Monday, May 23, 2005

I laugh when I'm passed out Posted by Hello


Cab ride from DuPont Circle to RFK Stadium: $14
Front row seats to the business persons special next to the home team dugout: $60 a piece
A picture phone: $130
The inability to keep a straight face while you pose passed out drunk on the dugout for a picture that is sent in real time to your high school buds: priceless.

Last Thursday afternoon was the business person's special at the Nationals, and with Dusty Eggs in town living his usual brutal workweek spent golfing and schmoozing sales clients, he was able to escape the rigors of his job for a game against the Brewers. The least I could do was play hookie for the afternoon, which is easy to do because the bosses are both big baseball fans. Strolling up to the ticket window, we saw a scalper who had first row "diamond club" seats, face value of $90, offered to us at $60. The diamond club consists of the first two rows only, where you get all you can eat for free, though we still had to pay for the beers to the tune of $6 a pop.

Tim Russert, was two rows back, not within the confines of the diamond club. Maybe next time Tim, you peasant! How much did that hot dog cost ya? He was there with his two sons who look to be about college age. Russert ditched them for good after the third or fourth inning, and from thereon we could hear his kids singing the Cats in the Cradle over and over again. Sad. Really sad. The price of fame - not worth it.

Livan Hernandez, brother of El Duque, pitched the win for the Nats. He's Cuban, and the guy probably sets the record for the slowest walk from the mound to the dugout in between innings, sauntering along with a very disinterested look on his face. The guy next to us was trying to chat everyone up in the batter's box, and managed to get a little dialogue with Livan. Very cool. I also got a ball for the kids, flipped to us from one of the coaches.

The best part was sending pictures to the Giant, slaving away in his actuarial world, wishing he could be us (or at least Dusty Eggs). Dusty Eggs tells me, as a world traveler himself, that I would be remiss to pass up the opportunity to go to a gentleman's club while in India for the remainder of the week. He tells me that when you tip the ladies, they start adding layers of scarfs, so you literally pay them to get dressed. Go figure.

I'm off to India to hang out with Vijay. See you all next week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fisking Olbermann

"Dare I suggest that Hatcher and friends read Olbermann's blog today?" asks PBryon in reference to yesterday's post. You may dare suggest, and I for one took you up on your suggestion. So here is his take (italics) and my comments. As an intro, it seems to me that Olbermann is argument number 1 for not talking politics with strangers - when he was an ESPN sportscenter guy, his smugness was funny; now that he is a political commentator, he's just an idiot. I suppose some out there probably hold the same opinion of me.

SECAUCUS — I smell something — and it ain’t a copy of the Qu’ran sopping wet from being stuck in a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. It’s the ink drying on Scott McClellan’s resignation, and in an only partly imperfect world, it would be drifting out over Washington, and imminently.
Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld’s go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can’t supply,
told reporters at the Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going political reconciliation process there, than it was to a controversial note buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had desecrated a Muslim holy book.

Look at the fancy spelling of Koran - how culturally sensitive! Olbermann thinks Rumsfeld lacks gravitas? That's a big comment for a wisecracking loonie who thinks the Republicans rigged the election in Ohio. If there's anything Rumsfeld has, its gravitas. And if there's one word I hate - its gravitas. And if the interrogator had not desecrated the Koran, he is still nevertheless a nitwit - by the structure of his sentence it would seem so.

But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn, Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong. The Newsweek story, McClellan said, “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”

Appealing to Myers is the ultimate grab a Pope quote when his view on an issue qualifiedly supports yours, but paint him as an extremist nutcase in those cases where he unequivocally is against you. Myers seems to be the only one other than Olbermman who espouses the view that the riots were unrelated to the Newseek article. Can anyone claim that this incident hasn't damaged the credibility of the media and Newsweek even if this report is unconnected to the riots. And one suspects that the point of running with the story was to do damage to at least the Bush administration, which the press seems to think they can do without doing damage to the gains we've made in that region. An Afghan doesn't see it as an issue where all that needs to happen is to elect John Kerry and the Korans will remain out of the toilet.

