Bunny Ears Lawyer/Real Life

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Examples of Bunny Ears Lawyer in Real Life include:

Classes of People

  • Very common among ice hockey goaltenders. Terry Sawchuk suffered from bouts of depression throughout his career, eventually dying from injuries resulting from an off-ice scuffle with a teammate. Patrick Roy talked to his net, and refused to skate over the blue lines that separated the defensive and neutral zones. Gilles Gratton, who wore a tiger themed mask, is reported to have hissed and growled at opposing players. An old expression among ice hockey players is, "He's normal... for a goalie."
    • It takes a special kind of person to put aside the logic of self-preservation and throw one's body in front of a hard disk pursued by very large men armed with sticks and low coefficients of friction. Very special.
  • Mathematicians seem to be very prone to this:
    • Paul Erdo"s was famous not only for his intensely prolific mathematical career but also for his idiosyncratic vocabulary (children were "epsilons", women were "bosses", men were "slaves", the Soviet Union was "Joe" (Stalin?) and the US was "Sam" (Uncle?), etc.) and being helpless in day-to-day life to the point that fellow mathematician Ron Graham accompanied him a large amount, almost to the point of being his caretaker. For much of his life, he had no permanent home, and no possessions but a bag of clothes and some notebooks, but was so well respected that other mathematicians would let him stay over nearly anywhere he happened to travel. He also accused God of hiding his socks.
      • The amphetamines probably helped his eccentricities along; on the other hand, when he gave them up for thirty days on a bet, he claimed that the '...progress of mathematics had been set back by one month.'
      • He also had a skin condition that meant he could only wear silk, which his host had to wash for him. He did mathmatics twenty hours a day and would bang pans together when he wanted your attention, usually to do math in the middle of the night. He didn't show up at peoples' homes at random, but he researched them and proclaimed "My mind is open" when they answered the door. He's still considered so influential that mathematicians keep track of how many papers they are removed from him.
    • Kurt Gödel was a paranoid recluse with a terror of being poisoned, refusing to eat any food his wife Adele hadn't tasted for him. When she was hospitalized for six months, he starved to death.
    • John Forbes Nash, Jr., subject of the film A Beautiful Mind, who won the Nobel Prize before succumbing to schizophrenia, and, though you won't see it in the film, virulently anti-Semitic schizophrenia at that. Although his depths of mental illness was an unproductive period for him, he could hardly be called "normal" before and after.
    • Alan Turing's odd habits are legendary: for example, he had a bicycle which he used for most travel, even after WWII ended, which had a damaged chain and spokes which would cause it to de-rail regularly; rather than replace it, he would count the number of turns before it would de-rail, and step off the bike to reset it. Unfortunately his brilliance couldn't save him for being persecuted for his homosexuality. He was stripped of his security clearance, chemically castrated and eventually driven to suicide (by eating a poisoned apple).
    • John Von Neumann was, like Turing, one of the fathers of the electronic computer; like Szilard and Teller, he played a key role in the Manhattan Project, and formulated the game theory from which US nuclear weapons policy was developed. He was also an inveterate womanizer and gambler, and was known to give class lectures in the suit he'd worn to parties the night before, having stayed awake the whole night. He also liked fast cars and to drive recklessly - a corner where he wrecked more than one car was named "Von Neumann Corner" by the people in the city. Feynman would later attribute his 'creative irresponsibility' to something Von Neumann had said to him while they were both at Los Alamos.
    • Norbert Wiener, one of the founders of the field of Cybernetics, was known for being absent-minded and getting lost frequently even in familiar places; while at the Institute for Advanced Studies, he would find his way to his office using the 'right-hand rule' for maze solution, trailing one finger along the walls as he continued reading, which led to him startling colleagues by walking into their offices, following the walls around and back out, without speaking or even looking up from his book the whole time, seemingly oblivious to where he was until he reached his own office.
    • Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, deserves special mention, as he was considered eccentric by other mathematicians even before he went Ax Crazy.
    • Tom Lehrer is less known for his career in mathematics than his (Relatively short) career as a songwriter, where he wrote comedy songs that mix intellectual topics and politics with a heavy dose of Dead Baby Comedy. This is despite Lehrer's work in Mathematics, which he's still doing, spanning several times the number of years he was a musician, and the fact that his work has taken place at some of the most prestigious universities in America, such as Harvard and MIT.
