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Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and Die Hard Actor, Dies Aged 69 (bbc.com)
475 points by hccampos on Jan 14, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 182 comments

"By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!"


My favourite bit of that movie (Rickman plays Sir Alexander Dane, a proud thespian whose once illustrious career has been destroyed by Galaxy Quest typecasting him into this humiliating role):

   Jason Nesmith: You WILL go out there. 
   Sir Alexander Dane: I won't and nothing you say will make me. 
   Jason Nesmith: The Show Must Go On. 
   Sir Alexander Dane: ...Damn you.

My favorite part is when they're in front of the supermarket.

"... By Grabthar's hammer... what a savings."

It's like he's contemplating his entire acting career and questioning how he got to this point in his life.

It's like he's contemplating his entire acting career and questioning how he got to this point in his life.

That's my favorite Rickman scene as well.

It takes a fine actor to pack 30 years of fictional history into a single line. I'll greatly miss his tremendous talents.

Because I love that scene, and youtube hasn't DCMA'ed it yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgv7U3GYlDY

Another good scene between the two:

   (Jason is fighting the rock monster)
   Jason: Alexander, you're supposed to be my adviser, advise me!
   Alexander: Well, you're just going to have to figure out what it wants. What is its motivation?
   Jason: It's a rock monster, it doesn't *have* any motivation!
   Alexander: Well, there's your problem, Jason, you were never serious about the craft!

.. riffing on not only Patrick Stewart and Alec Guinness, but also Rickman himself going from Serious Theatre to Hollywood action movies.

Rickman clealy had a lot of fun playing villains; apparently he improvised or re-wrote most of his lines in Robin Hood, making it hilarious.

> Patrick Stewart and Alec Guinness

No, it's Leonard Nimoy. This is a Trek TOS satire, and he's the alien sidekick who hates his catchphrase "Live Long and Prosper" or, in this case, "By Grabthar's Hammer, you shall be avenged".

Nimoy had a reputation for being quite sick of being Spock. It was even the title of his biography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Not_Spock

It's possibly worth pointing out in later life he seemed happier about it -his second autobiography was called "I am Spock" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Spock

This reminds me of how I learned recently how much Harrison Ford disliked Han Solo as a character. :-/

It actually kinda shows in the new movie. I mean, I was happy to see the old cast back, but Ford didn't really seem to be feeling it a lot of the time.

But on the other hand, that might just be an oldish man not really feeling comfortable playing an immature character (that's part of Han's charm, really).

I'd wager his dislike of the Han Solo character had more to do with working with George Lucas.

I have no idea if this was improvised, but the line has stuck with me since childhood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhfuuKiTcYQ

When the elevator to the spaceport goes down and the ship is revealed, Rickman's character says "Oh, my God... it's real." It's such a little line but it encapsulates the whole spirit of the film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrYsg2RFL30

If you like Rickman's work I highly recommend the Masterpiece episode "The Song of Lunch"


The phrase "By Grabthar's Hammer" is actually trending on Twitter right now.

I once watched a streak of Alan Rickman movies, and can certainly recommend some of the less popular ones.

Closet Land - HN should love this one: a dystopian science fiction film approaching censorship, surveillance, and torture. It's a single setting with only 2 actors, and sometimes feels like a very intense play.

Truly Madly Deeply - An oddly appropriate film about accepting death, where he plays a tired ghost who come back to haunt his significant other, which I found bittersweet but overall heart-warming.

Rasputin (1996) - I actually watched this during a Rasputin streak, and think that his performance is possibly the best Rasputin on film - he breathes a lot of humanity and realness into the character (compare with, say, the great but completely monstrous version with Christopher Lee). Other aspects of the film are uneven, but it's still very much worth it.

I also remember being excited to learn that he was directing a movie recently (A Little Chaos). Haven't seen it, but the reviews are convincing - it's sad that he leaves us while he was still very much in a creative period.

What did you think of Tom Baker as Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandra?

Eight movies of "so much like your father" just so he could deliver the "you have your mother's eyes" line, that one time; and undo all Harry's doubts and fears in that one moment.

