Sunday, December 25, 2011

MCMXII -- The series begins

First in the series was "MCMXII -- The Lost World Centennial" published on on December 17, 2011.

Watch for the next article about a business that spawned an international best selling book whose title became a household phrase in the 1950’s.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Watch for my new series of articles at!

Subjects will include the births and deaths of famous people, centennials of famous events, businesses, books and inventions.  In fact, anything of interest that happened in 1912 will be fodder for my column.  

Thanks for following and watch for notices on FB and Twitter.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

12 Movies with body counts higher than Rambo

Rambo comes in at number thirteen?  

What a shock!  I remember when the first of the Rambo series (First Blood) hit the big screen in October of 1982, there were considerable discussions about the body count -- especially in later installments. The ranking of Rambo 2008 came as a real surprise when I discovered a list of “46 Movies with Ridiculously High Body Counts” in a newly published book from HarperCollins.

Listomania, A World of Fascinating Facts in Graphic Detail contains over 250 pages of interesting lists.  As I scanned through the forty-six mentioned above, I noticed that the 2008 version of Rambo came in at number thirteen.  Rambo III (1988) appears at number 37 and is the only other of that series to make the list.  Here’s the list and along with each title is the year it came out and the body count.  Rambo 2008 had a body count of 247.

12. Saving Private Ryan, 1998 -- 255 dead

11. Starship Troopers, 1997 -- 256
10. We Were Soldiers, 2002 -- 305
 9. Titanic, 1997 -- 307
 8. Hard Boiled, 1992 -- 307
 7. Grindhouse, 2007 -- 310
 6. The Two Towers, 2002 -- 468
 5. The Last Samurai, 2003 -- 558
 4. Troy, 2004 -- 572
 3. 300, 2007 -- 600
 2. Kingdom of Heaven, 2005 -- 610

and the winner (the second of the Lord of the Rings series to make the list) is...

No. 1.  The Return of the King, 2003 with a ridiculously high body count of 836!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Check out my review of Michael Crichton's last novel.  This is the techno-thriller that was finished by Richard Preston.  Preston was chosen by representatives of Crichton's estate and his publisher, HarperCollins.

Here's the review: "Don't Mess with Mother Nature."  

If you enjoy the review, please click the "Subscribe" button and get instant updates on future articles and reviews.  I write about a wide variety of subjects and review books, movies, and music.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Losing My Religion

We quit attending organized religious services several months ago.  Maybe a year?  I can’t find my check register from last year. It’s been a while.  According to Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Lincoln, we have that in common with the sixteenth President.  Strong beliefs but no urgent desire to attend services.  We didn’t quit giving. Not altogether.  When we want to give, we make a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or one of the denominational organizations where 100% of the contribution goes to the charity.  

I’ve always believed that “religion” was man-made.
I’ve always believed that “faith” was a spiritual experience that occurred between two kindred beings.
I grew up Methodist. Still am.
Both of my wives have come from Roman Catholic backgrounds.

“Shorty” Bevil, my Methodist pastor when I married that Catholic girl told me, “Don’t ever lose your faith.”  He was always careful to distinguish between “faith”, “religion” and “denomination.”  It wasn’t a matter of semantics for him.  It isn’t for me.  I never believed that Jesus Christ came down on the “Day of Pentecost” and established that denomination any more than I believe that the Pope is infallible.
Now an MSNBC contributor, Brian Alexander has published the results of a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas.  Bottom line -- Miss Bob and I should be in church.  The study reports that, “college educated white Americans more likely to practice religion than the working class.”   We still seem to be contrarians because we don’t fit the demographic for working class white people.  Well, you could have fooled me!  I still have to work for a living.  We’re still white. Perhaps my income doesn’t fit the mold.  Anyway, we still have to pay taxes and even though my wife is retired, I still work full time to pay our bills.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “religion” as: commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.
The same source defines “faith” as: belief and trust in and loyalty to God.

We just don’t go to church.  Even if we may have lost our religion, we haven’t lost our faith.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Publisher Converting to Young Adult Titles in 2012

Nicole Langan (pictured above), publisher has announced that beginning in 2012, Tribute Books will become solely an ebook publisher of young adult titles.

They're looking to work with authors who are savvy with social media - those who blog, tweet and update their Facebook status on a daily basis.

Their preference is for authors who already have a book(s) published through a royalty-paying press. Said Langan,  "We want to work with those who are familiar with the ins and outs of the publishing process. We seek those who have experience having their work edited and know the effort required for successful book promotion.

There would be NO charge for authors, and those selected would receive 50% of the net retail price in royalties."

Here is an interview with Langan:

1.  Why the change into e-books for young adults?Our main reason is the explosion in popularity of e-readers such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad. Over the course of 2011, we've watched our ebook sales outpace our print sales by 2 to 1. The under $5 price point of most of our titles and the ease of purchase and delivery are surely contributing factors. No one age group integrates technology into their daily lifestyles like teenagers. They are constantly plugged in and connected 24/7 either by smart phone, electronic tablet, laptop, etc. They "get" ebooks.

