Pejman Yousefzadeh was born in Philadelphia. He received his high school diploma from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, his BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago, his MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago's Committee on International Relations, and his law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law. Pejman is an attorney in Chicago, and blogs at A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days.
Why do you blog? > Blogging gives me an opportunity to engage in a creative intellectual exercise, sharpens my writing, allows me to engage with very smart bloggers, forces me to consider arguments that differ from my own, is a far more productive use of my time than yelling at the television or the radio, and lets me have the chance to influence - in my own small way - the debate on the issues of the day.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Find your niche, establish it, make yourself a pre-eminent figure on the subject you blog about, blog often, and be sure to market yourself and your blog to other sites that can throw oodles of traffic your way.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Dante Alighieri, Norman Borlaug, Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, William Shakespeare, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Nietzsche, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thucydides, Adam Smith, F.A. Hayek, Bernard Mandeville, Edward Gibbon, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Edmund Burke, Sir Edward Coke, the people responsible for the King James Bible, and H.L. Mencken.
What are you reading at the moment? > The Canterbury Tales. In his stories, Chaucer employs a number of different rhyming schemes, along with prose, reveals class and cultural relationships to the reader, and makes the reader laugh out loud at times. To be sure, the Middle English is a bit tough to get through, but it is worth it.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Frideric Handel, Homer, Ab'ol Ghasem Ferdowsi, Dante Alighieri, Miguel de Cervantes, Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz, Yo-Yo Ma, and William Shakespeare.
What is your favourite poem? > I don't have an all-time favourite poem, but if you want a piece that really packs a wallop in the shortest number of words, try W.S. Merwin's 'Separation'.
What is your favourite movie? > My Holy Quartet of Movies has long been Patton, Amadeus, Godfather I, and Godfather II. A civil war rages amongst my neurons over the question of whether Inception ought to be added to make it a Holy Quintet.
Who is your favourite composer? > Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and George Frideric Handel make up my Holy Trinity of Composers.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I have become much more libertarian in general ever since I began to blog. I think I have always been open to libertarian ideas, but I am sure that the increase in my libertarian tendencies is in part due to the influence of the many libertarians in the blogosphere.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That there are objectively correct answers to many of the questions of the day, and that those answers are relatively simple to discern. In other words, there are many more closed questions than some people would care to admit, but we don't treat those questions as closed, because the answers to them are unpopular, or because various constituent groups have a vested interest in keeping those questions open.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That government bureaucrats and elected officials know better than the populace how the populace ought to live.
Who are your political heroes? > George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Burke, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (whatever I might say of his domestic policies, the fact is that he was a brilliant politician, and a masterful wartime leader), King George VI (perhaps the most underrated political leader of the 20th Century), and all of the brave Iranians who have fought, and who continue to fight, against political tyranny in their country.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > One that springs to mind is 'There is nothing new under the sun'. An overstatement, perhaps, but many of the political battles we are currently fighting are like the political battles we have fought before. If more of us were collectively more familiar with history, then more of us would understand this.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be President, who would you choose? > Someone who possesses both Mitch Daniels's depth of knowledge and competence in relation to domestic affairs, and Robert Gates's knowledge and savvy in relation to foreign policy, defence policy, and national security issues.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Nuclear proliferation. I hate to write this, but I would be very much surprised if an American city is not substantially destroyed by a nuclear weapon some time in the next twenty years.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Assuming that we can keep from killing each other, or shooting ourselves in both feet, we will see progress the likes of which will boggle the mind.
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? > Of course, so long as the view held by the hypothetical love of my life is a relatively mainstream one (I am afraid that I won't be able to maintain a long-term relationship with a Nazi or a communist, and given that Nazis and communists don't much like Jews, they likely won't want to hang out with me), so long as neither side personalizes political disagreements, so long as differences are respected and celebrated, and so long as any debates concerning politics serve as a source of creative tension that helps make the marriage or relationship fascinating and interesting for both parties.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A profound, and expansive intelligence that, among other things, helps lead to good moral choices.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > 'Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.'
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > When an objectively greater good would be achieved via deceit, and when the person demanding the truth has no business doing so, since the information being demanded is none of his or her concern.
What is your favourite proverb? > I assume that for the purposes of this question, 'proverb' is meant to mean the same thing as 'saying'. My candidate is a saying from Kipling: 'A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition' - which I take to mean that one must be skilled at enjoying life, thinking, and being able to defend oneself from attack. I have adopted this as something of a personal motto. A runner-up saying is from Nietzsche: 'At times, one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > I can understand going out for a drink or two. I have never understood, however, what is appealing about going out with the specific intention of getting absolutely obliterated by massive consumption of alcohol. Do people enjoy feeling sick? Do they so dislike their brains that they want to annihilate as many of the cells within them as possible?
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Patrick Stewart. His haircut, after all, is just like mine.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Reading, writing, playing chess, watching movies, eating good food, and enjoying the company of friends and loved ones.
What is your most treasured possession? > Undoubtedly, my books.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I continue to believe that it is possible to be a successful tycoon, a Captain of a Federation Starship, and the Headmaster of Hogwarts all at the same time. If I cannot be Headmaster, I will settle for teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, along with the other two responsibilities I mentioned.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would feel free to engage in intellectual pursuits that matter to me, devote more time to my writing, and get involved in causes that are close to my heart. I would, of course, devote time, energy, and resources to the art of living well, but I would not be ostentatious about it.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Assuming that they could all understand what the others say - and with the proviso that many more such dinners would be needed to satisfy my curiosity on various subjects - I would be delighted to have Machiavelli, Metternich and Talleyrand all at the same table, talking diplomacy and statecraft. Perhaps, to maximize my fun, we could all go out to a restaurant for dinner, and be seated next to a table occupied by Thucydides, Bismarck and Richelieu. Imagine the interesting conversation that might break out.
What animal would you most like to be? > If I couldn't be a human, I would like to be a phoenix. One can take a great many more risks, if one can always rise from the ashes in the event that a particular risk does not pan out.
[The normblog profile is a Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]