30 September 2007

Why did I ever go to Whitby?

“When humanity, subjugated by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime.” - The Testament of Dr. Mabuse.

More strange news from Whitby:
A MYSTERIOUS oil spill has covered the roads around Whitby and has brought chaos to the town.

Police were forced to hold up traffic at locations around the town while sand was put down.

One witness described seeing pedestrians fall in the street and cars skidding as they struggled for grip in the wet conditions.

Sgt Paul Delaney described the source of the spill as a "mystery".
Notice the mysterious oil spill is both more elaborate (it’s no simple task to not only spread that much oil, but do it undetected) yet less physically destructive than ordinary vandalism. Why would someone do this? Because it brought chaos to the town. This is what links the bizarre and seemingly disconnected events of Whitby - the senseless crimes, the sightings of weird creatures and out of place animals, the outbreaks of diseases “seen nowhere else in the country”, all serve to bring chaos to Whitby.

But what comes after?

“Log of the Demeter, Varna to Whitby. Written 18 July: things so strange happening, that I shall keep accurate note henceforth till we land.”

“On 17 July, yesterday, one of the men, Olgaren, came to my cabin, and in an awestruck way confided to me that he thought there was a strange man aboard the ship. He said that in his watch he had been sheltering behind the deckhouse, as there was a rain storm, when he saw a tall, thin man, who was not like any of the crew, come up the companionway, and go along the deck forward and disappear. He followed cautiously, but when he got to bows found no one, and the hatchways were all closed. He was in a panic of superstitious fear, and I am afraid the panic may spread. To allay it, I shall today search the entire ship carefully from stem to stern.” – Dracula, by Bram Stoker1

A ship in trouble off the coast of Whitby. A distress signal, a rescue, a seemingly happy ending:
A WHITBY lifeboat was called to assist a chartered fishing vessel which got into trouble off the coast on Saturday.

The 37ft Tina Dawn reported to Humber Coastguard at around 11.30am that it had broken down and couldn’t drop anchor due to the depth of the water.

The George and Mary Webb lifeboat was launched and towed the boat, with its two crew and 17 passengers, back into the harbour.
But nothing is ever as it seems in Whitby:
THE skipper of the Tina Dawn chartered fishing vessel which was towed to safety on Saturday morning has contacted the Gazette to stress how many people were on board.

Gordon Cross says there were 12 anglers and two crew on board the vessel when it broke down and could not drop anchor due to the depth of the water...

The Gazette was told by Humber Coastguard there were 17 passengers and two crew on board and the coastguard confirmed those numbers when we asked again.

However, Mr Cross is adamant there were only 12 passengers and two crew on the vessel when it got into difficulty.
A discrepancy of one or two could be attributed to bureaucratic error, but it stretches the imagination to believe the coastguard miscounted by five the number of people on a small boat. Leaving, as is usually the case with Whitby, unanswered questions and feelings of unease. Who were these five passengers? Where did they go? What comes after?

“The Whitby Gazette', of which I had made cuttings, had helped us to understand the terrible events...” – Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Approximately eight miles from the accursed town of Whitby is the village of Goathland:
GOATHLAND people awoke on Tuesday morning to find six decapitated heads scattered around the village.
The carved stone faces were placed at different spots, including in the phone box and as quickly as they appeared they had gone again.

The Whitby Gazette received an anonymous call saying that the mysterious heads had appeared overnight.

Reporter Carl Gavaghan and photographer Doug Jackson instantly set off for the village but arrived to find no sign of the boulders.

However, villagers we spoke to closed ranks and denied all knowledge of the strange occurrence.

Doors closed, curtains were pulled and residents remained tight-lipped on where the stones came from and where they had gone.
Eventually one of the heads was found hidden away behind a wooden board and a quick picture was snapped.
What comes after the stone heads of Goathland?

1 I’ve never read Dracula (apparently no one else has, either), so I only recently discovered much of the novel takes place in Whitby.

28 September 2007

Untrustworthy monkeys

In Malaysia, lesbian Orangutans are tearing off women’s pants (probably because they know they can’t be sued for sexual harassment).

Cambodian police have placed bounties on the heads of a group of macaque “gangster monkeys”.

The macaques’ crime spree includes acts of theft, burglaries, assaults, and sabotage of internet lines. According to deputy district governor Pich Socheata, “Authorities tried several times to get the unruly monkeys to eat eggs laced with sleeping pills, but had always been outsmarted.”

