December 31, 2006

The Latest in Green Burial

A very good, short essay with slide show on the latest in green burial is Death Be Not Manicured in Slate.

Each year in the United States, coffins and vaults result in more metal being put in the ground than was used to make the Golden Gate Bridge, and enough concrete to build a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit.

Looks like the Green Burial Council will be approving death-care providers who meet newly-drafted professional standards so we all can easily identify the ethical and environmentally sound ones when the time comes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:58 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 30, 2006

James Brown's Goodbye

Via  Goodbye to the Godfather of Soul at Pajamas Media comes Farewell Tour to James Brown Ends.

The farewell tour for Brown _ loved in Augusta as much for his generosity and influence as for his music _ wound down with an afternoon funeral, two days after a boisterous viewing in the famed Apollo Theater in New York.
More than 8,500 fans packed James Brown Arena, where Brown lay in front of the bandstand in his third outfit in three days _ a black jacket and gloves, red shirt and sequined shoes.

As the service began shortly after 1 p.m., dozens of friends and relatives filed slowly past the casket.

The procession was followed by a video of Brown's last performance in Augusta and his final concert in London _ where he performed a slow, soulful version of Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind."

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Execution of Saddam Hussein

Defiant dictator Saddam Hussein was executed for crimes against humanity for the torture and killing of 148 Shia men from the vilage of Dujai, only one of his many murderous crimes. 

After a year long trial, he was found guilty; his appeal denied.

He was hanged before dawn today.

   Saddam Hussein Executed -1

His death was announced to the Iraqi people

"The execution of Saddam Hussein is complete," state television said in a text headline broadcast against a background of Qur'anic verses.

"Saddam Hussein was hanged until death ensued. A black page in the history of Iraq has been turned," it added in a second news flash, as joyful popular music filled the airwaves.

In the Shia holy city of Najaf
where his security agents murdered ayatollahs, Friday prayers were filled with bloodthirsty cries for Saddam’s head and the proclamation that his death was “God’s gift” to Iraqis.

Witness Mowaffak al Rubaie, Iraq's national security advisor  described the execution scene, saying Hussein did not resist.
"It was unbelievable. He just surrendered himself."

To provide proof that he is really dead, the execution was filmed.

The official videographer  said
"I saw fear, he was afraid,"

"Now, he is in the garbage of history," said Jawad Abdul-Aziz, who lost his father, three brothers and 22 cousins in the reprisal killings that followed a botched 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite town of Dujail.

Most likely he will be buried in an unmarked location
"We do not know what they will do with Saddam's body," ...They will bury him in an unknown location so nobody could be able to pay respect to the president."

President Bush said in a statement that Hussein received
the  kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.... Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule. It is a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move forward after decades of oppression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial. This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rule of law."

New York Times obituary, The Defiant Despot
The despot, known as Saddam, had oppressed Iraq for more than 30 years, unleashing devastating regional wars and reducing his once promising, oil-rich nation to a claustrophobic police state.
While Mr. Hussein was in power, his statue guarded the entrance to every village, his portrait watched over each government office and he peered down from at least one wall in every home. His picture was so widespread that a joke quietly circulating among his detractors in 1988 put the country’s population at 34 million — 17 million people and 17 million portraits of Saddam.

Washington Post obituary, Arc of Power Ends in Utter Ignominy

London Telegraph obituary 
The name “Saddam” means “he who confronts”, but his 12-year defiance of the UN and refusal to co-operate with weapons inspectors resulted in a US-led coalition invading his country. Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched on March 20 2003, was intent on achieving regime change. After the resistance of his army collapsed Saddam fled, prompting a huge manhunt which ended with American troops finding him hiding in a foxhole near Tikrit in December 2003.

His legacy is horrific and terrible, his death a cause of celebration for many who Drink Up, It's done.  

The New York Post says in Justice Served,  "Ding dong, the Butcher's Dead."

Ralph Peters writes,
The murderer responsible for 1 1/2 million corpses is just a bag of bones.
For decades, the world pandered to his fantasies, overlooking his brutality in return for strategic advantages or naked profit. Diplomats, including our own, courted him, while the world's democracies and their competitors vied to sell him arms.

Neo-neocon reflects on the death of dictators in Mistah Saddam--he dead.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

December 29, 2006

Gerald Ford, A Decent and Honorable Man, R.I.P.

