Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Slow news day?

Well, here is a perfect example of how low someone can go.

It's a short article so I'll quote the whole thing, from Yahoo news:

Child Run Over Using Wheeled Shoes
Wednesday January 31, 04:31 AM

A 12-year-old boy is seriously ill in hospital after being knocked down by a car as he crossed the road wearing a pair of Heelys. The boy was hit by a car in Seaford, East Sussex, on Sunday. Police said he was wearing a pair of the fashionable Heelys, which are trainers with wheels.
The shoes have a single or double wheel in the heel that allows the wearer to go from walking to rolling simply by shifting their weight to their heels.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: "The 12-year-old boy remains in hospital in a serious condition. We can confirm that he was wearing what are known as Heelys.
"An investigation into the circumstances is taking place. No charges have been made."

Consider the repeated mention of the shoes this chid was wearing. Over and over, we are told he was wearing Heelys when he was hit. Most of the article is about the shoes. Yet there is nothing to suggest that the shoes were in any way responsible for the accident. Maybe the driver was going too fast. Maybe the child didn't look before crossing. Maybe it was just an accident. If the shoes were in any way responsible, that would have been stated very clearly. It is therefore reasonably safe to assume they were not.

Watch for a massive backlash from this against these new shoes. People are simple beasts, really, and the news reporters know it. This repeated mention of the shoes is meant to imply that these shoes are dangerous. It's news-hype at its lowest, using a tragic accident to crank up a vendetta against a shoemaker. The reporter will no doubt be paid well for this piece of psychological manipulation.

Will it work? It's the same trick stage magicians use to force a random audience member to pick a particular number. They mention the number over and over throughout the act, so no matter who they select, that number will be the first one in the volunteer's mind. It works with playing cards (keep using the words 'ace' and 'clubs' in unrelated conversation for a while, then ask someone to name the first playing card that comes into their heads. In fact, you think of one now). It works with absolutely anything.

So yes, it will work. There will be an outcry. Parents will ban their children from wearing these shoes. Sales will fall to zero, the inventor will end up broke. And all to further the career of a low-life reporter with no real news to report.

It's sickening how easily the masses can be manipulated. Free will? An illusion that works as long as you don't realise you're being told what to think. The general population can be convinced of absolutely anything using these techniques, and it happens far more often than you think. It's not just stage magicians and reporters who use tricks like this. Politicians are good at it too. So are conspiracy theorists, and the darker, seedier cults. Keep asserting what you want people to think and they'll think it. Link it with something shocking, like a child run over by a car, and you can get your message accepted in as few words as the article above uses.

Don't just scan news stories. Read them. Look at what they actually say, instead of what they imply. You might be surprised.

I haven't tried these shoes. I don't want to risk the danger of looking like a total idiot on the street.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's not like hunting deer.

I watched a program called ‘Ghost hunters’ last night. It’s an American program about a group of paranormal investigators and the places they investigate.

First of all, I was struck by the objectivity of the group, especially the group leader. If it looks like dust, he says it’s dust. If an investigation turns up no evidence, the group accept this and move on. On one occasion, they recorded a flash of light on a video camera. They returned to the location and tried to reproduce it using the lights they were using on the night.

They succeeded. The flash was caused by one of their infrared lights, through a partly closed door. They followed exactly the correct scientific procedure in that investigation. Yes, it’s always a disappointment when something you think is paranormal turns out to be mundane (anyone remember the hedge photos?) but it’s always best to work it out yourself rather than have someone else point it out.

I was impressed by all this. Yes, they did pick up a few interesting events, and a particularly impressive EVP at one location. I am more inclined to believe in the authenticity of what this group reports, precisely because they broadcast episodes where they find nothing. That’s how it really is—most investigations find nothing at all.

However, the group is, I think, too large. That might just be me—I prefer to work alone—but there looked to be far too many people stomping around. In any group of any size there will be tensions and personality issues. These are amplified when the whole group has to stay awake all night. People get fractious, and it showed.

One or two seemed to think they were conducting a military operation. When you are ghosthunting, the ‘hunting’ is not meant to be taken literally. You are not pursuing a perpetrator. You are trying to contact someone who, in all likelihood, is confused, lost and frightened. Shouting demands like ‘Show yourself’ or ‘Do something’ is not likely to produce results. Similarly, when one of the crew reported being touched, the others charged to the location shouting ‘Go-go-go-go-go’.

Ghosts can often pass through walls. That’s where I’d have gone.

