[Paleopsych] Darwin Awards Newsletter, 6 September 2005

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Darwin Awards Newsletter, 6 September 2005
[Thanks to Laird for this.]

The  Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome
by honoring those  who contrive to remove themselves from it.
This honor is generally bestowed  posthumously.

Darwin  Award: Surprise Attack Surprise -- CONFIRMED

3 January 2005, St. Maurice,  Switzerland

It was the first week of a weapons refresher course, and Swiss Army Grenadier 
Detachment 20/5 had just finished training with live ammo. The shooting 
instructor ordered the soldiers to secure their weapons for a break.

The 24-year-old second lieutenant, in charge of this detachment, decided this 
would be a good time to demonstrate a knife attack on a soldier. Wielding his 
bayonet, he leaped toward one of his men, achieving complete surprise.

But earlier that week, the soldiers had been drilled to release the safety 
catch and ready their guns for firing in the shortest possible time.  The 
surprised soldier, seeing his lieutenant leaping toward him with a knife, 
snapped off a shot to protect himself from the attack.

The lesson could not have been more successful:  the soldier had saved himself 
and protected the rest of the detachment from a surprise attack. The lieutenant 
might have wished to commend his soldier on his quick action and accurate 
marksmanship.  Unfortunately, he had been killed with one shot.

Reference:  Blick


Darwin  Award: Damned if You Do... -- CONFIRMED

6 September 2004,  Romania

A Pitesti man with a metal ring stuck on his penis was being sought by doctors, 
after he fled the hospital consumed by panic.

The unidentified 42-year-old claimed he had put the ring on his penis after 
losing a bet during a drinking game at a pub.  He was subsequently unable to 
remove the ring.  Embarrassment kept him from seeking immediate medical help, 
but after two days, unbearable pain overcame unbearable shame, and he took his 
smelly and discolored penis in for treatment.

Doctors told him that gangrene had set in, and his life was in danger. The 
blood supply had been cut off for too long, and there was nothing they could do 
but remove his penis, so that the necrosis did not spread to the rest of his 

The manhunt was ongoing.  "There is no way he can escape going under the 
knife," said a doctor.  "He must come back to the hospital and accept this." 
The man’s only consolation is a guaranteed Darwin Award, one way or the 

Reference: Daily Record (UK),  Ananova


Darwin  Award: Playing with Elephants -- CONFIRMED

28 January 2005, Pendang,  Thailand

It's no secret that elephants are big.  Elephants eat hundreds of pounds of 
food a day just to maintain their weight.  Indian elephants are nine feet tall 
at the shoulder, and the males have tusks that extend over three feet.  They're 
so powerful that in Southeast Asia they are used to haul massive tree trunks 
with their tusks, work performed by heavy equipment in other countries.

It's also no secret that teasing an animal can make it mad.  Teasing a 
nine-foot-tall animal that can carry a tree with its three-foot tusks may not 
be a good idea.  Yet that was the very idea that formed in Prawat's head, when 
he saw a herd of five performing elephants chained to trees outside a Buddhist 

While the owner waited inside for an entertainment permit, Prawat, a 
50-year-old rubber-tapper, offered sugar cane to one of the ever-hungry 
elephants... then pulled it away.  Then he did it again.  And again. And again.

The game was great fun for Prawat, but the elephant quickly tired of it. The 
last time Prawat withdrew the treat, the elephant swung his massive tusks and 
gored him through the stomach.  He died on the way to Alor Star Hospital.

Reference:  The Star (Kuala  Lumpur)


Honorable  Mention: Oops, Did It Again -- CONFIRMED

31 July 2005, Darwin,  Australia

A 30-year-old resident of this aptly named town of about 60,000, nestled in the 
Northern Territories on the Sea of Timor, just wanted to go home. But he was 
thwarted by two circumstances.  First, he lived in an upper-level unit in a 
high-rise apartment building, and second, he had locked his keys in the 

It was around 4 a.m.  Some people do their best thinking in the wee hours of 
the morning, but our protagonist is not one of them.  He concluded that his 
best course of action was to scale the outside of the building.