From the Wall St Journal,
History dealt him a weak hand; he played it well.
Perhaps President Ford's greatest achievement was in demonstrating to a nation angry and dispirited over Watergate and Vietnam that its political system was resilient and the Office of the Presidency still worthy of respect. In that sense his Presidency was a triumph of Ford's personal character--not the first, or last, time America has been fortunate in the leaders our democracy has produced.

How he wished to be remembered
Mark Updegrove interviewed  Ford in 2004 for his book "Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House,
" I asked him how he wished to be remembered. "That's easy, Mark," was his quick reply. "I was a healer and a builder. And if I am remembered that way, I would be most grateful."

The healing Ford offered in the form of the presidential pardon of Richard Nixon and the limited pardon of Vietnam War draft dodgers was acutely unpopular at the time, and the pardon of Nixon almost certainly cost him the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter. But he never doubted then or later that it was the right thing to do. Ford thought that those pardons were the price the divided country -- and ultimately he -- needed to pay in order to put the past behind and move forward.

Mark Steyn
Understanding the enduring damage Vietnam and Watergate would do to the body politic, Ford attempted to lance the boils. He failed, but it was an honorable effort by an honorable man.

Bob Dole, A Profile in Decency
... the right person in the right place at the right time. ...He was a principled partisan...He was never a person to nurse a grudge....In defeat he was gracious....Gerald Ford had never sought the presidency and thus was obligated to no group or individual. His legacy will be that he stopped the national hemorrhaging over Watergate. A man of courage and integrity, he made the tough choice of pardoning Richard Nixon, which helped heal the nation but very likely cost him the 1976 election. He showed his willingness to put the country's interest first.

Ben Stein, A Ford not a Lincoln.   

Defeated for election, Ford went peacefully into elder statesman mode, helped his noble wife dignify the fight against alcoholism and addiction, and stood for decades as a figure of grace and humility. Five miles east of the lovely home that Ford lived and died in in the California desert, there is a simple cottage where men and women go to attend meetings to bring peace and sobriety. On one wall there is a list of the people who have been coming frequently, just by first name and last initial. Two of those names are "Gerald and Betty F." Not President. Not Minority Leader. Just "Gerald and Betty F." Just two people trying to spread oil on the troubled waters of human existence. A Ford, not a Lincoln, but what a glorious Michigan-made vehicle of the human spirit

I was one of the few I knew who thought President Ford did the absolutely right thing in pardoning President Nixon.  We needed to get over "our long national nightmare" and get on with it, the business of life and living.    It was comforting to have a decent man as President, one who didn't seek the office and who was free of the psychological hangups  that bedeviled his predecessor and successor.

That he sacrificed his political future to do the right thing is to me his greatest legacy. 

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New idiotic ways to kill yourself.  It's called "Ghost riding the whip" when a driver gets out of his slowly-moving car to dance around and on top of the vehicle to a thumping hip-hop beat.

Hip-Hop Car Stunt Leaves 2 Dead.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 28, 2006

Watching her husband die in an airplane

Widow accuses JetBlue of letting hubby die.

    Karen Fossett, a 51-year-old registered nurse and mother of two, claims in her suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court on behalf of Robert Fossett Jr., 53, “After the plane landed, JetBlue’s employees or agents determined that Mr. Fossett was unresponsive, but nonetheless fully deplaned the aircraft before providing any assistance, calling for aid or attempting to resuscitate him.”
Robert Fossett, former president of the Revere-based Atlantic Vending Co., was a passenger on Boston-bound JetBlue Flight 468 on Feb. 16, 2005, when, according to federal court documents, another passenger saw him go into “cardiac distress” and tried to alert the cabin crew.
    “At no time during the duration of the flight,” the civil action purports, did any crew member attempt to assist Fossett “or arrange for others to assist him,” including having an ambulance waiting at Logan International Airport.
    Only after other passengers were tended to and sent on their way did JetBlue try to resuscitate Fossett with oxygen and “some form of CPR,” according to the complaint.

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December 27, 2006

Fallen Astronaut

  Art On The Moon
The Only Art on the Moon

Created by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck, sent aloft with Apollo 15 and installed by astronaut David Scott along with a plaque honoring 14 astronauts and cosmonauts who died in service.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Leaving no one behind

In Fitchburg, Mass, a hospice just for dying veterans, the only one of its kind.

