Joanne Jacobs grew up in a dull but pleasant Chicago suburb. In second grade, deciding that The Weekly Reader was dumb, she started The Wednesday Report, which came out every other week for four years. She was graduated from Stanford in 1974 with a degree in English and Creative Writing. In 2001, she left the San Jose Mercury News, where she'd been an editorial writer and op-ed columnist, to write a book on a start-up charter school and freelance. Joanne has an adult daughter. She blogs at JoanneJacobs.com.
Why do you blog? > I started the blog to keep in touch with my newspaper readers, who I wanted to turn into my book readers, and to experiment with the format, which I'd discovered through reading Kaus Files and Andrew Sullivan during the 2000 election. After 9-11, I became addicted. I spend way too much time on the blog, but I like the ability to communicate with people around the world. The immediacy of blogging is wonderful. It's a great form. I just wish there was money in it.
What has been your best blogging experience? > I can't name a single experience. I like the camaraderie of blogging.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > An anti-war blogger posted a sex fantasy involving me. To my mind, it was a rape fantasy. It was quite disturbing.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Find your niche. Post frequently, so people will come back to check on what's new. Write for your readers: If it's just a personal diary, don't put it on online. Give credit to other blogs when appropriate.
What are you reading at the moment? > I should be reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, but it keeps sitting there on the coffee table not getting read. I just read a legal mystery by the guy who wrote Anatomy of a Murder. And when my DSL connection was down, I re-read Jane Austen's Persuasion and Sanditon.
What is your favourite poem? > Tennyson's Ulysses:
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
What is your favourite movie? > The Philadelphia Story.
What is your favourite song? > 'Jumping Jack Flash'.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Not really. I'm frighteningly consistent.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > People have choices, however lousy and limited, and they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > The vice presidency's not worth a pitcher of warm piss.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I'd decriminalize drugs.
What would you do with the UN? > I like the idea of a UN of Democracies.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Islamic fundamentalism.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I'm an optimist. I think we can and will do better. Probably.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Just do it. Act like you know what you're doing. Maybe some day you will.
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? > Probably not. Unless he never talked about his views, and I couldn't be married to a guy who doesn't talk.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A sense of humour.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Whining.
What is your favourite proverb? > Even a blind sow gets a few acorns. (The final word must be pronounced acerns.)
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Reality TV.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Going blind. Getting hit by a drunk driver. Something bad happening to my daughter.
What would you call your autobiography? > I wrote my autobiography in first grade. All the alliterative possibilities (journal, jottings, etc.) for 'J' were taken by the time the teacher got to me, and alliteration was considered essential. So the teacher told me to call it Jumping Joanne. So I did.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > People say I look like Debra Winger. Of course, I haven't seen a photo of her in years. Maybe I should reserve judgment. I always wanted to look like Ingrid Bergman. But I don't.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > I have fantasies of living in New York City; the fantasy includes having lots of money.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I'd like to sail off the coast of Turkey, then get to see classical and Byzantine sites.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > I read, sing in an acapella group, worry my plants and play tennis.
What is your most treasured possession? > My old books from my childhood.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Laura. I just like the name.
What talent would you most like to have? > I'd like to be able to dance well.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I could channel my desire to tell other people what to do into a career as a counsellor (a very bossy one). Or I could be a tenured professor at a small college or university.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > James Lileks.
Which teams do you support? > I'm a Stanford football fan, despite the suffering involved. It's a little like being a Chicago Cubs fan.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > Now that I've finally lined up a publisher (Palgrave Macmillan) for my book, my wish is to be interviewed by Oprah and see it sell to people who aren't related to me.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd travel more and start a foundation to fund new schools.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Thucydides (assuming he could speak English).