photoshop and shooting, shooting, shooting.

On Politics

Christ, will this never end? The only thing good to come from the election so far is the Comedy Styling of Sarah Palin. Would it have been too much to ask for McCain to have at least tried to pick someone who didn’t sound like the cheerleader who got caught by the principal in the boy’s restroom with her panties hanging from the stall door.

The election has made me want to make little posters to “help”. They are in the gallery later tonight. I tried to be nice. Really.

If you are even thinking about not voting, stop it. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE. You have to vote. This election is that important. Just do it.



Sun Aug 24, 2008, 9:53 PM

Apparently I have taken a seasonal approach to Journal entries. So it goes. I am in the middle of getting a house ready to move into. It is taking longer than expected but then, they all do, I am told. Once finished I will prepare the house I have lived in for nearly 20 years for sale. That will be interesting as there are so many memories in this house.

On Politics

The election that will never end. It appears there are only about 70 or so days left until Election Day 2008. If anyone is considering sitting this one out because their particular candidate did not get through the primaries, DON’T. It is too important to not vote. There are going to Supreme Court choices in the next four years that will change the balance of the court so your vote is important, not just for President but for the Congress as well. You can scan my profile to guess my preferences but JUST VOTE.

This is the most important election cycle since 1968. The stakes have not been higher.

Time for some changes. New house, new [final] career and hopefully a change of government philosophy. I am looking forward to the next few months. Let’s be careful out there.



Sun Apr 6, 2008, 9:53 PM

Maybe a journal should be updated more than once a season but we will have to work on that. Spring has finally come to Kentucky. The flowers are blooming, trees budding, wind blowing shingles off the roof and squirrels trying to get in the house to nest…AGAIN.

I am finally out shooting again. It took longer than I thought to get my brain around being creative again after the somewhat less than fun fall/winter. I have several new projects on the front burners so the “keep looking busy” part of my life is doing well.

On Politics

I am reading John Adams, the book from which the HBO series is based, a history of our Second President and one of the Founding Fathers of our Country. I am left with the deepest sense of dismay that the politicians of the 21st Century would not even be allowed in the same room as these Founding Fathers. There would be someone at the door to send them to the children’s table down the hall.

How have we let ourselves accept such mediocrity substitute as the best and brightest that our generation has to offer. We have so much better to offer, we have so much more to give but apparently the price is too high for the true leaders to subject themselves to the rigors of the political game. So all we get is American Idol 2.


It’s a New Year

Tue Jan 15, 2008, 8:25 PM

A couple of weeks late in entering a New Years Journal so I guess that first resolution should deal with procrastination. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Last year saw some interesting life changes. On the bad side my mom [83] passed away at Thanksgiving, on the good side of the year, I met several new friends that I have known for a while on the internet, I started back into photography after a bit of a rest and hooked up with one treasured friend from long, long ago while I was on my California trip in October. Resolution 2, remember your friends. I also decided to take a fresh look at what I have been doing, is it making me happy and what I really want to do. I figure I have one really good job left in me between now and retirement so it makes sense to think about it, make sure it is the RIGHT ONE and go out, have fun and do it.

Past artistic work has allowed me to be very creative and publish literally millions of my photographs [postcards allow numbers like that] and have my work [postcards and photography] all over the world. My technical work has been very challenging and rewarding and taken me globally. So I can’t complain that I have neither been challenged, rewarded, nor acknowledged for my work.

In the meantime I will be shooting more and more. I get to escape the cold of Kentucky for the first races in Daytona in February. The cameras are clean, batteries ready and laptop cleared to take on as many shots as I can shoot.


New Toy for the Holidaze

Thu Dec 6, 2007, 11:35 PM

I got a new toy to play with for the holidays and beyond, a Nikon S51 CoolPic. This is my first baby camera EVER. Now I don’t know what I did without one. It allows me to have a camera with me everywhere without the bulk of the DSLR or even bigger Pentax 6X7.

So far I have only shot family type pics and a few funnies but I anticipate that somewhere creativity will sneak in if time, luck and experience all wander into the same field of view.


