Members of the Committee, Distinguished guests, Fellow honorees, Friends, and Family Members not too embarrassed to attend:
I humbly and gratefully accept the Nobel Prize in Physics, the recognition, the honor, the plaque, the trophy, the discount coupons, the windbreaker, the keychain, the bumper sticker, the Alfred Nobel bobblehead and the generous cash award which, if I may, I would like to receive in twenties and fifties.
I am as surprised at this as many of you must be, not least those who know me and are all too aware of how far short of my grandiose pronouncements my actual accomplishments have fallen. But do any of us today know that I may not yet, someday, wake up, wise up, get up and get going? That I might not, while sleeping some night, grow a great and sturdy backbone that, upon my waking will support my new found commitment to honoring the dreams and hopes and plans and promises of which I have so often and so eloquently spoken? We do not. For all we know I may even pay off my credit card debt and quit the gin bottle. I believe this high honor may be just the lever that will lift me up and set me again upon the course I have so long advocated for myself and for us all.
But I will tell you that I feel today already on the cusp of great accomplishment. While it is true that as long ago as nineteen sixty-seven opinion held that I would not do great work in the field of physics, there is not an inescapable descent from a grade of sixty-five on the New York State Regents Physics Examination to a life devoid of discovery and productivity in that discipline.
Let me tell you about my recent work. For the last two weeks, for several minutes each day, I have worked toward the goal of teaching an old, slow, fat and dismally stupid (although of the greatest good heart) yellow Labrador Retriever (an uneven, grimy sort of parchment color, really) to understand and apply the science of vector analysis.
Canis familiaris ‘Cody' is, perhaps, naturally adept at picking up dead or wounded waterfowl and returning them to his master while resisting the urge to devour them. He may be, although I have not seen such a performance myself, any more than any of you has seen me calculate an orbital trajectory, accelerate a proton or balance a checkbook. But early in my research I did discover that Cody has absolutely no facility at catching bits of cookie, donut or cheese tossed in his direction. It is this sad lack of ability I have worked so tirelessly to correct.
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I can report to you all here today my preliminary findings. Cody can, as of last Wednesday, lift his front legs clear of the ground and lurch forward in a spasmodic way so that I may toss a small bit of food into his open mouth. He can do this approximately two out of every three trials. I am optimistic further work will raise this completion ratio.
While it is true that he would still prefer to eat crumbs directly from the dirt, and does sometimes flinch rather than approach a softly lobbed bit of cheap pastry, there can be no question that together we are bending the curve of his response.
We cannot expect revolutionary changes. We should not ignore, either, the desires, expectations and prejudices of those who think another way is a better way. Perhaps Cody's owner likes him stupid and inept. I shall continue to endeavor to find a middle way that honors stupidity and lethargy for all dogs, although I shall also always urge each of us to put aside our old ways and strive toward the highest goals of both human and canine accomplishment.
Your faith in me causes me to reflect upon my lapses and to renew my commitment to my purpose. And for those who may even now say that my work has demeaned the admittedly more startling and significant accomplishments of previous physics honorees, let me remind you that no less an unprincipled, lying, corrupt war-whore than Henry Kissinger was given the Peace Prize, despite a solitary atom of evidence that he ever considered any principle more great and noble than his own self-aggrandizement and enrichment. Surely, if he was worthy, I am doubly so. Or maybe it's all just a big friggin' joke. Crazy damned Swedes. God Bless you. And may God Bless the United States of America. Thank you and good evening.
Mr. Cooper once won a small award for a reasonably capable poem and another for highest literary achievement by a student in the eighth grade. Everything his editor has ever submitted to the Maine Press Association has been ignored. Municipal annual reports he has crafted have always impressed the judges at the Maine Municipal Association. This is not a strong record, but neither has he compromised away everything in which he has professed to believe, and of that he is proud. He pledges he will try to do better in the future.