RIP John Perry Barlow, 1947-2018

I met John Perry Barlow in 1999, and I was awestruck: here was the legend whose Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace had profoundly changed my life, making me realize that the nascent internet that I'd dropped out of university to devote my life to could be more than a communications tool: it could be a revolutionary force for good.

Cheggers dead at 60

A headline meaningful only to Britons of a certain age, and for all others a momentary visit to the strange alternative reality of UK childrens' light entertainment in the 1970s and 1980s. Keith Chegwin is dead at 60.

Chegwin was known for hosting programmes including children's game show Cheggers Plays Pop and Swap Shop. ...

He went on to make infamous Channel 5 nudist gameshow Naked Jungle, appearing naked except for a hat, and also starred as himself in Ricky Gervais show Extras....

The larger-than-life character, described by his family as "a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend" leaves two children and his wife Maria. He had been cared for at a hospice in recent weeks.

Photo: BBC

Here is footage from the nude game show. Read the rest

Rest in Power, David Vyorst

The open internet lost one of its unsung heroes this week, with the passing of David Vyorst, who served as Executive Director of the Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Society and as co-chair of the Internet Governance Forum USA.

David wasn’t well known outside of certain geek circles, but his impact as a fighter for free speech, online privacy, and democratic governance was immeasurable. The thousands of people who assisted, attended and presented at the events he organized over the past decade include virtually every major thinker, builder, policymaker, journalist, entrepreneur, investor, and troublemaker working on internet issues in the Americas, and many from elsewhere around the planet, as well. David not only brought them all together, but helped them find common ground, and provided a platform for them to build, share and amplify an agenda for a more connected, humane, and just world.

David’s passion for democratic media was rooted in his experience as a documentary filmmaker, which in turn was based on his personal experiences growing up Jewish in New York City. His film “The First Basket”, which explored the surprisingly central role of Jewish athletes in the rise of basketball and the NBA, received a lot of positive critical attention when it was released in 2008.

In person, David was like a puppy dog, and his youthful exuberance and energy belied his 56 years. Whether speaking at a podium in front of a thousand internet policy wonks or crammed behind a table at his favorite DC haunt, Politics and Prose bookstore and café, he was always brimming with new ideas, always hot to discuss the latest news and technological developments, always game to wax poetic or philosophical at a moment’s notice. Read the rest

David Cassidy, 1950-2017

David Cassidy, star of The Partridge Family and a successful singer, died today aged 67.

His publicist JoAnn Geffen confirmed his death, with a statement from his family. “On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy. David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”

Photo: Allen Warren (cc) Read the rest

RIP Kit Reed, brilliant giant of science fiction

Kit Reed, a giant of science fiction, died yesterday of a brain tumor at the age of 85. Read the rest

RIP, Imagineer X Atencio

Francis Xavier "X" Atencio was a key Imagineer on such Disney parks classics as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, serving as an illustrator, sculptor, scriptwriter, and lyricist (he's co-credited on both "A Pirate's Life For Me" and "Grim, Grinning Ghosts" and was "credited" with a tombstone at the Haunted Mansion). He died on Sept 10 at the age of 98. Read the rest

RIP Juicero, the machine that squeezed juice from packets of juice

Big VC firms like Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins invested $118 million to fund a company that made a $400 machine that squeezed juice out of proprietary juice packets. Now they have nothing to show for it besides over-engineered machines destined for the dump. At least customers are getting a refund!

From the Juicero Blog:

However, today, after selling over a million Produce Packs, we must let you know that we are suspending the sale of the Juicero Press and Produce Packs immediately.

In order to fulfill our mission, we announced last month that we would shift our resources to focus on lowering the price of the Press and Produce Packs. We began identifying ways that we could source, manufacture and distribute at a lower cost to consumers.

During this process, it became clear that creating an effective manufacturing and distribution system for a nationwide customer base requires infrastructure that we cannot achieve on our own as a standalone business. We are confident that to truly have the long-term impact we want to make, we need to focus on finding an acquirer with an existing national fresh food supply chain who can carry forward the Juicero mission.

For the next 90 days, we are offering refunds for your purchase of the Juicero Press. Please contact help@juicero.com by December 1, 2017 to request a refund for your purchase. If you have an active Pack subscription, you will receive your final delivery next week (week of September 4th).

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RIP, science fiction legend Brian W Aldiss

Brian W Aldiss died at his home in Oxford, England on Saturday morning at the age of 92. Read the rest

Glen Campbell, 1936–2017

Rolling Stone reports that country legend Glen Campbell is dead at 81.

Campbell was a rare breed in the music business, with various careers as a top-level studio guitarist, chart-topping singer and hit television host. His late-career battle with Alzheimer's - he allowed a documentary crew to film on his final tour for the 2014 award-winning I'll Be Me - made him a public face for the disease, a role President Bill Clinton suggested would one day be remembered even more than his music.

