In Memoriam: Aaron Swartz 1986 – 2013

(8 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The brilliant mind, righteous heart of Aaron Swartz will be missed

The transcript can be read here

Lean into the pain

by Aaron Swartz

When you first begin to exercise, it’s somewhat painful. Not wildly painful, like touching a hot stove, but enough that if your only goal was to avoid pain, you certainly would stop doing it. But if you keep exercising… well, it just keeps getting more painful. When you’re done, if you’ve really pushed yourself, you often feel exhausted and sore. And the next morning it’s even worse.

If that was all that happened, you’d probably never do it. It’s not that much fun being sore. Yet we do it anyway – because we know that, in the long run, the pain will make us stronger. Next time we’ll be able to run harder and lift more before the pain starts.

And knowing this makes all the difference. Indeed, we come to see the pain as a sort of pleasure – it feels good to really push yourself, to fight through the pain and make yourself stronger. Feel the burn! It’s fun to wake up sore the next morning, because you know that’s just a sign that you’re getting stronger.

Few people realize it, but psychological pain works the same way. Most people treat psychological pain like the hot stove – if starting to think about something scares them or stresses them out, they quickly stop thinking about it and change the subject.

The problem is that the topics that are most painful also tend to be the topics that are most important for us: they’re the projects we most want to do, the relationships we care most about, the decisions that have the biggest consequences for our future, the most dangerous risks that we run. We’re scared of them because we know the stakes are so high. But if we never think about them, then we can never do anything about them. [..]

Next time you start feeling that feeling, that sense of pain from deep in your head that tells you to avoid a subject – ignore it. Lean into the pain instead. You’ll be glad you did.


Skip to comment form

  1. TMC

    May the Goddess guide him on his journey to the Summerlands. May his family and friends and the world find Peace.

    The Wheel Turns. Blessed Be.

  2. tahoebasha3

    a young man so full of potential and good intent and . . . THIS!!

    If you have not yet read it, his parents, have expressed their heart in their memorium to him:

    Official statement from family and partner of Aaron Swartz

    Our beloved brother, son, friend, and partner Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday in his Brooklyn apartment. We are in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing.. .. .  please read to the end!  Aaron!  It is our “society” that killed this young man WHO CARED!

  3. Lasthorseman

    a major global company(2008) we had to cut back on subscription library search “services” in order to justify patent research.  At the time the patent office itself was undergoing an “IT” revamp of their IT “services” further interrupting/complicating patent access and research.

    Real world equivalent example.

    Ok to maintain a skill in the engineering world one must be proficient in say ProE which is a 10 thousand dollar 3D CAD program of very complicated proportions.  From my engineering standpoint and background the complexity and expense of engineering programs and access to any and all DRM/IT proprietary information is, has gone into that top secretness of this post 911 world.  It has been for me and insanely/evil oriented concept I have pondered since, well even before the towers fell down.

    Remember I got to escape US culture for a whole year.  I never actually came back with the same worldview. Now I have to speak of it(the US) in terms of zombination.

  4. tahoebasha3

    I hope everyone will read Stephen Lendman’s (a Chicago writer) article:  Aaron Swartz’s Suspicious Death and be sure to follow the links — I think there may be some definite merit in what is said!  

    Please read!

  5. tahoebasha3

    Aaron’s father was even more vociferous about what and why he died!

    ‘Aaron was killed by the government’ – Robert Swartz on his son’s death

    In 2011, federal prosecutors charged Swartz with a series of counts under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, crimes that could have sent him away to prison for upwards of 35 years if convicted. Swartz, said the government, entered a building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloaded millions of academic and scholarly papers from the service JSTOR with presumably the intent of distributing them for free.
    “Aaron did not commit suicide but was killed by the government,” Robert Swartz said during Tuesday’s service at the Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park, Illinois. “Someone who made the world a better place was pushed to his death by the government.”

    This is a much greater tragedy, I fear, than people really fathom . . . . !  


  6. terryhallinan

    I don’t mean in any way to denigrate the significance of Aaron Swartz’s death and the heartfelt outpouring of sympathy and anger but I am almost numb from so many terrible cases.

