Sop to Cerberus

The world becomes stranger. ‘Promising’ was often a word used on a school report to indicate that a child might perhaps do quite well, given a following wind and some encouragement. Barack Obama might have earned a first presidency report which could use such a phrase. Unfortunately, so far we have all froth and comparatively little beer, a black hole of US debt which has weakened the world’s most universal currency, Afghan militants with ascendant momentum, a policy of apparent appeasement in the Middle East, despite consistently transparent lies from the self-appointed guardians of Al Aqsa, and finally attempting to deal with a psychotic Iranian leader, undeniably capable of producing a working nuclear device.
But, the Nobel? Alfred Nobel’s stipulation that the prize go “to the person who shall have done the most or best work for the fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace” seems hardly  appropriate since Obama simply has not had sufficient time to sweet talk Washington hawks and to justify being awarded it. The Committee can be capricious and not only in respect of the peace Prize. Rosie Franklin, from my old College, should have got the 1962 Medicine Prize over Watson and Crick, an example of the unpredictable nature of the award where one does the work and someone else cops the credit. And yet, faute de mieux. Morgan Tsvangirai is probably as deserving, or not, but if a currency is devalued, it takes longer to recover than if it were not. So might it be here. Obama promises much and is undeniably the fastest thinker on his feet that Washington has had for many years, but even this might not be enough. America is like a tennis star on the wane. She has had more than her share of aces but the overarm muscle isn’t quite what it was on the world stage and others are flexing their biceps with an eye on the glittering prizes. It remains to be seen whether the Nobel comittee’s sop to Cerberus will be enough to energise the beast sufficiently to regain the high political ground. 
Depressing, isn’t it…
I rather prefer the IgNobel Prizes, I think. At the 2009 ceremony, Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrated her invention — a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be rapidly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. Should swine flu strike, we look to the ladies for protection.
The Mathematics Prize was an exercise in standard form. Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s oxymoronic Reserve Bank was awarded the Prize by giving  people an everyday way to deal with a wide range of numbers – from very small to very big. His bank prints  notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).
In 2008, the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology and the citizens of Switzerland were winners of the Peace Prize for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity. It’s only a heartbeat away, Barack…

Elena Bodnar clearly has her brains in her bra and is a very clever girl in consequence. Here she is at Harvard with facemasks and friends.

2 thoughts on “Sop to Cerberus

  1. “Promising” students often ended up in my corner of the educational world, having never quite found that “following wind,” and so requiring ever more escalating forms of encouragement to stay engaged in the process of bettering themselves. I expect Obama will be the same…but where to go from here? Knighthood? Papal Decree?

    From a rational perspective, what a complete insult to those others on the list who not only qualified according to Nobel's own criteria, but have actually lived what they believe long enough to have made a difference.


  2. Tks for comment – I was rather expecting ribaldry and jeers about the IGNobel prizes, particularly a professional remark about the emotional life of plants…

    I really do hate to disappoint… I was just so stunned about Obama that I was uncustomarily nice.

    If I had known a professional assessment of Switzerland's collective sanity (or yours for following such trivia as multi-tasking bras) was expected, I'd have dusted off my DSM.
    Of course, hundreds of years of determined secret-keeping has made the Swiss just a little strange… you, on the other hand, may have been born that way. lol


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