2.  How are you taking submissions?
We're accepting submissions via email.  Our email address is:
3.  What are the requirements for submission?
We're looking for Microsoft Word documents with a maximum of 350 pages of text with no photos, charts, illustrations, graphs, etc. Manuscripts that have already been professionally edited will receive greater consideration. Our preference is to work with authors who have already been published through a royalty-paying press and who know the ins and outs of book promotion. An established social media platform is a must, and we will not consider writers who do not have a well-followed blog, Facebook page or Twitter account.
4.  What kinds of young adult titles are you interested in?
Our preference is for damn good writing, the particular topic is secondary in importance. However, books written with a series in mind or those that delve into the paranormal will have a slight edge.
5.  Where will these ebooks be available?
The ebooks will be available through Kindle, Nook, iPad, Smashwords and as PDF downloads through

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New site focuses on the art and literature of TRAVEL

Loyal readers and fans know that I promote my photography under the name of "FCEtier" and sign my work simply as "Etier."  
Now my work is available at Venture Galleries, a new website featuring the work of award winning artists (such as Rick Rush, "America's Sports Artist"), photographers and writers.  Presently there are eight bloggers and authors and eleven artists showcased on the site.

The debut of Venture Galleries publishing heralds the arrival of a new "modern travel novel" that includes links in their e-books to photography of the settings and places of interest to the story.

I'll be blogging more about subjects and artists and authors related to the site as time goes by.

Travel photography will also be a focus of VG's website and include blog articles by the photographers about each image -- the ''story behind the photo."  Check back often.

Please take a few minutes to visit the site and check out all the amazing images and literature. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is torture ever appropriate?

For some people, the mere presence of a K-9 in the same room is torture.

For some people, going to work is torture -- especially if the wrong associate is there and is on a tear.

My most recent article as National History Examiner looks into the subject.  Please check it out and share in the social media. Tweets and FB "Shares" are especially welcomed!

Monday, October 10, 2011

National History Examiner

Now you can follow my writing HERE.  I've been appointed as one of the contributing writers for to write on history-related topics.  Most of my new articles will appear there.

My wife and I both recently ended our affiliation with another site.  Miss Bob's article on Technorati explains why.

I hope you will visit the site often and subscribe to my posts. It's easy.  Just click on the "subscribe" button next to my profile photo, or click on the Twitter follow button.

You comments on each article will be appreciated.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why I Wear High Tops

Currently in my fifteenth season as an official, eighth as a referee.  I wear the white hat.  I've always worn high top shoes.  For most of the years, the highest tops I've been able to find were Nike Land Sharks.  That's what you see in the accompanying photo.
Please check the article at THIS LINK to get the rest of the story as to why I prefer high tops.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Faces of Folkmoot

The 2011 edition of Folkmoot USA ended recently and was a resounding success!

Also, you can view a slideshow of portraits from the performers HERE.

Watch for a collection of those and many other images from Folkmoot HERE.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Pharmacy Security Survey -- RESULTS

Here are the results of a national survey we did last week to gather data in support of several articles.

To no surprise, three preferences surfaced among respondents.

1) Pharmacy customers prefer to shop where they feel safe; both when selecting the neighborhood and the specific pharmacy.
2) Pharmacy customers feel safer when an armed uniformed guard is present.
3) The public has little confidence in the effectiveness of video cameras to prevent crime.

Here are the highlights:

1)  50.8% say they never shop in a high risk neighborhood. (8% felt that any pharmacy that stocks Oxycontin and Percocet is high risk.)
2)  77.8% would prefer to see an armed uniform security person near the Rx Dept.
3)  71.4% feel that the big chains should do more than just set up video surveillance.
4)  80.9% would not mind if their pharmacist was armed (concealed weapon).
5)  23.8% said they have concealed weapon permits and have/do carry weapons into the pharmacy when they shop.
6)  52.4% feel that metal detectors at the store entrance are an invasion of privacy and are not in favor of their use.

There were seven questions and #4 above combines the results of two similar questions.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Do a search on Google Images for "boycott" and it returns over four million images! It seems like somewhere, someone is boycotting something or somebody -- or some company.

You want to organize a boycott against a person, business, a government?  How revolutionary! How American!  Boycotts in America go way back. Think 1765 and The Stamp Act.  That boycott of British goods by American colonists lasted all the way through the Revolutionary War.

We took a closer look at BOYCOTTS over the 4th of July weekend. Check it out and add to the conversation with a comment. We'd love to hear what you have to say. Just click HERE.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bad Behavior Bedevils Buckeyes - Death Penalty Looms

Breaking news!
Check out my story on Allvoices about the latest problems for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

A long-time college football fan, I really hate to hear about this.  I was a loyal fan of Ohio State back in the glory days of Rex Kern, Archie Griffin and Woody Hayes.