"Coming here is better than going to a hospital," said Bill Bouchard, 49, a Coast Guard veteran with liver and lung cancer. "I have no family left."
"It's nice to talk to people who understand" the needs and emotions of ailing veterans, said Bouchard, a former Boston resident who moved here in October from Daytona Beach, Fla. "I was getting sicker, and I wanted to see some old friends [in Massachusetts] before I kick off."

The nonprofit hospice, begun in 1993 by Lightfoot, a former Army medic, can accommodate 12 residents in its seven bedrooms. All clients have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and are no longer able to care for themselves.
For Martha Gauvin, the hospice's health coordinator, the opportunity to work with veterans is profoundly rewarding.

"To be with veterans when they're dying, it's really and truly a great honor," Gauvin said.
"The vets say: Leave no one behind," O'Connor said. "We're not going to do that here."

Well said, well done/

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A quiet grief that lasted 50 years

A quiet grief that lasted 50 years.  From Neonatal Doc, comes Parent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 26, 2006

Girl Without a Name

For four years, detectives sought the identity of the young girl found dead in a duffel bag.

“We felt this was a good kid,” Dudek said. “We were doing everything we could.”

They rounded up specialists, who donated their time to examine her bones and her teeth. They had her DNA tested.
The girl without a name was buried under a marker reading "Unknown Child of God" in a funeral paid for by nearly 100 people.

Last week, they got their answer. The girl's mother was devastated.

“It's sad, but at least now she knows,” Dudek said.

Del Carmen was moved to learn how a community of strangers had come to care for her daughter, dedicating years to investigate her death and giving her a dignified burial, he said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink

James Brown, "Soul Brother No. 1" R.I.P.

James Brown died on Christmas morning at 73, in what Jesse Jackson called "almost a dramatic, poetic moment.  He'll be all over the news all  over the world."

A.P. obituary, "Godfather of Soul"

He was an innovator, he was an emancipator, he was an originator. Rap music, all that stuff came from James Brown," entertainer Little Richard, a longtime friend of Brown's, told MSNBC. "A great treasure is gone."
Brown won a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (best R&B recording) and for "Living In America" in 1987 (best R&B vocal performance, male.) He had a brief but memorable role on the big screen as a manic preacher in the 1980's movie "The Blues Brothers."

From the London Times the American critic Dave Marsh put it: “He invented the rhythmic future in which we live today”. The record with which James performed this unlikely feat was called Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (1965) and what he created was the dance-soul hybrid known as funk.

Authoritatively described by Billboard magazine as black music’s all-time No 1 artist, Brown was a performer of colossal and enduring influence. He will be remembered as a dynamic inspiration to those who followed him and as one of the most important popular music entertainers ever.

The London Telegraph

His energy appeared boundless: Brown often played 350 concerts in a year, soon earning himself the title of "the hardest working man in showbusiness". For his concerts he wrote all his own songs and personally organised all the choreography and costume design — including his own wardrobe of 150 suits and 80 pairs of shoes.

His hair was attended to daily by two hairdressers. He was a strict disciplinarian, fining his dancers or musicians if they underperformed or were incorrectly dressed. Throughout his career Brown had brushes with the law, culminating in a six-year jail sentence in 1988 for assault with intent to kill, drunken driving and other traffic offences.

He had burst into a business conference at a hotel in which he had an office, toting a shotgun and accusing someone of having used his private bathroom. There followed a 100 mph police chase which ended with the police shooting out the tyres of his pick-up truck.

Looks as if the legal troubles will continue after his death.  His last wife, backup dancer Tomi Rae Hynie, mother of his 5 year old son, returned to Brown's South Carolina home on Beech Island to find it padlocked.  Brown's lawyer said she and the late singer were not legally married and she was locked out of Brown's home for estate legal reasons.  When Hynie married Brown in 2001, she was already married to a Texas man, making the Brown marriage null and void.  Hynie did get the first marriage annulled later, but she never "remarried" Brown, so before the law, she was single.

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Uri Dan R.I.P.

Uri Dan, the kind of reporter you don't see anymore, died last week at 71.  Eric Fettmann writes about the greatest journalist he has ever seen in Reporting Legend.

... in the course of a journalism career that spanned 55 years, he broke hundreds of exclusive stories. He was an old-fashioned reporter - a whirlwind of energy, a perpetual motion machine who was constantly digging, questioning and probing until he got the story he was after.

He was fearless: He was in West Berlin when the Soviet wall dividing the city was built. He managed to slip across to the communist sector, bribed a Russian soldier to lend him his uniform and paraded around the streets, taking photos, before slipping back to safety.

