Saturday, November 29, 2008

Too cold, even for me.

I like the cold. It's heat I can't stand, that and bright sunlight. If you turn the brightness and the contrast up to their fullest level on your TV, you'll get an idea of what the world looks like to me when the sun's out. You could stand right in front of me and I'd be hard pressed to make out your face. And you can forget sunbathing. A more tedious way to spend time I cannot imagine.

I see well at night, better than most. It's just the way my eyes are. Don't tell those doctors because I bet they'll try to 'fix it' - and since I like to spend most of my time wandering around at night, I really don't want that particular aspect of me meddled with at all.

(An aside - I visit opticians rarely. One of them left me in the waiting room for two hours, then called me in. He tested my eyes with a puffer thing which measures internal pressure. It was high, so he alarmed me with talk of glaucoma and insisted I go back once a year. Subsequent tests showed nothing. It wasn't until later that I thought that perhaps, having sat for two hours before he could be bothered to do his tests, the high pressure was probably universal throughout every part of me and was linked more to the frustration than anything else. Doctors? Pah.)

Anyway. I was planning to go out tonight to a remote church. It's partially ruined, I think it's fifteenth century but I have yet to check, and it has some fascinating carvings.

However, I scraped the ice off my car and found another layer of ice on the inside of the windscreen. Since there's no shelter out there, and since my fingers felt as though they might crack if I moved them, I decided maybe tonight wasn't the best choice. I have officially chickened out due to extreme cold.

Another time. It's been there for at least five hundred years. It's not going anywhere.

I really don't want to get that flu again.

Tears in rain.

I am fascinated by old manuscripts. I don't have any because they tend to be hideously expensive and anyway, they'd be no use to me - I have no skill with languages and not enough patience to learn them. Although some of those nights spent on fruitless investigations might have been used with a teach-yourself-ancient-Greek tape, I can't know if an investigation is going to be good or bad until it's over. So I can't spend the time with headphones on.

All the same, it intrigues me that something written on a scrap of papyrus can survive for thousands of years and still be legible. Those ancient civilisations might be gone now, but their writings are still here. There is a scrap of an ancient copy of the Gospel of John on sale, if anyone can scrape together the price. Dated to 200 AD. That's over 1800 years ago, and it's still readable. Pity it's only a fragment of one page.

It's sobering to realise that, when our time is over, all this Internet-based writing will vanish. Not a trace will survive because, unlike that scrap of papyrus, none of it actually exists. It's just a bunch of electrons jiggled temporarily into shape on your screen. When the computers fall silent, all such writing will be gone forever. As the replicant said at the end of 'Blade Runner' - " tears in rain".

We may think that our civilisation will last forever. I'm sure the Greeks and the Romans and the Etruscans and the Celts etc thought so too. How long do we have? Well, since today brings news that a member of Parliament, one of the opposition MP's, has been arrested, his office and home ransacked, and questioned for nine hours, maybe not that long. The government deny involvement. The charge appears to be that he embarrassed the government.

I think I'd better print this stuff, while I can.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


It sounds like an insult and is often used as such, but in fact it is the correct scientific term for the appearance of Down' s syndrome people.

Have you ever spent any time with such people? They are the nicest bunch of folk you could meet. Their world view is very simple. No deception, no double talk, no hidden messages. No messing around with trying to work out what they really mean, or what they think. They tell you straight. If they don't like you, they say so. If they do, they might try to hug you (a little disturbing, but honest, although they often have overdeveloped musculature so brace yourself). No, they are not all stupid. They aren't likely to be company directors but some are perfectly capable of living without meddling do-gooders getting in their way. The stupidity of 'normal' people who have no genetic excuse for it far outweighs theirs. At least they don't make you guess what they intend to do or say. They just come right out with it. I like them all. Effortless conversation is always good.

The numbers of Down's syndrome children is increasing. When pre-natal screening for the condition appeared, parents chose often to terminate a Down's child and I can see why. They were looked down on and regarded as less than human. They were different. Some needed considerable looking after. The do-gooders often took over the parent's and child's lives. So, many opted for termination. Now the number of Down's births is higher than before the screening.

Now, there is less stigma attached and more help available to those who think they need it. So the terminations are in decline.

However, Down's people are prone to a variety of other ailments, notably heart problems. It is a genetic malfunction and certainly not to be desired, if such a thing as choice were available in the situation. Which it isn't.

While I can agree that the birth of someone a little different should not be in any way discriminated against, I have to ask, based on that report...

Is it a cause for celebration that the number of genetically-damaged babies is on the increase?