FCEtier Prints in Gatlinburg, TN

Next time you're in or near Gatlinburg, TN, stop  in and visit with Calvin and Cassie at SMOKY MOUNTAIN ARTS & CRAFTS.  
It's easy to find and you'll see some of my photography on display for sale.
Directions (with a map) are available from their website, HERE.
Miss Bob and I have season tickets to Dollywood and often stay overnight in Gatlinburg. We enjoy BOTH!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Michael Vick

Miss Bob sacks an NFL quarterback, a television network (BET) and a national restaurant chain -- Subway.

First, here's her commentary on the news item regarding the selection of Michael Vick as 'Sportsman of the Year" by BET and Subway.

Then, after a reply from Subway, here's her thoughts on what they had to say.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 2011

"Love is like a dying ember
Only memories remain.
And through the ages I'll remember...." -- Fred Rose

Remember the day you learned how to ride a bicycle.
Remember the day you learned how to throw a ball.
Remember the day you learned how to use a hammer -- and maybe a saw.

Who taught you how to plant a tree?
Who taught you how to paint?
Who taught you how to drive?

Who helped you rake the leaves?
Who helped you build your first fire (either camp or in the fireplace)?
Who helped you with your homework?

Do you know how to use a compass?
Do you know how to use a firearm safely? (See photo -- my Dad taught me to hunt.)
Do you know how to bar-be-que?

These are just a dozen experiences my father shared with me. No doubt many readers will identify. It's also likely that many readers will have shared these experiences not with their biological fathers, but step-fathers, other father-figures (uncles, brothers, cousins, family friends), or their mothers.

If this significant person in your life is gone now (either literally or figuratively), as is mine, perhaps we can share a moment in reflection and remember them today. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my father who died in 2005. In fact, my associates will tell you that I quote my father perhaps more than anyone else, except George Patton.

As I get older, the memories do remain and remind me of the love we shared.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Women Who Rock

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened their exhibit today honoring female artists that have made a significant contribution to rock and roll.

Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power fills two entire floors and will run through February 2012. More than sixty artists have been selected for the spotlight and many have memorabilia on display including a dress worn by Momma Cass, Lady Gaga's piano and Patti Smith's boots. Musical instruments, original drafts of lyrics and other interesting artifacts will be on display.

Watch for links to additional coverage as the story continues with a concert on Saturday, May 14 featuring Cyndi Lauper, Wanda Jackson, and Darlene Love.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Manhattan Project

During the last week of April 2011, my wife and I visited New Jersey and completed a photo shoot of the New York City skyline. Three locations proved excellent for the shooting. Over two dozen images made the cut from several hundred shots. Check back to the link above over the next few weeks as more will be added to the Zenfolio gallery as they make it through the editing process.

We visited the boat basin near Fort Lee, NJ, just North of the George Washington Bridge. While there, we also got some great shots of the palisades.

Next was the tennis club at Binghamton and then on to Hoboken, where a great pier just South of the Frank Sinatra Park turned out to be a great vantage point.

While in New Jersey, we also visited the Liberty Science Museum and Liberty Park. Additional shots of the skyline were made there as well as the Statue of Liberty. Those images will be the subject of a future blog post. Check back soon!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Travel Photography - Continuing

The scene in the accompanying photo is on my way to work and the other day, I decided to stop and shoot it. This dogwood tree is in a field on Cruso Road as drivers head up towards Cold Mountain. The fence in the foreground and the trees behind frame it nicely with the bright white blossoms drawing the eye into the upper left third of the frame.

Just past this location is the spot where I shot many of the images in my "Travel Photography" gallery on Zenfolio.

Watch for more images as we travel around the country, especially the Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Appalachian Trail. We'll be heading up through the Shenandoah Valley next week!

Also, readers may be interested in following my new series of articles on "Restaurants with a View". Considering started a blog dedicated to that subject. Check back soon for details. The first article in that series can be found HERE.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Missing the Cold War, Part II -- Conclusion

The conclusion of the article by guest blogger, Reese McKay.
The United Nations is often pointed out as the seat of this menacing threat to the sovereignty of the United States and other national governments. However it seems to me that the UN is really mostly a sideshow used to distract and draw peoples' attention away from the real power centers (don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtains). The proceedings and operations of the UN make for some occasional entertaining theatrics. However, it was set up so that it has little real independent power. The five dominant nations at the end of the Second World War made sure that each one of them kept complete veto power over any serious initiative proposed by the UN. Each of these five “permanent members of the Security Council” has quite freely wielded their veto power numerous times over the decades. It seems to me that the real power structures are mainly all the central banks, the entire interconnected banking system beyond the central banks, the WTO, GATT, NAFTA, the G7, the G8, and now the G20, and numerous other international monetary and trading systems and rule-making processes, nearly all of which are totally or nearly totally outside of the influence of electoral and representative government.

