Gut Rumbles

January 22, 2005

on a challenge

After I posted the "10 people who fucked up my country during my lifetime" screed, I received an email from a frequent commenter who asked, "Okay. It's easy to pick villians. Name 10 people who IMPROVED this country during your lifetime."

For James Old Guy I offer this humble opinion of the 10 people who changed my life for the better during my lifetime.

#1-- Ronald Reagan. I grew up during the 60s, when nuclear war was a distinct possibility. We PRACTICED hiding under our desks at school, as if that would do us any good in a nuclear attack. Reagan ended the cold war and dismantled the Berlin Wall. That is a stunning accomplishment.

#2-- Jonas Salk. I had to take yearly polio shots when I was a kid and I actually KNEW other kids with polio. It was a terrible disease and the closing of public swimming pools was not uncommon after a suspected outbreak. Have YOU ever heard of an "iron lung?" Probably not, because Salk cured polio.

#3-- Bill Gates. A lot of people may howl over this choice, but he did more to bring a PC into every home in this country and open the web to computer fucktards such as myself than anyone else has done. He shrunk the world and expanded everybody's horizons.

#4-- John Wayne. He embodied The United States in its purest form--tough, courageous, two-fisted and taking no shit. He was a role model for me. And I still like to watch his movies today.

#5-- Les Paul. He revolutionized electric guitar technology and changed the nature of music. He was a pioneer.

#6-- I want to mention Martin Luther King, but I won't. His work went unfinished, and after his death it became a parody of what he believed. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other race-pimps fucked that up. So, I'll put Rosa Parks here. Somebody had to stand up and say "NO!" and she did.

#7-- Dr. Seuss. Those books were BRILLIANT and they TAUGHT ME TO READ. Kids still like them today. (If I ever have to read "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" again, I think I'll shoot myself. 500 times is enough.)

#8-- Lenny Bruce. Most people don't remember Lenny, but I do. He was an unpleasant fellow and a dope-addict, but he opened a lot of doors for people in a very anal-retentive society. He was the FIRST "dirty" comic and breaking that ground cost him his life. He was arrested and thrown in jail for using the word "schmuck" on stage. Can you imagine that happening NOW?

#9-- Bob Keeshan. That's "Captain Kangaroo," for those who don't recognize the name. He damn surely changed my life when I was a boy. I loved that show.

#10-- Ted Turner. Yeah, he's an asshole, but he's a visionary, too. He made cable TV what it is today.

James was right. It was a lot more difficult picking 10 GOOD people than picking 10 BAD ones.


That's quite a diverse list. You must have really given this one some thought...

I might add:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver for creating the Special Olympics, and changing perceptions of the mentally handicapped. (Not all Kennedys conducted lobotomies on them!)

Posted by: jmflynny on January 22, 2005 12:39 PM

Wow - awesome list. Good job including Lenny Bruce.

Posted by: The Zero Boss on January 22, 2005 12:41 PM

Did you know that Rosa Parks, at the time of her bus incident, was a volunteer secretary at the SCLC, MLK Jr's resistance group?

(That's what I was taught in school, anyway. Never personally verified it.)

Posted by: GORDON on January 22, 2005 01:10 PM

Most people have no earthly idea that recorded music as we've known it for half a century would not exist without Les Paul. He invented multi-track recording, and he is an enormous figure in our history. He's a blessing that very few people understand.

Posted by: Billy Beck on January 22, 2005 01:35 PM

Mikelx, you forgot to mention how Reagan propagated the spread of AIDS by bareback fucking every homo he could find.

Or wasn't that one in your revisionist textbook?

Posted by: rightisright on January 22, 2005 03:09 PM

Here are my top-ten (not just limited to my life-time.. I know that is breaking the rules, but that's what Americans do. We just have to break the rules. So sue me. Sorry :-P ) Still, many of these I agree with you on:

1) Ronald Reagan
2) Thomas Jefferson and John Adams... yes, I put them together... jointly they illustrated the polarized ideas that would become the constant push/pull of the left and right over the generations of this country's history. I *highly* recommend reading their letters to each other... all of them. An amazing conversation... that really is contiuing to this day.
3) Yes, Bill Gates. Love him or hate him, he's been incredible for this country. I'd probably have to add Wozniak and Jobs in this category. If it weren't for them the whole "desktop computing" thing might have taken a *lot* longer to accomplish.
4) Yes, John Wayne for the older-folks among us... for my generation, Clint Eastwood, for the same reasons. Damn, that is one fantastic man. Gotta love a man in tight jeans and cowboy boots.
5) Andrew Jackson. His Don't Tread on Me attitude is quintessentially Scots-Irish. And very very American.
6) Definitely Rosa Parks.
7) Mark Twain. The voice of pure realism and cyncism wrapped with humor and self-deprecation. What can be more American?
8) Louis and Clark. Yes, yes... two people again. Sue me. How many people today could do what they did?
9) Henry Ford.
10) Thomas Edison.

