Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Let's talk horror. For months I've been noticing a mounting story in the Canadian press: feet keep washing up on British Columbia shores. Starting last August there have been occasional notices of another foot found bobbing in some inland channel. They are always found laced tightly into protective sneakers, floating sole-up in the tide. Not that this Update column needs an excuse for horror, mind you; but this story, bearing so little resemblance to the topic of my daily life, sort of got filed away until now. The other day I read in the Vancouver press that among the fairly iffy theories people have been concocting to explain these feet is the supposition that they are the flotsam remains of Asian Tsunami victims, washed upon the new world shores by the very tides that consumed them years ago.1 This idea is pretty half-baked even for "iffy". It cannot explain why the first four recovered were all the right-hand feet of men wearing size twelve trainers. (The fifth was the left foot of a woman in size elevens; the sixth that of an animal wrapped in seaweed--surely a prank.*) Probably all are slightly too large to be the feet of victims who were, statistically, Asian children; certainly it's all too selective to be explained away as random. I don't want to leave the impression this was the opinion of anyone especially skilled in forensics. Even the article doesn't cite a source. And this Update is about horror, not disaster. The same article goes on to mention more credible foot accrual scenarios: Canada's rampant criminal drug trade or a murderous Rocky Mountain pig farmer, theorizing these feet washed into the ocean from fresh water tributaries cold and quick enough to account for the lack of total decomposition. Now that's horror. [Cavin]

Then, a 1 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

* About the prank: lawmakers were incensed to discover that some crank nutjob carefully placed an animal foot, species undisclosed, into a sock and sneaker and floated near the scene of a recent seaplane catastrophe that killed five people. I like the contrast between these two articles (here and here), dated the same day, but each on the opposite side of the revelation this newest discovery was a hoax.

I've also been intrigued with the occasional note of defensiveness in the Canadian press. Here's a note from the article cited in the Update above:

"The big picture is that there are body parts washing up all over the place all the time," said Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a retired oceanographer-turned-beachcomber who is writing a book about flotsam and jetsam [...]

Which, of course, is very, very true. But it bears repeating that this is far too coincidental to be only random. Oh yeah, says the Vancouver Province right here, eight other feet have washed up around the world in recent years. So stop picking on us, it seems to say.

Sunday, July 06, 2008 5:37:00 PM  

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