Chris Brooke grew up in London, studied at Balliol College, Oxford, migrated to Harvard for postgraduate work and then returned to Oxford, where he now teaches Politics at Magdalen College. His PhD thesis discussed some arguments about Stoicism in early modern Europe; he's now beginning work on a book about Jean-Jacques Rousseau. On the web he's been involved in The Voice of the Turtle since 1998 and has blogged at The Virtual Stoa on and off since May 2001.
Why do you blog? > When I returned to Oxford in 2000 after five years in Boston, I found that my friends were either lightly scattered across North America, or concentrated in London, and I thought that scribbling on a blog might be a good way of communicating with several of them at once. Then the habit formed, and I became just another random blogger serving up bits and pieces of headjunk on a semi-regular basis.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Widening my circle of interesting people with whom to exchange email.
What are your favourite blogs? > The three I look at most often - which is a good indicator - are Crooked Timber (having Chris Bertram, Daniel Davies and Kieran Healy on the same blog is something special), Matthew Yglesias and (yes) the normblog.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > It's less embarrassing to confess to admiring the dead, so I'll run with Pierre Bayle, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and, less straightforwardly, Augustine of Hippo.
What are you reading at the moment? > I've just finished Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, on a long plane ride, and am about to go back to Frederick Neuhouser, Foundations of Hegel's Social Theory, which I'm currently half way through.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Right now, Johnny Cash and Sergio Leone.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Ulysses.
What is your favourite poem? > I'll stick with the Joyce theme and go for Chamber Music XIII. It's not the greatest poem in the world, but personal associations mean that it can still provoke tears of joy, and not many poems do that.
What is your favourite movie? > I once saw Napoléon vu par Abel Gance at the Barbican. Five or six extraordinary hours on three screens with live orchestral accompaniment - cinema doesn't get better than that.
What is your favourite song? > Probably a toss-up between Schubert, 'Der Lindenbaum', and 'Wild Rover' (Trad.), depending on my mood.
Who is your favourite composer? > Giuseppe Verdi.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I broadly supported the NATO war over Kosovo while it was going on, but later decided that I was wrong to have done so.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > The substantial liberalisation of immigration and asylum policy.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No. But then, speaking as someone happily married to somebody with the same kind of barking leftist opinions as my own, I probably would say that, wouldn't I?
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Being able to make people laugh in a life-affirming way.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Golf.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I wouldn't have taken a second semester of statistical methods in graduate school for starters.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > New York City.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Drinking beer with friends.
What talent would you most like to have? > Singing.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Monty Python's Flying Circus has sunk too deeply into my soul over too many years to allow me to choose anything else.
Which English Premiership football team do you support, and which baseball team? > Baseball: The Boston Red Sox. Football: I almost came out as a Newcastle United supporter last year, but the first time I confessed this developing preference to friends, they pointed out that earlier that day Bobby Robson had signed Lee Bowyer, and that rather put a dampener on things.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > See Brian Weatherson's answer to this question from an earlier normblog profile. ['A Red Sox World Series win. Oh wait, you said realistic. Well, we all can dream.' - Ed.]
What animal would you most like to be? > Some great ape or other.
[Previous profiles: Ophelia Benson (Nov 7); Chris Bertram (Sep 26); Alan Brain (Oct 10); Francois Brutsch (Dec 5); Jackie D (Oct 17); Harry Hatchet (Oct 24); Saddam Hussein (Nov 14); Jeff Jarvis (Dec 26); Oliver Kamm (Nov 21); Sheila O'Malley (Dec 19); Natalie Solent (Nov 28); Roger L. Simon (Oct 31); Michael J. Totten (Oct 3); Brian Weatherson (Dec 12). The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature.]