5 People Who Run The World (You Had No Clue Existed)
Truly influential people might get a school named after them, a statue highlighting their accomplishments, or perhaps a snarky documentary detailing their eventual tragic downfall. But sometimes the folks who affect our lives the most just quietly go about their business, neither seeking or receiving any fanfare. Today we pay tribute to these overlooked zeitgeist wranglers.
Steven Pruitt Has Contributed To A Third Of Wikipedia
There are countless unsung heroes responsible for preserving the knowledge of humanity. The scholars of Alexandria. The dedicated employees at the Library of Congress. And Steve.
Steve Pruitt has spent an altogether unhealthy portion of his life behind a keyboard, plinking away at Wikipedia articles. Despite the shortcomings that they themselves admit to, Wikipedia is undoubtedly the most influential collection of information in the world today. And "prolific nerd" Steve Pruitt has volunteered his time to help provide about a third of that influence. He is responsible for around 3 million Wikipedia edits and 35,000 original articles. Time declared him one of 2017's most influential internet users, which sounds like hyperbole until you realize that, with an average of 540 edits a day, his fingers have been on a volume of information that would make scholars of previous generations apoplectic with jealousy.
And Pruitt's not just an obsessive cut-and-paster. His three-plus-hour-a-day hobby includes efforts to streamline Wikipedia's format to improve its ease of use, and to correct the dearth of articles about women (by writing tons of them himself). Beats our daily three hours of whisky-soaked League Of Legends rage.
Working for no paycheck doesn't bother Pruitt. It's actually part of his inspiration. In his words: "The idea of making it all free fascinates me. My mother grew up in the Soviet Union ... So I'm very conscious of what it can mean to make knowledge free." His reward for all of this selfless hard work is, of course, his very own Wikipedia page. It's 2,500 words shorter than Batboy's, but still.
John Harrison Controls Your Ice Cream
"Ice cream taster" sounds like the dream job of an eight-year-old who eventually grows up to be an accountant. But someone does have to test new flavors and perform quality control on existing ones. Otherwise there's a risk that a batch of French vanilla goes out tasting like American vanilla. And for ice cream giant Nestle, whose brands include Edy's and Haagen-Dazs, that someone is John Harrison.
Harrison's job is to take a gallon of ice cream, sit down, and taste it with his golden spoon. No, literally. Silver tarnishes, while wood, steel, and plastic all have a mild aftertaste. Besides, if you were a professional taster, you'd take any excuse to pimp out your spoon too. Harrison tastes around 60 batches a day over the course of four to five hours, following his rule of "swirl, smack, and spit." And to keep the decadent Roman Emperor theme going, he gives whole batches a thumbs up or thumbs down. Around 100,000 gallons of ice cream are rejected annually and given to food banks, like a gift from a chubby Caesar, for being too icy, not fluffy enough, or sorbet in disguise. You don't count, sorbet. You will never count.
Like most critics, Harrison also creates, having helped to put around a hundred flavors on the market. He most notably gave the world cookies and cream, although he might need to share credit with any stoner who ever thought to crumble Oreos onto their ice cream. More tragically, he was a strong believer in pear sherbet, only to see the market reject his dream.
But all jobs, even professional ice cream taster, have downsides. Harrison, ironically, has a fairly strict diet to keep his palate clean, and he's also had some truly bizarre flavors foisted upon him over the years. He once had to test jalapeno ice cream as part of an ill-advised attempt to appeal to the Hispanic market, and his team experimented with the horrific-sounding pickles and cream thanks to the old wives' tale that pregnant woman like eating pickles and ice cream together. They don't. No one does. Burn all evidence of that flavor, John, lest the cruel whims of capitalism try to force it upon our children.
Robert Parker Changed What You Drink
If you feel like uncultured swine for not understanding the complexities of a fine wine, Robert Parker is your worst nightmare. He's considered the most influential wine critic in the world. Receiving a coveted high score on his 100-point scale (which only goes as low as 50, because wine ratings are even sillier than video game reviews) can make or break a wine's fate.
Parker holds many titles, including the incredibly lame "His Bobness." But he's best-known for his newsletter, The Wine Advocate, which decides what wines are deemed classy enough for luxury restaurants and which are destined to be chugged by sorority girls looking to get trashed on the cheap. Taste, despite what the average internet user will tell you, is subjective, but what Parker says can be industry gospel, to the point where prices are affected by what he thought of a vintage.
