Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

Chris McKinstry update

I heard from Carolyn Turpin of the US embassy in Santiago this morning, and sadly, Chris did indeed kill himself on Friday.

The story in the local paper, as relayed by Carolyn, was that Chris & his girlfriend had had an argument, and Friday evening he put a bag over his head with a hose running to the oven. The maid smelled the gas on Monday and called the police.

The reason why the police weren't able to find him at any of the other addresses last week was that he had recently moved, and was working on selling his old apartment.

The Canadian embassy is making the arrangements with his family.
Permalink example 
January 24th, 2006
Thanks for the update, example. There's some strange comfort in knowing what happened.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
He mentioned on his blog about selling his place, didn't he? Was there no record anywhere of his new address? It's hardly as though he hid, like he said he would.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
is this for real?
Permalink Dan 
January 24th, 2006
Someone has updated his wikipedia entry, adding the link to the local paper (El Mercurio) with the announcement of his death.

http://diario.elmercurio.cl/2006/01/24/nacional/nacional/noticias/97D6F2D5-83DE-4193-BBD4-069EA84861D9.htm?id={97D6F2D5-83DE-4193-BBD4-069EA84861D9}
Permalink example 
January 24th, 2006
*sigh*

Poor guy.

I thought he was hopped up on pills? Guess they didn't do the job he thought they would.

Over what? A woman? Demon creatures!

At least he didn't say those bastards on ?off drove him to it.
Permalink I am Jack's sad silence 
January 24th, 2006
How chilling to think that on friday we were reading the last posts of a guy about to go home and kill himself. It seems so... undignified. You're about to leave this world and the best way you can think of to leave your mark is a few posts on some backwater message board?

<shudder>
Permalink jz 
January 24th, 2006
Darn.

Just, darn.
Permalink AllanL5 
January 24th, 2006
Yeah it sucks :(

My Father did the same thing, fucking women

My thoughts are with you and your family Chris
Permalink Dan 
January 24th, 2006
It's something much, much deeper than a fight with a girlfriend, obviously. Events might coincidentally seem to precipitate such a drastic action, but really they're just convenient (often manufactured) excuses to carry through a long considered plan. Chris was known to have attempted suicide one or more times before.

I regret that we couldn't get any help to Chris: Given that he started at a cafe, and then made it all the way home -- where he chose alternative techniques -- I hope he wasn't depending upon the police busting in his door down at the last minute.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
Dennis - I guess you have got it correctly. I, too, think Chris might have thought that way. That something somehow would stop him though he wouldn't do it himself.

It's very very bad that this had to happen...
Permalink Senthilnathan N.S. 
January 24th, 2006
Once you've wrenched the gas pipe out of the oven and put the plastic bag over your head, I think you're pretty well intent on seeing it through.

He was also at a different address than most of the people who previously knew him. I was surprised to see that it took a few days for the police to catch up with him, but once I'd found out that he moved, it made more sense.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
I've refrained from commenting on this until now. But the more I think about it, the angrier I get at him.

Like I said in the previous thread, there are no answers in death. He should have known that.

For such a smart guy, how could he have been so dumb?
Permalink example 
January 24th, 2006
He was off his nut, that's how.

I feel a little queasy speaking ill of the dead, but it's the plain truth. Chris had some serious stability problems and all the intellect in the world can't save you from tricks played on you by your own mind.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
I don't understand why it's such taboo.
Permalink I am Jack's light life 
January 24th, 2006
What, suicide? It's taboo because it's nearly always carried out by people who aren't competent to make the decision to end their life.

There are exceptions, like the terminally ill and such, but for the most part it's people like Chris with a tenuous grasp on their own emotional stability and real psychological problems who end up opting out of this reality.

If the decision were always made methodically, logically, reasonably, then there'd be less taboo I think.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
The same could be said for starting a life...
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Mark -

And there's a big taboo on that, too. Teen moms, welfare moms...
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Mark Warner:

If you knew he had a tenuous grasp on reality, why did you torture him so?

Granted, he is a grown man and you are absolutely not responsible in any way for this tragedy.

