R.M.Alger

Heroes

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Heroes

Thought it might be fun to list people that we personally admire, or that we find worthy of admiration.

These people do not have to be perfect, or even possess good senses-of-life or decent philosophies. I can, for instance, admire Hemmingway for his writing; but realize that he was a self-destructive and very flawed human being at the same time.

Make a list of those who inspire you the most.

-Ryan

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My high school calculus teacher who saved my life by serving as an example to me about what an Objectivist could and should be, even before I knew about Objectivism. I'm still friends with him after 36 years.

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My high school calculus teacher who saved my life by serving as an example to me about what an Objectivist could and should be, even before I knew about Objectivism. I'm still friends with him after 36 years.

Herb? Where is he now?

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My high school calculus teacher who saved my life by serving as an example to me about what an Objectivist could and should be, even before I knew about Objectivism. I'm still friends with him after 36 years.

Herb? Where is he now?

Yes! He's doing well in Rockland County, NY. Just hit the big 70.

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My high school calculus teacher who saved my life by serving as an example to me about what an Objectivist could and should be, even before I knew about Objectivism. I'm still friends with him after 36 years.

Herb? Where is he now?

Yes! He's doing well in Rockland County, NY. Just hit the big 70.

How about some stories of his influence as a teacher in class and out?

For those who don't know, Herb Grossman also tutored Ayn Rand in math near the end of her life.

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My high school calculus teacher who saved my life by serving as an example to me about what an Objectivist could and should be, even before I knew about Objectivism. I'm still friends with him after 36 years.

Herb? Where is he now?

Yes! He's doing well in Rockland County, NY. Just hit the big 70.

I apologize for bringing in a different subject but I wanted to comment on this.

First, I think it is outstanding that Paul still knows and keeps in touch with one of his heroes. Seondly, I find it amazing that the two of you know the same man. Which leads me to the question of how long the two of you have known each other?

Back to the list of heroes. Do you want a list of people that I/we had direct contact with or anyone that we see as being heroic. If you want the latter my list is very long.

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My high school calculus teacher who saved my life by serving as an example to me about what an Objectivist could and should be, even before I knew about Objectivism. I'm still friends with him after 36 years.

Herb? Where is he now?

Yes! He's doing well in Rockland County, NY. Just hit the big 70.

I apologize for bringing in a different subject but I wanted to comment on this.

First, I think it is outstanding that Paul still knows and keeps in touch with one of his heroes. Secondly, I find it amazing that the two of you know the same man. Which leads me to the question of how long the two of you have known each other?

We don't really, but had met at Ford Hall Forum. Herb Grossman had an enormous influence on many good high school students, some of whom went to MIT in Cambridge and others who took annual sojourns to Ford Hall Forum in Boston where they re-encountered other Herb students and their friends. That is how I met Herb, who also used to go to Ford Hall Forum. It illustrates how much of a difference one person can make.

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We don't really, but had met at Ford Hall Forum. Herb Grossman had an enormous influence on many good high school students, some of whom went to MIT in Cambridge and others who took annual sojourns to Ford Hall Forum in Boston where they re-encountered other Herb students and their friends. That is how I met Herb, who also used to go to Ford Hall Forum. It illustrates how much of a difference one person can make.

I met Erich once way back at MIT or the Forum in the 1970s. We had a common friend (remember Warren R.?)

Herb taught in Yonkers, NY for many years where I had lived. It's hard to believe a calculus teacher could influence so many, but he "converted" so many students to Objectivism during the 1970s and 80s, his students referred to his class as "the farm". Many went to MIT and worked on the student newspaper, ERGO. (I still have my copies stashed away.) His favorite expression is "Don't hide behind the word 'we'" which he'd use often when someone asked "why can't we do such and such".

When I was his student (1971), before math class one day I overheard him having a conversation with another student. The only sentence I remember was "I don't believe in god." I was floored because I thought I was the only atheist in the world!!! Herb is the only person in the world who can draw a perfect circle on the blackboard with chalk by hand.

Herb and I used to drive up to Boston on the annual treks to hear Ayn Rand talk. I met so many intelligent people. They served as a life-long inspiration even though I don't see very many of them, but I still maintain contact with some.

