Wednesday, October 26


Remembering Steven Den Beste

Steven was brilliant, a former engineer with a crackerjack mind. His old blog, U.S.S. Clueless was tremendously important in the early days of the 'blogosphere'. It is hard to overstate the importance of U.S.S. Clueless and the brilliance of his analysis. Sadly, that site went down this past week as well, when Steven's server failed. That site was immensely influential to many of us, and I am far from the only person he inspired to blog or helped along.
Thankfully, U.S.S Clueless has been preserved here.

All of this was part of a brilliant thinker that also had the ability to take those thoughts and write them legibly. He didn't do straight humor very much, perhaps his only weakness and perhaps the only category I would say I was at least his equal in. Everything else, however? There's a reason he was one of the first bloggers to wind up published semi-occasionally in the mainstream media.
I had always thought Den Beste was an exciting writer, in the sense that you never really knew what kind of Learning Adventure you'd be going on when you clicked on his blog. He had a Renaissance Man's mind; he seemed to know a great many things, and fairly esoteric ones besides, and could explain them with clarity and a great deal of speed -- zippiness.
Another sad note: Steven Den Beste has died. He wrote at USS Clueless during the early years of warblogging, and gave it up for reasons I can’t remember. Possibly got tired of it all. It happens. Turned away from the world to write about anime, like an editorial writer at a paper quitting to write about model airplanes. (Buxom model airplanes.)
Ed Driscoll
Den Beste also demonstrated how infinitely flexible blogging could be. Glenn, Mickey Kaus, Sullivan and Virginia Postrel specialized in short posts offering news aggregation and commentary, but Den Beste seemed to effortlessly generate 1,500 to 3,000 word essays on the GWOT and other breaking news events every night. Of course, they only looked effortless to those of us reading them. I imagine the work that went into them eventually contributed to Den Beste’s health issues, and the merciless brickbats he received from the tolerance and diversity-obsessed left eventually led him to focus his blogging primarily on anime and other lighter fare.
Pete Zaitcev
From the beginning, Chizumatic offered a strong editorial voice for the most competent direction and the cutest girls, as well as an excellent understanding of the classical blogging, which Steven brought with him from the political arena. Explanations and WMG/TMW were another hallmark. Did you think too that the crow in Haibane Renmei represented Rakka’s dog? We aren’t getting such insights anymore and the animeblogging has become poorer for that.
J. Greeley
In his typical way, he explained precisely what the effect was and how it would be accomplished with view camera movements, but he couldn’t figure out how someone had done it with a live model in a public place, as part of an otherwise unexceptional glamour shoot.
Marc Miyake
And yet while in retreat from the world, while enduring those permanent side effects, he chose to reach out ... to me. He and I talked about anime and the Japanese language. He was new to both of my lifelong interests. For years I had been learning from him; now the relationship was reversed.
Someone that most of us here respected and cared about has passed away: Steven Den Beste.

You can read something about Steven here. Because Steven was a commenter here over the years — something that I found very humbling — I thought that the best tribute I could write would be to republish his first and last comments here.

Unless you were around in the early days of the blogsophere, you may not have heard of Steven den Beste, and the news that he has died may not mean much to you.

But to those of us who remember him, he was a giant.

Perry de Havilland
Steven DenBeste, who ran a blog called USS Clueless back in the early days when we were all known as "warblogs”, has pressed Ctrl+Alt+Del and gone to the great blogroll in the sky. Steven and I often agreed on things, for he was certainly not an ‘idiotarian’, but we often crossed swords as well. Like me he was an atheist but nevertheless, Godspeed Good Sir, you were part of the social media New Wave before anyone called it social media.
He was an incredible writer with a gift for condensing complex ideas into teachable form. He forced me to be more rigorous and think through my positions, strengthening me and making me a better writer and blogger about politics. In a strange way he was akin to a mentor, despite our differences.
Steven, an engineer and a gifted writer, was among the most influential of the early bloggers of the 21st Century. He was named as one of the "Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse," along with Glenn Reynolds, Charles Johnson, and Andrew Sullivan. (Johnson and Sullivan have since gone insane, leaving Reynolds as the only one of the four still carrying on.) Big-name bloggers such as Bill Quick and Bill Whittle have cited him as a profound influence on their style. I think his writings ultimately influenced everyone that read his words.
Jim Geraghty
A software engineer by trade, exhibiting a precise logic in his thinking, Den Beste was acerbic, sharp and often charmingly irascible. I recall him writing at length about people who wrote in to correct him when they were actually wrong, and he would e-mail me with passive-aggressive appreciation when I would link to him but misspell his name. I missed his playful cantankerousness when he had merely stopped blogging. He’s missed even more now.
John C. Carlton
Back when the interwebs were new and blogs had not even been a thing a few that started stood out. Especially in the more or less right thinking universe. One was a quirky blog called USS Clueless, which tended to far from clueless. USS Clueless, along with Instapundit and the blog that I’m not going to name were the three go to blogs of the early 21st Century. The blog was written by Steven Den Beste and was almost always insightful.
Bill Quick