It does make me wonder if something, perhaps something environmental, isn't right.

(I have never come across a ghost with Down's syndrome. I have no idea whether 'mental' disabilties in this life carry over to the next. Physical ones certainly don't.)

I knew it!

It always seemed to me that the only way to lose weight was to burn more calories than you consumed. Nothing else (other than disease or parasites) made sense, and even disease and parasites work the same way. More calories used than consumed overall.

So I have always been baffled by those who spend more on diet programmes when trying to lose weight. Considering the simple formula intake - expenditure = weight gain, surely if you're eating less, you save money? If you are trying to lose weight, you save more because your calories stored in body fat act like savings. No need to buy energy you're already carrying around.

In these days, of course, people like to sit in front of TV and watch drivel most of the time. How they can bear it I'll never know, but it seems popular. They think that by drinking some cement-based powder they'll magically lose weight. I always thought it was a con.

It's good to be proved right.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oh, this is too much.

It's really not my day at all. If my blood pressure gets any higher I'll have to get some leeches.

I came across this and thought I'd give it a go. The result?

Silhouette of a womanWe think is written by a woman (60%).

AAAAAGH! First I'm mad, now I'm a woman?

Can it get worse?

(I checked their stats on accuracy. They're about 50% accurate at the moment. In other words, guessing.)

It's enough to drive you mad.

The rage is building here. I just found some more 'disorders' online.

[Dyslexia] ...tends to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, but its effects can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counselling.

I know someone with dyslexia. We shared a lab during our PhD studies. He'd leave indecipherable notes. He's a professor, still in mainstream science, a head of department and (he likes to tell this with a laugh) did a stint as editor of a high-ranking journal. Just you try your 'counselling' on him. I'd pay to watch that.

Hyperlexia is characterised by an intense fascination with letters or numbers or, in younger people, an ability to read far beyond their age.

An ability to read far beyond their age. That's a disorder? Those with an intense fascination with letters or numbers are more likely to be budding mathematicians, or those who spend their lives interpreting Mayan symbols. They really want to cure that?

This one is the best.

[Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome], first described in the 1980s, is increasingly becoming recognised as part of the autism spectrum. The central difficulty for people with PDA is their avoidance of the everyday demands made by other people, due to their high anxiety levels when they feel that they are not in control.

If you don't like being ordered around, there's something wrong with you. In which case, sign me up for that one too.

Everyone is diagnosed with something now. Every one of us is mad and in need of counselling by smug, patronising, overbearing fools who need us all mad to keep themselves in a job. Everyone has to be exactly the same - if a child can read beyond the prescribed limits for their age, they are mad and must be corrected. Anyone who resists the 'demands of others' is mad and must be trained to obey. Deviate from the norm and they find a slot to put you in and make appointments and then phone when you don't show up, and then send letters when you shout at them down the phone. I expect to see a padded van soon.

Oh, now I have teeth marks in my keyboard. I bet they have a name for that too.

Defying diagnosis.

Psychology is one of those subjects that's borderline scientific. As a subject, it's becoming more 'hard science' because of the methods used, but so many practitioners have to rely on impressions and feelings they get from those they study that it's difficult to make it fully science. By that I mean hard-data no-question science, like chemistry or physics (although apparently physicists are currently debating whether time exists or not and wondering how long it'll take them to work it out. And they call me 'fringe!').

The paradox is that, if you look strictly at methodology, parapsychology is nearer to mainstream science than psychology, because no information based on feelings or impressions is ever going to get us anywhere. It's hard data or nothing.

Anyway. I went back into the psychology world briefly to look up this Asperger's thing. I have never read so much patronising drivel in all my life. What happened to being more scientific in approach? The whole autism-spectrum thing is overrun with well-meaning do-gooders who love nothing more than to pat people on the head and say 'there there, there's nothing wrong with you really but let us look after you anyway.'

No. I have looked after myself perfectly well so far and will continue to do so in exactly the same way as before.

Apparently one in a hundred, in the UK, are diagnosed with Asperger's. One in a hundred. And that's not the rest of the autism-spectrum, that's just the little sideline they call Asperger's. One in a hundred does not count as 'abnormal', not 'odd', not even 'eccentric'. One in a hundred who don't think and act like the others is normal, no matter what criteria you apply.

I have never had any part of my body pierced (apart from the incident with the drill, but that wasn't intentional. And I didn't adorn the wound with a gold dangly thing. I let it heal). I bet more than one in a hundred have holes in them somewhere and Christmas decorations hanging out of them. I find the idea of someone letting someone else punch a hole in them somewhat disturbing. Likewise, letting someone poke you repeatedly with a needle and then fill the holes with ink has no appeal. Those people need counselling. And yet they are regarded as normal.

