left biblioblography: “Schadenfreude!” “Gesundheit.” Sometimes, I Wonder…

Saturday, May 08, 2010

“Schadenfreude!” “Gesundheit.” Sometimes, I Wonder…


Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. - Einstein

We are all vested in Schadenfreude, to some degree. It’s all right to admit it. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. Being an atheist, I somewhat wallow in it when it comes to mocking religulous wackadoolery – most of us at GiFS! are fairly invested in it.

In fact, it’s become a hallmark of American culture. We watch shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (which I refer to as the Evil Seinfeld), we laugh at the Dilbert comic strips (like the one festooning this post), we find humor in the oddest places, sometimes in the cruelest. Pointing and jeering, and of course, that secret sigh of relief, thank the FSM that it was someone else, not I.

In my 51 years of life on this earth, I’m surprised that I still am shocked by the consistent stupidity of my fellow men (and women, so hush).

I can’t seem to shake this schadenfreude, this delight I take in the (abstract) suffering of others. Likelihood is good that my response would be far, far different were I watching the event take place, rather than reading about it. And of course, the old adage of ‘twenty-twenty hindsight being the best sight’ springs to mind. While we’d all like to think we’d spring into action if another human was imperiled, I’d likely be the fellow saying “Excuse me? I…don’t think you should do that…” Boom! Flash! Smell of cordite. Shrug. “I tried to tell him.”

In the spirit of this (almost) light-hearted introspection, the Darwin Awards are the epitome (but hopefully not the epitaph) of our species’…harrumph!…lack of critical thinking skills.

Let’s start off with some all time classics. 1996’s Macho Men:

Some men will got to extraordinary lengths to prove how macho they are. Frenchman Pierre Pumpille recently shunted a stationary car two feet by headbutting it. "Women thought I was a god," he explained from his hospital bed.

Deity or not, however, Pumpille is a veritable girl's blouse compared to Polish farmer Krystof Azninski, who staked a strong claim to being Europe's most macho man by cutting off his own head in 1995. Azninski, 30, had been drinking with friends when it was suggested they strip naked and play some "men's games". Initially they hit each other over the head with frozen turnips, but then one man upped the ante by seizing a chainsaw and cutting off the end of his foot. Not to be outdone, Azninski grabbed the saw and, shouting "Watch this then," he swung at his own head and chopped it off.  "It's funny," said one companion, "when he was young he put on his sister's underwear. But he died like a man."

A 1998 classic:

(February 1998) Matthew and his friends were sliding down a Mammoth Mountain ski run on a foam pad at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. His makeshift sledge of yellow foam had been stolen from the legs of a lift tower on Stump Alley. The cushion is meant to protect skiers who hit the tower, and the tower Matthew ran into was the one from which he had created his sledge. There's a moral in there somewhere.

And, an…eating disorder?

(1998, NJ) An unidentified 29 year old male choked to death on a sequined pastie he had orally removed from an exotic dancer at a Phillipsburg establishment. "I didn't think he was going to eat it," the dancer identified only as "Ginger" said, adding "He was really drunk."

Why anyone would think that sort of feat would impress a girl…?

And, impatience is often rewarded with pain:

In Wesley Chapel, Florida, Joseph Aaron, 20, was hit in the leg with pieces of the bullet he fired at the exhaust pipe of his car. When repairing the car, he needed to bore a hole in the pipe. When he couldn't find a drill, he tried to shoot a hole in it.

Can you say Duh-HOY, Aaron?

Really, seriously, what is wrong with these people? Funny as hell in the short run, but scary in the long term.

Share your favorite stories, Darwinian or anecdotal, let’s have a chuckle or two, while we stroke our collective chins in worry.

Till the next post, then.

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