Uri, it seemed, never slept. He would be up every night till dawn, working the phones and writing his stories and columns in longhand (he never even used a typewriter, let alone a computer). That was one secret of his success. The other was that Uri was genuinely interested in people - famous or not - and what they had to say. Uri was a listener as well as a questioner; people instinctively trusted him and confided in him. He had friends everywhere, in the most far-flung places.
To the end, Uri remained tireless. Diagnosed with lung cancer, he covered last summer's war in Lebanon from his hospital bed while undergoing intensive chemotherapy

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December 22, 2006

A good-looking corpse

While driving her 2005 black Mitsubish, Lusaed Perez, 34,  was applying makeup  when she lost control going around a bend in the road, careened over 200 ft of grass before she hit a tree and died. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 15, 2006

Ahmet Ertegun, A Fitting Death

I've set up a new category for particularly fitting deaths, people dying while they were doing what they loved. 

Steve Erwin, the Australian conservationist who was fatally pierced by a stingray comes first to mind, so does the Snake king Ali Khan who died from a cobra  bite.

Definitely in that category is Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun who died yesterday following a head injury he got while attending a Rolling Stones concert and 60th birthday party for former president Bill Clinton. He was 83.

From USA Today

By the 1960s, Ertegun was nurturing soul stars such as Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack and Wilson Pickett. He helped usher in the invasion of such British rockers as the Rolling Stones, Cream and Led Zeppelin, and oversaw an American pop explosion, with acts such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Sonny and Cher, and Bette Midler. And the label is now home to such diverse acts as Missy Elliott, James Blunt, Stone Temple Pilots, Jewel, Death Cab for Cutie and Kid Rock.

Ertegun, who was born in Istanbul in 1923 and was the son of a Turkish diplomat, was a moving force in the founding of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1985 in Cleveland. He was himself inducted two years later, and its main exhibition hall is named for him. He never lost his passion for music. He was still chairman of Atlantic Records when he died.

From an interview he gave to Slate

Slate: What do you want for your legacy?

AE: I'd be happy if people said that I did a little bit to raise the dignity and recognition of the greatness of African-American music.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Trying to Remember an Important Day

Beverly Beckham writes
My oldest daughter turned 35 last week and what she wanted most for her birthday was to remember turning 21. "I was in college. I must have gone out. Where did I go? What did I do?"

We sat around the table, family and friends, trying to remember something of her 21st birthday. But none of us could.

You think you don't forget the big moments: birthdays, holidays, milestones. But they slip away, too, like thousands of small moments lived and celebrated, and then forgotten.
When my daughter turned 21, I didn't write about it, and she didn't write about it, or paste a coaster in a book or preserve it in any way.
And so it came, it went, and it's gone.

Most days are. We live thousands of them and recall just a few. Pictures capture some. And words. And song.

Even better is blogging.  A few minutes can capture a day in words and photos.  I call it legacy blogging for yourself and your family and friends.  Blogging captures the evanescence of your life.  Blogging enriches your life.

I can't think of a better way to capture the highlights of your life as they happen, an adjunct to your memory.  In later years, when you look back to what you wrote, you will see how far you've come and how much is gone, except  for what you wrote and saved.  What you've blogged becomes what you rediscover.  Blogging also helps slow life down. 

For those who want to blog, but who don't want the whole world to know what they writing and thinking, use a password protected blogging service.  Or consider Vox.

Vox is the new blogging service from Six Apart that brought us Moveable Type and Typepad,

Vox is private.  You control who sees your blog by setting privacy filters, allowing only friends or family say.  Even better, you can share video and audio, even import media from YouTube, Flickr, or Photobucket.    For the time being, Vox is free.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 14, 2006

"A quack, a ghoul and a fiend."

Wesley Smith of the Discovery Institute calls Dr Kevorkian, "a quack, a ghoul and a fiend."

You may know him only as Dr. Death and you may be a little hazy on the details except that he's getting out of jail soon.    If so, I urge you to read Dr. Death Gets Out of Jail.

He is not a kindly doctor, easing the terminally ill from their pain-ridden lives.  He has expressed willingness to kill just about anyone who asks him.  Nearly 130 people have died under his hand, 70% of them disabled, 5 of them with no diseases whatsoever.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:40 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Five Things You Don't Know About Me.

