Monday, January 19, 2009


On January 14th I made a non-political post regarding the loss of actor Ricardo Montalban. This was personal to me as he was a fixture on 1980s television and the nemesis of Captain Kirk in The Wrath of Khan, my favorite movie (along with a couple of Star Wars films). I made mention of how much it sucks to watch your heroes pass away as you grow older. Two days later, it got a lot worse than that, I lost my biggest hero of all.

On the morning of January 16th, I received a call from my step-mother, Denise, that she believed my father had passed overnight and that paramedics were on their way. I jumped in the car and joined them there less than 20 minutes later to find word that, indeed, he had passed away.

Although my mother thought he was crazy to do so, my father took a tremendous leap of faith and great risk when he left his job as manager of the printing company he worked for and with his friend and colleague Robert Poorman founded Shepard & Poorman Printing Company in a 20,000 square foot building in Speedway Industrial Park across from Allison's plant on 10th Street. They hoped to do $100,000 in sales the first year and instead they did $200,000. That was 1978 and in 1983 they built and moved into new facilities in Park 100 on the Northwest side of Indianapolis where they would remain headquartered until he and his partners sold the company to a large Fortune 500 company. By then they were doing many tens of millions of dollars in sales and providing more than a few hundred jobs in Indianapolis, many of those positions held by people that would become like part of an extended family and I am better off for having grow up in their midst.

He loved the work that he did.  His commitment to quality was exceeded only by his commitments to fairness and ethics. He trusted people, treated everyone with respect and, perhaps knowing the wise lesson from Benjamin Franklin, spoke ill of no one.

He took good care of his family, often at great personal sacrifice. Most recently, one of the things I enjoyed most was seeing him light up when in the presence of his grandchildren whom he loved very much. I only hope he realized how much all six of his own children loved and respected him. Our lives were better than they might otherwise have been because of the risks he took, his tremendous hard work and many sacrifices.

Below is the photo and obituary that appeared in the Indianapolis Star on Monday, January 19. Next week we'll get back to trying to save the Country from itself, in the meantime ... Thanks Dad, we'll miss you lots.


Robert Earl Shepard, 64, passed unexpectedly on Friday, January 16, 2009. Bob was born July 28, 1944 in Franklin, Kentucky to his late parents Earl Wayne and Mary Evelyn (Sherron) Shepard. Bob, the oldest of three children moved to Indiana with his family when he was in first grade. He graduated from Whiteland High School in 1962.

Upon completing his service to our country in the U. S. Army, he entered the print communications industry working for Collins Printing Company. In 1978, he co-founded what became Shepard Poorman Communications Corporation and grew it to be the largest commercial print communications company in Indiana and one of the most respected in the nation at that time.

Most recently he had returned to the industry from early retirement to join Priority Group, Inc. and his long time friend, Jay Straka, as the company’s General Manager.

Bob received numerous honors, awards and recognitions both in business and in the community. He was a long-time attendee of College Park Church in Indianapolis and a member of The Country Club of Indianapolis.

He is survived by his wife; Denise (Wilusz) Shepard, his brother; Gary (Cindy) Shepard, his sister Judy (Rick) Allen; six children; Sean (Michele), Justin (Christy), Jason, Robert Jr., Michael, Brandon; and three grandchildren; Elizabeth, Alexander and Hayden; his father and mother-in-law Edward (Wilma) Wilusz of West Chester, Ohio and brother-in-law Steve Wilusz of Tampa, Florida. He is further survived by his nephew, three nieces and many friends and colleagues. In addition to his parents he was preceded in passing by one niece.

Calling will be on Tuesday, January 20th from 4 until 9 PM at Flanner and Buchanan, Washington Park North Funeral Center, 2706 Kessler Blvd, West Drive in Indianapolis. The funeral, officiated by Pastor Don Bartemus will be held Wednesday, January 21st, 11 AM at College Park Church, 2606 West 96th Street, Indianapolis.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


He has left Seti Alpha Six and will not be returning. He has left the island and cannot come back.

Those who know me well enough know that The Wrath of Khan (Star Trek II) is tied with two other films for my favorite movie of all time. In the past few years we have lost DeForest Kelly (Bones McCoy) and James Doohan (Scotty). George Takei came out of the closet and Gene Roddenberry's widow, Majel (aka: Nurse Chapel) passed just a few weeks ago.

