It pains me to say that at one time I would have put Steve Irwin on this list, when he died a part of me died. People may have joked about him and said he was silly but I feel that Irwin was an individual of great charisma and incredible talent. He was a wonderful individual caught in a truly unlucky situation (being I believe the 13th person in the world to die from a stingray attack). If there were any justice in the world people like him would be allowed to live for as long as they wish, at least that’s how I feel.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Image from NYT)
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is one of the most energetic people I have ever seen in action in my entire life. I am always incredibly happy to see people who take a profession that they enjoy and I am truly hard pressed to find more than a half dozen people on the face of this Earth that are as enthralled with what they do as Dr. Tyson. I’ve read many studies that say that happiness is contagious and by that respect I’m quite sure anywhere within 300 feet of this individual is in a permanent state of energy and joy. I couldn’t tell you where to go to meet him (although considering he was born in raised in New York as far as I know) but if you are ever in an area where he is visiting I cannot emphasize enough how much of an impact I’m sure a mere few minutes of talking with him about the universe would have upon your life. Just watching his short interviews on television inspire me and I find myself thinking well on into the morning.
I hope when all things are said and done I can enjoy my job (whatever it ends up being) as much as Dr. Tyson appears to enjoy his. Then again had I known how much I liked astrophysics back when I first started college I might have been able to spend my time working towards working for or with him. He is a man who appears to always be thirsting for more knowledge, so much so that he wasn’t even able to leave the Green Room of the Daily Show without completing a Rubics Cube that was on the table. Finally I feel Dr. Tyson has deserved every honor that he has ever received (which are quite numerous from looking at his website).
In fact I see that he will be in Seattle Washington on the 23rd of February, It’s hell to get around the place by bus but that would certainly be worth the 5 dollar entrance fee :).
Philip Zimbardo (Image from 3am.net)
Philip Zimbardo is essentially the man who got me into Psychology. I use the photo above in jest because frankly of the hundreds of photo’s I’ve ever seen the man in he’s always smiling or laughing. He has written many bestselling books (albeit sales does not a good book make but trust me he has some very well written pieces of literature) and conducted one of the most legendary experiments to be discussed in Psychology. I don’t believe I’ve finished a single class without it being discussed for at least a class period. Known as the Stanford Prison Study it showed the psychological effects of being a prisoner or a prison guard. It was an amazing study that overwhelmed me the first time I watched it. It is astounding how quickly people can change from the kind boys on the street to heartless monsters. It reminded me of early videos of German soldiers as the young boys laughed and tossed balls to each other. To know what they would be called to do very soon, to know that they had no idea what was over the horizon. He also has written a book that tends to always be sold out when I order it known as the “The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil” that I highly recommend anyone check out.
His personality is infectious (in the good way ;D) and his voice is one for the ages, I feel that anyone even moderately interested in Psychology or the workings of the mind should watch some of his old videos. They may feel corny by modern standards but even with the technology he had to work with Dr. Zimbardo presents even the simplest of concepts in a way that (at least in my experience) can leave you dumbfounded and hungry for more.
Jon Stewart (Right) and Stephen Colbert (Left) (Image from TVCrunch)
Jon (Too cool for an H) Stewart has been my primary source of news for many many years his amazing ability to deliver political (and sometimes not-so-political) humor is so great that few realize the amazing philosophical mind behind it. Whenever he takes a break from the comedy and begins speaking in earnest you bare witness to some of the deepest insight in the 21st century. In a country full of propaganda (I do mean full) he is a breath of fresh air that never ever fails to deliver. Much like California kidnaps all the good video game development jobs I feel that New York is hogging all the amazing people. While I realize at a time the Daily Show wasn’t starring Jon Stewart but I feel that it could no longer exist without him, it provides some hope I think in the world of journalism that maybe we’ll see more like him (and his wonderfully eclectic reporters) telling us what is really going on. The world is absolutely massive and I find it no less than a crime that there are only two truly earnest news stations on television that don’t bank on terrible events or skew political situations.
Stewart and crew may be accused of a ‘liberal’ twist (amongst other colorful titles) but it is their production of solid evidence and direct quotes that makes it all so wonderfully meaningful. If I ever go to New York one of the things I’d have to do before I left would be to go to the show. Likewise if I was really lucky maybe get a handshake from Jon, which is quite a thing since I absolutely detest handshakes. But considering I am devoid of breasts for him to sign I suppose that’s my next best option.
Of course on second thought bringing “America (The Book)” and having him sign that would be equally amazing. If you live in New York and have not been to a screening of this show I feel that you are bordering on treason (oh yes I said it).
Stephen Colbert is the quirky ‘republican’ super hero to Jon Stewarts Mild Mannered Reporter. When Tek Jansen isn’t laying space babes and falling one hundred stories buck naked he’s providing wonderfully informative (and many times painfully sarcastic) takes on the world around us. There is something behind the delivery of the material that causes the viewer to think and that is a quality that few television shows seem to do anymore. His energy is infectious (much like all those above, it’s a common quality) and his voice is powerful. Colbert embodies many of the traits that I feel make a truly great American. It’s sometimes hard to get a peg on the man behind (what may be a) mask which is even a reality that Colbert has addressed before in interviews but there is only so well someone can act.
Many of the best books I’ve read in the last few years have been as a direct result of interviews held by Stewart and Colbert. Both individuals provide a source of honesty that young Americans desperately desire. As it stands Comedy Central should just place more commercials during their daily reruns of Super Troopers and Scary Movie 1-4 so that they can run both shows without commercials.
In all honesty these days, if not for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, I’d never turn on my television.
To be Continued… (I have a handful more individuals that I’ll talk about off and on over the next month)