2011 Darwin Awards

As usual, we should all be grateful for what we have been given, those around us who make our lives better and the love we have for our fellow human beings.

…additionally, you should be glad you are not one of these people and we can say that the world is likely at least a safer place without them.

Originally published on the Facebook Page

This year’s winner was a genuine Rocket Scientist…no jive!
Read on and remember that each and every one of these is a true story.

The nominees were:

Semifinalist #1
A young Canadian man, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply because he had no money with which to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk. Not surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he vomited into the fireplace in his house. The resulting explosion and fire burned his house down, killing both he and his sister.

Semifinalist #2
Three Brazilian men were flying in a light aircraft at low altitude when another plane approached. It appears that they decided to moon the occupants of the other plane, but lost control of their own aircraft and crashed. They were all found dead in the wreckage with their pants around their ankles.

Semifinalist #3
A 22-year-old Reston, VA man was found dead after he tried to use octopus straps to bungee jump off a 70-foot rail road trestle. Fairfax County police said Eric Barcia, a fast-food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, jumped and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby. “The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the concrete,” Carmichael said. Police say the apparent cause of death was “Major trauma.”

Semifinalist #4
A man in Alabama died from numerous rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball. The friend – no doubt a future Darwin Awards candidate – was hospitalized, but lived.

Semifinalist #5
Employees in a medium-sized warehouse in west Texas noticed the smell of a gas leak. Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition; lights, power, etc. After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked.

Witnesses later described the sight of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician suspected of causing the blast had never been thought of as ‘especially bright’ by his peers.

And now the WINNER of 2011’s Darwin Award; as always, awarded posthumously;

Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene.

Police investigators finally pieced together the mystery. An amateur rocket scientist had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit (Jet Assisted Take Off…actually a solid-fuel rocket) that is used to give heavy military transport planes an extra ‘push’ for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. He attached the JATO unit to the car, jumped in, got up some speed and fired off the JATO!

The facts as best could be determined are that the operator of the 1967 Impala hit the JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from the crash site. This was established by the scorched and melted asphalt at that location.

The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20 -25 seconds.

The driver, and soon-to-be pilot, would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, causing him to become irrelevant for the remainder of the event. However, the automobile remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds) before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface, then becoming airborne for an additional 1.4 miles and impacting the cliff face at a height of 125 feet, leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock. Most of the driver’s remains were not recoverable.

Epilogue: It has been calculated that this moron attained a ground speed of approximately 420-mph, though much of his voyage was not actually on the ground.

 

Really…..we couldn’t make this stuff up and remember these people are all around us and not only do they have kids
but they also vote!

Republicans Push for Cutting Bay Area Transportation Funding

As a daily commuter in the Bay Area, I have been excited at the prospect of improved public transportation here. The high speed rail, the BART extension, the subway in San Francisco.
I was doubly excited to hear Obama’s commitment to national infrastructure improvement during his State of the Union.
Now to hear that Congress wants to cut this funding, affecting us here in the Bay Area, I must call upon my fellow Bay Area Commuters to go to support Obama when he comes to meet high tech business leaders on Thursday, February 17.

Original article posted By Gary Richards on Mercury News

One day after the Federal Transit Administration announced it would give the BART extension to San Jose $130 million as a down payment on $900 million in aid from Washington, political reality set in.

The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee now recommends slashing funds to new rail lines by 22 percent — cuts that could slow the flow of money for BART and 27 other projects across the country.

“Obviously, any of their cuts would set us backwards rather than going forward,” FTA administrator Peter Rogoff said Tuesday from Washington, D.C. “We want to work with the House Republicans on deficit reduction, but we are heading in opposite directions on infrastructure and investment.”

President Barack Obama’s budget calls for $3.2 billion for new rail lines across the country, up from $2 billion this year. San Francisco’s Central Subway line would get $200 million, with Sacramento in line for $50 million for light rail.

The Republican budget proposal set off a flurry of angry responses Tuesday. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, called it “another example of mindless budget slashing. We can’t win the future if we don’t have a 21st-century transportation infrastructure to take us there.”

William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, said, “None of these cuts makes sense.”

