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What's the matter bucko, tired of those flying saucer people pestering you every day with their tales of woe and Armageddon? Are you scared of the government and their corporate cronies looking for new ways to spy on you and take away your personal rights and freedoms? Are you sick to death of those pesky Men-In-Black harassing you because of those unwanted contacts with those flying saucer folks and government agents?

Well cheer up, because once again, like a bolt of awareness and enlightenment from the sky, Conspiracy Journal is here to uncover all those dirty little secrets that THEY are trying to hide! So sit back and relax and enjoy another thought-provoking issue of the number one e-mail newsletter of conspiracies, UFOs the paranormal and much, much more.

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such soul-satisfying stories as:

Spirits Move Us -
- Secrets of Knights Templar Revealed in Vatican Book -
- Am I Cursed By King Tut? -
- Whistling Ghost Chases Woman -
AND:  Sex and Marriage to Robots by 2050

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!

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- THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT DEPARTMENT -

Spirits Move Us

Readers love -- and occasionally fear -- ghosts that share their homes.

Someone whispers your name, but when you look up, no one's there. You hear footsteps in the next room on a night you're home alone.

You brush it off as imagination or the house settling. Is it really nothing? Or is it something supernatural?

"Ghosts haunt places because there is a connection to their past or present," said Guillermo Fuentes, director of San Antonio Paranormal Investigations in Texas.

"Other ghosts arrive without an invitation and decide they have found a place where they feel comfortable," he added.

Fuentes has conducted more than 450 investigations into what he calls ghosts, spirits, entities and presences. Ninety-nine percent of the requests for investigations were made by women, he said.

"Women are more perceptive and sensitive to feel and perceive these things," Fuentes said. "Women are also more open to talk about it. Men, well, are more closed-minded."

So it's not surprising that when we asked readers to tell us about the ghosts in their houses, we heard from seven women and one man. Most of the stories they had to share were positive, some even comforting.

Karen Nies and her husband lost their first baby, a daughter, at childbirth in 1997. In 2005, they and their two sons moved from their first house to another home in Erie. One night, the couple was watching television and heard loud footsteps running in the upstairs hallway. They went up, only to find both boys asleep.

"We were a bit creeped out," Nies said.

They heard the hallway footsteps many times until Nies invited in a psychic who said their daughter, Mary Faith, was the source of the sound. Nies said it was the psychic's "opinion that our daughter wanted us to know she was still with us after we moved from our old house.

"I hesitate to call these 'hauntings' because we know who it is and it gives us more of a comforting feeling than anything," Nies said.

Fuentes said he thinks if families know who their ghost is, they're more comfortable.

'Grandma Bu'

Jeanette Manendo also knows the identity of a ghost. She said her mother, who died in 2005, moved to Ohio after her death.

Veronica Bukowski, known as Grandma Bu, is staying with Manendo's daughter and two grandsons. Greg Gaydos, 11, who has Down syndrome, was the first to hear from his great-grandmother.

His brother, Jerry Gaydos, 10, got mad that Grandma Bu wasn't talking to him, too. So he prayed she would, and now he hears her calling his name, Manendo said.

She takes comfort in knowing that her mother is talking to the boys.

"It just makes me feel good that she's happy," Manendo said.

Although her family knows its ghost, Fuentes says most ghosts are strangers.

'The woman'

Maryann Ferris said she believes "the woman" in her Girard house is a protective presence, although she's also been known to take sewing supplies. Ferris first encountered her in 2006, not quite a year after getting the house.

"I was sleeping in my bed and, it being in the morning, I had slowly opened my eyes to an older woman's face peering right into mine, only an inch or so from my nose," Ferris said.

"She was wearing no makeup and had silver-gray hair pulled back and was wearing some type of old-fashioned glasses ... and she had on a black dress with tiny flowers on it and a small white Peter Pan collar."

Ferris closed her eyes. When she reopened them, the woman was gone. A previous owner of the house told Ferris that the woman would cover her children up during the night.

"The presence is not malicious, and if 'the woman' is going to help me look after my little ones, she is welcome," Ferris said.

She has no desire to dig into the identity of the woman in the 108-year-old house, she said. Fuentes said old houses tend to have more history, echoes and energy from the people who lived there. Ghosts may have lived or died in the houses they haunt. However, they can manifest anywhere, even in a new house, Fuentes said.

'Our very own Casper'

Kathy Findlay's 2004 Victorian house was meant to appear old.

"We built it so it looks like it's been there 100 years," she said.

The Millcreek woman was excited when a ghost took up residence. The first incident happened one night when she turned off the light in the range hood above the stove. Her husband quickly pointed out that it was back on. Other signs followed.