Honestly, I don't think that plot device worked at all in either the book or the movie, and no amount of good acting could make it convincing. Roald-Dahl-style crazy dystopias don't stretch out to longer works very well. (They're not that good in shorter works, either.)

I didn't read the books, so all my knowledge is from the movies. I am probably not alone in this regards.

And I am married to a children's librarian who has read them all, so I've already heard the criticism, to which I answer I don't read much fiction, but I enjoy watching it. I like to condense my make-believe.

That aside, I think if you hadn't read the books, you might consider it more convincing since you weren't expecting it; which I didn't, and in retrospect the build up was pretty good given how Harry starts getting tired of hearing people put those two lines together and started finishing it himself to move past that part of the dialog.

I've read that Rowlings let Rickman in on it fairly early so he could understand the motivation and avoid just being a rock-monster.

> I've read that Rowlings let Rickman in on it fairly early so he could understand the motivation and avoid just being a rock-monster.

I read that too. I just went and found a source for it too: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/harry-potter-alan-rick.... It contains this amusing tidbit:

> “It was quite amusing, too, because there were times when a director would tell Alan what to do in a scene and he would say something like, ‘No I can’t do that – I know what is going to happen and you don’t,’” said “Potter” producer David Heyman. “He had a real understanding of the character and now looking back, you can see there was always more going on there – a look, an expression, a sentiment — that hint at what is to come … the shadow that he casts in these films is a huge one and the emotion he conveys is immeasurable.”

I thought it worked alright in the books. Rowling dropped enough hints about Snape and so the ending made me happy. But I admit it wasn't really executed all that well, it really just depended on the reader wanting things to turn out that way.

But in the movies, I thought it worked extremely well. And that's entirely due to Alan Rickman. Usually the movie is worse than the book, right? Alan Rickman's Snape was so perfect, and he managed to convey everything about Snape that the books wished they could.

Now I'm tempted to go back and rewatch all the movies in a row just so I can pay extra attention to Snape.

and he kills Dumbledore!


The book was out 9 years ago, and the movie was ~4 years ago. I'm going to say this one's legit. If you haven't seen or read it by now, it's your own dang fault.

The parent post also really doesn't divulge anything about the plot.

...and that chick from the crying game was really a dude....

- Mayor Quimby

Rosebud was his sled.

"Due to the Nakatomi Corporation's legacy of greed around the globe, they are about to be taught a lesson in the real use of power. You will be witnesses."

"What idiot put you in charge?"

"You did, when you murdered my boss."

"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer."

As a bad guy he was amazing, Hans Gruber, Sheriff of Nottingham and Snape are probably the finest examples of his work in this area but he was never limited to just the bad guy he just played them so well when he did.

John Sessions told an anecdote on QI where a child asked Rickman why he always played villains, and he responded "I don't play villains... I play very interesting people".

Video: https://youtu.be/5BYeI6Cn6dk?t=46s

While the three of them were antagonists, I would not qualify them as bad guys or villains.

The only really bad guy I can remember he was playing was the judge in Sweeny Todd.

Gruber killed people because it made his robbery more convenient. He shoots the corporate dipshit guy in the head just to emphasize that he is serious. How much more villainous can you get?

Don't judge.

Really? Gruber was an out and out thief and murderer who used terrorism as a front for his plans.

The Sheriff was also a proper villain, doing whatever he could to try and ensure he ended up on the throne.

I concede on Snape.

But if everyone has just given what Gruber wanted no one would have gotten hurt. They open the safe, move out with the money and everyone but Bruce Willis' career is happy.

Agreed for Snape's character.

Interesting fact: he got his actual career started remarkably late:


He was a stage actor. His career didn't start with film.

This article makes it seem like he was struggling to be a success long after he should have quit. They just have a completely wrong definition of success.

British actors jumping back and forth between TV, stage and film are far more common than in America. If they don't maintain a certain amount of stage work, they must lose some British acting creds.

Pretty much. Stage acting is considered more prestigious.

