Thoughts on John McCain’s funeral

I watched parts of John McCain’s funeral yesterday (Sept. 1) and was pretty moved by his daughter Meghan’s eulogy. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth the 17 minutes that she speaks.

Her dad was tough, smart, opinionated and a statesman. I especially love the line that got applause (at a funeral, no less) –

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great…”

Donald Trump did not attend McCain’s funeral. He was playing golf at the time. Vice President Mike Pence did attend. So did most of Washington’s elite, from both parties. The Clintons, the Obamas and the Bushes attended as well. But no Donald Trump, who has had problems and an ongoing feud with McCain for years, with his most famous insult of the former senator being

“He’s not a war hero…He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump said that just a couple of years ago, but here he is in 1999 downplaying McCain’s heroism –

McCain often made veiled jabs at Trump, such as this

“One aspect of the [Vietnam] conflict by the way that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur…That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

But getting back to Meghan McCain. I love that line so much (“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great…”) because it gets to the gist of what is happening right now in America – is America great? Has it had problems (of course) and do we try to deal with those problems (I think eventually we do try) but the current resident of the White House apparently doesn’t think we are ‘great’. He tweeted today, in a believed response to McCain’s skewering of his mantra –

So, does Trump think that we’re NOT great? What constitutes greatness in his eyes? Are we only great if we do what he thinks is great? What does he think is great, anyway? The Cleveland Plains Dealer compiled a list of things he thinks are ‘great’, among them –

  • Himself as a leader
  • Himself as a person
  • His company
  • His hotel in Honolulu
  • His fortune
  • His poll numbers
  • His security cameras

If you don’t agree with the great narcissist Donald Trump, does that make you part of not making America great?

Addendum: After finishing this I went back to the original article that the Twitter screenshot above came from and noticed something else. One of the comments from the article showed a retweet from someone that I do not know –

Jesus wept.

Michael Jackson

I thank my lucky stars everyday that my family and I were overseas from mid-June through mid-July. We went to Italy. It was wonderful and we had a great time and our family felt better again since Kim and I had been working 60+ hour weeks.

In the town of Loro Ciufenna that we were staying there was a newsstand that sold, on each Sunday, one copy of the International Herald Tribune. The IHT is the European version of the New York Times, but from a decidedly Euro-centric viewpoint, but you still have to put up with Paul Krugman and Roger Cohen. So the first time we bought the IHT (for  2 Euro) and splashed across the front page was a story about Michael Jackson, sort of a career retrospective and how it mentioned that he had planned to tour in the fall. Only after 10 or so paragraphs did it mention that he was dead.

Wow. Michael Jackson was dead? I called my mother and asked her when it had happened and was told that it was a few days after we had left the States, which made me happy to be in Italy, because it meant that I didn’t have to live through all of the crap that was going on in the States about how, oh my God, he’s dead! What happened? What will we do without this lovable eccentric genius who died before his time? Let’s all run out right this freaking second and buy everything that we can that has Michael Jackson’s voice or picture or essence on it!

Supposedly Michael Jackson’s estate has earned over $100 million since his death. And yes, I feel for his children, whom I’m sure loved their father, even though he nicknamed one of them Blanket. And I’m sure that his family was sad when he died, but I hope there is some remorse they feel cashing checks for everything from their shares of his estate to the new reality series that is going to be broadcast with most of the Jacksons in it. I’m probably being pessimistic, given what human nature is really like, of course.

I think that the thing that gets me the most about this Michael love is that everyone seems to have forgotten how completely freaky this person they are worshiping was. All of these “Thriller” dance things and “Thriller” on Party City television ads and Neverland Ranch and the child-sex thing – what the – ? This person, only a few years ago, was considered a freak of nature, a possible child rapist and understandably distrusted by many people. Is the new love the product of a remarkable PR campaign? It’s definitely possible. Who knows.

And why do I care? Part of the “Thriller” thing is, I’m sure, a long-lost love of an ephemeral, imagined 1980’s and a simpler time. Do people feel lonely for this? Should I care at all?

Give it a little while. It will go away.

I hope.

The Wayback Machine Has Resurrected a Lot of My Long Dead Posts

God bless the Internet.

The Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine, is a wonderful thing. You can see the way Google looked a long time ago or the website of the New York Times from September 11, 2001. It’s not the fastest thing in the world (and come on, if you archive the majority of the internet for free, do you really have to answer to anybody about the speed of your servers?) but it sure is awesome.

And its awesomeness now travels over to this site. My first blog that I wrote years ago Central Services – The Minstry of Information Retrieval 1Taken from the movie Brazil. is on the Wayback Machine. Not all of it, sadly, but a large portion of it. So if you start seeing new posts appear in your RSS reader or you’re just poking around the site avoiding the boss, check ’em out.

Dear Bicyclists : I Totally Hate Your Guts

The other morning Peyton, the baby, woke up early, and, being the conscientious father, I decided that rather than having him wake up everybody else in the house that he and I would go and drive around for awhile. It was approaching 7 am and I was tired, having already been up with him for an hour, and I wanted to do something with him besides say “No!” and grab things out of his hands before they entered his mouth. So I grabbed the keys to the truck, loaded him up and we headed out for a morning drive around the lake.

