As usual I am utterly broke, so the exciting new feature this week on the blog is – a DONATE button! It’s OK, don’t feel obliged, and I can’t imagine anyone will really want to financially support my blog (or me) but it’s always nice to give people the option, just in case. So if you cribbed your entire essay off my site for a homework assignment, then feel free to express your appreciation! In fact if one in a thousand visitors gave a pound, I’d have thirty quid now and be very happy indeed instead of deeply worried about how I’m going to eat next week!
So what goes on in my world? I’m actually quite busy – Becky is down to visit for a few days tonight, and I am very glad as an unexpected bank charge, just as mysterious as the last set, has cleared me out and i am now flat broke. I will get to the bottom of it and as before get it refunded, but it’s deeply frustrating as you can imagine.
On a happier note (which is not to say that Becky’s visit is not a happy note!) the new Rationalskepticism.org forum appears to be going well — I have stepped down as a moderator now that it is established, simply because of time pressures — and Richard Dawkins has apologised for the forum meltdown and a further update has been published by his admins.
All is well that ends well, I guess.
Despite having no money I have had quite a good week, and expect I will find time to write some more soon. I have been quite busy with various SPR related activities, and a friend has asked me to conduct some experiments on a psychometry claimant – should be interesting!
Sorry to have little to report: the old financial blues mean i have to spend even more time seeking paid employment, and less messing about on the internet. Still I’ll get there!
all the best
A brief post for me, but a very important one. I know (from emails and comments) that a large number of ex-Richarddawkins.net forum members are passing this way in search of information. After a few days of gracious hosting from Rationalia.com and Thinking Aloud Forum, we now have a new forum of our own — Rationalskepticism.org
I am a mod over there (yes a Christian mod on a sceptic site!) and would like to take this opportunity to invite any of my readers, atheist, agnostic or religious, and anyone who enjoys good debate and good company to come join us there. It’s been a hectic few days, and I am still recovering — the British media have taken up the story, but I’m happy to move on and make something new. (I also have ghosthunting forum - email me if interested in such matters)
Thanks for reading! I really must move on to other topics soon. For very intelligent commentary on the affair (saying things I as a theist dare not!) from an atheist activist perspective do see Gurdur’s blog at Heathenhub.
I have something extraordinary and positive ot report at last.
Search is now working on RD.net, and those of us not deleted can retrieve our posts laborious a sit might be for our personal usage.
A sincere thank you to Josh and Richard for this.
So, the anger and outrage about recent events at RichardDawkins.net continues unabated. I think it’s two days now since I jokingly posted a thread at Rationalia.com called “In Praise of Josh Timonen”, the rather feeble joke being that I could not find anything to say.
Well now I have, so I’ll say it. I have never met Josh, and i have no idea who he is., apart from Richard Dawkins dedicated book to him I’m sure he is lovely, kind and well meaning. He has on this occasion shown a VERY sick sense of humour, rickrolling people trying to back up the database of posts. He has acted incredibly poorly in his dismissal of the forum mods after repeated assurances they would be consulted on the new forum: utterly bastardly in fact.
I don’t think however he has horns and a tail, and even though I disagree violently with him and Richard Dawkins, deplore the petty deletion of millions of words of admins posts, and the clunky mishandling of this whole mess, it’s nothing personal. I feel outrage just like Richard, but I also feel gratitude to Josh and Richard for all the years of good times, the fun on the forum, and the fact we had the forum for so long.
No I’m not going back. I have had enough, and I will now go find other things to do, where comment is free, and I do not need to be moderated in some authoritarian comment system – because i enjoy, indeed love the anarchy of web discussions. I’m a populist, not an elitist, and I have no time for people telling me what to believe or what to think. I hold Dawkins and Josh entirely responsible, both of them, for this bad management decision and the outrage stirred up – and as a long term participant on the forum I know that ut was filled with good, rational friendly folks (a few loonie fundie atheists who gave me much grief ) – but on the whole they were great, sensible people, and i really liked and admired them.