Also, his first TV role was in 1978. And even his age during Die Hard was wrong. Born in 1946, Die Hard came out in 1988 so ~42

He didn't get his first stage role until 42. I think the point still stands.

He had roles on stage at least as early as 1978, so 32 or younger.

That's crazy. Fourty-Six, and his first role was Die Hard!

He was on UK TV long before his first movie role though.

Another great dies at 69 of cancer, days apart. Imagine all of the unknowns who die too early. I really hope we figure this out.

Then there was Lemmy (70) at the weekend, also cancer. I also heard a few days ago that a friend lost his father to cancer. It's been a bad week.

Well, I guess the amount of alcohol, tobacco and other stuff consumed might have been a (small) factor

Well, apparently Joe Biden is going to jump-start our Apollo Program equivalent for cancer research.

But as I know from my work on electronic medical records 2005-2007, most medical software is a godawful clusterfoo if you so much as scratch the gilding on the GUI with your fingernail. So if you have a bit of runway in front of you, there's a lot of money to be made in medical software that even does as little as keeping a unique, secure identity record for 300 million patients.

I obviously don't, or I'd be doing it already.

If anyone does do this, please don't enforce uniqueness. My dad is a doctor and he complains about medical software that assumes previously input data is correct and does things like preventing inputting a new patient just because their ss id is supposedly already registered to someone else. Then there are the classic data validation mistakes like assuming everyone has a first name and last name (some foreign nationals don't), assuming everyone has a birth date (some people don't know this), assuming addresses have streets, etc... Doctors see patients from all over the world, and the world is a pretty diverse place.

If anyone links the social security number to this, I will kill them myself, not only with just my bare hands and ten gallons of boiling rage, but using only the ring fingers. Ever try doing something with just your ring fingers? It's gonna be slow and clumsy.

I was thinking more along the lines of just keeping a list of hundreds of millions of unique integers, and linking as many identifiers to them as are necessary. If you have a keyed database, it is essential to have unique keys for indexing.

Identity records all over have all kinds of problems, mostly due to stupid assumptions--like assuming that a SSN always uniquely identifies one individual.

Not enough statistical data

Bowie on Monday, now Rickman on Thursday. Both were 69. Both were fighting cancer. And both were veritable giants both on and off stage. I feel like someone's gutted me of emotion and left me cold and numb — which is kind of funny considering I've never met or spoken to either. It's truly a wonder how much celebrities and great artists can shape us and shape our society.

Today has been a dark, dark week for the world of performance art. He will be missed.

Hopefully, we get a successful "Cancer Moonshot". The war on cancer is almost 50 years old.

I was recently surprised to learn that pancreatic cancer is becoming treatable, at least in some cases:


And Lemmy a week before. It has been a reaper's gale month for some of the finest artists in the world.

Rickman will be missed. He managed to put a lot of life into any story.

I'm not usually affected by news like this, but I'm actually sad. This guy was awesome.

This one got me to.

The same here :(

I feel like i've had my heart cut out, with a spoon.

Why a spoon, cousin?

Because it's dull you idiot, it hurts more.

Note to trigger happy downvoters - the above exchange is verbatim from a movie of Mr. Rickman.

Another Rickman favorite, Epic Tea Time, Portraits in Dramatic Time



It's time for tea. Epic tea.


By Grabthar's Hammer, you will be missed.

By Grabthar's Hammer, by the Suns of Wavern -- you will be missed.

Like many really famous actors, at some point in his career it just became Alan Rickman, in <MOVIE-TITLE-HERE>

But that was okay. His Die Hard appearance was phenomenal. I'll never forget the movie Galaxy Quest.

I cannot miss Alan, for I did not know him. But I liked a bunch of art he created, and I will be sad thinking that he will not be able to create any more of it.

Yippie ki yay, you awesome mother fucker.

Dammit, this makes me really sad.

I guess my generation came to the age where we start losing our child-, teen-, and adulthood stars.

At least we still got the Kardashians and EDM. /s

RIP Hans Gruber :')

What's wrong with edm?


GP likes to believe his generation was God's gift to Earth and seems to forget the generation above his probably didn't like rock and roll. Classic baby boomer.

