Friday, April 27, 2007

A new ghost photo.

Take a look at this photo.

There are those who say it’s faked. There always are. I don’t think it’s a fake—not a deliberate one anyway.

It’s a flash photo. There’s no doubt of that. It’s at night with a brightly lit foreground.

The photographer says she saw no spectral image when she took the photo. I believe that.

It could be condensing breath. That would fit with the situation of the apparition and with the obviously cold temperatures. It could be coincidence that the figure of a woman appeared in the shape of the photographer’s exhalation. Breath isn’t noticed unless you’re looking for it. It’s lit by flash but you won’t see it during the exposure because the flash duration is very short. It could be breath.

I don’t think it’s a deliberate fake because of the second image, above the woman’s head. That image could be formed from a thinner mist from the photographer’s earlier breath. Or it could be another manifestation. Or neither.

I’m not going to make any kind of pronouncement on this because I don’t know enough about the case. Is there a history of ghostly activity at this site? Does the image remind the photographer of someone they knew, who might have reason to visit? Is it just a spontaneous image with no obvious connection to the location, or to people present?

Is it just breath? I can’t be sure.

I’m sure it’s not faked though. Mistaken identity, maybe, but certainly not faked. Fakes are normally just that little bit too good. They don’t have secondary images or confusing extras. This, in my opinion, isn’t a set-up.

The orbs are snowflakes. Don’t even mention them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dope your dog.

The pharmaceutical companies have long ago crossed the line between helping people and pumping them for cash. Now they have their eyes on your pets.

If you have a busy life, and you can't be at home much, don't get a dog. The poor animal will go nuts if left alone all day. That's not a difficult equation to solve. No time = no pets, or pets who don't mind being ignored. There are many that fit this description, such as fish, hamsters, all reptiles, spiders, and so on. Cats, to some extent, are happy enough to ignore you as long as they get fed on time.

Dogs are not. Dogs are pack animals. Being alone is very wrong to them, it's against their nature and it scares them. If you can't spend time with a dog, don't get one.

Buying a dog, leaving it alone, and then using drugs to control its behaviour is animal abuse, pure and simple. The dog is still scared, it's just too doped up to do anything about it. The problem is not solved. It's just hidden away.

Where is it leading, I wonder? We already keep our children sedated and then wonder why they grow fat. We keep our old people sedated and wonder why they can't remember us when we visit. Feeling a little down? Not to worry, doctors have a drug for it. Had a mood swing? That's now classed as bipolar disorder and again, there's a drug for it. Have an imagination? Thinking about things that aren't real? That's now schizophrenia. Get the drugs.

I see young people proudly boasting that they have been diagnosed as bipolar or Asperger's. It's not a badge of honour! If you are truly bipolar, you will have difficulty functioning in today's world. If you have Asperger's you won't talk about it because you won't want to socialise. Going to a party and telling everyone, in graphic detail, about the symptoms of your imaginary disease means you don't have it.

I don't blame the kids. They have been told they have these disorders so the pharmaceutical companies can sell drugs. I do think the kids should spend some time with people who genuinely suffer from these things. Then they might not be so keen to brag.

Telling a teenager they have bipolar disorder is silly. All teenagers have mood swings, it's what they do. Sometimes they have abrupt and violent mood swings, but almost all of them grow out of it. They get older. They grow up. They realise that their tantrums are childish and they stop doing it. A few, a very few, can't. Those have genuine bipolar disorder.

Yet any teenager who goes into a strop is now told they have a mental disorder that must be treated with drugs. When does the treatment end? When they die. They become cash-cows for pharmaceuticals for life.

But, you ask, what happens when they grow out of it? They won't. They won't get the messages that it's time to grow up. They'll continually hear that their mood swings are due to this illness and so they keep on doing it. Pop a pill, smash a car, blame it on the diagnosis. They are, effectively, trained to act the way the medical profession wants them to act. As long as they continue to act that way, they get rewarded with the feel-good pills.

In the same way, we no longer have to spend all that time training dogs to behave themselves in the home. All we need do is mix a happy-pill in their dinner. That'll keep him quiet until we get home from work. It's not much of a life for a dog, is it? Lying in a stupor next to the kids, waiting for the next dose.

There are people who really do need these drugs in order to function. Those people are few, however, and in total they're not all that profitable. How much easier to balance the books if the whole population thinks they need the drugs? And what a wonderful investment. There's no way to be sure you're cured, so you'll never stop taking them.

