Brief Biography

I had the ill luck to be born to a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I literally almost died as an infant because of the blood transfusion issue (my mother, now a non-JW, told about this when I was in my 30s). Being the second child of an Rh+ father and an Rh- mother made me a candidate for something called Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn. It is a well-understood condition in which the mother’s blood is mixed during birth with the child’s and introduces antibodies that attack his red blood cells. It can be fatal unless treated with a blood transfusion. JWs categorically oppose transfusions, and my father threatened to remove me from the hospital until the State of NY stepped in with a court order. Nice, huh?

I also had a very unpleasant childhood of Kingdom Hall (that is JW-speak for church) three times a week, door-to-door every Saturday AM, restrictions on friends, and the pariah status of an oddball at school because I could not say The Pledge, or celebrate holidays, etc.

My folks divorced when I was twelve or so and that put an end to going to that damned Hall. It was then when I fell in love with Astronomy. I joined a local club and learned the joy of hanging out with adults that actually KNEW something and loved studying nature.

But in a few years I became a typical teen, and my interests turned to drugs, music, and other things. I dropped out of high school and played in a garage band and worked as a short-order cook. That was enough to convince me, at 18, that I needed to get back to my love for science, so sans high-school diploma, I snuck into the University of Utah, and ten years later, had my Ph.D. in physics. Along the way, I came across Ayn Rand, and while I disagree with much of her philosophy, she steered me sharply away from religious thinking, for which I thank her. Pretty much in my early 20s I was aware that I didn’t believe in any superstitious hooey, and the older I get the more I see I made the right choice.

When I met my future wife, in grad school, she was studying biology. I asked her what she was reading at the time “The Bible” she said. My heart sunk. She went on, “Yes, I was told all these years that this book has all the answers, so I am finally reading it, and you know what? Jesus was an asshole!”

So I married her.


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