I was just thinking about Die Hard the other day. He was brilliant in all his roles.

Just watched Die Hard again couple of weeks ago, and every single time I watch it I love Rickman's excellent interpretation.

Losing Bowie, now Rickman, 2016 starts with a heavy heart...

And Lemmy!

I think it would have been hard for that movie (and Bruce Willis' movie career for that matter) to have been as successful if anyone else had tried to pull off that combination of intelligence, charm and malevolence.


His expression of surprise was real in Die Hard as the stunt crew dropped him on the count of one instead of three!

My favorite: Dogma.

Bethany: Were they sent to Hell?

Metatron: Worse. Wisconsin. For the entire span of human history.

Ditto, there's something very funny about the voice of god being so jaded and deadpan. My Fav: Tell a person you're the Metatron and they stare at you blankly. Mention something out of a Charlton Heston movie and suddenly everybody's a theology scholar! May I continue uninterrupted?

Another vote for that role as my favorite. The bedroom scene at the beginning would make a great actor's audition piece.

Not much to say here other than he will be missed. I see a lot of commentary here about cancer vs heart disease and why one is so much better treated than another, but that's something of a fallacy. Cancer and heart disease are pretty much matched for cause of death in baby boomers.


We're still very far away from guaranteeing long lifespans. Bowie and Rickman pass away at 69, but Doris Day is still around at 91. Gene Wilder is 82. Mel Brooks is 89. Age Vigoda is 94. Longevity is still a crapshoot.

For some reason, I remember him best for his role in "Sense and Sensibility".

He plays the good guy.

He played memorable roles, and his legacy will definitely live on as Professor Snape - my kids are starting through the Harry Potter series and love/hate seeing him every time on screen.

Wow it has been a rather shit start to 2016 :(

After all this time? Always. RIP, Severus.

By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall not be forgotten!

John Sessions does a fantastic imitation of Alan Rickman and tells a great anecdote about him on QI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc3OyvbJkj4

(with Stephen Fry, David Mitchell, Emma Thompson and Alan Davies)

"By Grabthar's hammer ...what a savings." Amazing how such deadpanned misery can be so funny.

First my mother, then David Bowie, now Alan Rickman. What is it about 69 that makes people die of cancer?

<3 I'm so sorry about your mother. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

My condolences. If it helps, she's in good company now.

I'm so sorry. Giant hugs from me, internet stranger.

How sad.

This is a semi-dupe of this, btw: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10900974 (different source but same real-world event).

Vale Alan Rickman.

Personal aside: When driving, my partner and I always refer to a certain town west of London as Alan Richmansworth, I think simply because it is nice to think about him. Sad news.

What a huge coincidence. My phone autocorrect Alan Rickman to that when talking about his passing with a friend.

Very sad month, I have to admit.

Besides the roles mentioned here, I will remember Alan Rickman for something else: as Master of Ceremonies, introducing the various instruments at the end of the first part of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells II" album [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tubular_Bells_II#Master_of_Cer...

Thank you for that.

The first thing I remember seeing him in was Closet Land. It's been at least 20 years since I saw it, and thinking about his character still gives me chills.

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101597/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_53

'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' and 'Love Actually' are my favorite AR movies.

[the Sheriff has said he'll cut out Robin Hood's heart with a spoon]

Guy of Gisborne: Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an axe?

Sheriff of Nottingham: Because it's DULL, you twit. It'll hurt more.


Really loved this actor. Sad to see him go. He brought us so much enjoyment over the years. Thank you, Alan!

"You just... (long pause)... know." Really sad news.

His reading of "The Return of the Native" on audiobook is amazing. I just happened to finish it recently.

This age 69 thing is starting to freak me out.

Brilliant actor. RIP.


"End of line."

That was David Warner, who is still very much alive at 74.

Thank goodness!

Wow. I had no idea.

Sad news, however how is this related to Hackery?