I take no drugs. I rarely visit doctors. I get sick sometimes, but most illnesses go away on their own. If they feel serious, I might involve the local medicine man, but otherwise I avoid visiting there. If I feel a depression coming on, I pop over to YouTube and search for some funny videos. If I'm in a bad mood, it's not bipolar disorder. I'm just in a bad mood. I'm not schizophrenic just because I've seen ghosts.

And I'm not paranoid, even though I know you all think I am.

One day, when the whole world is nicely sedated, I'm going to wander from house to house and empty your wallets. I now know I won't have to worry about your dogs either.

That is, as long as the pharmaceutical companies don't get there first.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Harry Enfield - The Conjugal Rights Guide

I hear a lot about the English being sexually repressed.

Nonsense. The old film above shows just how far advanced we were in sex education, even as long ago as last week.

Note: the video discusses the sordid details of the act of conjugal unpleasantness in some detail. You have been warned.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cashing in on accidents.

There is a lot of this going on in the UK these days. Nobody has accidents any more. It’s always someone’s fault. There have been cases where a schoolchild has sued the school because he kicked a glass door and hurt his leg. Another won a school sports race and sued for friction burns from the winning-line tape. These are real cases. I’d say there’s a better case for sueing the school for wasting taxpayer’s money by attempting to educate the terminally stupid. It’s not just confined to small-time cashing in though.

Cadbury is a big, big chocolate manufacturer based in Birmingham, UK. They’ve been in business a long time and produce a high quality product.

So it was surprising to find they recently had to recall a lot of chocolate because of a Salmonella scare.

As far as I’ve seen in the news, nobody died, nobody was even infected. The contamination was detected at the factory and the company informed the public and recalled the chocolate.

An entirely reasonable course of action, you might think.

Birmingham city council thinks otherwise. They are prosecuting Cadbury for this mistake.

Now, I fully expect Cadbury to lodge a defence of ‘due diligence’, which means they took all steps they could reasonably be expected to take in their production machinery. They deal in dairy products. There is always a risk associated with such products. Risks can be minimised but rarely can they be entirely eradicated. I fully expect a company with Cadbury’s reputation to successfully defend this action.

What I wonder about, in this case, is whether Birmingham City Council have given the slightest thought to the effect this will have on other companies in their area, and on new companies thinking of moving within their jurisdiction. New investment, new jobs—would you move your company there, with the knowledge that if you make one mistake—even if you take corrective action—the city council will prosecute, with the promise of unlimited fines?

I'm self-employed. I have public liability insurance in case I accidentally damage someone during the course of my work. It's not likely to happen so my insurance is cheap, but I didn't buy it so that some city council could cash in on it. I, for one, will not move to Birmingham and will now avoid carrying out any investigations there.

That’s the message I see, as a 'company' owner, from this action. Make one single mistake, act at once to correct it, and then lose your livelihood to the council lawyers.

If the council win, where does the money go? Compensation for victims? There were no victims. So where will it go?

I’ll be surprised if the council win this one.

I won’t be surprised to hear that businesses are leaving the Birmingham city council’s area in droves.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Letting it lie.

It may seem that I am ignoring the Virginia shootings.

I am. There is a reason.

The story, and the nut's face and name, are all over newspapers every day in the UK. It must be ten times worse in the US. Analyses of why, and who to blame, abound. The crackpot's photos and video, that he sent to a news station, have been on TV. I haven't seen them. I won't.

Why? Because that is exactly what he wanted. He has the whole world talking about him, he makes daily headlines, and half the world is blaming the other half for what he did. It's ridiculous. Nobody is to blame apart from the one who pulled the trigger.

There are more like this. More time-bomb lunatics waiting for their day to explode. They read this news and think that if they do the same, they can get a little of that fame too. They can be on TV, they can go down in history, they can set the world ablaze. They can end their self-pitying, worthless lives as Somebody. It disgusts me to have to say they are right.

That is why I'm ignoring this. If the time-bombs think they'll be famous, it encourages them. If they think they'll get no more than a single mention, and that as a sad loser who's entirely to blame for his actions, they might not be so keen to go ahead with their schemes.

I have heard this nut's name a thousand times now. I have seen rows of copies of his face in every newsagent's shop, and on every news programme. I have seen almost nothing of the victims, and heard none of their names. Am I the only one to think there's something sickening about that?

I will not repeat his name here. He is not worth the attention. If I had my way, he would be stricken from history, every trace of his existence deleted. That should be the fate of those who seek to glorify themselves in this way, not front-page daily news.

