Early Saturday morning he was driving back home when he crashed with a light post and a tree. His body almost unscathed (so much so he was a perfect organ donor candidate), his head suffered massive trauma. Yesterday he died. So fragile, so stupid a death.
We knew each other since middle school, when we hung out often. We often did projects together and were at each other houses several times. He was frankly a weird guy, always strangely bothering girls, always quirkily, somewhat affectedly hyperactive. But underneath that you could talk to him and he would listen. And he was always smiling. They started calling him “Tope” (speedbump) back then, I don’t exactly remember why, but I always thought the later “Bamm bamm” WP, which never quite caught on, was much more fitting. I always called him Edgar, for me “Tope” was the bumbling school persona, Edgar — Edgar Quirarte Munguía — was the keen, sensitive friend I glimpsed occasionally.
We then went to the same high school, where he stayed afterwards and majored in Computer Engineering last December. We met less often in the bigger high school and only rarely at college. Last time I got hold of him he was in the Netherlands but he arranged for her mother to give me the photo CD (that he had compiled for our graduation) with which I started this Flickr high school pool.
So he became for me one of those background people you ask for at parties or hear from mothers or expect to casually meet one day or perhaps, sadly but unconsciously, expect never to hear again. And yet, happily and just as unconsciously, you also expect them to live out lives, to love, to be happy — and you’re happy just to take them for granted, to have them glowing from afar.
Didn’t know what to do at his wake. Postponed the whole thing as long as I could. Angry, that such a stupid thing still happened. That we are still so fragile. That he was just starting to live, just majored. He liked doing websites, we might have worked together. He was always doing some strange business or other, we might have ended up doing something together. He liked hanging out with teachers, they adopted him. He was a good man, the youngest son, impossibly tall, childishly handsome. He may have been DUI that morning, so what? It’s still so stupid. Still so senseless.
I know now what I’m going to do. In Eliezer Yudkowsky’s spirit ELZR, I’m donating a 100 dollars to the Singularity Institute, a fledgling organization to confront both the opportunity and the risk of a(n A.I.)) singularity. They’re currently in the midst of a Matching challenge and a group of donors will match your contributions dollar for dollar until July 6th.
I remember my astonishment when I chanced on Marvin Minsky’s queer idea that there was nothing special about the 21st century for it to be the birth of a singularity — we could have been there by, say, 300 CE; centuries ago at any rate. We should have been.
So I’ll donate a 100 dollars today. And the next stupid time someone close to me dies I’ll donate 200. And 300 the next time. And so on. Till it’s over.