Friday, June 10, 2011

Nobel Literature Prize: Ambiguity Par Excellence?

Even though the rules of awarding the Nobel Literature Prize are full of ambiguous stipulations, has it ever denied worthy contenders?

By: Ringo Bones

By an overwhelming margin, most Nobel Literature Laureates are seldom – if ever – remembered by the public-at-large more than three months after receiving their famed prize. Not only that, a growing number had been clamoring for better clarification of the ambiguous stipulation in Alfred Nobel’s original will with regards to the Nobel Literature Prize.

Stipulated in Alfred Nobel’s original will governing the rules of awarding the Nobel Literature Prize was originally interpreted as embracing not only writings in the field of belles-lettres (i.e. beautiful writing of aesthetic merit), but also of other works provided they possessed literary merit. Given this rather still-ambiguous clarification, does this mean that cleverly-worded adverts and consumer-electronic instructional manuals – especially ones that “mere mortals” can easily understand – are eligible for a Nobel Literature Prize?

Not only that, there also seems to be an ambiguity in the cut-off period of awarding the Nobel Literature Prize because the executors of Alfred Nobel’s original will also stipulated that the phrase “during the preceding year” should be interpreted to mean that “the awards shall be made for most recent achievements on the fields of culture referred to in the will, and for older works only if their significance has not become apparent until recently.” Does this mean that one of the greatest English bards of all time – William Shakespeare – could get a posthumous Nobel Literature Prize? Or what about Robert Burns who, sadly, never got the fame he deserved from his brilliant literary works during his lifetime? We live in hope.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Muhammad Yunus: The Nobel Peace Laureate That Never Was?

Strange as it seems, but could a pre-existing employment law could have made Muhammad Yunus not eligible for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize?

By: Ringo Bones

Unknown to a very large majority of folks, Grameen Bank’s concept of lending money for the non-credit-worthy poor that was started by Muhammad Yunus was already more than 30-years old when he was awarded the 2006 Nobel peace Prize. Nonetheless, by 2007, lending money to the not so credit worthy poor modeled after the Grameen Bank scheme of “Banking for the Poor” had suddenly sprang up like spring mushrooms not only in South-East Asia, but also in other parts of the world where extreme poverty – people earning less than a dollar a day – are the norm rather than the exception. But could a pre-existing employment law in Bangladesh have prevented Muhammad Yunus from winning the 2006 Nobel Peace prize?

Back in March 2011, the 71-yer-old Muhammad Yunus was sacked as the managing director of Grameen Bank due to violation of Bangladesh’s mandatory retirement laws which sets the mandatory retirement age at 60. By virtue of this law, Yunus would have had to retire his management post at Grameen Bank back in 2001, and could have made the case of awarding him the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize that much harder, but is it really?

“Unconventional” reasons and cases for awarding the Nobel peace prize might have seen to be in vogue in the 21st Century – like poverty alleviation as a way to prevent armed conflicts – became the raison d’ĂȘtre for awarding the Nobel Peace Prizes to Muhammad Yunus in 2006 and to Al Gore in 2007, but it is not the first. Agronomist Norman Borlaug got awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his efforts to breed a new strain of wheat that saved more than a billion people from starvation. Maybe Muhammad Yunus held his position just long enough to be eligible for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Does luck really have something to do with it?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Nobel Peace Prize: Most Controversial Nobel Prize?

From the 1935 awarding of Carl von Ossietzky to the 2010 awarding of Liu Xiaobo, does the Nobel Peace Prize truly deserve being described as the most controversial of the six Nobel Prizes ever?

By: Ringo Bones

Once upon a time, the Nobel Peace prize was used to be awarded to anyone who had done the most or the best work for fostering fraternity among nations, for the abolition of standing armies, and for holding and promotion of peace congresses. Unfortunately, the relentless march of history and dynamically evolving geopolitical events had forever redefined – over the years – what used to pass as the textbook definition of peace.

What used to be defined as the absence of war and/or conflict, peace is now often defined as the absence of extreme disparity of food and wealth distribution and the ensuing conflict thereof. Which means anyone trying to eliminate extreme poverty, hunger, and even as of late – climate change / global warming – can now be eligible to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. But is there any reason why the Nobel Peace Prize has to be so controversial?

For most of the 20th Century, those that had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that fulfils the criteria of conflict mitigation had often been the thorn of the side of a great dictator or some uncompromising powers-that-be hell bent on maintaining the status quo. From my point of view the top 3 most controversial Nobel Peace Prize laureates are Carl von Ossietzky, incumbent US President Barack Obama, and the 2010 Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo.

As of late, I’ve started to view the German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky as the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of his time due to his whistle-blowing revealing that the Nazi government under the chancellorship of Adolf Hitler had been secretly violating the Treaty of Versailles under the nose of the international community. Even the now unified Germany – at least the official German government stance - still treats Carl von Ossietzky as a traitor.

While the 2009 awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the then newly-elected US President Barack Obama was widely seen by his detractors as premature given that he only offered a proposal to reduce the number of nuclear weapons around the world close to zero and has only done tentative steps to initiate a plan that has been mired in global bureaucracy since the 1970s. Even though president Obama probably deserves the Nobel Prize just for not kicking the asses of Republicans blocking his plans to better the American society at large, or maybe the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Norway probably got sick and tired of not issuing Nobel Peace Prizes on some years during the 20th Century whenever they can’t find a worthy recipient.

And as of late, many – probably those who believe that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks are nothing more than a Zionist plot - had considered the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mainland Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo as nothing more than proof of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency’s stranglehold on the Norwegian Nobel peace Prize Committee, which from my point of view, probably as ridiculous as that Moon Landing Hoax story. Some even considered the awarding of Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize a “clerical error” since his actions will only foster peace in the Chinese Mainland and not a group of nations. Well, given that Alfred Nobel probably started this Nobel Prize business – especially the Nobel Peace Prize – as a way to pay his guilty conscience to go away after inventing a way to make nitro-glycerine stable enough for everyday use, doesn’t this make the whole Nobel Peace Prize business a controversy in itself?