Saturday, February 18, 2023

A Darwinian Bit of Distraction for Our Times




In a world where every day our planet seems to fall victim to new horrific tragedies––some man-made, some not, but all egregiously destructive to body, mind, and spirit––I think we all can use a bit of humorous distraction, even of the Schadenfreude sort.


I choose to fall back on the Darwin Awards for consolation. As described on the Online Masters College website—from which I borrowed liberally for this post––“The Darwin Awards are a satirical way of honoring individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool by dying by their stupid actions.”


The first awards began informally on a computer forum in 1985, evolved into a website by 1993, book form by 2000, and a movie in 2006.  Though largely awarded to idiots of all sorts, some awardees came from what would otherwise be regarded as among society’s so-called intelligentsia.


Here are ten “winners:”


Home-made bungee jumping cords don’t work as well

First, the brave young fellow used tape to fix two different bungee cords together, and then he cut them to measure the exact height of the bridge he wanted to jump from. He tied a cord to his car and jumped into the abyss, forgetting that bungee cords are designed to stretch.


Man tries to fight a lion

An Australian kung-fu master told his class in 1996 that they were good enough to ‘take on lions.’ This encouragement was not supposed to be taken literally. One student took the words to heart and headed to his local zoo. Many shocked zoo visitors reportedly saw the ensuing ‘fight,’ but we’ll leave the details up to your imagination.


Terrorist opens his letter bomb

Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet decided to send out a letter bomb in 2000. Not being the brightest of sparks, he forgot to put enough postage stamps on the letter, meaning it came back to the ‘return to sender’ address. Khay was so happy to receive some post that he ripped it open. His career in terrorism ended there.


Bullet-proof glass isn’t idiot-proof

This one is a classic case of ‘check this out, guys!’: High-flying lawyer Garry Hoy loved telling his buddies that the windows in his Toronto office were bullet-proof and unbreakable. One day he decided to prove his theory by running into one at full pace. The shocked clients could only watch as Gary crashed through the ‘unbreakable’ windows and ended up on the pavement 24 floors below.


More balloons over California

Larry Walters didn’t die during the stunt, but the Darwin Awards still gave him an ‘honorable mention.’ After attaching 45 weather balloons to an armchair, Larry cut himself loose, thinking he would float 30ft above his garden in California. He miscalculated and rose to an elevation of 10,000ft. Luckily, he brought an air rifle along for the ride and started shooting the balloons, reducing his altitude. He eventually came down over LAX, where he was promptly arrested.



Revenge of the STOP signs

In 2006, A patrol officer from Wisconsin came to speak to a Drivers’ Education class about safety, and told this cautionary tale: In a nearby town, seven college kids decided to raise a little ruckus after a party. They all piled into a pickup, one in the cab and the rest in the back, and they drove down deserted backroads pulling stop signs out of the dirt. The goal
was to get as many as possible into the truck. Speeding back to the party, they were struck by a delivery vehicle at–you guessed it–an intersection which had, until recently, sported a safety marker. The six in the back of the truck were killed, and the driver was badly injured. The patrol officer said he would never forget the sight of the dead students sprawled at the wreck, surrounded by twenty-seven stop signs.


An electrifying thought


John, a Los Angeles real estate attorney, was skimming leaves from his pool when he noticed a palm frond caught in the power lines. His education had equipped him with sufficient understanding to become a successful litigator. Yet, he was not wise enough to avoid becoming a toasty critter when he reached up with the long metal pole and poked at the palm frond. Did I mention the power lines? John was, for once, the path of least resistance.


Wife Tossing


During a heated marital dispute, a 25-year-old man picked up his 20-year-old wife and threw her off their eighth-floor apartment balcony only to see her become entangled in the power lines below.  He immediately leapt from the balcony and fell toward his wife, but missed the power lines completely and plunged to his death.  His wife managed to swing over to a nearby balcony and was saved.


Perils of Bacon stuffed chicken

Francis Bacon was an influential statesman, philosopher, writer, and scientist in the sixteenth century. He died while stuffing snow into a chicken. He had been struck by the notion that snow instead of salt might be used to preserve meat. To test his theory, he stood outside in the snow and attempted to stuff the bird. The chicken didn’t freeze, but Bacon did.


The motorcycle helmet protest


Protesting motorcycle helmet laws, an Onondaga, NY man was participating in a helmetless protest ride when he was killed after flipping over the handlebars and fatally hitting his head.


For those of you who can’t believe such idiocy could possibly be as widespread as these award winners’ stories imply, I respectfully suggest taking a hard look at the sort of behaviors we’ve come to accept as tolerable in those we empower to govern us.




Jeff’s Appearance Schedule


Friday, March 17 @ 9:00AM

Left Coast Crime

Tucson, AZ – El Conquistador, Turquoise 1

Participating in Panel moderated by Alice Volpe titled, “Crimes Around the World,” with co-panelists Connie Berry, Juliet Grames, Carlene O’Connor.


Saturday, March 18 @ 9:00AM

Left Coast Crime

Tucson, AZ –  El Conquistador, Presidio 1-2

Moderating Panel titled, “Both Sides of the Law,” with panelists Curtis Ippolito, Margaret Morse, Karen Odden, Michael Sears


  1. I never fail to be horrified and entertained in equal measure by the annual Darwin Awards.

    One of my favourites was Awarded in 1994: '(March 1989, South Carolina) Michael Anderson Godwin was a lucky murderer whose death sentence had been commuted to life in prison. Ironically, he was sitting on the metal toilet in his cell and attempting to fix the TV set when he bit down on a live wire and electrocuted himself.'

    1. Now THAT'S irony... and yes, I'm doing some politically incorrect guffawing at the image. I wonder what TV show he was so wired to a manner of speaking.

  2. :-))))))))))) Thanks, Jeff. The Awards Season is always something to look forward to (especially when traveling in a forward direction...)

    1. Always happy to help out one of the most forward folk I know, dear EvKa.

    2. Always happy to help out one of the most forward folk I know, dear EvKa.

  3. Henrik Linnemann-SchmidtFebruary 18, 2023 at 1:53 PM

    Jeff, do you know the German saying?
    Schadenfreude ist die schoenste Freude!

    1. I do now, Henrik! Thanks for updating mein high school German.

    2. You’re welcome

    3. And they say It with a sneer.

  4. This utterly, utterly, cheered me up!

  5. I’m sorry, my brother, but I can’t help pointing this out. The prevailing wisdom all over the world is that men arexthe logical ones and women are the emotional ones. I’ve been following the Darwin awards since their inception. I think they are, collectively, proof that that is not a Y-chromosome. It’s an X with a piece missing. Your loving Sis.