Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Questions, questions...

The last post resulted in a deluge of questions. Well, two - but for this blog that's a deluge.

Southern Writer asks:

Heh. On this side of the pond, we call it reality TV.

Good point. We have that too, but those who volunteer for it deserve torment.

But never mind that now ... tell us more about these ghosts who should not have been awakened. What do you know about them? Are they the ghosts of rapists and murderers and such, or are they a different species altogether?

Not so much awakened as let through the door. Some are human ghosts (if you don't think humans are dangerous, read the news). A few are not. There are other forms of life, and I know I'll be called a crank for saying it. I stopped worrying about that a long time ago. Now, I don't mean take-over-the-world or let-Hell-loose Hollywood type creatures. I don't mean demons, though some would call them that.

Imagine another reality overlapping this one. If you don't have sufficient imagination to do that, read no further. In that other reality is a Romulus Crowe who tells the inhabitants about our human world. Most laugh at the very notion. Most don't believe we could exist. A few will take up the idea and try to find a way through. Most demons don't believe in us. A sobering thought.

What happens when humans get a sniff of ghosts? Amateurs play with Ouija boards, table-tipping and other 'games'. The ghosts aren't, to them, real living things. They are toys. Why should any other species regard their 'ghosts' differently? When someone playing with the supernatural connects with another, playing their own supernatural games, they create a bridge.

As with humans, those playing on the other side don't regard their findings as life. Just as entertainment. As with humans, those playing around on the other side aren't usually the brightest sparks in the fire. They are the ones who tease cats, who poke dead rats, who kick dogs. That's what they do to things they regard as real. They don't think we're alive.

Most 'demons' are idiots from another reality. They don't want to take over the world. They're just poking the dead rat. Why would they stop? To them, we're not even real.

Vicious humans are worse. Spiteful, self-centred, hate-filled souls are more common than serial killers and can be far more dangerous. The non-human 'demons' usually get bored and go away, or die in their own realities. Note that few poltergeist manifestations last longer than a human lifetime, for example. Human ghosts hang around longer.

If they can't be returned once they're summoned, what becomes of them?

You can't put toothpaste back in the tube because it's been there and knows not to fall for that trick again. You can put toothpaste in a different tube, one it hasn't seen before. They can be tricked into a different containment. Most 'demons' aren't too bright. If they don't get caught, I think they become administrators and politicians. There are many current heads of state I'd regard as demonic. Have you heard of the game 'Second Life'? I think they might be playing their own version of that.

How can we know if a ghost we're seeing is benign or malevolent?

If it tries to kill you, that's not good. If you recognise the ghost then it's most likely okay, but remember that what you 'see' is projected into your mind. Few 'demons' are smart enough to fake an image but a few are. If you suspect it's not who you think it is, a few questions will soon show them up.

What are some of the ways they're being summoned? Will simple ghost hunting in itself conjure them? Do some things, like Ouija boards or trigger objects, invite them?

Any reputable medium will tell you that the phrase 'Is (so-and-so) there?' is an invitation. The phrase 'Is anybody there?', as uttered by halfwits on TV shows is an open invitation to any spirit, human or otherwise, trying to get through. A better, much safer phrasing is 'Who's there?' because it demands an identity. Never underestimate the power of invitation. And never trust any response. Ghosts are dead people, and people lie.

Ouija boards are a recent invention. This is used by sceptics to 'debunk' them. In fact, they were invented as a means of making money from the spiritualist craze. The inventors might not even have believed in the supernatural. They might have seen nothing more than a business opportunity. However, they were based on previous, long-standing spirit communication methods and effectively put the atom bomb within reach of the amateur. They do work. They do allow spirit contact BUT they are not selective in who, or what they contact. You might reach Aunt Flo with one of these or you might reach someone or something that's pretending to be Aunt Flo. With the limited contact allowed by that board, you can't tell. It's an open radio. You have no idea what's coming through. It works by the attraction of the life force of the people using the board and it's specificity is less if none of the sitters believe. They're all pressing for a result even if they claim to be non-believers, otherwise they wouldn't be sitting there. Pressing for a result, and not caring what that result might be, is like pressing a big red button labelled 'Don't press this'.

Trigger objects are neutral. They don't send an invitation. I'll post the 'rotating clown' story someday, when I have it sorted out.