What amazes me (and it is one of the most depressing aspects of this) is how so many people on both sides of American politics seem to fear only the "other" side's political motives and ambitions. It should be crystal clear to anyone by now that both major parties in the US have been in virtual lockstep for decades, especially when it comes to "foreign policy." Their rhetoric is strikingly different, but their actions when in the Oval Office are strikingly similar and trending continually in the same direction. This clever use of rhetoric and propaganda to keep the "common" people fiercely divided against each other is the most ingenious and powerful weapon the elites have in their arsenal. I simply have not seen more than a handful of politicians in either party over the past 30 years or so who have really stood up for the Constitution, the rule of law, the sovereignty of the US, the economic well being of the average citizen, and a foreign policy that is not merely based on keeping the American public in a state of fear in order to manipulate us to let the super wealthy continue dismantling the republic and the economy. Both parties have either promoted or stood by and gone along with policies that continually water down and dumb down the news we get. They have continually supported policies that benefit the global elites at the expense of everyone else. In fact I voted Democrat for a long time in recent years because it appeared to me that the Republicans were even more in the pockets of the global elite than the Democrats are. It seems to me that Republicans have routinely and continuously backed all international trade agreements, some of which seem to have helped to lower wages and eliminate jobs in the US. Regardless of the claims of lower prices, economic growth, and other justifications for these trade deals, I have seen little evidence that their benefits have outweighed their damage to the US economy in terms of lowering the general living standards in the United States and reducing job opportunities here. The Democrats have unfortunately jumped on the same bandwagon, doing little other than paying lip service to the importance of putting in provisions in these trade deals that protect American small businesses and workers. Many of our trade deals seem to have unilaterally given most of the advantages to our foreign trading partners such as China. These deals may also help American owned corporations open up new markets in places like China, but the net effect for most Americans seems to be lower pay and fewer jobs. China keeps its currency artificially low, giving it an unfair trading advantage, and neither party is willing to do anything about it other than engage in cheap talk.
The last Bush administration practically held a gun on Congress and threatened an international global economic depression if Congress didn’t immediately approve (no real questions or deliberations allowed) a trillion dollar bank bailout. Did everyone notice how much money Wall Street poured into the Obama campaign and the campaigns of Democrats running for the House and Senate in 2008? The bankers fell all over themselves to “support” Democrats when they realized the Republicans were going to lose in a landslide. As soon as Obama and the Democrats were in office, the bankers immediately started campaigning hard and heavy against them, despite the fact that the most powerful members of Obama’s administration were heavy hitters from Wall Street itself. I can’t really tell what President Obama stands for when it comes to the biggest and most important issues. At least the Republicans talk a better game. By that I mean the Republicans are more straight talking about their agendas and supposed principles. But am I the only one who noticed how frequently the Bush administration’s actions seemed to go in the opposite direction of their rhetoric? I don’t think I am the only one. During his second term I talked to numerous Republicans who were nearly constantly and bitterly complaining about the failures of the Bush administration to live up to their promises and to stick to Republican principles. So, just as I ask myself “who are the real Democrats,” I ask myself “who are the real Republicans?” Which Republicans are going to show up on any given day?

In any case President Obama has been such a huge disappointment that I may be willing to vote for a Republican again, as long as the Republicans can nominate someone who can at least create the appearance of being a real leader, someone who can stand up to the most radical elements in his own base when necessary like Ronald Reagan did on a number of occasions. I don't expect to ever see another one like Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan. I know all of them had their faults and their detractors can even make a case that they did some terrible things, but given the difficulty of being the leader of the most powerful nation in the world during a century that was wracked by such terrible and devastating wars, those three seem to have done remarkably well. I don't think it is entirely the fault of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Barack Obama that they have each been such disappointing presidents in so many ways. They have all had to deal with an immensely powerful mafia-like banking system and the difficulty of managing the sheer size and weight of the US government, and especially the momentum of the military-industrial complex and the intelligence/security apparatus in the context of a world that is rapidly changing, extremely chaotic and volatile. The American people seem poorly informed, childish in our expectations, and wanting to stick our heads in the sand when it comes to many of the bigger issues.

The bitterness of our divisions and disagreements (and mutual distrust) probably has a number of causes. But here is one striking fact. The country has been badly divided ever since the Vietnam War. That war and other events of the time so badly divided the country that no Vietnam combat veteran has even been elected President. Being a Vietnam vet has actually been either a political liability or at best not a big plus. It is the first time I know of in US history that being a combat veteran of a major US war has not been a major political plus in running for President. Bill Clinton did not serve in the military. John McCain, a Vietnam hero if we ever had any heroes from that war, lost the nomination in 2000 and lost the election in 2008. George W. Bush served in the National Guard, but thereby avoided actually going to Vietnam. And even his VP, Dick Cheney, the most hawkish of hawks, avoided military service during the Vietnam War. Not that I have any standing to criticize anyone who didn't fight in Vietnam, since I took my college deferment and later got a very high draft number. And I sure didn’t volunteer to fight there.
I can't exactly remember what I was thinking about above when I mentioned the "bright side." But, I still have some optimism that the American people will wake up and figure out how to work together on the things that we can agree on. Oddly, I have numerous friends of every imaginable political and religious stripe. I seem to get along with all of them just fine on a personal level. Yet I am less and less sure what exactly we can come up with that most of us can agree on. I once thought I understood American politics. Now, not so much. For example, can anyone give me a meaningful definition of “sovereignty” in the 21st Century in light of the seeming tendency of nearly everyone to go along with the continued internationalization of all trade rules and other aspects of the economy, finance, etc.? Americans seem willing to expend all of our energy fighting over the culture war and things like the definition of patriotism. We get involved in endless wars of words and name calling contests, seemingly content to let the international elites of all stripes merrily divide up the world for their own benefit and make all the big decisions without bothering to inform us “little people” of what they have decided. My only request is that people ask more and deeper questions. We need to become more intelligent in how we engage in politics and how we decide who to trust, who to support, and what policies to support.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Missing the Cold War