But Josh is not the devil, he is a bloke with a job to do, who like many a manager made bad choices and walked roughshod over the backs of loyal employees who deserved better – he is human and made a mistake. And so is Richard - human being, fallible, loyal to his mate, and at the end of the day an egotistical selfish muppet as we all are – hin short he is human. The irony of this all is rather disturbing – no angels, no demons, just humans being human.
A lot of commentators on the web have made reference to how Russian peasants before the Revolution reputedly believed that if the ‘Little Father’, the Czar knew what was going on, everything would be just fine. The Czar was invested with godlike benevolence, and could do no wrong in the eyes of those subjects (May be a historical myth of course, no idea!)
Many still believe Richard did not intend events ot pan out as they did, and lays the blame squarely on Josh Timonen and Andrew Chalkely, the forum administrators (who were reduced to the pathetic joke of rickrolling people trying to make back ups.) I find this touchingly close to religious faith in RD’s benevolence. I think RD has clearly posted his opinions, his support for Josh, and to claim that he is misled is a peculiar kind of wishful thinking, that vilifies Timonen to no avail.
Angels and Demons…
In many ways they have done a good job under difficult circumstances. But we are revamping the whole site. It is going to be very wonderful when it is done. Part of that is going to consist of taking more control of the forum which will be called the discussion section. We cannot stop anonymous comments.’ (Richard Dawkins)
Dawkins knew, Josh knew. They cocked up, hurt people, an Richard downplays the mess as a “storm in a tea cup”.
How terribly human. But for all the good times, here is to Josh and Richard! They are crap, but so are we at times – and they have misrepresented events, but we still owe them a debt of gratitude for the good times we shared on their forum in the past. It still stinks: but I’m a forgiving chap.
And to all my mates from the forum, onwards and upwards lads!
Remember, no angels, no demons, just humans being human…
(Title nicked from brilliant Twitter post by someone, mentioned on Rationalia.com The image is by Gurdur)
OK, OK, I know I said I would not write on this tedious topic any more. But the despondency of this morning at seeing a lot of hurt unhappy people and musing over ‘rationalist’ websites ability to explode has no turned to mild good humoured amusement. Richard Dawkins managed to cheer me up – not because I agree with him or anything he says on this topic; completely the opposite — but because it was good old bellicose belligerent Dawkins coming out fighting, and because now we know not to blame Josh. PZ Myers has washed his hands of the matter, not wanting to get dragged in, but Richard Dawkins has now posted on his forum (shame nobody else can!) You can read his modest opinions on there…
A Message from Richard Dawkins about the website updates
Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale, from anonymous commenters on a website. Suppose you found yourself described as an “utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.” Or suppose that somebody on the same website expressed a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat. Also to “trip you up and kick you in the guts.” And imagine seeing your face described, again by an anonymous poster, as “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.” (More there…)
All of the quotes he ascribes to posters are not from the few minutes between the letter being posted and the locking of the forum – they are all from Rationalia.com I can’t get on rationalia at the moment – the server is overloaded, but you can see there a discussion of how each quote was originally framed, and I note that many of them applied to Josh the administrator, not Richard. I’m not apologising – I never said any of those things.
Richard says in Ruth’s piece
‘I do think that the cloak of anonymity under which so many posters on the internet hide does encourage a culture of rudeness and extreme language which people would never indulge in if they were writing under their own name. I think anonymity does have bad consequences and we see them all the time. On the other hand, there are times when people genuinely need to be confidential. So I can see why, for example, people in America who lost their faith and do not want their families to know, or perhaps more seriously, people of an Islamic background who have lost their faith or become Christian, have every reason to be anonymous. But the culture of anonymity whereby the default expectation is anonymity does encourage rudeness.’
Welcome to Earth: Our Home — The Board Game!
For 2-4 players, ages 8+
For the contest this month I decided to do something a bit different, and so I have designed a board game. If you are brave enough you can print it out and play it, and if you do please tell me how it went! Feel free to modify or improve it as you see fit.
You can now download the components at (including much smaller and easier to printversions – read the text file first!)
You can see the board, counters and some of the cards here on this article, but if you want to print and play the game, and I really hope you will, then you will find it easier to download the printer friendly zip files and print the files in there which are configured for A4 card or paper.
