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Whadda Prize


It’s awards season just about all of the time now.  There are awards in television, for the theatre, for movies, for sports of every stripe and description, for just about every genre of music that one can think of( and some that I don’t really classify as music, but, rather as “entertainment”)—country, pop, rap, classical, you name it.  But folks, we just missed a beaut, the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize.

The Ig Nobel Prize—ten of them—is awarded for “discoveries that cannot or should not be reproduced” in the same fields that offer Nobel Prizes—physic, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature, peace—and others, such as  public health, engineering, biology, and interdisciplinary research.  They originated with the Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific humor magazine.  Who knew that scientists had humor?  The aim is to showcase experiments that first make people LAUGH, then make them THINK.  The awards are  frequently presented by actual Nobel Prize winners, who are sometimes winners of both awards.  For example, Sir Andre Geim(with Sir Michael Berry) was presented with an Ig Nobel Prize in 2000 for magnetically levitating a live frog, then, in 2010, he was presented with a Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with the carbon form known as graphene.   In 2009 Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrated her invention, a brassiere which could be converted to face masks in an emergency (what type emergency this might be was not specified).  This year’s winners included the means to unboil an egg, the discovery that  “Huh” or its equivalent exists in every human language and nobody knows why(What about birds?  What about whales?  They communicate too.).  The finding that the police department of Bangkok, Thailand offered pay increases—cash bonuses– to officers who refused to take bribes was also subject of research.  Think about that for awhile.

It is the custom of the audience at the presentation ceremonies to throw paper airplanes at the stage during the proceedings.  The Museum of Bad Art  often brings samples from its collection, adding to the ambience of the Harvard facility where the awards are presented.  One of the scientific articles referenced was one which stated that “black hole fulfill all of the technical requirements to be the location of Hell.”

Well, now that we’ve got that settled….

Other religious facets of the news are a tad different, to wit :

The mayor of Jackson MS invoked the power of prayer to confront the common municipal problem of crumbling infrastructure—facing a bill of some $743 million.  Potholes, begone!  “Yes, I believe we can pray potholes away, he said (quoted in The Week Magazine), “Moses prayed and the seas opened.”  Are paving contractors worried about this new approach?  Seems unlikely. Local churches may be asked to pitch in.  If your road is particularly bad, you might lose your religion because of losing your rear axle.  We know that God watches the sparrow, but the potholes?

Just a side note : Boston’s enormous pile of snow, which had been piled up somewhere around 75 feet high, has finally melted entirely away over the course of this summer.  One hundred ten inches—and change—were dumped on the city last winter.  They’re certainly glad that it’s gone but about 80 tons of garbage was intermingled with the snow when it got bulldozed away so that’s another problem altogether.  They should maybe try prayer for that too.

And then there’s a councilman, Frank Goodman, in Dadeville, AL who brought an interesting ordinance before the city fathers.  He proposed that the council pass a law banning sagging pants.  “I prayed about this.  I know God would not go around with His pants down.”  Seems like a reasonable assumption for Councilman Goodman to make, but a bit difficult to verify(The Week didn’t).  Not something that gets mentioned at Bible study too often and no selfies have turned up on Facebook…yet.

I’m saving my take on the Darwin Awards for a later date   but there was a news note the other day about a chap near Detroit that should be a candidate, of sorts.  It seems that he has a raging case of arachnophobia, fear of spiders, and when he thought that there was one by the door to his car’s fuel tank, he lit a lighter to scare the creature away or kill it.  Doing this while pumping gas was not exactly the smartest move a person could make, y’know.  Anyway, the dude somehow escaped injury, the spider probably died and the gas pump was destroyed.

You can’t make this stuff up.  These people are out there.

Cats might even be smarter, but I’m not putting big money on that.