Today's guest blogger has been a life-long friend. We were close all through jr. high and high school. Then college and life took us in different directions. Last year we got together again for our high school reunion and discovered that we still have similar interests and opinions. As before, we don't always agree and we still enjoy lively conversations on a wide range of topics. Unlike my wife and I, he doesn't practice politibacy -- nor is he an apolitical inactivist.

This piece isn't intended as a personal manifesto, rather, he hopes to ignite interest and engage in healthy discourse with others who can contribute both similar and differing voices. Please consider the words of Mangham, LA native, Reese McKay, who now resides with his wife in Colorado. (Image from
Part One:

I often find myself missing those old days of the Cold War. It seemed like there was a certain stability and predictability about that era, although that's probably just bullshit. The decade of the sixties with Vietnam and all the assassinations was as volatile and dangerous as any other time in history. But the 70s and 80s seemed somewhat more upbeat to some of us at least. That is also probably an illusion. There were numerous economic and political upheavals during those two decades also. I probably have good memories of those two decades because I was finally out in the world on my own, starting businesses, learning about the oil business, and exploring the Rocky Mountains from the Canadian border all the way to New Mexico.
Lately I have been watching documentary after documentary on the “New World Order.” For me politics and especially world history and international politics have been a lifelong interest, so the ideas and warnings expressed in these documentaries don't especially shock me, although I could become depressed about it if I allowed myself to dwell on it too much.
In any case, as they say on Monty Python, "always look on the bright side of life." So, looking at the bright side, watching all these movies (and reading quite a few books over the past five or six years) has given me a more comprehensive understanding of the perilous situation we are in now. The fact is, even if you choose to have a more optimistic outlook (crazy as that may be) and assume that the people can still become informed enough and exert enough concerted effort as voters and active citizens to have some effect on the direction of the US government and on global relations, wars, etc., the situation still looks dire. Even if I settle on the most optimistic interpretation I can possibly make on the events of the past 50 (or 100) years, it still doesn't look very good to me.
I used to believe there was really a meaningful difference between electing a Republican or electing a Democrat as President. I voted for Ronald Reagan twice and on balance I think he was a decent president when I compare him many of the others (both before and after). But, even with the Reagan administration, the executive branch continued to arrogate more and more power to itself. The role of Congress continued to decline. The odd thing now is to remember that the "news media" actually reported on a good deal of the secret shadow government operations back during the 80s. By and large the major networks and newspapers actually reported the major scandals involving the CIA and other government agencies. They even reported on and questioned the excessive influence of some of the top para-government, para-state organizations such as the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. It is almost hard to believe now watching old TV news footage from the 80s and seeing the news reporters actually asking serious questions of high officials about things that the "news" media almost totally ignores (deliberately of course) since those days.
Even though the top politicians were almost always protected by all kinds of finagling and "plausible denial" -- some people were actually arrested, tried, and convicted for violating US laws in some cases, including fairly high level executives of some private corporations. For example, the CIA's involvement in drug smuggling and money laundering was openly reported. Important banks such as BCCI were exposed as laundering drug money among other crimes. Now these things (although it seems certain they are happening on an even much bigger scale than they were during the 80s) are almost never acknowledged or mentioned by the big US TV news networks or the AP or the big newspapers. Now about all you get is nonstop inane gossip about the latest celebrity caught up in some meaningless personal scandal and continuous reports whenever any big natural disaster happens, politicians caught in sex scandals, and even relatively small local disasters are reported breathlessly (even if it is a fire happening in some town a thousand miles or more from where you live). Anything to avoid reporting on any substantive debates on serious national or international issues (except in brief sound bites). In fact many of the issues that historically would have been openly debated by Congress are now being "debated" behind closed doors by the para-state operations (presumably).
All through the last twelve presidencies since the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, it seems that the military industrial complex and the "security state" apparatus of secret government has steadily grown in size, power, impunity, and ever greater secrecy. Congress is virtually a useless appendage when it comes to foreign affairs, and the members of Congress in both parties have largely acquiesced in this process of allowing the legislative branch to be neutered in relation to foreign policy, starting and conducting wars, etc. They can't even demand to find out what the intelligence agencies are doing in broad general terms (state secrets, especially memorably invoked by Senator Inouye back during the 80s or early 90s-- "I respectfully request, blah blah blah"). The continuity from Democratic administrations to Republican ones and back to Democratic ones is remarkably constant. The executive branch becomes ever more opaque and grabs onto ever more power and governs more and more through executive orders. Since 2001 the President (both of them) has routinely signed executive orders every year continuing the state of emergency declared that year under “Continuation of Government” laws. According to these laws Congress SHALL review these orders within 6 months after any emergency is declared and SHALL decide whether to extend the "emergency" or revoke it. Yet, Congress has routinely just passively let it go on.
Any way, I was turned off of politics (and much more interested in other aspects of life) during most of the 90s and the first term of George W. Bush's presidency. I did follow the news on Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., just not as assiduously as during other periods of my life perhaps. So, with my renewed interest over the past few years I have had a chance to look at it all with fresh eyes, a new perspective. And with this new perspective I am now finally even beginning to understand why so many of my friends consider global warming to be another fishy issue. Even though I still believe that the science of global warming is solid and has evolved over a 150 year (or even longer) period of ongoing scientific investigation, I can see that it is such a convenient issue for the global elites (the biggest bankers and wealthiest families being the dominant members of this elite set) to use in their dream of further establishing their “new world order,” which has been talked about at least since the days of Woodrow Wilson and the aftermath of the First World War. But each generation of politicians has grabbed onto this concept of a “new world order” and tried to redefine it in whatever way suited the political elites of the time. I can vividly remember President George H. W. Bush evoking his own version of the new world order back in the late 80s and early 90s. It is a vague and malleable term, a term that can have a kind of feel good quality as well as a kind of hard edged toughness to it. In that way it is perfect as a political propaganda term in American politics, since it can have some kind of appeal to both the liberals and the conservatives. It is perfect for politicians who wish to hedge their bets because it seems so innocuous and never has to be fully defined and explained.

