Leonard Nimoy: the first star geek

Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock, died yesterday.

There have been some surprisingly sensitive eulogies for him in the mainstream press, but they all merely skirted the edges of what may have been his most important contribution to popular culture: he made braininess sexy.

Journalists looking back at his life correctly note that despite James T. Kirk’s alpha-male swagger, Spock was the character that made women sigh. But they miss the full significance of this, a significance not easy to see because we live within the consequences of Nimoy’s achievement. He was the first star geek, a role model not just for Trek fans but for generations of bright kids after him.

If you are, like many of my readers, a fan of classic SF, ask yourself this: you had brainy heroes aplenty in your books (and rare that was outside of SF in those days) but who was the first one to be a live presence in media SF where he could influence the mundanes in a way print SF could not? That’s right; Spock. Leonard Nimoy’s methodical self-projection.

Nimoy made space in popular culture for intelligence as a positive quality in a way not seen so charismatically since perhaps as far back as Sherlock Holmes. By doing so, he paved the way for the post-Star-Wars boom in science fiction – and with it the gradual emergence of a relatively self-confident subculture of bright, imaginative people who in the 1990s would begin to label themselves ‘geeks’. And who, whether Trek fans or not, would half-consciously see him as a role model and universally mourn his passing.

Fast forward to 2015: Benedict Cumberbatch, today’s it guy for the thinking woman, could not have been without Nimoy. Indeed, that voice; those cheekbones; one wonders if he understands the debt he owes, and who he sometimes channels.

The historical emergence of geek culture, especially in its manifestation as the tribe of hackers, is one of my long-running themes on this blog. But until yesterday I, too, took Leonard Nimoy more for granted as a part of that process than perhaps I should have. As so often happens, his death puts his life in perspective.

Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for making Spock so compelling. We already miss you. We mourn you – and, in that mourning, realize a little more about who we are and how very much we owe you.

56 thoughts on “Leonard Nimoy: the first star geek

  1. I have wonderful memories of watching “Star Trek” and “In Search Of” with my dad in the 70s. Good bye, Mr. Nimoy.

    ESR, have you ever done an essay on the origins of anti-intellectualism in our time? My memory of the period before geekiness was sexy is fading. This is a good thing. But I’m left wondering why we weren’t always sexy.

  2. >ESR, have you ever done an essay on the origins of anti-intellectualism in our time?

    Yes, but when I did I was focusing not on bad reasons for disliking bright people, but rather on good reasons for disliking people who overestimate their own wisdom.

  3. One of the notable few Obama quotes I can agree with:

    “Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy.”

    I have to look at Spock’s writers, too, in the interest of completeness. How much of Spock’s success was Nimoy’s presence and delivery, and how much of it were the words the writers put into Spock’s mouth? Writers are prone to being unsung. (Then again, ISTR recall some of Spock’s quotes being rather dopey and illogical at times.)

  4. I would disagree to this extent. Spock was a Stoic, not a geek. It did make being logical cool, as well as science, but in the right way. His was unemotional. Except for his human half locked away, he had no feelings to hurt. A lot of today’s geeks are about feeling and not logic. Traditional testosterone vs SJWs. Spock was above all that. Some in geekdom still are.

    True, the science officer, but Scotty – the maker extraordinare, and Dr.McCoy, even Uhura and the rest.

    Each had their roles, and were smart in their own way, and showed diversity (not the SJW fake, but the real thing) made for better teams. They were also real. You could see yourself and others in the characters. The politically correct lifeboat as starship sequels avoided Vulcans, and even enterprise had to make it a woman and a soap opera tryst.

    The reboot movies are a bad parody of the original.

    Nimoy is now a Star in the real “Undiscovered Country”.

  5. I also devotedly watched Star Trek as it originally aired during my youth, and found inspiration in Spock’s character (logical, unemotional, exceptionally competent). However, he was typecast by this role and it effectively boxed him into a narrow range of professional acting roles thereafter. He became something of a cultural icon, but at the expense of a fully realized acting career. Some of his earlier roles (mid 1950s to mid 1960s) were very different.

    I also think that it’s a bit of a reach to suggest that the Spock character made geeks sexy. During my teens years, it was much easier to get laid driving a hot Camaro or Mustang convertible than by flaunting your slide rule.

