Ryan Stark might be the smartest person I've ever met. His knowledge is a constant source of relief and inspiration. I've never seen him angry, and it's hard to imagine. Smart people are like that. I value him as my best friend, and that's not something I just hand out to any old bitch. I think he's smarter than I am. If I want advice on something, I ask him. If I don't know something and want to know where I should start my own research, I ask him. When I'm thinking about doing something that will take a lot of time, I ask him if it's a good thing to spend my time on.
Okay, I know some things he doesn't, and I guess that's what I bring to our friendship, but he doesn't need to ask me about much. I'm laughing right now thinking about what he gets out of our association. I am unworthy like Wayne. When there's a dispute, we often call out "ask Stark!" If the Shark doesn't know, we consult the intertubes. Only the universal research tool is more intelligent than Ryan Stark.
Casey "the Bat" Spear is quiet and brooding at times, but he is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He struggles with grand ideas and ethics and philosophy, and he takes them all too seriously, but that's his charm. Casey's innocence is endearing. He has a clear notion of the way things ought to be, but he doesn't understand why people are so foolish and betraying. His eyes sparkle with something that people don't usually have. He's one of the most honest people I have ever met. He's one of those guys who kind of sits and listens a lot, but then when something seems wrong or he knows something's not true, he chimes in with sagely advice that steers a conversation or plan.
I went to Berkeley with Casey. One thing I've learned from him is that a hunger for knowledge and an honest approach to learning is indispensable. He's the sweetest man I know, and he's pragmatic and creative. . . another indispensable trait. Most people with degrees in Math from UCB are not nearly as creative as he is––actually, most people period aren't. When you combine mathematical pragmatism with striking creativity, many things become possible.
Jerome Taper is probably the most like me. We offend easily, think everyone else should grow thicker skin, and believe that witty conversation is worth more than all the books and internet chats in the world. Jerome is unflappable, unbreakable, and inexcusable. He's the guy that will tell you do some shit that benefits no one but him. He's somehoe serious and funny at the same time in that. His logic is sound, but it has no choice but to make you cut back. His wit is what brings the group together sometimes. Jerome keeps you wondering what will happen next. He's crazy about conversation. He's argumentative. He wants to find out what you disagree with and talk about that. He reads about shit you've never read about just to ask you what you think about it. He is impulsive in that he decides what will happen and expects everyone to follow suit. Without that, I don' know if the other two would have come at all. He just decided one day that he was going to visit me in VA. Casey and Ryan bought tickets a couple days later. That's how he rolls.
Jerome is one of the funnest people to speak with in the world. When he runs into something he doesn't know he calls out "ask Stark," or if he wants to know if he's ethically correct, he says "ask Casey." He's not afraid to get backup. He's geek by choice, but he's cool as fuck. That's pretty rare. He rides a motorcycle fer chrisakes. Sometimes I think he's cooler than all of us. But then he goes crazy for Snow Crash and that's that. I remember when I left the bay, he was like "I feel like I'm just getting into this clique, and now you're leaving." I felt bad about that. But he's keeping it right.
When they left I almost cried.