  • Pitchers in baseball. Bill "Spaceman" Lee and "Oil Can" Boyd are two prominent examples. Once, when Montreal Expos manager Buck Rodgers was asked if he knew about Pascual Perez's habit of talking to himself on the mound, he replied: "He also talks to the baseball, the resin bag, and planes passing overhead. I don't care, as long as he keeps getting outs".
  • Many prominent politicians seem to have to have some sort of quirk by default.
    • Richard Nixon was one of (if not) the most corrupt and paranoid presidents ever. Yet he fought for open relations with China, against inflation and segregation, and for environmental concerns. He's been described as an "idiosyncratic president, so brilliant and so morally lacking".
    • And let's not forget all the President Actions we've had- from Andrew Jackson and his penchant for duels, to Theodore Roosevelt, who had a rather long daily jog, and foreign ambassadors generally had to go on it with him if they wanted to speak with him.
    • Among American presidents, however, it's Lyndon B. Johnson who takes the cake. Let's count the ways:
      1. He apparently had a habit of taking his tallywhacker (which he deservedly called "Jumbo") out and shaking it at the White House Press Corps, chiefly to intimidate them. (Since it was the 1960s--i.e. pre-Watergate--they didn't report this).
      2. He installed a telephone in his toilet, that he might conduct business from there. He frequently told the person on the other end of the line where he was.
      3. He would have aides and even other politicians come into the toilet with him, in order to conduct business. He was frequently sitting down.
      4. Starting during his career in the Senate, he had a habit of leaning in really close to another Senator as part of "the Johnson treatment," the most thorough and effective combination of cajolery, browbeating, and outright intimidation that august body has ever seen. He continued even after becoming Vice President (where he leveraged the "President of the Senate" side of the office into "President's Enforcer in the Senate") and as President.
        1. This would escalate to kicking. With LBJ's steeltoed boots. His secretary remembers people's shins bleeding profusely.
      5. He would pick up his dog by the ears, and insist "He lahks it!"
      6. When The Pope sent a couple of paintings as gifts to the US, LBJ sent a bust of himself. Not the Pope. A bust of Lyndon Johnson.
      • Despite all this--and his controversial policies in Vietnam--he's widely considered today to have been a pretty good President: his domestic policy is widely praised as visionary, and his foreign policy outside of Southeast Asia was all in all well-managed.
    • J. Edgar Hoover, who led the FBI from its establishment in 1935 to his death in 1972, may very well have been the most brilliantly insidious man in the history of American politics. There's no end to the conspiracy theories surrounding him, and at one point he had the audacity to resist Richard Nixon when he feared the Bureau's powers were being threatened. And he had a very interesting personal life. Upon Hoover's death, Richard Nixon is said to have exclaimed "Jesus Christ, that old cocksucker!" Classy.
      • While he was director of the FBI Hoover apparently had naked pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt. Not necessarily for blackmail or personal use, just because he could. He also had pictures of Marylin Monroe, although those WERE for personal use.
    • Canadian Prime Ministers, we have such a wonderful number, too. William Lyon Mackenzie King, our PM for WWII, was a brilliant man in office, but at home? He used spirit mediums to get advice from his dead mother and several of his dead pet dogs, all of them named Pat.
      • Pierre Elliott Trudeau takes the cake on this one. He married a woman 29 years his junior (and who may have had an affair with Mick Jagger of all people), dreassed far more casually than anyone else had in his job, gave the finger to a bunch of protesters (who, in fairness, were yelling anti-French slurs at him -- as you may have guessed from the name, Trudeau was from Quebec), slid down the bannisters at Buckingham Palace, and did a pirouette behind the Queen. On national television.

        On the other hand, he was nothing if not an effective and principled politician: as Justice Minister under Lester Pearson, when queried about a plan to legalize homosexuality he famously stated that "the state has no place in the nation's bedrooms" and rewrote or just removed large portions of the Criminal Code on that principle, and became a very effective if extremely controversial Prime Minister, implementing various policies to make Canada a "Just Society," promoting bilingualism, pursuing a foreign policy independent of both Britain and the US, and dealing with the October Crisis (wherin Quebec separatist terrorists kidnapped the Justice Minister of Quebec and some British diplomat in Montreal) with scary efficiency.

