2016 sucked real bad and can go kick rocks. My mother lost her house in Baton Rouge (but luckily had flood insurance), both my dogs were diagnosed with cancer and these weren’t close to the most tragic Fury Toad family events. Again, I can’t understate how glad I am that 2016 is behind us.
Much has been made about the deaths of human icons in the prior year, so I decided to make a list of those who were still with us so that we can appreciate their contributions prehumously. Without further delay… the rules:
Rule #1 – I am not superstitious and therefore there is no correlation between inclusion on this list and impending doom. If you are superstitious, please close your browser and go back to worshipping Antipodean art or that lock of Jimmy Johnson’s hair that you bought on EBay back in 97.
Rule #2 – I limited the list to those who have reached or exceeded the median life expectancy for humans by gender (76 for women, 72 for men). One could get easily bogged down by how it’s a miracle that Ozzy Osbourne (68) still draws breath, so I had to limit it somewhere. Don’t like it? Try taking a sip from a tall, ice-cold mug of “go make your own list”.
Herschel “Woody” Williams (93) – My personal favorite on this list – In an age where most of our young adults need a day off and a head pat when their iPhone updates take too long, I’m comforted by a time when great Americans were forced to grow up a little faster. Woody Williams was born of that time. On Feb 21, 1945, while under 4 HOURS of withering enemy fire, Cpl. Williams defeated numerous (rumored to be 5 or more) enemy pillboxes on the beaches of Iwo Jima. He did this with a flamethrower. What many of you probably don’t understand is that the standard M2 issue backpack flamethrower was only effective out to about 100 feet with a full charge lasting between 7 and 9 seconds. He had to get close and he took several trips. I can’t possibly describe how much of a stone cold badass this man is. Not even his Congressional Medal of Honor could repay his bravery and commitment to the United States. I encourage everyone to read more about Mr. Williams and our other CMH recipients.
Chuck Yeager (93) – Speaking of badasses, the man who broke the sound barrier is still with us. Way, back when the President wasn’t trying to be friends with the Russians, a bunch of scientists said “Hey Chuck, We were thinking of strapping you to a series of rocket motors in an attempt to fly faster than the speed of sound. Literally, everyone who has tried this before died in the attempt. What do you think?” He accepted and accomplished the feat two days after suffering broken ribs in a horse-riding accident. He’s also named “Yeager” which is a substance that’s taken down more men than residual stripper-glitter. We salute you General Yeager.
Jane Goodall (82) – The world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees continues her work as a researcher and activist. While most of you couldn’t point out Tanzania on a map with a gun to your head, Goodall has done much to study the behavior of primates with the goal of linking their traits to our hominid ancestors. She’s also only the 8th person to receive a Cambridge PhD without an undergraduate degree. My understanding is that they don’t really throw those to anyone.
Stephen Hawking (74 – turns 75 next week) – In addition to living with ALS for 4 decades, Dr. Hawking developed a method for performing calculations in quantum physics using intricate geometric shapes in his head. Your kids are going to hate you anyway, so the least you can do is make them learn long division.
The Archbishop Desmond Tutu (85) and the Dalai Lama (81) – Opponents of global oppression are legit and these two are veterans of that struggle. Desmond Tutu was a vocal opponent of apartheid while the Dalai Lama works tirelessly for peace and full independence for Tibet. They’ve both met Bill Murray.
G Gordon Liddy (86) – Veteran, FBI agent, “Plumber”… Someone who did the dirty work and kept his mouth shut when the heat came down. Any 86 year old who has issued the “double bird” to the U.S. Senate is proudly included on this list.
Warren Buffett (86) – The wealthiest man on the planet (who still lives in the same Omaha home he purchased in 1957) is still cutting billion dollar deals. Warren laughs at your tech stock ETF.
George HW Bush (92) & Jimmy Carter (92) – Veterans and Presidents albeit on completely different sides of the isle. One of them gave me my favorite Presidential photograph.
Jim Lovell (88) – The commander of the legendary Apollo 13 mission is alive and well. When you think about your problems, just know they could be worse. They could be “248,000 miles from Earth in a malfunctioning vehicle made by your government with less functional power than an iPhone connected to a coffee maker” worse.
Soon I’ll add the “Athlete” category