Sad news

All long-time readers know I’ve had an affectionate, long-running feud with a certain commenter (and when I say long-running I mean more than half a decade), Sam S., who saw US politics very differently than I do. He was one of my most frequent commenters, and even though we were often at each others’ throats, we were also friends. I made a special trip to Shenzhen a few years ago to spend a day with him.

I just learned Sam has passed away from a heart attack. When I met him I was surprised to see he was a chain smoker (Marlboros, and not Lights). I was surprised because he was so into bicycling (his old blog used to feature photos of the bicycles he admired). Bicycling and cigarettes don’t seem to go well together. I’m guessing he was only in his mid-50s. Anyway, Sam was a cool guy. He was funny and outspoken and he loved China. Like me, his views about the government evolved slowly, from a black and white perspective to one that was a lot more gray. He was always wrong about US politics, of course, but I loved him anyway. He’ll be missed.

The Discussion: 17 Comments

Sad, indeed.
I enjoyed several exchanges with Sam and deeply appreciated his ability to see politics from the view of both sides (he often referred to himself as a recovering democrat). Like it or not, he was a centrist in terms of politics.

I also had several exchanges with him on other forums and grew to appreciate his unique sense of humor, quick wit and masterful use of sarcasm. He was also a credit to his profession.

He will be missed.

December 17, 2008 @ 11:34 am | Comment

I remember agreeing with Sam S. several times.

Reading his blog profile, he sounded like a truly wonderful fellow. My sincere condolences to his family — thanks for sharing him with us.

December 17, 2008 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

Ah, his blog profile:

December 17, 2008 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

Terrible news! While I often disagreed with Sam_S’ opinions, I always felt he was an intelligent, civil guy. Condolences and best wishes to his family.

Thanks for letting us know, Richard.

December 17, 2008 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

Agree with everyone – Sam was a gentleman, even if we had our disagreements. Back in 2004 we really clashed over Kerry vs. Bush, but we also always remained friends. Funny how blogs can forge relationships and bring together the unlikeliest of casts of characters.

December 17, 2008 @ 3:36 pm | Comment

Oh dear, sad news indeed. May he rest in peace.

December 17, 2008 @ 10:17 pm | Comment

Oh, I am so sad to hear about this! Sam and I were eFriends too – he seemed like such a nice person. Thanks, Richard. Do you know of any guest-book or place to leave our condolences?

December 18, 2008 @ 4:21 pm | Comment

Lisa, unfortunately I don’t have any information. I’ve been waiting for the site linked in my post to tell us more. Really sad.

December 18, 2008 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

Aw damn! I really respected and enjoyed Sam, though our political views were 180-degrees apart for the most part, that didn’t matter.
He had a wonderful wry sense of humor and plugged my Shenzhen Zen blog a few more times than it deserved.
Anyway, I’m so very sorry to hear about this. We loved talking about the Tejas (that’s Texas to the rest of you) music scene, particularly Austin, over beers in Shenzhen.
I’m gonna get in touch with James Baquet another Sam-fan in SZ, and see if he knows anything more.
Sam leaves a lovely wife, too. Lily I believe her name is.
Thank you Richard for passing this on, sad as it is. I just blogged awhile ago about a death and don’t think I can handle anymore of that this month. But if James knows anything more I’ll have him check in with you.

December 18, 2008 @ 5:40 pm | Comment

Contrary to Justin’s post, I’m as gobsmacked as anyone.

I hadn’t seen Sam in ages. He’s the kind of guy I seldom agreed with online, and NEVER disagreed with in person. Truly one of the nicest guys I knew here in SZ (or China or anywhere else)–a real gentleman, and a load of fun.

I’ll miss him.

December 18, 2008 @ 6:17 pm | Comment

I just read the above-referenced profile. Sam’s words reach out from Beyond:

Q: What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

Sam: Life is short, and we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Do what you love, and be present for those whom you love. Now.

December 18, 2008 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Richard, I hope you will allow me just this one comment. I feel an inner need to leave one here, as I knew Sam, though admittedly, probably not as well as you. I met up with Sam only about half a dozen times all up, while living in Shenzhen – always for a few beers and a cigar. He enjoyed drinking, smoking and talking politics – so we both had something in common at least. He was far more conservative than me with his politics, but he was always willing to listen to and to consider alternative viewpoints, which I greatly appreciated. I always used to tell him that he looked a little like Noam Chomsky, which always used to amuse him, because he had real issues with Chomsky.

Even though Sam’s attitude towards me changed for the worse after the now infamous MAJ/Richard dispute (which I greatly regret) and we stopped meeting up for our occasional drinking sessions, I am of course nevertheless deeply saddened to learn of his passing. I know that he played a key role in both arranging and financing his Chinese step daughter’s study in the U.S., and I’m sure that, through her education, he has left a valuable legacy to society.

May he rest in peace.

December 18, 2008 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Sorry – one thing I forgot to mention in my comment above: it was through this blog, the Peking Duck, that Sam and I first established contact. Blogs can certainly create cyber conflicts, as we all know, and which, for me at least, usually seem all too unreal, but they can also bring people together, in the real material world even, as was the case with me meeting Sam. I am thankful to this blog for allowing me the chance to meet Sam in the flesh, and to share with him a few lengthy conversations over drinks.

December 18, 2008 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

I am sorry for that,but it reminds me of the importance of enjoying my life

December 18, 2008 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

I’ll let it go this once, MAJ. Please don’t take advantage. Sam told me about his meetings with you.

Several people have met through this blog, and I don’t mean just with me, but with others who then became an important part of their lives. Maybe I should start charging a fee. Funny what a blog can do.

Vicki, exactly – Sam wasn’t old. It reminds us of how tenuous the whole game can be.

December 18, 2008 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

I know that he played a key role in both arranging and financing his Chinese step daughter’s study in the U.S

deleted. You can’t talk like that in here.

December 22, 2008 @ 6:18 am | Comment

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