A scientist without a country

When I was about 6 years old one of my aunts, aunt Hilma, died of breast cancer. Before she passed away she gave me what I suspect is a first edition of A Man Without a Country. She was one of those relatives that you really wished you had the chance to know as an adult. Much later in 1999, my career took me away from the US to Switzerland and then to the UK. When you leave a place that changes as fast as the US, it changes and you change so much that going back to the country you remember is never possible.  I can't help comparing myself to the exiled main character of that book. Although my exile was economic and self imposed neither of us could ever really go home. During Noland's exile he kept a map on his cabin wall recording the growth of the nation he turned his back on as it spread across the continent. He watched the birth and growth of a great nation from outside, knowing that he was missing something amazing. I find myself in the opposite position, watching my homeland recede in greatness. When I left the there was budget surplus, no wars and the biggest problem was a president who could not keep his trousers up. Since then I have watched from Europe and Great Britain as my homeland declined step by step from a beacon of freedom and hope to being just another fearful nation sinking into poverty while flirting with tyranny.  I still think that the US is the worlds greatest hope and will rise again, but only because it is ideologically better positioned to thrive in the fast changing world that is rapidly overtaking us. Change and hope are the two things that the US does best so I know better than to despair too much at some of the directions the country has taken. I will probably have more to say on this later.

Living as a an immigrant has taught me exactly how real rights and political ideas are. I have been taxed without representation for over a decade, had to register regularly with the local police for years while living in Switzerland and faced the usual subtle discrimination all foreigners get. The positive side is that I now see my culture and other cultures from a perspective that I never imagined possible. This is the perspective I hope to share with this blog.

That is the source and meaning of the title. However, much of this will  be science as well. I am very interested in biology and higher education and have much to say on those subjects. I decided to start this little project in order to get more practice writing. My wife tells me that I am a terrible writer and need the practice. I will also confess that reading the excellent blog of a friend of mine, Rich Edwards, inspired me to give this a try. At some point there is ikely to be some gardening updates, workout reports and 3D photography. It is now getting late so this will have to conclude my first post. Let's hope that I can improve with practice.


  1. This post reminds me of my experience spending my junior year of high school in Australia as a Rotary exchange student. At the time I left the US, my friends and I were sophomores. When I returned, I had experienced a whole new world and grown in ways that I never imagined. Meanwhile, my friends were no longer sophomores but seniors, and neither they nor my family had any idea what I had gone through or who I had become. Although I have never read the book A Man Without a Country, I've known very well since then that one can never go home. Both oneself and home always are changed.

  2. Well said dear brother. I look forward to reading future posts!


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