Work and Play

Wed Nov 28, 2007, 12:18 AM
Entry begun Nov 17…

Well, REAL work is getting in the way of Photography this month as I try and find a 3000 sqft area to set up a parts business for my Mercedes Restoration Biz. The parts sort of fell from the sky and I will be selling them for a client that is going out of business but I need space NOW. Of course this would all happen as Fall finally shows her colors. Timing is everyth ing.

I could do a great photo series on For Lease signs, they are everywhere but none that have the space and/or access and security requirements that my client requires. The search continues.

Hopefully I will be back shooting by the holidays. Some of the houses have already started loading up on Holiday lights, statuary and the new blowup lawn art motif [ WTF?!!!!?] that has spawned over the past few years [thanks, WalMart].

And soon we will have the lawn parades of campaign posters, staked out like duelists of old, red yard to blue yard, each proudly heralding their like minded candidate AND providing each of their neighbors with a “I thought Babs and Skippy had more sense than that!” moment.

The political season, and avoiding the Media Talking Heads telling me what to THINK gives me more time to learn my two new toys, Photoshop CS3 and Wacom Tablet. I think I finally found a way to look 40 pounds lighter. I don’t want to use it to manipulate images for photography [other than titles/borders and stuff] but it will provide a new direction for me to play. Fun to ensue.

EDIT: Complaining about finding space for the parts seems superfluous now [although I DID get a space] as my 83 year old mom died last week. I just wrapped up the funeral a bit earlier this evening so time to put things in perspective and look back at over 50+ years of good times and support from a parent who fully backed a son who I am sure she would rather have had been a Doctor or Lawyer but Photographer and Systems Architect turned out pretty good. MANY Thanks for that.

As I go back to work, both REAL work and photography I think there might be a slightly different perspective and that is a good thing. All these calluses in life provide the texture. Nothing good comes from everything just being smooth all the time.

The Hunt for Ex-LAPD Cop…Release the Drones

UN-US-Drone Killings

The manhunt for fired LAPD cop and LL Cool J doppelganger Christopher Dorner has taken several hard turns in just one week. After seeing two civilians killed and policemen ambushed with one killed, tensions were tight as the LAPD ruthlessly attacked two women delivering newspapers while driving a blue Toyota Tocoma pickup truck that “matched” the description of Dorner in his gray Nissan Titan. At about the same time, a few miles away they also attacked another civilian [Caucasian this time] who was fired upon and his truck rammed.

Dorner’s truck was found burned in Big Bear, eighty miles east of LA which moved the manhunt to the mountainous area. Then it snowed…a pile. The risk to officers tracking Dorner in the mountains, in the snow would be arduous at best…and with a person trained in survival and weapons being tracked…the danger escalates.

“We are using all the tools at our disposal.” was the first clue that drones would be used when Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz pointed to his available resources. The US Customs and Border patrol had been listed as part of the task force put in motion to catch Dorner. And the Customs and Border Patrol use drones. Often.

This case is not the first time drones will have been used in police work. In June 2011, in North Dakota a county sheriff was hunting three men, possibly armed, in connection with missing cows. With so much land to cover he called in a favor at Grand Forks Air Force Base and “borrowed” one of their drones. It was the first time a Predator had been involved in the arrest of U.S. citizens and the use of the drone has been ruled admissible. Also, Mesa County Colorado has been using them to map crime scenes, to forward observe police raids and to hunt for lost hikers.

Drones have over the past few years received a bad reputation…in war zones they have been used in the place of manned aircraft to scout, observe and to take out targets including many top level Al Qaeda operatives. The controversy went to 11 with a Department of Justice white paper that, if you only read the blogsphere headlines would suggest that President Obama OKed drone attacks on US citizens…ANY US citizen. That was just political spin…the reality was much more specific and narrow. The white paper set forth the legal framework for lethal operations directed against a US citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or an associated force. In other words…if a US citizen went rogue and joined Al Qaeda on foreign soil to harm America…THEN he would be a potential target. “Bob” in Cincinnati, who spends his time railing against America on the internet doesn’t have anything to worry about.

And back to drones. We think of drones as the most visible of the unmanned aerial vehicles [UAV] – the Predator or Reaper drones, laden with a pair of Hellfire air to ground missiles which have 20 pounds of explosives. But drones are much more than that. They are everything from handheld remote control airplanes with camera on them to the 130 ft wingspan Global Hawk…a research craft that can fly, by itself from Edwards Air Force Base in California to Australia with no refueling, no pilot inputs.

