Back when I was in undergrad (re: while writing research papers, until about a month ago) I did a lot of research about Lithuania, which often came to some ridiculous discoveries. One of these is the IgNobel Prize that is awarded by the Journal for Improbable Research, a journal associated with MIT.
I first heard about the prize while living in Lietuva, when visiting Grutas Park for the first time. The park's founder, Viliumas Malinauskas, was awarded the IgNobel Peace Prize for the park's absurd theme in 2001, when the park first opened. This year, for a course called Public Space: Monuments and Memory, I wrote a research paper, arguing the idea that the park, which displays the retired Soviet statuary that had previously been on display in public spaces around Lithuania. (e-mail me if you would like to read the paper, entitled "A-museum-ment Park: Grutas Park and the Fate of Soviet Statuary in Lithuania")
I found the award oddly fitting, though, because the work of the journal is to draw attention to research that makes you laugh and then think. Certainly this park is a good example of such a statement.
Lithuania, I was pleased to find out, was this year awarded its second IgNobel Prize, again for the Peace category. The mayor of Vilnius, Arturas Zuokas, went viral on youtube for running over a fancy car in a tank earlier this year. His innovative strategy for fighting illegal parking and promoting bicycle-riding was commended with this peace prize, despite the destruction it caused.
I was excited to hear this news, mostly because I had heard about this tank-riding scheme two months before it made it to youtube. Since the video was published the day before my birthday, it was like Zuokas had practically given me a birthday gift. The award made the victory against illegally parked cars even sweeter. I hope that Lithuania will continue to do more attention-grabbing, ironically-peace-driven actions in the future, especially if it pays off with peace prizes.