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Darwin Awards II: Unnatural Selection [Anglais] [Relié]

Wendy Northcutt
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Description de l'ouvrage

octobre 2001

The Darwin Awards II: Unnatural Selection brings together a fresh collection of the hapless, the heedless, and the just plain foolhardy among us.  Salute the owner of an equipment training school who demonstrates the dangers of driving a forklift by failing to survive the filming of his own safety video. Gawk at the couple who go to sleep on a sloping roof. Witness the shepherd who leaves his rifle unsecured—only to be accidentally shot by one of his own flock.

With over one hundred Darwin Award Winners, Honorable Mentions, and debunked Urban Legends, plus science and safety tips for avoiding the scythe of natural selection, The Darwin Awards II proves once again how uncommon common sense can be.

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Descriptions du produit


Chapter One

Seven Deadly Sins

The tree of life is self-pruning.

Religions have long waged war against the seven deadly sins. Here's proof that evolution is fighting the same battle. Lust, vanity, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, and wrath: all are fatal when carried to excess. From sensual skunk play to the vanity of amateur liposuction, indulgence in the deadly vices leads to trouble.

Discussion: Kismet, Karma, Destiny

Are you superstitious?

    We enjoy believing in abstract balancing principles. There ought to be a force that gives each what he's earned, call it kismet, karma, or destiny. And yet we also believe in the opposite—lucky slot machines and winning streaks. Don't you sometimes walk around a ladder, or kiss your exam paper for good luck? Superstitious beliefs are imbedded in our personalities.

    The Darwin Awards celebrate another sort of religion—that of final justice according to the divine laws of nature. Darwin winners suffer a practical form of karma. They prove our theory that if you don't use your head to enhance your survival, you'll be fingered by the impartial hand of fate.

    There is a solid basis for the "religion" of the Darwin Awards: Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. In a single lifetime one finds ample proof that natural selection leads to evolution. We've seen evolution happen before our very eyes. Broccoli, dog breeds, nectarines, and modern corn all resulted from random mutations combined with natural (or artificial) selection.

    Weeds provide an example of evolution happening in your own front lawn.

    Dandelions are ubiquitous and very difficult to eliminate.

    A handful of wild dandelion seeds will grow into adults of assorted heights, which scatter their seeds far and wide to begin the process again. But weekly lawn mowing schedules are a new selective pressure! We created a new environmental hazard for dandelions. And they rose, or rather shrunk, to meet the challenge.

    Regular cutting of lawns selects for very short dandelions, ones that hug the ground too closely to be slashed by mower blades, and send up flowers that seed within days to avoid the reaper's scythe. A new short dandelion variant is branching off the general dandelion population. Over time the lawn dandelions may well diverge from the wild dandelions, increasingly specialized for the modern lawn environment, and a new species—the lawnlion?—will dawn.

    Because examples of natural selection are easy to come by, the "religion" of the Darwin Awards stands on firm scientific footing. The interesting and powerful mechanism of natural selection is a blindly omniscient tool to increase the long-term survival of the human race—and provide a measure of immortality to comfort our transient personal existence.

    The stories that follow show the Darwinian repercussions to those who ignore religious strictures, and indulge in the seven deadly sins.

Darwin Award: Vanity
Liposuction Tragedy

Unconfirmed by Darwin

September 1999, New York

David, a forty-four-year-old Mineola man, was more desperate to be rid of his flab than most. Why not save money and allow his friend to perform amateur liposuction on him in his garage? As you might guess, using a vacuum for liposuction is not the safest of weight loss programs. David died in the makeshift medical clinic, the victim of a lidocaine overdose. Anyone foolish enough to lie back and take the medical ministrations of a unlicensed liposuctionist in his garage workshop deserves to win a Darwin for heedless vanity.

    The fake physician apologized to the man's family.

Reference: Associated Press
* More vacuum peril: Fantastic Plastic Lover, page 88

"I don't think, therefore I am not."

