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Drafting My Fantasy Picks & Tackling Nobel Trends

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Commentator Dennis O'Toole is a writer and improv performer from Chicago.

Today, Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam G. Riess won the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that expansion in the universe is speeding up. That's great news for me, since I had Riess and Perlmutter in my fantasy league.

Honestly, I could have gotten Schmidt too, but I drafted Nathan Seiberg, mainly because he's worked with both supersymmetric gauge theories and with discrete light-cone quantization. That was a hedge.

Yesterday, I nabbed 20 points each with Bruce A. Beutler, Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman.

I remember back in the '90s, when I first heard about their discovery of cell receptors activated by pathogenic microorganisms. I was in this bar called Alumni Club on Clark Street in Chicago. It's gone now, which is fine because it was terrible. Doesn't matter, I guess, but me and my buddies had just polished off a mound of wings and, like, seven buckets of Corona when this dude comes in blabbing about the critical role dendritic cells play in adaptive immunity. I almost kicked the hell out of him on the spot, but I have to admit the slides he brought made me a believer.

Long story short: I've been picking Beutler and Hoffmann for the past three years, and this time: I'm right. Boom shockalocka, broseph!

Tomorrow, it's the chemistry awards. I think it's high time Rudolph Pariser and Robert Parr got some 'spect for their Pariser-Parr-Pople method, which made molecular orbital computation way easier than it would have been otherwise. What about John A. Pople, who developed the same thing independently? Hey man, he died in 2004.

On Thursday, the lit awards are gonna be announced. My No. 1 guy is Tomas Transtromer. He's Swedish, he's 80, and he's [expletive] due. It's his time, and everybody knows it. America hasn't had an award since 1993, and some people say this is the year. Baloney.

With all the buzz about Murakami and the Syrian poet Adonis, you gotta be stoned off your bean to think Philip Roth or Joyce Carol Oates is gonna get the nod. And don't say Cormac McCarthy. Outer Dark is sick and Blood Meridian is dope, but have you read No Country for Old Men twice? It doesn't hold up, and the Nobel committee knows it. Trust me.

On Friday, we get the peace prize. I'm gonna say ... anyone who was within a mile of Tahrir Square. Or heck, maybe they're gonna give it to that Twitter dude, Biz Stone. Biz can't be his real name, can it? Sounds like a saxophonist in a funk band. Anyway, that's my pick: A couple million Arab spring activists en masse get to split 10 million Swedish kronor, with Biz as a backup.

On Monday, me and some dudes are gonna tailgate outside the Kellogg School of Management before the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is announced. You should totally come. It's gonna be ill. My pick to click this year is N. Gregory Mankiw. They're gonna say it's for his work on menu costs and price stickiness, but that's bunk. It's really so they can hand it over to someone who isn't Paul Krugman.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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