Darwin Awards tell us we are, indeed, evolving

Now that the battle over "intelligent design" has been decided in the courtroom, I want to pose a new question for Darwinists: Why does it seem that women are evolving and men aren't?

Before I get into too much trouble with my fellow males, I hasten to point out the word "seem" in the previous paragraph. I have no real evidence either gender is moving more rapidly toward some evolutionary perfection of being. I have only what I see and hear around me - what they like to call anecdotal evidence.

And, men, we're not looking so good.

Television shows, advertisements, magazine articles and Internet blogs these days tend to show the male of the species as a blundering oaf largely incapable of leaving the house on the strength of his own intellect. We not only are falling behind in the evolutionary cycle, according to these depictions, we may indeed be regressing.

The famous Evolution of Man scale - seen in every anthropology textbook as the parade of mankind moves from Neanderthal to something resembling Donald Trump - will need to add a figure to the end of the line, this one wearing a football helmet and holding a can of Bud Lite.

Yet there is hope, fellows.

Remember that Darwin's theories included "natural selection," also called survival of the fittest. Species don't merely evolve at the higher end; they also evolve because the least fit to adapt to a changing world don't survive, and therefore don't reproduce.

Such is the spirit behind the Darwin Awards (darwinawards.com), which support Charles Darwin's theory - and show that men have a long, long way to go.

A few examples (none of which I have verified independently. Remember, this is the Internet we're talking about.)

n "Strength and endurance are two of the most important characteristics that can be passed on to improve the species, so physical challenges between males are frequent.

"In this case, two drinking buddies found themselves on an overpass 40 feet above a busy freeway in downtown Seattle at 2:45 a.m. It turned out to be the perfect place to determine who had more strength and endurance. Whoever could dangle from the overpass the longest would win!

"Unfortunately, the winner was too tired from his victory to climb back up, despite help from his 31-year-old friend. The unidentified champion fell smack into the front of a semi-truck barreling down the highway at 60 mph and bounced onto the pavement, where he was hit by a car. "

- "Paul, 48, was an electrician for the Vermont Department of Transportation. He and Charles were part of a 15-person crew assigned to replace the lights in the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. The crew would ride through the tunnel in a converted dump truck that had a ledge on the back used to hold tools during the procedure.

"DOT uses a different truck for each side of the tube, because the eastbound tube is three feet higher above the truck than the westbound tube. The taller truck had a tight squeeze returning through the westbound tube. Paul and Charles should have paid more attention to this fact.

"The crew had finished working on the eastbound tube. On the return trip to the tunnel office for their lunch break, Paul and Charles chose to ride on the high platform facing backwards, rather than climbing into the cab. This was in violation of safety rules. Paul and Charles learned one major reason for the rules when the truck turned into the westbound tunnel.

"Perhaps they had forgotten that this tunnel was three feet lower than the one they had recently left. Perhaps they felt their safety helmets protected them from just about anything. They soon learned otherwise. Paul was knocked off the truck when his head hit the entrance of the tunnel and died of massive head injuries. Charles was lower down, and survived with minor injuries."

n "Alan, a 43-year-old electrician, was hanging out with his 17-year-old son and the son's girlfriend near Simi Valley, Calif. They were feeling cooped up inside the house, 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 about 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.

"According to a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, this was 'an extremely unusual occurrence.' Alan was dead before the engineer could bring the train to a stop. His son told reporters, 'He was just the funniest guy.'"

Lest you think the male of the species has exclusive access to Darwin Award notoriety, here's one from the other side:

n "Tamar came all the way from New York with her husband-to-be for the annual Stark Raven Mad Event at the Splashin' Safari in Indiana, where members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts planned to rendezvous on Memorial Day weekend.

"The 32-year-old eagerly looked forward to riding the Raven, later described by Spencer County Prosecutor Jon Dartt as 'one of the world's most terrifying roller coasters.'

"Tamar planned what coaster enthusiasts call 'catching airtime,' standing up during the ride to show bravery. The park staff warned the 'spirited and intelligent' Harvard MBA, along with the rest of the group, to leave her seat belt buckled. 'Don't mess with our safety equipment.' Tamar's seat belt and lap bar restraint were in place when the train left the station. But you can't catch airtime that way.

"As the train swooped over the precipice into the 'infamous drop' on the fifth turn at 60 mph, where the G-forces are notoriously skyward, Tamar unlatched her seat belt and stood up. The train dropped, but Tamar didn't. She caught good air until she landed on the ground, 69 feet below."

n Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at editor@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1221.


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