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Go back and read the transcript from Clinton's first press conference post-impeachment, and with few exceptions, what you'll see is questions from the "credible, non-Jeff Gannon media" that are so sycophantic that it was clear that most in the room shared the view of one female writer, who penned that she would gladly provide Clinton fellatio in exchange for (insert favored policy here), except for the fact that most in that room would have done it independent of any favored policy he endorsed. Here is the truth - most reporters fit the facts to their theory and not the theory to their facts, and so as much as Jeff Gannon may have tossed softballs, the "when did you stop beating your wife" questions from the others in the room are no more credible.

Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will — and at what human cost.

Yada yada yada. I have tackled that argument so many times before, why bother again. Hitler didn't have WMDs either - was World War II a mistake on our part.

Newsweek’s version of this story has varied from the others over the last two years — ones in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and British and Russian news organizations — only in that it quoted a government source who now says he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of whether or not the investigation took place (oops, sorry, shoulda mentioned that, buh-bye). All of its other government connections — the ones past which it ran the story — have gone from saying nothing like ‘don’t print this, it ain’t true’ or ‘don’t print this, it may be true but it’ll start riots,’ to looking slightly confused and symbolically saying ‘Newsweek? Newsweek who?’

Look, I had even read prior to the Newsweek report of the claim and it was reported that a prisoner flushed the Koran himself to try to clog the toilet, presumably so he could fill his cell with his own excrement to remind him of home. With that floating out there, why run with the story? Even with that not out there, even if the information was credible, why run with the story. Would Newsweek run with a story that says Salman Rushdie is handcuffed to a boiler in a given location? As Olbermann points out, even if it did happen, it was likely the result of a nitwit interrogator - how is this big news? But of course the image they are trying to portray and have been trying to portray from Abu Ghraib on is that it's systematic abuse. And again, they fail to understand that a cheap shot at Bush hurts American interests.

Whatever I smell comes from this odd sequence of events: Newsweek gets blasted by the White House, apologizes over the weekend but doesn't retract its story. Then McClellan offers his Journalism 101 outdoor seminar and blasts the magazine further. Finally, just before 5 p.m. Monday, the Dan Rather drama replaying itself in its collective corporate mind, Newsweek retracts.

I’m always warning about the logical fallacy — the illusion that just because one event follows another, the latter must have necessarily caused the former. But when I wondered tonight on Countdown if it applied here, Craig Crawford reassured me. “The dots connect.”
The real point, of course, is that you’d have to be pretty dumb to think that making a threat at Gitmo akin to ‘Spill the beans or we’ll kill this Qu’ran’ would have any effect on the prisoners, other than to eventually leak out and inflame anti-American feelings somewhere. Of course, everybody in the prosecution of the so-called ‘war on terror’ has done something dumb, dating back to the President’s worst-possible-word-selection (“crusade”) on September 16, 2001. So why wouldn’t some mid-level interrogator stuck in Cuba think it would be a good idea to desecrate a holy book? Jack Rice, the former CIA special agent and now radio host, said on Countdown that it would be a “knuckleheaded” thing to do, but “plausible.”

One of the most under-publicized analyses of 9/11 concludes that Osama Bin Laden assumed that the attacks on the U.S. would galvanize Islamic anger towards this country, and they'd overthrow their secular governments and woo-hoo we've got an international religious war. Obviously it didn't happen. It didn't even happen when the West went into Iraq. But if stuff like the Newsweek version of a now two-year-old tale about toilets and Qu’rans is enough to set off rioting in the streets of countries whose nationals were not even the supposed recipients of the ‘abuse’, then weren’t those members of the military or the government with whom Newsweek vetted the plausibility of its item, honor-bound to say “you can’t print this”?
Or would somebody rather play politics with this? The way Craig Crawford reconstructed it, this one went similarly to the way the Killian Memos story evolved at the White House. The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet — or has its proxies do it for them.

That’s beyond shameful. It’s treasonous.

Well, Craig Crawford confirmed the conspiracy theory, what else do you need? Who in the hell is Craig Crawford. I really don't understand these paragraphs. Becuase a member of the government, not necessarily a political appointee, is the source of the faulty information, the Bush administration is the de facto source of the information? And they were setting up Newsweek for political gain? Because Bush is planning to run in 2012? And then he offers up that this is similar to the way we set up Rather in memogate? This guy is a lunatic, pure and simple.