        To put this in perspective, Trudeau was known for riding motorcycles in Prussian military regalia in school and various other social taboos of the time. When two politicians were kidnapped and killed by terrorists, he brought in the military, made sweeping arrests and ended the crisis without any more needless bloodshed. He was also known for facing down angry protesters at a political rally who tossed bottles at his podium well he looked on stoicly... without flinching.
      • In more recent years, there's also no forgetting Jean Chretien, renowned for not being able to speak either official language. Of course, that was on account of his Bell's Palsy (making it in rather poor taste to mock him for it) -- but his penchant for golf is such that he defended himself at a fraud inquiry with a handful of golf balls. Chretien also once broke away from his security detail at a rally in Quebec, and began wading through the crowd. One man (who happened to be a Quebec Separatist, but nothing about him at the time indicated this) didn't get out of his way fast enough, and found himself being strangled by the then-Prime Minister of Canada. Chretien's later 'explanation' of his attack was incoherent in a way having nothing to do with partial facial paralysis.
      • We also have The Man Who Would Be (or who would have been) Prime Minister - Stockwell Day, who: 1. Arrived at a press conference by jet-ski; 2. Conducted said press conference wearing a wet suit; 3. Insists that man walked with the dinosaur; 4. Ends up being elected the head of the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party (CCRAP, seriously - they did change the name afterwards) over party founder and likely favourite Preston Manning, and arguably managed to successfully unite the divided right-wing of Canadian politics.
      • And of course, our present Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who writes books about the history of hockey. There's little doubt as to his skill as a politician; he's held together not one but two Tory minority governments in a row (which nobody had done before, ever) before leading his party to a majority, and he came up with some of the most magnificent and brilliant abuses of the rules to stay in power during his second term.
      • John Diefenbaker's eccentricies have been the subject of no less than two Hark! A Vagrant strips.
      • The Spiritualist thing isn't all that odd for the time. Abraham Lincoln, Horace Greely, John A. Roebling, Pierre and Marie Curie and William Crookes, just to name a few, investigated and/or believed in spirit communication.
    • Winston Churchill goes one better. Worked and slept unusual hours, for a start, but topped it by holding a meeting with Franklin D. Roosevelt while taking a bath. He commented that "two great men have nothing to hide from each other". This particular encounter occurred during his stay at the White House, during which time he more or less got Roosevelt operating according to his schedule (not that the fun-loving if workaholic FDR minded), which besides the odd hours meant drinking consistently large quantities of alcoholic beverages even when making major decisions. Realizing that a substantial portion of the Allied strategy for World War II was cooked up by these two while never less than tipsy and frequently while hammered really makes you wonder.
      • In fairness, whilst there are many anecdotes about Churchill drinking, there are fewer about him being drunk. His close contemporaries report that he very rarely got drunk, and that one glass of whisky would last hours.
      • It had it's advantages. Churchill often had a soft spot for Bunny Ears Lawyers and gave them promotions. Some of these choices were ambiguous(Orde Wingate was a pretty good small unit commander, but not a very good general) but others like the ones that ran the secret service or produced the various gadgets could be spectacularly effective.


Specific People

-Peter O'Toole was widely regarded to be one of the best stage and screen actors of the 20th century, with so many iconic roles and quotes. However, he was also more than a little bit eccentric, and there are many stories surrounding him (hell, he was a hell raiser according to many of his friends), as he was (deep breath) prone to heavy drinking and smoking when he was younger and making fantastic mischief in the time (he quit in 1975, though not completely), once went to a horse racing game and was shown openly cheering and yelling on TV when he was supposed to be escorted to the Catherine the Great movie set, never carried his money or keys with him when he went out of his home, once beat up thugs for insulting a prostitute, once jumped into a pool two feet deep, would often be gone randomly for several days at a time, accidentally set his own bed on fire, fixed his finger when he dipped it in a bit of brandy, was a very reckless driver, once tried to get inflatable props for a theatrical production of Macbeth, prone to playing pranks and jokes on other castmates, hit on Ryan Gosling's sister rather openly during the 2006 Oscars, tried to smuggle an antique out of customs by hiding it in his foreskin, was regarded to be a bit of a parkour pioneer, and was also at times a bit forgetful getting lost in different places, among many other things.