Daily Pundit owes equal credit to Instapundit and the U.S.S. Clueless for its very existence, as both provided primary inspiration for my own comparatively paltry efforts. And though Steven and I fell out and parted ways some years ago, I will miss him terribly.

The Blogosphere has lost some great ones over the years. Steven was one of the greatest.

Michael Hendrix
It’s a deep well indeed, and well worth your attention, although there’s way more there than just what we used to call warblogging. It’s a crystal-clear snapshot of a moment in time before we really knew just what kind of darkness we were doomed to struggle against, and as such is enlightening in more ways than I can begin to explain.
Ben from MidniteTease
Whether he was talking about the three laws of thermodynamics or the relative merits of a panty fighter ecchi series, Den Beste was always thorough, thoughtful, entertaining, and hated suggestions and recommendations.

Goodbye, Steven. You will be missed.
Charles from Dustbury
SdB was one of the pillars of the blogosphere, almost from Day One.

Worse, he was about my age, which reminds me — as though I needed reminding — of my own fragility.

How important was he to the early blogosphere?



Notice the puppy blender is "Free Traffic”, but USS Clueless was Broadway, the most valuable piece of real estate in the blogosphere.

Don McClane
It may be presumptuous of me to think so, but I came to regard him as a friend, albeit one whom I was unlikely ever to meet. I was glad whenever I could do him a favor, such as download an unlicensed series he was interested in. Through him I found such eccentric characters as Ubu, the BrickmuppetWonderduckJ GreelyAzizPete, and many others. Steven was notoriously prickly and seemingly unsociable, but I think he enjoyed being part of an online community, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic particpation in our comment boxes.
Clayton Barnett
One of the greats has passed.

I’d read all of his posts on his political-military blog, USS Clueless, for years. When he started posting review of Japanese animations, I thought he was losing his mind. Turned out, he was showing me a world I’d not imagined.

Francis W. Porretto
"In the beginning,” so to speak, there were only a few bloggers whose emissions were noteworthy: more cerebral evolutions than personal jottings. Den Beste was one, and perhaps the foremost of all. His essays, which have been archived here, are gems, and not merely of Blogospheric history but in their own right. To anyone who might not be familiar with Den Beste’s work, I commend them unreservedly, even imperatively.
Wheels within Wheels
There were giants in those days, and Steven Den Beste was one of the greatest. Sadly, he’s now gone. His site, USS Clueless, was one of the first websites that became a daily stop – I set up a bookmark for it, but I went there so often that it actually became faster for me to type the URL.


Other posts where commenters remember Steven:

MetaFilter where Steven was a long-time member.

Sarah Hoyt and Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.

Tim Blair

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:21 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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I think Tim Blair has the best short-form comment on Steven's passing, and the best closing: "Steven was one of the good guys."

I would have never expected how reading one column explaining CDMA versus GSM (And the government policies of the US and the EU regarding them.) would have come this far.

Posted by: cxt217 at Wednesday, October 26 2016 10:40 AM (hlTo6)

2 Yes, I was remembering that CDMA vs GSM post just last night.  I've started adding links to some of the shorter items where there's not enough material to quote.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, October 26 2016 11:11 AM (PiXy!)

3 I believe that should be "Ben from MidniteTease." Charles from Dustbury is here:

Posted by: Don at Friday, October 28 2016 04:31 AM (0kRhp)

4 Fixed, thanks Don.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, October 28 2016 08:49 AM (PiXy!)

5 Alright, and here go my projects!

Posted by: Serena198 at Tuesday, November 29 2022 06:17 PM (tiKz9)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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