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Mistake in episode 1

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285046.  Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:23 am Reply with quote

When the Darwin awards are discussed, Jimmy Carr tells a story about a guy in a chair with balloons and beer and how he supposedly froze to death. It turns out that's just not true. I checked out the Darwin awards site just to be sure since on Mythbusters they interviewed the guy who did this and he's still very much alive. Here is the story like it's told on the darwin awards site:

(1982, California) Larry Walters of Los Angeles is one of the few to contend for the Darwin Awards and live to tell the tale. "I have fulfilled my 20-year dream," said Walters, a former truck driver for a company that makes TV commercials. "I'm staying on the ground. I've proved the thing works."

Larry's boyhood dream was to fly. But fates conspired to keep him from his dream. He joined the Air Force, but his poor eyesight disqualified him from the job of pilot. After he was discharged from the military, he sat in his backyard watching jets fly overhead.

He hatched his weather balloon scheme while sitting outside in his "extremely comfortable" Sears lawnchair. He purchased 45 weather balloons from an Army-Navy surplus store, tied them to his tethered lawnchair dubbed the Inspiration I, and filled the 4' diameter balloons with helium. Then he strapped himself into his lawnchair with some sandwiches, Miller Lite, and a pellet gun. He figured he would pop a few of the many balloons when it was time to descend.

Larry's plan was to sever the anchor and lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his back yard, where he would enjoy a few hours of flight before coming back down. But things didn't work out quite as Larry planned.

When his friends cut the cord anchoring the lawnchair to his Jeep, he did not float lazily up to 30 feet. Instead, he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon, pulled by the lift of 42 helium balloons holding 33 cubic feet of helium each. He didn't level off at 100 feet, nor did he level off at 1000 feet. After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 16,000 feet.

At that height he felt he couldn't risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there, drifting cold and frightened with his beer and sandwiches, for more than 14 hours. He crossed the primary approach corridor of LAX, where Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines pilots radioed in reports of the strange sight.

Eventually he gathered the nerve to shoot a few balloons, and slowly descended. The hanging tethers tangled and caught in a power line, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes. Larry climbed to safety, where he was arrested by waiting members of the LAPD. As he was led away in handcuffs, a reporter dispatched to cover the daring rescue asked him why he had done it. Larry replied nonchalantly, "A man can't just sit around."

The Federal Aviation Administration was not amused. Safety Inspector Neal Savoy said, "We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, a charge will be filed."

285072.  Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:43 am Reply with quote

I've got the Darwin Awards book which covers this one somewhere, so I shall check it out a bit later and report back.

I've a feeling that, much as he survived that incident, he's dead by now.

All the same though, Jimmy indeed didn't get the story quite right. In QI's defence, while the elves spend ages researching stuff that is to be used for questions, they have no prior knowledge of anecdotes that a panelist may use.

285183.  Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:40 am Reply with quote

285196.  Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:01 am Reply with quote

Thanks Davini, saves me some typing.

The text on that website is exactly the same as that in the book (Northcutt, W (2001) The Darwin Awards II Orion Books, London).

285219.  Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:28 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
In QI's defence

That is, indeed, the get-out clause.

Melanie Foster
891842.  Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:22 am Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing the info. You made my day and save my time and money!

1016442.  Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:23 am Reply with quote

In the episode it was mentioned that the king Goujian of Yue (496–465 BC) lined up criminals on front of the battle lines and decapitated themselves. Stephen said that he was an emperor of Vietnam, but this was referring to the Kingdom of Yue in China, which is around the current Zhejiang province, NOT Vietnam. (vietnam was pretty barren when china was buzzing with civilizations at that time)

This was during the Spring Autumn period, before the Warring states period, before the official unification of china by Qin Shihuang the first emperor of China, so Goujian cannot be referred to as an emperor.

The area of Vietnam (Hồng Bàng dynasty, vietnam's 1st dynasty) was incorporated into the Kingdom of Nanyue, where vietname got its namesake from,(no relation to Yue, which is on the east side of the continent) Nanyue became a vassal kingdom of the Han dynasty in 111 BC. (Han Dynasty comes after Qin dynasty).

so in summary: vietnam (Nanyue) is 3 dynasty periods away from Kingdom of Yue, and also more than 1000 miles away from the actual location of Yue...

This mistake would have been easily detected if someone thought about who the Yue was fighting, which was Wu (Jiangsu region), and that's nowhere near vietnam. It was a preeetty major time period in Chinese history, Laotse, Confuscious, Sun tse and all the major philosophical branches of thought were formed during that period. The first recorded female espionage Xi Shi became one of the first romantic tales (one of the four great beauties in history). The Spring Autumn period is also the first time period of which history was officially recorded in detail not only by the official royal historians, but also by private historians who provided different views to account the same events that had passed, several famous versions of history from this time period exists. It is said that perhaps the Spring-Autumn period was the most illustrious time period of thought and innovation out of all Chinese history.

The story of King Yue and King of Wu is common knowledge. The areas their kingdoms occupied became the cultural centre in southern China for the thousands of years that followed.

1016454.  Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:16 am Reply with quote

Davini994 wrote:

Adelir Antonio was not so fortunate, earning himself a second* Darwin Award for copying Larry and failing.

*the first was for being a Catholic priest - he was already out of the gene pool

1016495.  Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:27 am Reply with quote

Welcome to the forums mimisme - we love factual corrections, especially when accompanied by that amount of detail :-)


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