Darwin Award: Vanity
Perilous Pose

Unconfirmed by Darwin

September 2000, Germany

The picturesque medieval city of Rothenburg was recently the scene of a dramatic artistic effort. A fifty-three-year-old man from Baden-Würtemberg was posing nude in front of his camera, balanced atop a stone wall, when he lost his balance and fell sixteen feet to the ground below. Unlike its erstwhile owner, the camera remained safely settled on the tripod on the wall, and police plan to develop the film for clues to the man's death. Darwin anticipates that this story will stand as a testament to the self-pruning nature of the tree of life.

* Another poorly framed photograph: Enraged Elephant, page 30

Darwin Award: Wrath
Throwing Stones

Confirmed by Darwin

11 October 2000, Samaria

The violent unrest in the Middle East has created a new Darwin Award winner. Three friends went to the Eli junction to enjoy a favorite activity: throwing stones at passing cars. They scored on a truck, then one walked into the street, stones in hand, to attack a passing car. The driver tried to swerve away from the man, lost control of his vehicle, and overturned, killing the stone thrower and severely injuring himself. Judea and Samaria district police jointly determined that the accidental crash was caused by the stone-throwing young men.

    Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Reference: Ha'aretz, Itim
* Throwing snowballs: Snowball's Chance in Hell, page 73

Darwin Award: Greed
Crystal Daze

2000, Mexico Confirmed by Darwin

Chihuahua, Mexico, is home to two hot caverns containing the largest natural crystals known to man. "Walking into either of these caves is like stepping into a sweltering, gigantic geode," described one awed observer. Some of the clear crystals of selenite are over twenty feet long.

    The newly discovered caverns buried twelve hundred feet below the surface of the earth carry a curse for those who seek to plunder their riches. A man recently tried to steal one of the magnificent crystals from the roof, and might have succeeded if he hadn't stood directly beneath it while chopping it free. He was crushed by the sparkling stalactite as it heeded the call of gravity.

Reference: Discovery Channel News
* Another thief thwarted by a natural force:
Ferguson 2, Thieves 0, page 162

"To be or not to be ..."

Darwin Award: Sloth

Confirmed by Darwin

19 June 1999, Amsterdam

On a warm summer night in the Netherlands, an Italian resident who had picked up the habit of sleeping in the open air during sweltering Mediterranean summer nights decided to bed down on the roof. He climbed to the top of his apartment and arranged a comfortable bed, but paid little heed to the slope of the roof. Perhaps the night would have ended more happily if he had tucked himself in securely. Instead he fell asleep on top of his blanket, rolled down the incline, and plunged to his death.

Reference: Mobile Alabama Press Register
* Another fateful snooze: Sheep Sleep, page 116

A high IQ doesn't make up for
a lack of common sense.

Darwin Award: Envy
Flames of Passion

Confirmed by Darwin

17 November 1999, Germany

Germany's image as a peaceful utopia has been tarnished by an acrimonious divorce. After bitter legal proceedings, Uwe of Brandenburg found that he had lost everything but his lederhosen knickerbockers. Among other possessions, the settlement demanded that Uwe turn over ownership of his house to his newly estranged wife.

    Enraged by his wife's unmitigated legal victory, the forty-year-old man decided to follow the sage advice of an obscure German proverb: "If life gives you lemons, burn them."

    Descending into the basement with his trusty drill, Uwe proceeded to bore several holes into a rather large oil tank. He then set fire to the fuel as it poured in erratic streams onto the floor. To his delight, the entire basement was engulfed in flames within seconds.

    His joy turned to ashes, however, when he realized that he was now in the middle of a Hindenburg-sized house fire. Despite a valiant effort to save himself, Uwe died in the flames of his own vengeance. His wife got the last laugh.