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Back to the list of heroes. Do you want a list of people that I/we had direct contact with or anyone that we see as being heroic. If you want the latter my list is very long.

It does not matter, the goal is to list those people who inspire you in someway; you don’t have to personally know them.

Here is a list of some Animation heroes who inspire me:

Walt Disney – I am sure there were better artists then him, but nobody could match his vision.

John Lassiter – The founder and leader of Pixar.

Brad Bird – Directed and wrote The Incredible, The Iron Giant, and Ratatouille; possibly the best director in the animation world.

Hayou Miyazaki – Almost ninety and sill making movies, the most respected director in all of Japan; won an academy award for his film, Spirited Away.

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Hayou Miyazaki – Almost ninety and sill making movies, the most respected director in all of Japan; won an academy award for his film, Spirited Away.

I've seen Spirited Away a couple of times, it is brilliantly created anime.

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Harriet Tubman

Harry Wu

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton

Roald Amundsen

Anton Chekhov

Burt Rutan

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I suppose we're excluding the most obvious hero, Ayn Rand. Some of my others would be:

Wilbur Wright

George Washington

Patrick Henry

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

John Adams - in fact, the whole Revolutionary War generation

Scott Joplin

J.J. Hill

John Rockefeller

Thomas Edison

Socrates

Aristotle

Leonardo da Vinci

Michelangelo

Victor Hugo

Columbus

Galileo

Isaac Newton

Perry Mason :D

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Voltaire

Louis Pasteur

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I think it is outstanding that Paul still knows and keeps in touch with one of his heroes.

I keep in touch with one of mine, and hope to do so for many years to come, i.e. Dr. John Lewis. He is a rare combination: a great intellect, and a man of action.

I admire him for his ability to understand the lessons of history, and show their relevance to today's problems, writing about what he sees, and saying what needs to said, even when it's in front of murderous mobs, which it has been.

Plus, he has a tremendous sense of life. He's great fun to hear, to talk with, and to be around. He's funny - has a great sense of humor - and is a good drummer too!

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The people who have most influenced or inspired me have been (in more or less chronological order)

My father

Superman

My first love

Benjamin Franklin

Leonardo Da Vinci

Robert Heinlein (for his female characters)

Ayn Rand

Stephen Speicher

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My mother - who bravely protected herself and her children from a creeping insidious disaster, who has made the life she wants and earned her happiness, who answered my childish questions honestly, and who only enforced her decisions if I disagreed when it meant my safety. She nurtured the independence I have come to expect as given. I'm lucky to have such a good woman and role model so close to me. :D

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I just came across a wonderful example of heroism in the September/October 2007 issue of MIT Technology Review:

Even though he'd lost his legs to severe frostbite after a climbing accident when he was 17, all Hugh Herr wanted to do was climb. So he went to work in the machine shop, building new legs with rubber grips to grab rock, narrow stubs to wedge into fissures, and spiked feet for climbing ice. Two decades later, Herr, now director of the biomechatronics lab at the MIT Media Lab, is still tinkering, building sophisticated prostheses that can match – and may soon outperform – biological limbs.

Apparently Herr's latest invention is "the world's first robotic ankle," which captures the energy generated when the wearer's foot hits the ground and converts it to forward propulsion; it promises to make the wearer's gait more efficient than that we get from the ankle nature gave us. There's also a great photo of him scaling a rock wall.

What a magnificent example of the indomitable spirit of man. What chance does "cruel Fate" have against a focused human mind?

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My Mom - Hardest working woman I've ever seen, and has suffered more then anyone I've ever seen, but doesn't let that hold her back. She definitely deserves the happiness she tries to achieve, and she doesn't let her past or those who try and mooch of off her prevent her from climbing the ladder of success.

Ronald Reagan - we definitely have our differences, but the guy was still a hero.

George Bush - we deffinitley have our differences, but the integrity in the face of that much opposition for ideas that I do (sometimes) agree with is, to me, a symbol of strength in a time when most politicians fall like dominoes.

James Capella

John Rockefeller

JP Morgan

Warren Buffet

Ayn Rand

Aristotle

I'm definitely what one would call a "Hero-worshiper"

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My bestest, bestest friend, Courtney; she helped me create the person I am today.

