Sideswipe: October 20: A ‘rational’ fear of spiders

Sideswipe: October 20: A ‘rational’ fear of spiders

The practice of arachnicide is often described in oddly victorious terms. The BBC reports: “There was a spider in the bathroom, I sprayed it and watched as the spider slowly died, it takes about a min to kick in, really good stuff [sic]”, wrote one satisfied reviewer of a spider-killing product on Amazon. “Spider corpses (loads of them) on the ground/dangling from bits of web,” said another, describing it as a “happy result”.

There are a number of reasons we struggle to empathise with spiders. The fear perhaps evolved to prevent us from casually picking up ones that are venomous. This natural wariness is passed on through the generations and compounded by depictions in popular culture.

Or maybe it’s just how other-worldly they seem “with unreasonable numbers of eyes – up to 12 – too many legs and toothless fangs. And their antisocial behaviour – building webs to trap unwary passersby, then mummifying them and sucking out their insides, or eating their mates and casually producing whole swarms of offspring.”

Mid-flight Karen

Woman brings a megaphone on a plane to lecture passengers about Covid. “I brought my microphone. I’m going to use it,” the woman says while standing in the aisle when the flight attendant asks her to get back to her seat. A flight staff member then says she will have to be handcuffed if she does not sit down, to which the woman replies that the passengers are enjoying her show.

“I don’t need to be cuffed,” she says. “I’m completely harmless. Also, I think you’re all enjoying this because, as I said, I’m not terrible to look at,” she adds.

The woman then walks down the aisle as she lectures: “The reason the pandemic started is that nobody here has any more faith because you’re all stuck to your stupid devices and you don’t even know what reality is anymore.”

When the staff eventually pull her away from the aisle and guide her back to her seat, she yells: “My dog has better sense than any of you.”

Leftover gold rice

Shanghai-based artist Yang Yexin has been getting a lot of criticism for throwing away 1000 grains of rice made of pure gold as part of a performance artwork to highlight current food waste. He released a video of himself throwing 1000 gold grains in rubbish bins, in drains, in the grass, and in the Huangpu River, as a way of drawing attention to food waste in modern society.

The rice grains were made from 500g of gold worth over $44,000. His stunt backfired with comments online being highly critical. “Why gold? For me it seems like he has made a joke about food waste by showing off ostentatiously,” one person wrote on Weibo.

“One can hardly take the act of waste seriously until it is enlarged to an extreme level like this,” the artist explained. “Throwing away food is nothing short of discarding gold. Gold is part of the earth’s soil, while throwing away cooked rice will pose a threat to our environment.”

Old school teachers

“At Clevedon School in the 50s my brother Ron had to do the school banking,” writes Jeanette. “He was small for his age and when he came back into class, from walking up the road to the bank, the principal Mr Ducker would lift him up by the seat of his pants and shake him – to make sure there was no money in his pockets.”

Jacqueline Thorley writes: “When I was at intermediate school in the 1960s, each class had a ‘conduct book’ that each teacher would comment in at the end of each class. After one particularly interesting girls’ cooking class, our cooking teacher wrote in the book; ‘May the Lord help the husbands of the wives of the future!'”

Anne from Hamilton writes: “It was 1962 and autograph books were all the rage.I was age 11 and asked my teacher for an autograph.He wrote ‘The only time a whale gets harpooned is when it comes up to spout’.It wasn’t until adulthood, that I realised what he was trying to tell me.”

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