October 16, 2010

A PSA for aspiring Nobel Laureates (I'm looking at you, Cormac McCarthy)

About a week ago the Nobel Foundation announced the 2010 recipients, and the Nobel Prize in Literature happened to be awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa. He happens to be the first Peruvian to be awarded this award. I happen to have been reading his book Conversation in the Cathedral.

"That's very nice. He's a great author. But what are you getting at - that this has something to do with you? A Latin American author hasn't won the award since 1990 (Octavio Paz); it was time," you say. But a Peruvian? in the one year I happen to be living in Peru? and reading his book?

Let's continue.

About 7 years ago we were closing in on our first year in Chicago when the Nobel Prize in Literature happened to be awarded to John M. Coetzee. He just happened to be a professor at the University of Chicago at the time - the university just blocks from our apartment and the one to whom we had recently bequeathed our souls.

"Yes, but the University of Chicago can claim more Nobel Laureates than any other university." I know. It's awesome.

Now obviously I'm not the only factor considered by the committees in Stockholm. Nevertheless, we will likely be living somewhere new in the next year or so, and that seems to be a trigger of sorts. So, amass some frequent flyer miles and keep an eye on our profile - I'll try to keep it up-to-date.

And if you're still dubious: about a month ago I happened upon a short story entitled "The Solipsist" by Fredric Brown.

October 8, 2010

Final Countdown

Peru had elections this week. I admit that I hadn't really been following the various races - we don't have a TV and my Spanish is still quite lacking. Nevertheless, I knew elections were approaching, having witnessed a number of political rallies and parades and picked hundreds if not thousands of flyers off our lawn (I briefly contemplated constructing a sign for our front gate explaining that I would vote for whichever candidate's flyers I had the least of come election day, but it was a little too Andy Rooney and kind of a convoluted sentence to try to translate anyway).

Lima will have its first female mayor - we're just not sure which one yet. Here are the options:
Lourdes Flores is on the left and Susana Villaran is on the right, though that is the opposite of their political positions (come on AP). Susana "won" by less than 1% so nothing has been officially declared. There have been a number of challenges - lots of ballot irregularities. It's all very hanging chad. Fortunately the State of Florida should be entirely unable to muck up the democratic process this time.

But at least one noteworthy race is decided. Here's the Mayor of the district of Magdelena del Mar:
Guess GOB finally decided to live it up down old South America way.

I believe this was his acceptance speech:

Oh - and voting here is mandatory - or at least you have to pay a hefty fine if you don't. What do you think about that? Everyone is involved in their democracy ...albeit in a para-fascist sort of way. Of course, I don't envision Mussolini every time I put on my seat-belt (only on occasion). Though I wonder if the social cost figures for voting are actually the inverse of those for seat-belts.