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The Unapologetic Geek


Top 5 Heroes & Idiots of 2010 - Page 2

3. BP

Ah, the BP oil spill. Sure, the biggest news story and man-made ecological catastrophe in recent memory didn't do as much damage as predicted, but it was still abhorrent in every way. It was a failure from the top all the way down to the bottom. From government looking the other way in the face of gross safety violations to a clean-up that was sloppy at best, from the company that ignored the potential danger to the madness of laws that only allowed it to drill in deep water, and from the workers who weren't properly trained to the contingencies that simply didn't exist, there is no escaping the blame. Nobody walked away from this with their hands clean, and now we have to put up with people who want to use this as an example of why mankind can't be trusted to do anything right. But hey, at least the disaster inspired one of my best blogs ever, not to mention a South Park episode featuring Cthulhu (ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn), so it wasn't a total loss.

Warren Buffett
2. Warren Buffett

It should go without saying that I don't usually agree with Warren Buffett's politics or his definition of social justice. However, when a billionaire pledges to donate 99% of his wealth to charitable organizations and then gets 39 other billionaires (including Bill Gates and George Lucas) to agree to similar--though smaller--pledges of at least 50%, his politics are beside the point. It's tempting to point out how hypocritical it is for a lefty like Buffett to decry the evils of the rich while proving that they aren't necessarily the poor-stomping evil bastards the left likes to say they are, but being critical of a guy who is doing more for people than I can ever hope to do is pretty stupid. The 40 billionaire pledge started by Warren Buffett in the midst of a stubbornly lackadaisical economy is a great thing, and it deserves more recognition than it seems to be getting.

2. The TSA

Once the government took control of airport security, we all should have known this was coming. It also isn't a stretch to say that it is going to get worse. Security checkpoints at airports are gross violations of our civil freedoms, but too many people are just shrugging it off as no big deal when we are forced to choose between having naked pictures taken of us and getting invasively groped by a stranger. It is as if the mere act of getting on an airplane is now automatic probable cause to assume a person is a terrorist. Let me be clear here: if a cop pulls you over and smells alcohol on your breath, he still doesn't have enough probable cause to do what TSA screeners do to tens of thousands of people every single day. This is completely out of control, and the worst part of all is that it doesn't improve our security one bit. No matter how strong a security checkpoint is, there are always ways around it. Therefore, the only things keeping us safe in the air are reinforced cockpit doors, a public more aware of the reality of suicidal terrorism, and the fact that less than one one-millionth of one percent of people are potential terrorists. Last year, I wrote a blog in which I theorized that security checkpoints might not even be necessary, and I expressed hope that some airport somewhere would demonstrate this. Alas, that was before I was informed that not following the gestapo tactics of the U.S. government is now technically illegal, even though you can opt out of having TSA screeners, as long as somebody is doing plenty of inappropriate groping in their stead. The government has complete control and is violating your freedoms, and nobody seems interested in doing anything about it. They've managed to make us cower in fear of a boogeyman that feeds off of us cowering in fear, and at the end of the day, the enemy is not only winning, but it's laughing at us. That's just fucking great.

Christopher Nolan
1. Christopher Nolan

I've been a fan of Christopher Nolan since I caught a screening of Memento at a film festival at the University of Florida in 2000. At the time, I reserved judgement on the man as a writer and director, because one great movie does not an auteur make. However, as the years have passed, Nolan has directed and written (usually with the help of his brother, Jonathan) several quality films, including The Prestige and, of course, The Dark Knight. Though The Dark Knight ensured I'd be a fan of Nolan for a very long time, it wasn't until last year's Inception that I was willing to list him among the greatest writer/filmmakers. Partially because it feels like something I'd write (and has many of the same ideas in it as my novel Thesea), but mostly because it's so well-written and well-crafted, Inception is possibly the best movie of 2010 and has immediately become one of my favorite movies of the century so far. Added on top of Nolan's other great works--the highlight of which is still The Dark Knight--Inception is enough to ensure the man's immortality and, more importantly, the top spot on my list of 2010's greatest heroes.

1. Oprah Winfrey

Am I the only one who sees the switching of Discovery Health to the Oprah Winfrey Network as a sign of the apocalypse? In all seriousness, Oprah has popularized some of the worst psuedoscience has to offer, from Jenny McCarthy arguing that we shouldn't vaccinate our children to John of God using obvious parlor tricks to make money off of people who are dying of cancer. Anybody who values critical thinking should oppose Oprah Winfrey, and her continued accolades in 2010 are proof that our society needs to work harder on education. I have nothing to say about Oprah Winfrey as a human being--as I don't know her--but as a popular figure, she is irresponsible in the extreme. We cannot calculate how many people have died because somebody believed something stupid paraded as fact through one of Oprah's many outlets. Truly, people have probably died in part due to Oprah Winfrey's influence, and that is not an exaggeration. Wake up, people. Psuedoscience, fake spirituality, and alternative medicine, when put ahead of reason and evidence, costs lives. Oprah Winfrey is not a woman to be respected and admired; she is a powerful force of idiocy to be refuted as publicly as possible.

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-e. magill 1/4/2011


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