I just have to ask.
Permalink sharkfish 
January 24th, 2006
I wasn't talking about the taboo part. Just making an observation.

But I suspect the taboo Jack was talking about is "speaking ill of the dead."
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
I called him on his BS, sure. I posted links to a handful of his blog postings in a sort of "oh boy look at this guy" spirit. His decision to come here and persistently (and often deliriously) defend his viewpoints was HIS decision.

If anything I gave the guy a whole lot of attention that he seemed to want very much.

I feel absolutely no guilt for what's happened. None. I say this with utter honesty. Chris was sick, and he did a sick thing, and I feel really bad for him, but I don't think that I did anything wrong, nor do I think this forum contributed to it. If anything I think he enjoyed coming here and debating everybody. A few people even humored his ideas.

Heck, he had me half convinced that universal public monitoring might be a good idea.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
No, I was talking about suicide. I feel a little guilty for picking at him when he was around now.

Still, I question our competence in so quickly judging his.
Permalink I am Jack's light life 
January 24th, 2006
"Heck, he had me half convinced that universal public monitoring might be a good idea."

I couldn't really follow those threads, so I have no idea. Maybe I'll read them when I have a moment. I tend to think he was right about some of the ideas I recall. We won't know until the future unfolds, I guess.
Permalink sharkfish 
January 24th, 2006
I agree that Chris enjoyed coming here and I believe that he posted here during his final moments because he liked us. None of us can be blamed for what happened.

But over the past couple of days, I think we've also witnessed Warner's incredible ability to deny reality as it's happening, so I take his justifications with a grain of salt.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Jack, I knew you were talking about suicide. I thought I addressed your post ^^
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Mark's links and attention to Chris' posts were probably a bright point in Mr. McKinstry's life - it got him attention that he clearly fed upon.

While some of his ideas were mocked, they did get an audience they otherwise didn't have. Several times Chris openly solicited commentary (when Mark didn't notice a new posting, for instance), so he clearly didn't shirk from it.

I also had a feeling that Chris respected for Mark.

So, really, Mark's attention may have kept Chris alive a bit longer.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
That's just confusing, can't you just call him Warner like the rest of us?
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
"I think we've also witnessed Warner's incredible ability to deny reality as it's happening, so I take his justifications with a grain of salt"

Mark was hardly alone - he was just the most outspoken and honest about it. Many of the forum readers sat on the sidelines waiting for the hoax to be revealed. Hell, reading the newspaper article this morning I was checking if the domain was legit, and so on, to authenticate the source. We're grizzled, cynical vets of the internet age.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
Heh, originally I had muppet in there, but find/replaced with Mark. I suppose Warner would have been better. Sorry for the confusion.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
>> While some of his ideas were mocked, they did get an audience they otherwise didn't have. <<

While I think Chris' concern that a workable AI would somehow take the SkyNet route unless we fed it information about what it was like to be human (his Mindpixels) was a little overblown, I think his idea was valuable nonetheless.
Permalink example 
January 24th, 2006
Sharky, even though Mr. Warner and myself have had our disagreements, I wouldn't call anything going on on ?off as "torture".

And in all fairness, Chris did sling some of the most outrageously catch-phrase loaded BS I've ever seen. "The mind is a multi-faceted hypersphere in a multi-dimensioned space" indeed. At least on ?off he had SOME people who tried to take him seriously.

Being called on his BS, even being called 'moron' or worse, is one of the risks of posting on ?off.

I assumed that his seemingly tenuous hold on reality was a pose he put on. Apparently not, given the circumstances.
Permalink AllanL5 
January 24th, 2006
Mark -

I hardly think that I denied reality as it was happening. Given Chris' posting history and penchant for hyperbole and wild claims, I don't think it was the least unjustified to find the whole suicide claim rather unbelievable.

I never declared definitively that he was lying, but I was, justifiably, very skeptical.

I think it's terrible that he was actually serious but I don't think anyone could be blamed for doubting whether it was actually going on.

All that said, had there not already been quite a few folks contacting the proper authorities and attempting to get Chris help, I'd have done what I could. Honestly I doubt that the idea of contacting Canadian/Chilean embassies would have ever occured to me. I'd have called local police, struggled through with my incredibly poor Spanish, and then sat around wondering what else to do.