  • James M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, refused to grow up, didn't understand why kids did want to, spent most of his time with boys who he (allegedly) slept with, and was depressed most of his life; in later life it became a depression so deep he could barely function in society.
  • Usain Bolt of Jamaica. Called the fastest man alive after his performance at the 2008 Olympics, he was perhaps better known for his behavior on the field. He set a world record by a significant amount in the 100-meter while showboating for the last twenty. And his shoelace was untied, and he'd spent most of the previous day watching TV and eating fried chicken.
  • Buckethead is well known for conducting interviews by using a hand puppet resembling a face turned inside out, is almost 7 feet tall, apparently has a crippling fear of women, and watches a lot of horror movies. He also happens to be one of the most impossibly skilled virtuoso guitar players in the world.
    • Not to mention his habit of, say, performing with a KFC bucket on his head and one of those creepy white masks. Or of performing stunts with nunchuks during live concerts. Or his robot-dancing. Or, well...almost anything about him, really.
  • 18th century physicist Henry Cavendish, who was and still is regarded with honour at Cambridge university and is most famous for his weighing of the Earth. He was an obsessive-compulsive who was so terrified of other people that he refused to attend any scientific conferences in the latter half of his life and could not communicate with anyone except by letter, including his own housekeeper. When ambushed by a reporter he fled down the street and had to be retrieved by his family. He would sometimes attend social gatherings, and sit very quietly in a corner, not talking to anyone. Anyone who wanted his insight into something were advised to "wander over as if by chance and talk, as it were, into a vacancy". If Cavendish felt so moved, he might deign to reply. Mostly, though, he just made an upset noise and fled.
    • He weighed the planet and determined its density using nothing but two iron balls and a system of pulleys IN A CAVE WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS. It took 100 years for anyone to improve on his figures.
  • Aleister Crowley, "The Great Beast 666", who was a chess master and expert mountain climber, and in addition to being the most famous (or notorious) occultist of the 20th century, and...
    • Well, then he certainly qualifies as a Bunny Ears Lawyer, because he was so good at mastering chess and climbing expert mountains that his co-workers in chess mastery and expert mountain climbing were happy to look the other way about the whole occult thing.
    • His chess-mastery is worthy of mention, as he was reportedly not only capable of winning a game while not even looking at the board (not a terrifically uncommon skill among chess masters), but also doing so while having sex at the same time.
  • Not only was Roald Dahl one of these (he played practical jokes on his upper crust friends so often it's a wonder any of them ever trusted him, and he had very specific demands when writing, including using a particular kind of pencil that was only ever sold in Britain), but he was also a magnet for these kind of people. Apparently, early in his life, Mr Dahl travelled on with an entire boatful of Bunny Ears Lawyers.
  • Robert Downey, Jr., during the years he was in and out of jail and rehab due to a drug addiction, still got hired regularly due to his talent. In addition, Downey had a surprisingly strong reputation for showing up to work on time and with his lines memorized backwards and forwards (and sometimes everybody else's lines as well) despite whatever else was going on in his life.
  • Henry Ford was the man who revolutionized manufacturing through application of the conveyor belt-based assembly line to factories, using it to build one of the "Big Three" American automakers and one of the most powerful corporations on the planet. He was also a virulent, unrepentant anti-Semite who used his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, to publish a translation of the notorious book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which claimed to be the minutes of a secret meeting by a Jewish cabal plotting world domination (and was already known at the time to be a forgery made up by the Okhrana), as well as a series of vicious articles that were later published as a book with the self-explanatory title The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem. Adolf Hitler lionized Ford and had a portrait of him in his office, and in 1938 he granted Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest honor that Germany could bestow upon a non-German -- an award that Ford never renounced, not even after America entered World War II.
  • The late Bobby Fischer, chess master and notorious crackpot.
