Frequently Not Asked Questions: Three


Why is your hair still brown?


First, let me say that I have never seen or heard of the color “still brown,” so I cannot answer your question.


However, since you asked and made me look, I checked online and discovered that a number of stills are, in fact, brown. My hair color is very close to the still used to make Ukrainian vodka that is pictured in Wikipedia, kindly offered to the world by Arne Hückelheim. So that answers the question you didn’t ask: Is your hair still brown? The answer is yes; however, I much prefer that you call it moonshine brown.


Now back to your question. What exactly are you trying to imply? Are you interested in probability theory? Did you suddenly notice the green grass in the picture of the vodka still and realize that I have green eyes? Do find that odd? Or is it just me? More importantly, shouldn’t that last question really be: Or is it just I?


Naturally (and that’s what were really talking about when we speak of hair color) all those minor questions lead to the ultimate question: What are the odds of having both brown hair and green eyes?


I don’t mind answering that question, but if that is what you are asking, I wish you would have come out and asked me that in the first place.


As you know if you have ever taken Biology 301 Biomathematics at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Sarah Otto asked her students that very question in her lecture notes and gave a simple formula to discover the answer based on Bayes’ Rule.


P(B|A) = P(B) P(A|B) / P(A)


If you are like Dr. Otto, you probably understand this; if you’re like me, you don’t. To me, it looks like someone stuttering in math.


(Oddly, the motto at UBC is “a place of mind,” written in lowercase letters. Apparently the Biomathematics department took all of the capital letters to use in its program, so none were left for the motto. The world is full of these small sorrows.)


Third (and this is my last attempt to answer your question), I entered the world with dark brown, almost black hair. Somewhere along the way, I lost it and started wearing blond hair. In adolescence I grew tired of that, looked in the mirror one day and noticed I was a brown-haired girl, the literal meaning of brunette, so I forsook blondism. My freshman year in high school, I grew nostalgic, remembered the fun I had as a child and bleached my hair blonde. I didn’t have more fun, so my sophomore year I returned to my roots and went au naturel, hairwise.


Fourth, if you must know, my hair color is merely a pigment of my imagination.