  6. >I also think that it’s a bit of a reach to suggest that the Spock character made geeks sexy.

    These things take time. He didn’t finish the process, but he gave it an invaluable launch.

  7. I think the connections between Spock and Sherlock Holmes are deep.

    I see them both as Victorian heroes that combined encyclopedian knowledge to stoicism. Holmes often says he wants to be emotionless. Holmes is also a romantic character and more human (pun intended).

    I always found that the writers behind Spock went overboard with their emotionless fetish. But maybe they wanted to portrait that as over compensation of a half-blood who wanted to be accepted by the Vulcans?

  8. As I share so many of spock’s attributes – I was stunned at how much I cried last night. I cried when DeForest Kelly died, too. I ended up playing this, over and over, until my fingers bled.

    http://elfland.me/rhysling-and-me/

    When Kellys ashes went up on one of the falcon 1’s launches (and didn’t quite make orbit), I had hoped – that somehow – spiritually – outside of science – that he’d help guide it to orbit. I concluded that maybe they needed an ounce more of him, on board.

    Maybe Nimoy can, from wherever he is now, help guide this sunday’s launch of spacex’s falcon 9 into a successful landing.

    “I pray for one *first* landing … on the cool green hills of earth”

    Bye, Leonard. I had no idea how much your life (and the character you played) had affected mine, and the world, until last night.

  9. >But maybe they wanted to portrait that as over compensation of a half-blood who wanted to be accepted by the Vulcans?

    That is one of the standard theories of the character, and was accepted by some of the show’s writers.

  10. Nimoy also did a fair bit of voiceover work for the films shot by the Museum of Science in Boston.

    I was much struck (besides the original character, about whom plenty of good observations are made here) by an appearance in TnG where he spoke with Data. Spock told Data at the end that he had been baffled by Data’s desire to be more human – after all, Data was *already* the Vulcan ideal!, more intelligent, more logical, and stronger than humans – but that on reflection he was considering the possibility that perhaps the quest for self-improvement, rather than the specific ideal, was important in itself.

    Lovely work by the writers, of course, but Spiner and Nimoy can *act*.

  11. TomA, don’t forget that Nimoy went straight from Star Trek to Mission: Impossible, as Paris, the master of disguise. He wasn’t totally typecast, and went on to have other roles later on. It probably did interfere with his career, but not as much as might have been the case.

    My personal favorite of the later stuff is this ad from Audi. Nimoy steals the show, even if he is driving a Mercedes. (And yes, I am reliably informed that the CLS 550 will hold not one, but two golf bags in the trunk.)

  12. I liked the ad Jay, but I think it was backward. In reality Spock would have reached there first through superior technology, and Kirk would have skipped in ahead by cheating. It is he after all, who beat the Kobayashi Maru scenario.

    My observation is this. Nimoy died at 83 years old and made quite a bit of money and fame from his role in Star Trek. In fact, you might well say that he lived long and prospered.

  13. Jessica, that was new Spock vs. old Spock.

    And after all, old age and treachery beats youth and skill every time.

  14. “But maybe they wanted to portrait that as over compensation of a half-blood who wanted to be accepted by the Vulcans?”

    The TV-series Spock was a bit limited by the serial form, where nothing could truly change from episode to episode. His character could be colored by various episodes but it was difficult for it to “move”.

    In the movies, though, this is exactly where he starts. As much as the TV-Spock was ground-breaking, for me personally it is the Movie Spock that ultimately spoke to me as a young person the most. Perhaps the only (nearly-)coherent arc the movies as a whole had is Spock’s story, starting from an attempt to “purify” himself fully as Vulcan, moving through acceptance of his human side and passing through to a deeper acceptance and understanding of his own nature, followed by mastery (in The Undiscovered Country) and ultimately disappointment that full-blooded Vulcans could not follow in his path, or perhaps even understand it.

    I’m being glib here, since a full summary would take a long time; for instance, the intervening death & reset interrupt the nice timeline I could otherwise draw and at least based on what I recall are arguably nothing but distractions that have little effect. (Perhaps someone else can argue how they are important, but my personal guess is that I’m lucky to have an arc at all from 6 movies not driven by one director or overarching story. Yeah, resurrection is a powerful symbol in drama but I’m not sure it really means anything to my point here.) Also, even from this point of view IIRC 5 is entirely skippable.

