Loyal Infocult readers will recall our 2013 observation about Mazda cars plagued by spiders. Arachnophobes and -philes can now rest easy, as scientists have revealed the cause of that automotive infestation.
Petrol-sniffing spiders have forced Mazda to issue a voluntary recall notice so it can apply a software fix to its cars.
The yellow sac spider is attracted to the smell of petrol, and will weave its web in engines, causing a blockage and build-up of pressure.
This NBC story about a recent murder spree starts off in classic haunted media style:
An X-Box, a Nintendo Wii and a Sony Playstation, along with dozens of games and gaming paraphernalia, an iPod, an iPad and three computers were taken from the home of the Pennsylvania high school stabbing suspect, according to an affidavit released Monday.
We might expect some classic associations of digital tech with horror from this. But then the article veers off:
But the most ominous thing on the list is a common kitchen item: A Chicago Cutlery wooden block knife holder with two knives missing.
This article presents an Infocult-ish look at American car culture. It starts off by referring to cars as "murder machines", then romps through automotive death in all kinds of fascinating ways.
Some people were terrified of cars and their death-dealing powers:
Notes one scholar:
“If you look at newspapers from American cities in the 1910s and ’20s, you’ll find a lot of anger at cars and drivers... My impression is that you’d find more caricatures of the Grim Reaper driving a car over innocent children than you would images of Uncle Sam.”
Joy riding came in for particularly Gothic attention:
Gizmodo offers an intriguingly Infocultish possibility for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370. What if regional phone networks have saved signals from passengers' phones up until the moment of termination?
Like recovering the diaries of a lost ship's crew in some Victorian novel of letters, MH370's 21st-century mystery suddenly becomes almost unnervingly humanist, holding hundreds of untold stories, viewpoints, and interpretations, with notes, prayers, or frantic messages written, saved, yet never delivered until the right analytic equipment comes along to find them.
A sinkhole devoured a Kazakhstan house, as the Earth continued its war on humanity.
It went as deep as 330 feet down... The young homeowner, Anastasia, and her toddler survived: “I was at home and then suddenly the chandelier started shaking on the ceiling. I went outside and saw a hole behind the house.”
There's been some web buzz about anthropodermic bibliopegy at Harvard this week. This Atlantic piece is a good example, offering some good images and quotes.
"On examination of the bookbinding, numerous follicular ostia are clearly visible and provide a raised, coarse texture to the front and back covers," Harvard dermatologist Vinod Nambudiri writes. "The pages are gilt-edged. The bookbinding has an even, golden-brown background hue."
"Focal areas of darker brown pigmentation likely reflect variation in the literal 'skin tanning' process underlying the binding’s production and consequences of handling over the book’s existence rather than melanocytic proliferations in the native skin based on examination with epiluminescence microscopy."
Farrenkopf [the deceased person] had a kind of institutional doppelgänger, as do we all: a presence that forms as we post on social media, shop online, send e-mails, and use the Internet for paying bills, banking, and dozens of other financial and technological transactions.
Carmen Maria Machado then generalizes from this particular case:
Some of us have more than one. The institutional doppelgänger is hard to see because it shadows our everyday lives so closely. Every so often, though, the curtain twitches, reminding us of its existence.
The article also makes a nice move to one classic 19th-century doppelganger theory:
Karl Marx believed that the product of human labor was separate from and hostile toward its maker. The same might be said of the product of our commercial activities on the Internet. You might not believe that your institutional doppelgänger works against you, but it does not seem like a stretch to argue that the sum of your activity as a consumer—your social-media posts, credit history, the freakishly accurate profile advertisers have of you—is its own creature, and can move about independently of you.
Canada continued its lead in the severed body part contest this week, as a human hand turned up in the city of Windsor.
The conductor made the gruesome find Tuesday afternoon in the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Windsor yard near some tracks... Police said it looked like it could be a woman’s hand, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
Well, we say "human hand", but other pieces might appear:
Canine units and officers on foot were there into the evening scouring the property inch by inch looking for any clue to what happened — and for other body parts.
There's some grim urban/industrial atmosphere:
Police on the scene said the hunt was a difficult one because the search area, wedged between Crawford and Janette avenues, was so vast. It’s also full of ditches, overgrown weeds, bushes and some areas so wet and muddy that even four-by-four vehicles were useless.
Plus some urban Gothic, with an emphasis on one particularly disturbing American city:
But the possibilities are endless. The rail line connects to tracks in Michigan through the underground train tunnel. From there, the tracks stretch out across most of Canada and large parts of the United States.
Have we experienced this kind of body part discovery for a while, and just not been aware of it? Perhaps we're seeing more of this stuff due to awareness and better technologies.
Here's a snapshot of the Gothic lens through which CNN sees the world:
Take a minute to dwell on this screenshot from CNN.com's front page. Killings, deaths. kidnappings. Scares, fears. Hopes dimming. Even Ebola makes an appearance! "You scare me at times" indeed.
Note that this isn't from CNN's crime section, or from a side page. It's from their main page, the primary news stream they present to the world.
We at Infocult commend CNN for having the courage to see the world in so terrifying a manner. We admire CNN's willingness to shun the constraints of mere journalism, in favor of embracing the full Gothic. Welcome to the dark side, CNN!