Patrick Osgood has grown up to be more or less your basic bog-standard left-leaning Rawlsian liberal. Born in Watford in 1981, he studied English and American literature at Warwick University before drifting into a career as a solicitor. Fed up with that, and with his options limited by his innumeracy, he gained work experience as a journalist. He now writes for Oil & Gas Middle East, a trade magazine covering - well, it's obvious - and has just moved to Dubai. Patrick continues to blog - at PatoBlog - and tweet about UK politics, economics and law, though his focus is shifting to the Middle East. He refers to himself in the third person, and is improbably handsome.
Why do you blog? > Catharsis; narcissism; mischief-making.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Documenting my correspondence with a recording company about their laughable unpaid internship scheme. Seeing my blog get picked up, discussing it with people and defending my position were all great fun. The actual blog post is seldom the most fun bit.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > The odd post vanishes into the ether almost unread. That sort of sucks but, then, it's not like I'm writing breakthrough research papers on curing cancer or anything.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > A fellow one, you mean? Brad DeLong, an American economist and blogger whom I admire, sums it up in a word: sprezzatura. Get that and you're there.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Obvious one, but it has to be George Orwell. For one, he was actually a hero, fighting in war and so on, and living an instructive life. I mean, if that Bernard-Henri Lévy had a pair, he'd be out there right now getting shot at on the back of an Izuzu pickup in Misrata, instead of apologizing for an (alleged) rapist while waiting for the latest batch of those ghastly shirts to arrive from Charvet on a red velvet cushion. Also, my mum, Brigid. No one has had, one way or another, a greater influence on how I think.
What are you reading at the moment? > Gone are the days when I'd quickly chomp my way through one book at a time: I'm a nibbler. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers; Oil 101 by Morgan Downey; Ulysses by James Joyce (I know, I know, but I like dipping into a page or two a night); Libra by Don DeLillo; and The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh. I generally dislike contemporary English literature.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Taken as a whole, John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom novels. An astonishing and humane achievement.
What is your favourite movie? > Casablanca. Must have seen it 50 times.
Who is your favourite composer? > I would love to give the name of an 18th century Austrian or some such, but it has to be Bob Dylan. Apart from that shit with Mark Knopfler: what was all that about?
What is your favourite song? > 'The Ghosts Of Saturday Night (after Hours At Napoleone's Pizza House)' by Tom Waits. It's the most bittersweet, evocative thing I've ever heard, and I'm a sucker for a bit of woozy piano.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > America. Having developed the usual teenage sympathies, I can remember being at a house party in late 2001, and someone - a very right-on politics student, I think - was amusing himself by taking a pen to a poster of the Manhattan skyline in the hall and drawing little stick figures falling out of the twin towers. I was disgusted. Also, I now think Marx had significantly less to say than I thought when I first read Capital.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > All very retrograde and reductionist, but Aristotle's Politics, especially the early chapters. He nailed it, right off the bat.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Any form of determinism or utopianism. And don't get me started on all that Karl Popper crap.
Who are your political heroes? > Jawaharlal Nehru. Salam Fayyad. Both proper statesmen, getting things gone. No egotistical fasting or intifadas. And despite a lot, Tony Blair. I remember sitting up cheering with my mum and dad when Labour won in 1997, and even now think that optimism was justified. I mean, he brokered lasting peace in Northern Ireland, for goodness sake.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!' – Upton Sinclair.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > I think the most important thing would be to see the end of a professional political class, through the imposition of term limits on all executive and legislative offices. People stay in politics for too long; they fester and go mad. Turnover is a good thing. Hell, let everyone have a go. If Nick Clegg can sort of do it...
What would you do with the UN? > I'd like to see the organization - and its spin-offs, such as the IMF - get back to their founding remit and principles. The Human Rights Council, for example, is a howling disgrace, and I'm not a fan of the preoccupations of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. This is pie-in-the-sky, but maybe having nations audited against the UNCHR and so on and distributing proportional votes based on that would be a start.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Depends on timescales. Pakistan's precipitous and seemingly unstoppable declension into a nuclear failed state maybe, but who knows? Also I think a lot hinges on what happens at the UN in September, and exactly how big an arsehole Netanyahu is willing to be. He has to be the most piss-poor Prime Minister going. I mean, even Sharon cleared batshit crazy settlers out of Gaza. There is now a porous border to the South, and no-one knows how things in the region are going to shake out. If the US is forced to veto a UN motion on Palestinian statehood, it tells the Arab world exactly what their worst fringes have been saying for decades. What then?
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Fukayama poop/Marxist determinative vision of history question alert… Look: in a few hundred or so years we've gone from nameless, toothless, illiterate corn-mush-eating disease factories dead at forty, to space-travelling, atom-splitting gene-splicers on the cusp of developing a cogent and near complete story of the universe, who don't peg it till we're 80. Not bad! That said, we're only as good as the least prosperous of us, as Eugene Debs sort of said. Still lots to be done.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Be brave, but be kind.
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? > No. At some stage, I want to responsibly sire children, and I can't imagine agreeing with some Randroid freak or other about parenting.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > In any except where I was taking an oath under law, or was otherwise professionally bound. No Kantian crap for me.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Oh my, yes. But not to document.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Dancing. In most sober situations I'd rather eat live bees than dance. Except when I'm on my own, then it's brilliant.
What would you call your autobiography? > Irresistible Sexual Charisma for Dummies. For the sales.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Looking back over the rich tapestry of my life so far, I would say drinking, reading, sleeping, losing weight, gaining weight, and parking.
What is your most treasured possession? > My Fender 1977 Telecaster. US-built, all original, beat up as all hell, and currently on a container ship somewhere between Southampton and Dubai. I'll worry about it every day until it arrives.
What talent would you most like to have? > Languages. What a thing it would be to be able to speak to everyone.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > As David St Hubbins would say, a full-time dreamer.
[A list of all the normblog profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]