What the drones possess that is relevant to the Christopher Dorner manhunt is the sensor package…the eyes aboard the drones. The Gorgon Stare sensor package is one such tool. It can surveil an area 2½ miles across from 12 angles at once; its field of view swallows entire cities. ARGUS is another sensor platform that can pick out an object 6 in. long from 20,000 ft.

Specifically to the Dorner manhunt…drones, likely the Predator drones WITHOUT weapons will fly the area where Dorner is thought to be. It can quickly narrow down which vacation homes have warm bodies in them with its heat sensing IR sensors, it can sweep vast areas and look for anomalies, no different than looking for lost boy scouts…seeing people where they aren’t expected. And, unlike helicopters that normally do this, the drones can see through clouds, at night, loitering up to 40 hours without having to land.

Drones will become more and more of a common feature of law enforcement. They will do the jobs that pilots in helicopters do now, that pilots in fixed wing aircraft do now. Loiter and observe…but with one difference. Drones can carry sophisticated equipment that does things people can’t, see in spectra that people can’t. And everything they do is controlled by humans…so the fear that “machines” are taking over is flawed…they enhance human intelligence gathering. No more or less.


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst


Ditch Mitch 2014 – Buckle Up, Buttercup, Kentucky Goes All Out

Song birds are the sweetest – In Kentucky;
The thoroughbreds the fleetest – In Kentucky;
Mountains tower proudest,
Thunder peals the loudest,
The landscape is the grandest – and
Politics – the damnedest
    In Kentucky.

United we stand

It’s the first week in February…sixteen months until the 2014 Kentucky primary election where 70 year old Mitch McConnell will face his most formidable field since he first won back in 1984 with this ad which skewered incumbent Dee Huddleston’s many absences and paid speaking fees.

From the left is coming a potential game changing candidate…proud Progressive, native daughter Ashley Judd. With her comes the ability to raise mountains of money that will be necessary to counter McConnell’s war chest. She also would give a very clear differential from McConnell, something many of the Blue Dog Democrats in this state are not able to do.


And sixteen months before the primaries…out of state PACs, led by Karl “Meltdown” Rove’s American Crossroads PAC. He thinks this advertisement is a slander to Judd…nope, it helps differentiate her from hardened, obfuscating politicians, she is willing to speak her mind.

But before Mitch can look toward the general election, for the first time in nearly 30 years he faces challenges from his own party…well, from Tea Party activists, a party that is afraid to come out from behind of the GOP coat-tails. And they might have help…some funding from Democrats who want to soften up McConnell in the primaries. It is a risky strategy as it was Tea Party support that put Rand Paul in the Senate two years ago.

mitch mcconnell

It is going to be a long, yet entertaining sixteen months.

But it is not over…the Ditch Mitch campaign is just half the story.  From the other side…way far on the fringe [no…further] we have Rand Paul, himself a creature who rode into politics on his father’s coat-tails. But he did win with Tea Party support and awkwardly has become one of the voices of the fringe right, of Tea Party obstructionism. His impassioned speeches in the Senate, lamenting the lack of choice in light bulbs or real man flushing toilets are legend. I guess he had not heard of the American Standard Champion 4 – able to flush a bucket of golf balls.

And now, it seems he wants to be President…bearer of the Tea Party banner for small government, well except his previous Medicare and Medicaid billings and his in-laws’ use of federal subsidies on their farm.

Senate Republicans Present Alternative 2013 Budget Proposal
Without heels I am this tall

Today, at a Heritage Foundation speech, planned to de-stigmatize his many views he took that ever important first step in Republican politics…he compared himself to Ronald Reagan. Yes, that Ronald Reagan who raised taxes after lowering them, who ran up trillions of dollars in deficits, who built a 600 ship Navy…who was the antithesis  of small government. So the journey begins, the pre-pre-pre-exploratory committee announcement with Bill O’Reilly.

So buckle up, Buttercup…the next four years are going to be All Kentucky, All the Time.

The dove’s notes are the saddest – In Kentucky;
The streams dance on the gladdest – In Kentucky;
Hip pockets are the thickest,
Pistol hands the slickest,
The cylinder turns quickest
  In Kentucky.



McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.