Dolly Parton, for having the most visibly amazing senses of life I could ever imagine.

Ayn Rand, of course.

Leonard Peikoff and Onkar Ghate, for making Ayn Rand's ideas intellectually accessible to me.

Galileo Galilei

Isaac Newton

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Heroes

Thought it might be fun to list people that we personally admire, or that we find worthy of admiration.

These people do not have to be perfect, or even possess good senses-of-life or decent philosophies. I can, for instance, admire Hemmingway for his writing; but realize that he was a self-destructive and very flawed human being at the same time.

Make a list of those who inspire you the most.

-Ryan

I don't have heroes as such, as it rather implies hero worship, but people I admire would include inter alia:

- Margaret Thatcher, we needed her than and need someone like her now.

- My Dad, he died twenty years ago, but showed great courage after being on a battle cruiser that was sunk at sea by the Japanese air force three days after Pearl Harbour

- Mrs Stussy88, anyone who can escape an islamist theocracy, start a new life in an alien country and complete a medical degree five years later in a language you didn't even speak at the time has done really well, and

any Cardiff City player who can score the winning goal on May 17th in the FA Cup Final. :D

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These spring to mind -

Real Life:

Thomas Jefferson: should be obvious

John Adams: ditto

Muhammad Ali: for his phenomenal boxing skills and fearlessness in acknowledging his own greatness (note - not for anything else)

John Wooden: for his unparelleled achievement and integrity

Wafa Sultan: for her raw courage in standing up to those who would like nothing better than to enslave her.

Fictional:

Hank Rearden (Atlas Shrugged)

Vianne Rocher (Chocolat)

Harold Abrahams (Chariots of Fire - I don't know enough about the real-life Abrahams to include him above)

Chip Hilton (in the original books, not the newer "Christianized" versions)

Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings)

Not in any particular order, and not an exhaustive list.

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There are too many other heroes from literature and history for me to name, so I'll just name the few heroic people I know personally.

My mom comes to mind first. She is one of the most rational and productive people I have ever met. She managed to raise two kids by herself, better than many households with two parents are able to, while working more than full time as an engineer. She also manages to stay in good enough shape that I still consider her my number one partner for anything I do outdoors- backpacking, skiing, kayaking, etc. Plus, she loves Ayn Rand almost as much as I do.

Two guys from my mom's office - Dave and Gordon- are also my heroes. Individually, they are two of the finest engineers I have met- together, they are unstoppable. They helped my team and me design and build an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) for a competition. (Well, we ran out of money, so it never got built). I grew up hearing stories about these two- finally getting a chance to work with them was a dream come true. Dave does all the math and physics. Not only is he brilliant at both, but he can explain anything to anybody. Gordon could put a man on the moon with a roll of duct tape and a snickers bar. He taught me how to do all sorts of neat things: bend PVC pipe in a kitchen oven, jury rig transducer elements from a torpedo into a directional hydrophone, etc. He is also one of the bes acousticians in the country.

I could go on and on with stories about both, but let me just say they are amazing people, as well as engineers.

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People that I look up to

Frank Miller - For being the closest thing to Objectivism in comic books. Check out his latest work: Holy Terror! Batman!, where Batman, according to Miller, "Kicks Al-Qaida's A**!"

Bill Watterson - The creator of Calvin and Hobbes. The only cartoonist who saw his work as art, and who defended the integrity of his art to the very end. Calvin and Hobbes was the finest cartoon in print and is still refreshing to read nearly 12 years after it went off the printing press

Frank Herbert - Author of the Dune series. The entire theme of Dune was the discovery of the prevention of human extinction. The ending was highly enlightening and extremely life-affirming.

Robert Heinlein - The only Sci-Fi Author I know who made (positive) references to Ayn Rand in his works. He is still one of the most influential sci fi authors that ever lived

People that I admire (despite differences)

Richard Dawkins - Few men have defended secularism with as much articulation as he has. Watching him destroy the arguments of the religious is nothing short of poetic

Ron Paul - Despite his adherence to a Libertarian foreign policy agenda, I couldn't help but agree with his free-market rhetoric. Any political candidate that speaks positively of Ayn Rand is a candidate that I will give the time of day.

