Saturday, November 19, 2011

Altered States

This entry was originally written before Ken Russell died, however, upon his death i decided to embellish it somewhat to make it into a sort of personal take / tribute on Ken Russell. STILL NOT FINISHED

Here's a film which explores a few Fortean concepts: religion, creation, the nature of humanity and so forth. Funny old film really. It'll take me a while to work out what I think..

I've been having a Ken Russell season lately. sometime ago i searched for Russell's filmography on Lovefilm and put most, if not all, his films onto my rental list. 

so far I've mainly revisited films I'd already seen. it's both astonishing and outrageous that many of Russell's films are still not available on DVD. 

The film story is based on this

Altered States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:,,20078923,00.html

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another right on its way out,. After this the tabloids can say anything they like about you, unless you're rich. Who do I blame? The Liberal Democrats of course! Cowardly, despicable, scumbags who continue to ensure that our extremist government remains in power.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Billy Goat Gruff

Until I went onto Twitter I felt like a lone voice of sanity, on the internet, shouting in the wilderness.

Why is that?

I think internet bulletin boards were the key problem.
Urban75 was abusive -while some good people post on there, the vast majority are middle class or higher, snotty little twats who presumably are now snotty middle aged twats - best part of a deacde since i was there - talking about gardening and how very edgy Brixton is. Fucking yeah - sure it's edgy! I lived there in 1988 and can categorically state that Brixton has been thoroughly gentrified. If you want to see edgy have a poke around Camberwell!
So I fell between the nit-picking pedantic pseudo intellectuals, quite often mummy's boy with shed loads of cash but no perceivable life, who used to give me shit for not being politically active while I was trying to keep a family together in hostile circumstances, and struggling with autism.
These were the sort of tosspots who would squat a property and then let their own house out for high rents. Pretend anarchists. I will name no names!
Pretend working class as well - again - no names. The times that my working class origins got challenged by precious little middle class children was untrue! to them if you work, can speak words of two sylables, undersatnd basic philospohical concepts, have a degree, don't have a "cockney" / northern accent, then you're middle class. Apparently. That'd be news to all the bosh bosh, "loads of money" builders who live in south east London, and thousands of cabbies, teachers, solicitors, bankers, journalists, etc. who pulled themselves up by bootstraps and did genuinely make a success from nothing, with or without support from their parents, but chiefly, only becasue the state made those opportunities available to a wider part of society than just public schoolboys.
I'm digressing big-time here.
Bikeradar was peculiar. Lots of mummy's boys who worked in media / law / technology who were decidedly middle class, or upper middle class,
I got called commie, hippy, all the names under the sun for expressing a pro-scientific understanding of the environment and human society.
"It's worse in Africa" v- bleak house
Cif - a little better, but sometimes i was completely on my own.
"shameful" for wanting to understand reasons behind rioting - clearly economically/ politically driven and unless we understand that worse will happen in the future. Or we could live in an oppresive police state. I suggest anyone who thinks that has a little read about south and central america - even "nice" middle class people were murdered by the state.
Twitter - feel like there's a huge netwrok of like minded - anarchists and socialists i can talk to. The ideas I thought were out there - like maybe we can discuss ideas instead of picking each other up on our spelling - though that does still happen, and thankfully there's a block button. Very handy
Trolls - not just an internet phenomena. They are real people expressing genuine views or prejudices.

They need to be challenged - probably not on the internet, but in the streets, we're not quite living int he Matrix yet - we can all still interact in the real world. Even the opressive Met police haven't stopped that yet - though they are well on their way to doing so.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pointless Overtaking

I'm not on the bike at the moment, but it doesn't stop me from posting up other cyclists' experiences. Here's an excellent video entitled "world's most pointless overtake". I have to say - this sort of thing happened to me all the time while i was on my bike. It drove me round the bed. I even tried to comment on it once, lightheartedly, to a driver who'd overtaken me seconds before we both came to a red light. My attempt at a light hearted reprimand ended up with him calling me a cunt, going completely red in the face, and finally threatening to kill me.

Thanks to 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fortean Times Unconvention - Sunday

Roberts & Clarke

The link takes you to the Fortean times article which appeared back in January. a lovely and entertaining article, nice bit of research by Josiffe, who I met once at a South East London Folklore Society meeting.
I missed all but the Q&A session for this.

