Thursday, June 29, 2006

Read the manual.

An amateur ghosthunter phoned today, asking for advice. Since she was smart enough to ask, I gave it.

She wanted to know which of the local graveyards was the best place to catch a ghost.

My answer: none of them.

People don't die in graveyards. They are buried in them, several days after they have died. If they hang around as a ghost, they do it in places they remember, or in the place where they died. Ghosts are not conveniently stacked up in cemeteries, alongside their corpses. They don't rest in their coffins during the day, like vampires.

Cemeteries are dead, if you’ll pardon the pun. Ghosts have no reason to be there. The only thing you’ll catch in a cemetery is a cold.

She took exception to this (for reasons that I don’t care to try to understand) and launched into a tirade. It ended with “I do have a brain, you know”.

I suggested she read the instructions before using it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Warning: may contain nuts.

This warning should be on the business cards of most ghost hunting groups.

I visited a ghost hunting group recently, at their invitation. Ostensibly, they wanted to hear what I had to say on the subject. In fact, they wanted me to agree with the way they carried out their 'investigations'.

I didn't.

Can someone tell me why anyone outside a physics laboratory would spend a big wad of cash on a 'tri-field meter'? This is a variation on the EMF meter, but so sensitive it will pick up changes in EMF caused by the blood pumping through your veins.

It's lab equipment. It has a purpose - in a physics lab. In the hands of paranormal investigators, it's a total waste of time and money.

Here's another thing to carve in stone and nail to the heads of any ghosthunter you meet: 'More sensitive' does not necessarily equate to 'better'.

When you are looking for paranormal activity with an EMF meter, you want to see big changes in the readings. Tiny fluctuations are of no relevance whatsoever. Having a meter so sensitive it can detect your pocket change moving around is just plain stupid. You'll never spot any paranormal activity with all that distracting background noise.

Big changes in EMF might mean something. There is no sense at all in playing around with the tiny changes. Expensive EMF meters are a waste of money. They results you get with cheaper, less sensitive devices are far more meaningful.

I told them this. They weren't pleased. Harsh words were exchanged. I went to the pub next door.

These people are not paranormal investigators. They are gadget collectors. They measure their status by the price tags on their pointless equipment.

And yes, they did proudly display orb photos. I assumed they were there for me to laugh at.

Apparently, they weren't.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More fishy orbs

Okay, here it is again. A section of that photo, with the colour balance corrected and three of the 'orbs' marked with arrows. See them now?

They are, indeed, the same as those you'll find in photos by others. The actual images vary, depending on the lighting conditions, whether infrared illumination is used, whether the 'orbs' are dust or water droplets, and so on. They are all essentially the same thing.


Too many otherwise sensible paranormal investigators are getting caught up with orbs, and are wasting valuable research time on photos of nothing.

For a thoroughly reasoned, experimental investigation of this whole orb thing, take a look here

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fish orbs

This is the first time I've tried to load a photo, so if it doesn't work, you'll have to take my word for it.

I visited an aquarium when in Scotland, at a place called Macduff. Well, it was close to the distillery so I thought I'd take a look.

The photo isn't great, the fish refused to stay still. The orbs, however, came out perfectly.

The thing is, they're inside a fish tank. Nobody's died in there.

So what are they? Dead fish?

Or dust on the aquarium glass?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bring back capital punishment.

Silliness in the UK has reached new heights.

We are running short of jail spaces, so the Government shouldn't be pressing the poor, suffering judges to increase sentences for criminals. After all, those criminals are in overcrowded conditions, and are having a hard time. Listen, is that the bleating of a flock of Human Rights cretins?

Well, boo hoo.

We have murderers, rapists, paedophiles reoffending after being released from ridiculously short sentences. We don't need prisons for these people. We need a big hole in the ground. A deep one, with spikes at the bottom. When it's full, cover it over and dig another one.

These human rights protesters should call themselves by their true name. The Criminal Protection League. They have no regard--none at all--for the rights of the victims. The criminal mustn't be punished too hard. Society is to blame.

What utter nonsense. If you commit a crime, YOU are to blame.

There's an easy solution to the problem of overcrowded prisons.

Stop feeding them. Then they'll take up less space.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Stupid is as stupid dies

There are those who believe there is a Higher Intelligence watching over us. They might be right, I have no way to prove otherwise.

However, those who believe that death puts us immediately equal to that intelligence are very, very wrong.

You don't become more intelligent when you die. If you're an idiot in life, you're an idiot as a ghost. All those unpleasant habits stay with you. All those ridiculous notions you cherish now will be just as cherished, and just as ridiculous, when you're a floating lump of ectoplasm.