However, the reality of this long and endless process of establishing a new world order is that it has no end. It is never finished. In actual practice one of its consequences seems to involve the gradual destruction of the United States as a sovereign nation (a project that is pretty far along) and establishing a system of world government that is accountable only to these elites (probably a mere 10,000 or so super-wealthy interconnected people, although their networks of influence obviously extend throughout all governments, most of the larger corporations, think tanks, etc.) My personal take on this is that it is not really a grand conspiracy in the way such things are often defined. There may not even be any real centralized organizational structure that is secretly in charge of this movement, whether people imagine such an organization to be the Bilderberg Group, the Club of Rome, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Free Masons, Skull and Bones at Yale University, or any other such murky and secretive organization. I see this process more as the natural tendency of all of the people in possession of great wealth and power, and who wish to solidify their own hold on that wealth and power. One way to consolidate and extend such wealth and power is through the creation of ongoing political and academic institutions that are designed to maintain the current global status quo, whatever that may be. But, generally, as has been so well stated, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The more power and influence these various organizations, “trade and investment accords,” central banks, and other international political and economic structures manage to gain for themselves, the more they are emboldened to grab onto more power, and to attempt to create oligopolistic power structures that are accountable to no one else.

Part Two will appear here on Sunday, April 17, 2011. Please come back for the conclusion.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon

On the evening of March 19, 2011, the moon was not only full, it was as close to the Earth as is has been in eighteen years. I set up my tripod and got my camera and 600mm lens ready and waited. Moonrise was later than I thought, it had to come up over Cold Mountain for me to see it, and there was a lot of clouds moving through the area.

Here's the link to my gallery of 13 shots I made of the "Super Moon".

I hope you enjoy them and will leave comments with your reactions either in the gallery or here on the blog. Thanks for stopping by and viewing my work.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Louisiana Swamp Shoot

Last week I drove back home to Louisiana to conduct a photo shoot in the swamps near where I grew up.

Various selections from that shoot will be available for viewing and purchase on several sites where my work is seen now. Watch for more selections at my "Louisiana Swamp Shoot" gallery on

My journey took me to familiar sites from my childhood, particularly the "slough" (pronounced "slew") near my parents' home. Also, we got several good shots under and near a bridge on Little Creek. It's near Lone Cherry Baptist Church, on the way to Goldmine Plantation.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Serial Photography

Almost seven years ago, I read an interesting article in Shutterbug magazine. It was about "self-assignments" for photography projects. They suggested that for one month, try to take as many different images of "stairs" as possible. All different types and locations of stairs would be great. I took images of staircases and steps both inside and out, fancy and plain, modern and traditional. I even found a set of concrete steps in the yard of a lumber company that was being offered for sale. The next month, the subject was anything "green". Each month, readers were encouraged to select a different subject.

