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The Unapologetic Geek


Top 5 Heroes & Idiots of 2009 - Page 2

Once again, it is time to list the best and worst that humanity had to offer in the previous year. There were some good role models in 2009, but also some truly infuriating douchebags. This list does not necessarily represent the actual worst or best, but instead lists those who got my attention for their excellence or for their lunacy.

3. The Norwegian Nobel Committee
Thorbjorn Jagland, chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee

When it comes to a Nobel Prize for scientific achievement, the various Nobel committees wisely wait at least a decade or two before awarding an achievement. This is because, in science, it isn't always apparent how beneficial or groundbreaking an achievement will ultimately be. After a decade or two, it is usually much clearer that something amazing was accomplished, because it has lead to massive changes in scientific thought, discovery, and process. I fail to understand why the Nobel Peace Prize should be any different. Granted, all of the Nobel prizes have been accused of overt politicism, but none moreso than the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the committee responsible for the Nobel Peace Prize, took it to a whole new level by giving the award to President Barack Obama based on nothing more than his first few days in office. Even President Obama seemed confused and mildly humiliated by the choice, and it lead to the awesomely awkward series of events in which he had to accept the prize while preparing to announce a troop surge in Afghanistan. Any legitimacy the prize had left is now gone, and the Nobel Peace Prize is nothing more than a political joke now. Good job, guys, taking something that should be sacred and honorable and shitting all over it because of your blind political prejudices. Seriously, how did President Obama forward world peace in his first ten days in office? How has he done it yet?

Derrick Tabb
2. Derrick Tabb

Derrick Tabb is the drummer of a relatively obscure band in New Orleans. He makes this list, and was named CNN's Hero of the Year, though, because of something called Roots of Music. Roots of Music is a free music class, organized and taught by Derrick Tabb, that aims to pull people out of the struggling streets of New Orleans and give them both the hope and education they need. Tabb supplies the equipment and instruments himself--with some help from charitable donations--and is already overwhelmed with kids wanting to enroll in his classes. He has made a huge and immediate impact on the area, and should be a source of inspiration for us all.

2. Bill Maher
Bill Maher

I've already devoted an entire blog to Bill Maher's batshit insanity, but I can't stress enough how deeply offended we should be when he gets on his soapbox and rails against modern medicine. He shares this spot, though, with the people who gave him the Richard Dawkins Award, because Maher is anything but a champion of scientific reason. Maher is a conspiracy theorist, cynic, and know-it-all, and any respect I could have had for him was completely lost in 2009.

Simon Singh
1. Simon Singh

Simon Singh is a British author who has written on a wide range of scientific topics, from the big bang to Fermat's Theorem and cryptography. However, he found himself square in the middle of a whirlwind of controversy when he very simply wrote the following:
The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.
British libel laws, in case you are unaware, are incredibly unfair. The burden of proof lies in the accused, and the laws are so general that almost anybody can sue almost anybody else, even people from other countries as long as the allegedly libelous words find their way to British soil (which includes the Internet, by the way). Therefore, when the British Chiropractic Association sued Simon Singh for libel, one would expect that Singh would do what almost everybody else does when sued for libel in Great Britain: settle. But Singh held his ground and refused to apologize for his tame statements. This has lead to an outpouring of support for Singh, a public relations disaster for chiropractic medicine, and serious discussions in British Parlaiment about the need for libel reform. Singh's case is far from over (it is currently on appeal), but he is still fighting, regardless of the financial costs. Simon Singh has become a champion for free speech and open scientific discourse, and for that reason, he is my greatest hero of 2009.

1. Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI in Africa

Forget the fact that he is the Pope. Forget about his controversial opinions on abortion, science, evolution, climate change, and Islam. Forget that he thinks he is a vehicle for the voice of God. Any man who goes into Africa and uses his influence to convince thousands that condoms spread AIDS should be fucking shot. Pope Benedict XVI did just that, and has urged for more missionary work to be done in Africa to help stop the evil spread of contraceptives and make sure the African people aren't using them. If it weren't for condoms, the Pope has said, there would be no AIDS in Africa. God will forgive the blasphemy when I say: Jesus fucking Christ!

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-e. magill 2/9/2010


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