Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taiwanese spirit mediumship

I wrote this a while ago and I think it's quite good if I do say so myself.

Taiwanese spirt mediumship

Remembering Icon Thoughstyle

They say it's good to forgive and forget, but sometimes it's fun to remember.

When I was faced with this problem, which was verified here, I created this copy of their website and I still think it's kind of funny.

The article I wrote? A nice piece on bounty hunting in America. Few journalists, or members of any other profession for that matter, get to point guns at people as part of their job. Aren't I lucky?

And should you wonder, once I arranged for about twelve people to work together to collect money from these deadbeats, then the punks paid up. Especially when I began contacting people, including Forbes magazine, who'd given them favorable publicity in the past and letting them know of their business practices. And I got to work with Jim Hogshire, who they also owed money to. It was an interesting experience.

Concubines in China today

For such a crowded place, China can be awfully lonely sometimes.

See, this piece from the UK Telegraph . It's an interesting article discussing women who've opted to forsake love and affection for financial gain.

I've known some people who've been in situations like this. It leaves scars. Arguably, it's their choice, but then they spend years afterwards trying to not just justify the choice to themselves, but to shape a worldview where such a choice is seen as superior to those who have gone a more conventional, emotionally-satisfying route. Which, like many things, leads to scars upon scars.

Writing: Part one on Thoughts on writing, Bob Black and writing as a revenge tool. Part One.

Much of my writing has traditionally been done on the fringes of the fringe writing field. i.e. reviews of controversial books, often from small publishers, and articles on censorship and free speech articles often relating to persons who had published ideas that were both far outside the mainstream as well as far outside most people's comfort zones.

It's a fascinating field and I wish I had the opportunity to do more of it. Then again with the internet, weirdness no longer comes in strange little books from strange little publishers, instead it comes at the click of a button in your living room. While the fringe has not yet exactly become mainstream, it has become much more accessible and therefore people no longer need a tour guide to explain to them what's out there and what it means and implies.

In the meantime, back in the 1990s and thereabouts, when one actually had to work a bit to find weirdness, there existed a publication called Gauntlet which dealt with free speech and censorship issues.

I did some work for it and although the pay was not terribly great, the work was fascinating. More later . . .

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dead stuff: More jobs for dead people.

Just thought I'd share this. It comes from a newspaper in Tucson. (BTW, the state of Arizona seems to have a very progressive and active attitude towards water use and conservation policies.)

Published: 08.01.2008
Ryn: Some people useful past their expiration dates
Tucson Citizen

Dead people can be quite useful. Not necessarily as dinner guests, but for so many other interesting and phenomenal things.
A recent corpse contribution was for testing a spaceship. Three dead people got to be suited up, strapped in and examined after experiments in the Orion space capsule at Ohio State University.
The cadavers help determine how live astronauts will get banged up when the capsule comes parachuting back to Earth after a trip to the moon in something like 2020.
The dead also have helped car manufacturers, filling in for those artificial crash-test dummies seen in commercials that always tell you to wear a seat belt.
Cadavers give a better read on car safety. It's difficult to bruise a dummy's hard plastic or see how many ribs a steering column would break when the artificial dummy hasn't got ribs.
Corpses also have been used for centuries to help with medical breakthroughs, surgery techniques, teaching tools and also as a sort of initiation for many medical students.
Some students even hold memorial services for their dead once they are done dissecting, bisecting and poking through organs.
Anyone who finds this stuff fascinating should definitely take a gander at Mary Roach's book "Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers."
She not only outlines the many uses for corpses, but also includes a brief history of grave robbing.
Roach opens with a scene where a bunch of decapitated heads await their fate on a table.
No, they were not being used to test hairstyles or makeup. They were practice heads for plastic-surgery students.
Corpses also keep morticians, funeral directors, grave diggers and cemetery owners in business.
Dead people keep a lot of live people employed.
One of those is our own Bruce Parks, chief medical examiner of Pima County. His office's annual budget is about $2.5 million, a lot of dough dedicated to the deceased.
He expects to see 16 or so bodies a week during the summer, when immigrants drop dead in the desert.
Other common causes of corpses in Pima County include car crashes, drug overdoses, heart attacks and gunshot wounds.
An autopsy can take from 90 minutes to several days, depending on how easy it is to determine the cause of death.
"When they are very decomposed, it's more challenging," Parks said. "Their features are gone."
He also recalled one of the lengthiest autopsies he performed - a body encased in concrete.
"That took a lot of manual labor," he said.
Parks is not alone in having a great interest in the dead. Whenever the Medical Examiner's Office has a general job opening, he said, people scramble to apply.
"People want to work here."
When it comes to staffing the higher levels, though, it's a different story.
"There's a shortage of forensic pathologists," he said. "We don't have future physicians clamoring for forensic pathology. It's not lucrative."
Well, at least not for some physicians, and not for Parks' kids.
"They don't really ask about it," Parks said about his job's gory details. "They are happy not knowing."
That's also the case when people leave their bodies to science - they never know where they may end up.
Your donated body could be decapitated, break its ribs in a car crash or even go spiraling into space. Just rest in peace and be assured you'll be doing something quite useful.
* Most recent year available. Source: Arizona Department of Health Services.

