August 11, 2006
This idea was presented to me over dinner recently by a smart fella who, I gotta admit, made a compelling case. My humble essay is simply a re-framing of his idea:
Imagine that you are Billionaire Arch-Villian Kenneth Lay. You have an effload of money. You are the smartest man in any room you walk into. And you've just been convicted of the sodomization of thousands of shareholders, customers, and government agencies by way of your Ponzi scheme corporate shell, Enron. Sentencing has not yet been completed, and you are out on bail. Oh, and you have a cadre of wealthy and well-connected friends, including the former governor of your home state and now President, who has a cute nickname for you.
Oh, and you don't want to go to jail.
How much would it cost you to fake your own death? How many people would have to be bought off to make that happen? One to pretend to have found the body and phone it in, one to three medical personnel to declare the body belongs to Ken Lay and the body is dead? Was there an autopsy? Does the county coroner need to be bought off? I'm certain the funeral director and one or two members of his/her staff would have to be purchased. Let's guess that anywhere from four to twenty people would need to be bought off. I'm guessing we'd actually come in at the lower end of that range, because the fewer people involved, the better.
How much, exactly, would it take to buy off a doctor? Even one with a decent reputation, who presumably would have a higher price? Would three million do it? Five? I doubt a mortician would require anywhere near that much.
Avoiding any kind of investigation would be easy. You've got friends in Very High Places, remember.
So, a few people say they saw a dead body, and that the body was Ken Lay's. Nobody official questions whether they are telling the truth because, hey, there's no reason to suspect otherwise, and nobody would order an investigation in any case. Even at five mill a pop for twenty co-conspirators, you're talking no more than 100 million at the absolute most to pull this off.
So when my friend mentioned this theory (actually, he's quite convinced that Kennyboy is alive), I thought to myself: what would you expect to be true if the man in question did, indeed, fake his death?
Well, you'd expect that the body in question would be cremated. That there'd be very few witnesses to his death. That there'd be no autopsy.
Well, guess what? The body was cremated before the funeral.
There were very few witnesses to his death.
And there was an autopsy. A big fat autopsy complete with gruesome details and blood samples and all kinds of verifiable stuff. This doesn't rule out fakery completely, but it certainly ups the price and increases the likelihood of some piece of the conspiracy breaking down.
Ken Lay is almost certainly dead. But if he didn't fake his own death, he oughtta have.
August 28, 2006
Hey, you. Got any computer skills beyond just surfing this most excellent blog? Any project management or software skills?
Or, do you have any mechanical abilities?
I can point you in the direction of some employment opportunities if yer interested. The computer / project management work wouldn't even require you to re-locate, no matter where in the US you happen to reside.
Drop me an e-mail at jobs at rousselle dot com.
I've received a number of interesting responses to my Ken Lay Shoulda Faked His Own Death tidbit, many of which were not posted to the comments section for that entry but were, instead, sent to me privately. No doubt, they wished to be shielded from the Real Killers.
As regular readers of my blog will attest, I am not generally given to believe in conspiracy theories whereby a bunch of people get involved in hookwinking everybody else, and those everybody elses are none-the-wiser (except for all those everybodies who believe it was a conspiracy). Unlike Oliver Stone, for example, I do not believe that the FBI, the CIA, the Mafia, the pro-Castro Cubans, the anti-Castro Cubans, the US military, the Military Industrial Complex, and Bob Guccione all worked together to kill President John F. Kennedy. Rather, I believe that the assassination was the work of one lone gunman: the Cigarette Smoking Man.
Likewise, I do not believe that the Trilateral Commission was behind New Coke, or that some Vast Rightwing Conspiracy created James Carville as a shill to discredit Democrats. The problem with most conspiracy theories is that they rely too much upon the competence of the conspirators not only to carry out their nefarious schemes and benefit from them without any fallout from the Law of Unintended Consequences, but also to get away with their plots and keep them all entirely secret.
That said, while it's fun to imagine that recently-convicted-yet-legally-exhonerated-because-he-died-before-sentencing Ponzi schemer Ken Lay could have faked its own death, the idea collapses under it's own weight. The problem is the definitive autopsy. Even if the Federalis who owed Kennyboy a debt or two chose to "look the other way" in the case of any dispute, the fact is that there were/are simply too many people who have a vested (and legal) interest in making sure that the body really did belong to the Kenster.
As my wife pointed out to me, that list would include:
- the prosecuting attorneys
- the judge in this most recent case
- his life insurance policy holders
- his own attorneys
- his heirs
- his bookie
- thousands of reporters who would love to crack such a case
- and millions of his victims who'd like to know for sure that the perp is well and truly dead.
