Last time we learned that Greg Laden always knows what people are going to say (James Randi would be very excited to hear about that). He also has a highly motivating, if somewhat odd fear of large cats.
Today I delve into the secret life of Jen McCreight who writes the popular blog Blag Hag here at FtB. In getting to meet some of the icons of the atheist movement, I have yet to meet anybody more down-to-Earth than Jen McCreight. Getting to know her has been one of the most rewarding parts of this last year. She will be at Skepticon this month (along with other FtB bloggers like PZ Myers, Ed Brayton, Greta Christina, and myself).
Juicy celebrity gossip below the fold.
How did you get into blogging?
I wish I had some inspirational story about wanting to enlighten others or something, but my story is super lame. My boyfriend of two and a half years had just dumped me, and I was incredibly bored. It’s amazing how much free time you gain when you lose a long term relationship. I had kept a personal blog since middle school (aw yeah Xanga and Livejournal) and I was just getting into the atheist blogosphere, so I figured why not?
For what are you most known?
I’d like to say my wit and charm, but let’s be honest – my boobs. I could cure cancer and people are still going to make earthquake jokes at me.
What are you afraid of?
Do you have any weird talents?
I can roll my tongue into a clover shape. I’d send a photo, but heaven knows what kind of natural disaster that would cause.
If you couldn’t be a biologist, what would you do for a living?
I feel like “a writer” is cheating a bit, since I already do that for my blog. But I’d probably end up doing something creative, like writing or art. Though painting isn’t exactly the best way to make a living – that’s one of the reasons I went into biology instead.
What is a misconception people have about you?
Oh lord, where do I start? I think like many bloggers, I have a “blogging persona.” It’s my stage presence. People are often very confused when they meet me in real life – or on the flip side, if they know me in real life and suddenly find my blog. I don’t think I’m being fake when I write or speak at conferences – I think I’m just more outspoken and put together.
That being said, most people have said that I’m a lot more shy and awkward in person. Which says a lot, because I’m pretty darn awkward on my blog. But I giggle nervously a lot when thrust into social situations with strangers – I’m really a bit of an introvert. My close friends probably see less of a disconnect between Real Jen and Blogging Jen.
Oh, and lots of people think I’m this humorless ball busting feminazi, which is hilarious to me and my close friends. I’m usually the first one to make an inappropriate joke or lewd remark.
What qualities do you find attractive?
Intelligence, honesty, and a willingness to be a little silly and laugh at yourself
I guess I’m a D-list internet celebrity. People within my niche generally know who I am. I’ve been stopped in public or in bars by strangers a couple of times now, which is still bizarre.
Describe a time when you were wrong about something.
Pretty much every time I’m in a bar and asserting, “No, I KNOW it was _____.” And then I look it up on my iPhone and stop talking.
More seriously, I used to sincerely believe in astrology. I would draw up charts and shit for people. I think I did it because I was happy that my sign (Scorpio) was particularly badass.
I also used to have pretty backwards views about feminism. I always considered myself a feminist in the general sense – who’s against equality? But I used to look down on feminine women and do a fair amount of slut shaming before I realized how fucked up that was. I was also into a lot of evolutionary psychology just-so-stories about how biology explained why men sleep around and women don’t, yadda yadda. Then I realized the science was crap.
Did you ever believe in god?
I believed in a deist god for a couple of years, when I was about 14-16. I’m not even sure if I really believed – I wanted to believe. But I think deep down I knew it was still BS.
What blogs do you read? Which blog will you never miss an entry on ever!
The blogs I read most regularly are Pharyngula, Greta Christina’s Blog, Friendly Atheist, Pandagon, Skepchick, and Slog, though I have an obscene amount (154) in my Google Reader. I’m more diligent about reading posts from humorous blogs that don’t update as frequently, like Hyperbole and a Half or Books of Adam.
On what projects are you presently working?
I’m a second year PhD student, which means I’m in the process of choosing my thesis committee, coming up with my thesis, and preparing for my qualifying exam. Which probably means I shouldn’t be doing this interview.
What has the transition to FtB been like?
Overall, really great. I feel like I’m a part of a much larger community, and that people have my back. The emails all of us bloggers send to each other is honestly my favorite part. It’s good to be able to bitch and joke behind the scenes.
What do you do for fun?
Cuddle with my kitten, cuddle with my boyfriend, play video games, watch TV, read blogs, find a new restaurant to check out… I’m a pretty simple woman.
Oh, that’s hard. I’m lame so I’m going to pick three:
Chicago – I miss it, and I’d like to see my friends and family
Vancouver – The people in the skeptical community here are probably my favorite. I love these guys
Las Vegas – hai TAM plz invite me back kthx
Though I hear there’s an SSA affiliate in Hawaii. Do they know that there are direct flights from Seattle?
Is it true you fell victim to a pillow fort earlier this year?
Indeed, I admit it was an impressive ambush. Damn those crafty atheists.
In the movie of your life, which characters would be indispensable to the story?
This is the cheesiest question I’ve ever seen. I also don’t know why anyone would want to make a movie about my life. “And then she sat in front of a computer screen for 90 minutes.” Unless you anthropomorphize my computer, in which case it may be interesting.
What motivates you to do what you do?
Science wise? The awesome feeling that I’m discovering something about the universe that no one else in the world has ever understood before.
Blogging wise? Boredom. “Someone’s wrong on the internet!” syndrome. But mostly boredom. What? It’s my hobby!