What about simple fear? Could someone's fear of such things send out a signal, like fishbait in water? Do tell all!

Ah, the old 'blood in the water' theory of fear. I don't know for sure, but I think that can only apply to human ghosts. Dead bullies react to fear just like living ones. It's not a signal as such but if they've scared you once, they might try to do it again.

heyjude said...

Rom, sounds like you need to write another book to warn the naive about all the dangers.

There's little point trying to explain things to those too stupid to listen. Many times, the dangers of drink-driving, or using a mobile phone while driving have been explained in gory detail, yet the masses of morons that populate the world have declared themselves exempt from death and injury. In an earlier post I described how most people are too dense to realise there are other living people around, never mind dead ones.

I have a second edition in preparation but I don't fool myself into thinking it'll make a big difference. The world will always be populated with 99% dopes, and we'll always elect the dopiest to lead us.

Did that answer the questions? I have to go now to see if the clown rotated.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Not a good day to die.

Ghosthunting has turned into some kind of package holiday deal. Everywhere I turn I see adverts for ghost tours, haunted excursions, all-inclusive 'training sessions' that will apparently circumvent any need for all that dreary education and teach you everything about the supernatural in half an hour.

I really wouldn't want to be a ghost right now. You think death will be the end of your trials, and you can finally rest - but no, the afterlife papparazzi are on your tail.

How do I feel about this? Well, how would a nuclear physicist feel if there were workshops showing people how to build a cyclotron in their garden, or an atom bomb in their shed? How would a microbiologist feel if details of growing things like anthrax were made public? How would you feel if the torment of living people became a source of entertainment?

Those are scary scenarios. So is this. The number of people dabbling with the paranormal is growing by the day, and ghosts are not all benign, timid, harmless spooks. Some are very dangerous indeed, and those are the ones looking for some amateur to call them out.

Calling them out is easy, it can be done by accident. Putting them back--well, how do you put back the explosion from a bomb? To borrow a phrase Tom Sheepandgoats used, how do you put toothpaste back in the tube? Particularly if the toothpaste doesn't want to go back and is actively trying to kill you while you do it?

The irresponsibility of encouraging complete novices to dive in and chat with the dead is breathtaking. Would you send someone who's never used a gun on a tiger hunt?

Take the time to learn about the supernatural properly, or leave it alone. This isn't a game.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How to profit from ghosthunting.

A couple of rules from the game of Life first:

One, you will meet very few people who genuinely want to help you.

Two, none of them will try to sell you anything.

At the moment, paranormal investigation is rather like gambling, in that the bookies always win. The bookies in this case being those who sell paranormal investigation equipment. You must disabuse yourself of any notion that they do this to help you. They do it to make money. It’s their business.

Now, I don’t want to sound as though I’m slating the sellers of gadgetry. I love gadgets. Two of my favourite places on the Internet are Tom’s Gadgets and Maplin. The former advertises paranormal equipment, the latter sells much the same stuff but as general electronic equipment.

Both are out to make money. They must not be regarded as places to turn to for help in deciding what to buy. That decision is yours, and yours alone. There are, however, very few pieces of equipment that are proven to be useful to the point of being indispensable. There are, in fact, only two. A camera and a voice recorder.

Thermometers are useful, infrared ones are not. I’ve raged about those in the past so I’ll leave them alone for now..

EMF meters are interesting, but have come to be regarded as ‘ghost detectors’. They are no such thing. They measure electromagnetic fields. That’s all they do. You might find an electromagnetic field where you didn’t expect to find one. It’s interesting but it’s only the start of your investigation. In itself, no EMF reading proves anything at all. Worse, no EMF meter records data in conjunction with time and place so the only one to see the reading is you.

The same is true of thermometers. You will never obtain proof that the dead are still around with either of these things. In an investigator’s kit, that’s not their purpose – if you come back from an investigation elated that you found cold spots and EMF spikes, but do nothing about them, you have failed. If you go back to the places where you found those things and investigate more deeply, then you’re working on the right lines.

Considerable evidence has come from the recorded voices on both tape and digital equipment. Ultrasonic equipment, such as using bat-detectors, is just being silly. Those things pick up sounds at frequencies too high for humans to hear. Why would any spirit attempt to communicate at those frequencies? They pick up artefacts that can sound like voices. Sounds that are always there but not normally heard.