Well, it's a stretch, but when I saw Die Hard I just barely caught the BSD reference when they log into the CEO's terminal. I found a screen shot on flickr:


That's a pretty hackerish reference for a film made in 1988 that wasn't particularly about computers or tech. There was probably a BSD fan at the company that created the computer screens. FreeBSD 9.2 had a tribute to this in it's boot screen:


Damn you did your research. I approve.

Everyone who dies has probably used a smart phone or the internet so lets start the avalanche!

Your ignorant statement is not even accurate.

Well, everyone who has ever lived has also died.

Well there are still >7 billion people that don't fit your categorization, which means only 93% of people who have lived have died. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-li...

The article seems to say that the estimate of all who have lived is about 106 billion, so the number of currently-alive is estimated at about 6% of those who have ever lived.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote "Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living." I wondered if that ratio needed updating. It does, but not, it seems, in the direction I expected.

The article is from 2007; the earth's population has increased to 7 billion now.

You have that backwards. Everyone who has ever died had previously lived.

Besides that, all people still currently living have not died.

>You have that backwards.

Parent didn't put it in time terms. Just noted that everyone who ever lived, has also died ("A && B", as opposed to "A then B").

>Besides that, all people still currently living have not died.

Yes, though one could say that those people are still "living", not yet in a state having "lived" (past tense), as parent put it.

I've lived. I'm currently living, but I used to, too.

You haven't "lived" (period) until you're dead, and it's settled.

You might have e.g. "lived in London" (if you don't know, so it's a settled thing and a specific period of your life). Or "I've lived in poverty", etc.

But "I've lived", period, without such a qualifier is not that common or useful when one is still alive.

If you truly want to argue that the verb tense chosen means "Everyone who ever lived [and then died] has died," then the statement becomes a tautology: "Everyone who has died has died."

All true equivalency statements are tautologies -- since both sides "resolve" to the same thing. That doesn't mean they are useless.

In this case, though, it's not "Everyone who has died has died", but "To have lived means you're dead".

The same way that "to be a corpse means that you've died". That's not a tautology (it's not "to be a corpse means you're a corpse"), just informs us of a prerequisite for the other thing to happen.

I think that you lack consensus on the meaning that can be drawn from use of the past tense.

Either way, the statement as given does not support the unstated implication that everyone now living will eventually die.

Not me!

I never understand comments like these. It's on HN because someone found it interesting enough to submit. It gained traction because enough someone's found it interesting enough to upvote.

I'm not sure much more explanation is required. If you disagree, you can downvote the story and / or not click through.

Alan Rickman played the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a book series well-beloved by hackers.

But before the book series, there was the Radio series, with Marvin played by the incomparable Stephen Moore

From the guidelines:

"On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity."

I'm a hacker. I found this interesting (and sad).

HN has gone downhill since they let all the squibs and muggles in.

Quite easy. I expected a title like: Snape (from Harry Potter) is dead.

Prepare to be downvoted you clod. HN is about hacking and obituaries.

David Bowie was sort of justifiable as a tech person, but this is just weird. HN has never been a general news site.

If you look up the term "dies" in HN Search, you can find obituaries for all kinds of people submitted to HN in the past, from Gabriel García Márquez to Roger Ebert to Kim Jong Il.

If you had ever been to Hogwarts you wouldn't need to ask that. Professor Snape will be missed.

Harry Potter is a poorly written kids fantasy, how does that relate to programming?

While we're straying from hackery... I'm curious to hear your recommendations for well written kids' fantasy.

Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Charles de Lint, Katherine Paterson, Madeleine L'Engle, Lloyd Alexander, Ursula Le Guin

A lot of the more recently written books my kids read now are formulaic crap, but at least they're reading books.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is a solid choice. It gets dark, but so does Harry Potter, so fair game. I would say late grade school for the first book, adolescent for books 2 and 3.

Tamora Pierce has written a number of kid appropriate fantasy books with solid writing and strong female characters. I have seen countless grade school girls get hooked on her work. Some of her books just start to get into more mature relationship themes, but it's enough to embarrass your kid a bit, not scar them.