Think about the time-bombs reading those newspapers, the feeble and weak minds who blame everyone but themselves for their condition. Do we want them to think they can gain a last blast of fame this way? Do we want those time-bombs to speed their timers?

The news should concentrate on the victims. The perpetrator should be deleted. That won't stop the time-bombs but it might slow them down. It might give them time to rethink, it might save lives.

Encouraging them with the promise of fame will not.

Confession time.

The failure of my hard disk meant I had to visit a very dangerous shop. It's a UK electronics company called Maplin.

Their gadget collection is second to none, and they always have some kind of sale on.

I was somewhat restrained. I left the radio-controlled tugboat on the shelf. It preys on my mind though. I'll try not to go back until they're sold out.

However, I can never resist anything solar powered because once bought, it's free to run. My garden has so many solar-powered lights I have to be careful in case a plane lands there. I have some solar-powered house lighting too. It's hardly powerful enough to read without straining your eyes, so it's not yet a replacement for mains lighting. It's also limited in the UK winter because we don't get much sunlight then. For low lighting, say for watching a film or making a cup of tea, it's ideal. And free.

Maplin always has solar panels in a variety of sizes. In the attic, I have a very old battery-powered train set. If it still works, I want to see if I can set that up to run around the garden on solar power. No reason, apart from the sheer lunacy of it and to find a use for the small solar panels I bought.

One thing I regret buying is the blood pressure monitor. I've tried it a dozen times and there's nothing wrong with me. What a waste of money. I've smoked and drunk alcohol - no good. I can't get myself into the high blood pressure range. It's infuriating. It's like all that medical insurance I've paid out and never been ill.

It does have a clock built into it though, so maybe I'll wear it as a watch. The self-inflating wristband should raise an eyebrow or two.

I even found a couple of useful items, but I'll get to those after I've finished with the trivia.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stone the Horses.

On a lighter note.

The Rolling Stones are to play in Belgrade, in a huge horse-racing stadium. Instead of moving the horses somewhere else, the authorities have decided to sedate them for the concert.

Animal rights groups are furious.

I don't see the problem. It's a Rolling Stones concert. Why shouldn't the horses be loaded with drugs?

Everyone else will be.

Heresies of the horned god.

I came across a fundamentalist website today. You know the sort of thing - you're all going to Hell, no matter what, unless you do precisely what we say, when we say it. No discussion. No deviation from our absolute rule. They 'save' by dictation, not persuasion. It's here but turn off your speakers or risk being depressed by sombre music.

This was filled with such things as 'Harry Potter teaches children how to be witches', 'Dungeons and Dragons will turn all your young into devil-worshippers'.

I tried Dungeons and Dragons when I was young. I didn't become a devil-worshipper. Frankly, I found it all rather dull. And none of the Harry Potter spells are anything more than a bit of fake Latin. It's a children's book, and no more evil than the Wizard of Oz.

These kinds of sites twist history to suit themselves. For instance, they declare that the Celts worshipped Satan (who the Celts had never heard of) and that Halloween was the central Druid festival. On Halloween, the Druids apparently walked from house to house demanding food, the origin of Trick or Treat. All the dead walked the streets.

What utter crap.

Trick or treat is a recent American invention. It was unheard of here in the UK even in my youth. It's new, not ancient. Druids had no need to demand anything. They were in charge!

Halloween was the Celtic New Year. End of harvest celebration, big bonfire, beer, jump through the flames as a cleansing ritual (once the fire died down so nobody suffered burns). That sort of thing. If the druids were there, they were drunk. It had nothing at all to do with death or the Devil. The whole thing was hijacked later, not by witches, but by the church. Yes, it was the church who declared this an unholy festival. The new breed of Satanists latched on to that and took it to themselves.

The chief god in the Celtic pantheon was called Hu, and this god had a son. His name was--wait for it--Hesus.

Does that sound like they worshipped Satan, or someone else?

When Christianity arrived, I imagine it going something like this:

Pilgrim: "The son of God has come to Earth and died for your sins."

Shabby Celt: "Oh yeah? If that's true, what's his name?"

Pilgrim: "Jesus."

Shabby Celt: (after a pause) "Well, that does sound like the Son of God all right. Must be true then."

Christianity had no trouble establishing among the Celts, because they already believed most of it anyway. They weren't worshipping Satan. They had a host of minor gods (godlings? godlets?) and one principal god. Christianity had one principal god and a host of angels. The transition wasn't difficult.

