These intriguing and deeply unsettling photos, entitled Why Men Die Before Women,were sent to me by Eric and Jean
In this blogposting…
* The Darwin Awards
* Albert Einstein
* AGM XXIX
Go for it…
THE DARWIN AWARDS
For those of you unfamiliar with this wonderful institution, the Darwin Awards are given to people who ‘benefit the human gene pool by removing themselves from it’ - often in almost unbelievably spectacular ways that border on the insane.
I don’t think we did justice to last year’s Darwin Awards so here, for your delight and delectation, are some of my favourite citations...
A young couple were driving along Via Dutra, the largest motorway in Brazil, with tons of heavy traffic, at 0600 and in thick fog. They decided that this was a good time to park the car and make love.
So they parked on the motorway in the right-hand lane, rather then at a service area or even on the hard shoulder.
Naturally, given time a cargo truck encountered a "speed bump," instantly killing both of them during the act of procreation, which makes this a rare ‘double’ Darwin Award; two people making two obviously bad decisions AND natural selection acts at the very moment the two are reproducing.
A textbook case.
A disabled man, annoyed that a lift closed and departed without him, thought it over before ramming his wheelchair into the doors not once, not twice, but three times in all - only to plunge down the now-empty lift shaft to his death. Simultaneous success and failure combine to earn the 40-year-old ‘Angry Wheelchair Man’ lasting immortality as a Darwin Award winner.
In the late autumn and early winter months, snow-covered mountains become infested with hunters. One ambitious pair climbed high up a mountain in search of their quarry. The trail crossed a small glacier that had crusted over. The lead hunter had to stomp a foot-hold in the snow, one step at a time, in order to cross the glacier.
Somewhere near the middle of the glacier, his next stomp hit not snow but a rock. The lead hunter lost his footing and fell. Down the crusty glacier he zipped, off the edge and out of sight.
Unable to help, his companion watched him slide away. After a while, he shouted out ‘Are you OK?’
‘Yes! came the answer.
Reasoning that it was a quick way off the glacier, the second hunter plopped down and accelerated down the ice, following his friend. There, just over the edge of the glacier, was his friend...holding onto the top of a tree that barely protruded from the snow.
There were no other treetops nearby, nothing to grab, nothing but a hundred-foot drop onto the rocks below. As the second hunter shot past the first, he uttered his final epitaph: a single word, which I cannot repeat here.
USA - AGAIN
During the American Sprint Car Series, two crew members - smart people with a high degree of mechanical ability - were working at a custom machine shop when they dreamed up an unusual thrill ride. The men put a a 55-gallon barrel in the car park, poured in four gallons of methanol, sat on top of the barrel, and lit the bunghole!
Apparently they thought the barrel would skid across the parking lot like a rocket, with a tail of flame shooting out, and two rodeo clowns sitting on top waving their caps and wooting! But instead of sliding across the pavement...well, four gallons of methanol in a 55-gallon drum greatly resembles a bomb.
The barrel blew up beneath them with so much force that the end of the barrel landed 120 feet away. The two inspired mechanics ended up in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where one man lost his life. The other survived with a sobering lesson on the power of internal combustion.
A 35 year-old man from Braila was only trying to fix a broken soil tamper, a tool his father had made himself and used for decades. The metal handle of this family heirloom had rusted loose and our man was trying to weld it back into position, but unfortunately he was welding the metal rod onto an antique WWII cannon shell.
Yes, the family had been banging a cannon shell against the garden soil for two generations!
Specialists from the Bucharest ISU (General Institute for Emergency Situations) stated that the first weld had been made in a harmless position, but the second weld was made in exactly the wrong spot. The heat triggered the shell to explode, mortally wounding the man. In his defence, he was sure the projectile was harmless because his father had used it to compact earth for almost 40 years.
If one generation doesn't get it right, the next does.
USA - AGAIN
Kelita H was travelling ‘at highway speed’ in her Chevy, cruising down Country Road 519 with the wind blowing through her hair, when she and her passenger decided to swap seats. In this situation, a less hasty person would stop the car for a ‘Chinese fire drill’ but Kelita was a little more creative than that. Fortunately, you see, her car had an open top.
She stood up, pulled herself onto the roof - and she fell. And then Kelita was travelling solo ‘at highway speed’ down that country road.
The Fayette County Coroner's Office reported that the 20-year-old died from injuries sustained while impacting a guardrail.
On the way down, her foot hit the steering wheel and the car veered left - but her passenger, who was still inside the vehicle, grabbed the wheel and averted his own possible demise, thereby demonstrating the wisdom of learning from the mistakes of others. That passenger, by the way, easily earns an Honorable Mention himself, as he was arrested and charged with driving on a suspended license with improper registration and no insurance.
BRAZIL - AGAIN
An electrical discharge made toast of municipal guard Arthur de Souza Coelho, 47. According to police reports, he had installed a tiny electric fence around his car to protect against the frequent robberies that occur in his neighborhood in Belem, Para. Then (direct translation from Portuguese) ‘he forgot that he had left the fence switched on and he ended dying with the electric shock.’
FINALLY - THE NETHERLANDS
Every now and then a completely new window into the world opens before our eyes. Here we have rural Dutch families enjoying their traditional winter sport, carbidschieten, or Carbide Shooting. It's a ridiculously dangerous machine akin to a potato gun, designed to hurl projectiles from the mouth of a metal milk churn.
It begins with moistening calcium carbide and placing it in a large milk container. The damp CaCb emits acetylene gas which builds up inside the container. Then a spark is supplied, causing the pressurised gas bomb to blow the lid (or packing) off the milk jug.
Our nominee, a 54-year-old male, was having the time of his life - right up to the moment he poured a container filled with liquid oxygen over a fire to ‘flare it up’ - and the container obligingly exploded.
Let the Darwin Awards be a warning. Learn from the mistakes of others. You don't have time to make them all yourself...
I’ve featured quotes of Albert Einstein before on the blog. He always strikes me as a man who knew a thing or two about the human condition and had a neat and elegant way of expressing his thoughts.
Two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.
If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
The difference between genius and stupidity is - genius has its limits.
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.
Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.
I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.
If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
Our next AGM will take place at 1100 on Wednesday 19 October. I’m not sure where yet - but at least we have a date.
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