2009: The Good, the Bad and the Bonkers

We all know the Booker, Turner, and Orange Prizes, and the Oscars, Grammys, and Perriers. But not every award handed out in the course of the year is as high-profile. Some – perhaps more socially useful – gongs do not get the coverage they deserve. Time to put that right. Here, then, are The Other Awards of the year
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The Independent Online

Wacky Warning Label Contest

Run by the Foundation for Fair Civil Justice, a US organisation which campaigns against lawsuit abuse. Every year it selects the most ridiculous and lawsuit-obsessed product warnings.


Bag of livestock castration rings: "For animal use only".

Cereal bowl: "Always use this product with adult supervision".

LCD panel: "Do not eat the LCD panel".

Previous winners

Decorator's heat gun: "Not to be used as a hairdryer".

Napkin decorated with map of South Carolina waterways: "Not to be used for navigation".

Digital thermometer: "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally".

Toilet brush: "Do not use for personal hygiene".

Bottle of bleach: "If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product".

Toboggan: "Beware: sled may develop high speed under certain snow conditions".

12-inch high CD storage rack: "Do not use as ladder".

Fish hook: "Harmful if swallowed".

Scooter: "This product moves when used".

The IgNobel Prize Winners

Presented by Annals of Improbable Research magazine to those who have made scientific discoveries "that cannot, or should not, be reproduced".

Veterinary Medicine: Cows given names produced more milk than ones without (Newcastle University).

Peace Prize: Empty beer bottle is better weapon in a bar brawl than full one (University of Bern, Switzerland).

Medicine: American Donald L Ungerfor cracked the knuckles on his left hand, but not his right, for more than 60 years, enabling him to conclude there is no link between knuckle cracking and arthritis.

Physics: The reason heavily pregnant women don't tip over. It's because female lower backs extend over three vertebrae, as opposed to two in men, enabling women to support extra weight (Katherine K Whitcome, Daniel E Lieberman and Liza J Shapiro, US).

Literature: Irish police wrote out more than 50 traffic tickets to Prawo Jazdy, not a repeat offender but "driving licence" in Polish.

Public Health: For devising bra that can be converted into two face masks in an emergency (Elena N Bodnar, Raphael C Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago).

Maths: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, "for printing bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000)".

Biology: Kitchen refuse can diminish by more than 90 per cent, once bacteria found in the faeces of giant pandas is applied (Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan).

Bookseller/Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year

Started at Frankfurt Book Fair. Since 2000, the public have voted for theaward on The Bookseller website.


The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Professor Philip Parker.


Baboon Metaphysics by D L Cheney.

Curbside Consultation of the Colon by Brooks D Cash.

Past winners

Living with Crazy Buttocks by Kas Cooke.

People Who Don't Know They're Dead, How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It by Gary Leon Hill.

If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs by Big Boom.

Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers edited by Derek Willan.

Bombproof Your Horse by Rick Pelicano and Lauren Tjaden.

Ernie Awards

The Ernies are Australian awards for sexist comments. The winners are decided by the volume of booing at a dinner attended by hundreds of women.

Sporting Ernie

Rugby league player Simon Williams, responding to claims of group sex involving sportsmen: "It's not during the act, it's the way you treat them after. [It] could have been avoided if they had put them in a cab and said thanks."

Previous winners

Politician Joe Hockey, who, when asked about his wife's pregnancy, replied: "I don't know why, but during the birth process, they only focus on the women."

Perth magistrate Ron Gething, who, finding not guilty a man who had stalked a woman for seven years, said he was just "being persistent... like a little puppy dog wagging his tail".

Jim Corbett, Newcastle Herald journalist, who said of a space shuttle crew: "Nasa ensured there was a male engineer on board in case things went wrong."

Name of the Year

Founded at Ivy League college in 1983. The public votes for the greatest names unearthed, all of which have been authenticated.


Juvyline Cubangbang of Sacramento, California.

Barkevious Mingo, football player at Louisiana State University. Has brother called Hughtavious.


