Austin Bay was born in Plainview, Texas, and grew up in Houston. He is a graduate of Rice University and has a PhD from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature. Austin has written three novels and co-authored four non-fiction books. He also writes a syndicated foreign affairs and military issues column for Creators Syndicate. He is a retired colonel in the US Army Reserve, and served on active duty during Desert Storm and in Iraq (where he received the Bronze Star medal). Austin is married to Kathy Bay and has two daughters. He blogs at Austin Bay Blog.
Why do you blog? > This new medium allows for quick exchange of ideas - with a personal touch and flair. The new voices I hear when I read well-written blogs genuinely excite me. I think we're in a new epistolary age where style, ideas and facts matter.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Think before you post. Then think again. And know how to critique yourself and issue an apology when appropriate.
What are your favourite blogs? > Instapundit, Roger L. Simon and Armavirumque. I also think highly of Geitner Simmons's Regions of Mind, Virginia Postrel, and Donald Sensing. This does not end the list of blogs I read. I read normblog, Tim Blair, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Powerline, Buzz Machine, Belmont Club, LGF, and a dozen other blogs each day - or at least check them out. I like Jay Rosen's Pressthink and Michael Totten, too. Obviously, I'm a fan of StrategyPage (Jim Dunnigan and Al Nofi). It's not a blog, but talk about accurate daily updates.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Joseph Conrad, St. Augustine.
What are you reading at the moment? > Elmore Leonard's Tishomingo Blues; Aidan Hartley's Zanzibar Chest.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Ted Williams, Dave Brubeck, James M. Cain, Elmore Leonard, Jack Bruce.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
What is your favourite poem? > Auden's 'Canonical Hours' - it is a fabulous poem, simply superb.
What is your favourite movie? > Three way tie: High Noon, Patton, and Casablanca. I also have a soft spot for Disney's Sleeping Beauty - it inspired my second novel.
Who is your favourite composer? > Beethoven - bar none. I'll specify the Eroica as the best ear trip.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That people cannot think for themselves.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Hernando de Soto's The Other Path. I'd always favoured individual property rights and reward for individual effort and initiative. De Soto's study of Incan Indians ignoring the corrupt, 'colonial' Peruvian government and working for themselves added intellectual firepower. It gave me new hope for tackling endemic poverty.
Who are your political heroes? > Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Teddy Roosevelt, Colin Powell. This will tick the left but... I admire Karl Rove's political acumen. He is a truly gifted political thinker and political operator. I watched Rove run Texas state legislative campaigns in Travis County during the late 80s, and the man is comprehensive and meticulous. Fifty years from now PhD candidates in political science will recognize that.
What would you do with the UN? > Radically reform it - like, make Claudia Rosett Secretary-General. She should take me and Roger Simon on as advisers. I'm serious.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > A bitter slide into narcisscism, self-centredness, defeatism and cynicism by the world's democracies. (For example, the democracies opt for a Canadian military and a French attitude.)
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The best is yet to come - and I do believe that.
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, love conquers all. And I wrote 'love', not 'sex'.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Honesty.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To save your life.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I am highly dubious of anything published in either The Nation or The Guardian. Okay, add Le Monde to the list. And I am increasingly wary of Google.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'The horse is a vain hope for deliverance.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Golf.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > My wife and I like where we live (Austin, Texas). We lived for eight years in Manhattan (Upper West Side) and we could live there again.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I've taken it - three times. Long family driving vacations with my wife and daughters. We've done the American West twice, New England and the Canadian Maritimes once. And I mean long.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Reading or doing yoga. Power yoga. After all, I'm a Texan.
What talent would you most like to have? > Time travel.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Work in the Macallan scotch distillery.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Ted Williams, Jim Brown.
Which baseball team do you support? > Houston Astros - do not talk to me about long-suffering fans.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Sun Tzu, St. Paul, Dante.