The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Stirling Newberry

I’m getting more and more questions, and Stirling was a public figure, albeit a minor one, so here is the basic news.

Stirling had a stroke a little over two weeks ago.  It was very severe.  As of the latest news he cannot talk, cannot walk, etc… He was in a coma for quite some time after surgery to relieve the pressure.

It is unlikely he will ever fully recovery.  If you believe in prayer and feel so inclined, including him in your prayers couldn’t hurt.


Brief comments on the Syrian civil war


Heckling Mrs. Obama is entirely productive


  1. Mommybrain

    Ian, I am so sorry to hear this news. Stirling was one of my heroes.

    Will send up a prayer. As you say, it can’t hurt.


  2. Lurker the Third

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Stirling Newberry! Our world can be a better place because of his efforts to analyze and explain our circumstances. Note that I say, “can be a better place.” It’s dependent on our efforts to make use of what he has already provided.

    I suggest people begin by rereading his brilliant comments tying together everything from our desperate need for oil to the increasingly draconian intellectual property regime.

  3. This is sad news — I hope he will be OK. I always appreciated Mr. Newberry’s explanations about economics very much. Thanks for posting about this.

  4. Elliott

    Grim news Ian, please keep us up-to-date. Is there anything we can do to help in some way?

    A fine man and a fine mind. So tragic. May his recovery be thorough and speedier than anticipated.

  5. This is terrible news. The curse of BOPNews continues. The most genius political blog ever and first Oldman and now Stirling are struck down in their youth and the whole site has seemingly been erased forever.
    Sad that Stirling’s work will likely never be collected into book form. It merits it, with some real editing.

  6. This is heartbreaking information. His brilliant thinking and his willingness to provide it in ways we can understand just can’t be duplicated. I miss him terribly and I wish I believed in miracle but I can & will be hoping for one for him anyway.
    Thank you, Ian, for letting us know. And it makes me wonder if his mind is functioning and analyzing his condition…

  7. atcooper

    Definitely prayers here. Now I’m regretting not having turned more people onto his work.

  8. I will pray for Stirling’s full recovery.

  9. Roman Berry

    Sad to hear this news. I know Stirling (in an online sense) going back to the fall of 1998 when I jumped in at the now defunct Table Talk community at I’m not religious so for me prayer is out, but I do send my best hopes for a full recovery.

    Get well, Stirling Newberry!

  10. DH1

    This is DH1 from (I was dh100 on TableTalk). I always respected Stirling and his opinions, and liked him a great deal.

    I hope he will improve and look forward to him doing as much as he can. My best to you here and to him as he continues his recovery.

  11. Karl Burton

    I remember Stirling fondly from Table Talk at Salon. I didn’t always agree with him, and he had a tendency to tendentiousness, but he had a unique voice and I always read him with pleasure.

    I hope for the very best outcomes for him – I would hate to lose his voice.

  12. Thanks for this update. I didn’t know him well but appreciated my recent interactions after he returned to The Agonist. Here is our electronic best wishes.


  13. bob mcmanus

    Oh f7ck. F7ck that’s horrible news.

  14. Theo

    I am so sorry to hear this. He was a favorite of mine as he seemed to be in tune with the needs of his fellow human beings so well.

  15. Thank you so much for the update Ian, I’m not a big prayer but have said more than a few for him along with health healing karma thoughts. I will never forget his kind words when I needed them the most. 🙂

  16. Bolo

    Damn. Don’t know what to say, other than I hope he’s able to recover. These sorts of things just shouldn’t happen to anyone. Let me know if there’s anything that I can do–donations, mail supplies, etc.

  17. Compound F

    Most unfortunate news. Please keep us updated on whether any assistance can be rendered. Best wishes, Stirling. We need you more than ever.

  18. Tim Fong

    Ian, I wish him well. Always found our intellectual interactions very thought provoking, even (perhaps especially) when we disagreed. I’ve seen family members and friends get hit with strokes, and it is tough business to be sure. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  19. Tony Wikrent

    Stirling’s is a voice we can ill afford to lose. What is his situation in regards to health care insurance and coverage? Caretakers? Visitors?

    Is there an address we can send cards or letters to?

  20. RayS

    I’m sure the medical side has been taken care of and it’s just rehab from now on, but sometimes the everyday things help too. If there’s anything we can do to help, any support he needs, please let us know, here or at Agonist.

  21. I hate this. Deeply upsetting. Ian do you have a way of getting messages to Stirling? If so, let him know people out here care about him.

  22. This is a real shame and a real loss. And yes, please keep us posted. It would be nice to have a (forwarding?) address to send cards to. Presumably he’s getting the care he needs?

