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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
Andrew Olmsted, who also posted here as G'Kar, was killed yesterday in Iraq. Andy gave me a post to publish in the event of his death; the last revisions to it were made in July.
Andy was a wonderful person: decent, honorable, generous, principled, courageous, sweet, and very funny. The world has a horrible hole in it that nothing can fill. I'm glad Andy -- generous as always -- wrote something for me to publish now, since I have no words at all. Beyond: Andy, I will miss you.
My thoughts are with his wife, his parents, and his brother and sister.
As mine also always are, every day.
I think of Wes, Andrew's father.
I think of Nancy, Andrew's mother.
I think of Amanda, Andrew's wife. I think of Eric, known as "Enrak" when he was commenting on blogs, primarily Andrew's.
I've met them all.
I think of Corrine, Eric's wife, and writing by her I read via Wes, and now I'll think of Catherine, Andrew's sister.
I think of these men:
Wes Olmsted wrote me this of himself and his Nancy on November 10th, 2010:
We both think of Andy every day, it seems so impossible that he has been gone for so long. Sometimes I come down the stairs and open up my emails just hoping that somehow he has written again.
I did want to let you know that there is a new "Andrew" in town. Eric and Corinne have named their new son William Andrew Olmsted. We spent Thanksgiving with them and really enjoyed our time with them. How Andy would have enjoyed this young man!
Life goes on but not as well as it used to. Nancy and I will be moving back to Maine next June, after she retires. We are having a house built in central Maine at the head of Penobscot Bay. The best part is that we will be close enough to Eric, Corinne, and Will to see them much more often.
Andy and I went back to 2002 together. We started blogging within two months of each other. Myself on December 30th, 2001, and Andrew at on Andrew Olmsted.com on2/04/2002 07:42:00 AM. Andrew and I co-blogged at Winds of Change, where he blogged for years, reporting on Iraq.
Andrew's death was the entire front page of the Rocky Mountain News that day. My two physical copies of the paper have never been more than 10 feet from me, other than in transit while moving, since that day. When I can, I'll scan and post the images.
I can't at this moment, quote their obituary, but the RMN also wrote this:
THE DEATH OF ANDREW OLMSTED
Major Andrew Olmsted, who posted a blog since May 2007, was killed in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2008. Olmsted, who had been based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq with the mission of helping train the Iraqi Army. A sniper killed Olmsted as he was trying to talk three suspected insurgents into surrendering. A sniper's bullet also cut down Capt. Thomas J. Casey. They were in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.
Olmsted was determined to make a difference in Iraq. "The sooner the Iraqi government doesn't need U.S. support to provide security for its people, the sooner we will probably be asked to leave."
Andrew's final post here, was introduced by Hilzoy.
I'm going to excerpt some of Andrew's words from it:
"I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here."
This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G'Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person.
"When some people die, it's time to be sad. But when other people die, like really evil people, or the Irish, it's time to celebrate."
Jimmy Bender, "Greg the Bunny"
"And maybe now it's your turn
To die kicking some ass.
What I don't want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I'm dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren't going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I've enjoyed in my life. So if you're up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw 'Freedom Isn't Free' from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can't laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I'm dead, but if you're reading this, you're not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.
I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little secret, ok?
Andrew was killed by a sniper.
Captain John Thompson wrote on January 5, 2008 09:22 AM
"Major Olmsted died while attempting to get the enemy to surrender so we would not have to kill them.
Captain Casey could not leave his commander on the ground.
They are the bravest men I have known. They are both heroes. We will carry their example and continue the mission."
MAJ Andy Olmsted was my Battalion XO last year...he was a tremendous officer and good friend of mine. This is a tragedy not only for his family, but his Army family because Andy was an honest, forthright officer who "told it like it was" and he had an extremely promising career. He made a difference in the lives of the people he worked with and worked for because of his candor and gregarious nature. I am priveleged to have served with a Soldier like MAJ Andy Olmsted.
LTC Niksch was a good friend to Andy. He spoke at Andrew's funeral. He was very kind to both Hilzoy and myself in email before that, as I know he was with Andrew's friends, fellow officers, and those who served with Andrew. It was good to meet and speak with him at Fort Carson.
CAPT John Thompson wrote on January 4, 2008 06:37 AM:
This is such a tragedy. I just found out today that Andy was also participating in a fundraiser for the Pretty Bird Woman House, a women's shelter on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Can you imagine that? All the way from Iraq, in the middle of a war, and while he saw the suffering of all the Iraqi women and children, he also had enough heart left over to be concerned about the plight of the shelter. It's unbelievable really.
What a tremendous person. And what a loss for the world. Bless you Andy for being a man who was really in continuous service mode.
Andy supported many causes. The number of people who have written about his death and life, and how Andrew Olmsted changed their lives, and they witnessed him change the lives of others, are innumerable. Tributes were published in countless blogs, and countless comments. Hundreds of thousands of people read Andy's Final Post.
The Minstrel Boy
by Thomas Moore
The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" said the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"
We exchanged hundreds of emails and comments. I introduced him to Hilzoy, and ObWi, where he blogged, first as MAJ Andrew Olmsted -- he was CPT Olmsted when I first knew him -- and then after Army blogging policy tightened, as "G'kar," both here at Obsidian Wings, and at All Alone In The Night.
I went to his funeral at Fort Carson. Hilzoy and I were the two representatives of his blogging friends. I "knew" his brother Eric since we were commenting back and forth at Andrew's originalblogs . I've stayed in touch, as I can, with Wes and Nancy, and slightly with Eric.
