Gloria Salt was born in New York. After graduate degrees in history and international relations at Duke University and Balliol College, Oxford, she worked at a Washington think tank for a year and then at assorted New York investment banks as a financial editor. She moved to Israel at the end of 2000, got married in Jaffa a year later, and had a son a year after that. Gloria lives about half an hour north of Tel Aviv and blogs at Apropos of Nothing.
Why do you blog? > It's an incredibly motivating writing tool. The premise of an audience (even when there isn't one) does two great things for me: it forces me to clarify what I believe, and it compels me to get my tush in the chair and words on the screen. It's like writing a serial: you've got to crank it out and keep it fresh or it's all over. It turns out that I quite like that kind of pressure.
What has been your best blogging experience? > The thoughtful, friendly emails I've received from people all over the place. Also, I admit that Instalanches make me feel awfully good.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Too early in the game to say. Nothing dire so far.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo da Vinci, James McPherson, John Keegan, Vladimir Nabokov, Sophie Germain, Stephen Sears, Vivian Gornick...
What are you reading at the moment? > I've just ground to a halt after a frenzy of Ngaio Marshes. When I'm between unread books I usually grab books I've read 95 times and read them again. These include Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin (also her food writing), pretty much any Wodehouse, and The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, Paul Hoffman's biography of the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos.
Who are your cultural heroes? > P.G. Wodehouse, Lyle Lovett, M.F.K. Fisher, Joyce Grenfell, Calvin Trillin, Katharine Hepburn, Eugene O'Neill, Tom Stoppard, Roger Angell, Bill Bryson, Barbara Pym, Laurie Colwin...
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Either Middlemarch by George Eliot or Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. But my desert-island book would certainly be Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse, which contains my favourite exchange in the history of the English language: 'You called him an overbearing louse?' 'I did, to his face. "Of all the overbearing lice who ever overbore," I told him, "you are the undisputed champion."'
What is your favourite movie? > Adam's Rib. And a very close second: The Philadelphia Story.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I've moved rightward on the Israeli-Palestinian question. I still believe I'm more centre than right, but I was far enough in the other direction a few years ago to have felt personally betrayed and affronted (to say nothing of physically threatened) by the other side's response to Barak's offer at Camp David.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Moral relativism.
Who are your political heroes? > Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and (though I don't mean to suggest he's in quite the same class as those two) Rudolph Giuliani. Also, I've learned quite a bit about Ronald Reagan since his death and he was a far greater man than I ever realized.
What would you do with the UN? > One word: condos. East River view, and it's a 10-minute walk from Grand Central Station, for crying out loud!
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 wish men still wore hats - women too, come to think of it - and I think we'd all look a lot better in Edwardian-era clothes. And it worries me the way various cultural indicators have devolved into garbage (the way fashion has become a celebration of ugliness, for example, and so much modern music is derivative noise). And then there's the pesky problem of a no-holds-barred war on civilization by terrorists. But for all that, I can't help but believe that we haven't yet reached humanity's most shining hour. Medical advances alone make the world a far better place than it ever was before.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Listen to your gut.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > If you say 'irregardless' to me, I'll never think of you the same way again. And I can't respect a man with a goatee. Trust me: no one other than Clifton Webb or Satan has ever looked good in a goatee.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Hiking. (God made scenic driving routes for a reason, I feel.) Also, running as a sport. If you're not running to catch a cab for an eight o'clock curtain or a table at Picholine, take it easy, people.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Terrorism.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Heavens, yes!
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > My husband's suggestion is Olive Oyl. I think I'd prefer Monica Bellucci. Or Juliette Binoche or Ashley Judd, if they could figure out a way to make them look eight inches taller. But now that I think about it, Emma Thompson would probably make the best job of it. (She'd nail the accent, anyway.)
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Back in New York, city of my heart.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Two months in New York City, preferably September-October (for car trips into New England to see the leaves). Stay at the Four Seasons, lots of museums and shopping and bookstore-haunting and people-watching every day, theatre every night, some post-season baseball (another Subway Series would be on), and lots of ridiculously good eating.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Reading British mysteries and hanging out with my son. I like to make him laugh (he's got the best laugh in the world) and listen to the way he puts sentences together. He's great company.
What talent would you most like to have? > A big, luscious singing voice like k.d. lang's.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Winemaker or baseball writer.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Humorist (I'm defining this as a humour writer): P.G. Wodehouse. Comedians: Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld and Tracey Ullman. Oh, and I love Gary Larson.
Which baseball team do you support? > The New York Mets - once, now and forever.
What animal would you most like to be? > Probably a much-loved house cat, although I'd be allergic to myself.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]