This time around, we’re talking to Mike of Mike the Mad Biologist.
What’s your name?
Mike the Mad Biologist.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
Science. For fun, well, I live in Boston. Museums, great restaurants, beautiful neighborhoods (and people, excepting yours truly). After four years in Long Island, just walking around Boston is wonderful. There’s always something to do…
What is your blog called?
Mike the Mad Biologist
What’s up with that name?
My name is Mike, I’m Mad about what is happening to my country, and I’m a biologist. Simple enough.
How long have you been blogging, anyway?
Almost two years. I started blogging right after the 2004 election. Friends wondered why I hadn’t done so before…
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in Virginia, near DC. I’ve spent the last couple of decades in the Northeast, and now I live in Boston, MA (Back Bay).
Would you describe yourself as a working scientist?
Yes. If we define a working scientist only as someone at the bench (or computer), then the only scientists are graduate students. Seriously, we need more Ph.D. level scientists engaged in public policy, public health, and education.
Any educational experiences or degrees you’d like to mention?
I started my scientific career as a marine evolutionary biologist, and was interested in the units of selection debate (marine clonal organisms are good for that sort of thing). While in graduate school at a small technical institution in New Haven, CT, I shifted gears and moved into microbiology and population genetics, and then blackmailed my dissertation committee into signing all of the paperwork needed to receive a Ph.D.
What are your main academic interests, in or out of your field?
Microbiology, public health, and evolution. In particular, I’m fascinated by the maintenance of within-species variation. Outside of my field: political science, military history. Some currently unindulged interests: the philosophy of biology, ecology (I used to be a pretty fine ecologist…), paleontology, and conflict in ethnically divided societies (really).
The last book you read?
American Plastic: A Cultural History by Jeffrey Meikle
What is your idea of a perfect day?
One where I get eight hours of quality sleep. With enough sleep, I can conquer the world. From the world’s perspective, it’s probably a good thing I’m often sleep deprived… After conquering the world, I would go to a really neato zoo, aquarium, or museum, and look at art or critters.
What’s your greatest habitual annoyance?
Compulsive Centrist Disorder. The middle point between two views is not always (or usually) correct. Often, one side is right (or mostly so), and one side is wrong (e.g., creationism versus evolutionary biology). Related to this, the obsession with civility is annoying (which is often held by those suffering from Compulsive Centrist Disorder). Granted, this is coming from someone who has the category “Fucking Morons” on his blog, so consider the source. But there are just some people who don’t deserve civility, such as Deepak Chopra, Peggy Noonan, Ann Coulter, and Bill O’Reilly, because they are, well, fucking morons.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Tarrou from Camus’ The Plague, Martin Arrowsmith from Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith, Phillip Marlowe. Of course, fictional heroes aren’t real…
Your favorite heroes in real life?
Raoul Wallenberg: If ever placed in a similar situation, I would hope to have a fraction of his courage.
What’s your most marked characteristic?
I’m da cutest? Hell if I know. This is why I stay mostly anonymous…
What’s your principal defect?
Too much blogging, and not enough Mad Biologist.
What quality do you admire most in a person?
Basic human decency with a dash of moral courage.
Who are your favorite writers?
Camus, Sinclair Lewis, Auden, Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep is beautiful prose), Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft. In the blogosphere: driftglass, James Wolcott, Carl Zimmer; I will never write the way they do.
What would you like to be?
A well-funded scientist, or a self-employed blogger…