Blog : Posts tagged with 'fear'

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Fear

In which we think scary thoughts


We’ve just been watching Nosferatu, the classic silent vampire movie, and one little touch jumped out at me. The menu screen of the DVD shows the cover image, a stylised pastel portrait of the titular vampire, but with one small difference: every couple of minutes, he blinks. The sort of thing that: when you see it, you’re not sure if it really happened.

It got me thinking about the nature of fear; and, particularly, fear of images. When I was younger, I had a book,* full of exciting information for children and suggestions for fun activities. It had everything from face painting and magic tricks, to the colour wheel and the platonic solids.** I loved it – but one page, I was terrified by. The page – well, double-spread – on toxic and dangerous animals. I didn’t really mind the tarantula, and I can’t even remember anything else on the page: but what terrified me was the picture of a piranha down in the corner. It scared me so much that I wouldn’t dare touch it, even though I knew it was only a picture. I’d find a different way to turn that page, without going near the piranha. I can’t explain why I found a picture, essentially a picture of a fish with big teeth, quite so frightening, but I wouldn’t touch that picture for years.

* A pedant writes: as I rarely get rid of books, I still have it, and it’s still on the primary Bedroom Shelves rather than relegated to storage somewhere.

** Tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron, I think. I might have missed one. My favourite part of the book was also the longest: a project to build your own electrical trivia game with questions about the solar system. I never did try to build it.

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How to scare your children

In which a moralist sets a bad example


Anne Atkins has scared me for a long time, after reading what she did to her son a few months back, I’m absolutely terrified.

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Suspicious

In which we discuss how to get arrested


In today’s Guardian, an interesting article with a firsthand experience of being arrested as a terrorist suspect, for trying to catch a tube train whilst carrying a rucksack and wearing a big jacket. And, interestingly, it includes a list of things that the police are looking out for that mark you down as a potential terrorist.

They’re all very mild, innocuous things that anybody might do – looking at other passengers on the platform, not looking at policemen guarding the station, appearing to enter the station with a group of people. What amazed me even more, though, was that suspicious behaviour includes keeping your luggage with you at all times. Given that, if you travel anywhere in Britain by train, you’re constantly being told to do this – because if you don’t, stations get evacuated and trains stopped for hours – it was quite surprising to hear that doing it is a good sign that you might be a terrorist. You have to ask just how many people don’t look like terrorists to your average police observer.

Update, September 24th: more about this story on Going Underground and on Slashdot.

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