Hubby says I could do a lot more research and come up with the "real" top ten, so obviously he doesn't agree with some of mine... and he says Thomas Edison should be at the top of the list. ;-)

Posted by: The Viewfinder on January 22, 2005 03:47 PM


I'm not certain whether Rob is just too busy to notice, or just too bored to give a damn, but frankly, I can't believe he hasn't ripped your ass yet.

What? Someone disagrees with you and they're an idiot?

Then, fine...go somewhere where 'idiots' don't know, like the D.U....

Posted by: jmflynny on January 22, 2005 05:32 PM

I would argue that Bill Gates didn't personally do jack shit to bring a PC into every home. What he did was stand on the shoulders of extremely smart people, repackage their ideas, and sell the shit out of them, which as a result put a PC in nearly every home.

Gates is a marketing genius, and I'll never begrudge him that. But he's also a thief and has the moral integrity of a Clinton staffer.

And as to the libshit above who thinks Reagan didn't have anything to do with ending the cold war: You might want to actually pick up a history book at some point and realize that the massive US military buildup that the soviets ultimately could not keep up with, and eventually fell apart under, was due entirely to Reagan.

Talking tough doesn't accomplish much unless the other side knows that if they call your bluff, they'll lose.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on January 22, 2005 05:33 PM

Well, I don't think he could have done much to prevent the spread of AIDS, but he didn't seem to give two shits that his fellow countrymen were dying of an awful and uncureable disease,

And why the hell should he? Or anyone, for that matter, who isn't pandering for political gain via appearing to be compassionate?

If someone wants to go off and have high-risk sex, thus infecting themselves, I fail to see how it's the government's problem. Jebus forbid that anyone actually take personal responsibility for their choices in life.

Personally, I'd call it darwinism in action.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on January 22, 2005 05:37 PM

Really, dipshit?

"Including what we have in the budget for '86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I'm sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it'll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there's no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer."

That was said publically by Ronald Reagan on September 17, 1985. Keep in mind this was for AIDS research, non-inclusive of treatment.

Keep revising, shitheel.

Posted by: rightisright on January 22, 2005 09:03 PM

Glad to see the troll boy is gone. To Rob's list I would add Steve Jobs, because let's face it, he's the reason Bill Gates is where he is. And I would also add Jim Henson since he developed educational non-pedantic children's TV and because I love Muppets. Hell, Big Bird and friends taught me to read before I was 3 years old.

I'm not old enough to remember him, since he died before I was born, but I love Lenny Bruce. There are very few "jokers" who are any where near as funny when they work blue.

Posted by: caltechgirl on January 22, 2005 09:42 PM

Roy Rodgers and Sky King were my childhood heroes.

Posted by: Dan on January 22, 2005 10:11 PM

If you want to read about the early AIDS epidemic, the book to read is the Band Played On.

It is nothing if not shocking. Ask yourself:
Who infected most of the hemophiliacs in this country with HIV in 1970's and 1980's. (Hint: Wasn't Reagan.)
2. Who delayed closing the gay bath houses in S.F long after it was realized they were spreading HIV. (Hint: Wasn't Reagan.)

After all, what is the only honorable thing to do when you have been advocating the right to spread HIV by unprotected sex to unwitting partners? (This right was claimed in the early '80's by gay men and their supporters.) Blame a Republican President.

HIV hasn't spread beyond the original high risk groups (Gay men, drug users, and their sex contacts.) in the USA. So, the anti-AIDS campaign has been dramatically successful in the USA.

Think about it. Some people just don't learn.

Posted by: joel on January 24, 2005 10:55 PM

Well... actually...

Rosa Parks didn't standup and say "No!". She /sat down/ and said "No!" ;)

Good list. As for the Bill Gates/computer thing: Jobs & Woz invented the personal desktop computer. If Bill Gates had never been born, we would still have them (and they'd probably work better).

Posted by: Strider on January 25, 2005 11:07 AM

Great list. Very thought provoking!

I agree that Gates was successful largely because of Steve Jobs. However, Gates had the vision that Jobs lacked. He was the Henry Ford of our time. Jobs wanted to build pricey Deusenbergs.

I'd add Hyman Rickover to that list. The submarine leg of the nuclear triad probably accounted as much towards the success of MAD as anything. One can only imagine the uncertainty in the Kremlin whenever the subject of winning a nuke war was broached. The Trident deployment was especially hard for the Soviet Union to attempt to counter.

Posted by: Trooper John Smith on January 30, 2005 04:49 PM
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