For those of you who want to begin creating your personal legacy archives, but who, for one reason or another, balk at the idea of writing your life story consider easing into it with Things You Don't Know About Me.

Jeremy of Lifestylism has tagged me with the current meme which, unlike most memes,  I like  and so to his challenge, Five Things You Didn't Know About Me, I reply.

1. When I began working at the Department of Interior, as the Special Assistant to the Solicitor,  I  wrote a number of speeches for the Solicitor, one of which became infamous,  picked up by the Associated Press across the country and, in the end, selected by Parade magazine in its year-end round-up as the best or funniest  environmental stories of the year, I can't remember which.

Let's face it, it's hard to find something interesting and relevant to write about for the South Dakota  Stockgrowers Association, - that's cattlemen to you.    So, when in the course of reading reports from the EPA, and the International Climate Change Committee, I came across the fact that grants were being awarded to study cow flatulence and digestion  as one of the major sources of methane contributing to climate change, I knew I had a winner.  "Windy cows" it was.  The speech wrote itself and the cattlemen loved it.

2. I can't tell the difference between cars with the exception of PT Cruisers and sometimes Volkswagens.  My first real boyfriend was unduly proud of his red Alfa Romeo so when walking ahead of him one day, I climbed into a red volkswagen thinking it was his, I broke his heart.

3.  When in college, I was strapped for cash.  I had the brilliant idea of starting a chain letter with myself at the top so people would send me money.  Within hours,  I was called into the Dean's Office to be told why this was not a good idea.

4. I began working at 16, two hours a day at a local bakery where I worked behind the counter, slicing bread and wrapping up pastries for customers.  At 16, I was old enough to go to Revere Beach with friends from school, taking first a bus, then a subway, then a transfer to another line, before we reached Revere Beach with its boardwalk, amusement park and beach.  It was a long, hot trek so we didn't do it very often.  Now this was the time the Boston Strangler was at large, but  we had our defenses - a hatpin we would wear under our collars, so we could poke him the eye.

On one such outing to Revere, I had to leave early to go to work.  I was fine, I thought until I noticed a man with a creepy smile who seemed to be following me as I walked alone to the subway.  He followed me when I switched lines, then followed me on the bus, then followed me, trying to talk to me  as I walked to the bakery.  By that time I was really scared and hid in the bakery's basement because I didn't want to see him again.  The ladies who worked with me were very nice and one walked me home.  I told my mother who was leaving with my father that night for a weekend on Nantucket, the first vacation they had ever taken away from me and my six brothers and sisters.  The babysitter for the weekend was one of the eight Callahan girls, just up the street, so no worry about a back-up.  My parents were very concerned of course and debated whether they should go or not.  Finally, they called the police and explained  the situation.  The police promised to keep us on cruiser watch for the weekend and every half hour, a police car would pass our house very slowly.  Despite the high excitement,  nothing happened.

It was years before they captured the Boston Strangler, Albert de Salvo.  When I saw his picture in the paper, I recognized him immediately.  He was the man with the creepy smile who followed me home that day from Revere Beach.      My brother Robby doesn't believe this story.

5.  After I graduated from law school and passed the New York Bar, my first job was with a very large Wall St firm whose flag was, I kid you not, completely beige.  It was one of the most boring jobs I ever had and I didn't last more than a year.    Way before computers revolutionized legal research, we "shephardized" our research using pencils, wearing them down so quickly the firm  had a man whose job it was to go from office to office every afternoon just sharpening all our pencils.  Since I worked on only two cases for the managing partner, one of which had been on appeal for over 20 years  in the U.S. Court of Claims with hundreds of millions of dollars pending on whether deferred but uncollected insurance premiums had to be included in income.    I did research on one arcane point after another but would get so bored, I  would start to fall asleep with a type of brain fog that no amount of coffee could clear.  To stay awake, I would go to the ladies' room and read a short story in the New Yorker.  Soon, I was carrying collections of short stories every day, parceling them out, one every hour or two.  I read more short stories in that one very long year than I ever had before or ever would again.

I now tag 5 women about whom I'd love to learn more.


UPDATE:  Since David Bowles of Westward Sagas tagged me with the same meme, I am simply going to repost this because he especially will appreciate the windy cow story much as I enjoyed learning how much ranching is in his heart, even though he had to finally sell his family's ranch.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 13, 2006

A glorious, remarkable leave-taking

To understand better the nature of grief, it helps to understand that "death doesn't end a relationship, it ends a life". 