 Dave Clarke and Andy Roberts: Cursed Stones
Dave Clarke, again, sharing the stage with "long-time sidekick" Andy Roberts for a talk on cursed stones. This examined "cases where people have linked hauntings and other supernatural experiences with cult stone artefacts such as Celtic stone heads and other stone objects, such as the Hexham Heads and the Tigh nam Bodach shrine in Scotland."

Andy Roberts started off by saying that though the pair wrote the UFO section in the Fortean Times, this wasn't their main field of interest, that they only wrote the UFO stuff to piss off the readers (big laugh). In fact their main field of interest seems to be, er, fields. And things you might find in fields, stone circles, ley lines, that sort of thing, and indeed, the subject of this talk, "cursed" stones.

The talk started in Scotland. The claim was made that spiritual beliefs and practices have survived from pre-Christian times in various parts of the UK. Examples were forthcoming. 

Tigh nam Bodach
The talk also took in an area of Derbyshire where sacred stones are secretly revered.

This particular "cursed" stone head (below) after apparently causing havoc, was eventually taken to Lockerbie by its fearless and sceptical new owner in December 1988. Subsequent events led to said sceptical owner suddenly not being sceptical any more.

David Clarke
The story of the Hexham Heads was recounted, and I do remember reading the article in the FT quite a long time ago now. These stone heads were dug up and strange things a happened. We learn also that a man, (truck driver?) eventually popped up on Nationwide to claim he had made the Hexham Heads and indeed made some more that were nearly identical. Regardless of their authenticity, they are currently missing, wherabouts unknown.
At the end of a lecture a woman stood up to say that a report exists in her museum (didn't catch all the details here) of an analysis of the Hexham Heads, and they were indeed made of concrete, not stone.
the stage with Hexham Heads slide
Little Mannie: an amusing aside
a "real" stone head (speakers' own)

I wasn't sure about this talk. It started well enough with the claim that science wasn't quite the rational exercise that scientists tell us - or that is written in the text books. At least not in the early days anyway. Which I accept perfectly happily, an looked forward to finding out more.

But, it began to dawn on me 15 / 20 minutes into the talk that these people weren't dispassionate, neutral Forteans weighing up the pros and cons of something that appears strange, but were in fact believers in this thing they were talking about, which at that point still hadn't been made clear. I saw that quite a few people were now walking out. I don't know if they were walking out in protest, they may have just seen it as a good chance to go and get a coffee, use the toilet, smoke a fag, etc. But if that was the case, not many came back.

A lot was said about Isaac Newton and his unorthodox religious views, which are decidedly non-scientific, I accept, but then Newton wasn't a scientist, and science as we know it didn't really exist. He was more like an alchemist.

So we got onto Hermeticism and the Hermetic revival around the time of the Renaissance. Copernicus and his sun centric cosmos in 1543, long lost Egyptian documents written by Hermes Trismegistus (thrice great Hermes) , the fact that all the early scientists owed their discoveries to the ancient philosophy.

Pickett gave us the true story of Galileo and dispute with the orthodox church, as she saw it. His support for Heliocentricism was seen as a threat to the church. From their website:

The Hermeticists taught that a wide acceptance of the heliocentric theory would be the trigger for a religious and political revolution. If and when people were allowed to believe that the earth orbits the sun, and not the other way round as they taught, then - to them - all hell would break loose. They could not let this happen, so they threatened Galileo with the usual agonising death of heretics.

Then Prince came on and spoke, and I'll let his argument be described in his own words:

"Part Two of The Forbidden Universe takes the story to the present day, contending that the view of the universe emerging from the latest scientific discoveries, particularly of quantum physics and cosmology, can be seen to vindicate the ancient Hermetic belief in an evolving, living, conscious universe. Far from being merely a historical footnote, Hermeticism hold the key to humanity's future.
There is something else, some great irony and even a cover-up on the part of today's scientific orthodoxy. The fact is that, although staggering to many, science itself has proven beyond doubt that the dazzling array of fine-tunings of the laws of physics and biochemistry that has enabled life to be arise in the universe cannot be ascribed to chance. Therefore, science itself implies the existence of a designer…
However, it must be stressed that while this shows that life has been created and is meaningful, it neither proves the existence of the biblical God nor the truth of the account of creation in Genesis.
Yet totally in denial, scientists have rushed to embrace the totally speculative multiverse theory - which by its very nature can never be proven - rather than admit that they themselves have demonstrated that the universe has been designed. This is not science. This is desperation."

There was mention of theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler who speculated about their being a "Participatory Anthropic Principle" in the Universe.

