Brian Brushwood is an award-winning American magician, podcaster, author and comedian. A regular on the college circuit, he is best known for his display of bizarre magic and fire-eating performances. He is the author of The Professional’s Guide To Fire Eating and the host of Revision3’s Scam School, a web series that features quick ten minute tips to get free drinks at bars and to impress friends, and TWiT.tv’s NSFWShow, a comedic podcast he co-hosts with Justin Robert Young. Brushwood has performed on The Food Network, CNN and The Tonight Show, as well as performing special demonstrations at The University of Texas. Brushwood was also interviewed on episode 205 of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. Brushwood grew up living in California, Colorado, Norway, and Texas. In 1993, he started at the University of Texas in Austin doubly majoring in “Plan II honors program” and history. He performed a magic show as a “creative writing” senior thesis. He began touring with the “Bizarre Magic Show” full-time in 2000. Brushwood also works as a writer and makes appearances on the lecture circuit. Brushwood categorizes himself as a libertarian.
John Howard Carpenter is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, editor, composer, and occasional actor. Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres in his four-decade career, his name is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction. Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York, the son of Milton Jean (née Carter) and Howard Ralph Carpenter, a music professor. He and his family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1953. He was captivated by movies from an early age, particularly the westerns of Howard Hawks and John Ford, as well as 1950s low budget horror and science fiction films, such as Forbidden Planet and The Thing from Another World and began filming horror shorts on 8 mm film even before entering high school. He attended Western Kentucky University where his father chaired the music department, then transferred to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1968, but later dropped out to make his first feature.
Michael Everson is an American and Irish linguist, script encoder, typesetter, and font designer. His central area of expertise is with writing systems of the world, specifically in the representation of these systems in formats for computer and digital media. He holds both American and Irish citizenship. He has been described as “probably the world’s leading expert in the computer encoding of scripts” for his work to add a wide variety of scripts and characters to the Universal Character Set. Since 1993, he has written over two hundred proposals which have added thousands of characters to ISO/IEC 10646 and The Unicode Standard. Everson is active in supporting minority-language communities, especially in the fields of character encoding standardization and internationalization. In addition to being one of the primary contributing editors of the Unicode Standard, he is also a contributing editor to ISO/IEC 10646, registrar for ISO 15924, and subtag reviewer for BCP 47. He has contributed to the encoding of many scripts and characters in those standards, receiving the Unicode “Bulldog” Award in 2000 for his technical contributions to the development and promotion of the Unicode Standard. In 2004, Everson was appointed convenor of ISO TC46/WG3 (Conversion of Written Languages), which is responsible for transliteration standards.
Stephen William Hawking is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking’s key scientific works to date have included providing, with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation (or sometimes as Bekenstein–Hawking radiation). Hawking has a neuro-muscular dystrophy that is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that has progressed over the years and has left him almost completely paralysed. He became the first quadriplegic to float free in a weightless state. This was the first time in 40 years that he moved freely beyond the confines of his wheelchair.
Hossein Derakhshan, also known as Hoder, is an Iranian-Canadian blogger currently imprisoned in Tehran. He is credited with starting the blogging revolution in Iran and is called the father of Persian blogging by many journalists. He also helped to promote podcasting in Iran. Derakhshan was arrested on November 1, 2008 and sentenced to 19½ years in prison on September 28, 2010. Derakhshan started out as a journalist writing about Internet and digital culture for a popular reformist newspaper, Asr-e Azadegan in 1999. Later, when this paper was closed down by the judiciary system, he moved to another newspaper, Hayat-e No, in which he continued to write about the same topic. His column there was called Panjere-i roo be hayaat (A Window to the Life, a reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window), and later expanded to a weekly page on digital culture, Internet and computer games.
Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films. Through a career that has spanned nearly five decades, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli, an animation studio and production company. The success of Miyazaki’s films has invited comparisons with American animator Walt Disney, British animator Nick Park as well as Robert Zemeckis, who pioneered Motion Capture animation, and he has been named one of the most influential people by Time Magazine. During World War II, Miyazaki’s father Katsuji was director of Miyazaki Airplane, owned by his brother (Hayao Miyazaki’s uncle), which made rudders for A6M Zero fighter planes. During this time, Miyazaki drew airplanes and developed a lifelong fascination with aviation, a penchant that later manifested as a recurring theme in his films.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959. He was at one time a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972. After his death, Tolkien’s son Christopher published a series of works based on his father’s extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.