  23. Ian Welsh

    He’s getting the care he needs for now. I’m looking in to the insurance, but believe it’s adequate for the time being (rehabilition and long term care, not so sure). At this time, to the best of my knowledge, he’s still having trouble with speech. Cards would be wasted though they may mean a lot later. If he knows you and you want to visit, and are near Boston, drop me a note — he does recognize people.

    This is a very bad stroke, there is a lot of damage.

    Thanks for all the well-wishes. If/when he can read again, I’m sure a laptop can be arranged and he can read them. Likewise, once he can read, I’ll let people know and cards would be appreciated. Knowing that people care will help him, I expect.

  24. edrie

    I only just heard the news. Stirling probably won’t remember me, as I’m more of a lurker but I do remember so many of his great ideas and appreciate his contributions. He’s in my meditations. Namaste.

  25. Ian

    This is so very, very sad. Stirling had such a brilliant mind. For him the very worst kind of injury. He was also generous with sharing it, his knowledge and his insights. Certainly with me.

    He was always very kind to me. I would hope that he would be able to read this at some point.

    If you can please let him know that people like me care very much that he get well.

    You are a good friend


  26. B

    Sorry to hear this news. My best hopes for a full recovery.

  27. Mike Stark

    Ugh. A kick to the gut.

    I hope he does have a chance to take in these comments. Sometimes people never understand how much they are appreciated.

  28. Siun

    So sad to read this news – Stirling is such a brilliant, challenging – and warm person. He’s been so kind to many of us over the years. I’m not a good pray-er but I will for Stirling.

    And please let me know as soon as card or recorded message or something would be possible. Being surrounded by love matters so much to healing.

  29. Petrocelli

    Ian, thanks for keeping us updated. Sterling is an incredible human being !

    Please let him know that all our prayers and healing vibes are flowing to him.

  30. madisolation

    My thoughts and prayers are with him. He’s young enough that he might regain many of the functions that he has now lost. I sincerely hope so.

  31. It’s so cruel. Stirling will be in my meditations, Ian.

    “In a New York minute, everything can change,” as Don Henley sang.

    What a bright mind, which I enjoyed on more than one occasion in discussions.

    Blessings sent Stirling’s way.

  32. BC Nurse Prof

    Oh, no. Oh, no, not this. I grieved the loss of Oldman, and now Stirling has a stroke. I followed his work for years and years starting on BOP News. I often quote him to people I know to this very day. I don’t think I ever responded to his posts because I was sure I would have misunderstood his intent. Even so, his words have helped guide my life in these years. He said, “Keep a foot in both worlds and ride this sucker all the way down. Then step off.” I’ve tried my best to do this and it’s almost time to step off. Get well, Stirling.

  33. BC Nurse Prof

    Ian, was this a hemorrhagic stroke or an ischemic stroke? IOW, was there a clot or an aneurysm that burst?

  34. Ian Welsh

    Hemorrhagic. Got to the hospital after he’d apparently been lying on his back for a while. One side of his body paralyzed. Bleeding expanding. Stirling was confused but talking at first, but lost coherency. MRI showed the bleeding was continuing and there was swelling, they got the BP down. Swelling continued, they took a piece off his skull to relieve pressure. He didn’t regain consciousness for days. Body does not appear to be paralyzed any more (reflex movements can be induced, which they couldn’t when he was paralyzed.) Info is 3 days out of date, I’ll reach out and see if I can get an update from someone who was with him on the weekend.

  35. Ian Welsh

    Ok, a better update. He’s trying to talk, but they have something in his throat so he can’t. His right side is still paralyzed. He clearly is trying to say yes and no at appropriate times. The stroke was in his left temporal lobe. They can get him out of the bed and put him in a chair. His face is still normal, one side hasn’t collapsed. According to someone who has seen him, his personality is there.

    Overall much improvement since Friday. Brain is still swollen, but swelling is coming down.

    In for a long recovery, language center seems to have been hit hard, but it is looking vastly more hopeful than it was.

  36. Siun

    Thats very good news Ian – good signs for early days.

  37. some nice unexpected, positive news. thanks for keeping us informed, Ian.

  38. Lalisa Derrick

    Much hope and warm thoughts.

  39. katiebird

    I am so glad to read the positive news. He will be in my thoughts and prayers that the improvement continues.

  40. Shainzona

    From Stirling’s March 29, 2013 blog post:

    “To understand human behavior one must start from the doctrine of incorporation: mental activities are carried out by a physical body. While the locus of that activity is the nerves of the brain, it is not limited to those nerves.”

    I am sure that Stirling never was and will not be limited by the nerves of his brain. For that, we are all thankful.

  41. What great news Ian.

  42. Sad to hear this news, but a little bit gladder to hear that it isn’t as bad as first thought. All the best for a top recovery.