Reference: Düsseldorf Express
* More revenge gone wrong: Aircraft Airhead, page 35

Darwin Award: Envy
Moscow Marauder

Confirmed by Darwin

8 September 2000, Russia

A man who threatened to "deal with" his wife and her lover, instead dealt with himself in a revenge attempt gone wrong. He blew himself up with a homemade bomb in the far eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk. The device exploded when the man tried to attach it to the door of the lovers' not-so-secret apartment boudoir.

Reference: Reuters, Tass
* More men playing with bombs: Shell Shot, page 133

Darwin Award: Gluttony
Ethanol Schmethanol

Unconfirmed by Darwin

May 2001, England

We'll soon find out if I'm a scientist or not!
I'll drop a pellet of the compound I created
into this test tube ...

— Stan Lee's Spiderman, November 1963

With those murmured words, a Russian professor quaf...

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Delightfully funny, The Darwin Awards, taken together, constitute a delicious sermon in support of common sense." —The Baltimore Sun

"The Darwin Awards is a riot to read.  Deeply entertaining." —San Francisco Weekly

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 240 pages
  • Editeur : Dutton Books (octobre 2001)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0525946233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525946236
  • Dimensions du produit: 19,3 x 14,1 x 2,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 1.479.985 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Dispairingly comical. 14 octobre 2004
If you can't help but titter at someone tripping over in the street, well, the chances are you'll find this book an amusing passtime to pick up in the loo or on the bus. It's a compilation of short & mostly tragic stories about stupid things that some people are capable of doing.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.4 étoiles sur 5  42 commentaires
105 internautes sur 112 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Recent Follies as Documented Gallows Humor 30 octobre 2001
Par Donald Mitchell - Publié sur
If you liked The Darwin Awards, you will find this book to be another winner.
Like The Darwin Awards, let me note that if you do not find witless death and mutilation humorous, avoid this book. Three of the mutilation examples have a sexual context and are pretty gross.

If you find fatal and grisly mishaps funny, you will enjoy the book greatly. In fact, this has to be the best articulated book ever written about stupid ways to die and lose fertility. Anyone will feel smarter and better about themselves after reading these stories!
This book is about people "removing themselves from the gene pool in sublimely idiotic fashion" in “true accidental blunders.” The incidents involve ways that people “unthinkingly engineer their own downfalls, oblivious to warning signs that the rest of us automatically heed.”

The book's premise is very well framed to put you in a humorous mood. The idea is that when people do stupid things that get them killed or keep them from having children, they thus perform a service by improving the gene pool for the remaining humans. Ms. Northcutt uses many witty essays and quotes to emphasize this point, and establishes the mood well.
She has rules for these awards. To win the Darwin Award, you must (1) die or be unable to procreate after the incident, (2) show “an astounding misapplication of common sense,” (3) cause your own downfall, (4) have the ability to use sound judgment (are not too young or permanently mentally impaired) and (5) have the incident verified by someone else. If you don't meet all these tests, you can still get an honorable mention, or be described as an urban legend or a personal account. I thought these distinctions made good sense, because the story's focus and credibility weighs heavily on the interest it creates for the reader drawn to this subject.
In an improvement over The Darwin Awards, Ms. Northcutt has shared feedback from her readers challenging the veracity of various urban legends, personal accounts, and honorable mentions. As a result, this book is tighter than The Darwin Awards.
In another improvement, the stories much more carefully document the victim’s involvement with illegal drugs and alcohol than in The Darwin Awards. In this way, the cautionary lesson about using these substances is brought home more correctly
The stories are grouped around themes: violating the seven deadly sins, women as the genetically removed party, water misadventures, problems with technology, men acting macho, misadventures with animals, explosions, and criminal capers. There is also a chapter on stories that do not qualify, and a dozen of the all-time favorites of on-line readers...