I wonder if anyone has worked out how many in the UK work in science and science-based subjects? One in a hundred? Less than that, probably. I'll put money on the table and say there's going to be a huge overlap between the 'scientist' set and the 'Aspergers' set.

Because, as I found here:

To try and make the world less confusing, people with Asperger syndrome may have rules and rituals (ways of doing things) which they insist upon. Young children, for example, may insist on always walking the same way to school. In class, they may get upset if there is a sudden change to the timetable. People with Asperger syndrome often prefer to order their day to a set pattern. For example, if they work set hours, an unexpected delay to their journey to or from work can make them anxious or upset.

Every scientist I know is like this. Just replace 'anxious' with 'enraged' and we're all in there. We do not like our timetables messed with. We don't like interruptions and unexpected visitors. We don't like being late and we're not tolerant of others who are late. That's not a disorder. That's scientists.

Okay, I fit most of the criteria in there, I find it much easier to communicate through written means rather than speech and so on, I don't 'read minds' by watching the twitches and tics of body language, I do it through verbal cues. It's called cold reading and it's a cheat - I'll use it for demonstration purposes, never for real.

But I think almost every scientist out there would fit those criteria.

As for this:

In order to help a person with Asperger syndrome understand you, keep your sentences short - be clear and concise.

If you're planning on talking to me as if I'm a five-year-old, watch my hands. The moment anything appears in one or both of them, run. And don't run in a straight line. I'm a good shot.

I think that diagnosis should have been 'scientist'. There's nothing wrong with me (although I'll have to assume they were right about the cholesterol/diabetes/angina, just in case).

It's other people that are deranged. As I've always known.

More green stuff.

I have an idea.

The recycling industry has collapsed.

I planned to put a few steps in my garden but had nothing to fill the space under the steps unless I used good growing soil, and I won't.

So I plan to make a mould out of old tin cans and put it on my chimenea. Then, when it's good and hot, I'll drop in plastic bottles until the whole thing is full of melted plastic. Then leave it to set while I melt another lot. I'll need more than one mould but there are always more cans available.

That will give me a whole heap (eventually) of plastic bricks I can use to fill in the spaces under those steps. Plenty of time. I won't be gardening again for a few months. And they'll be free.

Why do the greenies never think of useful things? All they want to do is dump the stuff in China.

The coldest global warming ever.

Or maybe it's the hottest ice age. Outside it's snowing like there's a surplus in the snow stockroom and they're giving it away free. We've already had snow - in October - apparently on the same day our lunatic leaders were debating the best way to solve global warming (it seems the way to solve it is to tax us some more. That's the way everything gets solved here).

I looked around a bit and found that the whole global warming thing is based on some very dodgy science indeed. Its only purpose seems to be to act as an excuse for more tax. And since I have the heating still on at this hour, it's going to add up to a lot more tax. The colder it gets, the more fuel we all use and the more tax we all pay on it and all the while we're told it's getting warmer and it's all our fault and we should hang our shivering heads in shame.

I propose a National Punch-a-Greenie day.

Every day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Out of oblivion.

It was a mistake to visit the doctor.

I only had flu. Then I had penicillin allergy which meant they could play around more. After their poking, prodding, diagnosing and general meddling, I now have a whole raft of things. I have type 2 diabetes and angina and high cholesterol. I want that left alone. I paid for it. I have Aspergers (still working on the implications of that but it doesn't feel like any kind of problem at all. I think it's just something made up by interfering busybodies who insist on all this social interaction crap). I have a load of little brown bottles for this and that and I have appointments for 'help groups' full of self-pitying morons that I have no intention of keeping.

Apparently I have to tell someone where my pills are in case of emergency. Well, I'm telling the readers of this blog. Both of you. If you're looking for my pills, look in the local sewage farm. I flushed the lot. If they give me more I'll flush those too.

I have never felt so lethargic and generally apathetic in my life. Before I visited the doctor I felt okay, a bit of a cough sometimes, a general 'yeuk' sort of feeling now and then, occasional chest pains and tingling fingers but otherwise okay. Those pills turned me into a zombie. I could barely raise the energy to get out of bed some days.

I might not live as long but I plan to at least know it's happening.

I am back.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The home of ancient sky-watchers.

