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Christopher Hitchens dies after battle with cancer

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British-born author, literary critic and journalist Christopher Hitchens has died, aged 62, according to Vanity Fair magazine.

He died from pneumonia, a complication of the oesophageal cancer he was suffering from, at a Texas hospital.

Vanity Fair said there would "never be another like Christopher".



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This is sad news, though expected. How about some mirth? Here's a funny quote from the AP report:

Hitchens was an old-fashioned sensualist who abstained from clean living as if it were just another kind of church. In 2005, he would recall a trip to Aspen, Colo., and a brief encounter after stepping off a ski lift.

"I was met by immaculate specimens of young American womanhood, holding silver trays and flashing perfect dentition," he wrote. "What would I like? I thought a gin and tonic would meet the case. `Sir, that would be inappropriate.' In what respect? `At this altitude gin would be very much more toxic than at ground level.' In that case, I said, make it a double."

Even better, here's his indepth linguistic and cultural analysis of fellatio:


This piece appears in his latest collection, Arguably. Typically, for the audiobook versions of his works, he did the reading. He had a great voice and delivery. Here, presumably because of his health, another reader, Simon Prebble, did the reading. Prebble has a proper British accent, and sounds, well, proper. That makes this piece all the funnier, but you'll just have to take my word for that and content yourself with reading it.

My friend David Aaronovitch, a columnist in London, wrote of his embarrassment at being in the same room as his young daughter when the TV blared the news that the president of the United States had received oral sex in an Oval Office vestibule. He felt crucially better, but still shy, when the little girl asked him, “Daddy, what’s a vestibule?”
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Hm... can someone tell me why Hitchens is getting so much praise around here? I thought he was just another stale atheist beating a dead horse...

He was a defender of science and rationalism, of western values and of an open society. He opposed religious fundamentalism consistently. While his views on war and economics were not to my liking, there is no doubt he was his own man in his political opinions. He did not follow the popular consensus and made many enemies on every side of the political arena. He also made, as you can see, many friends and allies, who appreciate a free and thinking mind, even when it may err. Hitchen's mind was one of the most sharp and rational minds I've come to know. He led a happy and eventful life, he never sacrificed his views to popular opinion and in fact made a career on his views being unpopular.

I imagine that is why you see so much praise for the man here and will continue to among many of the best and brightest.

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While his views on war and economics were not to my liking, there is no doubt he was his own man in his political opinions.

I don't see how that's a virtue by itself... if his views were rotten (i.e. views on economics) it really makes no difference if he came to them on his own. It could be argued that its even worse.

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Here’s material from Hitchens as relates to Ayn Rand and Objectivism. While his overall attitude was certainly negative, I feel he distinguished himself by not engaging in outright misrepresentation. If only all critics were as honest.

Here’s an article he wrote in 2001, featuring interview quotes from Nathaniel Branden and John McCaskey.


Here are comments he made at a book-signing event in Miami.


And here are some photos of him with some TAS people, from when he spoke at one of their events. I gather he wanted to include an essay by Rand (Requiem for Man?) in his collection of Atheist writings, and was not just refused, but was given some kind of wearisome runaround by the estate, leading him to have a lower opinion of, well you know, that group (ARI etc).



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