Category Archives: Personal

Stuff that doesn’t fit elsewhere, or is specific to what I do and where I live.

The Four Freedoms, in 2017

I spoke this afternoon at a rally in Pittsfield, Massachusetts my (almost) hometown (I live one town north, in Lanesboro.) The rally honored the four freedoms, articulated in his 1941 state of the union address by FDR: freedom of speech, … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Personal | 1 Comment

Making space for sadness

I hadn’t found space yet to cry this week. As the election results came in, I was out bowling with my students, and as they got more despondent, I told them ways Clinton might still win. When I woke to … Continue reading

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That’s _Professor_ Bozo to you, Pal

Something odd about teaching at a university – everyone wants to call you Professor, or Doctor. I am always flattered by the upgrade, but I sometimes feel a little miffed. There’s lots of people who teach at universities who haven’t … Continue reading

Posted in Personal | 13 Comments

In loving memory of Patrick Fiachie

In the fall of 1993, I was 20 years old. I’d just graduated from college, and had lived most of my life in my parents’ house and in a dorm room. I was extremely ill-prepared to live on my own, … Continue reading

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I never went looking for a mentor

I never went looking for a mentor. In 1995, I was working as the lead tech guy for an internet startup, Tripod. I spent an inordinate amount of time with the company’s two cofounders, one a recent college grad my … Continue reading

Posted in Personal | 9 Comments

Why is Verizon letting rural broadband decay?

Let me start with an apology: reading other people’s tech support horror stories is less fun than hearing them describe their medical problems or recount their dreams. No one wants to hear them. While this starts as a tech support … Continue reading

Posted in ideas, Personal | 10 Comments

Update, or a missing person report

I just received a kind inquiry via email from a reader who wondered what had happened to this blog. It’s a fair question. It’s been a challenging few months, professionally and personally, and I’ve been less productive than I would … Continue reading

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

Three selfies, and two appreciations of fellow travellers

I took the fall semester off from teaching, which is a good thing, as I’ve been traveling far more than is healthy, mostly to give talks. I was in Sao Paulo last week talking about Brazil role as a center … Continue reading

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Williams Convocation Address: “Bibliolarceny and the Size of the Universe”

My alma mater, Williams College, begins the academic year with a convocation, a ceremony for seniors, faculty and a small number of alumni who are being honored with the college’s Bicentennial medal, an award for “distinguished achievement in any field … Continue reading

Posted in ideas, Personal | 7 Comments

Life, only moderately messed up: understanding (my own) high-functioning depression

My wife is one of the bravest people I know. Almost six years ago, Rachel got pregnant. When we found out, she was in Colorado and I was home in western Massachusetts, and in phone calls and emails we giddily … Continue reading

Posted in Personal | 34 Comments