What’s it about?
The game covers the development of life on Earth from the Cambrian era – c.500 million years ago, with the last turn representing he arrival of the first hominids – Homo Erectus and friends – about 1 million years ago. Even the most fanatical board game player will be pleased to hear that each turn is not a million years! Instead of 500 turns, game play is divided in to five EPOCHS – each epoch covering a lengthy period of Earth’s history.
So what do you do in it?
Well the problem with any game based on evolution is that the process is rather blind and to some extent random – and there is absolutely no guarantee that if we re-ran the tape of Earth’s history we would have human beings here now reading my writing, or indeed any recognisable species, or perhaps any life at all. So in this game we take the viewpoint in each epoch of a GENUS*, a set of beasties related to one another by descent, competing to adapt to and survive (and proliferate). Each turn you lay down 18 counters representing your current SPECIES on the map of the world, trying to control HABITATS. Of course its not just a matter of your species happily filling up these habitats. Other species probably want them too – each habitat can only support three counters (with one exception we will come to later). Given that other players are controlling the other species, and might well be fiercer, hungrier or just plain bigger than your species — well bad things will happen. If a habitat gets too popular, and hence overpopulated, bad things happen.
Only the species which is best adapted to life in that area is likely to survive, and many of your beasties will die: in the worst case some of your species may even go extinct, potentially removing you from the game, and certainly meaning you will have to explore other avenues of evolution. In fact given the constant struggle for resources, it may be that your species will have to kill off its relatives (from the same genus, but earlier epochs)just to find space to survive.
Survival of the Fittest
So how do your beasties take over habitats and make sure they don’t die out? By being better adapted to their habitats than their competitors, and that comes down to random luck to some extent – little bundles of chemical information called GENES. Each epoch your species gains new genes – and develops, becoming more effective at taking over territory. Unfortunately you don’t control what new abilities nature grants you – you just pick a gene card, and your new species counters get that added ability, as well as all the ones they have from their ancestors (your previous species).
As you add gene cards at random to your species however where they might prosper and the best strategy for which habitats to try an colonise will shift, causing you to make tough decisions. Not decisions about which genes you get – you can’t control that – but about how your beasties can make best use of the genetic heritage they have to prosper and survive.
You should firstly print off the big colourful game board. If you are short on ink, printing 16 pages of A4 (or whatever) and taping them together strikes you as hell, or you otherwise can’t print the map, it’s fine to just draw it on a big bit of card or a wall, so long as you get ti to look roughly the same in terms of areas. Take a look at the board: you will notice it shows two views of planet Earth from space.
The board for “Earth: Our Home” the game: a larger version is included in the zip file, you will need it to play.
Part of the globe is not shown: it’s the Pacific Ocean, and mainly sea, so in this game it’s represented by the little rectangular box labelled “Pacific Ocean”! As you can see the board is divided in to hexagons, some complete, some partial, which represent HABITATS. Some partial ‘hexes’ are too small to be bothered putting counters on so we ignore them, but most of them have one of three symbols – a water drop for a MARINE habitat (the sea!), a palm tree for a TROPICAL habitat and a pine tree for a TEMPERATE habitat. Temperate and Tropical habitats are LAND: marine habitats are, unsurprisingly enough, SEA.
Now take a closer look at the board. Earth is a funny old place, so to handle movement some zones are marked with a letter. A and A, see two of them? B and B? C and C? D & D? The two bits marked with the same letter are the same habitat: all the rules apply as normal (no more than three beasties in each, and so forth). Living on a globe plays hell with inventing rules for “movement”. The Pacific is a huge area where 11 counters can peacefully co-exist – enter from any region marked with a P adjacent.
The counters for Earth: Our Home board game: download the zip file to get printer friendly ones at the right scale.