It’s also not very smart. While places like the Fox News Channel (which, only today, I finally recognized — it’s the newscast perpetually running on the giant video screens in the movie “1984”) ask how many heads should roll at Newsweek, it forgets in its fervor that both the story and the phony controversy around it are not so cut-and-dried this time.
Firstly, the principal reporter on the Gitmo story was Michael Isikoff — “Spikey” in a different lifetime; Linda Tripp’s favorite journalist, and one of the ten people most responsible (intentionally or otherwise) for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Spikey isn’t just a hero to the Right — the Right owes him.

He's no hero to the right, he's a guy who reported a story that was newsworthy. This one wasn't. Why do I owe it to him to buy the second in exchange for the first? Maybe the better way to look at it is that he owes the Left, and he's paying his dues now.

And larger still, in terms of politics, this isn't well-defined, is it? I mean Conservatives might parrot McClellan and say ‘Newsweek put this country in a bad light.’ But they could just as easily thump their chests and say ‘See, this is what we do to those prisoners at Gitmo! You guys better watch your asses!’

Sounds like he's trying to convince himself that the comments aren't about politics, but because he can't ever give the benefit of the doubt to this administration, the fact that there are supposed political drawbacks to slamming Newsweek makes the move even more political. It's the logic of the insane.

Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way — and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep — Scott McClellan should resign. The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled.

The Reuters report I read on the story had no quotes from McClellan to the effect that the deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine's doorstep. He said it damaged relations and had serious consequences. That's it. Indisputably true. And even if he had made the larger claim, there is a bevy full of trial lawyers who contribute hansomely to the Democratic party whose actions would no doubt show agreement. But Olbermann is part of the ethical media, so McClellan must have said it, right?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Three Cheers for the Ethical Media

Well. They did it again. Try to take a cheap shot at the Bush administration and/or the military, report an unsubstantiated claim that a soldier flushed a Koran down the toilet, and all hell breaks loose in Afghanistan. Nice job, Newsweek!

Anyone who has ever had any personal connection to a news story knows how badly they often botch it or sensationalize it. And this is probably the main benefit of the blogs - they have become the watchdog of the supposed watchdog. I remember when I was grad student, and the local TV news did an "expose" of the fact that undergrads (who at a state university get a college education very cheaply) are actually taught by graduate students! Oh, the horror. They even got occasional commenter Professor Pat B. (now of Duke) with some camera hidden in a notebook copping to the plea. Not three years later, Pat was teaching at Harvard! But his students were apparently ripped off, because they were paying two grand per quarter for the same material he taught at Harvard for 20 grand per semester. (Admittedley, if they had me for a teacher, they had a legitimate complaint).

Thirty some years ago journalism had its day - breaking the mighty Watergate case - a third rate burglary that in and of itself didn't amount to much, but the subsequent Nixon cover-up did. It has inspired a whole generation of journalists to be the next Woodward and Bernstein or, short of that, to make things up! Steven Glass (New Republic), Jayson Blair (NYT), Michael Isikoff (Newsweek), Dan Rather (CBS), the entire Baghdad bureau of CNN, the exploding SUV crew of NBC - the list goes on and is only getting longer. And when these guys respond to the threat to their little monopoly posed by the internet, they say you can't trust the bloggers cause they aint got ethics. That may be so, but in cases where we don't, we also lack the expertise to have an SUV explode on impact. We're like evil scientists without the money to buy a lab, whereas these guys have the run of MIT.

India - Again?

I suppose I had it coming. When I said that for every trip to India, I have to suffer through ten trips to Cinncinnati, what I meant was that for every trip to a place like India, not India itself. So Tuesday I am in New York for a meeting and the upshot is I am going back to India, probably next week. Going to India once - sign me up - very exciting! Going to India twice - well, not so exciting. There is no extra credit for a second trip to the same place in the pompous foreign traveler handbook. It's not like I can come upon a conversation wherein someone who has only been there once is misinforming those he is speaking too, and I can correct him authoritatively, asking haughtily how many times he's been there and then claiming that you really need to go twice to really get the place.

I offered up the Great Wall of China as perhaps a better meeting locale, to no avail. But with the considerable negotiating tactics that I possess, I managed to get their assurance that the meetings will take place in a different interior conference room - they couldn't guarantee me that it would be on a different floor, but they did say they'd see what they could do. The trick is to stay firm in the negotiations.