  43. Guy Saperstein

    I don’t pray often, but I will say a prayer for Stirling’s recovery

  44. Shainzona – I read that piece this morning. I imagine many of us did or will.

    After reading Ian’s more optimistic comment, I comfort myself by imagining the day we will hear about these events, in great biting depth, from Stirling’s perspective, much the way we can listen now to Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight:

  45. digby

    Please extend my best wishes to Stirling for a speedy recovery. He has an indomitable spirit and an extremely lively, active mind so I think he’s in a good position to make his way back. He’ll be in my thoughts.



  46. BDBlue

    Glad to hear the news isn’t quite so grim. Have been sending good vibes/prayers/thoughts his way for a recovery.

  47. bystander

    May Stirling’s recovery defy the textbooks and exceed all expectations.

    Thanks for the updates, Ian.

  48. Yves Smith

    I was so disheartened to hear this news and hope Stirling continues to make progress.

  49. Sending good thoughts, wishes and hopes for a good recovery.

  50. Graham Upshall

    I’ve been lurking and praying. Positive thoughts, healing wishes and lots of hope. The mind and body can recover, sometimes it takes a long time…

  51. DupinTM

    I hope he recovers fully, I don’t care how long it takes. He’s the real life Sherlock, I think he deserves to get a death fake-out a la the Reichenbach Falls too.

  52. hvdub

    Happy to hear the more positive news. The world needs his voice and his song.

  53. GTF

    Thank you Ian for letting us general public know. Sterling is a hero writer in my eyes. Please keep us posted as you can.

  54. On cards, I had more in mind a virtual site of some kind; I’m not near enough Boston to afford to travel there. Maybe this thread is that virtual site, though.

    Very glad to hear better news!

  55. OmAli

    “He said, “Keep a foot in both worlds and ride this sucker all the way down. Then step off.” ”

    The news sounds better. I don’t think this ride is over, not by a long shot.


  56. Jessica

    Stirling’s protean thinking has been a blessing in my life. Thank you, Stirling. Get well.

  57. Janette

    Thank you so much Ian, for the update. As one of Stirling’s unknown online fans, (since his Kos days) I’m very grateful to be able to find info on his condition here.

  58. Kathleen Watrous

    This is very sad news with a glimmer of hope. I sense that with Stirling’s grit and determination, he’ll work toward a more full recovery than anyone who doesn’t know his expects. Recovery might take time, none of us care about the time it takes.

    Stirling is a good person and we all wish him the best.

  59. Ian Welsh

    Talked to him, very briefly, on the phone today. It’s hard for him to talk (whispering, a mechanical issue), and some words weren’t quite right, but he’s very definitely still Stirling, the personality came through strong and clear.

  60. Martin Bento

    Wow, from despair to hope in the space of a comments thread. Stirling’s voice is unique, and he has one of the most fertile minds to emerge from this medium. We need him back, and it sounds like we may get him. Nonetheless, I think that Stirling archive idea someone mentioned upthread is a good one. Is the old Bop stuff archived? I have some of it, I think, on one of my old computers that I downloaded when the site was being flaky. I would guess Stirling has it himself, but who knows?

  61. That is fantastic Ian. I’m glad you got to talk to him and that he must be on the mend.

  62. Lurker the Third


  63. 4 mos ago, Stirling talked about the economy with Jay Ackroyd. I removed a bunch of clicks, pops and verbal ticks, editing it down to a mere 68 min. I’m listening again and it’s as good as I remembered.

  64. Phil Palmer

    Terrible news. I always enjoy Stirling’s writing and I hope he will be able to produce some more. My father died from this (a haemorrhagic stroke) but my uncle, who also had one, made a full recovery. (Now, at 82, he is paralysed from transverse myelitis which the effects of the stroke are said to have worsened but this is many years later.) So all love and best wishes to Stirling, lots of that hopey stuff the president doesn’t use any more, and may he delight and infuriate me for many years to come. Though the recovery may take some time.

  65. Tina Rife

    Anything new Ian?

  66. bluespeak

    So sorry to read about Sterling Newberry’s stroke. It must be devastating to those close to him and his family. His has been an honest and important voice. My prayers are with him.

  67. Any more news of Sterling?

  68. Ian Welsh

    Back on real food, complaining about the hospital food (always a good sign.) Undergoing speech and physical therapy. Short term memory problems, but they seem to be getting better.

  69. Tina Rife

    Thanks Ian!

  70. William

    I went Googling for Stirling just now because SA had not been updated in a while and I know he has moved around a bit as time has passed. Only to find this.

    Jeez, I just don’t know what to say . . .

    Let him know there are many of us who are pulling for him. He has had more impact than he knows.

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