This time around, we’re talking to Jake Young of Pure Pedantry.
What’s your name?
I have many names: Satan, Asmodai, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, He Who Must Not Be Named, He Who Steals Paper Clips and Other Tiny Metal Things, etc. But my favorite is “James Jacob Young” or “Jake” for short.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
I enjoy longs walks on the beach, cooking, cleaning, and talking about my feelings. No, really…OK, that’s a lie. Actually, I like running, watching cultish television, movies, kicking ass and taking names, teaching, and writing.
What is your blog called?
What’s up with that name?
Former President Harding used to call the long winded speeches he gave on the stump “bloviating.” Everytime I think of blogging that word comes to mind. I chose the name Pure Pedantry because I like to make fun of the fact that bloggers really like to nitpick about innane details, read others nitpicking about innane details, and generally make something out of nothing.
How long have you been blogging, anyway?
I started blogging with a group of friends in college, mainly on political subjects. It became a very good way to keep in touch when we all scattered throughout the country. After I got to graduate school, I decided that I missed it and started this blog about a year ago.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in the lovely Denver, CO, and now I live in a very tiny apartment in Manhattan. There are — let us say — noticeable differences.
Would you describe yourself as a working scientist?
I would describe myself as working — though the idea of calling myself a scientists still feels like a coat that is too large. Maybe when my Ph.D. is done…
Any educational experiences or degrees you’d like to mention?
I had the tremendous privilege of attending Stanford University as both an undergraduate and a Master’s student. I am presently an M.D.-Ph.D. student at Mount Sinai School of Medicine starting my second Ph.D. year.
What are your main academic interests, in or out of your field?
Within my field, I study primarily the neurobiology of disease. Our lab studies schizophrenia, but I have also been involved in research into ALS and Alzheimer’s disease. I like it, but I am not certain that I will stay in this area. Maybe I will switch into deep brain stimulation and create a race of evil cyborgs. I also enjoy studying physics, evolution, and economics — though my limited mathematical acumen makes these rather difficult for me to understand in anything other than a qualitative sense. In addition, I obsessively read popular histories.
The last book you read?
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands
What is your idea of a perfect day?
One in which data and liquor are both equally forthcoming…
What’s your greatest habitual annoyance?
I cannot stand people who talk in movie theaters. There is an entire universe outside that can be employed for discussion. Why on God’s Earth must you do it here!
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Ender from Ender’s Game, Nick from The Great Gatsby, and Batman
Your favorite heroes in real life?
My parents, a professor from college named Robert Sapolsky.
What’s your most marked characteristic?
Most of my friends would tell you that I am very sarcastic.
What’s your principal defect?
“Vanity is definitely my favorite sin.” — Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate.
What quality do you admire most in a person?
I deeply appreciate graceful, tactful people — people who can disagree without vehemence and act with courtesy. People can be horrifyingly mean to one another, lacking even the basics of politeness. I appreciate people who behave better than that.
Who are your favorite writers?
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Orson Scott Card, William James, Robert Sapolsky and Jacques Barzun.
What would you like to be?
I always wanted to be an itinerant freedom fighter like David Carradine. Actually, in all seriousness, I am privileged to be one of the few people who gets to do exactly what they want. If I won the lottery, I would show up for work the next day.