7 Unsung Heroes Who Had The Dumbest 2016 Ever
2016 wasn't one of our better years. There were all those celebrity deaths, the fact that democracy around the globe decided to take up crack rock, and also that ape that got shot. But despite that, despite an entire year spending every minute trying to make us all pray for the sweet release of the void, there were still some bright spots out there, heroes doing everything they could to ... well, not die, or spread disease, or casually stoke the fires of fascism.
A pretty low bar, then. But we'll take what we can get.
The Insanely High Dude Who Braved An Imaginary Fire To Save A Dog
One night, Michael Orchard of New York state noticed that his neighbor's house was on fire. Taking matters into his own hands, he blasted through his neighbor's fence with his car, kicked in the back door, and rescued the family's dog from the inferno.
There was one problem, though.
When the cops showed up, they found Orchard standing there like an action hero, clutching the dog in front of a house that was most definitely not ablaze. The source of the confusion -- the fact that Orchard had taken acid and a shitload of cough syrup -- was quickly identified, and the rescue mission was quickly reclassified as breaking and entering.
The medal ceremony was quickly canceled.
On the plus side, Orchard was very cooperative and immediately paid for the damage to the house. And the dog was unharmed, unless you count the depression he suffered when he realized he wasn't going to get to go for a ride. So although the heroism wasn't needed, was actually counterproductive, and resulted in a disappointed dog, this is still legitimately one of the greatest heroes 2016 has produced, and we should all be deeply ashamed that we're honoring him here.
The Chinese Construction Workers Who Went Absolutely Batshit
In Datong, China, a landlord noticed that some nearby construction equipment had damaged his apartment building. So, the landlord contacted the construction company and asked them to stop dinging up his shit, and while we don't know exactly what was said ... it evidently did not go well. We know this because soon after he had his relatives park their vehicles so the construction equipment couldn't get into the site. At this point, there are a few roads to a peaceful resolution, involving either the police or a profanity-laced argument about the virtue of the feuding parties' mothers. But the construction company forged a new road, as was indeed their right as the owners of actual road-building equipment.
If for some reason you hate freedom so much that you can't be bothered to click on a video of a front-end loader destroying a van, the video shows a loader rolling up to a little minivan, and rather than simply scooping it out of the way, it uses its bucket to crush it from the top down. It is awesome, and we can't believe you missed it.
Things went even crazier in another town:
In that one, rival construction companies straight up get into a demolition derby with various bits of heavy machinery, like they were all starring in a calm, slightly sedate Michael Bay movie. It made for an amusing video clip, though, which, frankly, we needed. So onto the Heroes List they go.
The Bear Who Stole A Car
In Grand County, Colorado, Danny Archer was chilling at home when he heard the unmistakable sound of a car crash. Excitedly rushing out to see the carnage, he was dismayed to find that it was his car that had been smashed, apparently into a tree across the street. Even more alarming was the extremely pissed off bear sitting in the front seat.
It's actually not that unusual for bears to get stuck in cars. Due in large part to their dearth of fucks, bears are naturally curious animals who regularly investigate human areas in search of food. And it's fairly easy for their giant paws to get hooked on an unlocked car door handle. The problem is when the door closes, trapping the bear, and turning it from a dopey fat kid in search of candy bars to a panicked fat kid, desperate to escape. Which is exactly what happened to Beario Andretti. In his fury to escape the car, he gnawed on the gearshift and managed to knock it into neutral, sending the car down the driveway, across the street, and into a tree.
So not the crime of the century, but still pretty good for a bear.
Anyways, Archer called animal control and they managed to release the frightened bear, who ran off into the woods without anyone getting his license or registration. Was this the same bear caught on video Assassin's Creed-ing his way onto someone's balcony? Authorities tell us, "No, probably not," but that's not stopping us from declaring this agile, car-stealing bear, fighting a hidden war against cars and other sinister enemies, our ursine hero of 2016.
The Redskins Assistant Coach Who Took a Piss In Front of Lions Fans
It's not easy being a Redskins fan. Your team is perpetually mediocre, your team owner is one acid bath away from being a Batman villain, and your team name is a racial slur.
Some of those things are more important than others.
Bad news seems to strike this team (and its quarterback's knees) with alarming regularity, which leads us to the Washington-Detroit game in late October, where Washington lost to the Lions in the final seconds of the game. But this everyday heartbreaker was overshadowed when some sharp-eyed fans noticed special teams coach Ben Kotwica slipping off to the most secluded corner of the sidelines to take a midgame piss. Unfortunately, the most secluded corner of a football stadium is still clearly visible to tens of thousands of people:
At first she thought it was just a mini Dan Snyder.
