Thursday, January 31, 2008

Igor, throw that switch.

This week's New Scientist contains an article that makes me uneasy.

It's about turning male cells into eggs and female cells into sperm, in humans. You don't get to see the whole article unless you subscribe, but most libraries should have the magazine.

Why are they doing this? So that same-sex couples can have children that are genetically entirely theirs. No problem with that, you might think. Indeed, I have no moral objections at all.

My worries are scientific. Women have two X chromosomes. Men have one X and one Y. For lesbian couples there's no problem. Any child will be female because any combination gives two X chromosomes. Boys can't happen in that scenario. The lesbians also get a better deal since one of them can carry the child to term. Gay men would need a surrogate mother and that can lead to all kinds of other issues.

Consider what can happen if a male cell is used to produce an egg. It might have an X chromosome in it or it might have a Y. Likewise, male sperm might be X or Y. A natural female egg always has an X. It's the father's sperm that determines male or female.

If the egg is X, then the sex of the child is determined by whether the sperm that 'wins' is X or Y.

If the egg is Y, the child will definitely be male. He could be a mild oddity, a Y egg fertilised by an X sperm but that's not likely to cause him any serious problems.

If a Y sperm fertilises a Y egg, the ensuing problems are huge. The X chromosome does a lot of important things. The child will be a YY boy, he'll be a haemophiliac, he won't see red or green at all, and he's generally going to be very sick indeed. If he survives at all.

This should be avoidable. Agricultural scientists can separate bull semen for artificial insemination purposes, so that dairy herds get mostly cows and beef herds mostly bulls. It's possible to apply the same thing to humans. However, it's not infallible and it remains a risk that such a disastrously sickly child will be born.

Now, I'm not religious, nor do I care at all whether anyone around me is gay or straight. I have no moral standpoint to defend here. I just think this kind of meddling is going too far. It's the sort of thing that gives science the Frankenstein feel. It brings on the 'playing God' accusations and leads to censure of science. If one of those really sick YY kids ever emerges, how will science defend against accusations of 'Frankenstein' when the monster is there for all to see?

It seems unneccessary when orphanages are filled with children hoping to be adopted. I know some have objections to gay couples adopting, but I don't see why. Gayness isn't catching. The child isn't going to 'turn' just because his or her adopted parents happen to be the same sex. If I was an orphan I'm sure I'd rather be with a couple, same sex or otherwise, than stuck in some orphanage like a modern Oliver Twist. I'd still have plastered my room with Kate Bush posters, not George Michael. I'm confident it wouldn't have changed me.

Let the adoptee have a say. If the child has no objections, why should anyone else?

Why risk the potential birth-defects and possible terrible outcomes of this kind of dabbling with life, when it's really not needed? Aside from the X-Y issues, there are developmental aspects in embryo growth that egg cells can do, and which skin cells cannot. There is far too much potential for something to go horribly wrong. That's not fair to the child and it's not fair to the parents who have been given such high hopes.

Currently, homosexual couples can't have a child that's genetically theirs. Many heterosexual couples can't do that either. The current solution is adoption and that helps both the childless couple and the parentless child. Why meddle?

There's more to science than 'we can do this'. There's also 'should we be doing this?'

Frankenstein didn't ask that last question, and it didn't turn out too well for him.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One ghost, three Christmases.

When it comes to cameras, I’m a pack-rat. I still have the three Zenit-B cameras I bought many years ago. They’re in a box in the attic. They might even still work. A whole slew of lenses up there too. Nowadays I use a Canon EOS 10 (film version, not digital), two Praktica B-200’s and a Pentax P30n (for the gadget buffs out there). For digital, I have a Sony DSC-H5. There have been many others and they’re all still around somewhere. I'm not even going to start on the video cameras.

Recently I came across a Praktica MTL-3 that I haven’t used in years. There’s a film in it. I’ll have to get that finished and processed. It’s unlikely to have any great ghost photos because if I suspected I’d caught something I’d have had that film processed straight away. Most likely it’s all inconsequential crap but it’ll be interesting to see what I once thought worth photographing.