Added Randy Rentschler of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland, which allocates federal and state money to the nine counties in the region: “It is areas such as the Bay Area who need a balanced transportation system and who would be affected most by this proposal. We need more, not less funding.”

Easing the potential pain for transit agencies is the freeing up of $350 million in federal aid after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie blocked construction of a commuter rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan. This would have been one of the largest transit projects in the country, and nearly $9

billion of the $12.7 billion construction costs had been covered.But Christie canceled the project because it would have meant borrowing funds or raising the gas tax to cover the difference — moves he refused to make.

Michael Burns, the general manager of the Valley Transportation Authority that will build the BART extension, took heart, saying that even with the Republican budget proposal, nearly 80 percent of the new train program would be funded.

“This demonstrates that the new starts program has solid bipartisan support,” Burns said.

But issues remain, from opposition to increasing spending to questions about where Obama’s ambitious transportation budget would get more revenue.

It calls for spending $556 billion over the next six years. But only $230 billion would be covered by gas tax revenues over that period, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“How does the president propose to bridge the $326 billion funding shortfall?” asked Ken Orski, editor and publisher of a widely read transportation newsletter and the associate administrator of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

Last fall a panel of 80 transportation experts that included Norm Mineta, the director of transportation under President George W. Bush and a former congressman from San Jose, estimated that an additional $134 billion to $262 billion must be spent per year through 2035 to rebuild and improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Locally, said Honda, that must mean delivering on the promise of federal money for BART.

“The long-awaited BART to Silicon Valley project is too important for businesses and jobs in our communities to be put in danger by political gimmicks,” Honda said, “and I will fight tooth and nail to make sure it gets the federal funds that it deserves.”

US Smokers Under 20%

smoking kills

The number of U.S. adults who smoke has dropped below 20 percent for the first time on record but cigarettes still kill almost half a million people a year, health officials said on Thursday. Maybe the people who do still smoke have to smoke more to make up for those of us who don’t.

About 19.8 percent of U.S. adults — 43.4 million people — were smokers in 2007. That was a percentage point below the 2006 figure and followed three years of little progress, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report.

Smoking and secondhand smoke kill 443,000 people annually from cancer, lung disease, heart disease and other causes, the CDC said. Half of all long-term smokers, especially those who start as teens, die prematurely, many in middle age.

And smoking burns a large hole in the economy. Including direct health care expenditures ($96 billion) and productivity losses ($97 billion), the economic burden of smoking on the United States hit $193 billion per year, the CDC said. This has been talked about for years. There is no real way to tell what the total affect is on our economy. Some have said there are negative economic effects of people quitting smoking.

“Even though we’ve come a long way, there’s a long way to go,” said Dr. Matthew McKenna, director of the CDC‘s Office on Smoking and Health.

Smoking became widespread in the United States when soldiers fighting in Europe in World War I were given cigarettes, which by that time were made by machines rather than by hand. After the war, smoking by women also became more accepted socially.

U.S. health officials began systematically tracking smoking rates in the 1960s. When U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued a landmark report on health hazards of smoking in 1964, 42 percent of U.S. adults were smokers. His revelations triggered a long but gradual decline.

Thomas Glynn of the American Cancer Society said the rate was now the lowest since just after World War I.

“We’ve begun to come full circle on this,” Glynn said.

Glynn cited three major recent factors in driving down smoking: smoking bans in public places, higher taxes that drive up prices and more medications to help people quit.

The CDC said smoking still causes at least 30 percent of cancer deaths, including more than 80 percent of lung cancer deaths, as well as 80 percent of deaths from the lung ailment chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The CDC report found that 17 percent of women smoke compared to 22 percent of men. Whites (21 percent) smoked at higher rates than blacks (20 percent) or Hispanics (13 percent). Asian Americans were lowest (10 percent) and American Indians and Alaska natives were highest (36 percent).

Among people who never graduated high school, 25 percent smoked in 2007. Among those with undergraduate degrees, 11 percent smoked, while 6 percent of those with graduate degrees smoked. I find this interesting as I really learned how to smoke in college!

“The tobacco industry is very good at creating confusion and misinformation. And the more education people have, the less likely they are to believe some of the myths and misinformation that the industry promulgates,” McKenna said.

Some content taken from Reuters Site.