Death by Absurdity

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Life in the future isn’t just strange, it’s lethally absurd.1

  • Death by Axe Body Spray.Many teenage boys suffer from excessive use of deodorant sprays. Unfortunately, for Jonathan Capewell, personal hygiene was a tragic obsession. His persistent use built toxic levels of butane and propane in his system, triggering a heart attack in 1998. He was 16.
  • Death by Sorcery.A year later, all 11 members of the Bena Tshadi football club died on the field after a series of lightning strikes in Eastern Kasai, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where use of sorcery and talismans against sporting opponents is common. The other team left the field unharmed.
  • Death by Time Zone.Four Palestinian terrorists, apparently protesting a newly-signed Israeli-Palestinian agreement, attempted the simultaneous detonation of multiple car bombs at 6 pm Israeli time, but due to a change in Israel’s time zone, they were an hour behind schedule, and all were killed when their bombs detonated en route.
  • Death by Cannibal.In 2001, Bernd Brandes, a German engineer from Berlin, responded to an internet advertisement placed by cannibal Armin Meiwes, who was looking for something to eat. On March 9th, the pair met and Brandes was willingly slaughtered so that he could be butchered and eaten by Meiwes, who became a vegetarian in prison.
  • Death by Bestiality I.In 2005, near Enumclaw, Washington, a Boeing engineer named Kenneth Pinyan died of a ruptured colon after receiving anal sex from a stallion. Pinyan and two accomplices had been filming their escapades with animals and posting them online.
  • Death by Bestiality II.In 2008, A 43-year-old Irish mother of four died of an allergic reaction after having sex with a German Shepherd. The animal’s owner, Sean McDonnell, met the woman in a bestiality chat room.
  • Death by Irony I.Jimi Heselden, then-owner of Segway Inc., died in 2010 after accidentally riding his Segway Personal Transport System off a cliff in Thorp Arch, England.
  • Death by Cockroach.In 2012, 32-year-old Edward Archbold of West Palm Beach, Florida, choked to death while participating in a cockroach eating contest.
  • Death by iPhone I.In 2013, Roger Mirro was crushed by a trash compactor while digging through a dumpster for his phone.
  • Death by Doughnut.Hayato Tsuruta, a 28 year-old with severe mental disabilities and a killer sweet tooth, ran away from his care facility to a nearby supermarket, where he consumed so many doughnuts that he died.
  • Death by Meteor.In 2016, a 40-year-old Indian bus driver named V. Kamaraj was struck out of the blue by a meteorite and killed. Although the cause of death was contested by NASA, analysis of the body showed the presence of carbonaceous chondrites, a meteoric material.
  • Death by WTF I.That same year, 89-year-old Robert Dreyer crashed his car into a fire hydrant and was swallowed by the hidden sinkhole underneath.
  • Death by Irony II.In 2017, the aptly named Rebecca Burger, a 33-year-old fitness blogger and model, died after a pressurized canister of whipped cream exploded and struck her in the chest, causing cardiac arrest.
  • Death by Delay I.In 2018, 29-year-old Sam Ballard died from angiostrongyliasis, a roundworm infection he contracted after eating a garden slug on a dare eight years earlier.
  • Death by Social Media I.In January 2019, a Sri Lankan man was trampled to death while filming himself attempting to hypnotize an elephant.
  • Death by Social Media II.In order to record a gender reveal worthy of posting online, members of the Kreimeyer family of Marion County, Iowa, filled a steel umbrella stand with gunpowder, but instead of emitting a shower of sparks as intended, the device acted as a pipe bomb, killing 56-year-old Pamela Kreimeyer, who was struck in the head by debris.
  • Death by Social Media III.Tetsu Shiohara, a hiker from Tokyo, attempted to livestream an off-season ascent of Mount Fuji only to fall to his death meters from the summit. Shortly before the fatal accident, he told his audience that ‘this part is dangerous’ but that it ‘can’t be helped, though’. He then lost his footing and slid down a 30-degree incline and over the side of the mountain. Shiohara’s camera captured the fall.
  • Death by Narrative Warfare I.On August 10th, 2019, the body of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, NY. The day before his death, Epstein’s cellmate was transferred out, but no one took his place. The evening of Epstein’s death, the two cameras in front of his cell began malfunctioning. Epstein was also supposed to be checked every 30 minutes, but the two guards assigned to his unit fell asleep and did not check on him for three hours. They admitted later to falsifying records and received probation. His death was ruled a suicide.
  • Death by Delay II.Also in 2019, the decomposed body of 25-year-old Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada, a supermarket employee from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was discovered behind a cooler, where he had become trapped ten years earlier, in 2009.
  • Death by WTF II.On January 14th, 2020, 69-year-old Sergio Millán was alone in his apartment in Torreforta, Spain, when an explosion in a petrochemical plant three kilometers away launched a one-ton iron plate into the sky. The plate landed in the apartment above him, causing the ceiling to collapse, killing him.
  • Death by Lockdown.A 54-year-old man from Massachusetts died in 2020 after eating a bag and a half of black licorice every day for a few weeks. Licorice contains glycyrrhizinic acid, which along with its metabolite glycyrrhetinic acid mimics the hormone aldosterone, which regulates potassium levels. Excessive consumption resulted in over-excretion of potassium and cardiac arrest. A paper titled “Licorice abuse: time to send a warning message” appeared in a 2012 issue of the journal Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism.
  • Death by WTF III.On August 4th, 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of Beirut exploded, causing at least 207 deaths and 7,500 injuries and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. A cargo of 2,750 tons, equivalent to 1.1 kilotons of TNT, had been confiscated from an abandoned ship and stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for six years. The explosion was preceded by a fire, but the exact cause of the detonation is still under investigation.
  • Death by iPhone II.In May 2021, the decomposing body of a 39-year-old man was found wedged inside a papier-mâché statue of a stegosaurus in the town of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Spain. A police representative theorized that the man crawled head-first into the statue to retrieve a lost mobile phone before his leg became stuck, trapping him.
  • Death by Narrative Warfare II.On June 23rd, 2021, British-American computer programmer, entrepreneur, and political activist John McAfee was found dead in a prison cell near Barcelona shortly after his extradition to the United States on tax evasion charges was authorized by the Spanish National Court. Nine years earlier, in 2012, McAfee’s property in Belize was raided by the national police, who arrested McAfee on suspicion of drug manufacturing and possession of an unlicensed weapon. He was released without charge. In November of that year, Belize police sought McAfee as a “person of interest” in connection with the murder of his neighbor, American expatriate Gregory Faull, who was found dead of a gunshot wound at his home on Ambergris Caye. After fleeing the country, McAfee told Wired magazine that he has always been afraid police would kill him. On November 30th, 2019, he made the following tweet. His death was reported to be a suicide.

There are probably a few lessons in that list. What did you get?