“The lake” is White Rock Lake, and people of all shapes and sizes go there in the very early morning hours to run, walk, jog and ride bikes. It’s a lovely tranquil place to just drive (or run, walk, jog or ride bikes) around the lake and look out at the water. Noah loves going there to feed ducks and also try his hand at (very amateurish) fishing. I like to go look at the gigantic houses and just while away a little time before I realize how much money I’m blowing on gas.

So Peyton and I were driving and I’d come to the southern portion of the lake where the road diverges from the lakeside and I was out in residential land again and there’s a pack of about 20 bicyclists coming towards me. I knew from learning to ride a bike that the safest way to ride is towards traffic in a single file line, but these bicyclists were only doing the former and not the latter. Because of this there was a giant swarm of bikes and we were on a collision course with each other.

But I kept driving towards them. “They’ll realize they’re going to be killed and they’ll avoid me, the larger vehicle.” This did not happen.

I drove on, approaching them at about 35 mph. They kept on coming straight at me.

I got to about 15 feet from them before I steered clear of them. I also gave them a very noticeable finger, letting them know that I was number one and they weren’t.

The arrogance of some people! Where do they get off thinking that naturally I, the automobile driver, am going to avoid them just because they are on bicycles? “We are exercising and you are contributing to making Dallas one of the fattest cities in America,” was what I assumed they were thinking as they pedaled on.

So bicyclists, this is your warning. I will take you arrogant muthas down!

Why is Everyone Scared of You When You’re Wearing a Ski Mask?

I remember when I was a kid that some kids (not me) when they were walking to school in the cold would wear various things – coats, gloves, hats, and sometimes the invaluably effective ski mask.

I always wanted one. I never got one.

They were awesome. Your face would be warm out in the cold. An efficient piece of clothing for keeping your nose from freezing.

Of course, if you wear one now, people look at you a little funny. You can see it on their faces. “Who’s that shady, yet warm, character over there? Is he going to rob me? Kill me? Maybe blow up a bomb?”

Everyone thinks you’re a terrorist or a bank robber or a mugger now if you wear a ski mask. Which is why I want to rehabilitate the ski mask’s reputation. Who’s with me?

I want a ski mask just so I can drive around with one on. People may stare but I’ll only do good thing while wearing my ski mask – help the environment, care for old people, be kind to animals, go shopping for groceries, all while wearing my trusty, warm and woolly ski mask.

Why can’t we all love the ski mask again? It never stopped loving us.

Turning On, Tuning Out

I used to be a news junkie. The way that an addict can’t wait for their next fix? That was me with news. I consumed it as often as I could, I had news sites galore bookmarked, RSS’d, and I would continually be plugged in. I would check the Drudge Report sometimes 30 times a day, looking for that little siren that he puts at the top of his page when something is breaking.

If someone wanted to know what was going on in the world they would ask me because I would know what was happening day after day. I became cocky about it; correcting people about what was going on, because I knew, damnit. If there was a story I knew who the main players were and what they were doing and how they were involved and I could posit several ways that a story would turn out based on what I knew, and a lot of times I would be right, because there’s only so many ways that a story can end.

But it started to take a toll on me, I started having panic attacks, I was stressed out a lot, became irritable all the time. I had bad dreams, worried all the time about things that might happen.

If America goes to war with Iran, what can I do about it? Nothing.

If someone blows up a nuclear warhead in a major city, do I have any control over it? No.

Governments are run by men, but I am not one of those men. I am an everyday average person who just tries to take care of his family. I give them food and a nice place to live and guidance and friendship, but President or Senator or even Representative is not something I want to be, ever, because those people know things that I never want to know, things that our government must do to keep its people safe. Could I sleep at night, knowing what Senators know, or CIA chiefs? Would I be stressed out all the time? Hell yeah I would be.

And that’s why about 6 months ago I cut the cord. I tuned out. I don’t watch TV news anymore, hardly read about the news on the internet, where I am all day long. I unsubscribed to all of those Google alerts and news RSS feeds and any form of immediate information that was out there that I had been plugged into. I stopped listening to radio talk shows and keeping up with them. And I am a better person for it.

I know that the influential members of the media feel that the public doesn’t pay enough attention to what’s going on with the world, but why would they want to? When all we hear about on the news is Iraq and Iran and oil and global warming and how people are basically rotten and life sucks, why would you want to watch the news? All you’re going to do is feel crummy about things you can’t control. The media feels that it’s their job to rally the public around something, what I don’t know, but they feel that they are advocates for some purpose (that’s why the got into journalism), but they eat that garbage 24 hours a day, they are the junkies I used to be, but the average American doesn’t want that. There are things going on in this world (like Darfur) that Americans don’t want to know about. We’re all just trying to make our lives better in our compartmentalized worlds.

I don’t have panic attacks as often anymore, if I do I flip over to the local classical station. If someone asks me about a current event I hardly know what is going on with it anymore. Iraq? No idea. Iran? I have a vague notion. Global warming? Probably just a world climate change, and those have been happening for eons. Oil? Someone will find a replacement for it. Rotten people? There have always been rotten people, and the majority are government officials. But what am I going to do about it? I’m going to try to remain happy and take care of my family. That’s all I’m going to do, and I’m going to stay tuned out and deaf and dumb about the world because it makes me feel better.