Paranormal investigation is not likely to yield results when conducted by a SWAT team. If I was in that house, even though I’m alive, that crew might well not have found me. My reaction to the attitude of such a team might well be to hide.

One of the members referred to another with the line ‘I’ve forgotten more about the paranormal than he’ll ever know’. Really? Is that what passes for teamwork? By the way, forgetting what you’ve learned so far is nothing to brag about.

It’s not a competition.

We’re all after the same thing. There is no need for competition between teams. Competition within a team is severely detrimental to that team’s efficiency and competence.

Suppose you were lost on a mountain, in the snow, and rescue teams came out to look for you. You hear one team approach and you’re about to call out. Then another team, or a member of the same team, decides to start a fight over who’s going to find you first.

You might decide to stay out of sight and make your own way down the mountain later.

I repeat: it’s not a competition.

We all want to find that final, absolute proof of life after death. Whichever one of the many, many investigators out there finds it first will be famous, and rightly so, but we will all benefit. Proof vindicates all of us, no matter where that proof comes from.

The group on this program show excellent professionalism. If they can only cure some of their members of that competitive streak, the paramilitary approach, and the infighting, their success rate is likely to improve dramatically. It might also help if they stopped referring to dead people as ‘it’. That’s very, very rude.

Otherwise they’ll just keep on scaring away those ghosts.

Safe with no helmet

Just when it seems the UK is recovering some common sense, this happens.

It seems that the police are not allowed to chase a motorcycle thief who isn't wearing a helmet. If there's an accident and the thief falls off, he can sue the police.

It's illegal to ride without a helmet in this country, but the police can't chase you if you're not wearing one. Even if the bike you're on is stolen. How did we get to this sorry state of affairs? Oh yes, it's called 'political correctness' and 'human rights lawyers', a combination born in Hell.

Criminals think this is great, but they are missing an important implication. If they break into someone's home and the homeowner defends themselves, that homeowner is in less trouble if he finishes the criminal than if he calls the police and has him arrested. After all, nobody knows the criminal is there, so nobody will stand up and say 'I knew where he was - he was burgling this particular house the night he vanished'.

Unless the politically correct are silenced, and soon, our woodland is going to be full of shallow graves.

Might not be too bad a thing, since our jails are so full there's now a waiting list for sentencing.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Some are more equal than others

Ghosthunting is quiet at the moment, and I haven't managed to get to those churchyards for photos. So I've been drinking absinthe and browsing the news.

The UK government has shown an unusual degree of intelligence in producing an 'equalities act'. Basically, it means it'll be illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else. So just because you think someone belongs to some group you're prejudiced against, you can't refuse to sell them stuff from your shop or make them sleep out in the cold rather than stay in your hotel. Sounds perfectly reasonable.

Hoewever, one of the ramifications of this is that gay couples will have the same rights as straight couples when it comes to adopting a child. Therein lies a huge blast of newspaper sales.

The Catholic Church runs orphanages, and has threatened to close them all if they are legally obliged to consider gays as adoptive parents. It's against their religion. The Church of England agree.

Yes, it is. It's against most religions since gayness does not contribute to spreading the religion through birthrate.

So who's the bad guy here? The government who wants to make everyone equal, or the church who wants an exemption from the equality law and are willing to shut down their orphanages if they don't get their way? How, incidentally, can an equality law work if there are exemptions?

The argument seems to be that gay adoptive parents put the child at risk. Considering some of the stories that have come out of orphanages over the last few years, I'd say they'd be at less of a risk if the adoptive parents were psychopaths, never mind just gay. Besides, social services will check up on adoptive parents - gay, straight or otherwise - so the child will be far more closely watched than they would be in an orphanage.

I can't see what the fuss is about. So what if two men, or two women, bring up a child in their home? It has to be better than the orphanage. So what if that child grows up to think 'there's nothing abnormal in gayness'? They'll be more tolerant. It doesn't mean they'll turn out gay. It's not catching. I've met gay men, I've even had a few beers in gay bars, and walked out as straight as when I went in. Drugs can be forced on you, and get you hooked. Gayness can't.

I'm not going to make the usual crass statement 'I have lots of gay friends'. I have few people I regard as friends. Whether any of them are gay or not, I don't know. I've never asked. I don't care. I don't make potential friends fill out an application form. It seems the Catholic Church does.

Reading this article, I was more concerned to find that our 'communities secretary' is a member of the strict group Opus Dei. The UK is a very mixed community, with all religions represented. Even Satanists cannot be legally prevented from following their religion here (well, as long as they don't kill anyone).

