Now that the new year has begun, one last mention of some individuals and others for what can only be called achievements of the most dubious kind.
1. Golden Duke Award
This award is named after former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham who, says Talking Points Memo, “epitomizes the iconic modern scandal” for “achievements” in “public corruption, outlandish behavior and The Crazy.”
2012 was a bit of a bonanza year with Mitt Romney winning “Best Scandal — General Interest” (for his “47 percent” remark); Clint Eastwood honored “For Meritorious Achievement In The Crazy” (for that chair talk); and Karl Rove celebrated “For Most Hilariously Wrong Campaign Prediction” (for his election night meltdown).
2. Worst CEO of 2012
Sydney Finkelstein, a professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, has dubbed former Best Buy chief Brian Dunn as the Worst CEO of 2012. Dunn’s April resignation due to an alleged inappropriate relationship with a younger employee was actually not the reason for his winning; rather, Finkelstein took him to task for “declining stock price, cratering same-store sales, loss of market share to more nimble competitors” and such (as noted on Businessweek).
Runners-up include Andrea Jung of Avon (for being “unable to fix the company’s operational problems, fail[ing] to groom a successor, and turn[ing] down a $10.7 billion offer from the beauty-care company Coty” that she should have gone for) and Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, the company that brought us Farmville and whose stock declined 75 percent in 2012.
3. Dirty Dozen Awards
These awards are given by the Toxics Action Center to twelve sites or companies that pose “the most notorious pollution threats in the region.” On the 2012 list are General Electric in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (whose electric transformer manufacturing plant has “released as much as 1,500,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Housatonic [River]“) and the ExxonMobil’s 62-year-old Tar Sands Pipeline (which currently “flows under, over, and through dozens of communities throughout New England and central Canada” and has spilled into waterways and some of the region’s “most pristine places”).
4. Bulwer-Lytton Award For Bad Writing
For 40 years, the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, described as a “whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” The “model” for such writing is the first lines of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford, which begins “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents.”
This year’s winner was Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England; her prize entry begins
As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle…
While on the subject of bad writing and awards for it, I thought I might as well mention the Literary Review’s Bad Sex award which was given to Canadian novelist Nancy Huston’s fourteen novel, Infrared, for a passage mentioning “silvery fluidity,” “pink palpitation” and quite a bit else.
5. Golden Duck Award
Last but by no means least, the Good Thinking Society has awarded its Golden Duck Award for “lifetime achievement in quackery” to Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who was struck off the medical register in his native country for his fraudulent research linking autism to the MMR vaccine.
Wakefield has the very dubious distinction of being “almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the measles back to the UK, thanks to his bad science, for which he was well-paid by trial lawyers.” He now lives in Texas and has become something of leading voice among anti-vaccine “advocates” in the U.S.
A final round of applause, and a Bronx cheer, for the winners!
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