Next up you should see counters: 100 for each genus, divided in to 5 species representing something about the type of life forms involved. Don’t take them literally – your creature in epoch one lives in the sea, and may well be a fish, but not a modern one, and the frog on the epoch two counter just means your species then is an amphibian, and can go on land. Epoch Three shows an Allosaur, but you might be anything, and Epoch 4 is just a mammoth for the age of mammals – but maybe on ‘your earth’ the dinosaurs never died out, and really it’s a big lizard. Use your imagination, and describe what your species looks like to the other players. That last little man is a Homo Erectus by the way. Still maybe your final species look like super-intelligent jellyfish, or lizardmen, or big birds, or… anyway you get the picture, it’s just an illustration. Now you will need to print the counters off: you use 18 of each species on the map, one is a spare, and one you place on your genes cards – more of which later. Stick them on coins, mount them on card, whatever works for you. You play them to the board by piling them in the appropriate habitat.
Finally there are 32 gene cards. There are four types of gene card, distinguished by the letters A, B, C, & D (in reality we would have the letters A, C, G & T for adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, but I was worried someone might take this too literally.) They are so important they get their own bit of the rules (see below).
At the beginning of each epoch comes the MUTATION PHASE. Random variations in offspring born have led to a development in your species: on turn one it will effect your little fishies. So shuffle the genes, and randomly deal each player a gene card, which they put face up in front of them with a spare counter of the current species on. So if it’s turn one, and you get an “A gene”, put the A card in front of you with your spare fish counter on it.
What do they do? Well an A card gives your beastie a +2 in SURVIVAL CONTESTS in temperate habitats, and represents some kind of adaptation (big teeth, camouflage, better brain, improved senses) which give it a big advantage in that type of habitat. A B card does exactly the same in Temperate climates. C & D cards do something similar – they reflect a new adaptation that works well in ANY environment, but if you happen to have the symbol in the corner, say you are playing blue square genus and you get the blue square C, well sheer random luck means it happens to be a very powerful adaptation, worth +2 in ay environment. (Really big teeth, or squirrelly reflexes – at first sign of danger you grab your nuts and run?) No having an A or B gene in Epoch One, when everyone is confined to Marine habitats is pretty useless.
However unlike in individuals today, genes can’t do you any harm: you are a species, only the members with good genes get to mate with the lady or gent beasties as much and have lots of little beasties, so no need to worry about poor genes.
Those fishy genes which only work on land areas (A or B cards) will come in to their own later, because when you take your new species, it draws new card, and adds that to the existing one. Any remaining members of the former species on the board don’t get the advantage of the new gene – only the latest species, but it gets both. So your Epoch 5 creatures will have the advantage of ALL 5 genes (assuming nothing terrible has happened along the way). So ok, they give you +1, or +2, in either certain habitats or anywhere.Why does this matter? Because you add up these bonuses to work out your species counters CONFLICT VALUE. A creature in a temperate environment with genes A, A, C (but no their symbol) gets 2 +2 +1 = 5. Their conflict value is 5. It’s not about fighting: it’s about how well adapted you are to your environment.
Gene cards: You need the A,D and B ones as well to play. Download or message me for a copy – it’s free
GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY
Firstly, if it’s not the first turn, choose one of your counters to mutate. Take it off the board, and replace it with a counter of your new species that has evolved out of the old one. In the first turn you just plonk your six counters down. Each turn after drawing your mutation each player plays counters to the board, representing their species going forth, multiplying, and slowly filling up habitats. In each turn someone is first player, and they MUST PLAY SIX COUNTERS (well five including the one that ‘evolved’ ) ONE AT A TIME to habitats adjacent to that species. You can put up to three counters in any one habitat, or spread out thinly, up to you, but each habitat you enter must be adjacent to, or the same as, a habitat you already have a counter of this species in.
Note species: if you are putting Mammoth counters down they must be adjacent to an existing Mammoth counter, not another older counter of your colour(they may be in the same habitat, and that’s fine, though) Once you have put six counters down, the player to you left plays six counters exactly the same way round their newly evolved species. .After there turn, the next player, and so on till it’s your turn again. You don’t start a new Epoch, you just play your second six counters, and when your turn comes round again your third six, so now hopefully (but not necessarily) you have 18 counters on the board.
In Epoch One your beasties must stay in the sea: In Epoch 2 they can go on sea or land, being amphibians, from Epoch 3 only land zones are used.