By the time I saw the thread, a half dozen people had already mentioned embassies, police, neighbors, coworkers...
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Yeah, in one of the articles about McKinstry, I found myself agreeing with the premise of the Mindpixel project. Of course, he never stated anything that clearly here... Here he just made extravagant claims and mocked us for not understanding him.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
"I hardly think that I denied reality as it was happening"

ie. 'Although I denied reality, it wasn't my fault, but the fault of reality'
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 24th, 2006
I'm not sure what that convoluted mess is supposed to mean, Erik.

Reality is subjective until it actually happens. The reality from here in the NorthEast US at the time was that Chris McKinstry may have been committing suicide, or he may have been pulling a stunt (which would have fit in perfectly well with his history). I didn't tell everyone to quit tyring to help. I didn't call it all bullshit. I believe my words were "I'm sorry to say so, but I don't buy this for a minute." And at the time, I didn't.

Even though I didn't buy that he was truly suicidal, I STILL would have "gone through the motions" of contacting authorites that I knew how to contact, etc, because quite simply, you HAVE to. And that's what I think people did. There was a sense of unreality to the entire incident and I think even those people who called embassies and so on were not entirely sure that Chris was actually in the act of ending his life.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
My mental image of McKinstry, and possibly suicide, is just completely different from yours.

He was so obsessed with how his name turned up in search engines that I don't think he'd spoof something like this. His extravagant claims were largely things he believed to be true that he knew nobody here would agree with.

If he said he was going to commit suicide, he was going to commit suicide.

Maybe he's more like you than you know. You wouldn't spoof something like this either, but we'd all probably think you could.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Re. the last few posts, I think we are just feeding our collective ego(s). We were a part of his last days. Nothing less. Nothing more.

Chris was an intelligent fellow. His posts here were much enjoyed, for whatever reasons. He's dead now. Sad. A moment of silence and one more lesson learnt.
Permalink KayJay 
January 24th, 2006
Well you have a different mental profile of him than I do, I guess. I would totally not have put it past him to pull a stunt like threatening and staging a web-publicized suicide and then turning up somewhere else with a new name.

If he could get into a standoff with police that resulted in him being tear-gassed by a robot...

Anyway Mark, it seems like you're tyring to imply some blame here for something but I'm not entirely sure what.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
"Re. the last few posts, I think we are just feeding our collective ego(s). We were a part of his last days. Nothing less. Nothing more."

Heh. "You know you've hit rock bottom when you're hanging out on ?off. Get help!"
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
Sidebar for Dennis.
Permalink AllanL5 
January 24th, 2006
"None of us can be blamed for what happened.

But over the past couple of days, I think we've also witnessed Warner's incredible ability to deny reality as it's happening, so I take his justifications with a grain of salt."

I find these two statements particularly incongruous. Could you clarify? :)
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
No, I'm not trying to blame you for anything. It just really shocked me that you didn't believe it and that you'd think that someone so obsessed with his public persona - someone who googled his own name to see how many times it popped up - would stage something like this.

That "change his name and pop up somewhere else" thing just doesn't make any sense to me.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Mostly, I was just teasing.

But yes, the lengths you went to to deny that it was happening (q.v. the name change thing) were just astonishing.

So no blame. Deny reality. The implied causality was a joke.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
I'm wondering whether he'd be planning this for a while -- he shut Mindpixel down a month or so back, and that was his pride and joy...

(Speaking of which, what's going to happen to that now? Although it was largely bunk, it seems a shame to let all that data rot away somewhere.)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 24th, 2006
I will miss Chris. :(
Permalink Michael B 
January 24th, 2006
I think that Chris realized that his reputation wasn't quite what he wanted it to be, and that much of the negative probably seemed irreversible to him.

He posted continuously on his blog about what "high profile" agencies were checking him out according to his logs, which to me reeked of self esteem issues. He continuously pointed out his scant media coverage (much more coverage than I'll ever see, but still scant). His last few posts lamented the fact that no one took him seriously (something he never admitted until then).

