I never interacted that much with Bill because I took a hiatus from HuffPost about the same time he showed up, but I know Haruko got to know him better than I did.
I think something should be said about Bill.
I seem to remember Bill had a different avatar when he showed up. Some generic cartoon of a man. But, a long time ago, he went to an old photo of a grumpy-looking John Cleese from his “Ministry of Silly Walks” days. And he stuck with that avatar. It fit him perfectly.
We heard through the grapevine that Bill Loney apparently died a few weeks ago, apparently after a long battle with emphysema. He last posted on Huffington Post in August. He was one of the HuffPost regulars, on the site almost every day, battling trolls and sometimes battling people that mostly agreed with him. Some people loved him, others just hated him. I think some of the people who disliked him simply didn’t understand him. Yeah, he could be a grouch, but he was a lovable grouch who cared and didn’t suffer fools lightly. I can tell you Haruko adored him and got along with him great. Bill was always kind and respectful to Haruko on HP.
Bill had hinted that he had health problems; he had made comments to the effect that he was on some kind of disability, which is why he was able to spend hours on HP every day. Finally, several months ago, he told Haruko directly he was gravely ill with emphysema. On some thread about marijuana laws. That’s how we knew what was wrong with him. Haruko certainly felt it was a profound moment they shared online.
Bill could be ornery and combative, like I said, he would fight with anyone he thought was wrong. He had a very dry and sometimes bust-up hilarious sense of humour. It didn’t always show through, but when it did, he was funny. Bill was also very bright and articulate and did a masterful job of breaking down inferior arguments, especially if it was an ignorant troll. Sometimes, he got too angry and caught up in feuds (even with fellow liberals, he had some epic battles with a couple of other regular posters); but I did too which is why I stopped posting on HP.
Perhaps Bill’s health problems made him that much grouchier. I don’t know. Like I said, I think he simply felt very strongly about progressive issues and got sincerely angry to see falsehoods and dishonesty about liberals being posted online.
Bill was on HP for about four years. He had become an institution at HP (Holy crap, he made 74,000 comments in four years), very much like Hume Skeptic and other longtime posters that have moved on, either because of life circumstances or because of changes at the site. I don’t think it’s widely known that he had died because HP has changed a lot in recent months and isn’t nearly as cozy as it used to be. HP will be lesser without him.
Emphysema is a bitch.