A peanut appearing on a step when the bowl full of nuts had been nowhere near. A bathroom door slamming shut for no reason as a guest approached it. A garage door opening and closing by itself.

"We are certainly not interested in calling in the ghost hunters for a paranormal investigation, because frankly, we are quite content with our sporadic, harmless visits from our very own Casper, the friendly ghost," Findlay said.

Although she referred to the ghost as Casper, Findlay doesn't know whether it's male or female. Fuentes said ghosts can be either. They also can be any age.

'The little old lady'

Kathleen Waterhouse, of Erie, describes herself as "a normal, hardworking person" who "can truly attest to the fact that ghosts are very real."

She said her home had too many incidents to mention them all, so she shared a bit about the most amusing spirit, one she called "the little old lady."

One dark summer night, Waterhouse's family came home to find the spirit in a lit-up window, where they could see her swaying in a rocking chair.

"You knew what you saw but could not believe it, and this made it all so silly and amusing," Waterhouse said.

Ghosts manifest in many ways, Fuentes said. Besides an apparition, they can include a physical touch, a voice or a smell.

"One of the most common manifestations is the change of temperature," he said. "You're in a room, and your baseline temperature reading is 74.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a matter of seconds, the temperature drops to 38 degrees Fahrenheit and you can see your own breath."

Bumps in night

Paula Schlopy has lived in two haunted houses.

The dining room in her Corry house, built in about 1935, always feels cooler than the others, she said. On a recent warm day, the room suddenly filled with chilly air, and she and the other two people in it got goose bumps.

Just before moving into the house, she was cleaning in the dining room when it became filled with the smell of french toast, Schlopy said.

In her old Erie house, built in 1888, she was awakened one night by the sound of someone falling down the stairs. No one had. Pots and pans would rattle in cupboards. Schlopy described "flashes of movement and the feeling that you weren't in the room alone."

Shadow in corner

Another reader, Frank Grande, believes he and his brothers weren't the only ones in a bedroom at their grandmother's Farrell home one night about 30 years ago.

Grande said he was 6 or 7 years old. He woke up and noticed a dark figure, no taller than he was, in the corner.

"You could not see any distinct figures on the face," he said. "No eyes, nose or mouth."

It started slowly coming toward him, and he yelled to his mother that someone was in the room.

She called the police. The "shadow person" remained in the room until the police came and shone flashlights in the corner, Grande said. After the police left, the figure reappeared and didn't go away again until the police returned with their lights, he said.

"I'll never forget that night as long as I live," Grande said.

While such ghostly experiences can be frightening to humans, Fuentes said ghosts can be scared, too. He also characterized them as caring, confused or apprehensive.


Some don't want to be bothered, but "most ghosts are seeking for attention," he said.

One way they try to get it is by taking things.

The misplaced remote

Becky Shafer was used to the occasional unexplained footsteps, voices and shadows in her turn-of-the-century Fairview home. She didn't really take notice until the television remote control went missing. Days of searching turned up nothing.

"Not until coming home from purchasing a new remote did we find the original," she said. "It was laying in the middle of the living room floor."

Fuentes said this is pretty common behavior for ghosts.

"It's a polite way to say, 'I'm here,'" he said.

Source: Erie Times News
http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071014/LIFESTYLES03/
710140396/-1/LIFESTYLES08

- MAKING BAPHOMET PROUD DEPARTMENT -

Secrets of Knights Templar Revealed in Vatican Book

The Vatican has published secret documents about the trial of the Knights Templar, including a parchment — long ignored because of a vague catalog entry in 1628 — showing that Pope Clement V initially absolved the medieval order of heresy.

The 300-page volume recently came out in a limited edition — 799 copies — each priced at $8,377, said Scrinium publishing house, which prints documents from the Vatican’s secret archives.

The order of knights, which ultimately disappeared because of the heresy scandal, recently captivated the imagination of readers of the best-seller “The Da Vinci Code,” which linked the Templars to the story of the Holy Grail.
Story continues below ?advertisement

The Vatican work reproduces the entire documentation of the papal hearings convened after King Philip IV of France arrested and tortured Templar leaders in 1307 on charges of heresy and immorality.

The military order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1118 in Jerusalem to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land after the First Crusade.

As their military might increased, the Templars also grew in wealth, acquiring property throughout Europe and running a primitive banking system. After they left the Middle East with the collapse of the Crusader kingdoms, their power and secretive ways aroused the fear of European rulers and sparked accusations of corruption and blasphemy.