The one upside - 36 hours of business class travel, interspersed with lounge accomodations on all layovers. If you've never flown business class, let me put it to you this way, if a doctor told me I had only 48 hours to live, I'd jump on the internet and order me up 2 straight days of business class travel to and fro, along with my family of course. Your seat reclines almost to a bed, you have your own little private TV with about five movies to choose from, you get those steaming hot white towels for your face and hands, and it is pretty much all you can eat service. Last trip I took Air France, with provided me the added bonus of asking the French stewardesses if they had any Cheese Wiz and Ritz crackers. The trick is to try to say it really loudly, as if they are deaf, and with a Spanish accent to show that you are trying to bridge the communication gap - "Chessey de Wiz?" They loved me.

I don't have to tell you that the posts have been very sparse these last few weeks. We have our annual evaluations coming up next week at work, so I always try to put in 3 really hard weeks of work to erase the impression of 11 months of slacking. I'll let you know how that goes. I did make it into the Carnival of Comedies again last week for my Full Bodied Charmer post - it was on Imao (link to the left) and was again posted on Thursday. I think I'll try an archived article this week.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Full Bodied Charmer

For every business trip to India, I have to suffer through ten to Cincinnati, and I got number one out of the way on Friday. Flew in Thursday night, and in a cruel twist of karmic fate, I paid the price for making fun of Bill Clinton’s obesity awareness campaign. Ambling down the aisle to my middle seat in row 14, eyes scanning ahead, looking at rows, and people in rows, interpolating, wheels turning … uh oh … hope she is not in aisle 14, seat C – ugh! She is! Check ticket again – double check ticket – confirm with flight attendant that this is indeed the flight bound for Cincy – all to no avail. Arm rest poised up between the seats out of necessity, she got up and let me take my half seat – it was a comfortable half seat as far as half-seats go, but needless to say it was an expensive half seat. Worse yet – I had planned to do work on the plane, and took no leisure reading, so there I was breaking out the computer and typing away with my elbows practically touching each other so as not to have my personal space invaded. But there is no way to avoid the hip to hip contact (lateral, thank you very much).

As a person naturally curious about what total strangers choose to read, I had to muster all of my will not to bust out laughing when I read the title of her pulp fiction – Full Bodied Charmer. It occurred to me that there is no way a person could write a book like that and slip it past an editor with any chapter wherein the heroine – our full bodied charmer – lassoes herself some young stud in coach class seating (unless the same chapter gratuitously insults Bush, in which case it would get a pass). First class, maybe, but never coach. Taking the marginally plausible concept of a full bodied charmer as the major premise of the book still doesn’t preclude a market, but no one will believe that a full bodied charmer can overcome expropriating half of a $250 seat. Of course, she could always be hitting on the guy across the aisle. In any event, I made my wedding ring conspicuously obvious at the outset, because, with my apple-pie Richie Cunningham looks, I’m the kind of guy a full bodied charmer thinks she can charm.

Commentor PBryon can testify to the fact that, when I am the pursued, rare as that was in my single days, it was in an unusual and most undesirable fashion. He probably doesn’t remember this, but one Saturday night in 1990 or 1991, we went to a bar in Philly called Dirty Franks, and I should have known that the name alone spelled trouble. There were no windows in this bar – it was packed and lacked character – and that was probably the source of the charm to the mostly bohemian crowd. The atmosphere was what I would call crack den chic – you felt like someone bought a crack den, did nothing to improve the space other than install a bar, and then opened for business – I would say “hang out their shingle”, but there were absolutely no markings on the outside of the bar that indicated it was anything other than a condemned building. All part of the crack den chic market niche they were catering to. So it should have come as no surprise, perhaps, when a coked up black man in his fifties was repeatedly telling me “you are very unique,” but somehow such repeated come-ons from an aging drug-addicted gay black man will always strike me as surprising.