So where do I stand on all this? Buggered if I know, really. It's be tempting to adopt this belief system, especially as it seems to piss Christians off quite so much. Yes, it's a nice idea that agency pressed a button around the time of the Big Bang and started all this going to exact specifications; and impossible to entirely rule out too as we know that given enough time, we too will be designing and creating out own multiple universes. If we can do it, then how can we deny that we may be part of someone else's handy work. Maybe we're aprt of a computer programme?
But then I think, where does it all get us. Isn't it just better to do as the more honest scientists do and admit we just don't know, and maybe we never will.

Ted Harrison: Apocalypse When?

From the Program:
The world should have ended on 21 May this year, according to American radio preacher Harold Camping; or has the Apocalypse been postponed to 2012 as the Mayan Calendar is supposed to suggest? Over history, hundreds of dates have been set for Doomsday and, so far, every prediction has fallen flat on its face. So why do prophets keep prophesying? Why do their followers believe them? And how do failed prophets and disillusioned followers cope with the inevitable ‘disappointment’ of waking up on Judgement Day to find everything as normal? And how is the world supposed to end when it does? Will a wrathful God take to the skies with his angels? Will we be hit by a meteorite or rogue planet? Will the human-race score an own-goal and cause irreversible climate change or blow itself up with nuclear weapons? Ted Harrison explores the history, mythology and psychology of End-time rumours.

I really enjoyed this talk. Made me laugh quite a bit, thought the speaker was excellent. I'm not sure everyone thought it was as amusing as I did - though he was throwing in quite a few jokes, quite dry jokes. My kind of humour I guess.

Mayan Prophesy Joke
And that's where it ends for me - as I took to the pub to talk to a friend I rarely see.

I missed:

Gail-Nina Anderson: A Popular History of the Mummy
Nina Conti: Her Master’s Voice 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fortean Times Uncon - Saturday

Fairly awful journey in but worth it. The problems began the day before when above the sound of my MP3 player I heard an ominous announcement. The gist of it was that the DLR would be closed the whole weekend for "planned" maintenance. The reason I put planned in quotes is, if it was planned, as they said, why am I hearing about it for the first time the evening before?! I am on the email and text lists for DLR travel info, I use it every day, I work for flipping TfL, and have seen no signs, have heard nothing, not even internally. WTF!!! I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the DLR is fucking unprofessional!! Amateurs! But I digress.
The next problem occurred to me later - too late to do anything in fact. The problem being on this day with no DLR there is also a little matter of the Lord Mayor's show which attracts thousands, maybe tens of thousands. sure enough, even in the morning, the trains were infeasibly packed with parents and young kids.
The other problems were all of my own making - the fact that I didn't make my sandwiches on Friday, the fact that I stayed up till 2 am drinking and Tweeting, and finally the fact that when I woke up at 7 am on Saturday morning I could barely move.

So I missed high profile guest Jon Ronson, which disapointed me a little. But this guy saw it:

I also missed:
Science and Sasquatch: the life of Grover Krantz - Brian Regal
Physical anthropologist Grover Krantz (1931-2002) was the most well known scientist to publicly champion the existence of the North American cryptid called Sasquatch—also known as Bigfoot. While he did not originate it, he actively promoted the idea that this creature was an evolutionary descendent of Gigantopithecus. For his efforts, he was dismissed or ignored by academics who viewed the Sasquatch as at best a relic of folklore and at worst a hoax, and also received a negative reaction from amateur Bigfoot researchers, some of whom threatened and abused him. 

At the Camden Centre I only paused to buy myself a coffee before heading into the main hall to see:

Dr Dave Clarke

1855 is best known to Forteans as the year in which the mysterious Devil’s Footprints appeared overnight during a heavy snowfall in Devon. But were supernatural forces also at work in Yorkshire – with fatal consequences? This talk tells the story of a Sheffield woman who died “from fright” following an encounter with a ghost, and the bizarre story that unfolded in the wake of the inquest – a story involving spiritualists, messages from a murder victim, buried treasure and a mysterious young woman with wild talents. Taking a story that would have perplexed the Victorian detective Inspector Jack Whicher, David Clarke follows the clues and asks: was this truly a case of death by supernatural causes?

