Eugene Volokh graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in math-computer science. He has worked for 12 years as a computer programmer, and clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the US Supreme Court and for Judge Alex Kozinski on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Currently, he teaches free speech law, copyright law, the law of government and religion and a seminar on firearms regulation policy at UCLA Law School. He is also partner in a small software company which sells HP 3000 software which he wrote. Eugene is a member of The American Law Institute. He blogs at the Volokh Conspiracy.
Why do you blog? > Why did I become an academic? Because I want to be able to come up with ideas that I can try to spread. The same desire to spread ideas makes me want to blog.
What has been your best blogging experience? > I can't think of any one specific instance, but my favourite experiences have been ones where I've identified something that other people have missed, and where I've seen others noticing this and being persuaded.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Find a niche on which you're really knowledgeable. Post things that are thought-through and well-written. Forward the text of the posts plus the permalink URL to those other bloggers who you think might be interested in linking to the post.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Can't point to a single 'best', but one of my favourites is Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.
What is your favourite poem? > Likewise, can't point to a single 'best'; I like a lot of Kipling, some Auden, and a lot of stuff by a Russian poet-singer named Bulat Okudzhava.
What is your favourite movie? > Again, no single 'best', but a few I really like: Roxanne, Platoon, Robocop, When Harry Met Sally, The Sure Thing.
What is your favourite song? > How can anyone give a single answer? A few candidates: Leonard Cohen's 'Dance Me to the End of Love' (plus lots of others by him), Shawn Colvin's 'Polaroids', Paul Simon's 'Hearts and Bones', David Byrne's 'Naked', plus again lots of Russian stuff by Okudzhava.
Who is your favourite composer? > No favourite instrumental composers; favourite singer-songwriters are Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos, Shawn Colvin, Paul Simon, David Byrne, Mark Knopfler (I think he writes his own stuff), The Cowboy Junkies, Bulat Okudzhava.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Sure, free speech - I used to be much less libertarian on it than I am now.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Actual consequences of legislation are more important than intentions.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > If our hearts are pure, our policies are right.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > A bunch of books I read on evolutionary psychology; if I had to name a couple, I'd say Robert Wright, The Moral Animal and Matt Ridley, The Origins of Virtue. I'm not an expert on the subject, so I can't be positive about how sound evolutionary psychology is - but it definitely does give me as a layman a new and interesting way of looking at the world. I'm sure there've been lots of other works that have more deeply influenced me, but they tend to be on topics that I've read more about, so that I'd find it still harder to cite one in particular.
Who are your political heroes? > Winston Churchill, James Madison, Margaret Thatcher.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Bad people.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Much more and better yet to come.
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? > Yes.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Most important for what?
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Lack of respect for the rights of others.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'They don't call it the Net of a Million Lies for nothing.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching sports.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Seeing friends, eating, cooking. (I take it that you mean time spare from work and family.)
What talent would you most like to have? > Being able to write memorable and entertaining fiction, especially children's fiction.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > If I could have the talent I've just mentioned, a writer. If I could stay in law, a prosecutor. Otherwise, a computer programmer.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Not much.
What animal would you most like to be? > A human.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of previous profiles, and the links to them, can be found here.]