Decorated Thai Patriot, Iraq veteran, Illinois National Guard major, politician, Tammy Duckworth

30 08 2008

Tammy Duckworth wheelchair.jpg

Tammy Duckworth was a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve in 1992 and chose to fly helicopters because it was one of the few combat positions open to women. She was promoted to Major in the Illinois National Guard and is an Iraq War veteran. She was awarded an Air Medal and an Army Commendation Medal.

Her patriotism compelled her to become the Democratic nominee for the Illinois House of Representatives. Tammy described herself as a “fiscal conservative and social moderate.” While she lost by a small margin of 2%, her valor and thoughtfulness were rewarded in November of 2006, when she was appointed director of the Illinois Veterans’ Affairs Department.

Tammy was born in Bangkok and moved around Southeast Asia throughout most of her young life. She also has a BA in political science, a Masters in international affairs, and working towards a Ph.D. in political science.

How did I hear of Tammy? I saw her give a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention this past Wednesday, August 27 in support of Barack Obama.

One of the most compelling visual imagery during the whole DNC was Tammy walking off stage…the cameras pivoting to show her personal sacrafices–Tammy’s combat wounds in Iraq costed her both of her legs and damage to her right arm.

She helped establish the Intrepid Foundation and is involved in its fund raising to build a rehabilitation center for other injured veterans. Tammy Duckworth was honored for “her extraordinary commitment to veterans with disabilities.”

Tammy, thank you for your sacrifices.



2008 U.S. Olympic Diving team, Athlete Haley Ishimatsu

28 08 2008

Haley Ishimatsu was one of 12 divers nominated to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.  A member of the U.S. national diving team since 2006, (she had previously represented the U.S. national gymnastics team), Haley has since won numerous medals internationally.

Guess what? She only started diving in 2004, overcame a phobia of heights, trained 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, and is only 1 of 3 women who can perform a back 3 1/2 pike.

Haley’s sister Tory is another U.S. national diver. Haley talks about having two world class athletes in the same household

“If we were in the same event, our household would be very tense, shall we say […] We support each other every which way, we’re hardly ever apart. Dad said if we were in the same event, he wouldn’t want to live in the same house!”

Read more here at Asiance!


Asia’s Iron Man, 2004 Athens Gold Track & Field Olympian, Koji Murofushi

26 08 2008

2008 Track & Field Olympian, Koji Murofushi, comes from a hammer throwing family:

  • His father Shigenobu Murofushi is a former Olympian and held the Japanese record for decades
  • His sister, Yuka Murofushi, throws both hammer and discus
  • His mother, Serafina Moritz, was a Romanian javelin thrower

Koji started hammer throwing under his father’s careful guidance. He’s been setting new records since April 1989 using a 14-pound hammer for high school students. He continued to break records throughout college at Chukyo University, where his father taught (and still teaches).

Koji Murofushi Picture

Koji was the first Japanese male to win a medal since Naoto Tajima, the triple jumper at Berlin Olympic in 1936.

In 2007, FedEx launched an advertising campaign that featured Koji:

“Mr. Murofushi is an international sports star who shares the attributes of strength, capability and reliability with FedEx […] And just like the people at FedEx he strives to exceed people’s expectations.”

Thanks Ami!

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Comic book artist, creator and publisher, Jim Lee

26 08 2008

Jim Lee is currently one of the most successful artists in American comics.

Having established a new stylistic standard for superhero comic-book illustration, Jim reinforced a popular trend away from brushed to penned inking in the the late 1990’s.

He has a number of notable works including Wild C.A.T.s, X-Men, Batman: Hush, and Superman: For Tomorrow.

Jim has also moved over into video games and is currently designing all the main characters in the game  “Arkham Asylum.” Screenshots here at Jim’s blog.

Jim isn’t related to Stan Lee though Stan evidently likes to occasionally joke…

Fun Fact? Jim is known to use F lead for his pencil work.

Thanks Ami!


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Youngest U.S. Amateur Golfer Champion (beating Tiger Woods), Danny Lee

26 08 2008 Lee became the #1 ranked golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking on 20 August 2008. That makes Danny the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur at the age of 18 years, one month–6 months and 29 days younger than Tiger Woods who was previously the youngest ever winner in 1994.

Danny, a student at Rotorua Boys’ High School,  was born in South Korea and emigrated to New Zealand at the age of eight.

When asked about a birdie he made 170 yards away in a fairway bunker with his left leg elevated out of the sand, Danny joked,

“That was an easy shot, actually […] You just swing the club and the ball goes straight to the flag. Everyone knows that.”

On June 18, 2009, Danny will head to the first tee of the U.S. Open with the defending champion — none other than Tiger Woods.

Always the joker, Danny noted, “Wow […] I’m going to beat him.”

Thanks Ami!


Singing American Idol Sensation, 18 year old Sanjaya Malakar

23 08 2008

He may not have won the title, but Sanjaya Malakar is the most talked-about American Idol contestants in the show’s history.

He and his sister ShyamaliAmerican Idol in September of 2006 in Seattle.

His rendition of auditioned for the sixth season of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)’ wowed the judges and he and his sister moved on, with Shyamali getting cut during the Hollywood round.

Sanjaya moved on to the top 12 and became an audience favorite – most famously bringing tears to the eyes of an 13-year-old fan.

After Idol wrapped, he embarked on the 50 city American Idol tour and made guest appearances on a variety of talk shows. He’s been parodied on Saturday Night Live and Meet the Spartans and is pretty much guaranteed a page in pop culture history. According to his sister,

“Sanjaya was always singing — as soon as he could talk he would sing. He would sing himself to sleep, he used to sing in class all the time… and get in trouble for it! He was always singing to himself when he got bored or distracted. It was a never-ending issue with my mom at the school. He is a really great singer.”

Sanjaya aspires to be a model, actor and singer, and we expect to hear more from Sanjaya.

His American Idol finals performances (find them on!)

  • Week 1: Diana Ross – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
  • Week 2: British Invasion – “You Really Got Me” (The Kinks)
  • Week 3: Gwen Stefani – “Bathwater” (No Doubt)
  • Week 4 – American Classics / Tony Bennett – “Cheek to Cheek” (Fred Astaire)
  • Week 5: Latin – “Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velázquez)
  • Week 6: Country – “Something to Talk About” (Bonnie Raitt)


Japan’s top luxury fashion brand, international fashion icon, Anna Sui

23 08 2008

Anna Sui is a New York-based Asian fashion designer known worldwide for her playful creations and whimsical runway shows. She was born and raised in Detroit, but relocated to New York City after graduating high school to study at Parsons School of Design.

While attending Parsons, Anna found a collaborator and close friend in Steven Meisel, who has gone on to become one of the world’s top fashion photographers. In 1980, Anna showed a mere 6 original pieces at the Boutique Show and immediately received an order from Macy’s department store, who in turn one used of her designs in a New York Times advertisement.

That same fateful year, Anna launched her own label out of her apartment. Recently, Anna was named by Time Magazine as one of this decade’s top 5 fashion icons, a designer who “never panders.” With boutique stores in the US, Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and a dozen stores in the planning stages for Western Europe, Anna has also added a cosmetics and shoes line. Check out her sites here and here. She continues to design from her NY offices.

At a young child, Anna dressed her dolls and her neighbor’s toy soldiers, and pretended they were at the Oscars. Growing up, Anna clipped fashion-magazine pages and began filing in what she now calls her “Genius Files,” an inspiration to her throughout her career.