Remember, what you’re looking for is proof. You don’t have to convince yourself of the reality of ghosts. If you’re willing to spend all night in some dark, cold place then you’re already convinced. Your proof has to convince those who scoff at what you do, and using any technique that’s open to artefacts is just wasting your time.

Similarly, using a method that allows easy fakery is not a good idea. Digital photographs can be manipulated and faked with no difficulty. Film fakery is much easier to spot. If you use only digital, then you’ll have trouble convincing sceptics of anything you find. They can reproduce your images in any photo-manipulation program. I use both. Digital allows lots of photos at no cost, and it’s easy to store them all on disk. If I think I have a result, I return with film only. That long-sought-after proof will only come with film. Digital images will always go down in flames.

You need a photo, you need a solid, unmistakable recorded voice. You need a camera and a recorder. The rest of it, the EMF meters, the ludicrously expensive and pointless tri-field meters, even the thermometers, are not the means to your proof. They are the means to find those places where you might get a photo, or a voice.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You don’t need a ready-made ‘ghost hunter kit’ although people are buying these at an apparently fantastic rate (thanks to Jude for the link).

The places selling these things will sell whatever you want to buy. If you want insanely expensive gadgetry because you think it makes you look like you know what you’re doing, then that demand will drive supply. All you’ll do is spend hours setting it all up and then all night changing batteries, adjusting and fiddling with your toys. None of it, no matter what results you record, will prove a thing. The only proof will be a photo or a voice.

Don’t gloat over orbs. Orbs are bunk. Don’t load yourself down with tons of equipment. Ghost manifestations have a nasty habit of draining batteries, so the less battery-powered stuff you have, the fewer batteries you have to carry. Have at least one camera that works without batteries, and a tripod to stand it on.

People have been seeing ghosts since the first human died. If you want to really connect with this, do what they did. They didn’t have miles of cable, they didn’t use cameras or voice recorders. They used something we’re all born with for free. Use that.

Use your senses. Switch off your damned ego-boosting gadgets and just listen!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Selling toxic waste.

It's time for politicians to wake up to the reality that they can't solve all the world's problems by moving money around.

Their latest soon-to-be-regulated industry is carbon offsetting. This is a scheme whereby you do nothing at all to cut your greenhouse gas emissions, but pay someone else to worry about it for you.

It's the same as if you paid me not to mow my lawn more than once a month so you could mow yours twice a week. The greenhouse gas emissions are the same as if we both mowed weekly; you are, in effect, buying my emissions quota. If anyone's interested, I'm open to offers.

Note the key phrase 'the greenhouse gas emissions are the same' in the above. Paying me to not mow my lawn so you can do yours more often does not result in an overall reduction in emissions. If we both mowed once a month, that would work. That's not how the carbon trading system works.

If there's going to be a serious cut in global emissions of noxious fumes (which I regard as a good idea, whether it has anything to do with global warming or not) then everyone has to do it. Letting some buy their way out of responsibility is senseless.

'I have a problem. You, take this money and worry about it for me'. That's pretty much it.

How long before the nuclear industry pay us to bury radioactive waste in our gardens?

And what do we do if it makes the grass grow faster?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Watching the defectives.

I haven’t been around the internet too much for a while. The weather here remains dull with rain every day. Floods are subsiding but more floody weather is forecast for the weekend. Contrary to rumour, I am not building a one-man Ark in my garden and stocking it with tinned goods. As I explained to the local council, it’s nothing more than a tastefully curved storage shed. I’m building it upside-down because it’s easier: I’ll turn it over when the rain stops. The only reason it’s so watertight is because of the constant rain.

Since the weather ruins any chance of my preferred investigation sites – abandoned and derelict ancient buildings – I have spent a little time reacquainting myself with the living, and reminding myself why I don’t like them.

Wandering around city centres, it’s easy to see why so many people don’t believe in ghosts, and why so many have never, and will never meet any of the wandering dead. Most of them are not even aware of the living people around them. The dead stand no chance.

People walk in one direction while expending considerable effort to ensure that their eyes never point in that same direction. They would risk seeing someone in their way and have to go to all the trouble of taking an extra step or two to go around them. I have, several times in the past month, stood perfectly still in the middle of a busy shopping area and stared with fixed glare at someone walking directly towards me.