So it seemed entirely feasible to me that Chris wouldn't have minded a new identity to start over with. A way to start with a clear slate reputation and work upward. I think he really wasn't happy with the lack of recognition he was getting. To him, his ideas were utterly obvious and everyone should have embraced them.

I think it finally hit him deep in his core that hardly anybody did, and that upset him quite a lot.

Of course, this is all pure speculation and I'm certainly no student of psychology.

This is just a long drawn out play-by-play of an impression of Chris that formed in my head pretty subconsciously. He was extremely eccentric and so yes, I had trouble believing that he was actually suicidal for real.

You seem to think that reflects poorly on me. I don't see how. Obviously in hindsight, I was wrong and he really was looking for an end. It's an honest shame and I wish it hadn't happened, and even though I doubted I'd still have tried to get him help if you all hadn't beaten me to the punch. It would have been redundant and wasteful for me to call all the same authorities that you already had.

Anyway I don't know why I'm enumerating all of this again. :) Latent guilt, I guess, to be honest, but objectively I don't see any reason for it. It's just the built-in sort of guilt that accompanies a tragedy like this.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Yeah, I'd wondered about that too. Though, one could conjecture that he'd shut it down because of the Spivey thing.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
'"I'm sorry to say so, but I don't buy this for a minute." And at the time, I didn't.'

I know, I saw you posting it.

It proves your poor judgment. Not only whether you interpreted his message right or wrong, but also in judging the implications of both possibilities.

You just felt personally threatened in your position as ?off's own drama-queen.

And even now you spend more words on justifying yourself then on the fact of McKinstry's death itself.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 24th, 2006
Erik, you are so utterly full of shit that it's hardly worth acknowleging your post even to tell you how full of shit you are.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
He also gleefully linked to the Top 30 McKinstry Facts. He never denied his past, and if you look at the master hoaxter page, you'll see that he had no problem talking about it at length.

"Everyone should be monitored all the time and that information made public" just doesn't jibe with "fake my own death and change my name."

I had no intention to imply any guilt, so I apologize if you took what I said the wrong way.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Eh so it's likely that I misjudged him. As I said, I'm no student of psychology or even a very good observer of human nature much of the time. I think that the fact that Chris had invested SO much in his reputation, and that it seems to have come to naught, is what would particularly DRIVE him to want a new one. And I think he was smart enough to have pulled it off, too.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Chris always believed that he was on the verge of a new breakthrough and about to have his ideas vindicated by someone.

Ah, c'est la vie, it's not worth arguing about.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Perhaps Chris had broken the code of the brain in such a way that threatened national security. He was murdered, and a mock-replica of his posting style was submitted to his blog and this forum.

Also, Microsoft is in backroom talks to merge with Google. Larry Page will be the CTO of the new organization.
Mark -

He always professed that, yes, but I think it was wishful thinking verbalized. In his last couple of posts he acknowleged that no one took him seriously and he wasn't even loved as much as a fancy pen.

So yeah... anyway you're right this is no subject for argument.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
It seems futile to speculate what it was decided him on a course that wasn't going to be interrupted, using a plastic bag and gas he'd have known would be quickly fatal.

Confusing what people type with who they are is something a lot of us do, me included.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 24th, 2006
"It seems futile to speculate what it was decided him on a course that wasn't going to be interrupted, using a plastic bag and gas he'd have known would be quickly fatal."

Let's be honest here. He didn't say "bye bye!" as he stuck a bag on his head. We actively engaged him in conversation during his attempt, and he even witnessed his Wikipedia entry being updated with news of his suicide announcement. His original technique was a failure, and there could have been many hours from announcement and actual completion.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
Yes, I wasn't around at the time but reading it afterwards I thought the wikipedia entry could well be the kind of event that would precipitate someone entirely over the edge.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 24th, 2006
Someone announces their suicide on their blog (which basically makes it quasi-verified) and on a forum, yet you think the acknowledgement on their wikipedia page was the trigger?

I'd say someone was well over the edge before any of that.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
I assumed he himself updated that entry.
Permalink Phil 
January 24th, 2006
This whole thing is so strange. The way Chris found this place, the way he acted, the way he actually stuck around and became a psuedo regular, and the way he ultimately chose to spend some of his last moments and thoughts here.