Patti Digh begins her essay  Forever hold your penguin dear with that quote which she attributes to Jack Lemmon.

Jack Lemmon? but I digress.

when people die, we move so quickly in the opposite direction, to have those bodies picked up and cleaned and sanitized. Pema Chodron has written that “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” To look away, not at; to dispose of quickly. Dead bodies are fearful things. We have lost sight, perhaps, of where we really are. When I try to locate myself in space and in place, why am I always confined to this space, this place? Am I my body, or is it merely a container for me? Why should I run at its disease, its death?

Death is mystery. It is awful and transformational and freeing and heartbreaking—it is also Truth and therefore fearful for many of us, for me. But this young woman has changed that—what a gift I have received from someone I never met, will never meet.

What follows is the most remarkable leave-taking I've ever read.

It is a story so beautiful and so raw and so very intensely real that it breaks my heart and heals it all at the same time. And there is more. Just as the penguin story kept coming, there is more.
Don’t try telling me that life isn’t circular in some significant ways. We are tying bows around significances every day, I think. We just don’t know it, or not yet.

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Billy Graham and a talking cow

Billy Graham is torn between the wishes of his frail, sick 86-year-old wife Ruth and those of his son and heir Franklin Graham.    Then crime novelist Patricia Cornwell gets into the picture.

A Family at Cross-Purposes and arguing over where Billy Graham will be buried, in Charlotte with a talking cow or at the Cove.

The burial issue threatens to tear asunder what some have called the royal family of American religion, and Billy is being asked to make a Solomon-like choice between the wishes of his heir and his wife of 63 years.

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December 9, 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick, R.I.P.

My admiration for Jeane Kirkpatrick grows the more I read about her in tributes that pour after she died in her sleep last week, aged 80.

She was a professor of political science at Georgetown, the first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and was the woman of whom Bill Buckley said, "She ought to be woven into the flag as the 51st star."

I loved this story that Jay Nordlinger tells

My favorite story about her involves Sakharov. Facing a group of visiting American dignitaries, he said, “Kirkpatski, Kirkpatski, which of you is Kirkpatski?” Others gestured to Jeane. He said, “Your name is known in every cell in the Gulag.” The reason was, she had named the names of Soviet political prisoners, on the floor of the U.N.

In the Washington Post obituary by Joe Holley, I learned she had been  widowed since 1995 and lost one son last year.  Two sons survive her, one a Buddhist monk, Traktung Rinpoche, the other a lawyer in Miami.

The Wall St Journal says her blunt style and strong defense of liberty will be missed.
The mind's eye recalls the televised image in the early 1980s of Ambassador Kirkpatrick, a Democrat then, seated at the U.N. Security Council table and publicly defending U.S. interests against the Soviet Union with an articulate, no-nonsense bluntness that makes Mr. Bolton sound like Little Bo-Peep by comparison. That style--American interests made perfectly clear--will be missed.

No one ever doubted Jeane Kirkpatrick's will or courage. Among those who most appreciated her determination to speak truth to totalitarian power was the celebrated Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov. Exiled by the Soviet government to Gorky, Sakharov said later how important it was to have a person of Jeane Kirkpatrick's stature publicly identify jailed Soviet dissidents by name.

A liberal hawk, a Democrat turned Republican, she explained why in her 1984 speech  to the Republican Convention in San Diego where she  coined two phrases still used today, "San Francisco Democrats" and "Blame America First."

A recent article in The New York Times noted that "the foreign policy line that emerged from the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco is a distinct shift from the policies of such [Democratic] presidents as Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson."

I agree.
When the San Francisco Democrats treat foreign affairs as an afterthought, as they did, they behaved less like a dove or a hawk than like an ostrich - convinced it would shut out the world by hiding its head in the sand.

This is what she had to say about the power of the media

"Some people believe, and I am among them, that the power of the media today constitutes the most significant exercise of unaccountable power in our society. It is unaccountable to anyone, except for those who exercise the power. I believe that the domain of culture is as important as the domain of government or the economy
It is very important to realize that the electronic media, which provide mass audiences, have made our culture much more manipulable than it ever was in the past. Typically, historically, cultures have been slow to change. Ideas about what's real, what's important, and what causes what, change very slowly in history. They are grounded in the experience of peoples, and respond only to additional, cumulative experiences of peoples. With the rise of electronic media, the possibility of deliberate manipulation of culture has been magnified ten zillion fold."