As more evidence that I don’t tend to attract the type I am attracted to to the point of not having to myself initiate relations, the Brooklyn Barrister can attest to the night that a women in the Tally Ho bar in Bethlehem, PA, just off of the Lehigh campus, sexually assaulted me while sitting at the bar. She was full bodied, but charm was not part of her approach. She simply leveraged her size to take what she thought was deservedly hers. After dropping a shot of what I do not know in my beer, without asking I might add, I looked at her with a blank and somewhat annoyed stare, saying nothing. She leaned into me, put her hand on my upper thigh, said she was all hot and horny from having just been to girl’s night at Irv’s BYO (a strip bar in Allentown), and then shoved her tongue down my throat.

I can’t say I was entirely sober when the incident occurred, so maybe by being drunk and sitting at the bar I brought it on myself, but that would be blaming the victim. After significant counseling I’ve concluded that there is nothing related to the incident that I can blame myself for. But still I recreate the incident occasionally and ask myself what I could have done differently.

I know this entry has only worsened my karmic fate so I might as well pile on, get it out of my system, and begin my karmic atonement. Occupying my half seat on the way to Cincy is not my worst airplane experience. I once sat next to Methusala the Architect, a man who appeared to be in his late 180s, in the very back row of an airplane. He had an old leather satchel spilling over with large architectural plans, probably for cutting edge new sky scrapers that reach majestically ten stories into the air, and feature new fangled things called elevators.

There were no problems until he fell asleep, or died (I wasn’t sure at first) on my shoulder. I felt that if I moved away, his neck would have snapped like a twig, so I sat motionless. I can still remember the breath – the smell of death. It was as if his innards had died two weeks ago, and as they decayed the hideous gases were expelled with each exhale, followed by a wheezy inhale of oxygen to feed his inner bacterial fire. Of course he was alive, but I have a theory that, like someone who passes out in very cold water, his metabolism had slowed to a point where he could live without oxygen for long stretches of time. In his case, his brain function, though not impaired, was probably so slow that the neurons meant to signal the failure of every vital organ in his body were still transmitting the signal to his brain to shut down as well, and that process was taking a while to play itself out.

The lesson here: When you are flying to India, and the plane is filled with the denizens of an impoverished country who believe in reincarnation, you never risk sitting next to full bodied charmers or people who hang onto life well into their 100s under the mistaken impression that this is all there is. Like I said, for every trip to India, there are 10 to Cincinnati, or at least it just seems that way.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Clinton Takes on Obesity

Today's post will be extremely short, but what I lack in length I'll make up for in crudity. In the papers yesterday I read that Bill Clinton has been tapped by the American Heart Association to combat obesity in America. Instantly the music that cues a daydreaming sequence in a TV sitcom began playing in my head, and my mind flashed to the most effective commercial message Clinton might deliver:

Cue Bill Clinton, in a Arkansas park viewing a not quite obese (but definitely on the chubby side) somewhat attractive young woman - as close in age to Chelsea as the law will allow- about to eat a pizza. Interrupts Clinton, in his hoarse Southern accent: "Don't eat that pizza! Why don't you deliver it right up to me in the makeshift Oval Office of my Presidential library? Instead of eating that highly caloric grease laden pizza, I'll share my hot dog with you - and you don't even have to finish it. You'll save even more calories by not covering my hot dog with a bun."

Flash to beret wearing would-be obese pizza eater: "That sounds great, but do you mind if I change out of this nice dress into an old Gap dress I own? I'd hate to spill any of the hot dog condiments on this one?"

Camera flashes back to Clinton: "Not at all. I know how hard it can be to get those stains out."

End of outdoor scene. Now flash to Clinton, alone, gabbering on about the dangers of obesity, ya da ya da ya da.

The funny thing is, after the first scene plays itself out, any liberal in the viewing audience will still take the second part seriously, much like they did his second term.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Standards and Hypocrites

Professor Vic is a great proponent of hypocrisy as the great unforgivable sin, and in that he is not alone among liberals. To Professor Vic, if memories of past conversations serve me correctly, it is better never to have adopted a standard than to have done so and violated it. Myself, I am less concerned with someone professing until he is blue in the teeth against some great wrong that, in the end, he can’t live up to in his own life. So if I can choose two courses, announce commitment to a standard that I risk violating, or commit to the position that all standards are arbitrary and unnecessary and risk nothing, I’ll choose the former course.

