Thursday, May 17, 2007

Had He Lost, His Next Book Could've Been About Sadness

Besides the Oscars, there's only one other awards ceremony I'll religiously tune in to in hopes of seeing someone's naughty bits through their see-through gowns -- the annual Royal Society For Science Books gala. Not only is there all of the usual cattiness and back-biting one normally associates with competition, there are people seriously discussing hovercars on the red carpet, too! Last night's festivities went off with minimal fire damage and public indecency arrests, and after much drunken speechifying, the grand prize (and appr. $20,000 in cash) was awarded to Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness.

From the BBC report:

Discussing the winner, Professor Colin Pillinger said: "Daniel Gilbert's voice provides a witty companion throughout this exploration of the science behind the pursuit of happiness. He uses cognitive science and psychology to provide intriguing insights into human nature, helping us to understand why we make the decisions we do."

Gilbert himself was thrilled to take the book prize. "I'm absolutely delighted to receive this tremendous honour from the world's oldest learned society," said the Harvard University psychology professor. There are very few countries (including my own - the US) where a somewhat cheeky book about happiness could win a science prize - but the British invented intellectual humour and have always understood that enlightenment and entertainment are natural friends. So God bless the empire!"

Easy, tiger. You already won. Oh, that's right -- happiness is your shtick, innit?

Poetry Contest Scandal Rocks Japan! Toilet Themed Haiku Robbed Of First Place Prize!

via: Guardian UK:

Heated toilet seats, pension worries, nagging wives and neglected children were among the most popular themes among this year's offerings of "senryu", haiku-like verse that take a sideways look at the fears and foibles of the put-upon Japanese white-collar worker, or salaryman.

The Dai-ichi life insurance firm, which has run an annual salaryman senryu contest for the past 20 years, today awarded first prize to a verse that alluded to Japan's collective fear of growing old with a reference to the popular Nintendo brain training games:

Nou nenrei
Nenkin sudeni

Or, roughly translated: My brain age is already old enough for a pension.

The second-place entry was a tribute to the ubiquitous "washlet" lavatory, tinged with a melancholy only a salaryman can know: The only warmth in my life is the toilet seat.

Third prize went to a bitter commentary on Japanese society's relative affections for middle-aged men and pets. Referring to the widely televised rescue of a stranded dog last November, it laments: How good it is to be a dog: even when trapped on a cliff, someone saves you.

The contest is open to all, although most of the entries are either written by salarymen themselves, or by others who draw on demanding bosses, distant families and money worries for inspiration.

To read the whole article, click here.

Speaking of Award Winners, Here's a Shoe-In for Next Year's Top Honors

Disappointed by the fact that they had to finally bury her body and could no longer parade it around for photo-ops and beyond the grave interviews, the folks who brought you the paternity case of the 2007 now bring you the book of 2008. Bookstores can expect it to be delivered by four horsemen dressed in apocalypticly themed attire.