Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wikipedia's list of unusual deaths

Wikipedia list here. Some ones that stood out to me, organized by category. I was trying to have there be a cut after each section, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. Stupid tricksy blogger; I need something that works like lj-cut in livejournal. Ah well, you can still see what the categories are.

Lame Deaths:

1884: Allan Pinkerton, detective, died of gangrene resulting from having bitten his tongue after stumbling on the sidewalk.

1911: Jack Daniel, founder of the Tennessee whiskey distillery, died of blood poisoning six years after receiving a toe injury when he kicked his safe in anger at being unable to remember its combination.

1923: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon became the first to die from the alleged King Tut's Curse after a mosquito bite on his face became seriously infected.

1941: Sherwood Anderson, writer, swallowed a toothpick at a party and then died of peritonitis.

1945: Anton Webern, the Austrian composer, was accidentally shot dead by an American Army soldier on 15 Sept. 1945, during the Allied occupation of Austria. Despite the curfew in effect, he stepped outside the house to enjoy a cigar without disturbing his sleeping grandchildren.

Ultra lame:

1947: The Collyer brothers, extreme cases of compulsive hoarders were found dead in their home in New York. The younger brother, Langley, died by falling victim to a booby trap he had set up, causing a mountain of objects, books, and newspapers to fall on him crushing him to death. His blind brother, Homer, who had depended on Langley for care, died of starvation some days later. Their bodies were recovered after massive efforts in removing many tons of debris from their home.

And The Lesson Is:

Hypatia was cool. Too bad she was killed by a Christian mob.

1277: Pope John XXI was killed in the collapse of his scientific laboratory.

Jesus is clearly not a fan of math or science.

1559: King Henry II of France was killed during a stunt knight's jousting match, when his helmet's soft golden grille gave way to a broken lancetip which pierced his eye and entered his brain.

Do not use golden armor, no matter how good it may look.

Kind of Cool Deaths:

1923: Frank Hayes, jockey, suffered a heart attack during a horse race. The horse, Sweet Kiss, went on to finish first, making Hayes the only deceased jockey to win a race.

1967: On Dec. 17 Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, went for a swim at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, Australia. He was never seen again. Rumors and theories include suicide, kidnapping by submarine, and shark attack; the true cause remains unknown.

Kidnapping by submarine. :D Awesome.

1975: On 24 March 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King's Lynn literally died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. According to his wife, who was a witness, Mitchell was unable to stop laughing while watching a sketch in the episode "Kung Fu Kapers" in which Tim Brooke-Taylor, dressed as a kilted Scotsman, used a set of bagpipes to defend himself from a psychopathic black pudding in a demonstration of the Lancashire martial art of Ecky-thump. After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter Mitchell finally slumped on the sofa and expired from heart failure.


4 BC: Herod the Great suffered from fever, intense rashes, colon pains, foot drop, inflammation of the abdomen, a putrefaction of his genitals that produced worms, convulsions, and difficulty breathing before he finally gave up. Similar symptoms-- abdominal pains and worms-- accompanied the death of his grandson Herod Agrippa in 44 AD, after he had imprisoned St Peter. At various times, each of these deaths has been considered divine retribution.

Oh ew wtf. What would produce that, just rot in the genital area w/ maggots?

1983: A diver on the Byford Dolphin oil exploration rig was violently dismembered and pulled through a narrowly opened hatch when the decompression chamber was accidentally opened, causing explosive decompression.

Food and Drink:

1135: Henry I of England died after gorging on lampreys, his favourite food.

Are those eels, or is it different?

1478: George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence reportedly was executed by drowning in a barrel of Malmsey wine at his own request.

That's style. If you could choose your method of execution, what would it be?

1771: King of Sweden, Adolf Frederick, died of digestion problems on February 12, 1771 after having consumed a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off with 14 servings of his favourite dessert: semla served in a bowl of hot milk. [citation needed] He is thus remembered by Swedish schoolchildren as "the king who ate himself to death."

Just posting this because semla sound really delicious. Mmmm.


1687: Jean-Baptiste Lully, composer, died of a gangrenous abscess after piercing his foot with a staff while he was vigorously conducting a Te Deum, as it was customary at that time to conduct by banging a staff on the floor. The performance was to celebrate the king's recovery from an illness.

1978: Janet Parker, a British medical photographer, died of smallpox in 1978, ten months after the disease was eradicated in the wild, when a researcher at the laboratory Parker worked at accidentally released some virus into the air of the building. She is believed to be the last smallpox fatality in history.

1981: Carl McCunn, in March 1981, paid a bush pilot to drop him at a remote lake near the Coleen River in Alaska to photograph wildlife, but had not arranged for the pilot to pick him up again in August. Rather than starve, McCunn shot himself in the head. His body was found in February 1982.


270 BC: The poet and grammarian Philitas of Cos reportedly wasted away and died of insomnia while brooding about the Liar paradox.

69: The short-time Roman emperor Galba was killed after becoming extremely unpopular with both the Roman people and the Praetorian guard-- however, 120 different people claimed credit for having killed him. All of these names were recorded in a list and they all were later themselves executed by the emperor Vitellius.

260: According to an ancient account, Roman emperor Valerian, after being defeated in battle and captured by the Persians, was used as a footstool by the King Shapur I. After a long period of punishment and humiliation, he offered Shapur a huge ransom for his release. In reply, Shapur had the unfortunate emperor skinned alive and his skin stuffed with straw or dung and preserved as a trophy.

Holy shit. I can't decide whether to say that people took their conquests more seriously back then, or that they took them less seriously. I mean, using a guy as a footstool, then skinning him and keeping him as a trophy? These days it would be all speeches and platitudes.

869: Al-Jahiz, an Arab scholar from Basra and author of works on literature, history, biology, zoology, Mu'tazili philosophy and theology, and politico-religious polemics is reputed to have been killed by his own library when shelves fell over on him.

1753: Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, of Saint Petersburg, Russia, was struck and killed by a globe of ball lightning while observing a storm.

Man, ball lightning is fucking sweet.

2002: Richard Sumner, a British artist suffering from schizophrenia, disappeared and was not located again until three years later when his skeleton was discovered handcuffed to a tree in a remote forest in Wales. Police investigators determined the death was a suicide, with Sumner securing himself in the handcuffs and throwing the keys out of reach.


1 comment:

Jim said...

most of them from the last couple hundred years are probably true...the earlier and more unbelievable are no doubt mythical that were intended as fables to tell a moral at the time....such as the story of Paul being hung on an upside down crucifix...this story was unheard of until generations later...just as Jesus was never mentioned until loooong after his supposed life