Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Darwin Awards.

After a suggestion from tutor Jo in our progress crit, for our Communication is a Virus: Tell a lie convincingly project, we have begun to look at outside inspiration and  inspire our search for mad-cap and ludicrous April Fools' stories- stories that are ludicrous but true...

1. 25 August 2010, Daejon, South Korea) VIDEO NEWS! A handicapped man, annoyed that an elevator closed and departed without him, thinks 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 elevator 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. 

2. (31 July 2009, South Carolina) Two disguised men entered a Sprint store on Sparkleberry Lane, pulled out guns, and stole wallets, purses, and credit cards from employees before ordering them into a bathroom. Both men fled, but they could not flee from their own stupidity. 23-year-old James T. had disguised himself by painting his face gold. Yes, in order to conceal his identity during the robbery, James had covered his skin with spray paint. If this isn't a Darwin Award, what is? Paints are clearly labelled, do not get on skin, do not get in eyes, do not inhale. Paint fumes are well-known to be toxic, and the metallic colors are particularly noxious. James began having trouble breathing (surprise!) and died wheezing shortly after the robbery took place.
To add insult to injury, the disguise was ineffective. Witnesses were certain as to the identity of their assailant. Had he lived, James, like his surviving accomplice, would have been charged with armed robbery. 

3. (1 November 2009, Belgium) Police received a desperate call from a man who had been attacked on a motorway near the town of Liege. When the policemen arrived, they found Thierry B., 37, lying dead on the ground, his body stabbed, his car burning. Witnesses had seen a big truck driving away.

But there was no evidence of fighting or struggling around the body--only the knife wounds on his shoulder and neck. Puzzled, inspectors analysed Thierry's cell phone calls. He had recently reconnected with an old friend, a fact that intrigued Inspector Clouseau. I mean, Commissioner Lamoque. Childhood friend, lost sight of for ten years, back in touch? Lamoque asked the 42-year-old friend in for a chat about the roadside aggression.
Turns out the dead man was aggrieved regarding insurance money he felt was owed, but never paid, after his restaurant burned two years before. He had asked his old friend to bring him a knife and a jerrycan of fuel, and leave him alone on the motorway: a man with a plan to get the insurance money one way or another.
The "victim" then set his car on fire, called police, and stabbed himself, accidentally cutting an artery in his own neck. By the time his simulated act of violence was over, he was over too, face against the ground ten yards from his burned car. Roll credits on this little drama.
Reader comment: "Mock aggression mocks death" 

4. (3 June 2009, North Carolina) Greensboro was inundated with four inches of pouring rain in two hours, stranding several cars on flooded roads. Rosanne T., 50, was not deterred. She hopped on her moped and drove to a convenience store where she "possibly had a beer," according to her mother, before deciding to blunder home through the storm. She phoned home to say, "My moped has two rubber wheels, Mom, I'll be fine." North Carolina does not require a license to own a moped.
Ms. T. had acquired hers two years previously after a DUI conviction.

The Highway Patrol had blocked off several roads that were inundated with water, including Rosanne's path home. But she rode right past the officer and the barriers, lost control of her vehicle, and fell into the swollen creek below. The officer retrieved rope from his vehicle and proceeded to haul her from the water.
He then interviewed the woman, probably inquiring about her motivation for speeding through a roadblock during a flash flood. When the officer returned to his patrol car to call for assistance, Rosanne took the opportunity to escape--by jumping back into the creek!
The officer attempted to rescue her again, but alas, it was too late.
The victim's mother speculated that her daughter's motivation for jumping into a flooded creek was to rescue her drowning moped. "She loved that thing." 

5. (5 February 2009, India) Bachelor lottery agent Pravin Kuse lived with his brother's family in Vasai. His own house, an abandoned 100-year-old building, was located a few meters away.
Some legends hold that a pot of gold lies buried at the end of the rainbow, but Pravin learned in a dream that an ancient pot of gold was actually buried beneath his house. He decided to follow his dream and dig for that gold. He kept his plans private, to avoid a fight over the fortune.
The dream told him to dig beneath the staircase so after lunch, every day without fail, Pravin would take his spade and dig a little deeper beneath the stairs. The neighbors had no idea that days and nights of digging had resulted in a fifteen-foot deep tunnel. The innovative gold-digger had even rigged a remote-control toy car to carry a flashlight to assist him in the dark.
He was smart enough to control his lighting needs, but not smart enough to take into account the water table. One day the 32-year-old lottery agent did not return home, and his worried relatives lodged a missing persons report. Police discovered that the floor of the old house had caved in. The soil beneath the staircase becomes wet at a depth of 15 feet due to its proximity to the sea, and the unsupported walls of the tunnel had collapsed.
A few hours later an earthmover had excavated Pravin's body from the debris, along with a spade and the innovative mobile flashlight. The lottery agent's number... was up. 