I walked in while this guy was in full flow - talking about a series of events in Sheffield in 1855 which involved Mormons, seances and a woman who could apparently see the dead. She went into a fit and died - the death certificate recorded she died from fright. I had to work out the story in a backwards sort of way, having missed the beginning. but it was an interesting little insight into Victoriana. These people were clearly obsessed with being able to contact the dead, and with their high mortality rate, its not surprising really. It wasn't the last time we'd be touching upon the morbid fascination of the dead amongst British Victorians.
Dr Clarke linked these events with other events reported that year - such as the Devil's footprints in Devon - which had me quivering under the duvet as a child. How much could the idea of one influenced the other? Would people have read about the footprints in the paper and been in some way made more susceptible to believing in spirits and ghouls?
Scared to Death on Campo Lane…The background:There are certain irrefutable facts about the death of Sheffield Mormon Hannah Rallison in Campo Lane, in 1855. She collapsed in front of several people after entering a cellar said to be haunted. She claimed, as she drifted in and out of consciousness, she had seen a ghost. And experts at an inquest could not find a rational explanation for the healthy 48-year-old’s sudden demise.
“This is one of the most fascinating mysteries I’ve come across,” says David Clarke, former Star journalist, author and all-round expert in the unexplained. “What’s intriguing is that, unlike many of these stories, it is all document in newspaper reports and the inquest – but still no one really knows what happened.”
What we do know is that the Campo Lane cellar – below the home of fellow Mormon John Favell – was said to be haunted after John himself claimed he spotted an old woman there. As neighbours gathered to investigate on February 24, Hannah temporarily entered the cellar alone. There, in front of several witnesses, she was seized by terror, shrieked she had seen a ghost and collapsed. She died in her South Street home the next day.
“This was all recorded as fact,” says David, who has researched the incident for an up coming book on Victorian mysteries. “It fascinated so many people it actually ended up being reported in several national newspapers at the time.”
Research by David shows that within a couple of weeks The Sheffield Independent claimed to have found an explanation. “We have been informed,” it said, “that some of the alleged appearances resulted from the operations of a magic lantern by the occupiers of adjacent premises, who knew that Favell and his family were Mormonites, and determined to have a lark at their expense.”
David asks anyone with possible information about Hannah Rallison or the Favells to email

Cryptozoologist - I've seen him talk 4 times now and he's always entertaining, if somewhat idiosyncratic and  somehwat grouchy. This time he's got two expeditions to talk about. Apparently there's a BBC4 feature length documentary in the pipeline. 

All Ape-men Great and Small - Richard Freeman
The search for unknown hominids continues – from the 10-foot-tall Yeti to the rather les imposing Orang Pendek. In November 2010, the Centre for Fortean Zoology took an expidition into the Garo Hills of Northern India in search of the yeti, or mande burung as it is know locally. They uncovered not only eyewitness reports and tracks but also stories of a monster snake unknown to science. In September of 2011, the CFZ mounted their fourth expedition to Sumatra in search of the Orang Pendek, building on the 2009 trip, where the creature was sighted and hair found. Richard Freeman will be giving full accounts of the results of these latest expeditions.

This is a short clip of Richard explaining what crytpozoology is.

Richard always seems on the edge of some great discovery, but unfortunately so far it seems the evidence collected has come to nothing. Even so, the stories are great. 

Most of the stuff he talked about is in these articles:

This speaker was a Swedish born doctor (and prolific author) who began his career in london, but now works in Cardiff. He looked to me like Michael Palin's mild mannered accountant character, but had a tremendous sense of humour and knows how to tell a story.  He spoke about "clever" dogs and horses; there's a good FT article about this which i'll dig out at some point for a few extra details. This delusion carried on right up to and including the Nazi era.
The press got quite excited about his research a while back, with articles appearing in the mainstream press, however they mostly missed the point of his research and even made stuff up, such as claiming that Hitler was creating a troop of super-intelligent terrorist dogs!!

Jan Bondeson reveals how an early-20th century German obsession with the supposedly superior intelligence of horses and dogs gave birth to a ‘new animal psychology’ and created a host of doggie celebrities noted for their philosophical thought, ardent patriotism and ability to communicate with humans. These canine luminaries included Rolf, the philosophical Airedale Terrier, who kept up a lively correspondence with scientists and thinkers, and Don, the incredible talking Pointer, who enjoyed a spectacular career and spawned a host of imitators around the world.

piano playing dog
performing dogs

it was a period of madness in pseudo science - the claim was that the animals were intelligent but owners were giving their pets unconscious cues for when to stop tapping, barking, etc, when answering questions or "talking". The case reminds me of the more recent fashion for teaching sign language to apes, with simlarly over-blown claims, and ultimately, simlarly discredited. 
Daily Mail take on it

