The meme of dangerous selfies is starting to catch on. For example, the BBC ran a story this week surveying risky ways to take a photo of oneself.
It included this sign from a Russian anti-stupid-selfi campaign:
The Beeb led off with this hilarious Australian photo: The British should not be too cocky, however. Your humble blogger recalls seeing people crowding Westminster Bridge this January, striding out into typically berserk London traffic to take pictures of themselves in front of Big Ben, selfie sticks waggling.
So will the selfie become the next big cyberfear source, or merely a point of media humor?
A 'football-pitch-sized' sinkhole which opened up at a campsite in Queensland, Australia, has been explored by scuba divers. During the evening of 26 September, a 140m wide and 2.7m deep hole engulfed tents, vehicles and a mobile home as hundreds of campers were forced to flee, but no one was hurt.
No casualties in these two attacks? No matter. Gaia is patient in her campaign against us.
Radiocarbon dating found an array of dismembered body parts, including children's heads, were left there more than 3,200 years ago in the late Bronze Age from 12,000 BC...
Classic decapitation was involved.
more recent skulls, dated to 200 to 400AD, showed signs they have been severed, indicating human sacrifice took place in the caves....
"The cervical vertebra upper bone in the necks of all of them have got cut marks indicating decapitation.
"Six individuals had their heads violently removed in the cave itself."
And a curious emphasis on children:
It is believed children's heads were cut off once dead and placed on poles in the entrance as a sign of reverence rather than a warning...
It's a very rich article, full of eerie details like this: "Some of the child skulls had abrasion marks - a sign they may have been polished - as part of the display..." And "All were attacked in the same way - assaulted from behind with their chin held down to the chest, so more than one person was involved in their execution."
Russian Gothic: bears in some northern Russian towns have taken to digging up graveyards, rooting amid coffins, and eating human remains.
The linked article opens with a short horror story:
From a distance it resembled a rather large man in a fur coat, leaning tenderly over the grave of a loved one. But when the two women in the Russian village of Vezhnya Tchova came closer they realised there was a bear in the cemetery eating a body....
The shocked women cried in panic, frightening the bear back into the woods, before they discovered a ghoulish scene with the clothes of the bear's already-dead victim chucked over adjacent tombstones...
Why is this happening? Could this be another front in Earth's campaign against the human race?
The bears raided graveyards because they offered a supply of easy food, [Masha Vorontsova, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Russia] said, a bit like a giant refrigerator.
After leaving that excellent simile, Vorontsova notes:
"The story is horrible. Nobody wants to think about having a much loved member of their family eaten by a bear."
While we wait for the inevitable Putin meme, we can consider this as another instance of real-life Gothic horror. Bears attacking the dead draws on our classic anxieties around dead bodies, amplified by the typical horror setting of a cemetery. There's also a regressive fear involved, as historical progress seems undone and humanity thrust back into an earlier, more fragile time.
On that Putin meme: this story can easily feed anti-Russian sentiment in the West. It can show Russia as a decayed, sad place. It can also display Russia as a fearsome nation.