It set me wondering. Several friends of mine take a few photos here and there. They’d load a camera with a 36-exposure film, take a couple of shots at Christmas and then put the camera aside. When that film finally makes it to the developers, it’s not unusual to find Christmas at the start, a few summer shots, another Christmas, someone’s wedding and finally Christmas again. Now, with digital cameras, this doesn’t happen so often but it was very, very common with film. Especially if someone received a complex camera at Christmas, read the manual, tried it out and then lost the manual and had to figure it all out every time they picked the thing up. If you don’t use a camera all the time it’s easy to forget how to set it up. If I took out those Zenit-B cameras now, I’d have to relearn how to use them.

So it’s common to find rolls of film covering timespans of years.

So what? Well, consider some of the common ghost photos that make the rounds. The Brown Lady and the Freddy Jackson photos can be definitely placed in time, almost to the minute. Others can’t. I’m thinking particularly of the one with someone’s mother-in-law in the back seat of the car. Was that really taken a short while after she died, or could it have been a short while before? What was on the rest of the roll? I wonder, did it have three different Christmases on it?

When I get this old film developed, will I be able to place each photo to the day it was taken? I doubt it. It’s been in that camera for a few years now. If there’s a photo of someone who’s now dead, will I be able to say with certainty whether that photo was taken before or after they died? No. So I’d have to assume ‘before’.

One photo from a roll of film is like one line of text from a book. Out of context, it can mean whatever you want it to mean. You need to see the whole roll and use the other photos to estimate the date of the one you’re interested in.

That’s another argument against digital. Digital photos aren’t set in order on a physical medium. Files can be renamed. The date stamp means nothing since many people don’t bother to set the time and date on the camera, and date stamps can be altered anyway. The numbers on a roll of negatives can’t.

It’s important to be able to examine the whole roll of film. One photo might show a ghost if it can be demonstrated that the photo was taken after that person died, but it’s all too easy to forget how long ago a particular photo was taken. Especially if it comes from a film in a rarely-used camera.

Keep those ghost pictures, but remember to keep all of the photos and the negatives for that film. This is important anyway but it’s absolutely vital if your photographic activities extend to less than a roll of film a year.

If you use only digital, none of this will help in the slightest. Ghost photos on digital are just too easy to fake, and too easy to break as evidence.

Keep those film cameras going.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lights, camera... where'd he go?

I've been looking for ghost pics that aren't the traditional centre-frame, facing-the-camera type since both SW and TGF brought the subject up.

They do exist. There are a couple in the collection on that have probable apparitions at the edge of the frame. One, taken in snow (took a while but I found it. Page 6, 'little girl lost', if that link fails) has what appears to be a woman trying to get out of shot before the picture is taken. Difficult to verify because of the weather.

Ghosthounds lets anyone join and upload photos so there are a lot of mistaken-identity shots there, but they have one or two worth closer scrutiny.

I think the reason you don't see too many of these is that they don't have the makings of a 'great photo'. The subject is off-centre, sometimes not even completely in shot. That sort of image doesn't make news. The ones that circulate are the centre-frame shots where a face is clearly visible. Photos like that are newsworthy, and that's the reason you see them all the time.

A couple of things struck me while browsing sites and reading the comments. First, why do so many of these ghosthunter groups seem to be in such vicious competition with each other? There is a serious element of 'It can't be a ghost picture because my team didn't take it and we're the best'.

It's not football. There is no league table. If there is, we're all at the same point on it. None of us have proof. Guys, you're not slapping down competition, you're attacking colleagues. That's not productive at all.

By all means point out mistakes. By all means expose deliberate frauds. Attacking everything you see isn't a scientific approach, it's a fundamentalist approach of the worst kind.

Yes, there are rank amateurs out there taking shots all over the place in the hope of catching something on film. You know what? They have as much chance as anyone else. Nobody can predict where or when a ghost will choose to show up in a form that can be photographed. The more happy snappers out there, the better the chance of a good photo. Encourage the amateurs. Some, at least, will go deeper into the subject and become more professional. They'll present fewer and fewer mistaken images as they develop. Telling them now that everything they do is crap can only have one outcome - one less camera searching for evidence. We need more, not less.

