Peter Risdon was born in London in 1960 and holds Australian and British nationality. He dropped out of St Andrew's University to travel in Alaska and Canada. In the mid-1980s, he successfully challenged the Opticians' monopoly of the sale of reading glasses and has been a free market advocate ever since. In 2006 he used blogs and worked with bloggers from across the political spectrum to organize the March for Free Expression in Trafalgar Square. A computer programmer and systems administrator, Peter blogs at Freeborn John.
Why do you blog? > To get it out of my system, so I won't bore people in the pub. It hasn't worked.
What has been your best blogging experience? > The unexpected kindness of strangers.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > The occasional certainty that it's pointless.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Don't just be an echo chamber; find your own voice.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Adam Smith, George Orwell, Richard Feynman, Fernand Braudel, Marc Bloch.
Who are your cultural heroes? > James Joyce and Keith Richards.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Follower' by Seamus Heaney.
What is your favourite song? > 'Brown Eyed Girl' by Van Morrison.
Who is your favourite composer? > Dvořák.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > An ex-lefty, I now realize that collectivism is coercive, and totalitarian in its claims over people. Cooperation is by definition free and voluntary and it is, happily, the most efficient way for people to interact.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > 'It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.' (Feynman)
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Cultural relativism.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard Feynman. This explains quantum electrodynamics, the theory that describes the interaction of electrons and photons, to the lay reader and in doing so imparts an understanding that illuminates almost every experience of the physical world. It is also rigorous in its explanation and application of the scientific method, something that is useful in every area of intellectual life.
Who are your political heroes? > Ronald Reagan, Tam Dalyell, Václav Klaus.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.' (Charles de Gaulle)
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Legalize all drugs. Nothing has undermined the rule of law so much as prohibition.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Humphrey Lyttelton. True, he's dead, but this means a great deal less harm would be done by his term in office than is usual, there might be a shift to government by Parliament, and instead of Prime Minister's Questions we could have old episodes of 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue', played from a ghetto blaster on the despatch box.
What would you do with the UN? > Keep it, but stop pretending any moral or legal authority flows from it.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Right now, Islamism. In general, totalitarianism, of which clerical fascism is a variety.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I think the trend has generally been to the good, and see no reason why this won't continue.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Only die once.
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 have been, so yes.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Self-pity.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Football (soccer), watching television.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Almost everything. Assuming I could also remember this first run, it would be twice as interesting.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Australia.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > P.G. Wodehouse.
[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.]