    But while TV Spock drew me in, Movie Spock’s process of thesis (human emotions) + antithesis (“logic”, though arguably what is actually portrayed is essentially a religion based on denying all emotions and favoring cold “rationality”) -> synthesis (balanced wisdom) is what I most cherish about the character. It is not a path that I can name any other pop culture character having ever traveled. (Pardon my use of dialectic terminology. It seemed appropriate here despite the abuse it has suffered at the hands of dubious philosophers historically.)

  15. Did “Spock” really make geeks more popular and appealing? As I see it, that character is most commonly used as a convenient stereotype of “logical” thinking as being entirely in black-and-white terms, as well as coldly unemotional, and failing to “think outside the box” when appropriate. ISTM that “geeks” have become more succesful and yes, more attractive as they’ve moved _away_ from that kind of thinking, and the Internet can get most of the credit for that.

    Of course, it’s plausible that Nimoy did significantly improve his character through his good acting and delivery, even though the lines themselves did not make much sense. Maybe he was even foundational in portraying a ‘geek’ character in a positive and compelling way. If so, that’s a significant achievement, for which he deserves credit. I just think it’s wrong to see ‘Spock’ as an unqualified positive example and role model, and thus as a good thing for geeks’ social standing – it’s quite a bit messier than that.

  16. Pingback: Leonard Nimoy | Countenance Blog

  17. > writers

    According to Roddenberry, the studio had to work with a limited pool of scriptwriters who were clueless about both the genre and the show, not to mention the characters. And many of those scripts were horrible. He said that many times the cast just used the script as a rough guide and ad-libbed their parts.

    So you’re probably seeing more of Nimoy’s interpretation of Spock than the writers’, at least in the earlier episodes. Spock’s character changed quite a bit between the pilot and series, and evolved as the series progressed. Meanwhile (again according to Roddenberry), the studio was issuing orders for the Spock character to be dropped, or at the very least pushed back to a minor role. Blacks, Japanese, and Russians pushed executive tolerance pretty much to the limit; the idea of interspecies miscegenation thoroughly squicked Paramount’s brass, who visualized everyone from the SPCA to peasants with torches storming their offices. When the studio flipflopped and wanted to know why there wasn’t moar Spock, Roddenberry showed them one of their own press releases, which had his ears airbrushed to remove the points.

  18. You can’t throw out Star Trek 5 if you want to include the ‘Arc of Spock’. There are two critical moments in that movie that defines Spock’s character.

    The first is when he is forced to face his pain, and realizes that it’s his emotional connections to his friends (Kirk, McCoy, etc) that now define him. It’s the first little flash of the ‘balance’ of logic and emotion.

    Later, towards the end of the movie, Spock turns to the Klingon Ambassador and unleashes his anger, contempt and anguish at him, compelling him to act.

    Both moments are crucial, in the overall ‘Arc of Spock’.

    In Star Trek 6, we now see Spock as a fully balanced character, comfortable with emotional overtones and who is seriously enjoying himself (and it shows) trying to unravel the mystery he’s presented with.

  19. Pingback: Leonard Nimoy “made braininess sexy” « Quotulatiousness

  20. Apart from Spock and Sherlock Homes, I have to mension lt. Colombo, played by Peter Falk, as a brainy anti-hero.
    Contrary to the action driven policeman and woman from past and present, he caught is, also brainy, criminal with his intellect. Which leave less bullet holes.

  21. Why would Columbo be an anti-hero? As far as I can remember the character never did anything questionable, much less untoward.

    If there was ever a straighter TV cop I can’t think of him offhand.

    Brainy… probably. But Columbo’s schtick was relentless attention to detail, not pulling deductive rabbits out of his hat.

  22. “You can’t throw out Star Trek 5 if you want to include the ‘Arc of Spock’”

    Begrudgingly conceded.

    Begrudging not because you’re wrong. You’re right, and I misremembered, since I haven’t seen it in a while.

    Begrudging because I hate suggesting to anybody that they might have to sit through that.

    (I don’t just dislike ST5 because it’s fashionable to do so; I’ve gone back and watched it “just in case” when I was mature enough to have a sensible opinion and still think it’s bad. By contrast, I personally love ST1.)