Secondly, orbs. Yes, the orbs are still out there. I've seen pages and pages attempting to justify these images, all failing dismally. Orbs are dust. Not talcum powder, not soil, not ash or smoke. Dust. Likewise, 'rods' are insects. All of them. Drop the orbs, please.

There was once a scientific concept of the 'aether'. This was postulated as an explanation of how light could move through a vaccuum or some such thing (it was long before I was born). Anyway, the 'aether' was supposed to permeate all space and act as the supporting matrix of the universe. It was finally proved to be wrong. Science dropped it and moved on.

When a theory is proved wrong, then it's proved wrong. Clinging to a dead theory doesn't make it true. Orbs have been demonstrated to have nothing to do with the paranormal. Demonstrated, redemonstrated, and demonstrated again. Orbs are bunk. Let it drop.

Holding on to the orb theory when everyone knows it's just dust does not improve the credibility of the subject as a whole. All it does is give the skeptics an easy handle to latch on to. Orbs were a nice theory, but orbs are dust. That theory is done. Stop trying to justify orb pictures. Move on.

What we need are identifiable images of definitely dead people. Images that don't match any existing pictures of those people so they can't have been overlaid with Photoshop. Images that cannot support any other explanation than that they are images of ghosts. Clear face shots, no less.

Orbs will never prove a thing. Even if they weren't dust, they'd still be no use. Mists can be explained away as breath or cigarette smoke, even where the photographer is utterly certain that's not the case. Mists won't prove anything.

Go for the apparition. Don't waste time with orbs.

The only way a photo will provide proof is if it contains an identifiable apparition. It's a tall order, I know, but there are already one or two out there. The Freddy Jackson photo is one of the best so far.

Filter your results, people, and only show the best. Keep the mists offline.

Bin the orbs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

When psychology goes bad.

This story is horrific. Its message is not confined to any one place or time, but it is part of an overall group mentality that wrongly convicts adults and damages children in terrible ways.

I poke fun at the politically correct, but they are in fact a serious and dangerous threat. Their rose-tinted view of the world is darkening to the colour of blood by the day.

In today's news, we are told that the government is concerned about Islamic terrorists warping the minds of college students. Psychologically, those minds are open to learning. It's why they're in college, and why most of them do well. Terrorists down the ages, of all types, have exploited the open minds of college students to their own advantage. The politically correct do the same. The politically correct are concerned that the government proposal 'targets muslims'. Well, where would you look for Islamic terrorists? In the chess club? The politically correct are more concerned that their own influence might be affected by this new proposal. They are not interested in rights, only in control.

I once worked with an Irish researcher. While here, he lived near the airport and because he was into exercise, he walked the perimeter of the airport several times a week. He took this route because it gave him no option to take an easy route back. Once on the route, there were no short cuts. He was frequently stopped by the police and questioned because he had an Irish accent. The guy had a doctorate and absolutely no interest in the activities of the IRA. Unfair? Of course it was. Yet it was understandable, since the IRA were the biggest threat at the time. He understood and shrugged it off. All he did about it was to be sure he carried identification when he took his walks. Eventually the police came to know him and left him alone.

Where were the 'Irish rights' brigades? There were none. The Irish didn't rampage through the streets and scream about victimisation. They got on with life. Could that be because the politically correct weren't there to stir them up?

College students are open to learning. What they learn, however, is up to those who teach them and who are responsible for them while they are in college. Political correctness should not be part of that curriculum. Students should be taught facts, not taught what to think.

I'm going to take political correctness more seriously in future. They use insidious psychological techniques, and they are the single greatest threat this world now faces.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fundamentalists head-to-head.

Looking for the oil-painting SW mentioned in comments two posts back, I came across this blog. It's a list of 'ten best ghost photos' but in serious need of updating.