Are monkeys getting smarter? These types of incidents suggest that’s the case, leading me to conclude the Flynn effect has been occurring not only in humans, but in monkeys and apes as well.

Humans, as I’m reminded by my family every year at Thanksgiving, are primates too, little different from the hairier primates. In human crime news, Things Move Around has been doing some looting. Or has he?

23 September 2007

An egg is a proposition with a yolk

PIERO DI COSIMO. Perseus Frees Andromeda. 1515.


The Florentine painter Piero di Cosimo (1462 – 1522) hardly ate anything other than eggs. He would boil 50 at a time (who counted?) and nibble on an egg held in one hand while painting with the other. The time saved allowed him to get a lot of work done, though some claim he wouldn’t cook other foods because he suffered from pyrophobia, or fear of fire (how did he heat the boiling water?), but I think he just loved eggs.

___


First published in 1886, Phantasms of the Living is a two volume, 2,000 page compendium of the research of the Cambridge educated psychologist Edmund Gurney, the poet Frederic William Henry Myers (he coined the term ‘methetherial’), and the postal worker Frank Podmore (who, when not delivering letters, did things like suggesting the name for the Fabian society) of ghosts, precognitive dreams, precognitive visions, and telepathical hallucinations.

In the pages of this pioneering work of parapsychology we encounter the eerie case of an educated, rational man who – well, I’ll let Gurney, Podmore, and Myers tell it:

At mid-morning the percipient had a mind's eye image of an egg basket containing five eggs--four elongated and yellowish, one more round and white but soiled. At noon he discovered that these eggs had been sent over for lunch by his mother-in-law about a half-hour earlier; in pursuing the matter, he learned that his mother-in-law had thought of sending the basket of eggs at 10 o'clock, the time of the mental image. Gurney notes that, as a scientific draftsman, the percipient was a trained observer by habit; but he also notes that the percipient's wife had "almost forgotten" the incident; in her words, "All I can say is that my husband looked at some eggs and made the remark that he had seen them before. I know he told me my mother had sent them."
I'm not a psychic, but I predict many of you will recall this unsettling account the next time you bite into an omelet.
___

In the evening of December of 1973, a proprietor of an Alpine lodge (let us call him Mr. L.) was gazing out the window at the snowy peak of the Weitlahnerkopf.

Like most endeavors, being the proprietor of an Alpine lodge has its ups and downs, but on bad days Mr. L would gaze at the Weitlahnerkopf and by experiencing the tranquility and natural beauty would reestablish his emotional equilibrium. On good days he would also gaze upon the Weitlahnerkopf, to remind himself to be humble. For unlike the solid and immense Weitlahnerkopf, a man’s victories in this life are small and transient.

On this particular evening while gazing at the Weitlahnerkopf Mr. L saw something he had never seen before in all the times he had gazed at the Weitlahnerkopf:
...the object started to shine in a much brighter red color and rose-up slowly in the air. After 4-5 minutes it hovered about 200 meters over the top of the mountain. Suddenly it moved in the direction of the Hochries-lodge. When it was only 2 km away it stopped in mid-air. The witnesses now recognized that the object was egg-shaped and not a helicopter as they had expected. Its upper part resembled a transparent cockpit. Colored lights rotated around the external rim and around the lower part of the object. The "egg" had a height of about 10 meters and flew absolutely soundless. The rotating lights were comparable with a light show in a discotheque, randomly flashing on and off without a pattern. From top to bottom the colors of the lights were red, green, blue and white.

"The lights ran counter-clockwise, from left to right, without any apparent system and not simultaneously,” said Mr. L. "At first one light appeared, then came the next one and so on. It looked as if fluorescent tubes were running around and flashing in several different positions.”
The flying egg was last seen headed toward Klausenburg, and who can blame it? Klausenburg is a delightful place to visit in December.
___

If you had invited Ludwig Wittgenstein to spend the weekend at your country house, as a certain class of English persons sometimes did, believing, correctly, that philosophers, the more incomprehensible the better, provide amusing conversation for party guests of a certain type, you would quickly have learned Ludwig Wittgenstein did not care what he ate, but after being served one sort of dish would demand he be served the same dish every meal thereafter. You can easily imagine how difficult breakfast on Saturday was on visits when Wittgenstein had arrived the night before for dinner.

