Pirate radio pioneer Ronan O'Rahilly of Radio Caroline has died

Ronan O'Rahilly, founder of Radio Caroline, the first pirate radio station off the coast of the UK has died. O'Rahilly, who lived in Ireland, died from the vascular dementia he was diagnosed with in 2013. He was 79.

Here is a brief obit on BBC News.

And here is a funny bit of O'Rahilly history, his 1965 appearance on "To Tell the Truth."

[H/t Matthew Hawn] Image: YouTube Read the rest

Renowned mathematician and "Game of Life" inventor, John Conway, died this week of COVID-19

Renowned mathematician and beloved Princeton University professor, John Horton Conway, died this week (April 11) of COVID-19. He was 82. Conway is best known as the inventor of the hugely influential and inspirational artificial life program, The Game of Life.

From the Princeton obit:

“John Conway was an amazing mathematician, game wizard, polymath and storyteller who left an indelible mark on everyone he encountered — colleagues, students and beyond — inspiring the popular imagination just as he unraveled some of the deepest mathematical mysteries,” said Igor Rodnianski, professor of mathematics and chair of the Department of Mathematics. “His childlike curiosity was perfectly complemented by his scientific originality and the depth of his thinking. It is a great loss for us and for the entire mathematical world.”

Over his long career, Conway made significant contributions to mathematics in the fields of group theory, number theory, algebra, geometric topology, theoretical physics, combinatorial game theory and geometry.

The jacket to Siobhan Roberts' biography of Conway describes him as:

"Archimedes, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, and Richard Feynman all rolled into one -- a singular mathematician, with a rock star's charisma, a sly sense of humor, a polymath's promiscuous curiosity, and a burning desire to explain everything about the world to everyone in it."

It is so sad to have lost him and doubly sad how little I've seen about his passing. I guess that's one of the many tragic dimensions of dying in the grim sweep of a pandemic.

Image: Thane Plambeck/Wikipedia Read the rest

Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo dead at 92

French artist Albert Uderzo, co-creator of legendary comic book characters Asterix and Obelix with writer René Goscinny, died at home ‘from a heart attack unrelated to the coronavirus.’ He was 92 years old.

One of the best-loved characters in French popular culture, with more than 370m albums sold worldwide, 11 films and an Asterix theme park, the small-statured Asterix is a warrior from Roman-occupied ancient Gaul, who together with his best friend Obelix and dog Dogmatix – Idéfix in the French original – takes pleasure in outwitting Roman legionnaires. Fortunately for Asterix, Obelix fell into a cauldron of magic potion as a child, making him invincibly strong.

Photo: Christian Koehn (CC BY 2.5) Read the rest

Kenny Rogers, 1938–2020

Kenny Rogers is dead at 81. The famed country singer was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, developing his signature song The Gambler into an enduring media franchise and even a restaurant chain.

Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.

In a career that spanned more than six decades, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world. Chart-topping hits like "The Gambler," "Lady," "Islands In The Stream," "Lucille," "She Believes In Me," and "Through the Years" are just a handful of Kenny Rogers' songs that have inspired generations of artists and fans alike. Rogers, with twenty-four number-one hits, was a Country Music Hall of Fame member, six-time CMA Awards winner, three-time GRAMMY® Award winner, recipient of the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015 and has been voted the "Favorite Singer of All Time" in a joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.

The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date.

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RIP, Jason Polan, who tried to draw every single person in New York City

12 years ago, I covered the launch of artist Jason Polan's project to sketch every single person in New York City (he'd previously sketched every work of art in the MOMA). Read the rest

RIP, Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick, a major figure in science fiction, has died after a brief battle with "a very aggressive form of lymphoma" that was diagnosed in November. He was 77. Read the rest

RIP, science fiction pioneer Dorothy "DC" Fontana

DC Fontana was a pioneering writer and editor for Star Trek who worked on shows like Babylon Five, the Six Million Dollar Man, He Man, and Buck Rogers, one of the most prominent women in the field. She died yesterday, aged 80, after a short illness. Science fiction mailing lists and websites have been flooded with remembrances for Fontana, but I'm especially fond of Diane Duane's. (Thanks, Kathy Padilla!) (Image: Larry Nemecek, CC BY-SA) Read the rest

Clive James, 1939-2019

Clive James, the Australian writer, broadcaster, comedian and poet, is dead at 80.

James was renowned for his pithy turns of phrase. He once likened Arnold Schwarzenegger to "a brown condom full of walnuts" and said motor racing commentator Murray Walker sounded "like a man whose trousers are on fire". ... "Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds," was another of his famous quotes.He also had advice for his future obituarists, telling them "shorter is better, and that a single line is best".

