Sweden Syndrome




stadthusen int4S

Originally uploaded by vincusses.

This is the interior of the famous 1923 city hall in Stockholm, Sweden, where they host the annual dinner awarding the Nobel prize in Economics. A lovely arts and crafts/National Romantic building, we toured it as part of the International Preservation Trades Network conference last Friday. This Friday (today) I am going to my 25th college reunion at the University of Chicago.

So here is the connection. Monday my sister Clare shows me a flyer her son Michael received from the University of Chicago. He is a well-adjusted kid but that didn’t stop U of C (über-geek central) from soliciting. The flyer was hilarious – the cover showed Nobel prize medals, an IKEA store, and the pop group ABBA. When you open the flyer, it reveals that these three things are all Swedish, which you should already have figured out if you are U of C-worthy. It even noted that one ABBA member was technically Norwegian, as all incoming U of C students know. The kicker was to show how many Nobel prizes U of C people had won. So geeky.

Having gone there a quarter century ago, let me take it one step further with my own display of geekitude, learned during my tour of the City Hall. It seems that Nobel left his chunk of dynamite dough to award five prizes, in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. He purposely left out mathematics, supposedly having been jilted by a lover for a mathematician (the true story is that there was already a big math prize.) He also directed that the Peace prize be awarded in Oslo, Norway, so only the other four are awarded in a December ceremony in the space pictured here.

Now, U of C claims a lot of Nobels – 3 in literature, 11 in medicine, 15 in chemistry, 27 in Physics. It also has 23 in Economics, which is a lot considering that it has only been awarded since 1969. And it isn’t a Nobel Prize. It was created by the Swedish bank some 65 years after the other ones “in memory of Alfred Nobel”. This is U of C’s sweet spot though – it has won one basically every other year since they started giving them out. U of C has no Peace prizes, which is appropriate given how many of its grads could teach “Foreign Policy Blunders 101” these days.

So I will dine with the President and be awed by more accomplished classmates tonight. Maybe I beat them to the Stockholm City Hall.

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