Larry Koldsweat, a Nigerian actor, musician and pastor.

Parris Duffus, a hockey goalie.

Zeppy O'Green, a Canadian lacrosse player.

Nemesis Vega, a Little League softball player.

Rev Valentine Handwerker, a Rector from Memphis.

Elvis Cake, New Jersey track athlete.

Primus Skumatz, a physician from Minnesota.

Zuequal Harrison, sister of Queen Quedith Earth Harrison, a member of the US Olympic athletics team.

DeMarvelous Carter, a hopper turned rapper.

Previous winners

Miracle Wanzo, mother and entrepreneur from California.

Excellent Raymond, New York taxi-driver.

Assumption Bulltron, (Name of the Decade).

Pigasus Awards 2009

Given each April Fool's Day by American James Randi to the paranormal or psychic frauds of the year. Winners are recorded telepathically, and trophies sent via psychokinesis. If winners do not receive them, it is, he says, because of their lack of psychic ability.

Category 1 (scientist) winner

Dr Colin Ross, a Texan psychiatrist, who claims he can send electromagnetic beams out of his eyes.

Past winners

Dorothy Allison, housewife/psychic who, when called upon to solve a series of murders in Atlanta, Georgia, named 42 different suspects.

Sheldon Nidle, a "psychic" from California, who forecast that the world would end on 17 December, 1996. When it didn't, he maintained that it had, it was just that none of us noticed.

Philip Jordan, hired by New York public defender RL Miller "to assist in choosing jurors by their auras".

The Year in Media Errors and Corrections

Craig Silverman is a freelance journalist who collects apologies and corrections. His website Regret the Error names the best of the year. They include:

"Bear sighting: An item in the National Briefing in Sunday's Section A said a bear wandered into a grocery story in Hayward, Wis., on Friday and headed for the beer cooler. It was Thursday." Los Angeles Times

"In my column on 22 August I suggested that Sharon Osbourne was an unemployed, drug-addled, unfit mum with a litter of feral kids. This was not intended to be taken literally. I fully accept she is none of these things and sincerely apologise to Sharon and her family for my unacceptable comments. Sorry Sharon..." The Sun

"At a memorial gathering for Bruce Wasserstein, New York magazine editor Adam Moss described Mr Wasserstein as having the 'soul of a journalist and the wallet of a tycoon'. A Tuesday Deals & Deal Makers article about the memorial incorrectly quoted Mr Moss as saying Mr Wasserstein had 'the heart of a tycoon'." The Wall Street Journal

"On 17 July 2008 in our front page article 'Ron the Lash' we falsely reported that whilst recovering from an operation to his ankle Cristiano Ronaldo had 'gone on a bender' at a Hollywood nightclub where he splashed out £10,000 on champagne and vodka and threw his crutches to the ground and tried to dance on his uninjured foot. We now accept that Cristiano did not 'go on a bender', did not drink any alcohol that evening, did not spend £10,000 on alcohol, nor throw his crutches to the floor or try to dance." Daily Mirror

"Surrey Police have not blamed gipsies for an attack on their force helicopter, no staff in their operations rooms were threatened by gipsies and no gipsy site was being targeted for a raid as we reported on May 14. We apologise for the mistakes and are happy to set the record straight." The Sun

"An article on May 25, 2007, 'The Cult Guru Who Stole My Son' made claims that William Van Gordon was a 'brainwashed zombie' and Edo Shonin brainwashed him and that the Buddhist retreat which they ran was a cult. We accept this is untrue. We apologise to both men for the contrary impression given." Daily Mail

National Parents of the Year

Given by the National Parents' Day Council in the US.


Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of Springdale, Arizona, devout Christians who have 18 children. Fixated on the letter "J", they called them: Joshua, Jana & John-David (twins), Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah & Jeremiah (twins), Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, and Jordyn-Grace.

Oxford Word of the Year

The New Oxford American Dictionary chooses words that have "signified cultural importance over the past 12 months". This year's include:

Unfriend: To remove someone as a "friend" on a social networking site such as Facebook.

