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Darwin Awards

If you've been on the internet for any length of time at all, you've heard of the Darwin Awards. 

These are given, usually posthumously, to the individual(s) who remove themselves from the gene pool in the most spectacular fashion.

So . . . you've heard about them. You've read about them.  You even forwarded an email about them to your own personal mailing list.

So . . . who is "in charge" of the awards? Who awards them? Are they real? Or are they just urban legends? Do you have any idea?

It turns out that the origins of the story are lost in the depths and bowels of internet history. 

No one was in charge. They just sort of happened.

Many were/are urban legends (more on that later).

But now, Jim Penberth, together with his colleague John Langbein, is trying to bring some order to the chaos. A few others on the net are trying to do the same thing, some better than others.

Jim has a website: OfficialDarwinAwards.com. It is one of the best. He and his colleagues work to ensure that the stories are true and verifiable.

There are other websites to be sure, including DarwinAwards.com.  But some of them, (again see below) still haven't figured out that some of the classic stories are just that: classic stories, but not true.

Which ones? How about the most famous: the JATO rocket strapped to the car. Yup. Urban legend. Also, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the dynamite and the dog. Another urban legend. 

So if you want to know more, check out the links below.

Update: 01.Apr.2002

Jim and John's site is "gone". The domain still exists. And the domain is still owned by and registered to John. But the site now "looks like" the DarwinAwards.com site and is "empty". It just refers to the DarwinAwards.com site.

In addition, the DarwinAwards.com site has a name with it now: Wendy "Darwin" Northcut. She shows up both on the site and also in the domain registration.

There is a note on the old site, apparently from Wendy "Darwin" Northcut, the "owner" of DarwinAwards.com, asking John and Jim to contact her. Who knows what that means.

Some References

Official Darwin AwardsOfficial Darwin Awards: Now it was only Jim Penberth's word that makes this site "official", but he has done more than many to help separate the truly weird from the fictionally weird. It doesn't seem to have an email list, but you can sign up with MindIt to monitor changes at the site. (01.Apr.2002: This site is now "offline indefinitely". It redirects you to www.darwinawards.com. It also shares the color scheme with the DarwinAwards.com site. However, there is a link to the internet archive, also called the Wayback Machine so that you can see what the site used to look like. The domain name is owned by John Langbein. It is, perhaps, that John who, together with Jim (as in Jim Penberth) are referred to in the note "John and Jim: Contact me! on that site.)

DarwinAwards.comDarwinAwards.com: Currently the closest thing to an "official" site. Owned and operated by Wendy "Darwin" Northcutt. It also has an email list you can join.  

DarwinAwards.com: RulesDarwinAwards.com: Rules 

DarwinAwards.com: NewsletterDarwinAwards.com: Newsletter 

Larry Walters, Lawn Chair Balloon Pilot, Notice of Suicide, Scanned Newspaper ArticleLarry Walters, Lawn Chair Balloon Pilot, Notice of Suicide, Scanned Newspaper Article: A photo of the late Larry Walters, this one showing the magnitude of the balloon structure. Larry sailed across California 16,000 in the air, riding in a lawn chair strapped to balloons. (Larry has since committed suicide.)

Arizona Department of Public Safety Press Release: The JATO StoryArizona Department of Public Safety Press Release: The JATO Story: Yes, it is a myth. But that doesn't stop 5 calls per month to the press office seeking to verify the story.

Darwin AwardsDarwin Awards: Another Darwin site. It is not the official one. But it also acknowledges that fact. A fun visit. Just don't use this site as your primary source.  

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Browser and search engine improvements have eliminated the motivation/necessity for them.

This page created:
Wed, 16.Aug.2000

Last updated:
16:17, Sat, 10.May.2014

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