In the comments section to the aforementioned essay, one of my brilliant readers notes that if Ken Lay's heirs didn't bump him off, they should have -- and, it would be cheaper for them to cover up the murder than it would be for Kennyboy to cover up a faked death.
Another reader suggests murder by non-heirs:
What if [Ken Lay's] death was done as retribution for the complete debacle. Maybe a higher power decided that ol' Ken had a good run, had taken the fall for the Enron fiasco and now it was time to sweep the disaster under the rug for good to avoid further investigation. If there were other parties who were involved in Enron but due to their power had remained untouched by Ken's finger of death they certainly would want to move past this issue. And what better way to do that than to eliminate the "responsible" party. America's conscious would be soothed that Ken is in a warm place and would be more interested in the bumblings of the Bobagadooch in the not so round office. Then the trail would end and no more would come of it.
This theory would give credence to a covered up death (few witnesses, cremation) but would also allow for a gory autopsy to confirm, at least in the public's eye, a full death.
The autopsy, as reviewed by many medical professionals, indicates that Mr. Lay died of heart failure resulting from years of gunky build-up in his arteries. Sure, he *could* have been bumped off and enough of just the right people could have been bought off to endorse the long-standing heart disease scenario. Anything's possible.
But even though it lacks the sexiness of a good juicy conspiracy, I'm inclined to go with the 'natural causes' explanation. Hmmm. Natural causes. There's something else the Cigarette Smoking Man knows something about...
August 30, 2006
Paulette and I took the kids with us when we went to this year's WorldCon (The World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention), which we attended to reconnect with the science fiction writing community. This is the first time we flew with both kids.
Luckily for us, we had booked direct flights. Luckily for us, it turns out that both kids were just fine on the flights both on the way down and on the way back, even given the couple of hours we spent sitting at the airport waiting for our flights. (The flights were on time; we had simply chosen to arrive very early in order to reduce the likelihood of other logistical problems.) Luckily for us, the flights were on time and pretty much event free.
Unluckily for me, I was still recovering from The Cold That Wouldn't Go Away, so I was dreadfully congested and the resulting pain in my sinuses during takeoff and landing was brutal. But hey, luckily for me, I at least could take my sinus medication that I had with me. We couldn't bring the kids' sinus medication with us on the main cabin (but, again, we were lucky that they didn't end up needing any).
My sinus woes notwithstanding, everything that could go right for us with regard to flying did go right for us, and I know just how lucky we were. Their were so many potential failure points, it's amazing we got through unscathed.
Flying with children on a commercial flight these days is obnoxious even under the best of circumstances. Consider:
- You are not allowed to bring any liquids with you through security (except for baby formula, if you have a baby with you, or prescription medicine with your name on it). Children's Benadryl or other decongestants for the kids are, by necessity, in liquid form. And they are not prescription. If you have any reason to believe that your kids might have clogged sinuses, you'll have to try to take care of business before you check your bags and just hope the medicine doesn't stop working before you land. If, like us, you'd prefer not to medicate your kids unless it's proven to be necessary, then you just have to hope it's not necessary.
- You are also not allowed to bring creams. This would include the kind you use to treat diaper rash. So, again, you have to take care of business before you check your bags and then hope that in the time you spend waiting for your plane, and then for the duration of the flight itself, and then during the time waiting for your checked bags, your kid's diaper rash doesn't become so unbearable that he or she feels the need to complain about it loudly. In our case, Nolan *did* have a very nasty diaper rash. But, again, we lucked out and he didn't complain about it while we were at the airport or stuck on the plane.
- If you have connecting flights, the odds against you getting away unscathed from giving up your creams or children’s medicines go up exponentially.
- Don't forget to follow TSA recommendations and get to your airport a couple hours before your flight's scheduled departure!
Nevermind that flights these days are inevitably overbooked, and that crowding also has an impact on your and your children's comfort. If the trends in "air safety" continue, you can bet that families will be doing much less traveling by air in the coming years and that, consequently, we will begin to transform into a less mobile society than we've been trending up to this point. (Whether that is a bad or good thing is another matter, entirely).
As I've noted elsewhere (and often), I have a few friends who happen to be conspiracists. They believe that every upheaval in our society is the product of some massive, secret coordinated effort. In order to know which group is massively coordinating in secret to bring about the upheaval, one is supposed to look at who benefits (since, as we know, conspirators are perfect in their ability to bring about their desired goals).
I must therefore conclude that the most recent terror plot that was thwarted by the British authorities was secretly set into motion by Evian, Colgate-Palmolive, and Vidal Sassoon. After all, who has benefited the most from the new security restrictions at airports banning bottled water, hair gel, and toothpaste?
Alas, our next scheduled family flight will involve multiple connections.
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