  23. “Begrudging not because you’re wrong. You’re right, and I misremembered, since I haven’t seen it in a while.

    Begrudging because I hate suggesting to anybody that they might have to sit through that.”

    It’s a bad movie, but it’s not a bad movie because of Nimoy, that’s for sure. But those Spock moments in it can’t be skipped to get the whole picture of Nimoy’s brilliance in the ST movies with the character.

    There was a marathon of the movies recently (New Year?) and whatever channel it was on (SyFy?) did a cut version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, down to 46 minutes (or whatever the run time for a hour program is, nowadays).

    It was fantastic. All the silly worthless scenes were cut, and it worked great. The story is just fine, the acting is just fine. The effects are outstanding (for the time), the score is great (ST:1 and Aliens are two movies I can just watch in my head if I listen to the score). The editing was terrible, because there really was only around 45 minutes of watchable stuff.

    I’d put 1 ahead of 3 (and I like 3). 2>4>6>1>3>>>>>5.

  24. @ESR funny how Star Trek essentially being a communist fantasy does not seem to bother you much.

  25. Nimoy was a great actor, but the role itself I did not like. The whole Spock thing is giving people the Victorian message that rationality equals suppressing or ignoring emotions. Also the messsage that ignoring tacit/circumstantial knowledge (Hayek, Oakeshott) and acting only based on consciously known, verbalized reasons, acting only if you know exactly why you act is the only rational way. This is fairly obviously wrong – true rationality is at the end of the day whatever works, so it also involves using tacit knowledge and emotion when and if appropriate.

    At any rate this gave a lot of teenagers the idea that 1. being a cold fish with stunted emotional growth somehow makes them smart 2. that they can safely ridicule or rebel against tacit knowledge embedded in varous kinds of Chestertonian fences because if nobody can verbalize the exact reason for them, then they are stupid.

    You could argue that the Spock role was a lot more subtle than this. Probably it was. I am saying this is how it came accross to many a superficially thinking teenagers, and thus besides Nietzsche and Ayn Rand being the third popular bad influence generating the kind of “hubristic contrarian posturing” in teenagers that did not lead to understanding or positively changing the world around them.

    This isn’t Nimoy’s fault. He acted the role well. It is about the role, so Roddenberry’s, but this is confusing because IRL Roddenberry was such a perfectly respectable down-to-earth type – a high-IQ kid still electing to major in blue-collarish police science and flew combat missions, at some level a Heinleinish type of man – that I don’t really understand his intentions here. I am probably misunderstanding something, because Roddenberry could not possible intend the effect I am seeing here. Nor he could possibly wanted to make a communist fantasy…

  26. “@ESR funny how Star Trek essentially being a communist fantasy does not seem to bother you much.”

    It’s a humanist fantasy.

  27. >@ESR funny how Star Trek essentially being a communist fantasy does not seem to bother you much.

    If it had been a communist fantasy it would have been much darker and more callous than it was. I don’t mean in the sense of comic-book evil but in the sense of a communist’s heedless willingness to sacrifice all humanity to an imaginary perfected future.

    No, it was the fantasy of a well-intentioned American left-liberal who was an idiot about economics (but I speak redundancy). The moneyless planned economy thing was never really plot-significant, and I didn’t even know of it until after I saw my last Trek episode.

  28. At any rate this gave a lot of teenagers the idea that 1. being a cold fish with stunted emotional growth somehow makes them smart 2. that they can safely ridicule or rebel against tacit knowledge embedded in varous kinds of Chestertonian fences because if nobody can verbalize the exact reason for them, then they are stupid.

    You know, that’s never how I read the Vulcans or Spock. My impression was that the Vulcans weren’t biologically unemotional or ’emotionally stunted’ – their commitment to acting rationally and clamping down on their emotions was supposed to be a cultural discipline. If you’re going to have a bunch of rubber-forehead aliens in a science fiction series, odds are that one of the themes you want to explore are how vastly different cultures deal with X or Y, or what sort of things could potentially be adaptive or maladaptive.

  29. “Spock was the character that made women sigh”? Are you hallucinating? This is a very weird diatribe/eulogy. I’m not sure if there isn’t anything right enough to be wrong with it, or wrong enough to be right with it, but I’ll conclude it probably collapses in the middle with a null. The heck, Eric? You usually sound semi-coherent at least.

