Shuggy was born in Edinburgh but has lived in Glasgow since 1979 where he (tries to) teach history in a comprehensive secondary school - a career choice he now feels in retrospect was unconsciously influenced by the Scottish Calvinist tradition of eliminating purgatory by getting it over while you're still alive. Shuggy has been married once, divorced once and separated more than once. He is presently single and, despite the fact that he probably had no business breeding in the first place, is the proud father of a four-year-old son. He blogs at Shuggy's Blog.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Most people on planet blog you talk to are really quite nice.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > I now know more about Christopher Hitchens and George Galloway than can possibly be good for one.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > I've found it to have quite a narcotic effect so it would probably be to give up while you still can.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Thomas Hobbes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Hobsbawm, Isaiah Berlin.
What are you reading at the moment? > I Married a Communist by Philip Roth.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Saul Bellow's Herzog.
What is your favourite movie? > Casablanca.
What is your favourite song? > Jimi Hendrix's version of 'All Along the Watchtower'.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I now think it's the ideas of Pelagius, rather than Augustine, that have been responsible for more tyranny in human history.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The idea that religion is the sole source of morality.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > I grew up believing that conservatives were Bad People; I heard the liberal and humane voice in conservatism for the first time when I read Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'All political careers end in failure.'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > A White Paper on Liberty.
What would you do with the UN? > I don't know really - make it less bureaucratic and corrupt, but goodness knows how given the number of countries involved. It's more that some people need to be realistic about its present capabilities and its historical role. The UN has never had the competence that people imagine it had in the past and/or impute to it now.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > In the short term there's the problem of politicized religion but in the longer term maybe we should be looking further east. The rise of China has enormous implications and raises the possibility of a regional confrontation with Japan and Russia that would draw in other countries, most importantly the United States.
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? > Maybe put probably not. If someone had views radically different from mine they'd most likely be highly partisan and ideological. A pain in the backside, in other words.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Virtues collide, so those circumstances where telling the truth is not the most important value.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I don't trust men younger than me who are bald; I think they resent me for still having all my hair. Also men with so much hair that they tie it into ponytails. Vegetarians worry me too, as do cyclists - especially when they wear those ridiculous outfits.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no-one else can share its joy.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Hillwalking in Scotland - complete and utter madness.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Where to begin? In general, I'd try to do more good and be less reckless and selfish. I wish I'd started the whole procreation thing earlier in life. And I'd never say to myself a second time, 'Teaching - now there's an idea…'
What would you call your autobiography? > Relationships: A Loser's Guide.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > England.
What is your most treasured possession? > I wouldn't say I treasure it exactly but I'd be rather miffed if anyone pinched my guitar.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to play the piano.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I wish I knew but one that doesn't invite quite so many people to offer their idiotic opinions on how I should be doing it.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > The late great Peter Cook.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > A job I don't detest.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd give up teaching, give half of the money to my son's mother so that she could do the same if she wanted to, go back to university and do my PhD, get a house with a garden, and squander the rest on slow horses and fast women.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature (late on this occasion because Typepad was down). A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]