Marc Mulholland was born near the border in Ireland and raised in Portglenone Forest (his father was a forester, not a hippie), County Antrim. He was not traumatised by the Troubles. For a while Marc dedicated himself to the overthrow of existing society. He studied Modern History at Queen's University Belfast, and now teaches the same at St Catherine's College, Oxford. His publications include Northern Ireland at the crossroads: Ulster Unionism in the O'Neill years, 1960-9 (Basingstoke, 2000) and Northern Ireland: A Very Short Introduction (2003). He is writing another book on Northern Ireland, a volume on rioting, and an article on Marx's theory of proletarian class consciousness. He actually lives in Oxford and virtually lives at Daily Moiders.
Why do you blog? > It's really a daily journal of my idle thoughts. I think it's useful to try to write something every day. The notion of interested readers out there is certainly an incentive, but I don't write with the audience foremost in my mind.
What has been your best blogging experience? > It has allowed me to clarify certain ideas I entertain regarding class, nation and historical process. It's another form of spouting off in the pub or thinking about problems whilst walking to the shops.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Only blog if it entertains you. Nobody's going to pay to read your opinions, so don't treat it as a public duty. Your original posting always has the greatest single impact on the browsing reader, so don't worry too much about countering every critical response that pops up in the comments box. Avoid getting into interminable arguments and clarifications. Don't treat the integrity of your blog as constitutive of your personal honour. Try to be nice to private individuals. It's far too easy to be nasty to disembodied personalities, but they have feelings too and politeness is a civilising virtue for both parties in a dialogue. I don't always stick to these rules myself, but hypocrisy is the compliment paid to virtue.
What are you reading at the moment? > Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism: The Golden Age (1978). A. N. Wilson, My Name is Legion (2003).
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
What is your favourite movie? > John Sayles's Matewan (1987), Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivion (1995).
What is your favourite song? > Bob Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice', 'Tipperary' by the Red Army Choir, 'The West Awake' by Thomas Davis.
Who is your favourite composer? > Mozart.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Many, but I shan't condescend to my younger self, particularly as I'll change my mind again. As I've changed my mind on various issues only after a good deal of experience and reflection, I'd rather not remark on them in brief for fear of dismissing previously held notions as simply victims of maturation.
Who are your political heroes? > Garibaldi.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > Who, whom?
What would you do with the UN? > I'd have India as a Permanent Member of the Security Council.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Environmental degradation.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I think that we're probably cresting a peak and we can expect a decline.
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? > Oh, no problem, unless they were a Nazi or something.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > I consider the most important personal quality objectively to be wealth. What I find personally congenial is self-deprecation.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Superciliousness. Though now I think about it, I do find it entertaining in some people.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > When it is mannerly to do so.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I'm ashamed of my prejudices and oppose the contemporary licence granted to 'calling a spade a spade' as some sort of moral courage. The theists are right after a fashion - we are fallen and require redemption.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Don't criticise God's handiwork.' (How widespread is this? My father used to say it. Is it even a proverb?).
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Brushing one's hair.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Money.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'd start drinking alcohol at an earlier age.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Ireland.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Paris.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Watching the Simpsons.
What talent would you most like to have? > Fluency in multiple languages. Come on scientists - invent a brain microchip.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > I loyally read Richard Herring's comedy blog, Warming Up. Blackadder was hard to beat.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > A successful January election in Iraq and a tolerably democratic nation state consolidating thereafter. Intrinsically good, and it would put me on the side of history for a change.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Hitler and Stalin. I'd feed them my own cooking and force them to listen to me read Alan Bullock's Parallel Lives. I can assure my other guest, Eric Hobsbawm, that he gets a separate evening's entertainment.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of the first 52 profiles, and the links to them, can be found here. A list of, and the links for, all the profiles since then is here.]