Image Source: Only an Almond Bean.
Today is the summer solstice (23:09 UTC), also known as Midsummer, in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. In North America, the longest day of the year has been marked with the year's first grueling heatwave, followed by storm warnings (see my earlier post on heatwaves, here).
Only an Almond Bean comments that pagans called the solstice New Moon the 'Honey Moon' and invested the day with occult meaning: "Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear."
It is also a day of omens, dreams, ghosts and fairy-folk. The day's unconscious reputation and ancient light rituals inspired William Shakespeare (read A Midsummer Night's Dream, here) and Felix Mendelssohn, who wrote famous music for Shakespeare's play (listen to the overture here and the scherzo, which introduces the fairy world, here).
In keeping with the themes of the solstice, this post explores the Millennial unconscious. Below the jump, see 10 of the scariest Internet urban legends now circulating on the Web. Many have to do with our technology going horribly wrong. The themes are modern, but these stories-as-rumours, and how they are spread, are as ancient as human speech.
One Internet urban legend claims to have captured photos of the space shuttle Columbia exploding. Image Source: About.com.
Air France Flight 447 Plane Crash (Photos)
Emailed photos purportedly taken inside the passenger cabin of Air France Flight 447 moments before it broke up over the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009 (originally circulated as photos of Gol Airlines Flight 1907 after mid-air collision in 2006).
Cell Phones Cause Gas Station Explosions
This little rumor has never been substantiated, but gasoline vendors around the world seem to be taking it very, very seriously.
Satellite Photos of Space Shuttle Explosion
These stunningly clear, close-up images purporting to show the Space Shuttle Columbia blowing up in orbit are circulating via email. Were they really taken by an Israeli spy satellite?
Dial *112 in Police Emergency?
Female college student pulled over by a rapist impersonating a cop is rescued by a real officer after dialing *112 (or #112) emergency number on her cell phone.
ATM Scam Warning
True! Various warnings describe how thieves rig ATM machines to withhold bank cards which are later retrieved and used to empty victims' bank accounts.
'Binary Explosives' Video
Online video purports to show the manufacture of a binary explosive small enough to be hidden in a pen and powerful enough to 'vaporize' a watermelon. [Warning plays on fears of airplane terrorism.]
Burundanga Drug Warning
Forwarded emails warn that criminals are using business cards impregnated with a potent street drug called burundanga (or scopolamine) to incapacitate victims before attacking them.
Car Magnets Aid Child Predators?
Email purportedly written by an abducted teen warns parents not to 'publicize' the whereabouts of their kids to child predators by attaching car magnets containing info about schools and activities to their vehicles.
Criminals Use Key Rings to Track Victims
Email rumor warns that criminals are distributing free key rings with tracking devices embedded in them which enable said criminals to follow potential victims and rob them.
Cell Phone Guns
According to this email flier and attached video, law enforcement officials have discovered .22 caliber guns disguised as cell phones being smuggled into western Europe from Croatia.
-Links and text descriptions are taken from About.com.