  30. Let’s not forget that Nimoy also directed two of the movies (3 and 4?), which gave him more opportunities to shape the character and his relationship to the series than a pure actor would have had.

  31. Scotty contributed to this appealing-geek vibe as well, but he never received enough active screen time and lines to have the influence that Spock had.

    McCoy, though, absolutely not. David Gerrold wrote at length about how Spock represented logic and McCoy emotion, and the conflict between them let us see the conflicts going on in Kirk’s head as he struggled to resolve the issue in each episode. McCoy was not in any sense a geek; if anything, he represented the anti-geek.

  32. My impression was that the Vulcans weren’t biologically unemotional or ‘emotionally stunted’

    This isn’t just impression, it was established as far back as Amok Time, and if not there then by the end of the series that Vulcans (not just hybrids) are actually very emotional; so emotional in fact that they have to use intense discipline to keep from burning out or going on a rampage.

  33. Re: emotionally-stunted Vulcans, definitely not. “All Our Yesterdays” is a key episode, where we learn that the Vulcans of thousands of years ago were so violent and emotional that they developed their Stoic philosophy in self-defense, lest they wipe out their civilization.

  34. As a female who grew up with Star Trek (yes, I’m that old), I’d have to say that Eric has it right. “…he made braininess sexy.”

    I was actually even a bit young for thinking ‘sexy’ when I first saw Star Trek – but I definitely admired Spock more than any of the rest of the crew. After Spock, I could never respect ‘cute but dumb’ in real life.

    Leonard Nimoy did change the culture. I wasn’t the only female who had that reaction. And I’m not a Trekkie – or even a Trekker – I haven’t seen most of the movies, only about half of TNG – and gave up after a couple of Deep Space Nine.

  35. @ams I know that, that is precisely the point. The character makes a teenager think he is super smart and disiplined by being able to suppress emotions like Vulcans do, when in reality they are simply not there in his case.

  36. @esr
    “If it had been a communist fantasy it would have been much darker and more callous than it was. I don’t mean in the sense of comic-book evil but in the sense of a communist’s heedless willingness to sacrifice all humanity to an imaginary perfected future.”

    Sounds like the “No true Scotsman” fallacy.
    Why are communists genocidal mass murderes?
    Because else they would not be true communists.

  37. >Why are communists genocidal mass murderes? Because else they would not be true communists.

    Yeah. That’s about right.

  38. @esr
    “Yeah. That’s about right.”

    Which should be communicated to all the people in the world who think of themselves as communists. Only a vanishingly small minority of these would ever consider mass murder as a valid policy outcome.

  39. >Only a vanishingly small minority of these would ever consider mass murder as a valid policy outcome.

    Until they get the power to do it, at which point, hi there extermination camps. The correlation is near perfect and the reasons for it quite clear in Communist ideology.

  40. @esr
    “Until they get the power to do it, at which point, hi there extermination camps. The correlation is near perfect and the reasons for it quite clear in Communist ideology.”

    You statistics are deeply flawed.

    We have had 40 years of communist rule in post-war eastern Europe and Soviet Union. These were all vicious and evil regimes which also fought civil wars. But no mass extermination campaigns nor mass extermination camps. You will be hard pressed to find such mass extermination camps beyond the rules of Stalin and Pol Pot. Even Mao killed mostly by stupidity, not different from the British colonial rule (Bengal and Irish famines).

    Yes, dictatorial communist rule is vicious and violent, but so were the South American dictators of the 1970s/1980s, or our contemporary Iranian, Pakistani, and Burmese dictators. No need to involve Communist ideology. Pure simple power grabs, corruption and greed will do.

    Btw, there have been “labor camps” in Russia from Tzarist times and they still are in operation 25 years after the fall of communist rule.

  41. @ Winter

    I am well impressed that you can now see more clearly the downside of tyrannical governments. And don’t let those Eastern European regimes off the hook just because they didn’t make the final step into death camps. That just proves that they had not yet progressed into the final stages of the disease. Given enough time, most tyrants will find a justification for mass extermination, either directly or by secondary effect,

    Congratulations! There is hope for you yet.

