This page is dedicated to those few that I consider ‘Real Heros’.
As I get the chance, I’ll add to these notes.
“If you would not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy reading,
Or do things worth the writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin-
My wife, friend and confidant since 1968; she has been with me through the good times and bad. She helps keep me grounded and well-fed. Thanks boo’ful!
My grandmother and primary parent during my early years. She saw to it that I had a better-than-average education and for that, I’m eternally grateful. She taught me to be polite and to appreciate other cultures.
Jose Mendez Parra
My step-grandfather was born in the mountains of Michuacan, Mexico. He went through all three Mexican revolutions of the early 20th century on all six sides. He was a survivor and taught me much of what it means to be a man. Un caballero; feo, fuerte y formal.
Richard Phillips Feynman (May 11, 1918 – Feburary 15, 1988) was one of the most influential American physicists of the 20th century. Feynman was a keen and influential popularizer of physics in both his books and lectures, notably a seminal 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom and his transcribed lectures, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, a 3-volume set which has become a classic text. Known for his insatiable curiosity, gentle wit, brilliant mind and playful temperament, he is also famous for his many adventures, detailed in the books Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, What Do You Care What Other People Think? and Tuva or Bust!. As well as being an inspiring lecturer, bongo player, notorious practical joker, and decipherer of Mayan hieroglyphics, Richard Feynman was, in many respects, an eccentric and a free spirit. He liked to pursue many independent paths, such as biology, art, percussion, and lockbreaking.
Jerry Pournelle, (born August 7, 1933) is an American essayist, journalist and science fiction author who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte. He has served as a past President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is an avowed conservative; some of his critics describe him as “slightly to the right of Genghis Khan”, though he was at one time a member of the communist party. Pournelle opposed both Gulf Wars, maintaining that the money would be better spent developing energy technologies for the United States. He is quoted as saying “with what we spent in Iraq we could build nuclear power plants and space solar power satellites and tell the Arabs to drink their oil.” His web site is critical of the Iraq War, but demands support of troops committed there. “Once you send the troops in, you have no choice but to give them what they need until you bring them home.”
Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most influential and controversial authors of “hard” science fiction. He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility that few have equaled, but also helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality. For many years Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the Big Three of science fiction.
The major themes of Heinlein’s work were social: radical individualism, libertarianism, solipsism, religion, the relationship between physical and emotional love, and speculation about unorthodox family relationships. His iconoclastic approach to these themes has led to wildly divergent perceptions of his works. His 1959 novel Starship Troopers was excoriated by some as being fascist. His 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, on the other hand, put him in the unexpected role of pied piper to the sexual revolution and counterculture. The English language has absorbed several words from his fiction, including “grok,” meaning “to understand something so thoroughly that it becomes part of the observer.”
Of all the strange “crimes” that human beings have legislated of nothing, “blasphemy” is the most amazing – with “obscenity” and “indecent exposure” fighting it out for the second and third place.
-Robert A. Heinlein-
Stewart Brand (born December 14, 1938 in Rockford, Illinois) is an author, editor, and creator of The Whole Earth Catalog and CoEvolution Quarterly. His intent with the Whole Earth Catalog was to enable people to find virtually any sort of information useful to themselves, in the belief that humans would then develop a new, positive and sustainable culture and technology for themselves; in this way, his ideas were forerunners of the Internet. Hence, Brand later pioneered the online community The WELL. Brand is noted as an editor who published writings by many of the now-acknowledged innovative thinkers of today, early in their careers. He is one of the co-founders of the Global Business Network. Brand was also one of a group of “futurists” consulted in the planning stage of the feature film Minority Report.
Nicholas Negroponte (born 1943) is an American computer scientist best known as founder and ex-director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. He is the brother of John Negroponte, United States Director of National Intelligence.
In 1968 he founded MIT’s Architecture Machine Group, a combination lab and think tank which studied new approaches to the human-computer interface. In 1985, Negroponte piloted MIT’s Media Lab into existence.
In 1992, he became involved in the creation of Wired Magazine as a minority investor. From 1993 to 1998, he contributed a monthly column to the magazine in which he reiterated a basic theme, his credo “Move bits, not atoms.”
Negroponte sits on several boards including Motorola and Ambient Devices. He has invested in over 30 startup companies over the last 30 years, including Zagats, Wired, Ambient Devices, and Skype. Negroponte has left the MIT Media Lab in February 2006 to devote his time to the One Laptop Per Child project.