Sarah Angliss
Engineer, scientist, musician, Fortean. This talk was a bit of a mish-mash. Interetsing, entertaining, but ultimately nothing to really get your teeth into. not even sure the content was particularly Fortean to be honest, besides the oft repeated "voices form the dead" reference she made. She demonstrated a genuine wax cylinder set up, both playing and recording.
The programme describes her spot thus:
In December 1877, a journalist writing in Scientific American noted there was now “a startling possibility of recording voices of the dead”. He had just witnessed Edison recording sound on his new invention: the phonograph. In this live demonstration, I’ll explore some of the stranger obsessions of the early adopters of audio recording, as I immortalise a voice from the audience by recording it on wax, using an original Edison Standard Phonograph. Delving into the archives, I’ll also examine a little-known curiosity from the 18th century, one which may have been used to record short segments of sound 150 years before the phonograph. This event will include some short, musical interludes incorporating a few of my own inventions. As I use the theremin to conjure up ‘music from the aether’, I’ll reveal how the first ‘electric servants’ were also seen as tools for paranormal investigation.
The "voice of the dead" we heard was from Florence Nightingale, very much alive when she recorded it - and surprisngly good quality too.
Sarah talked about an old practice of removing birds from wild, isolating them, starving them, and then training them to sing particular tunes. There was even an industry in selling tunes designed specifically for teaching to the birds. It was a pre wax-cylinder era music centre for the home. The practice lasted about 150 years. But cruel apparently.

Sarah recorded a member of the audience, rather bizarrely saying (shouting - you had to shout as amplification was still a thing of the future) "I love you sausage man" and then played it back. Despite the claim of Jan Bondeson in the previous talk, this earliest of all recording technologies sounded remarkably good to these modern ears.

Stookie Bill

Finally she played a tune on her theramin - with robotic vent dummy as vocalist - a replica of John Logie Baird's "Stooky Bill" who appeared on the first ever television transmission.

You won't be surprised to hear that the music Sarah performs sounds rather creepy, and atmospheric. How else would you expect a theramin to sound?

This clip is just a taster for Sarah's music, which she performs with her band Spacedog:

NCAFC March #Nov9 2011 - Police Undercover Snatch Squad or Agents Provocateur ?

Watch this. then think about how free you think this country really is when a legal demo, which is entirely peaceful, is still subject to this sort of outrageous police action.

Isn't it obvious that the British political police do not want you to demonstrate?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Truth About Rich People

Important this - please read. It pulls the rug out of under a cornerstone (i like mixed metaphors, me - L.N.) of Tory argument that I hear all the time - if only so and so worked harder, they too could get rich. No!!

But knowing what a science denying culture we live in today, I don't really expect it to be taken on board.

But it's useful having this in your armoury just in case.

Check the references out too

Cuts Kill

Read full story here

and in the papers

All I'm saying is if that priest in my previous post is serious, and the church really is starting to wake up, then they need to get a fucking wiggle on; people already need help, and they''re not getting it. It's too late for these two, and there's no point praying for their fucking souls, or holding vigils for them, they're dead. There is still time to save the next one, I hope!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Church on-side?

I find this genuinely moving. Still think the whole god and jesus thing is a massive fraud, but at least some in the church realise it's true message - materialism vs. non-materialism

Monday, November 07, 2011

Taxpayers Alliance - Tory Hypocritical Scumbags

Taxpayers Alliance not keen to name the party of the lone councillor
voting against high council expenses - so here's a clue - it begins
with G, rhymes with mean and has an r in it!

a more balanced account - linked from the Taxpayers Alliance - so no fucking excuse for not carrying full story

A little checking tells me the greedy councillors are mostly Labour - good on you Labour, prioritising funding for those who need it most. Yourselves!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Exciting Times

The Occupy movement is taking off to an extent I never expected. I follow it with some excitement even though I cannot be there. My familial obligations remain and I need to keep paying the bills. Besides, with every year my autism seems to be getting the bette rof me, it's very difficult for me to step outside myself these days. Thank the fictional spirit in the sky for computers though. I hate to think how unpleasant life mught be for me without the internet.

I'm going to make it my mission to put Occupy links and newsfeeds on this blog, so at least I have one place to go to for news and information.

You know something new is happening when cities like Plymouth are joining in. just one thing - don't let the shitheads take it over like we did the Labour movement.