6. (30 October 2008, Oklahoma) Peter G., 32, was an accomplished big cat keeper. With his huge heart and gift of connecting with animals, this former Tulsa Zoo keeper was the perfect volunteer at Safari's Animal Sanctuary in Broken Arrow. Perfect until the liger incident. You may ask, as we asked, "What's a liger?"
Ligers are unusual animals, a sterile cross between a male lion and a female tiger, and (like mules) not a species in their own right. Although a liger is a evolutionary dead end, this powerful hybrid is the largest of cats. Rocky, the liger that lived in Broken Arrow, was known as a big baby--but he was not a domestic animal. The wildlife sanctuary manager said, "In all my years we've stressed that whatever you do, don't open that gate."
Peter opened that gate.
For reasons unknown, he violated the rules and entered the liger cage during feeding time, only to become an appetizer for the hungry carnivore. Although he dragged himself out of the cage before becoming the main course, he died in the hospital that very night.
Peter was loved, and he will be missed, but he well aware of the dangers posed by captive wild animals. By not following very obvious safety rules, Peter was behaving with all the care and caution typical of a Darwin Award winner. Burp. 

7. (2 February 2008, New York) A 50-year-old man was bird hunting in Upstate New York with his buddies and his faithful canine companion. They stopped for a smoke, and his dog found a deer leg bone! The man tried to take the bone away, but like any right thinking dog, the animal would not relinquish its treasure. He stayed just out of reach. Frustrated with this blatant show of disobedience, the man grabbed his loaded shotgun by the muzzle and began wielding it like a club. Each time he swung it, the dog dodged.
Suddenly the "club" struck the ground and fired, shooting the man in the abdomen. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died from his injuries. He did remain conscious long enough to confirm this account to police; otherwise, his poor friends might now be under suspicion!
At least he didn't hit the dog. 

8. (August 2006, Libreville, Gabon) During an impassioned sermon, a congregation was surprised to hear their 35-year old pastor insist that one could literally walk on water, if one had enough faith. His words were big and bold. He extolled the heavenly power possessed by a faithful man with such force that he may well have convinced himself.
Whether or not he believed in his heart, his speech only left room for shame should he leave his own faith untested. Thus, the fiery pastor set out to walk across a major estuary, along the path of a 20-minute ferry ride. Even though he could not swim.
Lacking the miraculous powers of David Copperfield, let alone Jesus Christ, this ill-fated cleric found only a damp Darwin Award at the end of his chosen path.
A related Personal Account from Palorca, Portugal: "I met an elder villager who once tried to walk on water. He strapped small floaters to his feet. He floated, all right, but upside down, head submerged. He was rescued by the spectators."

9. (16 February 2004, California) Alan, a 43-year-old electrician, was hanging out with his 17-year-old son and the son's girlfriend. They were feeling cooped up, so they hopped the back fence to play by the railroad tracks that ran behind it. Alan thought it would be a blast to watch a shopping cart being dragged by a train. He tied one end of a 20-foot rope to the shopping cart, and the other end to a full water bottle, as a weight.
When an 86-car Union Pacific freight train rumbled through at 15 mph, Alan stood behind the cart and hurled the bottle at the train. The bottle broke! So he tied another bottle to the rope. Standing in front of the cart, he lobbed the bottle under the train and gleefully noted that his plan worked this time--until the shopping cart whipped into him, and dragged him over a mile along the tracks, reportedly pulling up two spikes in the process.

A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration said this was "an extremely unusual occurrence." Alan was dead before the engineer could stop the train. After the incident, Police Sgt. Joe May warned pedestrians not to loiter near train tracks. 
10. (2 February 2008, Bulgaria) It was a cold but sunny February afternoon. Lidia, a biology teacher from Sofia, was driving two friends home from a memorial service. Suddenly the vehicle stopped. Bystanders saw all three occupants dash from the car to a nearby manhole and start pouring down liquids and powders from various bottles and jars.

Apparently the biology teacher had been performing chemistry experiments in her free time, and had some leftover noxious chemicals. It is still not entirely clear what the chemicals were, but two of the bottles were labeled diethyl ether and methanol, both highly flammable liquids. The former is also used as a sedative, so one explanation for their actions is that they felt dizzy from the ether vapors and thought it was a good idea to pour them in the sewer.
As it turns out, a good idea it definitely was not. The cocktail of flammable substances in the enclosed space of the sewer caused an explosion so powerful that it launched the manhole cover into the air, decapitating the (briefly) surprised Lidia. Left without a head on her shoulders, she decided it was time to kick the bucket.
The other two people were not unharmed, but were alive. They were taken to the hospital with burns on their faces. They may not regain their eyesight, but hopefully will be able to speak clearly enough to tell their children that tossing random chemicals down the drain is not as wise as it might at first appear.

Some really crazy stories- almost hard to believe that they are infact true- and great examples of the need for natural selection (ha!). It would be interesting to try and research some really unbelievable April Fools' jokes- pushing the limits of just how gullable or naiive people have been!

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