Read the rest

RIP, Bassel Khartabil, Syrian free culture activist executed by the Assad regime

Syrian Creative Commons lead Bassel Khartabil disappeared in 2012, snatched off the Damascus streets by Syrian authorities; in 2015, he was secretly executed by the Assad regime, a fact that has only just come to light. Read the rest

Ms Sheila Michaels, activist who popularized "Ms." honorific, dead at 78

Sheila Michaels, popularizer of the honorific "Ms." for women, is dead at 78. The BBC:

"I didn't belong to my father and I didn't want to belong to a husband - someone who could tell me what to do."

Born in St Louis, Missouri, Ms Michaels spent some of her childhood in New York City. She was a lifelong feminist activist, biblical scholar, and collected oral histories of the civil rights movement later in life.

In her professional life, she worked as a ghostwriter, editor, and even ran a Japanese restaurant - but her obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes her favourite job was being a New York City taxi driver.

"Ms." — referring to women without reference to a husband or lack thereof — dates to 1901, but was only adopted by the New York Times in 1971.

Oddly, Wikipedia has an extensive article for Sheila from South Park, but not a word for Sheila Michaels. Someone who can nagivate that place should fix this! Read the rest

Grotbags dead at 74

Actress and entertainer Carol Lee Scott died this week at 74. Britons of a certain age will remember 1980s' TV witch Grotbags; Americans of any age are in for a bizarre treat.

Her character Grotbags was a dastardly pantomime witch, with a bright green wig and face to match. She famously hated "brats" and did her best to spoil the fun of children, using her "Bazazzer" - a pointy stick with a gold hand on the end of it.

Fans of the show flooded Twitter with comments, with Gary Dewar writing: "Daleks. Zelda. Skeletor. Nothing - NOTHING - terrified me quite like Grotbags. Bravo!"

Noob added: "Rest in peace Grotbags. You made my early years awesome. I was so scared of you!" ... The show, set in the Gloomy Fortress, also starred puppeteer Richard Coombs.

Here she is presenting a ghoulish game show with her gay robot:

Read the rest

Adam West, 1928-2017

Adam West, famed as Batman and latterly for his work in animation, is dead at 88.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

With its “Wham! Pow!” onscreen exclamations, flamboyant villains and cheeky tone, “Batman” became a surprise hit with its premiere on ABC in 1966, a virtual symbol of ’60s kitsch. Yet West’s portrayal of the superhero and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, ultimately made it hard for him to get other roles, and while he continued to work throughout his career, options remained limited because of his association with the character.

Read the rest

Trance legend Robert Miles dead at 47

Robert Miles, the Italian DJ behind 1990s EDM breakthrough hit Children, is dead at 47. Born Roberto Concina, he popularized a chilled-out form of trance that came to dominate European airwaves in the 1990s.

News of the Swiss-born Italian artist’s death was first reported by DJ Mag Italia, who claim he died of an “unspecified illness” but this has yet to be confirmed. Producer and longtime friend Joe T Vannelli verified the reports to the Press Association, saying: “Yes man, (it) is a tragedy.”

He later posted a tribute to the producer on his Facebook: “The tragic news of the death of a very talented artist of our time, makes me incredulous and upset,” Vannelli said. “I will miss the fights, brawls, criticism, judgements but especially your talent in finding sounds and melodies unparalleled.”

Children cost $150 to produce and hit Number 1 in twelve countries. Read the rest

RIP Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

"The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling." -- Robert M. Pirsig

I was saddened to learn that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance author Robert M. Pirsig died today at the age of 88.

I read the pop philosophy treatise Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in college and thought it was the greatest book ever. I read it again 15 years later and didn't get as much out of it the second time around. It's been another 15 years since I re-read it and I no longer remember why I had those opinions (I have a lousy memory when it comes to books and movies). I think I should give it another try and see what my current nervous system thinks of his exploration into the nature of quality.

One thing is for certain, the title of the book is one of the best ever (and has been imitated ever since the book came out in 1974), and the paperback cover design is absolutely iconic. [UPDATE: reader Simenzo corrected me. Zen in the Art of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel, was published in 1948]

Author Robert Pirsig and his son Chris in 1968. Pirsig, who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died Monday at age 88. William Morrow/HarperCollins

From NPR:

Zen was published in 1974, after being rejected by 121 publishing houses. "The book is brilliant beyond belief," wrote Morrow editor James Landis before publication.

Read the rest

Mandy Johnson, 1953-2015

by Rob Beschizza

In her final hours, mum's death sleep grew louder. Morphine lost control of her body. Murmurs rose into a harrowing whine, swelling with each unconscious breath.

The nurse said she wasn't there, not really, but I wondered otherwise. Between her cries, during the bouts of apnea where she did not breath at all, in the terrible silence before she gasped back to life, I begged her to let go. I joked about her refusal to do so—anything to end the pain. Then her face, for hours a mask of frozen yellow wax, screwed up in what seemed a sudden awakening of incredible agony. She tensed, relaxed and sputtered, but did not wake. It happened again. And then she was quiet.

Whether she had fled hours ago, or had been aware and trapped in her body, she was gone now. Read the rest

Richard Hatch of 'Battlestar Galactica' has died. He was 71.

Richard Hatch, who starred in the original television science fiction series 'Battlestar Galactica' and the mid-2000s reboot, died today of pancreatic cancer. He was 71. Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe award in 1979 for his performance as Captain Apollo in the iconic science fiction series.

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