Other obits and reflections. 

London Telegraph

New York Times

Norman Podhoretz

I particularly liked this from Michael Novak

Aristotle wrote that the criterion of good moral action is not a principle or a law so much as “the man of practical wisdom”—that is, the person in your environment who habitually makes the wisest and bravest decisions of anyone else you know. Aristotle mentions, in his context, Pericles. In my circle, I always wanted to ask Jeane Kirkpatrick for advice and counsel. I wanted to watch what she did. I guess nowadays they call persons of this type “role models.” But that term doesn’t quite get the whole idea. It misses the interiority of the thing, the inner life, the fount of the wisdom one is seeking. Not a role player but a person who has lived through a lot, learned from it, and has a burning desire to get things right, circumstance by circumstance. That was Jeane.

Jeane Kirkpatrick was an enormous force for honesty, liberty, candor, straightforwardness, and sheer moral bravery. She was a valiant woman and a gallant soul. She was a thoughtful and gentle colleague; a very warm, generous, and open friend; and a great, brave American heroine.

Update: Reader Dan Diaz points out that Jean Kirkpatrick's son Traktung Rinpoche is not a monk, but a lama.  He is married with children

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 7, 2006

A Real Treasure Hunt Yields $15.6 million Rockwell

Cartoonist Don Trachte was also expert and ingenious forger as well as a bit of a prankster. 

In the process of a bitter divorce action, Trachte duplicated five paintings he owned and hung the real paintings on a sliding track hidden in a secret compartment he built in a trick bookcase which  shielded the paintings from "light, dust, grime and mice".    He wanted to protect his children's inheritance 

But he forgot to tell his children before his death last year in Vermont.

One of the paintings  was painted by his friend Norman Rockwell  and called "Breaking Home Ties".

  Breaking Home Tiffs C.1954

It was Trachte's prized possession that he bought for $900 in 1960 and lent  generously to a number of national and international exhibitions in the succeeding years, knowing full well it was a duplicate because he had painted it.

Under the terms of the divorce agreement,
the paintings were given to the children, however the parents could hang the paintings in their respective homes. Trachte kept the Rockwell painting and his wife kept the additional seven paintings

At a recent exhibition, one art expert questioned the painting's authenticity, calling it a "third-rate replica" because it didn't match the Saturday Evening Post cover.

it was up to his sons, matching wits with their father, to hunt for a treasure they had to determine existed

Rockewell revelation: Sons' search solves mystery

Yesterday, it was sold at Sotheby's for a record $15.4 million.

More details of this improbable story can be found at The Norman Rockwell Museum

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A Comfort for Grieving Parents

Reminded again by Solomonia of this collection of Victorian Post-Mortem photography, I'm led back to one of my favorite sites, the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society and this quote -

“What a comfort it is to possess the image of those who are removed from our sight. We may raise an image of them in our minds but that has not the tangibility of one we can see with our bodily eyes.”
–Flora A. Windeyer, in a letter to Rev. John Blomfield, November 1870

  Victorian Post Mortem Photos-1

We have forgotten how prevalent the death of children was - and how  quick  - in earlier times and how anguished their parents.

When Death is the Country for Children.

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Radioactive spy's coffin barred from mosque

Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian who was poisoned with a lethal dose of polonium, converted to Islam shortly before his death at a London hospital.

Yet he was denied a Muslim funeral, his coffin barred from the mosque, because of his contaminated body and fears that radiation could jeopardize the public.

Dimitry Kovtun, a  contact of Litvinenko, is now in a coma in Moscow, critically ill from radiation poisoning.

Radiation has been found at the British embassy in Moscow.

Scotland Yard is treating the poisoned spy case as murder.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:25 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 6, 2006

In the Best of Taste

When a revered political columnist and food writer plans his own memorial service, it is sui generis, in the Kennedy Center, no less.

How many reporters became famous, really famous, for the immensity of their expense accounts?

Johnny  Apple's Service, In the Best of Taste.

a post-service buffet to remember. Apple would have savored the spread laid on by 21 of the Washington area's best restaurants, and lubricated by the wines of 20 American vineyards. Apple apparently knew the proprietors of all 41 -- and of course had sampled their production, in all likelihood prodigiously. Had he been able to partake, Apple would have particularly liked the huge fresh oysters flavored with generous dollops of real Russian caviar provided by Patrick O'Connell of the Inn at Little Washington.