Well, the images above didn't come out large enough. Wanted to show an example of serial photos with signs. The reader board at the church -- seen through a wet windshield says, "Pray for rain." The diner is the "No Name" diner and the portable reader board says, "Go green. Buy army surplus". The motel sign says, "Welcome Hookers -- Lowest Rates". I guess I'll sacrifice spontaneous humor for the example of the serial photos. [sigh]

It was serial photography. Now, Harald Mante has written a book about it. Serial Photography -- Using Themed Images to Improve Your Photographic Skills will be available on February 28, 2011 and would be a great investment of both your time and money. I recommend it highly!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Travel Photography

Watch for my images soon on a new website dedicated to "travel photography". When the site is up and running, I'll post a link. (Sample image included here is Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. The image is copyrighted by RFWLLC and it's use or reproduction is prohibited.)

Meanwhile, here are a couple of books I've reviewed that relate to the subject.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nude in Art

For over 25,000 years, the nude as been the most enduring subject in art.

So, is it art? Is it erotica? Is it pornography?

Art historian, Tim Marlow, hosts a new DVD containing four episodes discussing "The Nude in Art" will be released on February 22, 2001.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Crashing Augusta" reviewed

My review of a collection of short stories (originally published in Playboy) was published today over at

The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and on Kindle. I highly recommend it both for yourself or as a gift. The Masters Golf Tournament is less than sixty days away as baseball season is right around the corner, too.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vargas Remembered

Vargas’ work is considered by many critics and aficionados to be some of, if not the best, of the pin-up and illustrator category. It is both inspired and inspiring and therefore some of the most copied. A Google search for “alberto vargas” yields 2,240,000 results. Delving into that search, you can still find specific site references to Vargas’ beautiful, sensual, exotic women nineteen pages deep.

A search on YouTube for “vargas girls” turns up an amazing 750 results; that’s a lot of video clips! It must be mind boggling for curators of his work and representatives of his estate to protect the images from those who would use his incredible talent and amazing work for personal gain. Out of millions of reproductions of his work, there’s just no telling how many are meant to honor the man and his work and how many are malicious attempts to capitalize on the name/ “Vargas” for personal gain. No doubt, Playboy magazine has an interest in various copyrighted works as well – Vargas became a household name because of Hugh Hefner.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and it was proven time and again in the military. Countless aircraft carried images (many inspired or copied from Vargas) of scantily clad women with suggestive names. Shown above is the “Memphis Belle” along with the original Vargas girl that inspired the nose art. (Image credit:

Check out my article commemorating the 115th anniversary of the birth

of AlbertoVargas here:

Sunday, February 6, 2011


My total cholesterol blood value has hovered around 200 for over 15 years. Last year it was 237. We're waiting on results of lab tests done last week to see how it stands now. After reading and reviewing this new book, I'm VERY reluctant to consider oral meds.

When the first studies came out indicating that cholesterol could be a contributing factor to atherosclerosis and heart attacks, the "normal" range of blood levels for total cholesterol was established as 150 to 300. Over the years, the higher end of the range has been lowered. Dr. Curtis says it was lowered with no evidence to support the change.

Check it out and see what you think. If you or someone you love is taking or thinking about taking drugs to lower your cholesterol, the modest investment in time and money in this book could make a difference!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Jazz pianist, Lynne Arriale will be releasing her eleventh CD on February 8, 2011. It's dynamite!

Jazz fans and newcomers to the genre with both enjoy this new album. Read my complete review here:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

iPad, iPhone, iPhull -- Playboy Offers an Apple

“Is that an iPad in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” – Mae West would most likely enjoy the opportunities that our media-driven world now offers for more people to be happy to see her. Whether you’re using the new Playboy Hard Drive or looking forward to the just announced Playboy feature (about to be available on iPad) to fill your eyes with beautiful models, opportunities abound.

No longer will viewers need to rely on hiding their covertly obtained copies of the magazine in their closet or under the bed. Now when an unwanted pair of eyes approaches, you can minimize the screen – just like on a computer – or simply put your iPad face down.

On Thursday, January 19, Hugh Hefner announced (via his “official” Twitter account) that Playboy (archives and new issues) would be available “uncensored” on iPad. That news became a cause celeb and sparked a media explosion over the possibility of Apple changing their rules to accommodate what some people regard as porn. Later, with another post on Twitter, Hefner amended his previous statement by saying, “Playboy will be available on iPad without the Playmates. Steve Jobs has a thing about nudity.”

Hef is in the process of taking over control of the Bunny Empire and has over the years learned that there is no such thing as bad publicity or a bad review. Since news came out about the possible buy-out, Playboy Enterprises has been in the news constantly. Last fall came the announcement of the Playboy Hard Drive and the news that more Playboy Clubs are on the drawing board. A new line of “retro” oriented Playboy products was revealed. Now the iPad thing has the attention of all the media news bureaus and others such as Device, PC magazine, and Forbes.

Forbes reports, “According to a Playboy spokeswoman, the content will be accessible through a ‘web-based subscription service’ that can be opened on the iPad. Meanwhile, iPad users will be able to access a nudity-free Playboy iPad app that meets Apple’s current guidelines.