I rated the book down one star, though, because the average humor level here was not as good as in The Darwin Awards. Almost all of the examples came from 1998-2001, so there were not as many examples to choose from. I also think the verification process needs some further work. In many cases, it is in a publication or broadcast news report (which may have an incentive to "improve" the stories to make them better, and sell more issues). Finally, I think the verified examples are vastly more interesting than the fables. I would like to see a version in the future that is only made up of verified cases. I estimate that less than a quarter of these examples were verified.
I came away with two new themes from reading this book. Guns need to be treated with much more respect. The deaths and dismemberment from guns occur with considerable frequency here. The other theme is that people develop so much self-confidence in their abilities that they decide that the “rules” do not apply to them.
Be cautious, rather than daring, so you can live to enjoy the next book in this humorous, cautionary series!
23 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 One Too Many Trips To The Well 13 janvier 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur
I really enjoyed the first "Darwin" installment, but Darwin II does not cut it. First of all, too much of the book is filler (author's opinions & editorializing, as well as boring discussions of evolutionary theory), and not enough awards are presented. About 40 percent of this book is chaff, with 60 percent consisting of award cases. What really upset me, however, is that of the 60 percent of this book devoted to presenting actual Darwin Awards, an entire chapter consists of repeats from the first volume! Northcutt begins this chapter by saying "here enjoy some repeats of your favorite Darwins from my first book" or words to that effect. What a consumer rip off! Why would anyone want to pay twice to read the same stories! If I hadn't already thrown my receipt away, this one would be going back to the bookstore for a full refund. What invariably happens in movie sequels is that sooner or later the producers make one too many trips to the well, and you end up with something as awful as "Jaws 3" for example. Well, the fatal trip to the well appears to have already been made with the Darwin series. Let the buyer beware.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dumb People Do Dumb Things and Get Their Just Due 31 janvier 2003
Par George Buttner - Publié sur
The Darwin Awards II is a great book that shows just what can happen when people fail to use common sense. It's filled with well-written, cautionary tales of people who did astoundingly stupid things and paid the ultimate price: death, or in some less drastic cases, sterility.
If this were the only thing this book had, it would still be a good book. But this book offers far more than that. In addition to these tales (some certified and some not and both are clearly marked), there are Honorable Mentions (people who did stupid things but didn't pay the ultimate price, but who still might in the future) and Personal Accounts. The book is also sprinkled with the author's wisdom, applicable quotes and each chapter opens with a discussion of a topic related to the subject of the chapter. The book also integrates well with the website, where you can voice your opinion on the book or stories in it, submit new stories, or read more about a particular story in the book, or a topic related to it.
As the book says, the grimness of some of these tales makes it such that it may be that it's best read in small doses. But whether you learn something, or just laugh, you'll love The Darwin Arwards II.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Not As Good as the First 25 octobre 2003
Par JMack - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
The Second Edition of Darwin Awards is not nearly as funny as the first. It is usually the case that the sequel is a bit of a let down. This book is appropriate for its use, a book from which you can read a few pages each day.
A good addition to this book is the "Not A Darwin Award" Chapter in which the author shows stories which were unable to receive a Darwin Award for various reason. If nothing else, this demonstrates the logic behind the awards. The book has many entertaining stories which demonstrate that there are a lot of stupid people in the world. It is all the more reason for the intelligent ones like us to be careful.
My strongest objection to this book was chapter of recycled classic stories from the first edition. I would prefer to read new stories rather than ones I have already read. If somebody has not ready those stories, they really should buy the first edition. The second edition is also worth the price.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Ya' gotta love this stuff! 24 décembre 2001
Par John Nipps - Publié sur
Seldom have such valuable lessons been so enjoyable to learn. The stories contained within this book and its predecessor ("Darwin Awards") are not only amusing, but valuable.
As a school teacher I find that a brief story selected from within these books shared with the class periodically is not only enjoyable for all concerned, but can help instruct the students to use some minimal amount of reason in their daily endeavors.
I find the quote contained in Northcut's first book to be the among the wisest things ever spoken; "Only two things are infinite -- the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not so sure about the universe." Albert Einstein. Those words say it all, and Northcut has collected sundry examples to verify the accuracy of them in a delightful manner.
Buy two copies -- one for yourself and one for a friend.
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