In 40 years of dealing with presidents, prime ministers and other leaders, I could count on one hand the times I have heard a president or a prime minister or other high official speak candidly about the mistakes their country has made. It may be that I can count them on two fingers.
The Nobel Prize is awarded in three science categories: physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine. In 2012 each science prize was shared by a pair of researchers. Among this year's six laureates in these categories is the usual number of women: zero.
Not all immigrants will become Nobel Prize laureates, but what are the costs if they don't achieve their highest potential? It will be our own loss, as a nation, if immigrants are denied the opportunity to develop their talents and abilities.
We should be taking risks, the Nobels said, not avoiding them. We should be encouraging ideas from outside the established community, from diverse sources; we should accept failure as a necessary stepping stone to revolutionary progress.
I wasn't looking for the heroine. I wanted to understand what makes some people successful. I expected economic advantage to rise to the surface as a thread that connects Nobel winners. Instead I found an altogether different and more exciting story.
The weekend edition of the paper was the prelude to the Vancouver Peace Summit, a three-day gathering of luminaries including the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Maria Shriver, numerous Nobel laureates, and a couple dozen other presenters.