And yup, that's his dick in his hand, peeing into a Gatorade cup. According to some fans, he was actually the second coach that day to be caught relieving himself in the middle of the game, and an NFL insider claims that piss breaks during the game are actually a pretty common occurrence all over the league. They're just usually a little more discreet about their pee parties.
So how is this guy a hero? Well, one, it's just pee. By 2016 standards, we're all lucky we didn't have to watch him squat over that garbage can, grunting for several minutes. And two, it's Lions fans. They've sure seen worse.
The Scam Victims Who Keep Telling The Media Their Scammer Is Dying In Disasters
One of the mainstays of conspiracy theories these days is the concept of a crisis actor. This is supposedly a person who is hired by the government to travel to different staged disasters/attacks and look like their family was just murdered. And while that's quite plainly insane, there is at least one case where something kind of strange is going on.
Have a look at this fellow who was reported missing after an attack on a Turkish airport:
Got him? Committed his features to memory? Now have a look at this guy, who was alleged to have been on the EGYPTAIR flight that crashed earlier this year:
Huh. That's ... what is that? Now have a look at this story, which appeared after the Orlando nightclub shooting:
Oh god, were the conspiracy theorists right?
Well, it turns out the truth is nowhere near that sinister. An investigation by France 24 discovered that this dude is a man living in Mexico whose acquaintances keep splashing his face all over social media after international tragedies. The people involved claim that the man is a con artist who has scammed them out of money, and they're doing this to punish him and make his face known worldwide to prevent further misdeeds.
"This will teach him, and baffle everyone else."
For his part, the man claims that the people involved are unfairly punishing him because they lost a lawsuit against him. Which side is telling the truth remains to be seen, so for now just remember that if you see this dude pop up on your social media ...
... go ahead and cancel your candlelit vigil.
The Scientist Who Trolled A Conference With A Paper Written By Auto-Correct
Earlier this year, a bunch of nerds attended something called the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics, where they sat around talking about the usual nuclear physics stuff. Neutrons, protons, that kind of thing.
Before the conference, there was a call for research papers to be published by the conference and discussed during it, and Dr. Christoph Bartneck, a professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, decided to submit one himself. This sounds all well and good, except that Bartneck has no background in nuclear physics. And his paper was written by his iPhone.
Bartneck began his stunt by typing the word "atomic" into his iPhone and then selecting whatever word his phone's autocomplete recommended. A few more sentences, seeded with words like "nuclear" and such, and he was done.
To add a dash of legitimacy to the whole enterprise, he included the first image on the Wikipedia article for nuclear physics, submitted it, and to his astonishment received a notification only three hours later that it had been accepted.
Don't get the idea that this demonstrates autocorrect's ability to act like a scientific chatbot -- the paper is incomprehensible gibberish. You can read it in its entirety here, or you can just read the title he came up with: "Atomic Energy will have been made available to a single source."
So what happened here? Well, this is basically an example of a predatory scientific journal, one where the user pays a huge fee for their work to be published. Although most reputable journals also charge fees for publication, predatory ones charge that money and then don't actually read whatever it is they're publishing. In fact, the only one involved who might be paying attention is Apple, whose iOS terms of service clearly state that it may not be used in the development of nuclear weapons.
In short, the whole crooked system is a way for a scientist to get a publishing credit, a swindler to get a bunch of money, and the whole world to inch slowly toward the glorious post-fact future awaiting us. And this stunt sort of almost exposed it, except not in any really consequential way.
Still a pretty banging good news story by 2016 standards, though.
The Man Who Burnt A Hole In His Throat During a Pepper-Eating Contest
Earlier this year, The Journal of Emergency Medicine published the tale of a man in San Francisco who entered a ghost pepper eating contest. Ghost peppers are a special hybrid pepper specifically created to sate those fools who aren't satisfied with the heat from natural chili peppers. They are absurdly spicy and legitimately dangerous if handled incorrectly, but of course any person who would enter such a contest would surely know what they're in for, right?
Our unnamed pepper popper took a bite into his ghost-pepper-laden burger and was almost immediately taken to the emergency room with severe abdominal and chest pains. He was also violently vomiting, and we are using "violent" in its most literal sense -- the man barfed so hard that he tore a 1-inch hole in his esophagus.
A fun fact about your chest cavity is that in order for your lungs to work, it has to remain airtight. As a 1-inch hole in your esophagus is not airtight, one of the man's lungs promptly collapsed. The man was ultimately hospitalized for three weeks and could only be discharged with a feeding tube.
Which, for safety reasons, was filled with only a mild salsa.
He did not win the contest. That's why we must honor him here.
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