Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The flying ghost.

I still say the tacky tabloid newspapers are the place to look for ghost stories that the seious papers won't touch, but this one is just too silly.

Yves Rossy has flown over the English channel on a jet wing - no mean feat and not without considerable personal risk. An historic act indeed.

Some idiot took a photo and was shocked to find a UFO following the flying man. The UFO is the same size and shape as M. Rossy and is clearly an internal reflection in the lens.

Genuine paranormal events are hard enough to spot as it is, without junk like this getting in the way.

Worse, Nick Pope, who claims to be an expert, seems to have been completely fooled. That doesn't help at all.

Sometimes I wish I'd been a train driver.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's how you tell it that counts.

The often bizarre world of the paranormal is quiet at the moment. People have no time to worry about things moving on their own or strange lights and sounds. There are much bigger concerns.

I have already been told (offline) that this proves the non-existence of the paranormal. If it were real, they argue, we would all see it all the time. My argument is that maybe you are seeing it all the time but your mind is occupied with other things, such as trying to budget for a life where prices are going up exponentially and incomes are not.

It all hinges on one thing, really. Can people's perceptions be twisted by a few distractions and some clever manipulation to the extent that they aren't sure what they are seeing, reading, or believing?

Here are two links. One is something we all need to worry about, the other is nothing to worry about at all.

Which is which?

First impressions, please. A little thought will make the difference clear but remember, most people don't apply such reasoning. Most will go with those first impressions.

Then, perhaps, think a little about your day. What do you remember of travelling to and from work? What happened at lunchtime? Who did you see? What were they wearing?

Memory and perception are nowhere near as good as we like to think. Just because you can't remember the colour of your boss's tie doesn't mean he wasn't wearing one.

Or does it?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The economy, with swearing.

I came across this in my internet wanderings tonight.

Be warned - if you're sensitive to strong language, this might not be for you.

Maybe Canada would be a better option. Or Australia.

Or Antarctica.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sometimes I wish I'd stayed ill...

It takes a while to get back into the swing of things. I'm scanning photos and listening to recordings from my outings earlier in the year. Nothing earth-shattering to report as yet. The recordings are hard work. Hours of night-time sounds coming through earphones are a sure way to get your attention to wander and a very good way to put yourself to sleep. There have been occasional perk-ups but the voice turns out to be me muttering something, the screams turn out to be a cat, or a cow in the distance. Storing up too much data and trying to go through it all afterwards is a very bad idea.

Then, yesterday, I had to go and buy a new keyboard because I sprayed coffee over mine.

Our country is involved in two wars against people who have never threatened us. The soldiers who are fighting those wars are underequipped and when they get home they are treated like dirt. That's not what cost me a keyboard.

We are in the middle of a financial crash that is going to go deep and hurt very hard. One of the worst-hit banks (HBOS) is where most of my money was stashed until I spent a few days moving it. The government have decided to fiddle with the world of finance, about which none of them know anything, and are making it much worse. That didn't cost me a keyboard either.

People are being arrested for littering and convicted in the absence of evidence, and they are denied the chance to prove they weren't even in the country at the time of the alleged 'offence'. Meanwhile, violent criminals are set free because the prisons are full of people who drop litter, overfill their bins and park in the wrong place. That nearly cost me a keyboard, but not quite.

Guns are banned, having a knife in your pocket on the street is banned, and yet gun and knife crime continue to rise. The youth are out of control and uneducated to the point where they know far more about drug use than they do about spelling. Electricity and gas prices rise by double-digit percentages every few months and the government insists on building inefficient windmills while the power stations are falling apart and all our nuclear energy generation is now owned by the French. None of those things cost me a keyboard.

What destroyed my keyboard was the news that, while the country crashes and burns around our ears, our government is spending its time wondering whether a catholic should be allowed to be the King or Queen of Britain.

It might well be an important question to some, and indeed I might weigh in with an argument or two at another time, but wouldn't you think that there are more pressing concerns than which church the Queen visits once a week?

What's it like in America, and does anyone over there have a spare room and an exceptionally tolerant attitude?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The smoking police.

As the pain in my throat subsides, the temptation to have just one cigar increases.

It's not so much addiction. I've been non-smoking (not by choice) for long enough to have flushed that away. It's more a case of... I like cigars.

There is also a definite element of sheer, perverse, bloody-minded disobedience involved.

Read this and tell me I am over reacting. If you say 'Yes, Romulus, you are over reacting' I will smack you one.

It's not just the patronising, officious, overbearing and dictatorial attitude of these people that has sent my blood pressure into dangerous territory. It's the appalling pseudoscience behind it.

I get told, all the time, that hunting for ghosts is pseudoscience. It is not. Hunting for ghosts with equipment that is not proven to find ghosts, and pretending to find evidence which is not evidence at all, is pseudoscience. Science is a method, not a subject of study. Any subject can be approached with either a scientific or a pseudoscientific approach. It is the approach, the experimental design, that determines whether the study is scientific or not. The subject of the study is not pseudoscience. The subject is not science at all. Science is only in the method of study.

In this case, our idiot government insist that smokers in the street must be shown how much carbon monoxide they inhale.

In. The. Street.

Where they will inhale traffic fumes full of carbon monoxide, as will the non-smokers. Non-smokers will not be tested. Only smokers who, in the street, are guaranteed to have carbon monoxide in their lungs. So will everyone else.

The experimental hypothesis here should be 'In a particular environment, the lungs of smokers will contain more carbon monoxide than those of non-smokers'.

The experimental method would be to test smokers and non-smokers equally within a street, within a limited time range. A balanced experiment where overall, there are equal numbers of smokers and non-smokers exposed to the same amount of street with the same average traffic flow. That will show whether there is a difference due to smoking.

Yet all they plan to do is to show smokers that they have carbon monoxide in their lungs and so drum up business for their anti-smoking classes. They plan to do this on the street so that every single test will definitely be positive. There is no control group.

You want pseudoscience? Look to the government. They are the experts in this, not researchers into subjects you don't happen to like.

I still can't smoke. Perhaps I won't, but things like this definitely won't help.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back and furious.

I missed all the furore about the Bigfoot corpse that turned out to be Urko from Planet of the Apes (that's who the photo reminded me of). Well, I didn't so much miss it as felt too ill to comment.

This one, however, I am perfectly well enough to rage at. You think universities and colleges are run by intelligent people?

Think again.

Who are these idiots, and why aren't they wearing tar and feather suits?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Not yet dead.

I've been ill. Nothing too deadly but seriously inconvenient.

It started with a cold which, it soon became clear, had ambition. It turned into flu. Not very serious but I couldn't stare at the screen so I stayed away from the computer. Since it refused to leave on its own, no matter how much whisky I poured over it, I broke the habit of a lifetime and went to see the doctor.

He was surprised to see me. Apparently he thought I might have died years ago.

Anyway, he gave me antibiotics, Now, I have just enough knowledge of that subject to be dangerous, gleaned from hanging around with microbiologists in universities. I knew that antibiotics had no effect on viruses. I knew I had a virus. So I didn't take them.

What I didn't know (but do now) is that the antibiotics have another purpose. They prevent secondary bacterial infections moving in where the virus has left a mess. Naturally, the bacteria took note of my reluctance to take pills and swiftly moved in.

After much head-shaking by the doctor, I relented and took the antibiotics. It was at that point I discovered I am allergic to penicillin. So the medication made me worse. It was small comfort to point out to the doctor that I had been right not to take them after all.

I'm almost back to normal now. I'll catch up with messages over the next few days.