Hefner’s recent moves could be counterproductive. Playboy products are multiplying like rabbits! If he’s too successful, the term, “Playboy” could become too commonly used and endanger his copyright just like Xerox, Kleenex, PhotoShop, Jell-O, Band-Aid and aspirin.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Stereotypes, Profiling and Prejudice -- A Prelude to Black History Month

Role-playing is a part of our lives. Americans are used to it. There was an entire session devoted to teaching us how to change roles quickly and completely in the Dale Carnegie Course I took back in 1978. At the time, I had a wife, two small kids and a job. Throughout the day I had to change roles frequently. Daddy, husband, gardener, mechanic were all different duties around the house. At work, doing my specific job wasn’t enough. At times I was a counselor, cashier, stock boy, janitor, and pharmacist. It’s hard to avoid letting one role interfere with another.

Often, our societies and cultures assign us roles. Many times those assignments are based entirely on the color of our skin, our ancestry, where we live, or our religion. As the general public becomes familiar, those assignments morph into stereotypes. How we respond, of course, varies. In 1650, George Fox mentioned in his journal that his religious sect was ridiculed because they would “tremble at the word of God.” Over time, The Society of Friends embraced their stereotype and now everyone knows about the “Quakers”.

Emphasize, or over-emphasize an aspect of a subject and you have a caricature. One example that comes to mind would be a drawing of Jay Leno with an overly large bottom jaw. Archie Bunker was a character whose popularity and acceptance turned out to be the antithesis of his creator’s intent. According to Wikipedia, “Norman Lear was shocked when Bunker quietly became a beloved figure to much of Middle America.” Meant to be a parody of right wing bigotry, the caricature of Archie Bunker actually represented the mindset of many viewers.

Some might be surprised to learn that an outspoken apologist for Mr. Bunker was the man who once described himself as “the most discriminated-against person in America. I’m short, Jewish, and black.” None other than Sammy Davis, Jr. himself made a guest appearance on All in the Family to tell Bunker that he liked him. Again from Wikipedia, “he [Davis] felt that Bunker’s ‘bigotry’ was based on his rough life experiences and also was honest and forthright in his opinions, and showed an openness to change his views if an individual treated him right.” Mr. Davis should know. He made a career of playing the stereotypical role that his audience wanted and expected – the subservient buffoon of the infamous “Rat Pack”. (We’ve often wondered if Sammy Davis, Jr. ever enjoyed a life of his own, free from his role, or if he was consumed by the part he played.)

Discrimination leads us directly into profiling. This writer experienced it back in 1973 when a long lost cousin from California asked if we saw many alligators on the way to school every day in Louisiana. He thought I rode in a pirogue to school. Mention a “redneck sheriff” and images of Jackie Gleason in “Smokey and the Bandit” come to mind. So I end up married to a New Jersey Yankee, and she thinks I’m Gomer Pyle!

Flash forward to a CNN report in 2005 from Paula Zahn about an airline ticketing agent who checked in Mohamed Atta on September 11, 2001, who “would later say that looking at the pair his first reaction was to think ‘If this doesn't look like two Arab terrorists, I've never seen two Arab terrorists.’ But he immediately felt guilty, and had no legal grounds to search on the basis of their suspicious appearance had he wished to.

Many readers will remember the story of Danny Glover and his experience with the New York City cab driver (who was allegedly of Arabic descent). In a stunning turn of events, on December 7, 2010, reported that Fernando Mateo, head of the New York State Federation of taxi drivers, (who himself is of black and Latino origin) urged his members to racially profile their passengers. Said Mateo, "I don't care about racial profiling. You know, sometimes it is good we are racially profiled, because the God's honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics.” What would Archie Bunker or Sammy Davis, Jr., say about that?

The late Michael Crichton, author, medical doctor and anthropologist defined prejudice as “opinion in the absence of evidence.” When we form opinions based on stereotypes, caricatures, profiling and prejudice, we make mistakes that can not only be embarrassing to ourselves, but potentially hurtful and disrespectful to the subject. Dr. Dorian McCoy, a personal friend of this writer earned his doctorate at L.S.U. and took a job teaching at the University of Vermont several years ago. He is Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs and recounts this frequent occurrence: “Many times I was asked by strangers (all white) during our first two years here, ‘So, you are a coach at UVM?’ Why is it that people assume if you are African American and work in higher education - you are a coach?”

Stereotyping, profiling, and prejudice may be the only facets of inter-racial relations that are truly non-discriminatory. We’ve all been victims and we’re all guilty as charged. Will complaining about it, acts of aggression and filing suit help? Perhaps we should take the advice of Jesus Christ when he said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” (KJV). Remember the question asked in 1991 by another man who became famous, “Can’t we all get along?”

The answer to Rodney King’s question should be a resounding “Yes!” It will take generations of hard work, self examination, and individual acceptance of responsibility for attitudes and mutual respect for it to happen. But it’s possible.