Historical figures

Livy - Ancient Roman writer. One of my favorite champions of liberty.

Aristotle - goes without saying on these forums, doesn't it? :D I've never felt so enlightened in my life as I did after reading Aristotle.

Lucius Junius Brutus - Have to give props to the man who deposed the king of Rome and established the Roman Republic

Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus - The man knew how to wage war and win battles.

Cato the Younger - a tragic figure of Rome's history who watched as his beloved Republic disintigrated into competing warlords vying for power and who failed to stop it

Marcus Cicero - Not much needs to be said about the greatest Orator in history. It was a shame that his vision of a free Republic was cut short by that thug, Mark Anthony.

Julius Caesar - A long time favorite of mine. A brilliant general and greater statesman. One of the few Roman politicians who tried to abolish slavery (on utilitarian grounds though, not moral ones). It's a shame that he died when he did; I think it is entirely possible that he could have gone the way of Sulla and surrender his title of Dictator-for-life.

Empress Theodora - Easily one of the most fascinating female figures in history. What she did for the Byzantines is hard to put down in words.

Belisarius - Tragic general. No man did so much with so few resources as he had to work with.

Thomas Acquinas - Took over 800 years of Augustinian tradition and shattered it. The Renaissance would not have occured without this man.

William Shakespeare - The first naturalist. However, also responsible for some of the most beautiful and poetic works in literature.

Thomas Jefferson - Made America what it is today

Thomas Paine - for bravery to speak out against religion in a time when such acts mean public humiliation.

Charles Darwin - The answerer of the great question "where did humans come from?". He gave atheism its great leg up into the world as a respectable viewpoint.

Friedrich Nietzsche - Though there is much to disagree with about his existentialism, his defense of individualism was nothing short of poetic.

Calvin Coolidge - Very capitalist President in a post-Teddy Roosevelt, post Woodrow Wilson era of politics. Widely forgotten in modern politics, which is a shame

Jack Kennedy - The first U.S president with the stones to stand up to the Communists.

Ayn Rand - For obvious reasons :D

Ronald Reagan - I always thought it was sad that Miss Rand didn't live to see what he lived up to be. Despite his warts, he proved to be a very capable President who removed years of statist sentiments in America.

People I have known

Bob Zappallorti - professor of fine arts who helped me get into art school.

Doug Moench - Writer for DC comics who influenced me from an early age that art is a valid route of employment

Bill Duvall - My uncle, CITO and co-founder for Lojack. Certified inventor by the U.S Patents office. Most down to Earth person you'd ever meet.

William Rembert - Tough as nails professor of literature. Pitiless grader. Debated Ayn Rand with me in class. I consider earning his respect to be one of the crowning achievements in my life.

My sister - for being a merciless critic of anything I've produced.

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I present mine in approximate chronology order, ignoring some of their mixed premises:

My Daddy - the ninth of 10 children, born in '32, to a white trash alcoholic

My maternal grandmother - for not killing her ninth child and making him graduate from high school

My daddy's oldest sister who overcame the same obstacles as her brother, but with more grace and style

Andrew Carnegie

George Washington

Thomas Jefferson

My ex-husband - who created a multi-million dollar business from a $5000 loan

My 4th great-grandfather for taking a stand & fighting in the Revolutionary War (his father was a chicken-liver-ed British sympathizer)

Ayn Rand

Aristotle

Betsey Speicher

Stephen Speicher

*Michael Milkin

*Martha Stewart

*George C. Patton

*The brave men of Company E who were able to endure Bastogne

*Survivors of the Holocaust

A great number of the present and former members of this forum

*These are not in perfect order

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Ron Paul - Despite his adherence to a Libertarian foreign policy agenda, I couldn't help but agree with his free-market rhetoric. Any political candidate that speaks positively of Ayn Rand is a candidate that I will give the time of day.

If he didn't want to pull out of Iraq, I would have been waving the... colored* flag of Ron Paul revolution.

*What color would Republican-Libertarianism have?

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There are many, many heroes. Once I started looking for them, I realized just how many. There's also a fair amount of overlap with previous posts.

My personal interests are in sailing, music and investing, so let's go through that in that order.

