As I mentioned yesterday, spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is my favorite cause of death. I love the idea that someone can be walking down the street, minding her own business, not thinking about anything in particular and--WHOOMPH--be suddenly transformed into an all-consuming ball of fire. Well, not ALL-consuming. It seems that the feet are left.
Even more delightful than the thought of the phenomenon itself is the fact that many people believe that there is such a thing. This makes my heart sing. Until I remember that these same people vote. But more about that later.
The current self-proclaimed expert on SHC is Larry E. Arnold, a school bus driver in Pennsylvania, who has written, and managed to have published, Ablaze!: The Mysterious Fires of Spontaneous Human Combustion. On Larry's webpage, he has the following blurbs:
"An incredible piece of work ... absolutely riveting." --Barbara Meister Vitale, international educator and brain/mind researcher
Barbara is the inventor of Meta-Intelligence.
Maury...well, he's Maury.
This is the only reference to Robert that I can find. Maybe he was the Director of DP in Essex County VERY briefly, like just long enough to review Larry's book.
The International Fortean Organization is the place where people who feel that there isn't enough real stuff to believe in go for extra material. I did like the use of the word "illuminating."
Why do I doubt they know they are being quoted here?
Strangely, the site for the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained has no mention of Robert Durant. Insert Twilight Zone music here. Maybe their office has a Bermuda Cubicle. I used to work in an office that had one. It was a bank (not the branch kind with money) and all would be normal one evening when you would leave and then the next day you would come in and the cubicle would have been stripped of everything, including the vice president (they had a lot of them) who used to work in it.
Here is my evidence that there ain't no such thing as SHC (I consider my evidence that it doesn't exist much stronger than Larry's that it does):
1. Twin beds are not the norm.
2. Airplanes have no sprinkler system.
3. Sack races.
4. Tokyo subways.
5. New York subways.
6. Standing room only anywhere.
9. Gas stations.
But why believe me when there's a whole book written by a mullet-headed Pennsylvania school bus driver who says otherwise?
UPDATE: Wikipedia now has quite a lot on this subject, including some stories of survivors.
Saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Apollonia (patron saint of dentists, invoked against toothache--betcha can't guess how she was martyred), Saint Nicephorus, Saint Sabinus of Canosa, Saint Tello, Saint Ansbert, and Saint Alto.