â€œYou expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.â€
– Ernest Hemingway, from ‘A Moveable Feast‘
Crystal-clear and cold this Sunday morning along California’s northern coast with frost on the rooftops, covering vehicles all over and giving the air a festive feel of not-funny.
As an old guy born and raised in the deep South (please, don’t hold that against me, everybody’s gotta be from somewhere), low temperatures are way-unpleasant and the chill factor remains forever.
Sunny, swimming-pools-movie-stars southern California really caught the cold shit: According to the National Weather Service, many San Fernando and San Gabriel Valley areas recorded temperatures in the low 30s — and some in the high 20s — overnight. Lancaster and Palmdale recorded 16-degree lows. Even coastal areas such as Long Beach had lows in the 30s.
(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Baby Map of the World,’ found here).
All part of a high-pressure zone lingering off the coast, which blasted cold air from the Gulf of Alaska southward — we up here in these northern-coastal parts still have it better than way-most.
Despite the weather being a major topic of news/conversation/experiencing nowadays, this story sucks, but also maybe a foretelling-witness to disaster: The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments.
And the environmental editor and his deputy, their job-positions ‘eliminated.’
Joe Romm at Climate Progress: InsideClimate News reported in their Friday scoop that the Times insists this wonâ€™t affect coverage. But Iâ€™m very skeptical, as are a great many others, judging by comments echoing through the blogosphere, twitter, and my inbox.
This current stage of earth’s grand historical narrative is horrifyingly way-contradictable — blather of money matters while the very earth we stand on, sit, sleep and take-each-and-every breath on, is coming apart at the seams.
And maybe it’s the going way-techno too fast, creating a too-lightness of being.
I really don’t know what a RSS feed really is — though, I do see it noted all over the InterWebs.
And I really don’t remember ever before hearing/maybe-even reading about Aaron Swartz — maybe in passing via some news-related item, or maybe in a headline on a tech-news site, but I can’t in full-consciousness recollect knowing the name — until it popped up Friday.
From Time this morning:
Aaron Swartz, the brilliant young software programmer and Internet activist who inspired awe and reverence from leading figures in the technology world, died in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday, his family said in a statement.
New York Cityâ€™s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging.
Swartz was 26 years old.
A computer prodigy, Swartz co-authored an early version of the popular Internet tool RSS at age 14 and would later become an early leader of Reddit, the social website that has become a locus of Internet activism.
Just a kid. And man, on Friday, if I didn’t know who Swartz was before, shortly after I arrived home from work, powered-up the laptop, clicked Mozilla Firefox and started surfing the Internets, his entire life lay before me.
Apparently, from all I quickly gathered from blogs to CNN-types, he was not only smart, but generally an all-around nice guy.
Firedoglake has a good post here on reactions.
Not only a brainiac, Swartz was also appeared to be a deeply-personal, deep thinker:
Surely there have been times when youâ€™ve been sad.
Perhaps a loved one has abandoned you or a plan has gone horribly awry.
Your face falls.
Perhaps you cry.
You feel worthless.
You wonder whether itâ€™s worth going on.
Everything you think about seems bleak â€” the things youâ€™ve done, the things you hope to do, the people around you.
You want to lie in bed and keep the lights off.
Depressed mood is like that, only it doesnâ€™t come for any reason and it doesnâ€™t go for any either.
Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you donâ€™t feel any better, only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel.
Everything gets colored by the sadness.
See techblogs for a lead-up history to Swartz’s final act.
Beyond the terrible, tragic horror to his parents, family and friends, I’m feeling really sad, and a bit ashamed, I’d never heard of him, or really knew the work he was doing.
And the whole world: A young person died for no reason, coloring everything.