Sailing: the ultimate sport - pioneers who used to go out and risk their lives to increase the size of the known world, and spread civilisation; nowadays, they climb on super-light beasts and fly above the oceans to beat records. They do such crazy things as going around the world:

or crossing the Atlantic in three days and a bit:
(video chosen because it shows the fastest, largest boat in the world next to the greatest city in the world)

Whilst I have a fair amount of respect for multi-hull sailors, particularly Ellen McArthur (who I can add to my list of heroes) but also people like Frank Cammas, continuously pushing further the boundaries of speed, for me sailing is about monohulls, particularly single-masted ones. And the greatest monohull sailor that ever lived, in my very personal and no doubt chauvinistically French opinion, was (ok, he also introduced the trimaran to yacht racing... but still):

Eric Tabarly

You can read about his awe-inspiring life here, which describes the boats he created and used: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pen_Duick (alas, in French)

In those days, yacht racing was nowhere near as regulated and it was literally whoever has the best machine, as well as the best tactics, wins. Tabarly, who was continuously underfunded in his early career, realised tour de forces of engineering using whatever he could find (for example, Pen Duick II had a Harley Davidson seat in the map room, and a bomber cockpit as weather protector). He loved the original, Fife-built Pen Duick so much that he moulded its now rotten shell after learning to sail on it and recreated it from scratch (he could not afford "historical" recreations). Every new generation of Tabarly boats, even if underfunded compared to its competitors, beat them in most races. Pen Duick III in particular, winning most races in 1967, particularly annoyed the British.

Every hero has a flaw, in the real world. He accepted government money for Pen Duick VI, his entry into the Whitbread, now known as the Volvo Ocean Race. Maybe this is why his mast fell down twice, stopping him from winning that race?

A superhuman sailor, he won the "Transat en solitaire" (transatlantic race, solo) also on Pen Duick VI, navigating alone on this boat which should be crewed by 16! He won this race against another sailor on a 4-masted, much larger boat (Club Mediterranee, renamed Phocea, and this was the renowned Alain Colas). The thought of him handling sails of a weight more suitable for 6 people in the middle of storms reminds me of the scene in Atlas when Rearden and Francisco take out the fire in the furnace.

He died a hero's death, above the original Pen Duick, heading for a Fife event in Scotland. He fell pushed by a side mast changing a sail ("pic de la voile aurique", whatever that is in English); his crew could do nothing (much like the ABN AMRO II crew in the tragic last Volvo race) due to the heavy weather.

Throughout his life, he was more popular than any other of his contemporary sportsmen, whether Tour de France winning cyclists or professional football players. No compromise - it was always about winning, by being the best, the smartest, the fastest, designing the best boat.

Music: an incredible array of personalities. For me, there are two that stand out, although both were operating in the USSR (perhaps great heroes stem from times of pain? One New York emigrated writer springs to mind)

Sviatoslav Richter is considered by many pianists (including myself) as the greatest that ever lived. Why? Flawless playing, and every performance just "works". I never knew why, until I was fortunate enough, one day getting bored in Roissy, to leaf through a 10-page article about his life and work in some classical music magazine. Richter believed in the composer's intentions, and did extreme amounts of research to determine precisely what those intentions were, reading books of the time, looking up references of the premiere or composer-played performances in the press, studying the score carefully to make sure every marking would be spotlessly reproduced. I never really liked the Schumann piano concerto, including being extremely disappointed by a Evgeny Kissin performance with the LSO (I remember telling my friend "it was like a butcher"), until he made me understand what it was about:

Richter's equivalent in the conducting world is the precise, efficient and "cold" Evgeny Mravinsky. 25 years with the Leningrad Philharmonic made them formidable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JhdFlFWiSQ

Observe the lack of unnecessary movements. Yet, this is powerful, far more charged than lesser conductors; admire, for example, Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony (wholly on Youtube) compared to our contemporaries.

Investing and finance: this is where the list risks being longer. There are so many geniuses both alive and dead, but fewer heroes. For example, I consider T. Boone Pickens to be rather distasteful in that he is attempting to move Congress in the direction that would make his long positions in what I call "economically unfriendly" things such as natural gas cars and wind turbine parks. Your tax money, soon my tax money. Not cool. Similarly, I have trouble admiring Buffett despite his extraordinary achievements when looking at his political track record, continuously "believing" in the Democrats, when surely he should know better - investing is about understanding the world better than the other guys, and he's the best!

