Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that the normblog profile today records its hundredth outing. To mark this important event, I thought I would satisfy the curiosity that must by now be boiling out there as to what are the most popular questions amongst profilees - or, at any rate, which are the questions answered most often, and which least often, as well as all the gradations in between. Accordingly, I have, with the help of WotN, done a count, and I set out below the questions from the profile questionnaire in order of the frequency with which they have been answered. The exercise is imperfect, since a few of the questions were added after the series was already a little way in, but what the hell, you can't have everything. The number in brackets after each question tells you how many, out of the 100 bloggers profiled so far, have answered that question.
I've also compiled a sort of composite normblog profile by giving, for each question, an answer from one of the profiles. Be advised that this has been done in a hurry and in a rough and ready way - not on the basis of deep thought and a close comparative study of all the answers. (Gimme a break, already!) But please feel free to visit all the 100 profiles at your leisure and study away. Onward...
Why do you blog? (97) > Because I love the liberties of writing without a deadline and not having to conform to any standards other than my own.
What are you reading at the moment? (92) > Is this a trick question? At the moment I'm reading your stupid questionnaire, you infidel fool.
What has been your best blogging experience? (81) > Putting in a site meter and finding out that people actually stop and look at my blog. Before that I was under the impression that I was talking to myself.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? (81) > I am much more liberal theologically than I was before seminary, but I lean politically toward conservative libertarianism. I am much more open than before to the historical and cultural influences on how the Bible was shaped and written as well as how those influences shape how we use the Scriptures. When I was young I tended toward Scriptural stringency, but studying Wesleyan theology loosened me up a great deal.
What is your favourite movie? (80) > The Third Man.
What talent would you most like to have? (79) > To play alto sax like Charlie Parker.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? (78) > Don't try to be InstaPundit; there's already one of him. Write about things that interest you, write about them well, and you will gradually build an audience.
What are your favourite blogs? (78) > As I tell my sons, 'I love you all'.
What is the best novel you've ever read? (76) > Catch 22, by Joseph Heller.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? (76) > In the short term, Islamism. In the long term, capitalism.
Where would you most like to live, other than where you do? (74) > I have fantasies of living in New York City; the fantasy includes having lots of money.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? (73) > 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.'
Who are your intellectual heroes? (71) > Christopher Hitchens, William Hazlitt, Montaigne.
What is your favourite poem? (71) > 'Lights Out' by the First World War soldier-author, Edward Thomas. It's about sleep, a subject I've been researching for a novel that I hope will get written one of these days.
Who are your political heroes? (71) > The Founding Fathers.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? (70) > The default setting on every government computer is to archive each and every document to the internet, where it is freely accessible. Exceptions have to be justified to an independent commission, and only on the basis of privacy concerns or national security, both very strictly construed. Don't tell me it would be too expensive or impractical! The benefits would far outweigh the costs.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? (69) > Dancing. I mean, what's the point? What's in it for me?
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? (68) > That entity loosely known as 'postmodernism'.
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? (68) > No, not radically different.
What do you like doing in your spare time? (67) > Easy answer these days: Blog. My blog fills my available life; I find myself plotting couch time so I can browse and blog. In fact, I resent filling this out now; I'd rather be blogging.
What is your favourite song? (66) > 'Happy Together' as performed by flamboyantly bequiffed Finnish rock'n'roll band the Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov Red Army Chorus: impossible to listen to without cracking a grin, it brought my wedding to a suitably joyous conclusion, and it's also oddly moving, symbolising as it does Finnish-Russian solidarity at a time of great political uncertainty.
What would your ideal holiday be? (66) > Following an Ashes series around Australia.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? (62) > Groucho Marx.
What personal fault do you most dislike? (61) > Cruelty.
What has been your worst blogging experience? (60) > Balancing it with my day job.
Who is your favourite composer? (60) > My mother will be very unhappy if I say anything other than Mozart. So Mozart.
What would you do with the UN? (60) > Give countries that are not democracies 10 years to clean up their act or face expulsion.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? (60) > Most things that cause us great distress aren't that important. If it's not the death or serious illness of yourself or a loved one, it's not worth losing a lot of sleep over. But even knowing this, you will still lose sleep over unimportant things.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? (59) > The main purpose of life should be the reading of books.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? (55) > 'Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.'
What, if anything, do you worry about? (55) > Are you kidding? I'm a Jewish mother. I worry about everything!
What is your most treasured possession? (53) > My wife (for some value of 'possession').
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? (51) > The best is yet to come - and I do believe that.
Who are your cultural heroes? (49) > Primo Levi.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? (49) > Shakespeare, Lincoln and Churchill.
What is your favourite proverb? (48) > 'El amor es ciego pero los vecinos no' (Love is blind but the neighbours aren't).
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? (48) > Whenever anyone asks me this question, they expect me to say that I wouldn't marry my first husband. But I would. How else would I have learned what I know now? So no, I wouldn't change a thing. I like where my path has led me.
Who are your sporting heroes? (45) > My father, a former Middlesex wicketkeeper.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? (43) > Oh, lots. For starters, I'm not generally fond of Southern Italians, Austrian law enforcement officials, Czech waiters, Yugoslavs who begin sentences with 'but you don't understand our history', British lads on Mediterranean islands, most groups of men larger than five (especially if soccer is involved), doctrinaire types just out of college (especially those with freshly minted journalism degrees, though these are good for sport), middle-aged American women who heart Castro, Californians who can't tell the difference between 'recession' and 'them dang Mexicans!'... and, obviously, prejudiced people.
What animal would you most like to be? (40) > A Bar-headed goose. They can fly over Everest.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? (39) > A rabbi I knew once gave me an excellent model for working with this on a daily basis. He said: 'Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it nice? Open your mouth and say it on any two of three'. I've found that to be a pretty good guideline for most situations. With respect to abnormal situations... There are also circumstances where, as German Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted, the very act of asking certain questions becomes improper. If one is coerced to answer anyway, he noted, one may lie with a clear conscience. I agree with that.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? (39) > To live in a large old house that has had many families before ours. One that is aesthetically pleasing and orderly with lots of nooks and crannies so you could tell the architect had a sense of humour. A house with a library and a spacious pantry and a big linen closet and at least four entrances. Extra large dining room. Its own graveyard.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? (38) > Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation. I was sixteen at the time, and the idea that there was this tool called game theory that could help explain strategic behaviour blew my mind.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? (36) > I'd just add a silent 'b'.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? (33) > Not much.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister (President etc), who would you choose? (27) > David Aaronovitch.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? (24) > If he had better boobs, I'd suggest Peter O'Toole.
What would you call your autobiography? (18) > For many years as a journalist who spent a lot of time interviewing people, I imagined writing a book or column called What About ME and MY Feelings?!?. But now that I have a blog, that's handled.