You have to play all your counters, and once played to the board they never move. Soon you will start to run out of space in habitats, as your giant horned bunnies or whatever eat all the Jurassic cabbage. No habitat (except the Pacific Ocean: it can hold 11) can ever have more than 3 counters of any colour in it.
If at any point, a fourth counter is placed there (or a 12th in the pacific) something has to give, and someone has to die. So who wins out? The better adapted species of course! Add up the CONFLICT VALUE based on your genes for the species counters in that habitat. Which ever species has the lowest value, remove one of their counters. Then continue: if you play another counter there (presumably because your opponents counter got removed not yours) you do it again immediately – remove on of theirs, add one of yours. If yours (or if two opponents are in the spare there) Survival Values are equal, then comes the tragic bit: both remove a counter; Still the habitat has space now for you to play another counter in., even if you lost one.
Note it is the absolute survival value: that matters: you DO NOT multiply the conflict value by the number of counters in that habitat, so if player A has SV 4 for their mammoth, and your hominid has SV 5, but they have two mammoths, doesn’t make any difference 5 beats 4. In human warfare God is on the side of the big battalions, but in this game it’s not really about warfare: it’s about outbreeding, out eating, out thinking and out living your opponents species.
Counters removed are out of the game: you don’t get to play them again.
As soon as you lay your 18th counter on each Epoch, but before the next player takes their go, you need to see how your species is doing. You DO NOT score any points for earlier species of your genus, so killing off your own counters is fine and dandy: eat your ancestors! For every habitat you have a counter of the current species in , even if shared with another players species, you gain points; 2 points for each Land habitat (tropical or temperate), one point for each Marine Habitat. Everyone can ask everyone’s scores at any point: it’s open information.
The first player card– Adam & Eve frightened by a blue butterfly.
If your former species from a previous Epoch vanishes it’s sad but has no game effect. If your current species fails to make it, that’s a bit more serious. The most likely scenario is that having played some of your species counters other players kill them off before you can get all 18 down: it’s no big deal. Flip over one of your predecessor species, discard your species gene and draw a new one, and lose 5 points off your score. It happens. Another form of your species evolves and continues, except you might not have many of them. If your species is completely wiped out, you do not get to evolve at the beginning of the new Epoch though. You play Mammoths (or whatever) again while the others move on to hominids. Your points are halved now.
WINNING THE GAME
At the VERY end of Epoch 5 everyone indulges in a last round of point scoring, in addition to the one at the end of their turn. Every habitat, land or sea, that they have their (hominid) species in grants 1 additional point. Add to existing scores, and the person with the most wins! If you never evolved to hominid counters you don’t get these bonus points.
* I tried to design a gene viewpoint game, but it was not as attractive visually sadly, nor as readily linked to “Earth Our Home”. It may well appear on the Richard Dawkins forum in the future though if I get it to work.
While I don’t have as much free time as I would like these days, the forum at http://forum.richarddawkins.net/ remains one of my favourite places to hang out on the net, along with the JREF forum and UK Skeptics. My beliefs are of course very different to the majority of posters in these places, which makes it all the more fun.
Anyway got a message this morning, it seems that the RD forum has a new monthly science writing competition, which seems very apt, and a move which I applaud heartily. The rewards for winning are intangible – but I am sure the competition will be fierce. If I had any science writing skills I might try, and to be honest if any month the topic is on an area I am familiar with I might try anyway.
To quote Mazille from the forum
The Monthly RDF Science Writing Award
We have a lot of professional scientists and very well-versed laymen on the forum and so we decided to make use of those formidable intellectual resources. We challenge you to write an article about a specific topic – which will be revealed later on – and enter it into a competition for “The Monthly RDF Science Writing Award”!
Every month we will give you the opportunity to take part in this competition. The goal is to write the best article covering a scientific topic of your choice – although with certain restraints. For each round of the competition we will set a general topic (e.g. “Our Solar System”, or “The Subatomic World”), from which you can choose any field of interest to write about. After we have announced the general topic of a new round, competitors will have three weeks time to write their articles and enter them in the competition and after those three weeks users will have another week to vote for the best scientific article.
