November 21, 2007

Ignobel Prizes

You know how every once in a while, just to mix things up, the Nobel Committee awards the rare Ironic Peace Prize? As if to say to the recipient: 'please, try to be more peaceful.' Kissinger and Arafat would be your classic examples of this. There are also the ones which are ironic only in retrospect, like American VP Charles Dawes who won it for his work on German reparations following WWI. Of course, we all now know that their severity contributed to the economic hardship and sense of national outrage that allowed extremism to flourish there. Or the one that went to the unfortunately named "Permanent International Peace Bureau" 1913. And then you have all of the awards that just look silly now, like pretty much everything awarded to the League of Nations. For most of these you can at least say that they admired these people or organizations for trying, but I'm not sure why they couldn't tell that the Kellogg-Briand Pact was doomed to failure. This was an international treaty that supposedly "outlawed war as an instrument of national policy." Since it was ratified by the Senate it's law in the U.S., and in basically every other major country, but it's done about as much good as those tags on mattresses that you're not allowed to rip off.

Unfortunate though the Peace Prize's record sometimes looks however, at least you can applaud the sentiment (especially since they've now given it to our delphian former veep for his voice work in Futurama). I have found something much funnier than the Nobel Peace Prize though--the Lenin Peace Prize. An award created as a rival, communist, Nobel to honor people that the USSR considered worthy. And this one had the irony built right in, it was originally titled the "Stalin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples." Because when you think Strengthening Peace Among Peoples, you think Stalin! The honorees are a rich melange of actual luminaries who simply happened to be lefties (like Pablo Picasso, Nelson Mandela or Linus Pauling), party leaders from around the world who the Soviet Union was trying to elevate the status of, and commie hacks who no one has ever heard of.

Thanks Wikipedia! [cue 'the more you know' graphic here]