David Nishimura is an art historian by training, who somehow ended up as a specialist dealer in old writing instruments. He grew up in Berkeley, graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz, before heading to New York for graduate work at the Institute of Fine Arts. He has lived in Providence, Rhode Island, since 1993. His wife Margot is a fellow medievalist who has remained on the academic track. Their three daughters are now three, six, and eight. David has been blogging at Cronaca (Past Imperfect, Present Subjunctive, Future Conditional) since 2002.
Why do you blog? > I'm as much writing for myself as for an audience. That includes the compiling and editing as much as the commentary, if any. I like having a personal soapbox, but I'm more interested in using it to ask questions than to push answers.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Getting the truth out about a local institution under siege - the Providence Athenaeum - when the New York Times (and, to a lesser extent, the local paper) fumbled the story.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Technical hassles – only minor inconveniences, really.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Post in haste, repent at leisure.
What are you reading at the moment? > Total Cold War: Eisenhower's Secret Propaganda Battle by Kenneth Osgood. Not the most enjoyable read, unfortunately. I've been making a rather scattershot effort lately at updating my knowledge of Cold War history, too much of which is unreliably based on personal experience and family anecdotes. Living through an era is no substitute for studying it properly.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Having grown up in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s, there are few issues on which I haven't changed my mind - usually more than once. I took the slogan 'Question authority' to heart.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Not a single work, perhaps, but what historians have mined from the Soviet archives has exploded the orthodoxy about anti-Communist witch-hunts that I grew up with.
Who are your political heroes? > How about starting with Mount Rushmore? Add in Roger Williams, and hold off on the 20th century for now. Too much medieval studies, too little modern. Sorry.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'Don't kick a man when he's down. He may get up again.'
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > A combination of denial and impatience. The developed world has a hard time taking apocalyptic fantasies seriously, and cannot seem to undertake any long-term initiative without lapsing into premature defeatism.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Assuming we survive, our best is surely yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > You probably aren't going to lie on your deathbed thinking, 'I wish I had spent more time at work.'
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? > Yes, but the deciding issue would be whether those views reflect a fundamentally incompatible personal philosophy.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Responsibility.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Duplicity.
What is your favourite proverb? > At the moment, Benjamin Franklin's 'Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Gambling.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Keeping all the balls in the air. I'm generally too busy to think about much beyond the next few days, which sharply curtails the opportunity for serious worry.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Of course. But you don't get to live your life in hindsight.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > A few blocks over and atop the crest of the hill, for the view. Though I quite like my neighbours here.
What would your ideal holiday be? > In summer, cruising the Mediterranean off the Turkish coast. In winter, skiing (and eating) in the Italian Alps.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Getting out and active. Without regular physical exercise I'm not a very happy person.
What talent would you most like to have? > I'm not bad with languages, but I'd love to be a true natural polyglot.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Philanthropist. What could be better than sitting on a pile of money and giving it away?
Which teams do you support? > I like sports, but I've never felt a connection to any particular team. Put it down to rootlessness, if you will, or to an aversion to group vs individual identification.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > To live, compos mentis, until human life extension becomes a reality.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would get a lot more sleep.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > My paternal grandparents, whom I never met, and my maternal grandfather, who died before I turned two.
[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.]