    There is a long, long, long story at Huffington Post about the horrendous murder of a young woman in Mississippi and then the use of largely concocted forensic evidence to convict an innocent man with a follow-up article on a particularly odious pair of forensic specialists but they are hardly alone.


    I don’t particularly recommend anyone read this article that deals in some detail with bite mark evidence that is now largely discredited but you might consider that Ted Bundy was convicted largely on such evidence.  

    Ann Rule wrote a brutally honest account of her fetching and carrying for her comrade on a suicide prevention hotline.  There is a notable line or two in which Rule talks about young Ted Bundy always accompanying a middle-aged woman out into the streets in the dark very early morning hours to her car to see no psycho attacks her.

    Ann Rule herself took some exception to my describing her epiphany on seeing the bite mark evidence that largely convicted Ted Bundy in Florida.  I don’t see how you could put her own words any other way but regardless trial attendees and jurors were suitably impressed.  A competent defense lawyer should have been able to blow the bite mark evidence to smithereens though there was no doubt Bundy was guilty of that murder and many others.  Bundy fortuitiously chose to act as his own lawyer.

    How do you top one George W. Bush commuting (the governor of Texas can only recommend commutation or pardon but it obviously carries some weight) the sentence of one of the most prolific and ghastly of all serial killers, Henry Lee Lucas, because he had been convicted of one murder he did not commit?  The actual murderer again gets off scot free to continue his life of crime.

    I have many, many ideas for reforming our terrible “justice” system but nothing is more atrocious than the plea bargaining that sent Aaron Swartz to his death.

    Best,  Terry

  7. tahoebasha3
  8. TMC

    to republishing their statement. It would be what Aaron wanted.

    Official statement from family and partner of Aaron Swartz

    Our beloved brother, son, friend, and partner Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday in his Brooklyn apartment. We are in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing.

    Aaron’s insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable-these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. We’re grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world.

    Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.

    Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

    Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.

  9. tahoebasha3

    republishing of their statement.  (It was late for me last night.)  Thanks for putting it out there!  There is no question in my mind as to what drove him where it ultimately did! (I don’t think there is in his parents’ minds either.)

  10. TMC

    that the overzealous prosecutors used to harass Aaron and petitions to fire US Attorney Ortiz and Asst. USA Heymann.

    [Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz. Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.]

    Fire Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Heymann.

    I urge everyone to sign them and, in Aaron’s name, change this law.

  11. tahoebasha3

    Particularly, when you consider all the rotten filth and criminal activities of those on Wall Street who have gone on scot free, for example, and here is an immensely intelligent, full of ideas, young person wanting to do good in this society and . . . . . . !

    I’ve signed all petitions and thanks for posting them all.  

  12. TMC

    but then I got angry, then I started to write. This was cross posted at DK and FDL, something I rarely do.

    It made the wreck list at DK. 😉

  13. tahoebasha3

    Have recommended and hit some “ponies” and I’m trying to make a comment, but I’m getting a weird message:

     There was an error previewing your comment: Server has gone away. This is a transient error, so just try previewing your comment again in a moment.


    I’ve tried over and over and it’s not happening!

    I’m glad you made the wreck list at DK — that’s good!  I’m glad, too, that you are spreading this around . . . good on you!

  14. tahoebasha3

    and,finally, it went through!

  15. tahoebasha3

    Aaron Swartz grew up in the Chicagoland area, thus, I think the author may be quite intimate with his sources and details!

  16. banger

    Who knows what happened. However you look at it the authorities wanted to make an example of him to inhibit the crime of liberating information. Should we be suspicious of his suicide? Yes, always–the semi-police state corporate oligarchy system we live under does not recognize rule of law and we have a long history of assassinations of dangerous (to the state) characters. Was he important enough to hit? I don’t know.  

  17. tahoebasha3

    Also, very much worth reading (including the links).  Understanding the extent and how far-reaching all of this has been is very important as to the future facing us.  That’s how impacting and how right Aaron was!

    Aaron Swartz: Suicide or Murder?

Leave a Reply