  • Performance Artist and perky pervert Bob Flanagan collaborated with alt-musicians like Sonic Youth and Nine Inch Nails, designed numerous museum installations and, for a time, held the world record for living with Cystic Fibrosis until his death in 1995, at 43. He was also a CF Summer Camp Counselor for more than half of his life and a stand-up comedian. His secret? Bob was a self-proclaimed "Supermasochist" and believed in fighting "sickness with sickness." He routinely tortured himself with everything from C-47s to barbeque forks. He also (censored for squick) hammered his penis to a wooden board at least twice and got it on video tape.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was a brilliant battle tactician, one of the best horsemen in the entire army and (supposed) drunkard who, after winning against Robert E. Lee and meeting him at Appomattox Courthouse to negotiate a surrender, showed up in his dirty uniform with muddy boots in contrast to Lee's perfectly arranged uniform, leading at least one spectator to comment that if you hadn't known better you'd thought the other guy had lost. (James Thurber's story "If Grant Had Been Drunk at Appomattox" has the hungover Union commander making this mistake himself and handing over his sword to the astonished Lee.) Lincoln also reportedly ordered his aides to find out what sort of whiskey Grant drank and send a case to every one of the Union generals when a group of Union officials attempting to oust Grant on the grounds that he was a drunk (although this story may be apocryphal - it's been told about several generals). And despite being cool as a cucumber during battles, riding up closer than generals were supposed to, with holes through his uniform from bullets (plus numerous horses shot dead as he rode on them) Grant could not stand the sight of blood. That's right -- after each battle he retired to his tent and wept. Every steak he ate had to be devoid of blood or he would become physically ill, and he likely had what we would now classify as PTSD.
    • Grant had worked in a tannery between the Mexican-American War and Civil War; this might explain the aversion to blood (that, or it was the worst job ever).
  • Phil Hellmuth, aka "The Poker Brat". His nickname comes in part because he's prone to wild and hilarious temper tantrums when someone else bets a hand that conventional strategy says they should've folded and gets lucky...and partially because he was the youngest ever WSOP Main Event Champion and has won more bracelets than any other player in World Series of Poker history. (Though the first record was broken in 2008).
    • In the same vein, Mike "The Mouth" Matusow is one of the best pro players around, but, well... you can probably guess how he got his nickname. He's cooled down a lot in recent years, though.
    • And for an example of a pro player with more flamboyant tendencies, there's Humberto Brenes, who calls himself "The Shark" and has the toy shark card protectors to prove it, which he tends to use more as a means of doing a prop comedy act than actually protecting his cards, and has a tendency to turn his volume up to 11 any time he goes all-in. He also finished in the top one-hundred of the World Series of Poker main event two years in a row in 2006 and 2007, when the fields of entrants exceeded six thousand players. Even for a big-name pro that takes serious skill.
  • Fred Hoyle, a great contributor in the field of astronomy, for his discovery of nucleogenesis is controversial for amongst others things, his coinage of the term Big Bang which seems like brilliance at first but many believe that he used it as a pejorative against the theory of the development of the universe from a singularity in favor of the steady-state model he proposed, although that had more in line with his philosophical beliefs than actual science (although he claims he used the term "Big Bang" to help listeners understand what it was). It seemed even more so when discoveries supporting the Big Bang model such as cosmic microwave background radiation, and young stars and galaxies, he still rejected the Big Bang theory. Also, he rejected abiogenesis as an explanation of life on Earth, citing instead that the development of life began in space and evolution is driven by viruses arriving on Earth via comets. Just as odd, he argued that the human nose is shaped as it is, because it had evolved to help protect it from influenza...which he believed came from outer space. He also questioned the veracity of the "Archaeopteryx" fossil, causing a hub-bub in the scientific community. After resigning from his position as director of Theoretical Astronomy in Cambridge Institute and as Plumian professor, he cited that Cambridge was politically motivated and accused them of being "Robespierre-like", and has gone on record saying that the scientific community does not give a fair chance to opposition towards the theory of evolution, despite the fact he didn't present any evidence contrary of abiogenesis or natural selection, or those supporting his own wild theories of life beginning in space, or life occuring somewhere else in space in the manner he proposed.
  • Michael Jackson. Everybody knows he was obsessed with reclaiming his childhood through things like his Neverland Ranch, with its personal zoo and amusement park. Everybody knows he was utterly, utterly obsessed with young boys, possibly sexually. However, he remained popular among many people. Later weirdness aside, his musical talent and showmanship during the years when he was still black is impressive. The man made THRILLER.
    • Even after he "became white", he still made impressive music and performances. Of course, that's the era overshadowed by his extracurricular antics.
