Gene Zitver was born and raised in the Washington DC area, and graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He has worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Hagerstown, Maryland, and as a writer/editor for labour unions in St Louis, Missouri. In St Louis he was involved in Democratic Party politics and grassroots efforts for fair utility rates and universal health care. In 1992 he moved to Israel, where he worked as a technical writer. He returned to the Washington area in 2000. Gene blogs at Harry's Place.
Why do you blog? > Harry invited me to join Harry's Place after I posted some comments there and after he read some of my posts on a George Orwell newsgroup. I soon discovered I enjoyed sending my opinions into cyberspace and getting reactions to them.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Discovering many politically like-minded people - i.e. leftists who aren't reflexively anti-American and anti-Israel.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Don't follow the pack. Post when you have something fresh and interesting to say.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > George Orwell, Primo Levi, Ignazio Silone.
What are you reading at the moment? > Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Autumn Begins In Martins Ferry, Ohio' by James Wright.
What is your favourite movie? > If the first two films in The Godfather trilogy can be considered a single movie, that would be it.
What is your favourite song? > 'Jambalaya' by Hank Williams.
Who is your favourite composer? > Mozart.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > The role of the United States in the world. I used to believe the US was almost invariably on the side of the world's reactionaries. I've come to understand it can be a force for good.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell. It helped me understand that being on the left means, above all, taking the side of ordinary people.
Who are your political heroes? > Abraham Lincoln, Eugene V. Debs, Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'It's not their fault for not understanding. It's your fault for not explaining it clearly enough.'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Universal, single-payer health insurance.
What would you do with the UN? > Require countries to meet basic standards of democracy and human rights as a prerequisite for serving on the Security Council.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > This too shall pass.
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? > I doubt it. I don't understand how some people manage such relationships.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Compassion.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Condescension.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To protect someone's life, of course.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching 'reality' TV shows.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Northern New Mexico would be nice.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I spend a week with family each summer at a low-key, informal resort in the mountains of West Virginia. I can't think of anything better.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Walking along the C&O Canal towpath next to the Potomac River.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Moe.
What talent would you most like to have? > To play bluegrass banjo.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Park ranger.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Rodney Dangerfield, the master of pure dismay.
Who are your sporting heroes? > The old Washington Senators baseball team. 'First in war, first in peace, last in the American League.'
[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.]