Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Darwin Awards for 2008

There are emails that go around listing various deaths by stupidity, often refered to as "Darwin Awards". There is one website that attempts to keep track of the stories, and verify them if possible:

2008 Darwin Awards

The site describes itself as "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."

There is a list of deaths for 2008 that you can vote on. The following is the one at the top of the list currently.

The Balloon Priest
2008 Darwin Award Nominee
Confirmed True by Darwin

(20 April 2008, Atlantic Ocean, Brazil) In homage to Lawn Chair Larry's aerial adventure in 1982--wherein our beloved survivor of a Darwin-worthy attempt attached 45 helium weather balloons to his lawnchair, packed a picnic lunch and cut the tether--a Catholic priest recently ascended to heaven on a host of helium party balloons. Larry, instead of drifting lazily above the LA landscape, the, was rocketed into LAX air traffic lanes by the lift of his weather balloons. Astoundingly, he survived the flight. Adelir Antonio was not so lucky. Paying a nod to Lawn Chair Larry, Adelir, 41, was attempting to set a world record for clustered balloon flight to publicize his plan to build a spiritual rest stop for truckers.

Sitting for more than 19 hours in a lawn chair is not a trivial matter, even in the comfort of your own backyard. The priest took numerous safety precautions, including wearing a survival suit, selecting a buoyant chair, and packing a satellite phone and a GPS. However, the late Adelir Antonio made a fatal mistake.

He did not know how to use the GPS.

The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown inexorably toward open sea. He could have parachuted to safety while over land, but chose not to. When the voyager was perilously lost at sea, he prudently phoned for help. But rescuers were unable to reach him since he could not use his GPS! HE struggled with the control panel as the charge on the satellite phone dwindled.

Instead of a GPS, the priest let God be his guide, and God guided him straight to heaven. Bits of balloons began appearing on mountains and beaches. Ultimately the priest's body surfaced, confirming that he, like Elvis, had left the building.

The kicker? It's a Double Darwin. Catholic priests take vows of celibacy. Since they voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, the entire group earns a mass Darwin Award. Adelir Antonio wins twice over!

You can follow the link for the rest of the 2008 stories. In fact, the site lists all previous stories as well.

I have mixed feelings about Darwin Award stories. It's odd how a story can be both funny and horrific at the same time. Yet many of the stories are exaggerated and embellished, or sometimes just plain not true.

Websites like the Darwin Award site can verify some of the stories. You can also find out the facts about various Darwin and Darwin-like stories that get passed around in email at




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