    • When his comeback residency at the O2 arena in London this year was announced, tickets went extremely quickly. And now that he's dead, he's gotten even more leeway.
  • Stonewall Jackson, of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, was a shrewd tactician and a dauntless battlefield commander. He was also a hypochondriac and restlessly raised one arm, both of which may have played a role in his death (he was shot in the arm, and developed pneumonia when he had an aide wrap him in wet cloths after the amputation). He also had the habit of praying, eyes open, on horseback, content in the belief God could surely hear him there as well as anywhere; this was in order to ward off demonic possession, which he feared, with the prayer. Before the war he taught at Virginia Military Institute, where he earned the name "Tom-fool Jackson" for his useless physics lectures.
  • Boris Johnson, the current Mayor of London, gives off the image of a terrific buffoon and eccentric. We don't know if he's faking it or is really that odd, but he's been competent as Mayor (whatever you think of his politics, he does his job well).
    • By now it's fairly widely accepted that he's an extremely savvy political operator whose frequent 'gaffes' are really just exercises in generating harmless PR for himself (it hardly hurt the MP for Henley that he insulted Liverpool). He's been performing the same buffoon act at least since his undergraduate days; it's no surprise he's improved it over time, so perhaps more a case of Obfuscating Stupidity than Bunny Ears Lawyer. On the other hand, the man himself has noted on several occasions that it is at least partially an act, but also notes:
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"I think that is the terrifying reality. Beneath the elaborately constructed veneer of the bumbling buffoon, there may well be a bumbling buffoon. That is the nightmare we all have to live with."

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  • Immanuel Kant, one of the Western world's most influential philosophers, was known as a man of exceedingly regular habits. He would take a walk every single day at 3:30 pm and it was said that you could set your watch by him. Supposedly the only time he ever missed a walk was when he was reading Rousseau's Emile. He also never ventured more than 40 miles from his home in Königsberg.
    • Which, compared to the author of Emile seems excessively sane.
  • Stanley Kubrick is inarguably one of the most influential filmmakers in history, responsible for so many iconic moments and images. He was also very bizarre with stories claiming that he worked in only his shirt and underwear, kept many cats around the editing room, would demand dozens of takes for almost all of his shots, used to call people late at night to ask obscure questions, had an immense fear of flying, would keep discarded cigarette filters in Altoid tins, and watched The Godfather ten times, calling it the "Best film ever made".
  • Field Marshal Bernard "Monty" Montgomery was a man with an ego a mile wide, a severe lack of tact, a level of racism that was high even by World War Two Allied standards (Axis standards being, well, you know), did not get on well at all with his senior officers and was unwilling to admit when he'd been wrong. However, the British think he was an excellent general (historians from other nations regard him as anything from an egotistical poser who extended the war by months to a mildly competent commander who was more concerned with keeping the British army intact, rather than using it to win battles,) while his men, who he got on well with, loved him. He ended up Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.
    • His career almost ended before it began- he nearly got kicked out of Sandhurst for setting fire to a comrade's shirt during a hazing ritual.
    • Monty acquired a personal Crowning Moment of Awesome in the First World War, where he was severely wounded at Meteren and given up as hopeless to the point a grave was dug for him. He recovered and picked up a Distinguished Service Order medal for gallant leadership. The more impressive thing- the DSO is typically handed out to officers of Captain rank or above. Monty was a Lieutenant. If a Lieutenant gets a medal like that, it is generally seen as a sign that they just missed out on a Victoria Cross.
    • Apropos Montgomery's legendary ego and lack of tact, there is a story that then-prime minister Winston Churchill was once discussing Monty with King George VI and confided that he thought Monty was after his job. "That's a relief," George VI is supposed to have replied, "I thought he was after mine..."
    • The British don't really think he was that excellent a general any more - after the war, certainly, but that was largely to do with his talent for self-publicity. Nowadays he is less highly thought of. Another Monty/Churchill story: When Monty captured General von Thoma, he invited him for dinner in his private command trailer. This horrified many in Britain, but Churchill was more sanguine: "I sympathize with General von Thoma; defeated, humiliated, in captivity and (Beat) dinner with Montgomery.