Quick overview of the photos:

10. Brown lady - covered this previously. Not proved to be fake. Could be real.

9. Hampton Court ghost - this was shown to be fake some years ago.

8. Newby Church Monk - a thin, 9-foot monk wearing a 'Scream' mask. Oh dear, oh dear. Someone's not making too much of an effort here. Deliberate fake.

7. Bed-ridden boy. The boy is real, as in alive. Someone stood in front of the camera and blurred the image during the long exposure. You can even see his face! Fake, possibly deliberate, more likely someone messed up a photo and decided to have a laugh with it.

6. Freddy Jackson. Famous one, and still unexplained. Could be real.

5. Favourite chair. Dubious, but possibly real. Remember, double-exposures have been around as long as cameras. I have my doubts about this one. If he's still haunting the place and someone took another photo, I'd perk up.

4. Backseat driver. Famous one, and possibly real.

3. Tombstone. Well, it's easy to take a photo without realising someone's standing in the background. The photographer's attention is on the subject. It could just be another tourist wandering around. Doesn't look like a cowboy ghost to me. Dubious.

2. Sea ghosts. Interesting, since there were multiple witnesses, but once a story goes around a ship, well... Anyway, I'd like to see more of that photo than the grainy enlarged bit shown here.

1. The Wem ghost. Still unexplained and not proved fake. Possible.

Finally, the granny photo. Seen this a few times and it's interesting but I'm suspicious of anything taken after Photoshop-type programs were invented. It's too easy these days.

What's especially interesting about that page is the comments section. It seems largely split between two camps: the 'there is no such thing and you're all gullible idiots' camp, and the 'ghosts are definitely proven to be true' camps. Both camps are fundamentalist in their views. Neither is correct. Ghosts are real, and I speak as one who has met a few. Ghosts have definitely not been proven to be real, in any sense that science would accept. I declined to comment there, since I doubt I'd be very welcome in either of those groups.

Photos are not proof, but they could provide stronger evidence than they do. Take the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, or the ghost in the library (no. 5 above). If they are still in residence, it should be possible to photograph them again. Has anyone made any serious effort to try? Another image of the brown lady, in another part of the hall, would be strong evidence. As would another photo of the man in the chair - but they would have to look the same. It would have to be evident that it was the same person in both photos.

The sea ghosts, Freddy Jackson, the backseat driver and the Wem girl were one-offs at specific events. They are not likely to be repeatable. The Brown Lady should be.

The thing is, spending a lot of time at a single location takes funding, because you'd need to pay someone to keep on looking and pay to have bucket-loads of film developed. Funding for an unproven theory is hard to come by. Catch-22: Prove it, and you'll get all the funding you need, but you need funding to stand a good chance of getting the proof.

Well, those of us who work at this will attempt to find that proof anyway. Multiple cameras are a good option, and one I've taken to using. Cover the same scene from different angles with two or more cameras - it dispenses with refractions, dust, lens artefacts and all kinds of other distractions because they won't appear on both cameras at the same time and in the same place. Cameras such as the Canon EOS series have timers that will take a series of photos at set time intervals. Most video cameras can do this too. All of mine can. They tend to drift apart over time, so it's best to let the EOS (I have the 35mm film version, not digital) take its timed photos and click the other camera when you hear it go off. It's not that much of a chore, really. Lugging around all those extra tripods is the worst part.

Still, it's down to chance. An anomalous image must appear on both cameras simultaneously, in such a way that it must have existed in one place within the area covered by the cameras.

It could still be argued against, it could still have been faked, but it would be much more difficult to fake a pair of images like that. Maybe that won't convince all the skeptics but it's one step closer.

One step at a time. That's how it should be. Claiming that ghosts are 'proved' doesn't make it so. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of pictures haven't convinced the skeptics so more of the same won't either - especially since I have Paint Shop Pro and can conjure up a dozen fakes in an evening. An expert with that program could make better fakes, and faster. No, more of the same won't do. It's time to move on to multiple-camera images and three-dimensional coverage of the test area.