There was no need to stamp out the Celtic New Year festival. The druids didn't care about it all that much anyway. The big thing for them was (and still is) the solstices and the equinoxes. The people did care about it. It was the big end-of-year party, and this new religion wanted to forbid it. There was considerable bad feeling about that.

The site also claimed that Easter was a Christian festival overrun by Pagans.

Propriety forbids me using the words I'd like to here.

It's a shame, because the Celtic religion and Christianity were perfectly compatible. If the early church hadn't stamped so hard, they wouldn't have caused so much bad feeling. Satanism might never have surfaced at all. It is, after all, merely an anti-Christian thing rather than a real religion. Saying the Mass backwards? Desecrating old churches? That's not a religion. That's an anti-religion. It arose because of the Church's attempts to stamp it out, not despite them.

As for the Horned God, that wasn't Satan. That was most likely Pan, or the Green Man. Celts had no devil and no Hell. To them, if you didn't make it into Heaven, you were sent back here to try again.

If some recent Goatman reports are to be believed, that horned god is still out there. More on that later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A tale of two hard disks.

It is a far, far, better backup I make now than I have ever made. It is a far better search I make for install disks than I have ever done. Sydney (Antistatic) Carton.

I’m not entirely unread, you know.

Backing up is only a small part of the battle. Here’s a cautionary tale for computer failure.

Step 1. Swear a lot at broken computer, then go out and buy a new hard disk. Marvel at the amount of storage available now: it’s not possible to buy disks smaller than that required to contain the population census for a medium-sized country. Pay, and swear some more. You know this one’s going to break long before it’s even partly filled.

Step 2. Disassemble computer. This is easy. Mine has a clip on top which, when pressed, releases the side of the box. No screws to remove and subsequently lose. The hard disk is held in a plastic carrier so no screws there to remove, lose, or get confused with the ones that held the case.

Step 3. Remove hard disk, apply liberal sprinkling of very bad words and set aside for later attention with a large hammer. Insert and connect new hard disk, press computer side into place. So far, the work of minutes and very little effort (apart from thinking up original ways to curse).

Step 4. Reinstall Windows XP. This involves a lot of waiting, preferably accompanied by a full bottle of absinthe and new, imaginative swear words when it tries to install American dictionaries, keyboard, etc. Several hours pass.

Step 5. Reach for program disks, remember they were put in a ‘safe place’ years ago, when first installed, and try to remember where that is. This is not assisted by the absinthe consumed during step 4.

Step 6. Disassemble house looking for install disks. Make mental note to search Internet for swear words in other languages since the English ones are all used up by now.

Step 7. Reinstall those disks you can find, curse in absentia those you can’t. Attempt to persuade computer to connect to the Internet. Howl at the moon. It’s just as effective.

Step 8. Threaten to punch monitor. This achieves nothing but you feel better for it. Try again to connect to Internet. Realise you’ve forgotten the password and swear some more. Try all possible passwords until it works. As soon as it does, leave computer while XP adds in dozens of updates it’s found on Microsoft’s site. When it’s finished, the programs you installed will do the same. Everything wants to be registered again. Everything. Reach for new bottle of absinthe.

Step 9. Try to set up Email, realise you’ve forgotten the passwords and connection details for all Email accounts and beat head against desk. Determine to write them all down when you’ve worked out what they are. Drink absinthe. It won’t help but by now you won’t care any more.

Step 10. With Email at least partially working, try to remember that huge list of favourite sites in the browser. Open browser. Swear at it while it updates itself.

Step 11. Find a few sites, realise you don’t know the passwords any more because Windows did all that. Get passwords emailed. Write them down this time.

Step 12. Finally, after all this, those backup disks come into play. Now you can put all your files back even though you’ve drunk so much absinthe you no longer have any will to read them.

Backups are only part of the story. You also need to keep all those installation disks in one place, together, where you can find them. As for the security risk of writing down passwords, well, to hell with it. Write them down. Keep that with the install disks. If someone steals your computer, disks and passwords, you really won’t be that much worse off than if you had a hard disk failure anyway.

Step 13. Sleep off massive absinthe hangover. Hope that, in your dreams, the place you put those last few install disks and email account details will show themselves. Yes, it’s futile, but it’s your last hope. At least when you wake your breath smells of anise rather than booze.

And now, at last, normal service will be resumed.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


My principal computer has just decided to trash its hard disk and everything on it. Fortunately, since I have experienced this before, I am pretty regular about backups. So I haven't lost much.

However, it takes a long time to put all those programs back, not least because it's two years or more since I last installed them and can't remember where all the disks are.