Luckily for the 750 or so in the crowd, everyone knew Apple, so they could laugh at Apple stories told by 13 eulogists while images of the vast man himself danced in their imaginations

Ward Just, the novelist and former Washington Post reporter whose eulogy was read by Purdum yesterday, put his finger on the essence of Apple's professional personality: "Johnny Apple was primarily interested in the demystification of things: the Iowa caucuses, Finnish architecture, the proper way to poach some wretched fish . . ."

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December 4, 2006

The Good Die Young

As you know, epitaphs are the inscriptions on headstones.  Wikiquotes has a fine collection from which I chosen a few.

Unless you write your own epitaph, someone unknown will write it for you.

Ezekial Aikle (unknown)
"Here Lies
Ezekial Aikle
Aged 102
The Good
Die Young"

from East Dalhousie, Nova Scotia, Canada

Gracie Allen and George Burns (themselves)
"Together again."

Hilaire Belloc (unknown) - 1870-1953
"When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read."

Mel Blanc (by himself)
"That's all, folks!"
Trademark line of cartoon character Porky Pig, whose voice was provided by Blanc for many years.

John Brown (unknown)
"Stranger! Approach this spot with gravity!
John Brown is filling his last cavity."

Andrew Carnegie (unknown)
"Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the service of better men than himself."

Winston Churchill (unknown)
I am ready to meet my Maker.
Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

Emily Dickinson (herself)
"Called back"

John Donne (Himself)
"John Donne

Benjamin Franklin (himself)
"The Body of
B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its Contents turn out
And Stript of its Lettering & Guilding
Lies here. Food for Worms
For, it will as he believed
appear once more
In a new and more elegant Edition
corrected and improved
By the Author

Jackie Gleason (himself)
"And away we go!"
Trademark catchphrase from his television shows.

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December 2, 2006

Not Parted in Dying

Loving Couple 'died together'

Dorothy and Glen Baker, their hands clasped, died within hours of each other.

So it was fitting, their daughter says, that when Dorothy -- who'd long battled a lung affliction -- died in the hospital's palliative unit last Friday, her ill husband lying beside her also died just two hours later.

"As soon as their hands were unclasped, they (the nurses) could start to see my dad fail," Lynn Baker said yesterday.

"They were so devoted, and they loved each other so much, that death didn't part them."

Or, as a doctor overseeing their care said: "It's much more explained by his desire to be with her than by anything I can explain to you medically."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 1, 2006

Ice Cream Pioneer Dies

Rose Mattus, co-founder with her husband of Haagan Das ice cream, , died Tuesday, age 90

Her parents were Jewish tailors from Poland who moved first to Englad, then to New York in the early 20s.

From the London Telegraph,
By the 1950s most supermarket ice cream was made with artificial flavouring and non-fat dry milk. The Mattuses saw the potential for a luxury ice cream high in butterfat, but without the usual fillers and stabilisers and containing the minimum amount of air.

In a masterstroke of marketing, Rose and Reuben Mattus pulled the name Häagen-Dazs out of nowhere. They put a map of Denmark on the carton, and an umlaut over the first "a" in Häagen (even though no such device exists in Danish). Reuben Mattus claimed the faux Scandinavian name conveyed an aura of old-world tradition and craftsmanship.

While her husband worried about quality, taste and texture, Rose Mattus was company controller of Häagen-Dazs Inc, the business brain and the product's principal promoter.

"Our early clients were a motley assortment of oddballs with long hair, fringe tastes, and decidedly eccentric business styles." But once rooted in the subculture, the brand quickly boomed in mainstream markets.

By 1983, when the Pillsbury company bought the brand, Häagen-Dazs had its own shops and was selling more than $100 million worth of ice cream a year. The brand is now part of the Nestlé empire.

The company prospered by selling unashamedly fat-friendly ice cream laden with egg yolk and real cream, as well as such toothsome flavourings as Belgian chocolate, Madagascan vanilla beans and Colombian coffee. In 1992 the Mattus family introduced a lower fat, lower calorie ice cream called Mattus.

Yahoo News

Even though she had diabetes, Rose Mattus was a fan of her product, particularly vanilla, said her daughter Doris Mattus Hurley.

"If it was anywhere in sight, she would sneak it," Hurley told The Record of Bergen County. "My dad was always yelling, 'Rose, get out of the ice cream!' But she lived to be 90, so I guess it didn't do her too much harm."

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