You also need a wide-angle camera covering the whole scene to show where your test cameras are located in relation to the image they captured. It can get expensive, although if you use film, you can get decent SLR's pretty cheap on Ebay and in second-hand shops. Video cameras too - if you use DV or VHS-C, those cameras are dirt cheap. You need new tapes for every investigation but hey, if you want proof you have to make sure there can be no errors. If you're filthy rich, get some of those hard-disk video cameras. I have one, and although it was expensive it has no running costs. No tapes to buy. Eventually I'll replace all my video cameras with those, but it'll take time. They're small and light but delicate and easily broken. All video cameras use digital imaging, so whether they record to tape or disk makes no difference.

For still images, stick with film. Digital photos are too easy to tamper with. I'm not saying anyone would do it, I'm saying everyone would be accused of it and it's impossible to prove you didn't. Use multiple cameras. Stay out of shot if you're using long exposures. I don't apply the 'no smoking' rule because I'm not interested in mists, ghostly or otherwise. Besides, if you don't want mists you have to apply a 'no breathing' rule. Mists are no good. I want identifiable images.

That, I think, has to be the next step. More of these single images won't convince anyone. An image shot from multiple angles won't convince everyone either, but it's a step closer. It would prove the image was really present as a three-dimensional object. It won't prove absolutely that it was a ghost, but it would prove there's something to investigate.

It would prove we're not making this stuff up. That would be a very big step.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Jumble of Time.

This week's New Scientist carries a fascinating article on the nature of time. Time, it seems, is not a requirement of a quantum-mechanical view of the universe. There doesn't need to be a 'flow of time' at all. This theory suggests that our perception of the passage of time derives not from an actual passage of time, but from the limitations of our senses.

In other words, Time doesn't flow in a linear progression. We see it that way because that's as much of it as we're capable of seeing. Time is not a line, it's more like a loose bundle of stuff. It can have knots in it, and bits can overlap.

What, you may wonder, are the practical applications of this? Well, for a start, since Time isn't the logical progression we think it is, it's no longer possible to be late for anything. Instead, we arrive at a different aspect of the stuff of time.

The theory does not, unfortunately, allow time travel. So scrap those Tardis plans, it's not happening. Not today anyway.

It can allow protrusions of images from past (and possibly future) events into other times. It might allow precognition, and it might allow us to 'see' random events from the past. There's no control we can currently apply to this, it depends on random chance - right bit of space, right bit of time sort of thing.

Unfortunately, even though this might allow precognition-type events, it does not allow for the construction of a controlled experiment to test those events since they happen at random. Unless someone experiences a precognitive event that tells them when another precognitive event is to occur, and to whom.

That's never happened as far as I know.

So it's an interesting theory to play with for now, and one that might be especially useful in the future.

Does anyone out there know when?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

See that straw? Grab it!

There are too many people out there who want to believe in ghosts to the extent that they’ll take absolutely any kind of ‘evidence’ and grab at it. Clutch it to themselves and wander around like Margaret, the Log Lady from Twin Peaks. ‘My evidence will have something to say…’

Orbs and rods are prime examples. These have been shown over and over (Oh, just think of a high number and imagine ‘over’ to the power of that number) to be nothing supernatural at all. Yet still they appear. The gullibility of the desperate knows no bounds.

Do ghosts exist? Yes. I’ve met them. Don’t believe me? I don’t care. I want to prove it. I can’t prove it. Until I can, please continue to disbelieve. It gives me the impetus to continue trying.

Well, it’s raining here. In a country where rain is a constant to the extent that nobody mentions it any more, that statement has special significance. So I’ve been virtual ghosthunting. Searching the internet for possible real ghost photos. It’s not rewarding work.

Here’s a site I found tonight that I haven’t seen before. Don’t read on. Look at the site, view the pictures and make up your own mind first.

What follows is my opinion of the pictures posted there. I stress that – my opinion. Is your opinion much the same or very different? I’d be interested to know.

Please. LOOK AT THE PICTURES BEFORE READING ON. Don’t let my opinions affect yours.


