Darwin Awards Contenders Foiled By Observant Cafe Customer

Darwin Awards
Four men who could have become strong candidates for this year’s Darwin Awards have been saved by a Good Samaritan who was enjoying some coffee nearby.

The BBC reports that a customer at a cafe in Oxwich Bay, Wales, spotted four men in a dinghy clutching onto a buoy and desperately trying to get the attention of those on shore.

It’s unclear if the men were consciously trying to win the Darwin Awards, given out every year for people who get killed in stupid ways and thus improve the gene pool of our species. Nevertheless, they proved their candidacy by setting out in an inflatable dinghy into worsening weather with no life jackets and no flares. Winds had reached up to force six on the Beaufort Scale by the time they were saved. Force six is just short of a gale, with waves rising up to 13 feet.

The person who spotted them alerted the coast guard, who sent out a lifeboat to save them. If it wasn’t for this observant coffee lover, these wannabe sailors may have replicated the famous “Raft of the Medusa,” being adrift at sea for weeks, slowly expiring from hunger and thirst until desperation led them to gnaw on one another to survive. It would have given a whole new meaning to the term “Welsh rarebit.”

If you must try an alternative diet, try vegetarianism instead. It’s far more benign. Also familiarize yourself with weather conditions before setting out and practice these sea safety guidelines. Now that spring is here and everyone wants to get out in the water, it’s important to know how to play safe.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Video Of The Day: Liberia And Cannibal Generals

**WARNING: THIS VIDEO MAY MAKE SOME VIEWERS UNCOMFORTABLE. Watch with discretion.**

Charles Taylor was all over the news today. The former president of Liberia has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for supporting and arming homicidal rebels in Sierra Leone in return for “blood diamonds.” From an article in the New York Times today:

After more than a year of deliberations, the Special Court for Sierra Leone found Mr. Taylor guilty in late April of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his part in fomenting mass brutality that included murder, rape, the use of child soldiers, the mutilation of thousands of civilians and the mining of diamonds to pay for guns and ammunition. Prosecutors have said that Mr. Taylor was motivated in these gruesome actions not by any ideology but rather by “pure avarice” and a thirst for power.

Appalling as that may sound, atrocious acts aren’t as uncommon in Liberia as they are in other places. In this video, VICE documents the destitute state of Liberia, cannibalism and other desperate measures taken by citizens of the country.

Liberians Join the Fight in Ivory Coast

Archaeology reveals the best way to drink: from a human skull

archaeology, skull, skull cup
Archaeologists in England have discovered three prehistoric skulls that were used as cups, the BBC reports.

The skulls were carefully worked into the shape of bowls. They were found in Gough’s Cave, Somerset, and are 14,700 years old. These make them the oldest skull cups discovered. Investigators found other human remains in the cave that suggest people split the bones to get at the marrow. As any dedicated carnivore knows, the marrow is one of the richest and most nutritious parts of any animal, humans included.

Skull cups were used by many cultures for many reasons. Some were involved in rituals to remind one of death, like this carved Chinese example photographed by user Shizhao and posted to Wikimedia Commons. Other cultures, like the Vikings and Scythians, drank from the skulls of their enemies to brag about their victory or get the power of the slain warrior for themselves. The archaeologists studying the Somerset skulls have published an interesting article about skull cups. The BBC also interviewed one of the researchers and their video of the skull cups is below.

So next time you’re in a museum, keep a sharp eye out for skull cups. The Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena has one, as does the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. London’s Natural History Museum sponsored the research and is making a reconstructed skull cup that will go on display in March.

Have you seen skull cups in other museums? Tell us about it in the comments section!

Crash survivors debate whether to eat the pilot

Let’s suppose you survive a plane crash a spend five days “huddled in a broken fuselage in sub-zero temperatures.” You are running out of crackers. You have no idea how long you’ll be there (especially if you are a Lost fan.)

The question is: Do you, or do you not, consider cannibalism?

The Cessna 208 with nine passengers crashed into a mountainside in Patagonia, near La Junta, a town across the border in Argentina, on Saturday. Recent volcanic explosions in the region have forced air routes out to sea, taking experienced pilots off their normal course, The Guardian reports:

The pilot died in the crash. “He had a cut on his head, a big wound and he lost lots of blood,” said Victor Suazo, a Chilean police officer who was aboard the flight. “We couldn’t do anything for him and he died around noon on Monday.” Soon after, the survivors’ hunger began to deplete their strength and they debated whether to eat the pilot. “We thought about the pilot, I don’t know how to say it … to feed ourselves from him. We thought about this, but some people were not in agreement because the situation was already so extreme.”

Well, what do you think? Would you, or would you not, eat the pilot, folks?