Eventually one of his hosts wised up, and when Ludwig arrived on Friday night, instead of a seven course meal served him a poached egg. True to form, Ludwig ate the egg without complaining, and the rest of the weekend went smoothly for all involved, especially the kitchen staff.

Sunday Punch



Cartoon by John Leech.

17 September 2007

The rarest of coconuts

Across Difficult Country's legal counsel Judge Florentino Floro Jr. is in the news again, this time on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

As readers surely remember, Judge Floro was declared psychotic and removed from the bench for being in psychic contact with three invisible “mystic dwarves” 1 named Armand, Luis and Angel. Angel, Judge Floro tells the Wall Street Journal, "is the neutral force", Armand "is a benign influence", and Luis,"whom Mr. Floro describes as the "king of kings," is an avenger."

Now the Supreme Court which fired him is persecuting him again, issuing an “en banc resolution asking Mr. Floro to desist in his threats of 'ungodly reprisal.'”

While not stating explicitly, the Court appears to be blaming Judge Floro for a series of unfortunate events, including a “mysterious” fire which “destroyed the Supreme Court's crest in its session hall”, and a string of accidents and illnesses numerous members of the court and their family members have recently suffered from.

It escapes me how Judge Floro could possibly cause these things to happen. It’s true the judge is a man of many talents, including the power to heal, but he’s not a warlock. To have the same people who declared the debonair Judge Floro mentally unstable merely because a few of his friends were invisible now essentially accuse him of casting spells on them is not only slanderous but also hypocrisy of the grossest sort.

The judge himself thinks the plague of misfortune is the handiwork of Luis. Given what we know about Luis that seems the most plausible explanation.

1The author of the WSJ article repeatedly refers to the beings, which Filipinos call dwendes, as elves. This is incorrect. For one thing elves don’t live in the tropics. For more, see one man’s story about his grandmother and the dwende, illustrated with a picture of naked ladies.

10 September 2007

I wear not motley in my brain

It's obvious to anyone with eyeballs that the liberal brain, by its very nature, is more susceptible to fads and fashionable nonsense than the conservative mind. Now, if a new study is correct, there may be scientific proof:
Frank Sulloway of the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study, said results "provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity."

Based on the results, Sulloway said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.
The compulsive acceptance of new social, scientific or religious ideas is, of course, a major reason why liberalism is so corrosive and destructive. For most new ideas are wrong, if not harmful. As David Stove wrote, in his brilliant essay "The Columbus Argument":
“No doubt it is true that, for any change for the better to have taken place, either in thought or in practice, someone first had to make a new departure. But it is equally true that someone first had to make a new departure for any change for the worse to ever have taken place...if in the past bad innovations ave been at least as common as good ones, we have every reason to conclude we ought to discourage innovations in the future as to conclude we ought to encourage them.” In reality, however, innnovations for the worse and "innovators-for-the-worse have always been far more numerous than innovators-for-the-better: they always must be so.”
Human societies are so complex “no one understands them well enough to repair or improve them,” therefore any new idea is far more likely to make things worse than better, in the unlikely event it changes anything at all.

09 September 2007

Now we'll wreck the subways

Apparently I’m not the only admirer of the retarded brilliance of Fletcher Hanks:
"There is a man in a blue suit and a green and red skullcap piloting a red plane across a yellow sky. Crossing a lush jungle valley, he spots thousands of “gigantic royal panthers” and instantly declares: “I CAN USE THEM IN MY PLAN TO WRECK CIVILIZATION!”

Though the colorful and crudely drawn adventure comics gathered in I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! read like the fevered imaginings of Henry Darger’s bully older brother, they are, in fact, the garish and terrifying work of Fletcher Hanks." [More]

Another dispatch from Helvetia

The anti-Swiss slander campaign continues. Writing for Foreign Policy, deep thinker Preeti Aroon claims the proposal by the Swiss People's Party (SVP) to deport immigrant families if their children are criminals is part of “a larger general trend of racism and anti-Semitism brewing in the region.”

And once it’s fully fermented, the toxic Swiss brew will spill over, and hordes of Swiss will sweep across Europe, stabbing every minority in sight with the corkscrew attachment of their army knives, as they’ve done so many times in the past. This charge would be stupid even if we weren’t talking about Switzerland.

Aroon concedes “not all Germans, Swiss, and Austrians are cold-hearted extremists” (how generous) but threatens “history is replete with examples of populations that have been radicalized quite fast. This German-speaking part of the world should be kept on our radar screens.”

