Darwin Awards 2007

The Darwin Awards are out! As the website reminds us:

Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.

Here are some of the runners up for this year (the winner is Coitus Interruptus and there is a host of other close contenders):

Electronic Fireworks

(1 January 2007, Netherlands) The first Darwin Award of 2007 goes to Serge Sluijters, 36, who thought it reasonable to hover over an illegal professional firework and light the electronic ignition with an open flame. But this was not a traditional wick; it was a device designed for precision timing. The flame triggered an immediate launch, and the fireworks catapulted upwards, killing our amateur pyrotechnician enroute to a spectacular burst across the night sky.

Serge had purchased the firework legally in Belgium, but then transported it illegally into the Netherlands. His father disputed the notion that Serge was careless, characterizing his son as a man who gave due consideration to his acts. A witness told reporters, “His face disappeared. If someone has no face left, you know it’s serious.”

Oil Tank Trampoline

(24 June 2007, Colorado) If you get “Footloose” and cut the rug on an oil tank, be careful not to light a cigarette or bong of weed, else you may soon be climbing the proverbial “Stairway to Heaven”.

After smoking marijuana and liquoring themselves up at a popular party spot in Routt National Forest, the teens decided that it would be fun to leap and cavort upon a mostly-empty oil tank.

Mostly empty…

“There were several ignitions sources,” according to the sheriff. Teenagers were smoking, and there was a bonfire nearby. The energetic gyrations of the dancers caused fumes to leak from the relief valve, and an ignition source sparked a “flashdance” as the crude oil storage tank exploded, hurling two teens 150 yards to their deaths.

The deceased were identified as Samuel and Christopher, 17 and 19.

Not to spoil the fun of this year’s winners, but here are some past examples:

1997 Winner:

Japan Times-April 16, 1997 “The government must crack down on this disgusting craze of “Pumping”, a spokesman for the Nakhon Ratchasima hospital told reporters. “If this perversion catches on, it will destroy the cream of Thailand’s manhood.” He was speaking after the remains of 13 year-old Charnchai Puanmuangpak had been rushed into the hospital’s emergency room. “Most ‘Pumpers’ use a standard bicycle pump,” he explained, “inserting the nozzle far up their rectum, giving themselves a rush of air, creating a momentary high.This act is a sin against God.”

Charnchai took it further still. He started using a two-cylinder foot pump, but even that wasn’t exciting enough for him, and he boasted to friends that he was going to try the compressed air hose at a nearby gasoline station. They dared him to do it, so,under cover of darkness, he snuck in. Not realizing how powerful the machine was, he inserted the tube deep into his rectum, and placed a coin in the slot. As a result, he died virtually instantly, passers-by are still in shock. One woman thought she was watching a twilight fireworks display, and started clapping. “We still haven’t located all of him.”, say the police authorities. “When that quantity of air interacted with the gas in his system, he nearly exploded. It was like a bomb went off or something.” “Pumping is the devil’s pastime, your tires by all means, but then hide your bicycle pump where it cannot tempt you.”

2000 Winner:

(2000, Colorado) Summer is the most blissful of seasons, when our favorite summertime activity – do it yourself stupidity – kicks into high gear. Meet Charles, 34, a Denver masonry contractor who created brick and mortar edifices. Charles was in construction. He had worked on houses, he had watched electricians install wiring. He believed this qualified him as a member of the Junior Electrician Society. He figured he could handle any electrical issue that came up around his own home.

One day on the job, Charles was apparently bonked in the head by his bricks. He had the great idea! He would build an electric fence in his own backyard. “An electric fence will keep the dogs in.” Charles connected a wire to an extension cord, and managed to encircle his backyard with a 120-V strand of wire without mishap. His dogs will not be sued for puppy support with this security system in place!

The household became accustomed to the fence, and things settled down to normal, until Charles picked up a passion for gardening. Charles had a real nice set of tomatoes, and I’m not referring to his wife. One day he reached for a tomato, put his hand on the electrified wire, and there’s really no need to explain what happened next.

Why did this man die? Like other inexperienced people, he thought he knew what he was doing. But his design had two major flaws. Fences constructed for dogs use one-tenth the voltage of cattle fences (which do use 120 volts.) And he needed to install a repeater, which transmits 150-microsecond pulses, to hit a cow with a jolt of juice that cuts off in time to avoid creating a pile of rare steaks by the fence.

The Darwin Awards folks do indicate whether their tales have been verified or not, since some past faves (Ronald Opus, the JATO rocket car) have turned out to be apochryphal.

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  1. Jojo

    These are the same people who thought they would be able to re-fi their sub-prime loans when they bumped sky high! [lol]

    Or maybe the FED governors who thought “hey, no problemo”. DOn’t see any bubble here…

  2. Chris M

    The smart-guy explanation of the electric fence is wrong. Cattle fences do not “use 120 volts”. They use thousands of volts, but at a much lower current. I guess this guy doesn’t know the difference betweek volts and amps. But he’s such a smart-guy, he’s going to tell us all about electricity anyway. 120V is actually relatively safe, compared to the 240V they use in Europe. He must have been very well grounded in his tomato garden for the 120V to have killed him. I once “put [my] hand on the electrified wire” of a 7200V Neon sign transformer. And I will explain what happened next, since this smart-guy clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to electricity. I got a nasty shock as the current-limited 5mA went through my arm, torso, and legs. But I was not killed, even though it was 60x the voltage that killed this Darwin award winner. The current from a 120V outlet is only limited by the circuit breaker, which is usually 15A or more, and easily enough to kill (and cook!) anyone with a low enough resistance to ground. Electric fences are always current limited to prevent this. It’s not the voltage, but the current.

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