William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr., Ed.D (born July 12, 1937) is an American actor, comedian, television producer and activist.
Bill Cosby is one of America’s most popular and admired entertainers, known for his wit and warmth both onstage and off. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start working clubs and making comedy albums, then moved into television with a vanguard role in the 1960s action show I Spy. He later starred in his own series, The Bill Cosby Show, in the early 1970s, and is known for creating the humorous educational cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city.
He has also continued appearing on the stand-up circuit, delighting audiences with his gentle, paternal brand of comedy. His material consists mainly of anecdotal tales, often dealing with his upbringing and raising his own family, and he is known for having a clean, kid-friendly routine.
Fred Reed is a columnist for The Washington Times. A former Marine, Reed is a streetwise police writer, an occasional war correspondent, and an aficionado of raffish bars. His often satirical and opinionated columns are released weekly.
Fred’s output defies characterization as his articles include those attacking feminism (generally the proviso of the right), George W. Bush (generally the proviso of the left) and evolution (generally the proviso of religious fundamentalists). Many of Reed’s articles speak of a yearning for a simpler time, and urge the reader to forgo the pursuit of money and comforts in favor of a cultured life of the mind. Reed is currently living in Mexico as an American expatriate.
Admiral Grace Hopper
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and naval officer. A pioneer in the field, she was the first programmer of the Mark I Calculator and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language.
While she was working on a Mark II computer at Harvard University, her associates discovered a moth stuck in a relay and thereby impeding operation, whereupon she remarked that they were “debugging” the system. Though the term computer bug cannot be definitively attributed to Admiral Hopper, she did bring the term into popularity. The remains of the moth can be found in the group’s log book at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C..
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 N.S. – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Embargo Act of 1807, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806).
A political philosopher who promoted classical liberalism, republicanism, and the separation of church and state, he was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786), which was the basis of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party which dominated American politics for over a quarter-century and was the precursor to today’s Democratic Party. Jefferson served as the second Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), first United States Secretary of State (1789–1793), and second Vice President (1797–1801).
In addition to his political career, Jefferson was an agriculturalist, horticulturist, architect, etymologist, archaeologist, mathematician, cryptographer, surveyor, paleontologist, author, lawyer, inventor, violinist, and the founder of the University of Virginia. Many people consider Jefferson to be among the most brilliant men ever to occupy the Presidency. President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962, saying, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most prominent of the Founders and early political figures and statesmen of the United States.
One of the earliest Founders, Franklin was noted for his curiosity, writings, ingenuity and diversity of interests. His wise and scintillating writings are proverbial to this day. He shaped the American Revolution; a leader of the Enlightenment, he gained the recognition of scientists and intellectuals across Europe and the United States. As an agent in London before the Revolution, and Minister to France during, he more than anyone defined the new nation in the minds of Europe.
He spent many years in England and published the famous Poor Richard’s Almanack and the Pennsylvania Gazette. He formed both the first public lending library and fire department in America as well as the Junto, a political discussion club.
Franklin was interested in science and technology, carrying out his famous electricity experiments and invented the Franklin stove, medical catheter, lightning rod, swimfins, glass armonica (not the harmonica, which was invented long after Franklin), and bifocals.
He also played a major role in establishing the higher education institutions that would become the University of Pennsylvania and the Franklin and Marshall College. In addition, Franklin was a noted linguist, fluent in five languages. He also practiced and published on astrology (see Poor Richard’s Almanac).
Franklin was also noted for his philanthropy and several liaisons, including that which produced his illegitimate Loyalist son William Franklin, later the colonial governor of New Jersey. Towards the end of his life, he became one of the most prominent early American abolitionists.
Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Just an observation and anectdote:
Someone sent me the following in an email. I have no idea who originally wrote it, but I totally agree with the feelings.
Someone I had never seen before came up to me in the grocery store
and made a comment to me about my leather boots and how I was walking
in the blood of innocent creatures.
I replied that perhaps I had contributed to the killing of one,
domestic cow whose body parts were all put to good use. Then I
pointed out how the synthetics in her shoes were processed by methods
that poison the environment and degrade the habitat of uncounted
innocent creatures, that her purchase of those shoes supported a
megacorporation that exploits poverty stricken, third world workers,
and is a major shareholder in other companies that contribute to the
destruction of the rainforest. To top it all off those shoes were not
bio-degradable or recyclable.
I looked at her and asked her which one of us had committed the
greated crime? She looked like she was about to cry when I walked