So having a communities secretary with a specific, highly strict religious outlook doesn't seem like a good idea to me. That job is supposed to cover everyone's outlook on life. The whole community. Including gays, atheists and even satanists. Can a strict Catholic, I mean Opus Dei-strict, have an impartial view here?

Reading the article, it seems not.

To me, that's much more of a worry than having a couple of guys adopt an otherwise parentless child.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More whining excuses.

Apparently the railways consider half an inch of snow 'extreme weather'. Points have frozen and devices intended to clear ice from the lines have been disabled by, of all things, ice. You'd think the designers of such a system would have checked that. Trains are delayed, flights are delayed or cancelled, icy roads present a danger to drivers.

Now, if this was Jamaica, I could understand it. Half an inch of snow would come as something of a shock there. In the UK, however, snow in winter is no surprise at all. It happens every year, and this year has been unusual only in that there's been so little of it so far. There is no excuse for being taken by surprise by snow in the UK in January.

So why are our transport systems shrieking about extreme weather? Even compared to last year, which was mild, this is nothing. I recall opening my door to three feet of snow a few years ago, and having to decide whether to dig it all away so I could go to work, or saying 'sod it' and going back to bed. It was a quick decision. When faced with a few inches of snow, there's no decision to make. I can drive through that as long as I'm careful. Besides, once I've brushed snow off my car, it's cleaner than it's been all year.

Well, the forecast for some parts of the country tomorrow is four to six inches. It remains to be seen whether that actually happens (as of now, 9 pm, there's no sign of it). That should totally paralyse every moving vehicle in the UK. Seems they don't make them like they used to.

Lucky for me I still drive an old one.

The weak speak.

What is wrong with this country?

The meteorological office has issued a severe weather warning. What's coming? A hurricane? Tornado? Blizzard?

No, what's coming is a bit of ice on the road, and some sleet. The article states 'there has been a centimetre or two of snow in places'. That's about half an inch.

If this slight inconvenience requires a severe warning, what are they going to do when the snow reaches three feet in depth? Tear out their hair and wail from the rooftops? Cry 'Armageddon!' and jump off tall buildings? Well, we can but hope.

There is no snow here. None. The rooftops are clear, it's all melted away. Images on the news describing 'commuter chaos' and late trains show snow cover so thin it could have been spray-painted on.

The 'safety' crowd are jumping at shadows again. There is no severe weather here. There is an annoying total cloud cover that makes it difficult to go out and take photos, but that's it.

These people are turning this country into a nation of soft, weak morons. Events like this, in the past, were described only as 'light snow' with a mention of possible ice and a caution to drivers. Severe weather meant snow so deep you couldn't find your car, and it wasn't worth digging it out if you did. Now it means you might slip a bit if you're not careful.

We seem to be getting severe weather warnings every week. What that means is that when we get a real one - when a hurricane finally makes it this far north - we're all going to think 'Oh, right, severe weather. Better put an overcoat on'.

Save the warnings for when the weather really is severe. Otherwise we're going to ignore the real warnings when they come.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Spirits of dead things.

By which I mean, not the usual ghosts, but ghosts of things that were dead to start with.

There are many reports of phantom coaches, ghostly ships, even ghost cars.


Oh, I've heard the argument 'but horses will have spirits' and 'coaches and old ships were made of wood, which comes from trees, and they were alive', but the arguments don't hold.

Horses might well have spirits. So might trees. But a car? Does iron have a soul? Does aluminium have an afterlife? Is there a Windscreen Heaven? I find that hard to believe.

Besides, why would four ghost horses consent to pull a phantom coach? Surely they'll have better things to do?

On the coach itself, yes, it's made of wood - but that wood was cut, shaped and polished from felled trees. It was already dead before it was made into a coach. The ghost, if there is one, will be that of a tree, not a coach.

Yet the reports persist. Ghost coaches, ships, cars and trains are heard and seen. Too many to be written off as imagination or hysteria.

I have theorised previously that spirits might vary in their ability to produce manifestations of themselves. Some can appear with perfect clarity, a few even in daylight and with such detail that they are mistaken for living people until they vanish. Some produce hazy forms, some partial apparitions, some just blurs. There are those that cannot appear but can make raps, or voices on a tape. Many, I suspect, cannot interact with the living at all.

So at the top end of this range of skills, it is possible that there are a few highly-skilled apparition-producers who can form the illusion of a vehicle. It won't be an easy thing to do, but since a spirit has no form, the image they manifest does not have to be limited to a replica of the body they left behind.