There is also the possibility of choosing alternative standards, some harder than others, and the moral or ethical appropriateness of the standard cannot rest upon the ease with which it can be followed; more times than not, the opposite will be true. On that score, I think that the standards of the Catholic Church, whether or not I can consistently abide by them, are preferable to others. G.K. Chesterton, an early 20th century British writer who was a very eloquent defender of Catholicism, put it this way:

“Now it is very right to rebuke our own race or religion for falling short of our own standards and ideals. But it is absurd to pretend that they fall lower than the other races and religions that professed the very opposite standards and ideals. There is a very real sense in which the Christian is worse than the heathen … The Christian is only worse because it is his business to be better.”

That so many men who profess loudly the rightness of some standard or other should come in the end to be a violator of such standards is not so surprising. In some cases, the best strategy for the weak man is to increase the personal cost of weak behavior by some form of public commitment. And turning yourself into a bullhorn against certain behavior can serve that commitment function. A history of false but very public bravado for a soldier who, in his moment of truth, soils his pants and runs is generally viewed with scorn. But wouldn’t sympathy be more appropriate? Surely in retrospect it becomes clear that he has railed against the supposedly cowardly acts of others, propping himself up as a man who would never walk their path, precisely because he feared walking their path. Who would not have wished that in retrospect he should have raised the stakes even higher to the point where he followed through with what he thought was right?

Alternatively, he could have remained quiet and lessened the abuse he might someday be subjected to in acting on his fear. And in that event, he’d have been more likely to curry sympathy after the fact. But his attempt to be courageous was less whole-hearted.

That a person cannot live-up to a given standard is no argument against the standard. Similarly, the ability of a person to live up to a given standard, but to do so with excessive pride, is no argument against the standard. Chesterton, as always, makes this point in a most entertaining way:

“The modern missionary, with his palm leaf hat and his umbrella, has become rather a figure of fun. He is chaffed among men of the world for the ease with which he can be eaten by cannibals and the narrow bigotry which makes him regard the cannibal culture as lower than his own. Perhaps the best part of the joke is that the men of the world do not see that the joke is against themselves. It is rather ridiculous to ask a man just about to be boiled in a pot and eaten, at a purely religious feast, why he does not regard all religions as equally friendly and fraternal.”

The real hypocrite, and one who is validly criticized, is the public proponent of a standard of behavior who doesn’t think, for whatever reason, that the rule applies to him. You’re really only a hypocrite when you violate your own standards while pretending that they don’t apply to you.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Leader of the Band

Today marks the seventh anniversary of my father’s passing. I don’t know if it’s a Catholic thing, or an Irish thing, or an Irish-Catholic thing, but every year since my grandfather died, we’ve had a mass celebrating his passing, so its ingrained in me to mark such anniversaries in some manner. The Hatcher was actually named after his grandfather, who at the time of my birth knew that he was dying of lung cancer; for the brief time we were both alive that made me Hatcher “the Second”, not a junior, because the name skipped a generation. My father died at the same age as his – 68 – and of the same disease; eighteen months later we (wife of Hatcher and I) named one of my twins after my dad. Like my dad, I have four sons and no juniors, but one son whose name keeps me connected to him. My third son we named Jake, which was my father’s nickname for me, his third son. That’s the closest I’ll come to having a Hatcher Junior.

My dad was a special guy, very humble, with a great sense of humor and a real and genuine interest in the people in his life. He was perhaps the least status-seeking guy I’ve ever come across. Many people in their lives, the Hatcher included, spend a great part of their time and energy trying to convey their own importance to people that they regard as important – they crave a degree of status that is based on impermanent things – the job they hold, the people they befriend, the town they live in, etc. My dad did the same thing, but all the difference lay in whom he regarded as important – his family, both nuclear and extended, his neighborhood, town, and Church, and any kid who ever wanted to hit a baseball. All small town things, and perhaps in the end they don’t add up to an obituary that lands in the New York Times, but I’ll tell you what it did add up to. People stood in line for hours at his wake, lined up outside the Church and rapped around the block; when it began to rain hard, rather than go home, the line was simply moved into the Church. For four plus hours my brothers, my mother, and I, received a steady stream of people who knew and loved my dad. The people in line said they had never seen anything like it. It was a fitting tribute to a man who never sought one. Rest in peace, dad, we miss you!

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