4 Apr 2009

The Darwin Awards

I just bought a book from The Darwin Awards series at a book sale. They really had old stuff; MAD magazines, Superman comics etc.

Anyway, ever heard of The Darwin Awards? It's basically a collection of stories on stupid/funny/weird deaths (and in rare cases, self-sterilization). Why is it named after Charles Darwin? He proposed the theory of "Survival of the Fittest", and all the people mentioned are somewhat contributing to that by not passing on their "stupid" genes...

(Fortunately or unfortunately, some people mentioned only got a "near miss")

Here are some stories found on their website:

Whac-A-Mole


(10 January 2007, Germany) A 63-year-old man's extraordinary effort to eradicate moles from his property resulted in a victory for the moles. The man pounded several metal rods into the ground and connected them--not to household current, which would have been bad enough--but to a high-voltage power line, intending to render the subterranean realm uninhabitable.

Incidentally, the maneuver electrified the very ground on which he stood. He was found dead some time later, at his holiday property on the Baltic Sea. Police had to trip the main circuit breaker before venturing onto the property.

The precise date of the sexagenarian's demise could not be ascertained, but the electric bill may provide a clue.



Elephants Press Back


(2007, India) Increased mining and recent rains in southeast India have unsettled the wildife. In the past few months, migrating elephants have killed eleven people in southeast India. A team of four journalists decided to interview this herd of rogue elephants.

They went into the forest in search of the rogues--on foot.

Elephants are big, and elephants are fast. As the recent deaths illustrate, a person can't out-run an elephant. But these intrepid journalists apparently assumed that a press pass grants immunity.

With a nose for news, the journalists sniffed out the herd. Once located, it was only natural to capture the photogenic animals on film. Unfortunately, the elephants were camera shy. Angered by the flash, the irritated herd charged the paparazzi, miraculously killing only one of the four.

His remains could not be retrieved.



The Alchemist


(10 December 2007, Russia) As a child, Sergei promised his grandmother, "I will establish for you the elixir of immortality! I want you to live forever." As an adult, we find Sergei sitting in his college biology class, licking potassium cyanide off his palm. He had found that magic elixir. He swallowed poisons daily, to strengthen his body and protect him from death.

He regularly consumed small quantities of toxic mushrooms, arsenic, and cyanide salts, and urged others to join him. During daring night-time excursions, Sergei often said, "I shall not die. I have swallowed poison for years, and today, nothing can kill me."

After swallowing the cyanide, he began to feel ill, and asked his classmates to fetch some water. But instead of drinking plain water, he dissolved the rest of the cyanide powder in it, and consumed the solution. Sergei was an intelligent student, interested in chemistry and anatomy. He earned a gold medal, and was accepted into two universities, the Medical Academy and the Ural State University.

But Sergei's scientific premise was flawed. Instead of immortality, he had discovered the elixir of mortality. He went into convulsions, slipped into a coma, and died without regaining consciousness. His father praised Sergei as a gifted chemist who died for the sake of science.

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Their latest book is called The Darwin Awards Next Evolution: Chlorinating the Gene Pool. Haven't seen it yet, but it should be quite a read. Go check out the website for more stories!