Politics & Government

After Pat’s Birthday… again

kevin & patAfter Pat’s Birthday
Posted originally on Oct 19, 2006
(Photo courtesy of the Tillman Family – Pat Tillman (left) and his brother Kevin stand in front of a Chinook helicopter in Saudi Arabia before their tour of duty as Army Rangers in Iraq in 2003.)

AV’s note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written this powerful, must-read document. I realize it’s 3 years after this has been written, but I repost this today because there’s still concerns I have about this country. How the people are managing their own lives and the directions they are encouraging our leaders to go. Read this and ask yourself is this still being tolerated, have we fixed the wrongs of the last administration or are we continuing to perpetuate them…

By Kevin Tillman

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action.

It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,
Kevin Tillman



My first completed website

I picked up web design as a hobby in 1998 when I worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Part of my project was working with the LLNL team to study of the effects of high temperature and intense compression (as a result of long term pressures or immediate pressures via earthquakes) on the tuff from the nuclear waste repository site located in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. With that project I needed to learn coding and the Solaris OS which was what most of the fracture modeling and computational data was run on.

Because a lot of our study was waiting… waiting for pressure systems to build over time and waiting for computer modeling to finalize, I spent a lot of time learning other systems in the LLNL lab including understanding what all this World Wide Web and AOL Chat room excitement was about. I picked up HTML and my first site was actually a very simple web page based on astronomy and began with “This is the intro site for Austin “Vegas” and his interests”.

I parlayed that knowledge into my education and built my first professional web page for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Doing a web search today, I found that it’s still up and being used by the engineers there (unfortunately it needs update, as my Professor is no longer with Cal Poly) :

Advanced Air Pollution Control Controlling Particulate Emissions with Electrostatic Precipitators

Although the Yucca Mountain project was canceled a few years ago, excellent research was developed on how rock materials fracture and of course I started on a path of web design as perpetual side projects…


New Lens – New Photo Potentials

Photographers say it’s not the hardware but the skill in the photographer that will bring out quality photos. To a certain extent that’s true. If you don’t know basics of working with light, balance, framing and subject matter your lot of photos will look like grandma’s scrap book.

However, I’ve been up inspired with the quality of pictures I’ve been taking given the basic lens kit I have when I purchased this camera last year. The clarity and consistency of the photos taken with the stock lens have been disappointing. So I shopped and settled on a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 as a new “walking around lens” primarily to improve my night photography, landscapes, and low light (indoor) shots – which I tend to take quite a bit these days. I also like the ability to f-stop down to 1.4 now (check the muffin/tea shot as an example).

Here’s the first two of many photos to be taken at Joe’s coffee shop on Waverly in NY:


Halloween Pumpkins 2009

We were able to produce 2 pumpkins in our small pumpkin party. Unfortunately neither one of us were winners (robbed by SK!) – but here are the end results (Law’s is the double sided R.I.P. pumpkin with the alien carved in the back for projection on the wall):


Use Facebook, Don’t Obuse it.

If asked by an interviewer for a job position, would you show them your Facebook (or Myspace) profile? Based on unauthorized polling, counting comments on blogs on this etc., an over whelming number of people (less than 20% that actually have a profile, would actually offer up this site).

80 percent of companies use or are planning to use social networking to find and attract candidates this year.

More here from Guy Kawasaki on How to Go on the Offensive with Facebook


Remembering 9/11 in 2009

I was not here in New York during that now infamous day. Having lived, shopped, conversed, and shared public frustration with the lack of physical resolve at the WTC site with many of whom have, I feel a connection with the event that I wouldn’t have still being in California. It’s eight years after that tragic incident and this year I have the time off to come down and experience the memorial live.

The city is in mourning not only by it’s people, but the sky’s darken, weeping along with those that have lost family, friends and colleagues. I missed the public reading of all the lost names, however, a list is walled up at the Deutsche bank construction site near Ladder Co. 10 for all to read, comment and add condolences.

This is the interim site for the WTC memorial. Patriotic flower wreaths stand next to plaques of remembrance calling for everyone “Never Forget”, flags and posted firemen standing at attention to the throngs of mourners paying respect.

After snapping a few photos, I joined most of the firefighters at O’Hara’s Pub for a pint, some song, and a cheer for the families of loved ones lost. Here are a few of my pictures and the rest of the few can be seen in the Gallery.

7 Deadly Sins

The Laboring are Revolting Against the Learned – 9.12…

“The mass of our citizens may be divided into two classes — the laboring and the learned. The laboring will need the first grade of education to qualify them for their pursuits and duties; the learned will need it as a foundation for further acquirements.” —Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1814. ME 19:213

“He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.” —Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, 1900

Freedom. WMD. Terrorist. 9/11. Bring em on. Maverick. Hope. Change. Yes We Can. You Lie.

What ever happened to: Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness?