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Jorn Barger missing
December 2, 2003 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Robot Wisdom weblogger and prolific online writer Jorn Barger has been missing since early October, according to friend Eric Wagoner.
posted by rcade (51 comments total)

 
He hasn't posted to USENET since Sept 30 - a bad sign. I hope he just decided to take some kind of sabbatical and is OK.
posted by crunchburger at 11:57 AM on December 2, 2003


Weird convergence. I'd been wondering what happened to him, and this morning I had moved his blog into the "Abandoned" subdirectory of my bookmark tree.
posted by Irontom at 11:58 AM on December 2, 2003


I've never actually met him, but his pages were a heavily influence on my when I began to weblog four years ago. This past year, he moved to Socorro, New Mexico, a very small desert town I lived in for eight years. There, he met people I still have contact with, including Schlake (a net-eccentric in his own right).

Anyway... Jorn's housemate let it known last night that he'd been missing for two whole months, and it appears all of his possessions are still in the house.

Jorn's mentioned before retreating to a cave, and the desert around Socorro would be a good place to disappear, for good or ill. Those near him are worried, but so far there's no evidence for anything (other than having not accessed any of his accounts in two months).
posted by ewagoner at 12:03 PM on December 2, 2003


Jorn will be missed.

FWIW, less than a week (?) before he disappeared, he returned from an at least 2-week hiatus from Robot Wisdom. I'd never seen him skip much more than a day before then.
posted by dyaseen at 12:06 PM on December 2, 2003


Lets hope hes safe and just eating mescaline in the desert.
posted by skallas at 12:08 PM on December 2, 2003


ewagoner, you probably know more about socorro than i do (i grew up in southern new mexico, and attended some science events at NMT) but all i can think about is how desolate it is.

it is very worrisome. i wasn't a regular reader of robot wisdom, but i know that there is so much space out there that he might never be found. i just hope it is because he doesn't want to be.
posted by sugarfish at 12:18 PM on December 2, 2003


Jorn's housemate let it known last night that he'd been missing for two whole months, and it appears all of his possessions are still in the house.

This seems weird to me. I mean, at what point during those two months did the housemat think it was weird that he wasn't around .... this reads as though it was just in the past few days, but I can't believe that's really so.....
posted by anastasiav at 12:31 PM on December 2, 2003


robotwisdom was my protometafilter. I hope he's ok.
posted by punilux at 12:38 PM on December 2, 2003


It's weird to me, too, anastasiav. Apparently, this isn't the first time that Jorn has dropped out of sight for a while, but it is the first time that it's been this long and without any possessions. I've gotten the impression that the housemate is a bit of a recluse as well who just yesterday decided that something must really be wrong this time and that help was needed.
posted by ewagoner at 12:39 PM on December 2, 2003


I hope he's okay. He'll be in my thoughts and prayers.
posted by gd779 at 12:58 PM on December 2, 2003


Weird convergence indeed... I was thinking about him only this morning, for the first time in a while (his was the first weblog I discovered). I hope he's ok.

Schlake is a good man. Toads rule in exile!
posted by plep at 1:01 PM on December 2, 2003


It's very disturbing...my "check Robot Wisdom" cycle has moved from daily, to weekly, to "why even bother". Maybe the warbloggers have finally got to him? I'm hoping he'll be back online before we see 2004.
posted by Jimbob at 1:15 PM on December 2, 2003


man. if his ID is still in his apartment he's most likely dead or plans to never return.

I've been reading robotwisdom since the very beginning and have always liked Jorn's outlook. What a god damn shame.
posted by n9 at 1:44 PM on December 2, 2003


Have they gone to the local police? or FBI?
posted by amberglow at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2003


This sounds pretty serious. And I really hope Jorn is all right. If his ID (and his possessions) are there, then do any of Jorn's housemates know if his passport is still there? This is well beyond 48 hours. Contacting the authorities would be a pretty good idea at about this point, if they haven't been called already. They'll be able to determine if any cash was withdrawn from his account shortly after his disappearance and question people as to his whereabouts.

Do any MeFites here reside in New Mexico so that they confirm Jorn's disappearance with his housemates and get more facts?
posted by ed at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2003


"Jorn's housemate let it known last night that he'd been missing for two whole months..."

Gee, one might think that it would take him a little less than two fucking months to make this known. What, did the guy wake up yesterday and say, "Hey, you know... I haven't seen Jorn in awhile and it's his turn to pay the electric bill."

Like amberglow, I too am interested I whether the police have been notified. Hopefully some time before last night. I wonder if some ambitious MeFite from that region might give the local cops a call and enquire if a missing person report has been filed.
posted by cedar at 3:02 PM on December 2, 2003


Okay. I did it myself.

I called the Sorocco PD at (505)835-1883 requesting any information they might have. Officer Richard Lopez returned my call immediately and let me know that Mr. Barger was not considered missing or in danger.

They recieved a report from his housemate roughly six weeks ago and made contact with Barger several days later, as he was walking down the street. At that time he reassured them of his saftey and stated that, "He no longer desired to be where he had been."

He refused to provide any other information, but the Sorocco PD is aware of his location and have no concerns about his well being.

No mystery here folks. Just another guy tired of his weblog and feuding with a domestic partner.
posted by cedar at 3:26 PM on December 2, 2003


No mystery here folks. Just another guy tired of his weblog and feuding with a domestic partner.

Jeesh, that's a relief.
posted by bobo123 at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2003


Thanks for digging that up, cedar. Glad to hear it's less ominous than it looked.

This isn't the first time that weblogging has reminded me of science-fiction fandom, which has several people who became infamous for completely disappearing (often out of a desire to get away from fans and fandom). They've even coined a term for it: "gafiate," based on the acronym "Get Away From It All."

Surely, Jorn wouldn't be the first Web celeb who gafiated. There's got to be some others we've completely driven away.
posted by rcade at 3:38 PM on December 2, 2003


Cedar, thanks for posting that info. I'd been getting different info out of Socorro, but I should be able to confirm what you found out tomorrow. It's still possible that Officer Lopez was referring to an earlier incident.

I've known people to gefiate before, but never quite so thoroughly.
posted by ewagoner at 4:06 PM on December 2, 2003


ewagoner,
Please post back and let me know the results of your conversation with Sorocco PD. I was stunned at their response, I didn't get past the dispatcher when I called. She placated me, took my number and said she would have an officer get back to me. I pretty much wrote it off it at that point.

It wasn't five minutes before Officer Lopez called... I gave him some line about about an 'internet publication' and 'unsubstantiated rumor' that he actually listened to. Then he was amazingly forthcoming, to the point I had to end the conversation by thanking him for his time (it must be *very* quiet in Sirocco, this was one bored cop).

All I can add to previous post is that he made it pretty clear that Barger had asked to have his privacy respected. I gather in a somewhat abrasive manner, along the lines of, "I don't have to to tell you squat. This is America." What surprised me the most is Lopez (who was the officer that actually spoke to him on the street) had no problem with this.

I compared this, in my mind, to how this would have been handled by my local PD (in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I work in a law enforcement related field) and found it incredibly refreshing. As retirement nears I'm going to be taking a longer look at New Mexico.
posted by cedar at 4:41 PM on December 2, 2003


thanks cedar, for finding out...and they were really forthcoming (which is always good)
posted by amberglow at 4:45 PM on December 2, 2003


> "I don't have to to tell you squat. This is America."

Not to derail, since this thread seem pretty complete, but I dare hope that one or two of you will notice the response Jorn got to his assertion of rights and file it away mentally before pulling your next Godwin. Fuller tips hat.
posted by jfuller at 5:52 PM on December 2, 2003


One of my favorite sites and I too have been wondering and waiting for the great links he has pointed me to. Hope he is ok.
posted by thedailygrowl at 10:08 PM on December 2, 2003


Good to know that Jorn's apparently ok. Been wondering ever since he stopped doing regular updates some months ago. Thanks to those who checked it out.
posted by Twang at 11:27 PM on December 2, 2003


he was a inspiration for my linklog and many other weblogs i have come across on the web. i always loved his simplistic layout and the fact that there were no graphics on his page. anyone who has a web page under 10k is still OK in my book.
posted by lsd4all at 2:13 AM on December 3, 2003


made it pretty clear that Barger had asked to have his privacy respected. I gather in a somewhat abrasive manner, along the lines of, "I don't have to to tell you squat. This is America." - cedar [emphasis added]

hope that one or two of you will notice the response Jorn got to his assertion of rights - jfuller [emphasis added]

wow. just, wow.

"that's one one small step for jfuller, one giant leap for mankind."
</neil armstrong>
posted by quonsar at 4:33 AM on December 3, 2003


There's a pretty healthy libertarian streak in Western states, especially in rural places like Socorro. I'll bet that police officer is pretty accustomed to that kind of response.
posted by rcade at 5:40 AM on December 3, 2003


Not that I don't appreciate the initiative of cedar, and am mildly interested in the fate of Jorn, but I'm sort of stunned that the police gave that much information out to just anyone.
posted by crunchland at 5:54 AM on December 3, 2003


Not that I don't appreciate the initiative of cedar, and am mildly interested in the fate of Jorn, but I'm sort of stunned that the police gave that much information out to just anyone.

I'm not. It sounds to me like a very extended version of "Don't worry, we're aware of the situation and he's not considered a missing person."

In this day and age I don't think we can fault a police department for giving out more information (none of it sounds all that personal, really -- they just said they know of where he is, but did not give out that location, right?) rather than less.
posted by anastasiav at 6:53 AM on December 3, 2003


As for his response to the police -- no offense to the messengers -- but this is hearsay of hearsay! How the heck do we know what he really said to the police and how the policeman reacted. I wouldn't get too excited about it. I don't deny it might have gone down that way, I just question the level of excitement warranted. Besides, just because the police in some areas are tolerant of a little citizen snippiness still does NOT mean this country isn't sliding into fascism. We'll Godwin all we want, thank you!
posted by PigAlien at 8:24 AM on December 3, 2003


Oh, and just a question. Sure, people can and do just get up and gefiate, but wouldn't they take some of their personal belongings? At least their ID? My impression was that this guy had left even his most personal possessions behind. Seems odd, if nothing else, although I'm getting the impression from this thread that perhaps this isn't so surprising.
posted by PigAlien at 8:26 AM on December 3, 2003


PigAlien: "How the heck do we know what he really said to the police and how the policeman reacted."

