Friday, April 27, 2007
This is about three people who died this week. Two people's death made it into the news. One person's death was noted only by members of a particular community of geeks and nerds.
David Halberstam wrote the book The Best and the Brightest about the lies that got America into the Vietnam War. JFK's brain trust, certain that they knew better than the American people what the best interests of America were, decided to lie to the American people rather than tell the truth. Because if they told the truth, then the American people would not support going to war in Vietnam. The result was that once the lies were uncovered, American support for the war collapsed and Americans never believed their leaders again when it came to Vietnam, even when their leaders were right. A similar book could be written about the lies that resulted in America going to war in Iraq, except the title of that book would probably be The Dumb and the Dumber, where solid "C" students and graduates of two-bit Bible colleges decided that telling America the truth would not result in America supporting war against Iraq. David Halberstam was killed in an auto accident in Palo Alto this week while being driven to the airport after a seminar on his work. He was 73 years old.
Jack Valenti was the long-time head of the Motion Picture Assocation of America. He is most famous for three things -- abolishing the Hays code and thus allowing movies with high levels of sex and violence to appear on-screen if rated accordingly, suing Sony for creating the VCR saying that the VCR was "to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone" and would destroy the movie industry, and suing a small magazine for daring publish vulnerabilities in the encryption scheme used for DVD's saying that if DVD's could be copied it would destroy the movie industry. It's not really clear if Valenti was ever right about anything but he was an influential lobbyist who often appeared on Capital Hill to make outrageous statements like the Boston strangler one in support of whatever agenda the big movie studios wished him to support. He died of a stroke yesterday. He was 85 years old.
Fred Fish is the guy whose death didn't make the news, I learned about it from one of Fred's former business partners. Fred was an engineer at Motorola in Phoenix in the mid 1980's working on compiler technology for their new microprocessors when a new computer called the "Amiga" came out. Fred started collecting public domain and freeware for the Amiga and distributing it as floppy disks and floppy disk images via the UUCP network (a predecessor of the modern Internet) and via mail, the "Fish Disks". He also wrote a backup program for the Amiga called "BRU", which is still being sold for Unix systems today though he sold all rights to it long ago. Fred did a lot of work for Cygnus Consulting on the GNU "C" compiler and debugger in the early days when they were porting Richard Stallman's original VAX-oriented GNU "C" compiler to other architectures, and was often paid with Cygnus stock, eventually holding a significant number of shares. When Red Hat bought Cygnus, Fred got a bunch of money out of it, paid off the house, bought a big boat, and lived his dream of cruising around the world. Fred and his wife had just moved to Idaho when Fred died.
I worked with Fred's son when I lived in Phoenix, and met Fred a couple of times. Fred was one of those fireplug-built guys who was almost as wide as tall, built sort of like a short football lineman. I didn't really interact with him except to say hello and thanks for all the Fish Disks, but from all accounts he was a nice guy. I guess all I can say is goodbye and thanks for all the fish. Fred was 54 years old.
- Badtux the Life and Death Penguin
Labels: life, obituaries
Posted by: BadTux / 4/27/2007 12:10:00 PM
Damn, I knew of him, but never ran into to him. We were at the same events out in the West a few times because one of the Amiga consultants in San Diego mentioned trying to find him or of talking to him.
Another micro pioneer down, and at 54. Damn.
# posted by Bryan : 27/4/07 2:34 PM
Why are the great ones always taken way too soon? :-(
# posted by : 28/4/07 3:30 PM
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