America was the last country Paul Berger ever thought he would make his home. Born in Leeds, he had always thought he was destined to while away his hours in a cottage in the middle of the English countryside. But since moving to Brooklyn in 2003 to be with his fiancé (now wife), he has to admit that he has barely looked back. He works as a freelance writer, contributing to books about media, business and culture, and writing the occasional piece for the New York Times and Movie Maker magazine. His latest contributions can be found in All The Money in the World: How The Forbes 400 Make - and Spend - Their Fortunes, published in September, and Secrets of 24, out this month. Paul blogs at Englishman in New York.
Why do you blog? > I really don't know any more. I think it's an impulse. Like many bloggers I have considered quitting numerous times, but I always end up writing one more post.
What has been your best blogging experience? > I still get a buzz from comments. My blog is rarely controversial, so they are mostly other people's additions to an article, a thought or a photo. But I love seeing other people who I have never met before connecting in some way with my writing or photography.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Probably comments again. There's nothing worse than seeing an idiotic, ignorant or obnoxious commenter submitting to the blog. My first instinct is always to hit delete, but since the damage has already been done I think the best course of action is just to ignore them.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Keep going.
What are your favourite blogs? > I think Clive Davis has the single most interesting blog on the Web. My friend Simon of A Brooklyn Lad writes one of the funniest blogs I have ever read. And with the current race for the White House, I would be lost without Politico.
What are you reading at the moment? > I've just given up on Three Cups of Tea after about 40 pages. I much prefer magazines to books these days: The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, Private Eye, The Walrus, and lately, Esquire. The last book I finished was The Great Gatsby over a month ago, which I thought was fantastic.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Nowadays I'm just glad to get to the end of a novel. It's been such a long time since I was completely blown away by one. I think one of the novels that impressed me most was Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian novel We, which was written shortly after the Russian revolution. Though I do also remember thoroughly enjoying Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
What is your favourite poem? > 'The Unknown' by D. Rumsfeld: 'As we know,/ There are known knowns./ There are things we know we know,/ We also know/ There are known unknowns./ That is to say/ We know there are some things/ We do not know./ But there are also unknown unknowns,/ The ones we don't know/ We don't know.'
What is your favourite movie? > Without a doubt Withnail and I. It might not be the best movie of all time, but it's one of the best movies I've ever seen about friendship.
What is your favourite song? > Do people still have favourite songs? I have so much music in my iTunes library that I often forget my favourite albums, let alone my favourite songs.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Just about every 'ism' when taken to its extreme. Take your pick.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman. It made me reconsider the roots of Islamic extremism.
Who are your political heroes? > Sounds like an oxymoron to me.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > See favourite poem.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Extraordinary rendition. What a dumb twist of logic and morals.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be President, who would you choose? > President Bloomberg. I think he'd do a terrific job.
What would you do with the UN? > Refurbish it. The place is falling to bits.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > There is no one threat. Life ain't that simple.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Definitely yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Never say no.
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? > The only radical view I hold is that I don't like people with radical views, therefore the answer is no.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Integrity.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > For my wife.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I don't like racists.
What is your favourite proverb? > Pisdets katyonku, srat' nye budet. (Russian: The poor cat will shit no more.)
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > No.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Elijah Wood.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > There are some really nice streets a few blocks over from where we currently live. My current dream is get to the other side of the tracks.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > What spare time?
What is your most treasured possession? > A 1960s wristwatch my wife bought me as an engagement present.
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 a Brownstone in Brooklyn.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Christopher Hitchens, George Orwell and Mikhail Bulgakov.
[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.]