Intexticated: Distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle.

Tramp stamp: Tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman.

Zombie bank: Financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support.

Deleb: Dead celebrity.

Funemployed: Taking advantage of one's newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests.

Birther: Conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama's birth certificate.

Death panel: Theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed.

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Inspired by Edward Bulwer-Lytton's opening to his novel Paul Clifford ("It was a dark and stormy night..."), and sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University, California since 1982. Participants are challenged to "compose the opening sentence of the worst of all possible novels."

Overall category

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the Ellie May, a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

David McKenzie, Washington, US

Winner: Adventure

"How best to pluck the exquisite Toothpick of Ramses from between a pair of acrimonious vipers before the demonic Guards of Nicobar returned should have held Indy's full attention, but in the back of his mind he still wondered why all the others who had agreed to take part in his wife's holiday scavenger hunt had been assigned to find stuff like a Phillips screwdriver or blue masking tape."

Joe Wyatt, Texas, US


"Tinkerbell landed softly on the bedpost in a sparkle of Industrial Light & Magic, handed the packet of cigarettes to a rather stubbly 'Pete' Pan and, seeing his little green tights strewn carelessly on the floor and a still sleeping Wendy lying naked beside him, quickly realized they were now a very long way from Never Never Land."

Hugh Trethowan, Bath, UK

29th Annual Golden Raspberries

The anti-Oscars, held on the eve of the more famous occasion, voted for by the public around the world.


Worst Picture: The Love Guru

Worst Actor: Mike Myers ( The Love Guru)

Worst Actress: Paris Hilton ( The Hottie and the Nottie)

Worst Supporting Actress: Paris Hilton ( Repo! the Genetic Opera)

Worst Supporting Actor: Pierce Brosnan ( Mamma Mia!)

Worst Screen Couple: Paris Hilton and either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore ( The Hottie and the Nottie)

Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Worst Director: Uwe Bowl ( Tunnel Rates; In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; Postal)

Worst Screenplay: The Love Guru

30th Annual Golden Bull Awards

Hosted by the Plain English Campaign, who, since 1980, have named government departments and companies that produce "gobbledygook".


Department of Health: "Primary prevention includes health promotion and requires action on the determinants of health to prevent disease occurring. It has been described as refocusing upstream to stop people falling in the waters of disease."

Patient Access to Electronic Records Limited, for the automated arrival system that replaces receptionists in doctors' surgeries: "... I arrive at my GP, only to be told that I haven't until I converse with a screen that invites me to 'Touch the screen to arrive'. My electronic check-in is completed by touching a virtual button labelled 'arrive me'."

Dublin Airport Authority, for a 109-word clause on contractors' agreement: "(c) Neither the execution and delivery by the Consultant of this Agreement nor the consummation by it of any of the transactions contemplated hereby, requires, with respect to it, the consent or approval of the giving of notice to, the registration, with the record or filing of any document with, or the taking of any other action in respect of any government authority, except such as are not yet required (as to which it has no reason to believe that the same will not be readily obtainable in the ordinary course of business upon due application therefore) or which have been duly obtained and are in full force and effect."

Literary Review's Bad Sex Award

Founded by Auberon Waugh to "draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel and to discourage it".


Jonathan Littell for The Kindly Ones, a Second World War epic, narrated by a Nazi officer in which he depicts the sadomasochistic relationship between two siblings. The passage likens a sexual encounter to a battle with a Cyclops, a mythological, one-eyed monster.


Paul Theroux – A Dead Hand; Nick Cave – The Death of Bunny Munro; Philip Roth – The Humbling; Amos Oz – Rhyming Life and Death; Anthony Quinn – The Rescue Man; John Banville – The Infinities; Sanjida O'Connell – The Naked Name of Love; Simon Van Booy – Love Begins in Winter; Richard Milward – Ten Storey Love Song.

Glasses wearer of the year

Daniel Harris, 21, from Birmingham was the Specsavers Spectacle Wearer of the Year 2009.