Born on the Texas-Mexico border, Sam S grew up in Dallas and spent most of his life there. He took degrees in Psychology, and later Economics and Finance, from the University of Texas. In addition to a long career as an investment counsellor, he has been a bartender, waiter, surveyor, draftsman, guitarist, trader, English teacher and professional ne'er-do-well. He is currently employed as an importer/exporter and English coach and is married to a Chinese writer. They have a grown-up Chinese daughter studying in the US, and Sam has two American children, also in the US. He lives in mainland China and blogs at ShenzhenRen.
Why do you blog? > To save time. Ha! It started as a mass picture-postcard for my friends and family.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Certainly the intellectual and personal interchange with other bloggers and commenters
What has been your worst blogging experience? > None, except forgetting to renew once and losing the whole damn domain.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > I should be asking, being the novice. 'Have fun, and don't forget that what you say may be permanently public, like a tattoo.'
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Probably Aristotle, then Hayek, Jefferson, Madison, and the classical liberal lot. Eric Hoffer for a totally independent thinker. Many others too specialized in focus to mention.
What are you reading at the moment? > Trying to plough through Mises' Human Action, but only because my English reading stash is exhausted until I make a trip to the States.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Xu Guosen, Bill Cosby, some single fathers, Iraqi voters.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Which month? OK, Hugo's Les Miserables would have to be the permanent choice.
What is your favourite poem? > No single poem, but Wallace Stevens is my favourite poet.
What is your favourite movie? > Too hard! Casablanca, The Usual Suspects, As Good as it Gets.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Yes, the 'movement' or 'counterculture', the US-style 1968-ers. I was tremendously committed at the time, to the point of living in a commune, but their betrayals of what I thought were core ideals, and some personal development, led me to reject virtually everything from that movement, except possibly opposition to the draft. I'm not Republican, but if you called me right-libertarian, or classical liberal, you'd be close.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That mankind is somehow separate from, or opposed to, nature .
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, for the idea that what we know is influenced by schools of thought which may undergo radical change, and for how the process happens.
Who are your political heroes? > Vaclav Havel and his peers, the US founding fathers.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'Two things a youngster should be protected from witnessing: The making of sausage and of legislation.'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > The meta-policy of wanting to fix every problem with more government.
What would you do with the UN? > I don't know, something drastic: maybe offer it 12 months to get serious or get replaced.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > In general, there's far better yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Life is short, and we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Do what you love, and be present for those whom you love. Now.
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? > It's hypothetically possible. I'm married to a Jiu San Party member, I have no idea what it is, and we get along.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > I'm torn between integrity (self-honesty?) and big-heartedness.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Probably cruelty.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Embarrassingly, several. But certainly to save your life or mine.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Yes, privately, but in public, for the permanent record, I'd better not. None that I feel are blind or uninformed.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Too many to list, but finalists would certainly include televised golf matches and Chinese tour packages (you'd just have to experience this one).
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Too many things. 'I'm an old man, and I've had many troubles, most of which never happened.'
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Most likely northern California or central Texas.
What would your ideal holiday be? > A long, slow tour, possibly by bicycle, away from the metropolises in Europe, especially Spain, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Britain.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Bicycling, reading, playing guitar, convivial chats with friends and new acquaintances.
What talent would you most like to have? > 'Real' writing and speaking. I ignored the language arts until it was almost too late.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Early Richard Pryor, Rob Becker (a closet philosopher).
Who are your sporting heroes? > Lance Armstrong, Roger Staubach.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > That this enormous gamble in the Middle East works out, bringing more liberty, prosperity and peace to the world.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Retire, and start an enterprise (or more than one) with secretly charitable aims. Spend the rest of the time travelling and telling stories to my children and grandchildren.