Currently, my interpretation of ghostly vehicles is that they are projected by highly-skilled spirits, and are in fact nothing at all to do with the vehicle that might once have existed. They might be recognisable to us because the spirit has modelled the manifestation on a car, boat, coach, whatever, that was important to them, or to which they were particularly attached.

The spirits involved must be very powerful. How much effort would it take to produce a ship, or an entire train? Perhaps a group of spirits work together on the bigger images. There are, after all, a lot of dead trainspotters out there. It's not much of a stretch to think they might get together to relive their previous obsessions.

I am, as always, open to alternative interpretations, unless you want to tell me that metals have souls. I can suspend disbelief only so far.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Batten down the hatches.

The weather is bizarre. 100 mph winds, yet still above freezing. Weather forecasters sound apologetic that temperatures 'might not get much above freezing overnight'. What do they think this is, July? It's not supposed to be above freezing during the day!

Anyway, since the winds have managed to blow over walls, I've put any investigation of derelict buildings on hold until the UK comes to some sort of decision over which season it's in.

There are also a few churches I want to visit. No, I'm getting neither married nor buried. There are many fine examples of ancient, pre-Christian, stones in churchyards. I plan to post a discussion of why that might be, but I'd like a few good photos to go with it. I'm not keen to end up beneath one of those stones though.

So, in the meantime, here's a link of no relevance whatsoever. Please don't pick up any drinks while watching.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A random ghost photo.

In Dorset, UK, is a boys’ club building with no history of any haunting. However, after one child’s mysterious chat with someone invisible to the others, an adult took a number of photos of the hall, including this one.

First impression is that it’s simply someone moving within the frame. The colour cast makes clear that this was taken with indoor lighting, no flash, no sunlight. So the camera (a digital) would automatically operate with a slow shutter speed. Anyone moving during the photo would form a blurred image.

On the other hand, the figure gives the impression of not moving, but of standing upright and being blown by wind. So it is possible that this is a ghost photo.

It’s not good, reliable evidence though. The image is in the corner of the frame. The photographer’s attention would have been directed forward, so it’s entirely possible that someone entered the frame without the photographer’s knowledge. Since most non-professional cameras come with a wide-angle lens, this possibility is increased. The lens covers more than you can see through the viewfinder.

Do the clothes worn in this image match anyone who was present? The article doesn’t say. It does say the photos were taken ‘when everyone had left’. It doesn’t specify whether this means everyone, or simply the children who had been present and their parents. Was the photographer alone? And why were they standing on a chair or table?

This is where it becomes invaluable to have a video camera running, covering the area you’re photographing. The video will tell you if someone entered the area you were shooting. If someone appears on the camera film, check the video. If it shows the same semi-transparent image, great. If it shows nothing, even better. What the camera saw, in that case, would have no physical explanation.

If you’re working in a pair, photograph the same thing, at the same time, from different angles. If you’re working alone you can use tripods with cable-release to do the same thing, or cover the area with a video camera.

The photo mentioned above was taken on the spur of the moment. It wasn’t an investigation, it was a case of ‘What if?’ Nothing wrong with that. Some of the best images are captured by pure chance.

However, as long as the photographer is certain the image could not possibly have been caused by anyone present, that hall is certainly worth an investigation.

So if you live near Lyme Regis, in Dorset, and you have some experience in setting up an investigation, go for it.

If I’m ever in the area, I’ll call in myself.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Free Flatland!

Edwin Abbot's book, Flatland, is out of copyright since it was published in 1884. So I wondered if the text could be found online for free.

It can. Here. You have to scroll past a long list of disclaimers to get there.

The ASCII representations of the diagrams are not great, but the text is there, including his (possibly overdone) discussion of life as a Flatlander. It's not a long book, though.

Personally, I don't like reading online for long periods. I prefer the real book, not least because some of the diagrams are necessary, and they're much better on paper. For those who can stand to stare at a screen, the book's now free.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Moving things around

With the seance room as the point of reference, a 'thing' that appears within the room is an apport. A 'thing' that disappears from the room, and which may or may not be later discovered elsewhere, is an asport.

The 'thing' in question is not, in itself, a supernatural object. Usually it's small; a pebble, a flower, an ornament. Because the object is small, it's easy to accuse the medium of having concealed it, and it's also easy for a fake medium to conceal such an object.