"Any encounter with James, either in print or in person, left you desperate to go and open a book, watch a film or a TV show, or hunt down a recording," said Don Paterson, poetry editor at James's publisher Picador.

James was funny and silly enough to be enjoyed by children, but smart and deep enough to grow into--an Umberto Eco of things normal people see and read. Among other things, he was first to introduce the sadistic marvels of Japanese game shows to British television. He was diagnosed as terminally-ill almost a decade ago, and his dry wit became positively arid as he continued to outpace death in his last years. But also light and, when the occasion called for it, joyous. Read the rest

RIP, Linux Journal

25 years after its founding, eight years after its last print edition, and two years after a near-death experience that was averted at the last minute by a bailout from the VPN company Private Internet Access, Linux Journal has laid off all employees, has no operating funds, and only plans to have its website online for a few weeks, or "hopefully longer for archival purposes if we can make it happen." Read the rest

Remembering Velma Demerson: Grand soul, feminist, human rights advocate and writer

[Velma Demerson was jailed in 1939 and by the Ontario government for the "crime" of having a Chinese boyfriend; sixty years later, she began an ultimately successful legal challenge seeking reparations; I'm pleased to present this remembrance for Demerson by Harry Kopyto, the campaigning human rights lawyer, who served as one of her advisors -Cory]

On Monday May 13, 2019, Athena Mary Lakes, better known as Velma Demerson, died from old age in a Vancouver hospital at the age of 98. She is best known for her successful legal battle culminating in 2002 against the Ontario Government for incarcerating her in Toronto in 1939 for almost a year. The reason for her incarceration? She was found morally “incorrigible” under the Female Refuges Act for living with a Chinese man, Harry Yip, whom she married after her release. Their son, who was born while she was in jail, was taken away from her until after her release. Read the rest

YTMND disappears

Classic video-clip humor site YTMND ("You're the man now dog!") is gone. Hailing from an era before web video was commonplace, its distinctive juxtapositions of images, superimposed text and looping audio had a towering influence over the emerging web culture of the 2000s.

Death's approach was slow but inexorable. Gizmodo reported YTMND's imminent demise three years ago:

On August 29, 2016, Max Goldberg announced that YTMND would likely soon be shutting down, citing ill health and the site's inability to fund its own hosting fees from ad revenue. Goldberg stated "Besides being a time capsule I don’t really see a reason for it to continue to exist... It seems like the internet has moved on...And I’ve moved on too. I don’t have much interest in the site beyond it being good memories."

An explosion of abusive, politically toxic users appears to have been the point of departure for the site's creator; logins became impossible some time ago due to Google deprecating a Captcha library and Goldberg did not fix it.

Read the rest

RIP, science fiction and fantasy Grand Master Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019

Gene Wolfe, author of more than 30 books including classics like The Book of The New Sun, has died at the age of 87. Read the rest

RIP, science fiction writer Vonda N McIntyre

Vonda N McIntyre, author of the Hugo/Nebula/Locus-winning 1979 novel Dreamsnake, founder of the Clarion West Workshop, and icon of science fiction, has died of pancreatic cancer. She was 70. Vonda and I never really met, but we were on BBSes together in the 1980s and I later taught the Clarion West workshop she founded, and she has always been a significant presence in the field. Read the rest

Airwolf star Jan-Michael Vincent dead at 74

Twice nominated for Golden Globe awards but remembered mostly for his role in 1980s action show Airwolf, Jan-Michael Vincent is dead at 74.

He died Feb 10 at a North Carolina hospital, reports the BBC. He is survived by his third wife, Patricia Ann Christ. TMZ adds that he suffered cardiac arrest.

His CBS hit, "Airwolf," made him into a huge star. At the time, he was reportedly the highest-paid actor at $200k per episode. Jan-Michael played helicopter pilot Stringfellow Hawke on the show, but the series lasted only a couple seasons largely in part to the star's cocaine abuse. His acting career would ultimately suffer from it.

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Karl Lagerfeld dead at 85

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is dead at 85, reports the BBC.

The German designer, who was the creative director for Chanel and Fendi, was one of the industry's most prolific figures, and worked up until his death.

Lagerfeld also designed collections for his own brand and collaborated with high street brand H&M.

"I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that." — KL Read the rest

RIP, author Carol Emshwiller

Author Carol Emshwiller has died at the age of 97, after a long and distinguished career in science fiction, fantasy and other genres. Read the rest

RIP, Jeremy Hardy, one of the UK's funniest lefty comedians

I first encountered Jeremy Hardy as a panelist on Radio 4's News Quiz, where he frequently reduced me to tears of hysterical laughter; I went on to buy the full back-catalogue of his old Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation shows and devoured them, going back for several re-listens. Read the rest

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