An Interview With Greg Laden

For this week's ScienceBlogger interview, we present the star of Greg Laden's Blog: none other than the great Greg Laden. (The girl on his shoulders is his daughter, Julia.)

What's your name?
Greg Laden

What do you do when you're not blogging?
Not blogging? Oh, that. I am a part time biological anthropologist (I work in South Africa) and a part time advisor in the University of Minnesota's Program for Individualized Learning (A BA/BS program).

More below the fold...

What is your blog called?
It is called Greg Laden's Blog.

What's up with that name?
I used to have a blog called "Evolution... not 'just a theory' any more..."

Then, I was asked to join ScienceBlogs. The old name wouldn't do because it is too similar to a couple of other blogs on Sb. Also, it turns out that the quotes in the name are messy in HTML land. Katherine Sharpe, the Sb editor, suggested that I use "Greg Laden's Blog" (which still has a quote mark, but only one). I resisted. I thought it would look dumb. My wife, Amanda, and I spent a weekend (in part) working on the name problem. Originally, I thought "How about Pharyngul-b" ... you know, to get PZ Myers' traffic and all. But PZ lives too close to me and I figured he'd kick my ass. Anyway, we came up with a list of names mostly having to do with my African connections, but they all sounded too much like Ubuntu. So I ended up taking Katherine's suggestion.

How long have you been blogging, anyway?
My first post was on December 14th, 2006.

Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in Albany, New York. Later, I lived in Boston for seventeen years, except about three of those years were in Zaire and one was in Milwaukee. I moved to Minnesota about ten years ago, and most of the time lived in South Mineapolis, but I currently live in a distant suburb.

Would you describe yourself as a working scientist?
I would.

Any educational experiences or degrees you'd like to mention?
My B.A. is from the University of the State of New York; my M.A. and Ph.D. are from a small college in the Boston area that begins with an "H." (If you actually say "Harvard" people think you are being pretentious).

What are your main academic interests, in or out of your field?
Human evolution: The evolution of human diet, human sexuality, and the human mind.

Last book you read?
I can't remember the last fiction book I read. But I do regularly read fiction. (I hate it when people say "Novels? I have no time for that." How unenriched their lives must be.) But I still can't remember the book; it might have been Loose Lips by Rita Mae Brown.

The last non-fiction book I read was Mastering Regular Expressions by Jeffrey Friedl. Actually, I'm still on the last chapter.

What is your idea of a perfect day?
There are two perfect days:
1) Being entirely alone and doing nothing but reading and writing, with a quick trip to the gym;
2) Doing no work at all but hanging around with Amanda (spouse) and Julia (daughter) at the lake, with two or three bouts of fishing, at least one successful.

What's your greatest habitual annoyance?
My greatest habitual annoyance is the presumption so many people make that everyone else is religious, or "at least spiritual," and that all others are somehow abnormal.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Juts Hunsenmeir and her daughter Nickel, and Jack Ryan. (I have a wide range in fiction!)

Your favorite heroes in real life?
Julia and Amanda, Charles Darwin, Rosa Parks, and Stephanie Howes.

What's your most marked characteristic?
My most marked characteristics are my flaws.

What's your fatal flaw?
See above.

In all honesty, my flaws and my gleams are available only to those who know me.

Who are your favorite writers?
Rita Mae Brown, Bob Sapolsky, PZ Myers, and — as with all writers — myself.

What would you like to be?
Rita Mae Brown, Bob Sapolsky, PZ Myers, and — as with all writers — myself.

But seriously? Myself with only gleams and no flaws.


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(I hate it when people say "Novels? I have no time for that." How unenriched their lives must be.)

I hate it when people think my life must be "unenriched" because I don't read novels. Seriously, how is this any different from the assumption that the non-spiritual lead unenriched lives?

By non-fiction-re… (not verified) on 17 Feb 2008 #permalink

To narrow the English language down to non-fiction reads is tantamount to shutting half your brain off. Great experiential truths can be found in the fiction works of great writers. I don't consider you "unenriched" just voluntarily "narrow-minded".

By reading atheist (not verified) on 09 Jul 2008 #permalink