Don't assume ghosts know everything there is to know. Don't be surprised when they give worthless, generic answers to your questions. It's not that they're not allowed to tell you. It's simpler than that.

People are stupid. Ghosts are people.

You can work out the rest.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Rejection slip (or so I believe).

I am always interested in the offbeat and the unusual.

Well, it's what I do for a living, after all.

So here's a man who knows exactly how to react to rejection:

Bernard Black.

Or so I assume. I've never experienced it, myself.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ever decreasing circles

Anonymous said...
Refused 13 percent? Wow. That does seem a bit greedy. How long has it been since their last raise? What is the education budget and is it really going to education (instructor salaries, equipment, decent buildings) or is it being funneled into the fringes like sports stadiums and administrator junkets?

There is a wonderful paradox in the funding of UK higher education.

The amount of funding a course receives depends on the number of students taking it.

Now, this makes perfect sense to the mindless morons who have degrees in administration, because they have fewer brain cells than a tapeworm.

However, to those who actually do the work, it means this:

Student numbers fluctuate. Once in a while, a course will have a bad year, with few students.

So that course will have its funding cut. Field trips are cancelled. Lab work is curtailed.

"Oh," say the suits, "Increase student numbers next year and we'll increase your funding again."

Too late. Word is out. The students taking the course this year pass out the information that the course is crap. There should have been field trips, more lab work, better projects.

Also, with reduced funding, there's no spare cash to advertise the course.

Next year, numbers drop further. Funding is cut further. More practical work is cancelled.

The course is now in a spiral from which it cannot recover. The suits cancel it, since there's 'no demand'.

After this year's strikes, many courses have begun the spiral. What did the lecturers really think they would achieve? What they have succeeded in doing is destroying their own jobs. Striking is not the answer. I have heard it said, and I repeat it here:

"There is nothing wrong with administration that can't be fixed with a shotgun and a couple of hand grenades."

The parasitic administration will still hang on, siphoning money from those who earn it, and paying themselves very nice salaries from the proceeds.

However, they really could benefit from some scientific knowledge.

When a host dies, its parasites die soon afterwards.

A self-righteous suicide.

When System of a Down sang about this, I scoffed. I had no idea what it meant.

Now, maybe I do.

University lecturers are holding out for more and more of a pay increase. Where do they think the money will come from?

I'll tell you. From students. From the fees charged to these students, fees that already leave them with a mountain of debt when they've finished their studies.

A word to the so-called 'wise': Students are not stupid. They have already gained the qualifications they need to get into university. They have already proved themselves intelligent.

It won't take them too long to work out that your massive pay rises will come out of their pockets. It will take but a moment more for them to realise that their resulting debt will take decades to pay off. An instant later, they'll realise they can do better training as plumbers or electricians.

Student applications are down this year. It's not a one-off. When the lecturers force the pay rises they desire, fees will skyrocket. Next year's applications will drop further.

Guess what happens next? Does the word 'redundancy' appear in your thoughts? How about 'department closure'? Oh, yes, it can happen. Ask a chemist.

So enjoy your huge pay rise. It won't last long. And don't imagine you'll easily find another job, since no university in the country will be taking on staff in the next few years.

Suicide, indeed.
So Oxford University is to be run by businessmen.

Well, that’s the end of that then. All science in the UK is now under the control of commerce. All academics are now under the influence of the Dark Side. There will soon be no research that does not have the potential for profit, although the lecturers have made it clear that’s what they want anyway.

They’ve just refused a 13% pay rise. It’s not enough, they say. You can see the avarice in their eyes.

What the hell happened to science? Where did that fascination with knowledge go?

When I started, a career in science was about increasing knowledge. Now it’s about nothing more than increasing your bank balance. There are few real scientists left, and soon there will be none.

A bunch of corporate lackeys, driven by profit and blind to the old ideas of investigation for its own sake. That’s what we can look forward to. No wonder student applications to universities have plummeted. They might as well go straight into the world of commerce, at commercial rates of pay. There’s nothing for the inquisitive mind in any university, anywhere in the UK.

I have officially left Marchway University, as of today. I work for myself, but I am not intending to make huge profits. My needs are modest, my thirst for knowledge is not.

I will be marking the exams my students are currently sitting. I will do this for free. I will do it because I want to know how much they’ve learned as a result of my own teaching abilities.

That’s my motivation. Interest, not money.

I call myself a scientist. I hope I’m not the last one.