      • Arguably the British do consider him a fairly great general, mostly because he was responsible for for the first Allied victories of the War and was one of those few commanders extremely interested in keeping his soldiers alive; a fact that made him adored by his men and despaired of by his commanders as he would refuse to commit to attacks if he thought the cost would be too high.
  • Sir Isaac Newton is rightly regarded as one of the founders of the concept of a rational, mechanistic universe. However, he was also an apocalyptic Christian, astrologer, numerologist and mystic. One example of this interfering with his scientific work is the inclusion of the colour indigo in the spectrum - he wanted there to be seven colours in the spectrum instead of six, as it fitted with a numerological theory that he had. Also, he lived in permanent chaos, constantly leaping from one idea to the other. His servants would often find him in the morning half in and half out of bed, halted in place by an unstoppable train of thought. When he first produced a mathematical model for the orbits of the planets, he not only neglected to publish, but mislaid his notes and workings on it. It was only when a horrified Sir Edmund Halley (of comet fame) persuaded him to redo his workings with all speed (and send him a copy so that he could win a friendly wager with Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke) that the enforced focus resulted in his famous Principia Mathematica, which set down what became known as Newtonian Mechanics.
    • Newton himself regarded his writings on spirituality and the Bible to be his chief accomplishments, rather than his mathematics - indeed, in terms of sheer word count these writings outweighed his science. He was also an alchemist - recent studies on existing samples of his hair show that Newton had massive amounts of mercury in his system, which could certainly account for his odd behaviour. Brusque, deliberately obtuse, and short-tempered to the point of rudeness, he made his published works deliberately obscure and hard to follow so he would not be continually bothered by questions or suggestions from "smatterers", as he called people not up to his mathematical skill. One of his Cambridge colleagues wrote that he could not recall seeing Newton smile once in ten years. It certainly would appear from most first-hand reports of Newton's life that he was indulged in his more eccentric pursuits and tolerated for his unbearable personality precisely because he was otherwise such a brilliant scientist.
    • Newton was a member of Parliament for a year. During his term, he only uttered one sentence in Parliament, to complain about a draft caused by an open window.
    • He was also Master of the Mint. Now, this wasn't terribly unusual--"Master of the Mint" by that point had long been a sinecure: the Mint's internal workings were basically self-sufficient, so the position of Master was given to highly talented individuals like Newton as a way for the Crown to pay them to just go about their business and be productive without worrying about money. What is unusual, however, is that Newton actually took the job seriously. As Master, he took an active hand in fighting counterfeiters and clippers,[2] sometimes by going to pubs and seedy parts of town incognito to catch the criminals in the act. He also took an interest in Britain's monetary policy, and inadvertently switched Britain from a de facto silver standard to a de facto gold standard in 1717 by changing the coinage ratio drastically in favour of gold. It was for these services to the Crown--and not his scientific achievements--that Newton was knighted in 1705.
    • If the coins in your pocket have little ridges around the edge, that's thanks to Newton, who invented the milled-edge coin to make it obvious when a clipper had shaved a coin.
  • Jack Parsons was a brilliant chemist and explosives expert, and was one of the founders of Jet Propulsion Lab. He was also an occultist who was the leader of the Agape Lodge, the major branch of the Ordo Templi Orientalis in the western US.
  • Francois Vatel. Personal chef to the French King Louis XIV. Creator of chantilly cream (a sweet, vanilla-flavoured whipped cream still used in pastries today... you know that stuff in the center of a twinky? There you go.). Wrote a cookbook on French cuisine still used by some chefs today 400 years later, and an influence on Auguste Escoffier (widely considered the greatest chef who ever lived). Vatel was also a finicky control freak, an obsessive-compulsive micromanager, and a perfectionist to end all perfectionism. When, while managing a 2000-person dinner party for the French monarch, Vatel was told that a delivery of fresh fish would be slightly delayed (thus disrupting the cooking schedule), Vatel became so anxiety-ridden that he committed suicide with a sword. His body was only discovered when one of his sous-chefs came to tell him the fish had finally arrived.
  • Crowley's mucker, WB Yeats, in addition to being a damn fine poet, subscribed to a rather odd and quackish macrohistorical theory.


  1. He was heavily into nude sunbathing, or "air baths" as he called them.
  2. People who shaved off the edges of coins so they could collect the precious metal but still use the coin; this had the effect of debasing the currency, thus causing inflation.