  42. @TomA
    “Given enough time, most tyrants will find a justification for mass extermination, either directly or by secondary effect,”

    Given 40 years, the East European regimes did not get there. When they fell, they were less murderous than they started. Neither Stalin nor Pol Pot needed even 10 years to start murdering. So your argument says nothing about Communism, but more about the theory of chance “If we wait long enough, anything, however improbably, will happen eventually”.

    This is just like those predictions that our nations state (Dutch or British) will eventually start exterminating their own people, even though they have never done so in the past 4 centuries.

    @TomA
    “Congratulations! There is hope for you yet.”

    As we say over here: As long as there is life, there is hope.

  43. @esr
    > The moneyless planned economy thing was never really plot-significant, and I didn’t even know of it until after I saw my last Trek episode.

    However, it is more evident in later series, most clearly in the characterization of the Ferngi, who are portrayed as the uber capitalists, and (putitively) consequentially, portrayed as evil,sophomoric and uncharitable.

    On the other hand, I suppose you could look at the Borg. A collectivist group where independent thought is disallowed, the individual is sacrificed to the collective, and there is a pretense that it is ruled communitarially, until later series reveal the tyrannical queen. These people are portrayed as the ultimate evil, so I that could be taken as a social commentary on the left too.

    I suppose it is relevant to the lefties that the tyrant is female, though I think they’d choose someone frumpier and more “hemp bag, and hemp cigarettes” if it was their choice. Alice Krige is hot in a weird green skinned borgish kind of a way.

  44. Uhhh. I never got the impression that the Borg were intended to be any sort of commentary on the traditional left, but rather a fabricated transhumanism, a result of a relentless pursuit of perfection through technology – and a writer’s envisioning of an implacable foe. I suppose I could be wrong about that, though. The thing is, there’s no hint of the Borg having been formed by a group of like-minded individuals wanting to free the working class. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the TV or film material that implies an origin like this.

  45. @Paul Brinkley
    > Uhhh. I never got the impression that the Borg were intended to be any sort of commentary on the traditional left

    If I implied it was deliberate I didn’t mean to do so, but let’s consider the facts:

    1. Collectivist ideology.
    2. If you don’t agree, force will be used to assimilate you.
    3. Divergent thought is not only discouraged but actively punished.
    4. It pretends to be a grass roots organization, but is in fact a co-opted top down tyranny.
    5. They all look and dress in the same silly T Shirts (or whatever Borg are wearing this season.)
    6. The individual is stripped of rights in favor of the collective good.
    7. They drive really ugly vehicles.

    Sounds pretty similar, don’t you think? My only question would be, is resistance truly futile?

  46. “7. They drive really ugly vehicles.”

    Damn, Jessica! You nailed it! The Cubes were Trabants on steroids :).

  47. @Don on 2015-03-05 at 11:33:17 said:
    > Damn, Jessica! You nailed it! The Cubes were Trabants on steroids :).

    I was thinking Prius, but Trabant will do too.

  48. Meh. So we could say it’s unintentional commentary on the left. But in that case, I’d expect anyone on the left to claim this is us projecting.

    8. They’re all unhealthily pale.

  49. I just realized I am not alone with the idea of the Spock role giving some bad ideas to teenagers who want to be smart.

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/90n/summary_of_the_straw_vulcan/

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawVulcan

    However it seems strange that apparently I am the only one who dislikes the whole role for this. Apparently, I am over-estimating the importance of these issues. (Secret confession: I was a horribly smartass teenager and I would like to blame the popular media for it. I would like to, but it would not be fair at all…)

  50. (How do people on the luckier side of the Atlantic even _know_ about the existence of the Trabant? It is supposed to be a carefully guarded WP secret as a humanitarian measure, to prevent gluteus maximus issues from laughing your ass off. Have you also seen those Skodas whose front-heavy, botton-light weight distribution was fixed by owners pouring concrete into the rear steel bumpers?)

  51. >Tumblrites eulogizing him by calling him “unproblematic”.

    They just smeared their political correctness on my Spock. Now I like the flavor less.

  52. >How do people on the luckier side of the Atlantic even _know_ about the existence of the Trabant?

    Intrepid comedians smuggled the news over the Iron Curtain sometime in the 1980s.

  53. First Nimoy and now Pratchett. I haven’t felt this bad since Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie died in like the same week.

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