[...] Some of you have wondered why he blogged here under both names, and why we weren't clearer about that fact. Andy stopped blogging here (and on his old site) because he discovered that by doing so, he was violating a DoD regulation (as he describes here.) He loved blogging, though, and so, some months later, he asked whether he could post under another name. I think I made some feeble attempt to talk him out of it, but my heart wasn't in it: I loved what he wrote, and I always wanted to see more of it.
Here, for what it's worth, is a little memorial to his silliness. It's not by miles the best I have, but I don't have the heart to go looking for better ones; this one leapt to mind since it's from the day before he died. The relevant background: Andy and I were chatting on Adium; some calamity had befallen the heat in Andy's room, and he had mentioned being quite cold; I had gone to put my laundry in the dryer, and had just returned.
Andy: *waves to laundry*
Me: *laundry would wave back, but has been trapped in dryer*
Andy: *runs to free laundry*
Me: *laundry thinks: our saviour!*
Me: *laundry offers toasty warmness to Andy*
Andy: *hugs laundry*
Me: *laundry hugs Andy*
Me: *though, in fairness, laundry would hug anyone who let it out of horrid dryer*
The fact that no one will ever, spontaneously, write *hugs laundry* to me again seems unimaginably sad.]
""They were pursuing some insurgents," Casey's brother, Jeffrey, said. "Major Olmsted got out of his vehicle and was pleading with these three individuals to stop and surrender so that the team would not have to fire upon them and kill them."
"Unfortunately, there were snipers in the area, and apparently that's when Major Olmsted was hit," Jeffrey Casey added. "He didn't want to kill these individuals. He was trying to save their lives.
After the gunfire erupted, Thomas Casey went to help Olmsted, thinking that the three suspected insurgents were responsible for the shooting, his brother said.
"That's when he took his bullet," Jeffrey Casey said. "The fact that a sniper round caught him in the neck . . . that's just one of those fluke one-in-a-million shots.""
I think Andy would be astonished at the amount of attention his last post received. He could be pretty self-effacing that way: he was about as far as it's possible to be from the sort of blogger who writes because he's convinced that the world is just waiting for his pearls of wisdom. Andy was never sure what kind of impact, if any, what he wrote had. I think he wrote partly because he liked it, but partly because he thought: even if you don't know that anyone will read what you write, all you can do is try your best to put reasonable arguments out there, in the hope that somehow, somewhere, they might do some good.
That was the kind of person Andy was.
He'd be embarrassed by all the fuss, and genuinely surprised, but deep down, I think it would have meant the world to him. I just wish he could be here to see it.
I have a half-written email in my Drafts file, that will never be delete while that email account lasts, and I've copied it elsewhere.
As I was in the middle of a second draft, I received an email that he had been killed a few hours before.
While I was in the middle of the first draft, I was writing to Andy, it turned out, the moment he was shot, as he was trying to talk some Iraqi insurgents into surrendering, having walked out to them, to try to talk them into it, rather than have his troops fire on them.
Andrew Olmsted was a hero. Not all who serve in the military are heros. You don't become a hero simply by serving. You don't become a hero simply by being killed in action. You don't become a hero simply by dint of winning your CIB.
You die a hero by living the life Andrew Olmsted did.
Andrew Olmsted was my friend.
I miss my friend.
I want my friend back.
I will never have my friend back.
His wife, Amanda, will never have her husband back.
Wes and Nancy will never have their son back. Eric and Corrine will never have their brother back. All of Andrew's family, many of whom I could name, but many of whom I cannot, will never have him back.
None of us will ever have him back.
But his writing will live on as long as the internet does.
We have that.
And the world has Eric and Corinne's son, William Andrew Olmsted.
Wes Olmsted wrote me on Friday, September 11, 2009 9:42 AM:
[...] Andy's scholarship is now established at St. John's High School in Shrewsbury, MA. Anyone wishing to donate to it is welcome to do so. Checks should be made out to St. John's High School with a note on the memo line that it is for the Major Andrew J. Olmsted Scholarship Fund. Try getting that on one line on a check! The mailing address is:
Saint John's High School
378 Main Street
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
Att: Mr. John J. Ermilio
Wes and Nancy put together a book of some of Andy's posts. It's A Soldier's Words, by Major Andrew J. Olmsted. (Comments by Nancy Olmsted).
Send donations to a fund that has been set up for the four children of CPT Thomas Casey, who served under Andy and was killed while trying to help him. The address is here:
Capt. Thomas Casey Children'™s fund
P.O. Box 1306
Chester, CA 96020
Everyone who ever knew Andy misses him.His loss is incalculable.His life was a universe, as each and every human's life is a universe.
Those who knew him at Obsidian Wings miss Andrew Olmsted, and G'kar.
I miss my friend.
Think of him when you can.
Think of the complexities of being such a man.
Reread any of his words, or those about him, when you can.
Do something in his honor and memory, when you can.
I always will, if I can.
[...] I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.
On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.
Please forgive me if I've been overly personal in this post.
"I will see you again, in the place where no shadows fall."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5
I don't know if there is an afterlife; I tend to doubt it, to be perfectly honest. But if there is any way possible, Amanda, then I will live up to Delenn's words, somehow, some way. I love you.
I wish I believed in an afterlife, or reincarnation, too. May all who believe Andrew lives on in many ways believe so, because that I know is true.
I miss my friend.
Goodbye, Andrew. Rest in peace, and may all who have loved and cared about you find peace.
[NOTE: Any comments that violate Andy's statements about politics will be deleted. Immediately. Anyone who repeats the violation will be subject to immediate banning.]
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5, purely personally for me.