Historians believe Philip owed debts to the Templars and used the accusations to arrest their leaders and extract, under torture, confessions of heresy as a way to seize the order’s riches.

The publishing house said the new book includes the “Parchment of Chinon,” a 1308 decision by Clement to save the Templars and their order.

The Vatican archives researcher who found the parchment said Friday that it probably had been ignored because the 1628 catalog entry on the 40-inch-wide parchment was “too Spartan, too vague.”

“Unfortunately, there was an archiving error, an error in how the document was described,” the researcher, Barbara Frale, said in a telephone interview from her home in Viterbo, north of Italy.

“More than an error, it was a little sketchy,” she said.

The parchment, in remarkably good condition considering its 700 years, apparently had last been consulted at the start of the 20th century, Frale said, surmising that its significance must have not have been realized then.

Frale said she was intrigued by the 1628 entry because, while it apparently referred to some minor matter, it noted that three top cardinals, including the right-hand man of Clement, Berenger Fredol, had made a long journey to interrogate someone.

“Going on with my research, it turned out that in reality it was an inquest of very great importance” on behalf of the pope, Frale said. Fredol “had gone to question the Great Master and other heads of the Templars who had been segregated, practically kidnapped, by the king of France and shut up in secret in his castle in Chinon on the Loire.”

According to the Vatican archives Web site, the parchment shows that Clement initially absolved the Templar leaders of heresy, though he did find them guilty of immorality, and that he planned to reform the order.

However, pressured by Philip, Clement later reversed his decision and suppressed the order in 1312.

Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templars, was burned at the stake in 1314 along with his aides.

Surviving monks fled. Some were absorbed by other orders; over the centuries, various groups have claimed to have descended from the Templars.

Source: MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21267691/?GT1=10450

- MYSTERIOUS WORLD DEPARTMENT -

Ben Bova: What if Phenomena Aren’t Really Natural?

The British biologist J.B.S. Haldane once wrote, “My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

A fascinating issue.

Are there limits to our understanding? Are there some questions, some problems, to which we will never be able to find an answer, no matter how hard we strive, because the matter is beyond our powers of comprehension?

There are wonders and mysteries out in deep space, sure enough. One of the reasons that I enjoy science fiction so much is that science-fiction stories probe those mysteries, and the writers speculate about possible answers to them.

What makes science fiction so much fun is that it goes beyond what is known today to examine possibilities that lie beyond our current knowledge and capabilities.

I’d like to propose a hypothesis and apply it to a couple of the problems that currently puzzle astronomers.

The hypothesis is this: While scientists assume that what they observe are natural phenomena, caused by the interactions of matter and various forms of energy, what if this isn’t always the case? What if some of the startling things that astronomers see are not entirely natural? What if they are caused by the actions of intelligent creatures?

For example, consider the rings of Saturn.

Saturn is a splendid object in the sky, a bright, slightly flattened disc covered with bands of color. And hovering around it are those gorgeous, gleaming rings.

All of the giant outer planets have rings. But the rings of Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are small, dark, so faint that they weren’t discovered until the 1970s. Saturn’s rings are so big and bright that Galileo spotted them in his dinky little homemade telescope in 1609.

We know that Saturn’s rings are made of chunks of ice, some as big as houses, most smaller than a snowball. And the rings are ephemeral: they’re breaking apart. Ice particles are constantly falling down into the clouds of the giant planet.

Saturn’s rings can’t be older than a few million years, if current calculations are right. And at the rate that they are falling apart, they probably won’t last for another million years.

So why are they there? Why do those rings exist now, at this time, when we can see them?

Is it just a lucky coincidence that Saturn’s rings are shining their best when we on Earth are around to see them and be curious about them? Did the rings come into existence a mere few million years ago? If so, what happened to produce them? And what keeps them big and bright?

My science-fiction mind suggests that perhaps the rings were created as a signal for us to see. As a curiosity to help impel us into space to explore Saturn and its intriguing rings.

Astronomers have been scanning the skies with radio telescopes for half a century, seeking signals from alien intelligent civilizations. Perhaps aliens have built those rings around Saturn as their way of getting our attention.

Aliens might not use radio to communicate. They might hang a sign in the sky for us to marvel at.

Then there’s the mystery of the migrating planet.

There’s an aging star in the constellation of Pegasus, V391 Pegasi. Orbiting around it is a planet three times the size of Earth, slightly smaller than the planet Neptune in our own solar system.

V391 was once a normal star, but as it aged it swelled into a red giant phase and then collapsed into a dwarf star. Our own sun will go through such a metamorphosis in about 5 billion years.

