Meet Liam White-McShane, 12, Chief Technology Officer

My first memory of Liam White-McShane, 12, Chief Technology Officer, dates back to Y2k when his mother brought him to Pizza Roma in Sewickley, PA for his first public airing.

It was a Friday night right after masters swimming practice, and Liam’s father, Bill White, coach of the Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons masters team, had invited us all to Pizza Roma to meet his relatively newborn son.   A half dozen of us had just settled down for the first round of pitchers when Bill’s life mate entered with an adorable mewling bundle of swaddled infant in her arms.

“That’s Liam!” I chirruped excitedly to my fellow teammates.  “And that’s—” I continued, merrily and manically, before realizing just a hair too late I couldn’t remember Liam’s mother’s name.  So I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, hoping to camouflage my latest symptom of Alzheimer’s Jr.

“And that’s—that’s ‘the Vessel!’”

Terms not to call new mothers might make a compelling topic for a future blog, but for now, you might want to just file somewhere in memory that Vessel appears to be just such a term.

In what may be the best answer ever given to an elementary school homework question about idioms , Liam seems to have hit upon just the right prophetic advice for people like me.

 In any event, someone eventually suggested (I can’t remember who exactly) “passing [or perhaps tossing?] the baby around the table,” and when Liam got to me, I encouraged my own son Jack to join me in bonding with the tot.  Jack had zero interest in doing so.  He’d recently mastered the art of playing music on his armpit and was only interested in getting my permission to “busk” other Pizza Roma patrons with his recently learned version of the Star Spangled Banner.

Jack at the peak of his mastery

I told Jack if he would feed Liam just one French fry, he could then busk with abandon until the restaurant management insisted he stop.  So Jack fed Liam an inaugural fry, then another, and another, absolutely fascinated by how you can take a succession of small objects, place them in the vicinity of a baby’s mouth, then watch those small objects go away.

I think that despite himself, Jack did bond with Liam that day.   I know I did, largely because when those small objects eventually did reappear, they became his parents’ concern, not mine.

The Vessel (in actual fact the lovely Notre Dame graduate, Colleen White-McShane, who would be ever so more lovely if she would just shut her pie hole about her damnable footballers whom she seems to consider so wonderful, the whole steroidal lot of rascals and child molesters)–anyhow, when The Vessel Colleen said “Okay, enough French fries for Liam,” my son Jack reluctantly handed the Magic Trick of a Baby back to me and went off to busk.  A half-hour later, Jack had charmed various customers out of collective $50, well over 10 times what has earned in the entirety of its existence.  Then again, is not the fondest wish of every father that his children will do better than he has in life?

Good fathers know to set the bar low.

Or, in Bill’s case, have kids like Liam who will never have any problem with any bar, no matter where it’s set.

So, I have continued to be friends with Liam from that very first public airing onwards.  His brain power and rabid interests, specifically, in matters scientific, technological, and non-supernatural-based have been a source of keen amazement for me over the years.  Liam is one of the only people I have ever met who will listen to me monologize about something spectacularly obscure and not suffer the glazed eye phenomenon so typical of “normal” people.  Instead, he simply awaits his time for me to take a breath and then contributes his own prodigious adjunctive lode of lore to the conversation.

As a service to the manifold future biographers of Liam White, and I have no doubt there will be multitudes anxious to document the life of an Erstwhile Baby Genius Who, Unlike Most Prodigies Like, Say, Me, Actually Managed to Live Up to His Potential ® , here is a select list of primary source materials you can freely incorporate into your doctoral theses and what not:

Liam’s  3rd Grade Santa List.  I am not sure what I find more astonishing: the fact that his top wished-for gift was a newer C++ programming book (he’d already outgrown an earlier version) or a desire for a bottle (small) of mouthwash.

Liam makes his film debut as a Robot Child at the 1:50 mark of this charming homage to the Twilight Zone.  Pay no attention to the low “Like Per Rating” social “reactions” to this film.  It is disturbing for unsophisticated viewers to watch, knowing that they are seeing their future overlord and master unfold before their very eyes.

In what will soon establish itself as a pattern, Liam White, then a 9 ⅝- year-old, fourth grade boy genius, uses the same calm patience employed by the better “poodle whisperers” to teach me a new trick–in this case, how to run “charmap” to get the ⅝ symbol.  Thanks, Liam, for that M&M you gave me when I mastered the task!  Delicious!  I didn’t like being whapped on the nose with that rolled-up newspaper nearly as much!  

His mother found the above on the back on his spelling homework.  These along with other items unearthed in his school bag (see below) provide irrefutable evidence that Liam is bored out of his gourd at school and should be permitted to leave compulsory education immediately and go to work full-time at the CTO of this very blog you may or may not still be reading at this point.  (Alas, some of us just don’t know when to shut our pie holes.)

 When was the last time you recreated the wiring diagram of a tractor to stay awake in elementary school?

 In the final analysis, it is all a matter of digital switches that are either on or off.  I suspect Liam White, now a tween genius, or “Tweenius™”*  is telling me that it is now time to hit the off switch for today’s blog offering!  

Final Note: If you have any problems whatsoever subscribing to my blog and/or the Thornton Twins Podcast, or suffer a technical glitch of any sort, please leave a note for Liam to fix it, and he shall!  As soon, that is, as he is allowed back on the computer by his parents.


“Tweenius™” is the copyrighted property of and its stockholders.  Call us today about licensing the term for use in conjunction with your very own middle school Mathlete today!



3 thoughts on “Meet Liam White-McShane, 12, Chief Technology Officer

  1. Jim & Liam: thank you for an excellent story about mastering various field of technology, even at young age. Great to see that Liam’s fathers technical adventures about fixing cars and things at home have evolved into new levels of problem solving.

  2. Excellent blog entry on a young man whose smartness is only exceeded by his niceness! Thank you Liam for all the help you have given us Thorntons over the years!

    May the future be very bright for you and may you enjoy using your talents creatively over a long and happy lifetime!

  3. Liam, perhaps when you have a chance to read this, and if it is not too embarrassing, you can send it to all your friends and teachers with my wishes that they A) treat you like the royalty you are and B) routinely allow you to grade yourself in all classes so that computer grounding will become a thing of the past and perfectly updated technological minutiae 24/7 will become a thing of the present and the future!

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