As a child I enjoyed C.S. Lewis, but was personally affronted when I got to the last Narnia book and discovered that good story had been compromised for christian allegory. Lewis won't make your child a bible thumped any more than Pullman will make them an atheist. Just make sure you know what your kid is reading, and find opportunities to discus the material with them critically!

Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series is another excellent option. I believe when I read it in grade school I found the pacing too slow, so I skipped ahead a lot and inferred a number of plot points. Nonetheless, I'm certain I enjoyed it the first time, it influenced my view of fantasy literature, and I have returned to reread the series multiple times since.

The Hobbit is a great kids book.

Alison Croggon's Pellinor series is less well known, but perfect for pre/early teens that love fantasy.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede feature a princess who runs away from home to work for a dragon. Solid writing, strong female characters, Pratchett-esque subversion of fantasy tropes. Fun and appropriate for grade school kids.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

That's off the top of my head. Of these books I consider Pullman, Le Guin, and Tolkien to be literature (worth an adult's time), while the others are just fun and well written.

C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia

J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit

None others really come to mind, although I'm sure that they must exist.

CS Lewis..look him up

I try to keep Christian apologists away from my children.

Narnia's a good story despite the propaganda lurking under the surface. His other writing is awful, though.

So edgy.

It's not about edge. My children are free to make up their own minds about what they do with their lives when they reach an age where they can reason for themselves. Until then, I do my best to keep any ideological or religious influence from trying to exert itself upon them.

> My children are free to make up their own minds about what they do with their lives when they reach an age where they can reason for themselves.

That assumes that reason, not emotion, is the primary motivator, no?

> Until then, I do my best to keep any ideological or religious influence from trying to exert itself upon them.

'Be nice to others' is ideology (albeit very weak). I imagine that you don't keep that from them.

>'Be nice to others' is ideology

I don't think 'Be nice to others' is ideology. It may be part of an ideology, but I don't think that it an ideology in itself.

'Be nice to others' is also not a totalizing idea in the same way that Christianity is - not everything in the world happens because somebody was or was not nice to others. Christianity takes as its base that everything is/was the will of their god.

Narnia is only an "ideological or religious influence" if you're already very familiar with Christian symbolism. 99% of children will never get the references.

CS Lewis is pretty good... I read the Chronicles of Narnia around the same time I started reading Harry Potter. What do you think about Philip Reeve?

By the way, I wasn't asking to challenge you... I'm just a big fan of childrens' fantasy!

between david bowie and this, cancer seems to be the midlife killer of choice . Much process has been made in heart disease, but cancer? Not so much. Once it's spread, you're dead. (2 years usually)

> Once it's spread, you're dead. (2 years usually)

OK, this is completely wrong. There are several cancers which do not kill THAT fast in the first place, and several that can be cured with pretty good confidence. And it's often a matter of how soon you detect it - if you find it at Stage I, you have much better odds than if you find it at Stage IV.

Please stop generalizations like this.

> if you find it at Stage I, you have much better odds than if you find it at Stage IV.

Very true, however, Stage I cancer is still localized, Stage IV cancer has spread to other organs.

To your point though, Lance Armstrong beat cancer after it had metastasized. He was an exception. He was in stellar condition. I doubt most folks would be able to endure what he could.

For colon cancer, bleeding is sometimes unnoticed or written off as hemorrhoids, so it is ignored and given time to grow and spread. This, I believe, is the chief reason why it's so lethal (there are exceptions, of course). Colon cancer is curable if found early enough. Sharon Osbourne has been cancer free for 13 years only because she caught it early.

those are just the stats. Metastatic cancer is almost always fatal with an average survival of 2 years. That shows why more progress need to be made.

The GP's point is that you should specifically say metastatic cancer if you want to cite that statistic, not generalize it to cancer.

This might be a stupid question, but doesn't "spread" imply metastasis? It just has better rhyming options.

If it's metastatic, you've had it... doesn't quite trip off the tongue.

Sort of. If it's limited to only metastasis, then the original statement "Much process has been made in heart disease, but cancer?" is pretty silly, as it's comparing the worst of cancer cases with all of heart disease.

spread= metastatic

Yes, I understand that, but your comment is easy to read as being about all cancer, and an awful lot of treatment is done prior to it spreading.