Photo 1. Deliberate fake. Double exposure. I made one of these when I was nine years old using a plastic toy camera with no control of shutter or aperture, a plastic lens and roll film. I had no tripod. I rested the camera on a concrete windowsill, my friend stood in shot for one exposure and left for the second. I’m sure I still have that photo in the attic somewhere. If I can find it I’ll post it. Easy. This photo proves nothing. I call deliberate fake on this one.

Photo 2. Possible. It would be much stronger if there was an identification of the woman and proof she was dead before the photo was taken. I wouldn’t dismiss this out of hand but I’d be very cautious. It could so easily have been faked. It could also have started life as an artistic image with no paranormal claims attached.

Photo 3. The Brown Lady. One of the most famous ghost photos out there. Two men (Shira and Provand) were photographing Raynham Hall. Shira saw something on the stair and told Provand, who saw nothing unusual, to take a picture. Shira insisted that witnesses were present while the plate was developed. In short, he did everything possible to ensure he couldn’t be accused of fakery. Still not proven to be faked, this is one of the best ghost photos ever.

Photo 4. Oh come on. The most blatant and awful fake I’ve ever seen. It’s a double exposure with the woman first sitting, then standing. Even quantum theory won’t allow a ghost to be in two places at once. The sitting legs look more solid than the rest because they are overlaid with the exposure of the standing legs and the bed in the background (check pillow height) has moved. Who could possibly be fooled by this? It’s not even a good nudie pic. Artistic? Maybe. Supernatural? Cobblers.

Photo 5. I don’t see a face. I see a flash reflection. Anyone see a face in there?

Photo 6. Breath or mist. Ghosts don’t fly. You don’t get super-powers when you die. Sorry.

Photo 7. (and the enlargement below it). Could be. Could also be a reflection. Can’t tell from the photo as it is. I’ll leave it as ‘possible’ for now. I’m especially concerned about the man whose head is out of shot. Which way is he facing (looking towards the mother and children would be my guess) and what does he look like? Something like the reflected image, maybe?

Photo 8. In fact photos 8-10. If you have long hair, tie it back before taking pictures and make sure there are no stray bits. These last three are all hair. Not deliberate fakes, but mistaken identities.

So I have two possibles out of those, and there are potential non-paranormal explanations for both. Not a great result. I don’t count the Brown Lady since that’s almost an icon and is reproduced everywhere. This one has been somewhat ‘enhanced’, the original was nowhere near as clear. That’s not a useful approach. Don’t do that.

Then again, if I had the Ultimate Ghost Photo, would I give it away for free on the internet? Not likely. I’d want it properly peer-reviewed, checked, double checked and checked all over again and my name stamped on it in indelible ink.

Then I’d post it on the internet. You can bet it won’t have an orb in it.

Don’t grab straws and hold them up as prizes. You’re not helping. Orbs are bunk. Rods are bunk. Concentrate, people, and look for the alternative explanation before you clutter up the serious investigations with all this crap. There is enough junk out there, please don’t add to it. Fake ghost photos are fun but please, please, make it clear you faked it for fun. The gullible will clutch at it, the sceptics will take it apart in seconds.

It’s a serious subject with enormous implications. Cranks aren’t useful.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I haven't visited anyone's blogs for weeks. I'll make an effort over the next few days. SW-I owe you Email.

But enough of that. It's rantin' time. I'm sitting here with a bottle of the Ardbeg and a pack of Henri Winterman's cigars and I've been watching Bill Hicks and Dennis Leary videos (if you've seen those two you know what's coming).

Both rail against the non-smoker. I think they're wrong. I have no problem with non-smokers, just like I have no problem with people who go to church on Sundays, synagogue on Saturdays or mosque on Fridays. I won't do those things but anyone who wants to is perfectly entitled to do so. I have no problem with people who think I'm a nut for chasing ghosts. Everyone has their own way to be, and should be allowed to be it. Within reason, naturally. Serial killer is not a valid career choice in my book.

What gets to me are the anti-smokers. Why are they so passionately anti-smoking? Well, they say it pollutes their air. Their air? Did they buy it all? That must have been expensive, and who the hell sold my share?