Skepticism: Wacky ufologists!!

This is the fourth of the four responses. Interestingly, this article got more attention than much of what I write. I even got a phone call from the local Clear Channel Classic Rock station. Seems that they are considering putting the local MUFON head on the air and thought I might be of interest too. Apparently, Clear Channel is somehow not part of the government cover-up surrounding extraterrestrial poop-shoot-probers.

"Aidemton ( no real name given ) says...

There are over 4,000 trace cases associated with UFOs and records of many UFOs exhibiting technology not as of yet available to the human race. For those of you who seem to have it all figured out about what the truth is without doing ANY research your ignorance will keep you blind to this and many other things throughout your lives. For those who are intelligent and open-minded here are some very credible sources of information.

The Disclosure Project is a nonprofit research project working to fully disclose the facts about UFOs, extraterrestrial intelligence, and classified advanced energy and propulsion systems. We have over 400 government, military, and intelligence community witnesses testifying to their direct, personal, first hand experience with UFOs, ETs, ET technology, and the cover-up that keeps this information secret."

My thoughts, anything with the word "UFO" in it is probably not terribly reliable as a news source, nor can it be considered unbiased.

However a friend suggested that I really should give the disclosure project a look-over. Personally, I do think that the more the government is exposed the better we all are. So I did. Here's my favorite part of what I found.:

First, a campaign to encourage people to contact their representatives about UFOs:

Followed by the responses. If you want to see, what our government officials think about the UFO movement reader them. (Also curiously, it seems that they've thrown in British officials with the American ones. Perhaps it's part of the government conspiracy.)

Skepticism: More wacky ufologists!!

Here we are: Response number three of four from the UFO article.

It reads as follows:

"fastnlo ( no real name given ) says...

Well said gentlemen... I'm afraid Mr. Huston has made his mind up already, therefore we should all place a bucket over our heads... all we really need to see is where the edge of world is so we won't fall off... right Mr. Huston?

In my opinion we need skeptical, close minded thinkers like you Mr. Huston to offset the over imaginative thinkers such as, dare I say Copernicus!! Somehow I don't think you would have ever went along with his out of this world idea that the earth wasn't actually the center of the universe either... in fact you might have wanted him burned at the stake for such a revolutionary thought!"

Hmmmm? Now what do you say to that? How old are these people anyway?

How about this writer confuses "open-mindedness" with "credulousness." After 60 years of frantic activity these folks in ufology have still not found any evidence of anything and yet they accuse people who do not adopt their point of view of closed-mindedness. How about you guys get some actual hard proof and then we can talk. That's logical error number one, the assumption that, "Since you have chosen not to believe what I say you should, and to question my methodology, you must have a closed mind."

One of the ironies of this field is that ufologists have (at leat) two common refrains. The first is, "How come more people don't take my research seriously enough to look at it?" Then when skeptics actually take them seriously enough to look at their research, and find it lacking, they get angry and mock the skeptics.

Error number two, delusions of grandeur. What exactly are the grounds for comparison of modern ufologists with Copernicus?

And for the record, I do believe in Copernician astronomy. I believe in this because if you plot the orbits using observed data as to the positions of astronomical bodies, with the assumption that the sun is the center of the solar system, they come out much simpler than the alternative. If plotted with the assumption that the Earth is the center, they tend to make these strange loop-to-loop patterns. (See! I did pay attention in tenth grade Earth science.)

Makes you wonder, like I said, is this guy thirteen years old? Seriously, he could be. Is it really worth arguing with him?