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!

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of September 10

Gadling LogoKick back, relax and get ready for your weekly highlights of some Gadling’s favorites. There were dozens this week, but I managed to narrow it down to these five. Hope you enjoy!

5. BT Blogger Blab Post Mortem:
Sure this one isn’t really going to help you in making your next big trip plans, but I liked it. Our very own Erik Olsen had the opportunity to hang out and better yet be apart of a panel for the Budget Travel Blogger Conference. This posts highlights some of his thoughts and gives the low-down on the event. I just think it’s awesome that he went! Hi-five!

4. Theater: Dress Up (or Not):
Why something like this has never made the Gadling tops before I haven’t a clue, but I’m sure happy we have Iva writing pieces like this one. You’re on the road backpacking and all when you want to go some place fancy, like the theater. The questions now is to dress up or not? I’m with Iva on this one (dress it up a bit), but what’s your take?

3. I Eat Cannibals:
Cannibalism is beyond me. In fact, making plans to travel to places where the locals might be practicing such things blows me away, but would I be tempted. Heck yeah, so long as I’m not on the menu. Neil leads us to a fascinating find from the Smithsonian Magazine which follows Paul Raffaele in Indonesian New Guinea. Very cool read.

2. Burning Man Photo Results, Sort Of:
While it sadden me none of the Gadling readers were compelled to enter the Burning Man Photo Contest or just didn’t go I’m delighted to find these brilliant photos from elsewhere posted by Neil. I admit, I hope to head to Burning man one day and even if you think you don’t or won’t one look at these photos and I’m sure you’ll have a slight change of heart. They are…spectacular!

1. Reverse Culture Shock: Teaching the Somalians About America:

Every American should read this or maybe just everyone in general. This funny piece looks at the culture shock someone from let’s say Somalia might have when entering America and the classes they have to take before embarking into the “Promised Land.” It makes you think about how much we take for granted over here.