I took this at 4 pm. Half an hour later it was completely dark. The picture doesn't do justice to the glow in the clouds.
Sometimes, when you just kick back and look at the sky, it's easy to see why there are so many stone circles and intricately carved ancient monoliths around here.
It's cold here often, it's dark most of the winter, but I like it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crank call.

It occurs to me that investigators into the paranormal spend far too much time defending themselves from sceptics. I spent a lot of time arguing with one on this very blog, some time ago, and it ended as it always does. He didn't sway me and I didn't sway him. After all the words exchanged, neither of us changed our position at all. That particular sceptic was at least civil throughout the exchange. Most just sneer and call 'Crank', and that, as far as they are concerned, is that.

There are times when I'm sceptical. It's part of the deal. Investigating the paranormal does not mean accepting it all as unquestionable truth. If something is unquestionable then there's no point investigating.

I think all orb photos are dust and insects. On the other hand, corpse candles and the like have been seen for centuries, and digital cameras are only a decade or so old. So there are ghost lights but they are visible to the naked eye. If they're not, they're artefacts. That's my current stance on orbs. It can be changed if I'm convinced otherwise.

I think most, if not all, TV psychics are fakes. Again, it's just an opinion which I will revise if shown evidence to contradict it, but at the moment I don't believe any of them are real. Ghosts don't turn up on command, in sufficient numbers for a show and always related to those in the audience. It doesn't work like that. No TV psychic has ever had a show where no ghost showed up. That should happen once in a while. It never has. Never.

While I can agree that those who make a lot of money out of claimed abilities or claimed special knowledge should provide some proof that their claims are true (and that goes for the wealthy religious leaders out there too), there is no such obligation incumbent on me at the moment. I don't charge for investigations. They are for my own benefit more than anyone else's. The same goes for most investigative groups. If someone wants to donate, fine, some groups depend on donations, but I don't ask for money from anyone, ever. I have other sources of income. Not huge, but enough. The taxpayer does not pay my wages and nobody is entitled to tell me what I should or should not investigate. If I ever investigate for you, don't expect me to stay out of certain rooms or to have the decency to leave the attic, underfloor spaces or ventilation system alone. Anything denied my access becomes irresistible. I might not be the easiest to get along with but so far I've never been fooled by a fake ghost.

I know, for certain, that there are genuine ghosts. I've seen them. I can't show you one, I can't order one to appear to a sceptic to convince them. So I cannot prove what I have seen but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Worse, I cannot tell you where a ghost will definitely make an appearance, I can't tell you whether they are definitely the souls of dead people or demons or something from another dimension or anything definite. I can't tell you what they are made of, why they appear to some but not others at any particular time, why they never tell us anything important. I don't know.

Not knowing does not, to me, mean I should give it all up and get a 'real job'. Not knowing, to me, means I have to find out. I have to know. Maybe I never will but it won't be for want of trying. Maybe, even if I do one day know what comprises a ghost's form, I still won't be able to prove it. That's not so bad. I'll know, I can pass the information to others and someone else might find the proof. I'll have answered a question that bugs me and that's a good start.

There is so much unknown out there. We really can't waste time arguing with those who think we are cranks because unless and until we have solid proof, there is no way to win that argument. Even presented with proof, there will be those who refuse to believe it. There are still those who believe the Earth is flat, you know. Belief is unassailable. Science can't fight it and should not try.

Ignore the sceptics. Let them be. There is no point in fighting weaponless. Spend the time finding answers instead of in arguments we can't win at the moment.

If they call you a crank, revel in it. You're looking where many don't care to look. The fact that some want you to stop because they don't think it's worthwhile is their problem, not yours.

Keep working and ignore the background noise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ghosts and walls.

I've come over all philosophical this evening.

I was thinking about the ghosts who walk through walls, but who can't seem to leave a particular building. It doesn't add up. If they can walk through the wall then why can't they leave, even through an open doorway?

I don't mean the 'recording' types. Those don't involve any spiritual activity. There are no actual dead people in them, they are just a form of movie, replayed over and over. What triggers them, and what records them in the first place, I don't know but I'm still working on it. These recordings won't give any insight into any life-after-death information but think what you could do with it - rocks in your garden could project an image when someone walks by, if we only knew how to record and trigger playback. I've been thinking about those sorts of hauntings again because its nearly time to go back to that riverbank I visited last December. I hope the weather improves. Rain, gale force winds and temperatures even I have to admit are a bit chilly can be off-putting. Shaky camera images taken with numb fingers will impress nobody.

The recording-type phenomena always do the same thing and usually at a specific time of day or year. Footsteps heard climbing stairs that are no longer there, that sort of thing. They will pass through new walls or walk on floors that are at a different level to the current floor but they don't interact, and don't vary their actions. They aren't spirits of the dead any more than a video of Elvis contains his soul.

