Damian Penny was born in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1974. He graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a political science degree in 1995, and obtained his Bachelor of Laws from the University of New Brunswick in 1998. After practising for several years in Western Newfoundland, Damian recently moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he specializes in family law. He launched his blog, Daimnation! in October 2001.
Why do you blog? > I've always enjoyed writing opinion pieces and columns, ever since high school. I enjoy highlighting stories that I feel need more attention, and I like the freedom of being able to write whenever I feel like it, with posts of whatever length I choose.
What has been your best blogging experience? > I've enjoyed meeting up with other bloggers and readers, and finally putting some faces to the screen names.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Writing about 9/11 conspiracy nonsense, only to see it keep spreading like a cancer. Some of us (especially the folks at Screw Loose Change) do all we can to combat this nonsense, but it seems like many people want to believe it. Someone called it a left-wing version of creationism, and I think that's spot on (although plenty of people on the fringe right are every bit as dedicated to this garbage).
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Update the site frequently. And don't be shy about letting some of the bloggers who inspired you know you've started a site of your own. Also, certain news sites - most notably The Washington Post - have Technorati links for their news stories, so if you link to them, a link to your post will appear on these well-read sites.
What are your favourite blogs? > InstaPundit is the one that inspired me more than any other. Tim Blair's site is always an entertaining read, and the relatively new Hot Air provides plenty of blogging material.
What are you reading at the moment? > I'm reading Hurricane Season by Neal Thompson, about a high-school football team and how it was affected by Hurricane Katrina. I'm reviewing it for Blogcritics. In my car, I'm listening to the CD version of Mark Bowden's Guests of the Ayatollah, about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Probably Animal Farm, which I read in high school. But I generally prefer non-fiction. Real life is almost always more interesting (and harder to believe) than what even the most gifted writer can dream up.
What is your favourite poem? > Anything by the infamous William McGonagall, especially the one that goes, 'The New Yorkers boast about their Brooklyn Bridge,/But in comparison to thee it seems like a midge'. Now that's poetry.
What is your favourite movie? > This is Spinal Tap.
What is your favourite song? > My guilty pleasure at the moment is 'Pickup Truck' by Canadian country singer Shane Yellowbird, which features the immortal line, 'I asked her, "Are you from Tennessee, because baby, you're the only ten I see."'
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > If I had foreseen what would happen in Iraq following the invasion, I would not have supported it. Either that, or I would have spoken out against a doomed war plan which never committed nearly enough American and coalition forces to the country. Only the Kurdish part of Iraq has developed into anything resembling the prosperous, free country I had hoped for (Michael Totten has done an outstanding job chronicling this). I still vigorously support efforts to bring down tyrants, but Iraq has taught me the limits of what American power can do. (Also, if you had asked me about drug legalization fifteen years ago, I would have said it's an appalling idea. Today, I think prohibition is an appalling idea.)
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > P.J. O'Rourke's Holidays in Hell, which chronicled his visits to hellholes like Communist-era Warsaw, Marcos-era Philippines, and Jim and Tammy-era Heritage USA, taught me how a writer can make devastating points while being funny.
Who are your political heroes? > In recent years I've developed tremendous respect and admiration for Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube, one of the few people brave enough to speak out against what Robert Mugabe is doing to his country.
What would you do with the UN? > Honestly, some days, the temptation to bulldoze the place is overwhelming. Can you even satirize a place where Zimbabwe can be appointed as head of a sustainable development committee?
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The continuing rise of militant Islam - especially as propagated by the Saudis. It's all well and good to stand up to Iran, the Taliban, Hamas and Hezbollah, but until the United States and its allies are prepared to stand up to the Saudis - the 'Taliban with money', as one writer accurately called them - we'll keep treating the symptoms and not the disease itself.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > For all its problems, I think the world today is a much wealthier, freer and happier place than it's ever been, and I think we can still get better.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Honesty.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Obnoxiousness - which more than one person has accused me of, ironically.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > We all tell little white lies now and then. But for a major lie, it would have to be to save my life, or to save the life of a loved one.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Strangely, despite the strong opinions I present on my blog, I really don't like contentious political arguments erupting when I'm out with a crowd - especially when I'm outnumbered (which is almost always the case).
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > In high school I wish I'd been less bashful about being myself, instead of trying (and failing) to follow what the cool kids were doing. And I wish I'd stood up for myself more than I did. (But, really, is there anyone who wouldn't change nearly everything about their high school years? I've never met anyone who said, 'Yeah, these years were awesome. Wouldn't change a thing.')
What would you call your autobiography? > If I ever write a book about my lawyering experiences, I plan to call it You're my lawyer and you got to do what I says, after the unforgettable words of an agitated (and very drunk) client.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > If I had the means, I'd live out of a motorhome in Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland, during the summer, and down south for the winter. John Crosbie once wrote that you can always recognize us Newfoundlanders in Heaven, because we're the ones who want to go home.
What would your ideal holiday be? > More than anywhere else, I really want to see Australia. I'd also like to see the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England.
What talent would you most like to have? > I wish I could snap my fingers. Seriously, I can't do it.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Either a motoring journalist, or a TV network executive.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > Newcastle United, in no small part because of the beer.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd buy the aforementioned motorhome. And a big garage, to hold all the classic cars I'd accumulate.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Mark Steyn, James Lileks and Michael J. Nelson from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and, now, Rifftrax). If one of them couldn't make it I'd probably invite Jeremy Clarkson to fill the seat, though the temptation to throw rolls at him could occasionally become overwhelming.
What animal would you most like to be? > A bear. I like bears, especially now that they're making a long-overdue change at QB.
[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.]