If the apport is, for example, a rose, and it's later discovered that the neighbour's rose bushes have been clipped in the night, then there's a good chance of some fakery going on. Note I said 'a good chance'. If the medium asked for a rose, why would any spirit travel further than the nearest rose bush to get it? Yes, it's highly likely to indicate that the medium, or an assistant, merely leaned over the fence, but it's not proof of that.

There have been cases where a particular object was apported from the sitter's own home to the medium's. Objects marked secretly by investigators have appeared. Apports and asports are easily faked and often are, but real instances do occur. Poltergeists sometimes seem to throw things through walls; an object from the next room might appear, usually at speed.

How can a spirit move something through solid walls? How can they move things so quickly, despite the obstacles and distances often involved? One good discussion of the theories concerning this is here. The article mentions other instances of 'moved objects', including the Philadelphia Experiment (which must remain unconfirmed for now) but also definitive, reported science such as the levitation of objects and even animals in magnetic fields. Yes, that happened and was reported in scientific literature.

The article considers 'vibrational states of matter' as a likely means by which solid objects might be transported through walls. Well, maybe. I prefer the dimensional explanation. Of course, no definite explanation exists, so it's still a matter of which theory you prefer.

We live in three dimensions (I don't regard time as a dimension since I can't move freely within it. I refer only to spatial dimensions here).

Suppose you came across a world of two dimensions. You don't have to imagine this. Just get yourself a piece of paper and draw a two dimensional world. Lines represent the walls of houses. Your two-dimensional creatures cannot see or pass through these walls, no more than you can pass through the walls of your own home.

Your invented creatures cannot see you. They are unaware of your presence unless you act within their world. They have no concept of 'up' or 'down', and no means to look in those directions even if it occurred to them to try. Yet you can look down on their entire world.

Now, suppose your two-dimensional creatures gather in one room and have a seance. You're amused by this. You decide to liven things up for them, so you take an object from a room, far away from the seance, and drop it into the seance room.

The creatures are astounded. The object has disappeared from one place and reappeared in another, passing through solid walls on the way. From your point of view, the object hasn't passed through anything. You simply lifted it out of the two dimensional world at one place and put it back somewhere else.

Now (and this is the difficult part) move the experiment up by one dimension. The observer now lives in a four-dimensional world and is examining, and interacting with, a three-dimensional world in exactly the same way.

The four-dimensional observer cannot be seen by the three-dimensional creatures. They have no concept of which direction to look, and no means to do so should it occur to them. The observer can move an object from one place to another, with no concern over obstructions between those places because from the observer's point of view, there are no obstructions. Merely three-dimensional lines on three-dimensional paper.

Physics considers the possibility of more than three dimensions as almost a necessity for their calculations of the world to work. Currently, it seems we live in 11-dimensional space, but we can only see three of them. The other dimensions are usually explained as 'rolled up too small to see'.

Well, where's the third dimension in that two-dimensional world we've just considered? Is it the thickness of the paper, or perhaps the thickness of the lines drawn on its surface? From the perspective of the two-dimensional creature, that third dimension is irrelevant. It's invisible to them.

They might say, if they theorise about it, that the third dimension is 'rolled up too small to see'.

So, just because we cannot visualise a fourth, fifth or eleventh dimension from our frame of reference, does not mean that they contain nothing. To insist they are uninhabitable is to become like those two-dimensional creatures who scoff at the notion of our three-dimensional world.

The Celts imagined the world as a circle. Heaven was a larger circle, drawn around the circle of Earth. So, the living are contained within the circle of Earth and cannot see or visit the circle of Heaven. Those in Heaven can move freely within that circle, which includes the circle of Earth.

Surrounding this was another circle, which the Celts stated was only accessible to the Gods (when they became Christian they kept this image, but ascribed the outer circle to the Christian God. There was, originally, no Hell in Celtic thinking). So the Gods have a place nobody else can go, but they can move freely within Heaven and Earth because these are both contained within their circle.

The boundaries are not unlike those proposed by dimensional theory. If you live in three dimensions, you can poke and prod at a two-dimensional world and there's not a thing the inhabitants can do about it. They can only hope that when they die, they'll move from a two-dimensional existence into a three-dimensional one where they can hit you back.

Of course, if you're four-dimensional, they still won't be able to get at you.

The birth of a new religion.

I am occasionally told that people can't be as stupid as I believe them to be. That there can't be as many morons on the planet as I insist, or there'd be fighting and bickering all the time... oh.

And that's where the argument always fails. Yes, the population of Earth is, on the whole, pretty dim. That's why confidence tricksters do so well. Most of them become politicians. And idiots vote for them and go to war for them.

