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What Made SEK Famous

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My interactions with SEK were like many of blogging colleagues. I never met him but I talked to him a lot online. While no one ever had as many weird things happen to him as Scott, I have had a number of weird things happen to me over the years that are at least in the same general universe. And so we talked about this once. He told me (and this is a paraphrase from a 3 year old conversation so it may be more how I remember it than anything) that whenever something potentially odd was about to happen, he would seek to increase the tension in the situation, just to see what would come of it. It takes a very unique mind to recognize weirdness as it begins and then imagine ways on the spot to create a situation that allows you to tell a great story out of it. But then if SEK had anything, it was a unique mind.

While there were a lot of posts that made SEK famous, nothing surpassed his legendary office sex post. This is one of the greatest posts in the history of blogging and he deserved all the accolades he received for it. A few years ago, I had a conference in Newport Beach. Realizing this was close to Irvine, where SEK had done his Ph.D. work, a thought came to me. Why don’t I go visit the office? SEK thought this was a great idea. So he gave me the office number and I had my friend take my picture outside of it.

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Ultimately, this is my memory of SEK. Even more so than the post about the language in Deadwood where Jim Beaver showed up in the comments.

It’s also worth reading this obituary in Inside Higher Ed about his larger contribution to the merger of academia and blogging at a time when that was not OK for a lot of gatekeeper types.

If you can, try to donate a little to his family to pay his astronomical medical expenses. Too bad we live in a country where such a campaign is necessary.

There’s not too much else I can say that Paul and Rob and Steve haven’t already written. It’s entirely unfair that such a great person had a body that simply did not cooperate. He fought a long time and we were all enriched by his work and his life.

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