So there will be a delay.

If you sent me Email in the last 24 hours, assume it's lost forever and resend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Friday the 13th

No, not the film. The day. It's tomorrow.

A day universally associated with bad luck, but for no clear reason that anyone can define. Many say 'it has its roots in Christianity' but know no more.

There are a few reasonable explanations for why this day is considered unlucky. The number 13 has long been associated with witches' covens, particularly those who prefer the darker side of the Pagan beliefs. Most of the old tales of witches (dancing naked in the moonlight, flying on brooms, sailing in sieves, the coven of 13, and much of what is now absorbed into modern 'witch' culture) is a load of rubbish. It stems from stories made up by accusers, embellished by lawyers, and forced from the lips of the accused under tortures so appalling thier minds could not focus. They would say anything - absolutely anything - the torturers wanted to hear.

Few of those accused were, in fact, witches. Everything they said was made up to stop the pain. The real witches, those few who were tried, were not evil. They were healers, herbalists, homeopaths. They had no means to curse or harm anyone, as should be obvious. If they had such powers, wouldn't their tormentors all be turned into toads?

Why Friday? There is one strong link, and it's also associated with accusations of witchcraft.

The Knights Templar, subject of so many wonderful and bizarre conspiracy theories, were originally intended to protect travellers to Jerusalem, back when it was in Christian hands from 1118. The romantic tale of the 'nine knights' isn't quite what it seemed. A knight didn't travel alone. Each had a small army with them.

Anyway, once Jerusalem was lost, the Knights Templar had no definite purpose. They had, over the two hundred years of their prime, become incredibly rich. The King of France owed a lot of money. Many of the Templars were in France. So the King (and his puppet Pope) decided to make up a load of nonsense, accuse the Templars of heresy, and, basically, steal all their money.

The Knights Templar were expertly taken, in their sleep, all at once. Those who weren't immediately killed were tortured, some for years, and finally burned at the stake. They had to be tortured because the King needed to show a decent pretense at following the law. He needed confessions. They didn't need to be true.

This heinous act took place on Friday, October 13th, 1307.

Is this the origin of Friday 13th as an unlucky day, perhaps? Or does anyone know of an earlier tale, which would make this one simply a vindication of the terrible date?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

House hunting.

Still no repeated photos. The weather is grey with random frosts, and when the sun does appear, clouds move across it so fast it's like living under a strobe light. One day, those clouds have to break.

So here's a thought for today, inspired by this link, sent to me by Southern Writer.

The easiest way to search for ghosts is to live with them. That is, buy a house with resident spirits. The link is to an article on a particularly famous haunted house that's for sale.

Before you all rush in with bids, there are things to consider. The present owners won’t sell to just anyone. They have to approve of the buyers.

So do the ghosts.

Ghosts might be invisible, incorporeal and mostly silent, but never forget they are dead people. You are not buying a house with novelty-value. You are buying a home with sitting tenants, and if you don’t get along with them, you can’t get them out.

The present owners of the house in that article have lived peaceably with their invisible co-occupiers, but that doesn’t mean the next owner will. There are those who classify ghosts as ‘malevolent’ or ‘benevolent’, and would say that this house is haunted by benevolent spirits but it’s not always that simple.

There are a few people in this world I would share a house with, or at least tolerate their presence. There are many people that infuriate me. Some can do this with an expression or a single word. Sharing a house with them would be hell, and, assuming I was not in a position to physically throw them out, I would do everything I could to make their lives miserable until they left.

Does that make me malevolent? It would certainly seem so to the wretches who moved into my house. Yet, if someone tolerable moved in, I would appear somewhere between benevolent and benign. It depends as much on them as on me.

So it is with haunted houses. The dead people occupying the house will have a say in what goes on there, like it or not. They are not going to be happy to perform for dinner guests. They are not going to be delighted to have wave after wave of amateur dead-detectives shouting demands for raps and asking puerile, pointless questions. Just imagine how you’d feel in that situation. You might well change from Caspar the friendly ghost into Beetlejuice within a very short time.

Think very hard before you make a decision to buy a house that’s already occupied by the dead. Ghosts are not a novelty appliance you can turn on and off at your convenience. You’ll be sharing that house with them 24 hours a day, and you never know when they’re around. Be very, very sure you’re comfortable with that.

Most importantly, visit the house first. Don’t try to contact the ghosts. Let them see you, let them hear you, let them know what you’re like. If it’s possible to visit a few times, for extended periods, do so.

If they don’t like you, they’ll find a way to let you know.