Hero 1: Seth Klarman. Read his book, "Margin of Safety" (available easily if you know how to search for things on the web). His investing approach is very Objectivist - he believes in fundamental value, spends enormous amounts of time and effort investigating it, and keeps a very conservative portfolio, simultaneously very concentrated (just a few positions, in which he is very sure thanks to his hard work) and with over 50% in cash at times (to protect against e.g. redemptions). Small/mid-cap stocks, although anything is fair game, including derivatives and short positions. This man not only made his LPs very rich, he is making the economy so much more efficient. I could say more about his strategy (was fortunate enough to have it described by someone who knows someone who actually met him), but time is limited, alas. Great man, great results.

Hero 2: Michael Milken. You're probably thinking "errrr just wait a second..." I truly believe that Milken was a victim of the populist establishment, and of the movement that naturally targets successful people. Milken was a revolution in the financial world. He unlocked ("liberated") billions in capital from the stuffy and wasteful corporate world, allocating it to aggressive, driven entrepreneurs; I believe that without his work (not just at Drexel, but in the two preceding decades) we would not be anywhere near as prosperous as we are. He even came up (or at least made very popular) the concept of paying traders a percentage of their P&L, instead of the previous capped, political system. Interestingly, he was indicted on 98 counts, but condemned for only 6 securities and reporting violations never before brought in court, and never after. He got 10 years reduced to 2, and the blood-thirsty socialist mob got their scapegoat. The Drexel insider trader and criminal (and pathological liar) was Ivan Boesky, who also brought the case against Milken. Look Milken up, and read through the bloodthirsty mob's Toohey-like writings; it's worth it.

Ironically, when asked how he did it, he said "I work 25% harder than everybody else". He started work at 4.30am.

Hero 3: Andy Beal. Explanation here: http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/03/banking-a...treet-beal.html

Impeccable integrity. A true Midas if there ever was one.

I also believe a Honorary Mention for Midas Mulligan Hero Award should go to Mr John Allison, Chairman of BB&T, for making Ayn Rand's principles literally a business code of conduct for his bank.

There are too many great investors for me to list them all. George Soros, for daring to short the pound. Beautiful, they deserved it. Peter Thiel is one of my favourites - a principled libertarian (indeed, possibly an Objectivist masquerading as a libertarian), fantastic investor, great entrepreneur (Paypal!) and venture capitalist. Julian Anderson, an instinctive great. All the private equity giants, from Arthur Rock to Steve Schwarzman (who unfortunately does not always behave in the most individualistic way). Philip Fisher, whose book on investing should be required reading for any manager of any corporation (his favourite question: "what are you doing that your competitors aren't doing yet?"). Graham & Dodd, the originals.

Others:

Astrid Benohr: she runs double-deca ironman triathlons and holds records in various multi-ironmans. That's right, 20 times 3.8km swim + 180km cycle + 42km run. In a row. And she has three kids. What a woman! The Dagny of sports. In a similar vein, I have huge respect for those men and women who participate in the deca-ironman race in Monterrey (which lasts about 8 days with perhaps 1h of sleep a day). There's a few in France. One, Pascal Pich, a world record holder in various multi-ironman events, has been denied "high level sportsman" status by the French government, which gives it to Petanque (a form of slow bowling with metal balls) players. He does things like the entire Tour de France in 8 days non stop.

My grandad, who left school very early, and built a very large dock management company from scratch. He also started work at 4am. And yet his 6 kids all say he was always there for them.

Bill Gates. It angers me when people say Gates is great because he spends on charity. No, he is great because he built the most profitable technological empire in the world. Typing this from a Microsoft computer. Honorary mention to the Google guys, whose story is a masterpiece of strong will, vision and determination, and a fair amount of Roark's Quarry. But in light of their political opinions, I just can't bring myself to quote them as heroes. Perhaps their blind love for FDR II will be shattered by disillusion: http://u.nu/2kem

That's it for now. Will probably add some more entrepreneurs later. Thoughts?

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