Hopefully some of the readers of my blog will be interested enough to register at RD.net if the have not already, and enter. Full details of the competition can be found here.
This is the aspect of Dawkins I really like – his science writing, not the dubious atheistic arguments. Anyway a great idea, and I hope it succeeds well!
Just glanced at the hits counter on the blog and it has reached 5,000 visits to the blog. When I hit 2,000 we had a celebration of sorts – so I guess 5,000 needs marking as well! So a little celebratory wittering about my recent activities seems in order!
The blog has changed in character a little in recent weeks – other commitments have kept me from posting regularly, and when I do post it has been more personal CJ stuff about my day to day activities, and less of my lengthy essays on science, religion and parapsychology. I certainly will be blogging on those subjects again, and I have a whole new series to try out – I’m going to interview a number of people, some of whom readers of the blog may know, but all of whom have achieved eminence in their fields. The People: series will start soon, and will cover many of the unlikely and fun folks I know from the worlds of Science, Media, Games and History. Amusingly some of the people I have approached to interview actually seem quite flattered — and none have refused to date!
So what else is going on? I have pretty much quit the Richard Dawkins forum now, as I said I would, happy to let my record stand — I have made rather a lot of posts there, and I am happy that anyone who wants to can read them. I have been helping an old friend, making a lot of phone calls, and hoping some good comes out of it for him – I won’t say more – and this weekend is Lorna’s birthday, Becky is coming to visit and I will get to see Clare “Goldfish” Hatfield for the first time since my thirtieth birthday while she is in town. Been a while! Lisa is up to her neck in nationality paperwork, the cats are loud and demanding as always, but just as lovable, and generally “all quiet on the Western Front.”
Today was supposed to be busy with work, and a couple of hours out to go do a piece for an American ghost show. I met Dave Williams a lovely guy who gave me a lift to where we were filming in the south of the county, but we left early to be there on time, and by the time we had finished well that has put back work a good day. I’m going to have to work like crazy tonight to catch up — so naturally I’m blogging instead. The TV show was one of these Most Haunted format things – I signed no NDA and can comment freely, but I will wait till after it airs before naming it, but the usual rules apply — the distinction critical to normal TV between talent (on screen) and crew (off screen)is lost, the guys filming the show are the stars of the show, and they spend a night in a haunted location. With Most Haunted of course (for which I was briefly a researcher for Hanrahan Media on the early Most Haunted Lives, and then later for ANTIX on the series) one of my criticisms was that the experience of the crew takes place largely in a vacuum – you see and hear little about earlier experiences, or how the claims tie in to the parapsychological literature and other cases. (OK, not always, sometimes they interview witnesses – but not much). This show does not take that approach – I was asked about an experience about sixteen years ago, which I related to camera, and then talked a lot about the history of the area, the building, and so forth. It will be cut to a thirty second snippet if I am lucky – which reminds me of a funny story…
In 1993 I set up a psychic research group in Cheltenham. The Cheltenham Psychical Research Group to be exact, or CPRG. My then landlord Derek Newman was terribly “busy and efficient”, and soon we had a full blown office and a seriously impressive organization. (later it all went pear shaped, but more of that another time!) Unfortunately our press releases went out to the local media on April 1st, and I’m sure some of them thought it was an April Fool’s Joke. Back in those pre-Most Haunted days ghost groups were still rare, and people used to offer to pay us to visit their properties! (For those who don’t know, some owners of reputedly haunted houses are booked solid every weekend till next year with fee paying investigators nowadays…)
Anyway a week or two later I did an interview I will never forget. It went something like this–
Journo: So you study ghost and poltergeist cases?
CJ: Well I study alleged ghost and poltergeist experiences yes.
Journo: What would you do if you were in someones haunted house and a ghost threw an axe at you?
CJ: Pray and duck! I’m pretty confident that won’t happen though. (laughing)
Journo: So can you get rid of a poltergeist?
CJ: When I start to investigate the phenomena seem to invariably end. Maybe the spooks are shy?
Journo: So how do you deal with cases?