Step 1: Lock target on radar. Step 2: Commence bombing.

The Independent takes up the issue by asking if Switzerland is "Europe's heart of darkness?

I would like to believe it an intentional joke, but how can you tell? Despite the absurd headline, the article itself is highly informative, mostly because it quotes Dr. Ulrich Schlüer, the head of the SVP. Compare the intelligence, understanding, and straightforwardness of Dr. Schlüer’s statements with the dishonest ravings of his critics (or to the inane blatherings of the typical American politician, for that matter):
Dr Schlüer is a small affable man. But if he speaks softly he wields a big stick. The statistics are clear, he said, foreigners are four times more likely to commit crimes than Swiss nationals. "In a suburb of Zürich, a group of youths between 14 and 18 recently raped a 13-year-old girl," he said. "It turned out that all of them were already under investigation for some previous offence. They were all foreigners from the Balkans or Turkey. Their parents said these boys are out of control. We say: 'That's not acceptable. It's your job to control them and if you can't do that you'll have to leave'. It's a punishment everyone understands."
Poor reactionary Dr Schlüer! He hasn’t progressed enough to realize that the cost of a few gang rapes are outweighed by the wonderful benefits of immigration and multiculturalism.

Schlüer has a pointed response for his his UN critic, special rapporteur on racism Doudou Diène:
"He's from Senegal where they have a lot of problems of their own which need to be solved. I don't know why he comes here instead of getting on with that."
Schlüer is fully aware of the real reason why the EU is so disturbed by Swiss immigration policy:
"How direct democracy functions is a very sensitive issue in Switzerland," he says, explaining why he has long opposed joining the EU. "To the average German, the transfer of power from Berlin to Brussels didn't really affect their daily lives. The transfer of power from the commune to Brussels would seriously change things for the ordinary Swiss citizen."

02 September 2007

The last days of disco

Korean scientist Dr Mi-Jeong Jeong has discovered certain genes in plants which can be activated by sound. When researchers directed sounds toward the plants at specific frequencies:
Two genes, called rbcS and Ald, became more active at 125 and 250 Hertz, and less active at 50 Hertz.

Both genes are known to respond to light, so Jeong's team checked out what happened when the test was repeated in the dark -- and found that the two genes still responded to the sound.
This breakthrough has far reaching implications, As any student of palaeontology knows, in the distant past of long ago (what specialists call “dino-time”) nearly every inch of the landscape was overrun with stupid looking plants, and among this dense growth roamed gigantic, preposterous animals. Obviously, with a few exceptions, that’s no longer the case.

There have been many explanations for why things changed, all unsatisfactory. But Dr. Mi-Jeong Jeong’s work provides a crucial clue, one that leads to a new hypothesis.

In prehistoric epochs the music of the spheres was in all likelihood a different tune. This background noise activated sound responsive genes - in plants causing superabundant growth, in animals inducing gigantism and all the accompanying horns etc., like on this fossil. Then one day, for reasons unknown, the music changed, and life on Earth said to itself “The party’s over, we might as well go.” And so it did.

SEE ALSO: Did the Big Bang Make a Sound?

Dispatch from Helvetia

A Swiss political party’s proposal to deport immigrant families “if their children are convicted of a violent crime, drug offenses or benefits fraud” has provoked hyperbolic reaction, within Switzerland and without.

The Swiss Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism dishonestly equated the policy to “the Nazi practice of "Sippenhaft" — or kin liability — whereby relatives of criminals were held responsible for his or her crimes and punished equally”. AP reporter Frank Jordans even invoked Stalin and Mao, claiming, “Similar practices occurred during Stalin's purges in the early days of the Soviet Union and the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution in China, when millions were persecuted for their alleged ideological failings.” Mr. Jordans seems to have a novel notion of what reporting is, and and a novel notion of what the word “similar” means.

The UN has also condemned the proposal, suggesting it may violate European law, an odd complaint considering Switzerland is not a member of the EU.

One hears so little news from Switzerland, why is this story getting attention? Because Switzerland has sanely resisted mass immigration, and therefore poses a threat to the countries which haven’t. In coming years ‘xenophobic’ and ‘homogenous’ Switzerland will be increasingly subject to hostility and vilification from the ‘open’ and ‘diverse’ United States and EU, because the contrast between them and Switzerland will be so embarrassing.