George Junior was born in Santa Monica, California, in 1960. After the divorce of his parents, his mother brought the family to Liverpool, where he was educated at a fiercely authoritarian Catholic school. Damaged but undaunted, he eventually escaped to Lancaster University where he read Accounting and Finance. At the end of his final year, he was excluded for declining, on principle, to be examined - a decision he's never regretted. At the age of 24, George gave away most of his possessions and spent the next three years 'living lightly' and devoting himself to the practice of zazen and yoga. In due course he realized that a life of quiet contemplation is fine for the aged and infirm but those with youth and energy on their side have a responsibility to use it to relieve the suffering of others. In his mid-30s, he returned to academic study and financed himself through three years of a distance learning MBA while working full-time and trying to raise a young family. The strain told: he was unable to complete the course, because of ill health, but was awarded a DMS for his troubles. Since the early 1980s, George has worked almost exclusively in what has become known as the social economy, being involved in business counselling, co-operative development, social housing, urban regeneration and a variety of cultural initiatives, before spending five years as a loans manager with a bank financing social and environmental projects. Forced to stop work in 2000, he has spent the last five years as a house-husband and full-time father to his three sons. He has never voted. George blogs at George Junior.
Why do you blog? > It's my daily attempt at adult conversation and it beats talking back to the radio.
What has been your best blogging experience? > I get a buzz when someone links to one of my posts or I get an email commenting on something I've written. It's good to know people are reading. I'm not after attention but I do like to be part of the conversation.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Being unable to post for long periods because of ill health has been pretty frustrating. You quickly lose readers when you don't post regularly, and I've been out for months at a time. Checking my sitemeter after my first bout of illness was so demoralizing I turned off the hit counter. I still haven't turned it back on.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Be polite. Please.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > William James (the father of modern psychology) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (for allowing me to ignore modern philosophy with a clear conscience).
What are you reading at the moment? > I usually have two or three books on the go. Right now, I'm concentrating on Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram, but I'm also dipping into Alan J Parkin's Explorations in Cognitive Neuropsychology and Christopher Hill's Puritanism and Revolution.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Mostly family and forbears, none of them famous or even well-known. They lived hard lives through difficult times and managed to raise happy and healthy families in the process.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > I once read Tristram Shandy: I pretty much gave up on novels after that. Nowadays, I only read fiction when I fly and then it's mostly trash.
What is your favourite poem? > Gray's 'Elegy'. I learnt it by heart as a boy and used to recite it to myself on long walks. I've since learnt to drive, but it still comes in handy - whenever one of the boys starts irritating by continually repeating the last thing I've said, I just start feeding him Gray's 'Elegy', a line at a time. It works: we never get past the first stanza.
What is your favourite movie? > Angels with Dirty Faces. It's a gangster movie, social commentary and morality tale all rolled into one, with outstanding performances from James Cagney and Pat O'Brien. They don't make them like that any more.
What is your favourite song? > Easy. 'The Harder They Come' by Jimmy Cliff. It's a lively and empowering anthem that's been a long-time favourite of mine.
Who is your favourite composer? > Rachmaninoff. He has passion.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Abortion. As a child, I was very much anti-abortion. As a young adult, I accepted that there were situations in which abortion might be justified. And then, some time in the late 1970s, feminism took the ball right out of my hands. If it's a woman's right to choose, what right does a man have to any say in the matter? Now, reduced to the role of commenter, I simply lament the fact that so may women in our society wind up being faced with that choice.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Non-racial humanism.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Moral relativism.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > When I was 11 or 12, I came across Spinoza's writings on religion in my grandfather's bookcase. Spinoza's views on such things as scripture and prophets were in marked contrast to those of my Catholic educators and were a breath of fresh air to a young mind stultifying under the weight of Church dogma. I've departed from Spinoza a lot since then, but reading him at the time helped me to organize my own thinking and to present coherent arguments against religious authority.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Fear and ignorance.
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? > No. I'm not the sort to compromise and I've never been able to hold my tongue for the sake of peace and quiet. It would be fireworks the whole time.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Compassion.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Bigotry.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Under duress.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Yes, I am very cautious of the deeply religious.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Treat them with their own cudgels.' (Not really a proverb, just something my grandmother used to say, but it has always appealed to me.)
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Opera, sunbathing and watching people play soccer.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Sadly, no.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > No idea but Mac reckons Donald Sutherland.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Cooking, reading and spending time with the boys.
What is your most treasured possession? > My family's bible from the Nebraska settlement days. My great grandparents moved west after the Civil War and settled in Lancaster, Nebraska. The bible contains the names and dates of birth of their children, not all of whom survived childhood. My grandfather's name is there, twelfth out of fourteen.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > Good health.
[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.]