CJ: I sit down, have a coffee with the witnesses and try to work out what they experienced, record testimony and understand the claims fully…
Next day I was less than delighted to read in the paper “Local Ghostbuster …(CJ)… says he can cure any poltergeist with prayer, optimism and a cup of coffee!”
The only good news about all the press coverage was they usually got my age wrong, making me a couple of years older than I was. I once got in to an over-25′s night at Gas Nightclub with cheap drinks (I was 23 at the time) by waving a set of newspaper clippings giving the wrong age at the bouncers. Oh to have people believe I was under 25 today!
Anyway, back to the filming. It was ok, and it was clear sensation was the order of the day. Luckily I had quite a sensational story – nah, ok, it was interesting though. Dave had a fantastic story — I was jealous. Mine was “mildly interesting”. So I got to double up as historian. I seemed to spend an awful lot of the day standing under a tree sheltering from the rain, and a fairly short period in a graveyard being filmed. Of course the graveyard had nothing to do with the story, but it did remind me of sitting chatting to Clare the Goldfish there, some sixteen years ago, the night Derek and Harry were “busy and important” and Dave “the Munchkin” Aukett was swallowed by blue ectoplasm. OK, he got in his blue sleeping bag, but recorded it as the former! People were fairly bored and constantly told to write down ANYTHING that happened – which led to vigil record sheets with things like 1.06pm “fly enters room”. 1.07pm “fly buzzes Dave”. 1.08am “fly deceased.” I ended up chatting to people, and amusingly when who was with who as vigil partners was randomly drawn ended up with the very pretty Clare for almost all the sessions – my then girlfriend Sarah was not much impressed as I recall!
Heck, I suppose in my twenty years of ghosthunting I have a lot of anecdotes but like these ones, they really are only of interest to my friends, and the people who were there. Anyway I enjoyed the day, met a witch and talked incubi and pagan politics – not so much “Wicca and Witchcraft” as “Bicker and Bitch-craft” – and a chap called Alan who took a photo of the building which showed a figure looking out of the window. Even while they were doing interviews stuff was happening apparently, but I was not really privy to it until I was briefly filled in by one of the three main investigators later. Nice chaps, but I never really felt I got to know them at all – us “witnesses” talked among ourselves mainly, and I spoke to the crew quite a bit – but fun all round. Many thanks to Jeff Belanger for setting it up – I really enjoyed it even if I now have to work hard to catch up and not let my current employer down.
And on that note – well I enjoy blogging I guess, though I suspect i have very little worth saying, but maybe my life has a few moments which might amuse. It was nice to come home and find a comment from Keith Hitchman, who I have not seen in a long time, and I have been to TESCO. I shall resist the urge to coment about that. Yet, mundane or a little screwball as my life may be, a blog would be nothing without he readers and commentators. Whereas Beast has long wonderful academic discussions, my blog is a more light hearted affair, and I thank you all for reading.
And just before I say goodnight and do some work ready for more of the interminable phoning tomorrow, what search terms bring people here?
“how to use vacuum nipple clamps”
“richard wiseman spanking”
“bottomless bathing suits”
are among my recent favourites. Shame it oes not tell you who searched – I’d like ot meet Swindon’s lonely transvestite, and say “good luck!” I have a transexual friend, but as far as I know no tranvestite ones – yet.
“anna richardson sexy” got many hits which must do wonders for her ego – her career is going well, though I’m more disturbed by people searching for her address! Maybe they just want to write for an autograph. Over seventy people have looked for the Rev. Keith Hitchman – “revd keith hitchman 2009 cheltenham” was one search string from tonight, and “cress seeds experiment” is pretty popular. People are still looking for the Science of Ghosts website, and parapsychology, atheism, “was easter pagan?” and “bonze age myths” all rank highly in searches bring people here. Some people are looking for Jerome – friends from Richarddawkins.net I guess, or enemies from the same – and my esays on “Science and Religion” do very well. The highest ranked search term though? “Lord Kelvin”! Given the number of wonderful sites there are on Kelvin, that really surprises me. He massively outdoes “Darwin” as a search term. Maybe some school has a Kelvin essay title? I’ll add a good Kelvin link in the morning.
Night all , and thanks for reading!