And while he's recently retired and turned his newsletter over to his most trusted lieutenants, decades of the "Parkerization" have changed how wine gets made. So even if your knowledge of wine is limited to knowing what days your local bar sell it for less than beer, you're probably drinking fruitier, stronger, and less acidic varietals because of him.
Some critics think that Parker's influence was bad for an industry that overreacted too much to satisfy one man, while others argued that he fought for the little drunk guy by elevating lesser-known wineries to success, eliminating financial conflicts of interest from criticism, and preferring riper, more concentrated wines that can be enjoyed by the (often younger) masses. Either way, Parker has received death threats, been offered sexual favors, and even been attacked by a dog because of his reviews. He also bombed a blind taste test of some of his supposed most beloved wines, so if you thought that wine tasting was pompous nonsense that has more to do with the reviewer's mood than anything else, well, you might be right. You should still drop Parker's name if you ever need to show up a smug wine enthusiast, though.
Natasha Wagner Is The Woman With The Perfect Butt (For Jeans)
Fashion trends change with time, but blue jeans became eternal the moment people realized that you can wear the same pair for three straight months without anyone noticing. But how do you manufacture a good pair of jeans when the butts that are destined to be contained within them range from borderline nonexistent to generously enhanced by decades of fried chicken and beer?
Most models don't represent the average body type, because it's their job to look preternaturally beautiful, while the average American thinks that it's their civic duty to inhale Doritos. So jean designers needed a hero, someone whose rear end could represent tiny tooshes and bulwark badonkadonks alike. And they found their Platonic ideal of an ass in Natasha Wagner, whose rear has helped both teenagers and their moms look great in jeans, even as trends change.
Wagner models for Levi Strauss, the Gap, Old Navy, and many other brands -- not because her body is exceptional, but because her body is aggressively average. Designers found that if they shaped jeans to her figure, it was easy to scale up or down to adjust them for different body types, as opposed to starting with a supermodel and then having to figure out how to alter jeans so that they would also be kind to that supermodel's grandma.
And because it basically became Wagner's full-time job to wear jeans all day, she began accumulating all of the knowledge on denim that a human being can hold. So she's become an active participant in the design process, making suggestions on how to tweak the rise or where to try a different kind of seam. So if you're the sort of person who's so comfortable in jeans that you'd wear them to weddings and funerals if you could, you have both the mind and the butt of Wagner to thank. Now if she could only use her influence to finally give women proper pockets.
Kevin MacLeod Has Written Music For Tens Of Millions Of YouTube Videos
When you're making a YouTube video about Toy Story 4 that's longer than the actual movie, you need some pleasant but unremarkable background music. You can license tracks, but that can be expensive. You can make your own, but that's hard. You can throw in some known song and hope for the best, but YouTube will likely pull the video for copyright infringement. What you probably want is royalty-free music. And if you search for some, there's a good chance you'll end up with something by Kevin MacLeod.
MacLeod releases a new album of royalty-free music every three weeks. His work is cheap, or free if you attribute it. And so a lot of the internet uses his music. He estimates that his work can be found in as many as 90 million videos, while searching for his name in Google Video produces 37 million results, which is especially impressive when you consider that no one even uses Google Video.
MacLeod's music is also licensed for commercials. And porn. And all Target stores. And movies, giving a guy you've probably never heard of over 3,000 IMDb credits. Most of these are indie movies (major productions hire their own composers), but there are exceptions. The producers of Hugo licensed MacLeod's work as temporary tracks, with the assumption that they'd later be replaced. Then, at the last minute, someone realized they'd left some of his music in there and they had to make it official.
And back when comedy websites could afford to make videos, it was in those too.
MacLeod is a big believer in making work available to the public domain, which means that his name often isn't anywhere in the credits of videos, which means that there's no reliable way to find everything he's done. His reach is beyond human measure. So if you're ever drifting into your fifth straight hour of putting off work to watch someone open Amazon packages, you have him to thank.
E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD that's due to be released in September. He's practically on his knees begging that you pre order it now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review. RG Jordan is not big on social media, but he is big on working and eating food, so you can contact him at RGJordan4@gmail.com if you think his words are funny or insightful. Christian Markle only rules his own world. Contact him through hot dogs or Facebook. Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for bits cut from this article and other stuff no one should see.
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