Today, we lost Ricardo Montalban. Known to most as Mr. Rourke from Fantasy Island but also as Captain Kirk's nemesis Khan Noonien Singh. It sucks growing older and watching your childhood heroes and villains pass from this Earth. In memoriam I offer one of the my favorite all time movie scenes below, fans of Cheers will notice a beautiful, elegant pre-Cheers Kirstie Alley at the helm/navigator's console.

From 1982:

Thursday, January 8, 2009


According to the headline at and the respective article at the New York Times, UBS is closing approximately 19,000 accounts owned by United States' citizens.

This action is being taken under pressure by the United States Government. For those that haven't been paying attention, last year legislation was passed that allows the IRS to levy a 51% tax on all assets over $600,000, including unrealized gains, for anyone attempting to expatriate from the United States.


Under pressure from federal authorities, the Swiss bank UBS is closing the hidden offshore accounts of its well-heeled American clients, potentially allowing their secrets to spill into the open.
The clients now face stark choices: they can cash their checks, and thereby alert the authorities to any potential wrongdoing, or not cash them, effectively losing their money. Or they can transfer the money to new banks, a procedure which, in the case of foreign banks, requires depositors of more than $10,000 to report the new account to the Treasury Department.

UPDATE: Some speculation is coming out via discussions at Free Republic (h/t: Mike Jezierski) and other places that this might have been the price of accepting TARP funds.


There is a move affoot by the Mayor to increase restrictions on panhandling. I like the Mayor quite a bit, but am going to offer a dissenting opinion on this topic. I'll start by referencing the Indianapolis Star article and then the Indiana Barrister BLOG of my good friend and local radio radio show host and reporter of all things politic Abdul Hakim-Shabazz of Abdul in the Morning on WXNT 1430 AM (6 AM till 10 AM each weekday morning).

These are my thoughts posted to Abdul's Comments Section. I would hope the Mayor and City County Council would take them into consideration. The premise here is that just because a bunch of people desire it or think it sounds like a good idea, does it make not make it okay to violate someone else's rights.

This is not much different in principle than holding a position on freedom of speech that says, "I may disagree completely with what you say, but I will defend [perhaps even unto death] your right to say it."

I am going to agree completely with Patriot Paul and Shorebreak here. Those disagreeing maybe need to consider the nuance in what is being said.

I completely support the right of any individual to be out in public marketing their desire to get paid for nothing. I completely support people opting to give directly to charities that support worthy individuals and causes and often have safeguards or qualifications to make sure the money is put to proper use.

To the extent that anyone impedes someones progress or harasses someone though, then they have violated the rights of another individual and that should be actionable as a legitimate role of “the state” is to protect the rights of individuals (from violation by others, including the state [a collection of 'others']).

Obviously, the issue here is that there is money to be made doing this so it is a profitable endeavor [especially given the, presumably, tax 'unreported' status of the earnings]. This income being unreported, also means they likely are qualifying for government assistance/welfare programs as well.

Several things fix this problem right away. (A) don’t give them money and (B) tax consumption instead of income and (C) enforce any existing laws, especially repeat offenses, when they impede the progress of individuals or cause some other problem and (D) scale back the welfare state. Item B would reduce the benefit to operating outside of the mainstream economy. Remember $15 an hour tax free is like making $20 or $25 fully taxable.

States or cities with better (or longer lasting) welfare benefits can become a magnet for people working the system [which not everyone is doing - but some]. Reduce the strength of the magnet and the pull to other places becomes greater.

I hate being bothered by panhandlers as well, but to the extent they do not violate my rights I can make no argument against their activities. One thought, perhaps, is a law barring someone self-employed in the panhandling business from receiving welfare benefits… that might be easier to get behind.

And, regarding a comment regarding frequency of panhandler interaction at gas stations:

Melyssa, when you go out in public it can be argued that you consent to encountering other people. Other people, however, have no right to accost you, impede your progress or intimidate someone.

A gas station owner (or its empowered management) has a right to request someone leave their property. The state has no right to dictate who that property may or may not allow there so long as no one’s rights are being violated.

So, private land owners obviously have a right to restrict who does or doesn't come on their property or what activities those people undertake. The Government; however, must respect everyone's rights equally including the right to use of public places.

Just quit making panhandling a profitable endeavor and it will no longer be so. There are lots of worthy charities and other organizations that help people in need. I'll start by mentioning Wheeler Men's Mission reachable at (317) 687-6795 and various women's shelters throughout the state (click for list). Don't hesitate to share this idea with your friends and colleagues or to even make any panhandlers aware that you contribute to these organizations instead of directly to individuals.