More than half of them didn’t see me. Of those, at least half blamed me for walking into them, and maintained this belief even after I explained I had not been moving. I wished, more than once, that I had been covered in long needles coated with the most potent itch-inducing chemicals available. If I can get some, I’ll try that.

I saw women pushing prams, carrying shopping, while wearing Bluetooth headsets as though they were executives, or perhaps cybermen. How the Hell did these people survive a few years ago, before the constant-babble machines were invented? How many words can one person speak in their lifetime? There are people half my age who have already made more noise with their mouths than I am likely to achieve if I live to be a hundred. So much noise, so many conversations, so many words spoken and not one of them worth hearing.

More than half the people on the street are talking or texting on mobile phones. Some, with these earpieces that resemble Borg implants, wander along gesticulating and talking to their invisible friends in ways that would have earned them long sleeves and straps at the back just a few years ago. It still should. If you’re a nut who wanders along muttering to yourself, just clip on a dummy earpiece and nobody will ever know. I’m wondering if psychiatrists have already worked this out. What’s the point of curing them when you can so easily make them fit in with the modern world?

So many people on the phone, so much of the time. Who are they all talking to? Is there a call centre somewhere where the friendless work, where they murmur ‘Yes, I know’ constantly to these chattering imbeciles? Perhaps a recording would work just as well. How many of the mindless phone users would know the difference?

I have to admit, they do provide considerable entertainment. I found a convenient seat overlooking a busy road and waited for these Phone People to come along. I didn’t have to wait long. The loudest laughs were elicited where the driver of the car that screeches or swerves to avoid one of these oafs is also on the phone. It’s illegal to drive and phone in the UK but it’s very common because most people are too stupid to understand just how dangerous it is, and how idiotic they look.

The odd thing is, even though I laughed aloud at potentially deadly near-accidents, nobody minded. I drew no stares, no disapproving looks, no chiding glances. Partly because there were few among the hundreds of people around who were sufficiently sentient to realise I was there, but mainly because I had adopted a cunning disguise.

A pair of earphones can be had for as little as £1 (about $2). Stick them in your ears, thread the wire to an inside pocket and everyone assumes you’re just listening to something funny. This is all the disguise anyone needs nowadays, in order to blend in with the halfwits who populate the world. You can grin like a maniac, hum to yourself, bounce in your seat, you can do a thousand things for which you should really be sectioned. As long as you have these earphones, you’re immune.

One thing I have always enjoyed is silence. The dead of night, away from street lights and traffic and (best of all) idiots, in the ruins of a remote cottage or castle, is a blessed time of peace and quiet. The odd owl adds to the charm, as does the whisper of a breeze in long, dry grass (of which there is currently none available in the UK). I take no MP3 player, no thought-blanking music devices, no television. I have a phone with me but it’s switched off. It’s there in case I break something and have to call professionals to get me out – that’s never happened but I have the phone because it might.

From what I’ve seen, I think most of the population would be utterly terrified in such a situation. Not because of the dark, not because of the owls or the bats, not even because of any ghosts that might call by.

Because of the silence.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

It came from the sky.

The rain has not stopped in over a month. I've been considering asking Tom Sheepandgoats if he happens to have Noah's phone number.

Hats and coats are futile. This rain comes down with power-washer force. You'd get wet even if you were laminated. There are floods all over the UK, fortunately only minor in my area but severe in many places. It's more than enough to put me off any idea of investigating derelict buildings. All that expensive equipment, and none of it waterproof...

Apparently, a group of bishops have declared that the terrible weather is God's punishment for allowing homosexuals to marry. I'll try to find that link, I don't have it to hand. These bishops should really be taken away somewhere and placed under sedation.

(Edit: here's the link.)

Most of the problem is in engineering. Houses built on those nice, flat areas with a view over the river. You know, the places we normally refer to as 'flood plains'. To stop them flooding, the riverbank usually gets a nice new concrete wall. It all seems futile: build a house in the countryside with a river view, then concrete it. But then, I have long since ceased to expect common sense from people.

Further downriver, all that water that should have dissipated into the flood plains now arrives in a massive torrent. It has nowhere else to go. So rivers burst, drains back up, and whole towns disappear underwater.

Yet our water companies still charge us exorbitant amounts for the supply of this stuff. Why? It drops out of the sky for free.

I think I'll install a big tank and a purifier.