…and the triple

Superstition holds that celebrity deaths come in threes, but the latest triple seems much stranger than most. Watching the coverage of the funerals of James Brown, Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein showcases how completely different these three men were. Watching these pageants, I couldn’t help but think there was some Jungian connection between it all, but can’t quite flush it out. Instead, stray observations, in no particular order:

  • While I understand the desire to represent the different branches of the armed forces at a state funeral, the mismatched uniforms of the pallbearers made the whole thing look sloppy. Maybe if there was a unified pallbearer uniform, with different insignia or something, it wouldn’t look like a bunch of guys were just picked up in a van by someone hanging out the window saying “yo! wanna carry the president?”
  • Michael Jackson may have been the only white guy invited to the James Brown funeral.
  • I’m pleased that it took very little time for the video of Saddam’s execution to hit the net. This suggests that the internet is infiltrating the Middle East more than I’d guessed. This will do more to advance freedom in the region than anything else.
  • Henry Kissinger may have finally crossed over into being a full lich.
  • It’s only a matter of time before someone suggests that Ford and Hussein coverage stealing the thunder from James Brown was a conspiracy of The Man.
  • Given that Betty Ford is rightfully praised for her public acknowledgment of her past addiction, the degree to which most of the talking heads in the press avoided mentioning “her problems” seemed somewhat insulting.
  • Americans are falling behind in the number of bullets shot into the air in celebration. (Where do these bullets go, anyway?)
  • My German father-in-law looked at the military aspect of the Ford funeral and suggested that if Germans saw a similar ceremony for a German politician, there would be an outcry that the Nazis had returned. Not sure if that’s true, but I was surprised by the comment.
  • Coloradoans give better-looking tributes than those inside the beltway.
  • The lack of former presidents at the Ford funeral surprised me. Bush, in particular, didn’t seem to care much about any of these deaths, other than as an opportunity to hint at his delusion that history will judge him well.
  • A tip to the choir: when someone in the audience passes out, just keep smiling and singing.


I have a confession to make: I don’t care about the JonBenet Ramsey case. I didn’t care when it happened, and I don’t care now. I will admit to being morally outraged about the “dress up five year olds like Texan whores” thing…ok, no I wasn’t. That part was a bit creepy, but I didn’t care much about that either.

I am therefore supremely qualified to make a prediction about the case. From the handful of three-second snippets I’ve heard on it, I predict the following:

  1. The guy that confessed didn’t actually kill JonBenet.
  2. The guy is, however, a pedophile. (White guy in Bangkok == pedophile)
  3. The guy has done bad things to kids, including murder (just not of JonBenet).
  4. He feels remorse over his actions.
  5. His remorse (and wanting to be famous) has led him to confess so that he can be punished.

You heard it here first. Or, hell, maybe someone else has already made this prediction. I wouldn’t know.

My career as a fortune-teller is not off to a very good start, since I’m making a prediction that will be completely unambiguous if it comes true or not. I should have put it in a quatrain about “one with a receding hairline” or something to be more cryptic.

Not that ambiguity would really matter, since people seem to fill in the blanks even when there are none. Take this comparison of a drawing a psychic made in 1998 predicting the appearance of JonBenet’s killer with the guy that confessed:

While upwards of 20 whole seconds of Googling couldn’t find a public version of this picture posted prior to three days ago, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt on that for now, since it is not particularly relevant to my point here. Which is: many people are freaking out over the similarity of the pictures. But…what similarity?

If you think these two look the same, what about these pictures suggests that? They both show a thin white guy? Check. With a receding hairline? Check. With similar eye shape? Maybe a little. With a combover? Uh… no. With a similar nose? No. With a remotely similar jaw line or head shape? No. With ears in the same position? No. With similar lip structure? No. With similar eyebrow bushiness? No. I, too, could have drawn a skinny white guy and been just as “accurate”.

I’d like to believe in mental powers beyond those of mortals as much as anyone, but real evidence of this is…limited. Psychics continue to succeed because humans are experts at finding patterns where there are none and see things that are not there, like “similarity” in these pictures.

Smoke on the water

In one of my first posts, I suggested a viking-themed Las Vegas resort. Having just been back to sin city for the winter solstice, I’m even more enthusiastic about this idea, especially after a suggestion from my uncle (the same uncle that inspired one of my architecture papers over a decade ago).

Being told of my viking hotel idea, his immediate response was “it could host viking funerals.”

Vegas is already a wedding destination. I bet there are enough people that would pay to have their remains burned in a wooden barge on the resort’s artificial lake. The lake would have to be set up with a horizon, perhaps a falls into a bit that explodes into a massive inferno when the ship falls in (this is Vegas, after all). There would be a big feast of course; it would be an all-inclusive funeral package.

I think it would start a new “destination funeral” trend. First in Las Vegas (think of how much the Luxor could make doing pharaonic embalmings and entombments), then elsewhere (maybe zombie funerals in Haiti).