sat6oct2007—40w279d76%— 09h50m00s—0utc

Sometimes, I must confess, I can be such a jewpie U. Now, of course I regard Judaism with the same special scorn I reserve for all religions, of course I think endogamy and voluntary isolation are bullshit (“We have lost more Jews to intermarriage than to the Holocaust”; “..better to lose a kid here and there and save the community”), and of course I condemn Israeli violence (I’ve never been able to wrap my head around Zionism — why would America’s elite minority give a rat’s ass for some piece of desert?). But the thing is, I not only resonate strongly with Jewish secular culture (with Richard Rodriguez ELZR arrogance I confess to trying to become more Jewish ELZR), I find secular Jews extremely over-represented among what I consider to be the very best things we as a species have made — y’know, science, physics, math, computers, technology, the web, economics, capitalism, business, philosophy, literature, academia, modern pop culture…

That above, only impromptu, was what I answered when Andrea, whom I love but who can be frighteningly fundie U some times, shocked me with some rather anti-semitic comments. She remained skeptical and demanded examples of such mensch. I stuttered two or three before I blanked out.

And this was how I started compiling a list of Jewish people I admire for some reason or other — a task surprisingly easier than I expected, thanks both to the famed Jewish self-obsession and to paranoiac antisemitism. I’ve included the intersection of influential AND admired-by-me Jews (so you won’t find, say, Freud or Marx, who while influential, are personally anti-admired) and I mention their books or accomplishments that have most impressed me. It’s been some months now of almost subconscious compiling and while the list is of course incomplete, it’s already intriguing.

So, a to-be-updated list of influential AND admired-by-me Jews:

  1. Ludwig Wittgenstein WP: One of 20C’s greatest philosophers. What little I’ve understood of his Tractacus I’ve been very impressed. His “why do we call something a number?” EEM is one of my favorite quotes ever.
  2. Virginia Postrel WP: Libertarian writer of The Future and its Enemies AM, the book that single-handedly got me out of college.
  3. Cory Doctorow WP: Scifi writer of the Eastern Standard Tribe and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, blogger, cofounder of BoingBoing, (fascinating) columnist, college dropout university professor.
  4. Joe Haldeman WP: Scifi writer of The Forever War AM and None So Blind, one of my favorite scifi short stories ever.
  5. Niels Bohr WP: One of 20C’s greatest physicists.
  6. Josh Schwartz WP: Creator and executive producer of The O.C WP, Gossip Girls WP, and Chuck WP; college dropout.
  7. Henri Lebesgue WP: Mathematician, creator of measure theory. [Not Jewish]
  8. Philip Roth WP: Novelist.
  9. Harold Bloom WP: Literary critic.
  10. Sanford I. Weill WP: billionaire former CEO and chairman of Citigroup.
  11. Steven Weinberg WP: Nobel physicist, science advocate.
  12. Tobias Dantzig WP: Mathematician, author of Number AM.
  13. Sergey Brin WP: Google co-founder.
  14. Larry Page WP: Google co-founder.
  15. Isaac Asimov WP: One of the greatest scifi writers ever, a great science writer too, author of the Foundation series WP.
  16. Steven Pinker WP: Linguist.
  17. Jared Diamond WP: Historian, author of Guns, Diamonds, and Germs AM.
  18. Franz Kafka WP: Novelist.
  19. Bob Dylan WP: Singer and songwriter.
  20. Richard Feynman WP: One of 20C’s greatest physicists, scientific rock star, author of _ Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!_ AM and his famed lectures on physics^ EEM, AM^.
  21. Andrew Grove WP: Intel CEO and founder early employee.
  22. Karl Popper WP: Philosopher of science.
  23. Ludwig von Mises WP: Major economist, libertarian, leading light of the Austrian school, author of Human Action
  24. David Friedman WP: Major libertarian/anarchocapitalist economist, author of The Machinery of Freedom^ ELZR, AM^ and Hidden Order AM.
  25. Milton Friedman WP: Nobel free-market economist.
  26. Darren Aronofsky WP: Film director of Pi WP, Requiem for a Dream WP:, and The Fountain WP.
  27. Albert Einstein WP: Physicist, so renowned he has become the archetypal genius.
  28. Friedrich Hayek WP: Major free-market economist, author of The Road to Serfdom AM.- [Not Jewish.]
  29. Stephen Jay Gould WP: Paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, historian of science.
  30. James Harris Simmons WP: Mathematician, billionaire, founder of one of the most successful quant funds ever.
  31. Bruce Schneier WP: Major cryptologist, author of Applied Cryptography AM.
  32. Norbert Wiener WP: Polymath genius, mathematician, creator of cybernetics, author of I Am a Mathematician AM.
  33. Mark Zuckerberg WP: Programmer, entrepreneur, creator of Facebook.
  34. Thomas Friedman WP: Popular columnist, advocate for globalization, author of The World is Flat AM.
  35. Max Levchin WP: Multimillionaire entrepreneur, cofounder of PayPal WP.
  36. Ludvic Lazarus Zamenhof WP: Linguist, creator of Esperanto!
  37. Ray Kurzweil WP: Futurist, inventor, leading writer on the singularity, author of The Singularity is Near^ ELZR, AM^.
  38. Joshua Schachter WP: Programmer, creator of del.icio.us.
  39. Levi Strauss WP: Inventor of jeans.
  40. John von Neumann WP: Mathematician, legendary polymath. One of 20C’s smartest, most influential men.
  41. Erich Fromm WP: Psychologist, author of The art of loving AM and Escape from Freedom AM.
  42. Michael Moritz WP: Famous Sequoia Capital venture capitalist, major Silicon Valley figure.
  43. Arthur Blank WP: Businessman, Home Depot’s WP cofounder.
  44. Michael Bloomberg WP: Entrepreneur, founder of the Bloomberg network^WP^.
  45. Steve Ballmer WP: Executive, Microsoft’s CEO, billionaire.
  46. Mark Cuban WP: Billionaire web entrepreneur.
  47. Ayn Rand WP: Libertarian writer, author of Atlas Shrugged AM, major 20C philosopher.
  48. Paul Halmos WP: Mathematician, author of Naive Set Theory AM and I Want to Be a Mathematician AM.
  49. Susan Sontag WP: Writer of, among others, her fantastic Notes on Camp.
  50. Jorge Wagesnberg WP: Physicist, philosopher of science, writer of 500 preguntas sobre la incertidumbre ELZR, El Gozo Intelectual, and A mas como, menos porque.
  51. Georg Cantor WP: Mathematician, creator of transfinite numbers.
  52. Theodor Herzl WP: Writer, essayist.
  53. Marcel Proust WP: Major novelist.
  54. Richard Stallman WP: Programmer, creator of Emacs, and father of the free software movement.
  55. Murray Gell-Mann WP: Major 20C physicist.
  56. Viktor Frankl WP: Psychologist, author of Man’s Search for Meaning AM.
  57. Marvin Minsky WP: Major AI figure, cognitive scientist, author of The Society of Mind AM.
  58. Jef Raskin WP: Major interface designer, father of the Macintosh, author of The Humane Inteface^ ELZR, AM^.
  59. Aza Raskin WP: Interface designer, founder and president of Humanized.
  60. Eliezer Yudkowsky WP: Major thinker on the singularity ELZR, high-school and college dropout.
  61. George Soros WP: Billionaire, financier, philanthropist, “the world’s only private citizen with a foreign policy.” BN
  62. Howard Schultz WP: Founder of Starbucks, author of Pour your heart into it AM:
  63. Michael Dell WP: Founder of Dell, billionaire, author of Direct from Dell AM.
  64. Carl Sagan WP: Cosmologist, science writer.
  65. Woody Allen WP: Film director and writer.
  66. Eva Vertes WP: Health researcher ELZR, personal hero.
  67. Steven Spielberg WP: Billionaire film director, movie virtuoso ELZR.
  68. Joel Spolsky WP: Software blogger of Joel on Software, programmer.
  69. Bob Rosenschein WP: founder and CEO of Answers Corporation, creators of Answers.com, without which life wouldn’t be nearly as bright.
  70. Stephen Wolfram WP: Mathematic, programmer, physicist, likely next Newton, author of A New Kind of Science.
  71. Robert Nozick WP: Libertarian economist, philosopher. Author of Anarchy, State, and Utopia and, say, Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?.
  72. Natalie Anger: Atheist science writer, author of The Canon.
  73. Charles Stross: WP Scifi writer, author of the mindblowing Accelerando, programmer, blogger.
  74. Seymour Papert WP: Education pioneer, creator of Logo, mathematician, computer scientist.
  75. Herbert Simon WP: Computer scientist, cognitive phychologist, Nobel economist, one of the most influential social scientists of the twencen, author of The Sciences of the Artificial.
  76. John McCarthy WP: Major computer programmer and AI researcher, creator of Lisp.
  77. Edward Fredkin WP: Digital physicist and philospher, one of the first people to imagine that the whole universe might be a computer, college dropout multimillionaire programmer and entrepreneur.
  78. Douglas Hofstadter WP: Major cognitivist and AI researcher, author of Goedel, Escher & Bach.
  79. David Gelernter WP: Interesting computer scientist.
  80. Benoit Mandelbrot WP: Mathematician, father of fractals.
  81. Mitch Kapor WP: Multimillionaire designer of Lotus 1-2-3, cofounder of EFF.
  82. David Ricardo WP : One of the most influential classical economists. Popularizer/discoverer of the principle of comparative advantage.
  83. Seth Godin WP: American marketer, tremendously influential on web culture. Added June 5, 2009.
  84. Patri Friedman Executive director of the Seasteading Institute, the most exciting thing to happen to libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism in our generation. Transhumanist, software engineer (formerly at Google) Third in a legacy of profoundly influential and interesting free men, the Friedmans. Added July 14, 2009.
  85. Guy Deutscher WP Linguist, author of The Unfolding of Language, a fascinating book on how complex language evolved, how we “acquired the ability to build bridges between minds.” Added December 28, 2009.
  86. Alain de Botton WP Swiss-British essayist philosopher. Heir to a multimillion fortune, he supports himself writing excellent, pop philosophical books on love, work, travel, architecture. Superb tweetter. Added April 19, 2009.
  87. Howard Bloom E2 Former psychologist, found success in the musical industry, now writes unique, speculative dazzling nonfiction. His Genius of the Beast is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Follow me on Twitter!  |  Back to ELZR.com