Maybe because the cop told me how he reacted?
posted by cedar at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2003


I'm going to shit on the cupcakes being handed out here and say: I don't miss Jorn Barger one bit. He should stay gone. He was an asshole to me when I first started blogging and I'll never forget it.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:48 AM on December 3, 2003


AH, a fine lad to nurse your grudges. Hate sustains a body, forgiveness is such a fool's game.
posted by john at 11:44 AM on December 3, 2003


I seem to recall that Jorn originally lived in Chicago, like a block or two away from me in Roger's Park. His was one of the first blogs I read. I think he moved to Socorro about the same time I moved to Albuquerque.

If someone walked out into the wilderness near Socorro, I can't imagine they'd last very long. Between the weaons training and testing labs at Tech which are under tight security, White Sands (where they can shoot you for tresspassing), and the Sevilleta, there isn't much in the way of water supply or shelter. Hopefully he's just offline and safe.
posted by answergrape at 12:03 PM on December 3, 2003


He has been found. He's not in a cave or under a bridge, but he did voluntarily abandon everything to get away from it all. I'll leave the rest of the details for Jorn to divulge if he wants to, but those near to him (who had feared the worst) are glad he's OK. Oddly enough, the police, who were happy to tell the story to strangers who called up, never updated the people who reported him missing.

On another note, here's a recent headline from the local paper that sums up quite nicely the oddity that is Socorro: Prince Andrew plants a tree, blows up a car.
posted by ewagoner at 1:21 PM on December 3, 2003


I wonder if Jorn moved to New Mexico to get away from Jews. He dislikes Jews, in case you didn't notice. He dresses it up as anti-Zionism, but it's anti-Semitism. His blog became a no-visit zone at about 9 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001.
posted by Holden at 1:52 PM on December 3, 2003


Hmm... I wondered how long this outpouring of concern would go on before somebody started the "Eek! Jorn's Anti-Semitic! Run him off the Web" squealing again...
posted by JollyWanker at 2:37 PM on December 3, 2003


Answergrape I hate to break this to you but White Sands are nowhere near Socorro.

You can walk directly east of Socorro and get to the river in not too many hours of hiking. I have done it many times. It's not exactly a day in the park but at this time of year with some water in hand it can certainly be done.
posted by filchyboy at 3:26 PM on December 3, 2003


i think there are jewish people in new mexico too...we do get around, you know : >
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on December 3, 2003


i think there are jewish people in new mexico too...we do get around, you know : >

Yeah, but they're secret. Shhhh!
posted by ewagoner at 4:51 PM on December 3, 2003


Is JollyWanker incapable of polite discourse?
posted by rcade at 5:27 PM on December 3, 2003


You are right bout White Sands, of course. For me, the hike from the mall parking lot is a bit much....

The secret jews is interesting.

New Mexico has all kinds of secrets, the Penitente's moradas, the Germans who brought oompapa music to Spanish-speakers, etc..
posted by answergrape at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2003


And, btw, does anybody know why on EARTH Jorn chose Socorro anyway? Not usually a big stop on the world-travelling map unless you're a scientists who likes to blow stuff up.
posted by answergrape at 6:43 PM on December 3, 2003


"Eek! Jorn's Anti-Semitic! Run him off the Web"

No one is being "run off the web", that's ridiculous. People have every right to embrace or reject a web personality based on the choices, actions, and/or statements these personalities have made.
posted by dgaicun at 7:53 PM on December 3, 2003


Also "squeeling" implies the attitudes are unjustified, a convincing case for which has never been made.
posted by dgaicun at 7:55 PM on December 3, 2003


into the wild! or the mossad finally got to him :D
posted by kliuless at 9:08 PM on December 3, 2003


Thanks for those secret Jews links, ewagoner. Great stuff -- especially the Atlantic article.
posted by rcade at 5:41 AM on December 4, 2003


Mo Nickels: "He was an asshole to me when I first started blogging and I'll never forget it."

Word to the wise, Mo. If I held a grudge for every pobucker who didn't give me the time of day or (come to think of it) did anything short of worshipping my very breath since I first started my online journal back in 1997... well I'd be the washedup worthless hasbeen neverwas that I am today. Believe me. I've been brushed off or flipped off by the best of 'em. Going around calling them names was and is a bad strategy. I recommend you quit referring to Barger as a posterior orifice and turn the other buttcheek.

But hey. Maybe you gotta learn the hard way, too. Good luck with that.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:34 AM on December 4, 2003


hey, this thread made a Wired story about him.
posted by amberglow at 6:31 PM on December 5, 2003


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