Some time ago, a group of American scientists set up the 'Flying Spaghetti Monster' to make a point. It was only loosely connected with the evolution vs. intelligent design argument, although many think that's what it was all about. No, they protested about the introduction of religion into school classrooms. If, they said, you're going to teach religion, you have to teach them all. Including this one we just made up. They did it to prove a point. I might not agree with the mechanics of how they made their point, but the point is valid. Schools should not indoctrinate children in one particular religion. Religion should be a choice, not an obligation. I choose not to have one, but if you're going to follow a religion, you should be allowed to decide for yourself which one is for you.

The key phrase in the above is 'made up'. There was never any question of it being otherwise. It was an attempt to make a serious point in a lighthearted way. The whole thing received so much publicity at the time, surely there can't be anyone who hasn't heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by now? Surely everyone knows it's a total fabrication?


The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has believers. It has a website. It's all silly, and has absolutely no credibility as a religion. It wasn't intended to. Even those senseless enough to have joined up with the likes of David Icke or L. Ron Hubbard's made-up religions should be able to see through this one. It seems not.

Read the hate-mail section of the site. There are those who actually believe this to be a competing religion, who think the organisers are really trying to form a pasta-based cult, and who 'fear for their souls'. Some of those 'hate-mails' are tongue-in-cheek, but most are not.

If enough idiots fall for this, it's going to backfire very badly. The originators hoped to make a point about the separation of religion and science, but obviously underestimated the lunacy inherent in humanity.

Give it five years or so, and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will start to build real churches and employ ministers, presumably drawn from the ranks of Italian waiters. A new religion is born, with a touch of wonderful irony in that its originators were trying to make a point against religion.

I stand by my as-yet-unrefuted theory. Most people are stupid. The news confirms this daily. I will revise this theory when, say, two world leaders decide to sort out their differences over a few beers, and perhaps a game of darts, rather than have a war. When they discuss matters in an adult fashion rather than resort to 'my gang's tougher than your gang'.

It's never going to happen.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year lunacy

It seems the addled brains of those in charge have not been improved by being dipped in alcohol over the festive season.

We are running out of nurses and doctors, but we have an oversupply of over 3000 consultants in the medical profession.

What do our empty suits intend to do about this? Why, they intend to cut costs. And where are those cost cuts to be applied? Nurses’ salaries, of course.

What happened to supply and demand, that cornerstone of economics? We are short of nurses. We have too many consultants. Therefore, as must be obvious to even the most IQ-challenged administrator, nurses are more valuable than consultants at the moment.

How is tightening nurses’ pay going to encourage new nurses to join the profession? Answer that, accountants.

Surely it's obvious that since the sums paid to consultants are more attractive, so doctors become consultants, the pool of doctors declines, the pool of consultants increases. Supply and demand. An oversupplied service means you can haggle over the price. An undersupplied service means you can’t.

If I ever get sick, I’m staying home until I get better or die. There’s no point going to a hospital. If you have something expensive, they won’t treat you. If they do let you in, you’re at the mercy of overstretched, stressed and understandably short-tempered nursing staff. Plus you’ll have your account regularly assessed by a shiny suit with a dull brain on top and once you go over the cost margin, out you go.

It doesn’t bode well for the ghosthunters of the future. They’ll have to deal with the contents of those empty suits. At least they won’t be troublesome since they’ll haunt by committee and therefore never actually decide to do anything.

I don’t want to take money with me when I die. I want to take a large piece of wood with a nail through it. I’ll call it ‘The Educator’.

I just wish I was allowed to use it while still alive.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reality and illusion

Not that anyone should need it, but here’s another reminder not to immediately trust the evidence of your eyes and ears.

Nothing in this video is real. Nothing. Everything you see and hear is computer generated.

I don’t know who made the video (edited to add: I do now. It comes from here), but if you ever wanted to produce a fake haunting this is the person to see. I'll bet it was done on a computer like the one you’re using now.

The more real computer-generated images become, the more difficult it is to present video or photographic evidence for supernatural events.

That’s one reason why I still use film cameras more than digital. Film is more difficult to ‘doctor’ to produce a fake. Digital is useful, especially in view of the fact that you can take a hundred photos and find nothing. If they’re digital, at least it hasn’t cost anything.

I still believe, though, that if we are going to produce proof, digital isn’t the best way to go.

It’s just too easy to manipulate, which means it’s easy to be accused of manipulation even when the photo is real.