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John Dennehy, the Evilutionary Biologist, has tried to live up to his name by "tagging" me and seven others. He doesn't seem that evil to me, but I like his blog. I'm supposed to post eight "random" facts about myself...

How am I supposed to select facts at random? Sure, I could select at random from some collection of factoids, as this web page does for a fellow Twin Cities blogger. But I would need to ensure that the collection is itself random. This is, of course, impossible.

The proposed algorithm (each person tagged tagging eight others) assumes an infinite supply of blogs. This is, of course, impossible.

The number of people tagged needs to decrease in each generation, or we quickly run out of untagged blogs. (This has apparently happened already.) Suppose we start with 10 people, have each of them tag 9, and so on. The total number of blogs tagged would be 10 factorial or 3628800. This is exactly the number of seconds in 42 days. A "bizarrely improbable coincidence"? That's what they said about the Babel fish.

Here are some assorted nonrandom facts, some more factual than others:

1) My parents were devout Pastafarians. That's why they named me R!

2) RR R!RR RR RRR R !!!! ! !R! !RR !R !!! !R R!R! !R! R!RR !RR! R RRR RR! !R! !R !RR! !!!! ! !R!

3) I have earned the following science merit badges (besides the obvious ones):

4) My wife and I lived apart for many years, rather than give up science, but we're together now. We live within walking distance of campus and, so far, I've had good grad students and money to support them from NSF. Who could ask for more?

5) When I asked students in my Crop Ecology class to comment (anonymously) about bias, two said I was biased against organic farming, two said I was biased in favor of organic farming, and one said I was biased in favor of the legume family. Guilty.

6) My father was a pioneer in studying the forest canopy, among other things. My mother is a teacher turned AIDS activist, whereas my sister is an AIDS activist turned teacher. My brothers are musically talented organic farming and software geniuses. My wife and I have a nice mix of nieces and nephews.

7) I have mild prosopagnosia. I can talk to someone for an hour and then not be able to spot him in a crowd. I can usually recognize people I know well, though.

8) The old farmhouse where I lived as a grad student (at Cornell) was formerly rented to Roger Payne. We pulled a scrap of newspaper out of the wall that read "Senator X says the government is prolonging the war unnecessarily, but President Lincoln denies this..."

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