He managed to climb a short distance before he fell.  Luckily, a parked car was 
beneath him to cushion the blow with its roof.  He pulled himself off the 
shattered windshield and, unwilling to give up after one small setback, again 
set out to scale the wall.

This time he reached the third floor before falling.  He was less fortunate 
than before, as he landed on his head, yet also more fortunate, as this knocked 
him unconscious and saved him from a third attempt.

He survived the fall, and was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital for treatment.

Lest outsiders get the wrong idea of Darwin, Australia, we include a comment 
from a sergeant on the Darwin Police force:  "It doesn't happen every day," he 

Reference: The Australian,  Gold Coast  Bulletin


Honorable  Mention: Catching the Boat -- CONFIRMED

28 September 2003, Vancouver,  Canada

William, a 36-year-old carpenter, hoped to become a stunt man.  He had a 
brilliant plan.  During the Vancouver Film Festival, movie people jetted in 
from all over the world.  He would bungee from the Lions Gate Bridge, 
gracefully descend to the deck of a passing cruise ship, and disengage from the 
bungee cable as smoothly as James Bond, to the awe of the ship's passengers. 
Producers would marvel at his work, and discuss over cocktails who would hire 
him for their next film.

Stunt men have the advantage of working with stunt coordinators, who carefully 
plot out each acrobatic feat with unerring accuracy.  But William was a 
do-it-yourself man.  He planned for over two years, checking the height of the 
tides, boat schedules, and deck layouts.  He even lined up sponsors and 
recruited assistants.  But, as it turned out, he could have used a stunt 

The stunt began perfectly.  William took a swan dive off the bridge, trailing 
the bungee cord behind him.  He felt it grow taut as it stretched and began to 
slow his descent.  The tennis court of the cruise ship drew nearer.  And 
nearer.  And nearer...

He slammed into the deck, hurtled into a volleyball net, bounced against a deck 
railing, and found himself flying once more into the air, watching the cruise 
ship sail away.

Although he had failed to make his James Bond entrance, "people on the boat 
loved it," he told a reporter.  "They were screaming, yelling, waving." A 
witness, however, described the reaction as "shrieks of horror."

William dangled above the water for a few minutes, confirming that no bones 
were broken, and making a mental note to use a shorter bungee cord next time. 
A water taxi positioned itself beneath him, and he gracefully descended to its 
deck, and smoothly disengaged from the bungee cable.

William is still waiting to hear from the movie producers.

Reference: AP,  cnn.com


Personal  Account: Watch Where You're Going

I hired several laborers to prepare two garden areas for me.  They needed some 
supplies, so I showed them the location of ice water and the bathroom, and left 
to obtain the supplies.  Upon my return, I noticed an ambulance in front of my 
home, along with two police cars.

The police informed me that the neighbor had called 911 to report a naked man 
screaming and running around the yard next door.

As it turned out, one of the laborers had needed to answer the call of nature. 
Rather than use the bathroom I had shown him, he went into the woods behind our 
house, dropped his trousers, and squatted down -- right on top of a huge nest 
of hornets.

He was released from the hospital after about a week, having learned a very 
painful and nearly fatal lesson: always watch where you're going.



Personal  Account: Brake Care

Summer 2001,  USA

I am a keen mountain-biker, and was the proud owner of a fairly expensive 
mountain bike.  My bike was fitted with 'V' brakes, which are extremely 
effective, though prone to squealing.

My dear brother decided to have a ride on my bike one day, while I was out.  He 
noticed the squealing as he cycled down the hill we live on, towards the 
invariably busy crossroads at the bottom.  Being a helpful sort, he headed back 
home and proceeded to pour a generous amount of 3-in-1 oil onto the brakes, 
before once more setting off down the hill.

The oil worked!  The only reported squealing came from my brother, as he 
slammed into the side of a moving VW Beetle.  To this day he sports an 
impressive scar running from his eye socket to just past his ear. And yes, the 
bike was totaled.


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