No more men in gold suits
December 23, 2015 6:00 PM   Subscribe

It's fun to read about the personal interactions and lighter side of an intensely serious mind:

When I asked him where he was getting his protein, he answered, "Isn’t butter protein?" Then he tilted his head and grinned as he does when he sees that he "got" me, and he further asked, "How about Scotch? And there must be protein in coffee."

In that vein, I also got a kick out of Chomsky munching on a sandwich and showing amusement, perhaps pride at being featured on a Bad Religion record.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 6:32 PM on December 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

The blog linked at the bottom of the article is full of quite excellent Chomsky and non-Chomsky related yarns, too.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:57 PM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Such a delicious read...
posted by infini at 9:28 PM on December 23, 2015

Of COURSE Chomsky gets a kick out of calling his PA's (amazing, per the blog link) dog "the cat".
posted by supercres at 9:47 PM on December 23, 2015

Noam Chomsky doesn't have assistants. Noam Chomsky has acolytes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:13 PM on December 23, 2015

The real money shot (to me at least) is the reference to 'buffers' where he could pull out details of 50 year old correspondence... This is interesting.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:59 AM on December 24, 2015

Chomsky has discussed his peculiar memory before in similar terms, also using the metaphor of "buffers". In a 1995 interview with David Barsamian he said:
As far as I know, I have only one talent. I’m not trying to be modest. I think I know what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. The one talent that I have which I know many other friends don’t seem to have is I’ve got some quirk in my brain which makes it work like separate buffers in a computer. If you play around with a computer you know you can put things in different places and they just stay there and you can go back to them whenever you feel like it and they’re there. I can somehow do that. I can write a very technical paper in snatches: a piece on an airplane, another piece three weeks later, six months later finally get back to it and pick up where I left off. Somehow I don’t have any problem switching very quickly from one thing to another. I have some other friends like this. I had one, a well-known logician in Israel, who was a very close friend. We would see each other every five or six years. We would always just pick up the conversation where we had left it off, without any break, without even noticing it, particularly. We didn’t even notice it until people seemed to find it strange.
That's from p. 15 of "Rollback", published in the book Class Warfare. (I remembered having read that interview when it came out, but my memory isn't as prodigious as Chomsky's, so I had to flip around until I found the exact reference.)
posted by informavore at 5:54 AM on December 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

What a sweet and human piece of writing. MIT has a fair number of these head-in-the-clouds professors, all backed by strong, smart women (always women). The department secretaries, the assistants, the ones who actually make things work.
posted by Nelson at 8:46 AM on December 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

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