I'm a smoker. I refuse to walk along the main street of Aberdeen on a Saturday because the traffic fumes are choking. There's a chicken-gutting factory in Bucksburn that can make everyone within a five mile radius nauseous. One little cigar makes so much difference? Really?

Don't tell me I'm going to die for smoking and drinking alcohol. I'm going to die whether I do those things or not. So are you. As Dennis Leary puts it - Smoking takes years off your life, but they're the ones at the end. The wheelchair, Alzheimer's and adult nappy years. You can have them.

So I won't go to heaven. I wouldn't enjoy it anyway. None of my friends will be there. Besides, I have other plans. If I go to hell, at least I'll be able to get a light.

I don't force smoking on anyone. I have non-smoking friends and if I visit them I go outside to smoke. It's their house and they're entitled to have it smoke-free. If they visit me I'm going to smoke indoors. They know this and accept it. That's why they're friends. One exception - one friend has asthma. I don't smoke in the house if he visits.

Yet the anti-smokers won't have it. If one of them visits your house they expect you not to smoke there. They don't expect to land on their backside in the street. Surprise!

You can't smoke in a pub here. Pubs are full of people who drink copious amounts of alcohol. Usually to excess. Many don't remember going home. Yet if I smoke in there I'm damaging their health. Newsflash: health isn't high on the average pub-visitor's agenda. They're not into jogging and salad, these people. They're into beer, pies, oblivion and early death. Most of them will be dead before I am (that's why I hand out business cards). A whiff of second-hand smoke serves only to cover the stench of stale beer, clothes that have been slept in for a week, and urine, that emanates from many of them.

Not for much longer. Pubs are closing. Not struggling, closing. Some tried to put up covered areas for smokers outside. Guess what? They were classed as 'enclosed public spaces' and nobody could smoke in them. Smokers had to go outside the designated smoking area to smoke. The whining anti-everything brigade, who said smokers were ruining their nights out in the pub must surely be delighting in the new smoke-free environments. Nope. Turns out they don't go to pubs. So many pubs are empty. Wine bars are still going, but that's not for me. I'll leave those places to the whiners.

And another thing. 'Give up smoking and you'll get your sense of smell back'. I did that once, for a month, years ago. This planet stinks. Towns exude a reek that can only be described as stomach-churning. It was one of the reasons I started smoking again - that, and I decided I liked it.

Now there's a blitz on fat people. The smokers have been hammered, so it's chubby's turn. Who's next? They've already started on drivers.

There is an entire sub-population of miserable, self-important, disgusting anti-everything nematode-brained idiots who actively seek out things to be offended about. They have no tolerance, no capacity for thought, nothing in their lives but a constant nose-in-the-air attitude to all around them. They will not be happy until we are all identical, a sort of communist-China, Orwellian world of unthinking, obedient, mindless and utterly useless clones. Then they'll complain there's no originality any more.

Everyone else, everyone who does not share their somewhat-blurred vision, is subhuman and they spend their days discussing which of subhumanity's evils must be banished next.

If I can think of something new to offend them with, you can bet I'm going to do it.

If I was allowed to shoot them, I'd buy a gun.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

PC-free zone.

I've spent a long time looking through films and photos and...nothing. No Jacobite soldiers. That investigation was a dud. Well, most of them are so it's not a huge surprise. I can always try that spot again next year.

I was cheered up by this report though - perhaps the lunacy of the politically correct is finally being challenged? I hope so, and I hope to see more of this sort of thing.

Not because it means that offices, pubs and restaurants will become smoky places again. As a smoker, I prefer to eat in a smoke-free environment and although I do like a whisky and a cigar afterwards, I'm perfectly willing to do that in another room, or even outside. I don't work in an office now but when I did, we smokers were expected to go outside, and only during regular breaks. No problem.

It's because this employer is taking a stand against pressure from a minority - in this case, the non-smokers in his employment - and refusing to bow down to PC demands.

No doubt he's going to get a lot of hassle from people who don't work in the place, and never would, but I hope he stands his ground.

An example to us all.