Chris was the orginal inspiration for me registering CrazyOnTap.com.

I wish he would have gotten the help he needed at some point in his life.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
January 24th, 2006
The one I saw was ill typed enough to be him but I was thinking more that its one thing to make a statement yourself about your intentions quite another for a site and a page that he cared about to make it a 'fact'.

It's a small thing for you and me but possibly entirely validating for him.

Bugger I've started speculating.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 24th, 2006
Some clarifications i guess could be useful to you guys.
He didn't shutdown the Mindpixel project. We discuss it, and there were two things happening. He was moving to another server in Germany, and he was planning to build a new ajax based frontend to give the projet a technlogy uplift -i code the last frontend update on mindpixel data collection interface around 2001. Also, the idea was to get more exposure so more people would join and collaborate.
This last weeks, Chris was working on a paper, as he admitily tought he should explain better his research. He knew he was self-absorved on it, and that could make his ideas to complex to be grasp by others.
Even if not completly or at all understood, i'm trying to save and rescue his research and data. I'm contacting people on Cornell and also in Germany, so we dont loose the massive mindpixels data.
Other thing, we didn't take this forum so seriously. Hey, he got a life too. He has a interesting job on a cool company, a nice appartment and a beautiful girlfriend. He spend a lot of his time also painting, writing and reading a huge and very very interesting collection of books, most of them annotated with his own comments.
As i told the family, they guy a knew was sometimes weird, but mostly a fun, good hearted and smar, if somehow troubled.
Permalink Carlos 
January 24th, 2006
It said that he announced his suicide, not that he had completed it. At least, not initially.

I guess either could still bring some reality to the situation for him.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
And no, for thouse paranoid and conspirational guys, the "we" in "he didn't take this forums too seriously", was not a freudian slip, I'm just a lousy and lazy english typer.
Permalink Carlos 
January 24th, 2006
Someone else on here has admitted to updating the Wikipedia entry. Whether it was sincere or in jest, really that could have potentially helped get Chris help (albeit we know unsuccessfully) as someone Chris knew passed through. I see no malice or ill will in it.

During the drama, I contacted several of the people who could be verified as having contacts with Chris through professional associations (it's not like we knew any personal information about Chris), such as working together on projects, and before hitting send of an email informing them of his apparent suicide attempt, I had a moment of doubt: What if Chris was drunk, high, or just being melodramatic, and by emailing professional contacts I could be hurting his career, or perhaps exascerbating the current situation? Yet these were the few people who might have actual contact information that could get Chris help.

It's a tough situation in any case, but Chris was ultimately the only one responsible for writing his final chapter.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
If I implied malice or lack of thought in posting to wikipedia it wasn't my intention.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 24th, 2006
It would be nice if people gave timezones wherever there are times. On Chris' blog his first suicide-style note is at noon (in whatever timezone, but I presume EST?), followed by another at 1. The Wikipedia entry, which Chris clearly lived sometime past, wasn't edited until 22:13. I'm going to guess that's UTC, or 3:13pm EST?
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
He was saw going in and out his appartment on Sunday morning, the police told me, so his decease was not on Friday as has been told here.
Permalink Carlos 
January 24th, 2006
Wow. That really changes things.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 24th, 2006
That makes sense, an entire weekend of gas leaking would have made the place a time bomb.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 24th, 2006
I posted the Wiki. I did it because I thought he might see that people were paying attention and did publicly care about his condition... and perhaps that could give him hope. I wouldn't have done it if he hadn't already committed to posting about it on his blog and in popular forum where he wouldn't be able to retract it.

No malice was intended.
Permalink B-Side 
January 24th, 2006
>> He was saw going in and out his appartment on Sunday morning, the police told me, so his decease was not on Friday as has been told here. <<

I didn't know that, Carlos. Thanks. And that does change things.

MarkTAW -
Any way of knowing if he was lurking here over the weekend?
Permalink example 
January 24th, 2006
sorry, I cannot follow....why are we beating muppet over the head with this?
Permalink Jesus H Christ 
January 24th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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