Much process has been made in heart disease, but cancer? Not so much. is really the problem, as early stage treatment has gotten vastly more effective over the last 20 years (My father succumbed to metastatic cancer in 1994, I pay some attention to the overall progress in addressing cancer).

How is 69 "midlife?" 40's is midlife. These guys hit their midlife in the 1980's. Bowie's midlife was 'Let's Dance' not 'Blackstar.' Rickman's midlife was 'Die Hard' not 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.'

I suspect we're looking at these guys with their dyed hair, fit bodies, plastic surgeries, etc and thinking they're much younger than they truly are. These are 70 year old. They're old, old men. They died only a few years before the men in my family typically do. They just didn't look very old, nor were any photos release of them looking sick.

I always find it amusing how Charlie Watts gave up on all this with the Stones and just doesn't dye his hair and doesn't dress like a 1970s hipster woman or have a woman's haircut. He has this very dignified look, but certainly looks older than the other Stones. He's easy to spot. If he died tomorrow, no one would act surprised because he, well, looks old.



EDIT: HN won't let me reply (goddamn posting too much error), so I'll reply here:

Avg male lifespan in the US is 78. So yes, while your father is an exception, its not remotely typical. Most men don't even hit 80, let alone reach their 90s.

I work with the occasional 70 year. Yes, they are absolutely old men. They can't remotely keep up with guys in their 50s and early 60s, let alone 30s and 40s. There's a reason retirement age is usually pegged at 65.

Umm, my father wasn't an old man at 70. Neither was Bowie or Rickman. My father is old at 92.

My grandfather is very old at 74. There's a 75-year old man in my morning yoga class I had always assumed was in his early 50s.

Age manifests very differently in people.

Each different type has wildly different mortality statistics, but for cancer overall we've seen major progress since the 1970s.


Prostate cancer has a 0.8% mortality rate in 5 years. Very few types have even 50% five-year mortality rates these days.

> the midlife killer

I wouldn't say that late sixties is midlife; it's well into the end-of-life period.

An actor?

The Actor

Yes, actor. On a site about programming ( or derogatory slang: hacking). On first page, first item. It's not even science, let alone computer science. A CGI article would be more on topic.

I am very sad for this (I am a huge Harry Potter fan), but I can not let pass a curiosity of which this event is part of.

Aaron Ramsey (Footballer player for Arsenal, UK) has a reputation for apparently killing off famous people when he scores. Whenever he scores someone famous tends to pass away, of course it is a big coincidence, but he did score yesterday too.

Also scored last week, and David Bowie passed away.

If you google it, he scored the previous day of the deaths of Colonel Gaddafi, Steve Jobs Osama Bin Laden and Whitney Houston, among others.

I didn't imply correlation, just curiosity.

Doesn't a "famous person" die almost every day?

Yes, but there is also a theory that celebs die in three's which is pretty interesting. A lot of researchers say this is because we as humans love patterns:

“Patterns in death, patterns in misfortune – those are things that help us try to understand the universe or reality in a way that makes sense of it,” explains John Hoopes, a professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas who has written about the concept for Psychology Today. “In general, we’re very uncomfortable dealing with randomness.”


I recall seeing a suggestion that "everything" happens in threes, in a meaningful sense. Something along the lines of: you take events which happen according to a poisson distribution with parameter L, and you define a cluster to be "any group of events which happen with no more than time L between adjacent ones", and then the expected size of a cluster is a little less than three.

I'm probably misremembering the details, and I can't immediately find a source, but I thought this was interesting.

3 is the closest integer to e which plays a large part in randomness.

Then it seems pretty unethical to keep loving patterns so much. I'm going to start including as much anti-pattern in my coding as possible.

You know what is the funniest fact? There is Ramsey Theory stating chaos is impossible and you'll always find patterns even in the most unpredictable things. Now the footballer is called Ramsey as well... Another Ramsey Theory coincidence?

It's ridiculous that this is the top comment.

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