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James Golick has died (twitter.com/jill380)
198 points by waffle_ss on Dec 28, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 41 comments

James was in a car accident in Mexico: https://twitter.com/jill380/status/549016126035095552

I briefly did work for Normal this past summer, where James was the CTO. He was a great guy and I'll never forget the standup we did while standing on our chairs at the Quirky office... That was James' idea to do that.

I remember interviewing James for a podcast I used to produce. It was hilarious in that many of my friends are strong Christians, and many of James' friends are part of the BDSM community. We could not have been more polar opposites on many aspects of our worldviews, but we both loved the Ruby programming language and surrounding community.

Both of us had "fallout" from that interview, me for interviewing a "heathen" and James for associating with someone so "vanilla". We both laughed, and we both remained friends.

I'm really going to miss James.

I met you and James at my first Ruby conference. I didn't ever get to know James well but that was the start of a sea change in my career.

I never heard that interview but I'm smiling imagining the interaction.

It was a typical podcast talk between typical Rubyists. There's a copy of it up on archive.org:


I think the only people who would really have been offended by it are those who hadn't listen to it :) It's the same sort of banter you hear at clubs, conferences, and other podcasts, except that I'm not very smart and James is (or was... ugh, still having a hard time believing he's gone).

I just listened to it and it is full of good quotes, my favourite: "Discussions without good definitions are doomed to fail." (about the upcoming NoSQL dabate). I feel that's still ringing true in that sector.

If you're a Rails developer, you probably have a config/initializers/backtrace_silencers.rb file in your app. Think of James the next time you see that file. He wrote the initial implementation:


DHH later ported the work to Rails:


I knew James mostly online and a little in person from various programming conferences. He was smart, funny, and kind. He made a difference. He will be missed.

Just a note (and please tell me if its OT/inappropriate), but with these types of events, people often concentrate on the 'what' that made it happen. However, the way a man dies does not define him. It is his work and contribution, which James had a ton of. I personally think celebrating James' contributions to open source, and his talks, and writing does him much more justice than speculating at a cause of death.


This is very true, however many people also achieve understanding and closure through details. It allows them to absorb what at first blush seems incomprehensible. Is there something they could have done, should they have known if he was ill, etc. We want to understand how this could have happened. You're right, it doesn't define the person though, but it helps frame the reality of the shock.

This is true. Personally, I have always dealt with death in a strange way (compared to peers). Thank you for the insight.

I think the reason we focus on the 'what' is our own fear of death. We ask to check in our heads how likely it is for that thing to happen to us.

I'm a little frustrated by posts like this because it tries to make me feel guilty about my natural and abundant curiosity. Which includes how he went. The same abundant curiosity that got me into Ruby early on in the first place.

While true, there is definitely a difference between someone dying a natural death or dying from drug OD.

I met James a few times in Montreal when we both lived there and quickly decided he was incredibly smart and awesome. From a distance, I admired his work and taste and I was thrilled to learn about his move to NY. I'm sure he had a lot of enthusiasm for his relatively new life here (NY) and lots of things he wanted to do. I can't understand deaths like this, and it's very difficult to accept. It's a really tough loss.

Who was he?

He did a lot of great talks, as well as blog writing. He also was the main developer of resource_controller (a rails library)[0]

0. https://github.com/jamesgolick/resource_controller

Totally unknown fact that resource_controller was initially extracted from a project James was working on with me (he was doing the coding) 7 odd years ago, we never fully discussed it as the project never saw the light of day (it was for a client) but I'm pretty sure the crazy client requirements drove the thinking behind it in some part.. I still have the half finished project somewhere, must dig it out..

Pretty shocked about his death, an inspirational guy.

The guy lost 100 pounds. That's impressive.


It is.

Curious: Does anyone have experience with losing a massive % of body mass and quitting smoking? Which is harder?

I have. Quitting smoking is a little bit harder because smoking is a binary state. You either smoke or you don't. Where as with gaining the lost weight, it doesn't happen over night and thus easier to maintain. At any rate both are long time struggles that are hard to hack.

James' blog post about losing weight was somewhat of an inspiration and validation of the diet I was following at the time and its effectiveness. One advice that I still follow is when I'm pressured into food that may contain flour or sugar I just say I'm allergic which works great.

I've lost about 120lb from high school (320->200, I'm 6'4 and 28 now). I also currently smoke. I've quit smoking for about a year and a half, probably 3 of the last 8 years combined have been not smoking. Smoking is harder for me, as it not only requires a pretty vast social adjustment (avoid smokers at first, pass each and every willpower check), and stress brings it out of me like crazy. You need to have something else to replace the quick shots of dopamine you can get any time you want. I am currently working on new habits, and have my diet under control again after gaining some of that weight back. Next is exercise. One thing at a time.

I went from ~280lbs to 170lbs a few years ago. Still ~185lbs. But smoking I fear will eventually kill me :) I've cut back recently supplementing with a vaporizer. Not sure it could replace cigarettes, but they're impressive enough it's possible.

For me, either one is easy if it coincides with a significant change in daily life (moving, new job, new school, etc).

not sure a massive % but I lost 15 kg out of 94 some years back. Not very hard if you do it the slow way (i.e. in a few months, with a dietician and exercise) but for some people it's a lot harder.

I also quit smoking a year ago after more than a decade. It was definitely harder, but it's not impossible.

Extra to the other things people mentioned, he was the founder of the /r/ruby sub-Reddit, and a very ardent campaigner for correct use of SSL verification when making HTTPS requests from Ruby(!)

I'm shocked; I saw a talk or two he did in Vancouver, and really enjoyed that he tackled deeper technical topics. He's too young to have passed away.

I saw one of his talks and he definitely had a knack for taking extremely technical issues and making them easy to understand!

Below is more information surrounding the accident.


James' talk on how to debug anything was one of the best tech talks I saw this year http://www.confreaks.com/videos/3451-goruco-how-to-debug-any...

Wow. I worked with James a few years back. This hits home hard.

does anyone have any information relating to what happened? recent activity suggests it was a sudden/unexpected event, but i don't really like to guess.

So sad to hear this. Too many rubyists gone this year. I knew him only loosely from conferences and twitter but the guy was interesting and inspiring.

Sad to see a great person like him leave us.

I recommend everyone check out defensive driving. You just never know what state of mind other drivers are in.

Not sure of the circumstances beyond a car accident in MX, but it's awful and painful.

For those still living, a few simple best practices for ground transport that cut the risk:

0. Always hire a driver foreign countries.

1. Make sure the driver isn't high, drunk or insane.

2. Assess yourself the vehicle is in safe, working order and has enough mass and safety features to "win" an accident.

3. Wear a seatbelt, even if it's hidden or nobody else does.

Being reasonably careful isn't about being a p$ssy, "worrying too much" or eliminating all unforeseeable risks, it's about not letting other people down by dying and causing a loss that really could have been prevented by making other choices. There are plenty of difficult/nearly impossible unpreventable ways to shuffle off the mortal coil, no reason to volunteer. I'd venture this wasn't one of those, because JG sounded like a sensible fellow.

Condolences, again.

I would not be typing this were it not for wearing a seatbelt.

People, wear your seatbelts. Especially when you normally might not (like in a cab).

Bump. Thanks for this. Taxis, microbuses and shuttle buses... if they have 'em, use 'em. If they don't, opt for the next one.

A big loss to computing, a terrible loss to family and friends. My sincere condolences. :'-(

Oh no .. It's so sad when people leave us too soon... :(

Unbelievable. RIP James!



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