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My pick of the 100.

May 13, 2009

It took me three days, off and on of course, to finish TIME’s 100 Most Influential Individuals list.  Some of the info was expectedly predictable, like Barack Obama, Oprah, and Bernie Madoff.  Though the remaining 100 were vaguely familiar to me,  I had no idea how stellar their contributions actually were. For me, the end result of reading the list was a renewed hope that some people are interested in the greater good and giving 1,000% to bring it about in their own ways. 
Here are a few people and thoughts that stuck out for me:

Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France:  I like him for his assertive attitude toward helping women who are mistreated, abused, enslaved, etc. in the world.  And for this quote, “What made me who I am now is the sum of all the humiliations suffered during childhood.”  Who can’t relate to that?

Polar opposite to a Frenchy, T. Boone Pickens: He’s using the fortunes he’s amassed as an oil man to build a $12 billion wind farm in…dun dun dun TEXAS.  The brilliant irony.  A quote from him, “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.” 

Meredith Whitney: The Wall Street analysis who said sell when everyone else said stay.  Her awesome fact — she was the youngest carrier of the Washington Post at the age of 8.

Boris Johnson: He’s the mayor of a crazy town in Britain.  He was born to British parents, but he’s a mutt… Muslim, Jewish and Christian AND one of his ancestors was THE King James.  Google him to see a pic of his crazy blonde hair!

Then there’s another Brit, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister.  Fun fact: At age 10, he invited a notorious local burglar for family dinner. 

How about Timothy Geithner: Did you know he graduated from an international high school in…. Bangkok? True story.

Robin Chase: Creator of the Zipcar with GoLoco.  Thanks to her, people can rent cars for an hour/day.  What really makes her plan work is a networking system where people can connect in order to get the cars without wasting time getting to a central location.

Meg Ryan said this about Tom Hanks: “. . . someone said art is whatever it is that makes you feel less alone.  If this is true, then Tom is art.”  I would be 110% happy if someone said that about me.

I had heard this story before, but everytime I hear it, it makes me happy.  Banker Leonard Abess received $60 million in profits from his own business when it was sold.  He split it up and gave it to 471 employees of City National Bank.  He thought they deserved it more than he did.

Sister Mary Scullion: She founded Project HOME, an organization that helps homeless people in Philly.  She has a 95% success rate.  Pretty amazing if you ask me.  Her mantra, “None of us are home until all of us are home.”

Dambisa Moyo: She’s interesting strictly for a differing viewpoint.  She questions why a continent that has received billions of dollars in aid is worse for the wear than before.  She’s anti-charity, even anti-Bono.  Oh no… haha.

Martin Lindstrom: His study on how advertising affects people really sticks a thumb in the nose of all the things we thought we knew.  For instance, the fact that people start  hating products in ads that appear during American Idol because they interrupt the show. 

This one is a little disheartening, only because there’s so much work to be done.  David Sheft: He wrote a book about his son’s addiction to crystal meth.  He writes about how drug addiction is too often classified as a moral failing, while it should really be studied as a mental illness.  Characterizing it as a disease will offer those addicted to drugs the best treatment and chance of recovery.

On the other hand, this one made me all science nerdy, ’cause it’s about plants! Daniel Nocera:  He’s looking into duplicating the photsynthesis process in plants to create hydrogen fuel.  He’s using cheap elements like cobalt/phosphate to create a catalyst, which doesn’t have to to be stable because it can be broken down, and built back up using solar power.  He has discovered that satisfying global energy needs can be done by splitting a 1/3 of the water in MIT’s swimming pool, just once each second.  And that means power for the entire world.  Seriously, give that man a GIANT chocolate chip cookie.

A few on the list that appeal to me in multiple ways:  First on my list is Nouriel Roubini, the eccentric economist who predicted the current crisis.  He speaks four languages, and I adore that face of his.  There’s speechwriter Jon Favreau, not that Favreau, but the one who writes speeches for Obama.  He’s only 27. Wow.   And of course, George Clooney and Brad Pitt for their work in Darfur and New Orleans, respectively.  Angela Merkel for being the first woman chancellor in Germany.

People I hate on the list: Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.  God, if that woman gets anywhere close to Presidency, I WILL leave the country.  Which brings me to this point, unfortunately I don’t think the women/men ratio of the list is even.  And even worse, I really don’t like a lot of the women on the list.  More reason for women to keep standing strong.

Want to guess who was most influential by the numbers?  Rick Warren.  Uh huh.  His Purpose Driven Life has sold 30 million copies.  I read that book like 5 years ago, do you still count that current and influential?  Guess so.  According to TIME anyway.

#1 on my list.  Daniel Nocera.  Plants for the win Each. and. Every. Time.

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