No, what I've been wondering about are those ghosts, the ones that (I think) are dead people, who seem to be trapped in a place but who can walk through walls within that place. I've said before that I think they can't walk through walls that existed when they were alive, but they can pass through new walls. But that still doesn't explain it. If the new wall is made of the same material as the old, then it's not a property of the material. Also, if a non-corporeal being can pass through a solid object, why some and not others, even when the objects are essentially the same?

So if it's not a property of the material object, it must be a property of the spirit.

Okay, here's a scenario and a theory. If there are holes, point them out.

You have a house. Someone dies in it. When he 'comes to' as a ghost, he sees the building as it is. He's only been dead a few minutes so nothing's changed. A year or two passes and new owners put in new partition walls. Let's say it's a historical building and the new owners have put in walls to the same specification, using the same materials, as the original partition walls.

Our ghost can't walk through the original walls but he can walk through the new partition. Why?

He has no material substance. No wall should pose a problem. Yet he is stopped by the original walls. Even if the building is demolished, he can't leave its boundaries. That seems to come up a lot, notably in places like Borley rectory and in a new English shopping centre built on the site of a previously haunted house.

The best I can come up with is that the ghost's inability to walk through those walls comes from himself. He believes the walls are real and cannot, or will not, violate his own reality. It might be that the reality he sees is a comfort to him, it might be that it is in the nature of the ghost to see that reality. Either way, he cannot pass through those walls, not because they present a real obstacle but because he believes they do.

The new wall is not an obstacle. It's not in his reality. It's possible he doesn't see it at all. It's possible that even if the house is demolished and new buildings put up, the ghost still sees the original as it was at the point of death and reacts to it in the same way as we react to the reality we see. The exception seems to be people - ghosts interact and therefore are aware of living people but their interactions make no sense unless they think they are still in their own homes. In that case, the living visitor is an uninvited guest. Perhaps they don't see us any more clearly than we see them, so their fright and occasional violent reactions would be understandable.

The test would be to take out one of the original walls and see whether the ghost can now pass through where it was. If the theory holds, he won't be able to because for him, it's still there. That does depend on getting a ghost to co-operate, which isn't going to be easy.

None of this explains why, since reports of ghosts opening interior doors are common, they don't just open the front door and leave. Or leave while someone else has that door open.

Perhaps it's too frightening outside. Perhaps they can't open the outer door because they think it's still locked. Perhaps, given the limitations of the human mind, their projected reality only extends so far. Perhaps, to them, there is nothing outside.

If only one of these ghosts would give answers that meant something, if only one of them would get into a conversation with us, we could answer some of these questions.

Then again, most investigations seem to concentrate on when, how, and who died. Not on what happened after.

Investigators should, perhaps, regard their questions as far more than just a confirmation tool. It's useless anyway - information that can't be verified can't be proof, and information that can be verified could have been looked up beforehand. It'll never sway a sceptic.

So ignore the sceptics and study the ghosts. Work on the mechanisms and let's find some kind of concensus on what's happening. As it is, every researcher has theories but we are all working alone. It's time to find some definitive common denominators between hauntings. Collect the information first, worry about the proof later.

With enough data, the proof might show up on its own.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

In the doldrums.

That illness has left me with a very lethargic attitude to life. It's wearing off, but there are many unreplied Emails and a few ignored messages here for which I must apologise.

The lack of any reports of paranormal activity have not helped: the news is full of bank crashes and impending doom, which doesn't help either, and any spare news space has been taken up with the election of a new President in the USA. I'm sure every American regards that as vital news, but whoever runs America is of only minor interest to me. We have enough political madmen of our own to worry about.

There was a gesture by a few, well, rather a lot of people, who got together and sent a copy of 1984 by George Orwell to every MP in Westminster. There are 646 of them. Two have replied with dismissive contempt on their blogs, 644 have made no comment at all. Oh, apparently the books were inscribed with something along the lines of 'This was not meant to be an instruction manual'. The press have not touched it. It's only there on the blogs.

Overall, then, with post-illness lethargy and living in a country that is overwhelmed with depression, I haven't been here much. However I have to do something to shake myself out of it or I'll end up like this.

So I'll do some more of the updated and improved version of 'Ghosthunting for the Sensible Investigator'. I planned a chapter for each item of equipment, how it can be put to good use and, in some cases, whether it's really any use at all. Time to dust off those files, I think.

Back soon. Well, sooner than last time, anyway.