Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Wild Things... They Don't Tell Us!

Reg Presley is best known as The Troggs vocalist. In 1990, aged 50, he did something that changed his life forever. Most 50-year-old rock stars buy a big motorbike, take lots of drugs and go around sleeping with young models (Maybe Reg does those things too! I don't know!), but Reg walked into a Crop Circle. The famous first pictogram at East Field, Wiltshire. The book's title is a reference to The Troggs' 1965 smash hit Wild Thing.

This is a sweet story by an aimiable-sounding character. It shows an innocent yet deep and profound wisdom. Itr contains a lot of new information to me about White Powder Gold and a mysterious mass-premonition about a major fire at a chemical plant. Reg, and many other people, saw it on a news flash at 1pm when the fire happened at 5pm!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The World's First Recorded Sounds

See: http://www.firstsounds.org/

These are sounds recorded by the French scientist Eduard Leon-Scott de Martinville. They were made in 1859 a full 20 years before sound recording was officially invented by Thomas Edison. The amazing thing is that these recorded sounds were not recorded for the purposes of letting people hear them played back; the objective was simply to see what the sound waves looked like when scratched onto paper. There was no way to play them back at the time and the inventor of the “phonautograph” didn’t intend to do so. But then in 2008 somebody had the bright idea of designing a computer program that could adapt the etchings on the phonautograph logs into a soundtrack! As a result we can now hear the recordings made!

You can hear a recognizable yet indistinct man’s voice, de Martinville himself, singing a musical major scale and then chanting the famous French folk song Au Clair de La Lune. There are also other recordings, of a train in New York and a speeded-up version of the song. Listening to these soundtracks gives me a very strange feeling. We’re hearing sounds that were first emitted as audio waves over 150 years ago, long before we were supposed to be able to hear them. It’s a kind of audio-fossil.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Gurkha Beheads a Taliban

See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1296136/As-Gurkha-disciplined-beheading-Taliban-Thank-God-side.html

A lot of the media have been in uproar over the actions of a member of the British Gurkha Rifles regiment in Afghanistan. He apprently cut off the head of a Taliban suspect. Surely shooting his guts out would have been far more humane!

Personally I don't see what all the fuss is about. Once you've made the decision to invade a country and blow people up so some oil company can build a pipeline through their village then it's hypocritical to shilly-shally about it. Either go in there and mow the subhuman scum down like cockroaches or decide that such a war is imoral and go home!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Burn a Koran Day

On Saturday it was September the 11th 2010, the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Revd Terry Jones (After he finished Monty Python!) says we should all burn Korans on every September the 11th. This sounds to me like another provocation tactic like those Danish cartoons. Also it serves to refucus the public on the "real" issues involved: The Muslims did the 9/11 attacks and it was not a govt conspiracy... just in case we've forgotten!
It it really sacrilege to burn the Koran? Well, yes. But only because it's sacrilege to burn any book. Books are objects of beauty and wonder, the hallmark of civilization. To burn books is the cypher of barbarism and tyanny.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Oxford Skeptics in The Pub 7/9/10

Background articles: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2009/03/bad-science-by-ben-goldacre_25.html
And: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/09/skeptic-in-pub-15908.html

On Tuesday night I went to my first Oxford Skeptics in the Pub (http://oxford.skepticsinthepub.org/). Itr's run by a bloke called Andy. The speaker was the "Skeptical activist" Simon Perry, see: http://adventuresinnonsense.blogspot.com/ . He spends his time reporting psychics and alternative medicine practitioners to Trading Standards.
I went undercover this time (The only time I'll be able to do this because Droike, a long-term HPANWO Forum member, is about to shop me to them ), and luckily nobody was there from the London ones who'd recognize me. I asked a question at the Q&A session. I firstly "congratulated" Simon for infiltrating psychic surgeries and Spiritualist Churches, but said: "Have you ever thought about infiltrating the Arthur Findlay College or Canol Hafarn y Coed, where these psychics train?" He replied: "I might well do, and I'll sue them if I'm not psychic by the end of the course." Sadly he missed the sarcasm and irony of my question. He was supposed to say "Why?" then I'd have said: "Because I want to know when they pull students to one side and say: 'Look, this is all a load of crap really, but this is what you have to do.'; and then lead them to the secret passageway from the meditation room to the secret classroom where they teach you cold reading!"

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Piranhas are NOT Dangerous!

Well, not very. They have been known to attack humans and can give a swimmer a nasty bite, but the idea that they will come at you in droves and reduce you to a skeleton in ten minutes is a complete myth. There are thousands of other fish species that deserve a dangerous reputation more than the piranha

This film is currently in the cinemas: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0464154/ . I've not seen it and have no intention to because it looks rubbish. It's actually the most recent in a whole series of remakes, varying in obscurity, of an original horror B-movie from 1978 by Joe Dante (Explorers, Universal Soldier etc).

The myth of Piranha's nature dates back to the 1940's when Theodore Roosevent mentions them in a speech. It was just a brief aside, an anecdote, however one of the people listening to the speech was an author called Willard Price. The idea of the Piranha being a horrific man-eater captured his imagination and he incorporated them into his 1949 book Amazon Adventure in which there's a scene where they attack an aligator and strip its entire body in minutes leaving only a pile of bones that the author compares to dinosaur fossils. Then more stories and TV shows followed on from Price's vision and in 1978 the first horror movie of the Piranha franchise was produced. The piranha myth had gone viral!

Piranhas are actually quite timid fish that school together only for protection and hunt in small groups. They rarely attack anything bigger than themselves and prefer carrion; in fact they're known as "aquatic vultures". I saw one in an aquarium once as a child and was awed by the sign on the side which said: "DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND IN THE WATER. I had this image that if I put my hand in only bones would come out! No, the truth is that it might just bite me; they have sharp teeth and powerful jaws, and this was the reason for the sign.

I wonder how many other concepts that everyone assumes is real are not. Ian R Crane talks about the "pseudo-myths"; notions that are generally thought of as true, yet not observed to be true. They are false, but are not labelled with the word "myth" and all it's negative connotations.