A moment of silence for the king of sesquipedalians everywhere. Bill Buckley has passed away, ending a marvelous career as pundit and author.
I learned celestrial navigation from Bill’s account of sailing, Airborne, in 1980, the year I decided to deliver a 60-foot plywood catamaran from Cape Cod to Florida. I sank the catamaran in Georgia, and horrified the crew when I plotted our first position somewhere west of Troy, New York when in fact we were 50 miles southeast of Manhattan. Guess Bill’s claim he could teach a caveman to use a sextant in two pages didn’t quite work in my case.
I interviewed Bill in 1988 when I was a cub reporter at Forbes. I forget the topic of the story, but I think it was about his early use of word processing technology. One thing Bill B. was — he was a PC geek from the very beginning. He also used the word “retromingent” in my interview with him, which remains one of the best words in the English language.
I worked with his son Chris at Forbes, putting Forbes FYI online in the mid-90s. Chris turned me onto pink argyle socks and is one of the best humorists writing today (Thank You For Smoking).
My sympathies to the Buckley family, conservatives, Yalies, and word freaks everywhere.
William F. Buckley Jr., who as author, journalist, and polysyllabic television personality did more to popularize conservatism in post-New Deal America than anyone other than Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan, died early today at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 82 and had been ill with emphysema, said his assistant, Linda Bridges.