By Nury Vittachi
My adult friends can basically be divided into two lots. Those who have children and those who have decided not to. The second category is growing fast.
Am I bothered? Not a bit.
Think about it. The first group will expand. The second group will die out.
Almost exactly 200 years after the birth of Charles Darwin, a group of people in Vietnam proved the truth of the naturalist's greatest theory: natural selection. They stole 1,000 chickens involved in a bird flu scare and took them away to eat. Guys! THINK.
I could not help but be reminded of the hunger strike on death row at a US prison a few years ago. One of the TV commentators remarked at the time: "This seems to me to be the sort of problem that solves itself."
Then there was the thief in Sydney who stole a sack containing a live, poisonous snake. Police ended up looking for an empty bag and a corpse. A few more successful robberies like that and the criminal classes could wipe themselves out completely.
These incidents show the truth of the principle of natural selection: every generation, certain individuals helpfully remove themselves from the gene pool so that smarter people can continue the species.
Examples of this are celebrated in an annual listing called the Darwin Awards, which started off as a bit of faxed office humor in the mid-1980s, but now can be found on the Internet and in bookshops.
Here's a real life sample. In the UK, two burglars decided to rob the home of British footballer Duncan Ferguson. This gentleman is famous for being a "hard man". Not only is he a wall of muscle, but he is a bad-tempered wall of muscle: he has numerous convictions for assault and is a jailbird. After attempting to deprive Mr Ferguson of household property, one of the burglars required three days of hospitalization. I ask you, was it worth it for a used video player?
But newspaper stories you can generally trust, while the majority of Darwin Award stories listed on the Internet are pure fantasy. That's a shame, because real life is WAY funnier than fiction.
Here's proof. One of the least believable tales in the Darwin Awards listings is the one about Lawnchair Larry, who tied balloons to a garden chair, floated up into the path of passing jumbo jets, and shot the balloons with his gun until he landed safely.
That's a TRUE story. Larry Walters, a US truck driver, DID manage to use a garden chair and some weather balloons to get some five kilometers into the air stream heading to Los Angeles airport, and survived the experience by popping the balloons with a gun.
Sad to say, a recent attempt to recreate that ride came to a sad end. A priest in Brazil ascended into the sky in a chair tied to balloons last year. But he did it close to the coast. Strong winds blew him out over the ocean. He phoned rescuers for help, but was unable to tell them where he was, as there are no landmarks in the open sea. His body was washed up a few days later.
Darwin Awards judge Wendy Northcutt gave the priest, Adelir Antonio de Carli, a double award.
"Catholic priests take vows of celibacy. Since they voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, the entire group earns a mass Darwin Award," she said. "Adelir Antonio wins twice over."
Meanwhile, if cut-price frozen chicken shows up in your supermarket imported from Vietnam, think of your genes.