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In memorium: Linux evangelist and editor Joe Barr

Posted by: nanday on July 11, 2008 08:43 PM
I never met Joe, but I feel like I knew him anyway from spending the last couple of years hanging out on the IRC channel.

Joe (or "warthawg" or "MtJB" -- "Mister the Joe Barr," a punchline of a joke he liked to tell against himself) gave me a lot of encouragement when I started writing full-time. He also gave me a standard to measure up to, both in his Command Line Magic articles and his fiery commentaries. If I've learned anything about writing in the last few years, an important part of what I've learned came from Joe.

What I remember most about Joe is his habit of quoting bits of poetry (frequently e e cummings and Robinson Jeffers), and his constant string of "not on a first date" jokes; I once remarked that a first date with Joe would probably be separate isolation chambers in separate cities.

I know Joe had had his problems, but, even at a distance, I sensed that he hadn't become embittered as a result or withdrawn from the world. Sometimes, he would quietly slip off to run AA sessions at the local jail, and he was always talking about his latest dog rescues. When he remarried last year, I couldn't have been happier for him; if anyone was due for some good times, Joe was. And, so far as I can judge, I think he found them.

I always hoped that, one day, we could meet face-to-face, but there didn't seem to be any hurry. And now it's too late, and I wish I hadn't been content with the vague thought of someday hooking up.

There's no question in my mind: Joe was one of the good ones. I may never have met him him physically, but I'm going to miss him all the same.

-- Bruce Byfield ("nanday")


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