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[ Neither leaders nor followers! No stars except in the sky! ] Contents of SGML "Some favorite famous people" table
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as of  2014.04.19 14:58:19 UTC
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Person
Reason
[ Lives I envy... ]

Hermann Broch
What he wrote (_The Sleepwalkers_, _The Death of Virgil_, _Notes on the Problem of Kitsch_...): If I was who I wish I was, I would have written many of the words he wrote.
Edmund Husserl
What he thought (_Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity_...). Showed how to go beyond equivocal "scientificness" of Galilean sciences of nature, to self-accountability in all areas of life. Also a decent human being.
Thomas Mann
Born to a "comfortable" life. Lived long and happily and honorably. (Example that one does not need to suffer to be socially constructive or personally creative.)
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Another deep humanistic philosopher (founded modern phenomenological hermeneutics). Still working at age 100.
Giovanni de Dondi
Spent 14 years, in the mid 14th century, constructing an astronomical clock so advanced he had to invent many of the tools to make it. He also thoroughly documented his work, so that, although his clock was soon destroyed for scrap, reproductions of it could be reliably done in the 20th century.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Not an ideal "family man". But right in assessing: "Early in life I had to choose between false modesty and honest arrogance. I chose the latter and have never regretted it."
Prince M. Masud R. Khan
Unconventional psychoanalyst (incl. being Winnicott's literary secretary), deeply cultured, and who used his wealth to help resolve some of his patient's "psychological" problems (when the environment is making the patient sick, change the environment).
Marcel Duchamp
(Would have been fun. "Why not sneeze?" "With hidden noise."....)
[ The good... ]

Donald Winnicott
Gave infancy a voice (_Playing and Reality_, _The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment_...).
Wanda Landowska
Played the harpsichord (magisterially).
Louis Kahn
Believed architecture should nourish persons and designed accordingly.
Roger Boisjoly
Engineer who tried to prevent The Challenger disaster.
Oskar Schindler
Saved Jews in WWII ("Schindler's List") -- but did not pretend to be or try to make anyone else feel guilty about not being "a saint".
David Hume
Skeptical philosopher who tried to live consistent with his ideas, and was a good person all the way through a painful death.
Elliot Richardson
Publicly resigned as Attorney-General rather than carry out Richard Nixon's Watergate coverup orders.
Sun Tzu
Military theoretician. ("The great general wins without fighting.")
Col. John R. Boyd
Military theoretician (jet fighter combat). Based himself on Sun Tzu. Said way to win a guerilla war is by offering the people a more appealing life than the guerillas offer. I would feel good about America if all its military leaders were Boyds!
Joseph Needham
_Science and Civilization in China_. Great and genuinely humanistic scholar.
Edward R. Murrow
News reporter who brought Joseph McCarthy's terrorization of the American people to an end, and exposed other social injustices.
Henry Heimlich
Physician who invented "the Heimlich maneuver", which saves people from choking to death, but costs nothing (better than a high rate of return on investment, does not require investment).
Johannes Kepler
Galileo's contemporary. Another great scientist; but apparently more decent person than Galileo.
[ The irrelevant... ]

Elian Gonzales
"Lightning rod" for United States - Cuban anamosities.
Lori Berenson
Middle-class American who seems to have thought she could play "guerilla sympathizer" in a right-wing third-world country (Peru), but then doesn't want to pay the price (a long jail sentence, probably in unhealthful conditions).
Charles Lindberg
Flew a plane across the Atlantic Ocean (somebody else would have done it soon after if he hadn't).
Tiger Woods
Preternaturally adept at hitting a golf ball where he wants it to go.
[ The dubious... ]

