Francis Turner was born in Dagenham, famously one stop from Barking. He has subsequently failed to put down many roots, having lived as a child in Eastern Essex and North East Wales. In adulthood, things got worse. He worked briefly in London, studied at Cambridge before leaving the UK, living and working first in Helsinki, then in Tokyo, then in San Jose and finally on the Riviera. Even there, Francis has managed to work for German, Swiss and American companies. He blogs at L'Ombre de l'Olivier about ebooks and olive trees amongst other things.
Why do you blog? > Because I can. Because - in my opinion - 'someone is wrong on the internet' and I want to correct them.
What has been your best blogging experience? > My best blogging experience has been to learn - at various times - that people that I greatly respect actually read my blog too. In terms of impact I'd say that being linked in google as the blog that hosted the Danish Cartoons was the biggest, since at one point it actually caused the blog to crash.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Don't expect massive readership from day one and don't expect it will stay once whatever caused the interest subsides.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Richard Feynman and (Peruvian economist, not conquistador) Hernando de Soto.
What are you reading at the moment? > At this second I'm reading this bundle of books by Selina Rosen. But when the questionnaire was sent it was David Weber's Mission of Honor and it will probably be something different tomorrow.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Asking this sort of question of someone who buys about two (e)books a week and reads or re-reads a book every couple of days is mean. I want to give you a list of a dozen and then a few 'and then there's...' on top. However, going on books that I know almost by heart and which have certainly heavily influenced me I think I have to pick one of two or three Heinlein titles. And since I'm being nailed down to one I'll go for Friday because I think it is criticized unfairly by people who haven't read it. For a book written in the late 1970s it has proven to be remarkably prescient regarding biotechnology, the surveillance society, the internet and a host of other developing topics. Despite that it addresses the age-old issue of discrimination and the damage to self-worth that it causes to its victims.
What is your favourite poem? > The poem that I find resonates the most with me, particularly since 2001, is Kipling's 'The Last of the Light Brigade'.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Gun control. I thought it was a good idea. I now think it is one of those things that sounds good but has far too many negatives in practice.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > The enemy of the best is good enough (and vice versa). Sometimes you need perfect and good enough isn't; many times a quick, fairly good solution is better than a perfect one delivered later and at greater cost.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Statism. The government is not the answer to everything.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > De Soto's The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.
Who are your political heroes? > Margaret Thatcher.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > Incentives matter!
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Introduction of Swiss style referenda.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Any moderately successful small business owner.
What would you do with the UN? > Destroy it utterly. Ideally in as gruesome a fashion as possible so that no one ever decides to work for such an institution in the future.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The naïve belief in some quarters of the world that murderous tyrants can be negotiated with because they actually care about the welbeing of the populations they control.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The best is certainly yet to come. We haven't come close to reaching our potential.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Always ensure that you are happy to see the person staring back at you from the bathroom mirror in the morning.
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? > Certainly. My wife holds some positions that I totally disagree with.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Responsibility. This applies both in terms of living up to commitments you make and in terms of blaming others when things go wrong.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching TV.
What would you call your autobiography? > Making a Hash of It.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Running, especially hashing.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > P.G. Wodehouse.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > Everton.
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 house in Shimane-ken, Japan, and live there a significant portion of the year. I'd also take more holidays to places I've never been to. Sadly there are large chunks of the world that I've never visited.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > I'd like three authors: Kipling, Heinlein and Dave Freer. All three are entertaining writers who think about what they are writing. I'm sure they would be fascinating.
What animal would you most like to be? > A cat.
[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.]