kw: book reviews, nonfiction, humor, tragedy, evolution
You'd think America ought to be a safe place. We have so much legislation and litigation, resulting in so many rules about things we can't or shouldn't do, it ought to be pretty hard to get yourself killed any more. I recently learned that Mexico has no tort laws. If you fall in you neighbor's yard and break a leg, don't bother suing for damages. No Mexican lawyer will take the case, no judge would admit the case anyway, and every potential jury member will tell you that you ought to keep an eye on where you are going.
Yet most of the stories in The Darwin Awards 4: Intelligent Design by Wendy Northcutt (with Cristopher M. Kelly) are from the good old US of A. Of course, it is only in America where natural selection gets both positive and negative reviews, so it is fitting that we get the most attention when we prove that natural selection is still working just fine, including with humans.
In 1993, Wendy Northcutt laid down the ground rules for people on whom she would confer the un-coveted Darwin Award, those who have done the human species a favor by rendering themselves either dead or unable to reproduce. You have to do it to yourself, but not by intential suicide; no killing of innocent bystanders; and you must be of age (no kiddie tragedies). She publishes three kinds of stories (see her web site). Darwin Awards go to those who either die or are rendered "non-reproductive". Honorable Mentions go to those who didn't die, but probably should have. Personal Accounts are recorded from eyewitnesses, either potential "honorees" or observers.
I sent in a Personal Account narrative, which she chose not to publish because we were all twelve at the time. It was in partial support of a story of someone who straddled a poplar while sawing its top off, that had become stuck under an eave due to a strong wind. The story claimed he was thrown a mile. Us "boy sprouts" used to fling one another up to forty feet into a pond, using a poplar that four or five of us could bend down, then release with only one boy holding on. We were clear from the start to let go before the tree was fully upright, so nobody got a face-plant on the dirt. But a mile? The tree doesn't exist that can throw a man more than a hundred feet or so.
This year's collection is subtitled Intelligent Design in honor of the current cover for creationist attacks on natural selection. The hundred or so stories in the volume show that it doesn't take much to render some people's IQ into the range of zero...permanently. Bravo, Wendy, keep 'em coming!