Leon Trotsky
Real revolutionary or just another would-be dictator? (see Robert Capa's "fractured" photo of Trotsky lecturing in Copenhagen, 1932)
John F. Kennedy
Asked people to ask what they could do for their country and not what their country could do for them, without first asking whether their country had done enough for them (and not just for him...) to deserve this.
William J. Clinton
Bright, well-intentioned ("socially progressive") product of a dysfunctional childhood, who rose to become President of The United States, but could not control his personal impulses, and thereby gave his adversaries the means not just to defeat many of his policies, but also to enhance their own positions.
Socrates
Died for what he believed in at an age when he may not have had much longer to live anyway. Made people look foolish by asking them questions he knew beforehand they couldn't possibly answer. Feigned ignorance.
Plato
Great philosopher. Invented universal "pure ideas" to help preserve the particular aristocratic form of life he was part of. Tried to rewrite history to make his philosophical adversaries ("sophists") look far worse than they were, and succeeded.
Aleksander Solzshenitsyn
Made a lot of "moral hay" out of a relatively not so bad stint in The Gulag. Believes in authoritarianism, just not the kind he doesn't like (Stalin's).
Martin Luther King
Another equivocal "martyr" (indulged in silk shirts, etc., as well as in working for social justice).
Mother Theresa
Seemed not just to love the poor, but to love them for being poor (as opposed to helping them be poor no more).
Martin Heidegger
Great philosopher (in his "Es gibt" part). Socially defective (probably did not understand what Nazism was; thought he could teach Hitler the real meaning of National Socialism...). Hypocrite (ranted against "technology", but liked to fly in commercial airplanes, etc.).
Sigmund Freud
Hermeneuticist or psycho-physicist?
Franklin Roosevelt
Prevented capitalism from self-destructing in America in the early 1930s, by alleviating much of the human suffering that process was causing (but not fixing the root cause, i.e., capitalism itself: the form of social life which by its very nature is always out of control). May not have tried as hard as he could to prevent "Pearl Harbor" (thousands of innocent lives lost), to help get America into World War II.
Theodore Kaczynski (AKA The Unabomber)
Murdered innocent people to try to stop technology hurting us.
Galileo Galilei
Invented modern exact mathematical sciences of nature. Prevented this "science" from including critical reconstruction of social life, via example of cowardly abandonment of truth when threatened with torture by The Holy Office of the Inquisition, of The Roman Catholic Church, after having "asked for it" by making a fool of the previously friendly-to-him pope, in a book comparing Copernican, Tychonic and Ptolemaic cosmologies. Demanded persons accept more of his new ideas than he justified to them. Dogmatic Copernican?
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Great manager of scientific research ("father of the atomic bomb") and highly cultured person, but who betrayed a friend (Haakan Chevalier) when he felt threatened by "The powers that be" (American anti-communist "witch hunting").
A. Bartlett Giamatti
Bad: Set bad example for children by leaving Presidency of Yale University to become Commissioner of Baseball. Good: As Commissioner, brought high ethical standards and culture to the sport of baseball.
[ The bad and the worse... ]

John Akers
Helped the sun set on IBM (could, instead, have recognized his incompetence and led the company to seek a more able leader with better prospects to help it through difficult times).
William Turner
Captain of the Lusitania ("At 8.00am speed was reduced to 18 knots to secure the ship's arrival at the bar outside Liverpool at 4.00am the following day, in order to catch the high tide.").
Edward John Smith
Captain of the Titanic ("I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that."). A sense of honor is good, but it is not a substitute for good sense.
Jeremy Bentham
Invented the "panopticon" (cost-effective technology for universal surveillance and social control).
Frederick W. Taylor
Invented "time and motion" studies.
Ronald Reagan
De-ment-ed (Sorry, I meant: "deregulated"...) everything he could get his hands on. (See also his friend: Margaret Thatcher)
Ralph Nader
"Progressive" who gave George W. Bush the presidency in November 2000 election, and still doesn't feel any responsibility or guilt about having done so.
St. Paul
Father of institutionalized intolerant Christianity.
Pablo Picasso
Probable sociopath.
Robert Venturi
Pioneer of cynical architecture (postmodernism).
Karl Abraham
Freud's lackey. Believed that working class persons whose symptoms were due to their feeling oppressed or an attempt to escape their oppression, should to learn to live with their oppression, and not escape it. As a doctor reviewing miner's disability claims, he had opportunity to implement this conviction.
Adolf Eichmann
Followed orders.
Ayatulla Ruhollah Khomeini
Freed the Iranian people from freedom. Major force in rise of Islamic neo-fundamentalism.
Marie ("Madam") Curie
Knew X-rays cause cancer but didn't tell anybody, because she feared the bad publicity would impede their acceptance.
Francis Crick and James Watson
Beat all other competitors to make a big scientific discovery first, by any means necessary. Tried to get them going down blind alleys (Linus Pauling). Denied them credit (Rosalind Franklin).
Alois Hitler
Adolf's father. The only member of the family he did not mistreat was the dog.
Joseph McCarthy
"Tail gunner Joe" (who never got in a military plane except for publicity photos on the ground...). The man behind the word "McCarthyism".
Mahatma Gandhi
Made his family enjoy(sic) voluntary poverty they didn't want. May have used nonviolence as way to get others to do violence and then deny responsibility for it.
Werner Herzog
Makes great films, but doesn't care if people get killed in the process.
Jodie Foster
Actress who played a teenage "slut" in a movie and then said she saw absolutely no connection when an obsessed fan (John Hinckley) tried to assasinate the President of the United States to impress her.
Pete Rose
Baseball player who may have killed baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti with voodoo.
 List last updated: 2003.11.29 18:40:36 UTC. [ ]
 
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