Astronomers have calculated that the V391’s planet originally orbited the star at about the same distance that Earth orbits the sun. But as the star swelled and threatened to engulf the planet, it “drifted” out to almost twice its original distance from its star.

Drifted? Astronomers suggest that as the star swelled, it lost a good deal of its mass, which weakened its gravitational hold on the planet and allowed it to drift farther away.

But what if intelligent creatures on that planet, knowing that their star would inexorably swallow their world, somehow moved it deliberately far away enough to survive V391’s giant phase?

That would take more than intelligence. It would require a technology far beyond anything we can dream of today. Will our descendants be able to develop such technology and move Earth away from the engulfing maw of our sun when our daystar goes into its giant phase? Will there still be a human race on Earth 5 billion years from now?

These are some of the ideas that make science fiction so fascinating — ideas that have led to space travel, nuclear power, laser surgery and pocket-sized computers.

Here’s another one to consider.

Our Milky Way galaxy is a vast pinwheel of more than 100 billion stars. It’s about 100,000 light years across (one light year equals about 6 trillion miles). At its heart is a ferocious black hole that swallows whole stars and spews out deadly high-energy radiation. Fortunately, we are situated some 30,000 light years from the core of the Milky Way. But that cloud of lethal radiation is expanding.

Astronomers assume that this is all a natural phenomenon: staggeringly gigantic in scale, but purely natural. Science-fiction writer and editor Stanley Schmidt once speculated that it might be the result of “an industrial accident,” caused by a civilization that dealt with unimaginable powers — and lost control of them.

Not likely. But what if?

Is Haldane right? Is there a limit on how much we can understand?

Perhaps those aliens who lived at the core of the Milky Way found the limits of their understanding. And the whole galaxy will eventually pay for their “accident.”

Unless we can figure a way around the problem.

Ben Bova of Naples is the author of more than 115 books, including “Saturn” and “Titan,” novels that deal with Saturn’s enigmatic rings. Bova’s Web site address is www.benbova.com.

Source: Naple Daily News
http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/oct/13/ben_bova_what_if_phenomena
_arent_really_natural/?

- CURSE FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB DEPARTMENT -

Am I Cursed By King Tut?

Eight years ago I found dusty family heirlooms from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Since then, my life has been one disaster after another...

The startling sight the other day of a colossal gold statue of the Jackal-headed god Anubis sailing under Tower Bridge, heralding the return to London of Tut-Mania next month, sent shivers down my spine - but for all the wrong reasons.

The boy king's glittering tomb treasures will soon arrive in London from America for a major exhibition.

More than 300,000 tickets have already been sold - but I may have to excuse myself from coming face-to-face with him again, for reasons which I shall explain.

The eight-metre high image of Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, evoked extraordinary memories. I was one of the 1.7 million who braved interminable queues at the British Museum to view Tutankhamun's 3,000-year-old tomb treasures back in 1972.

But the statue also had my mind rolling back to another astonishing discovery made more recently, in 1999, which has had extraordinary ramifications in my own life.

I am a rational person, but, believe me, it has led me to question my sanity more than once, and to wonder in earnest whether I, in the 21st century, have been the victim of the legendary "Pharaoh's Curse".

Of course, in the cold light of day, it sounds somewhat fanciful. Yet the "Curse of Tut" is said to have claimed the lives, fortunes and happiness of scores of people who were involved in British archaeologist Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.

But though I am no fan of paranormal claptrap, I have nevertheless quaked at times when I think back over the string of disasters which have befallen me since I first handled a collection of obscure objects which had once lain buried with Tutankhamun himself.

After 40-odd years of marriage, my then parents-in-law were separating. While they were packing up the house, I happened upon two battered Cognac boxes in the back of a wardrobe, crammed with the last things on earth you'd expect to see.

"Just the family jewels," my former father-in-law, Michael, joked. "I'd actually forgotten they were there." Inside the boxes was a collection of dusty glass petri dishes containing textile fragments, seeds, palm nuts, food and biological samples.

When I asked what on earth they were, I was told lightly that they had been gleaned from the burial chamber of Tutankhamun himself. They had lain undisturbed in those two nondescript boxes for half a century.

So how on earth did they find their way into a wardrobe in Surrey? My former mother-in-law, Ursula, recounted the incredible story of a friendship between two remarkable men who, despite their considerable scientific achievements, have made barely an appearance in any history book.

Henry James Bunker - Ursula's father and my ex-husband's grandfather - was a microbiologist who carried out tests on objects taken from Tutankhamun's tomb after he had struck up an acquaintance with a chemist named Alfred Lucas in the 1920s.

The boxes, with their fascinating artefacts inside, were brought back to Britain by Bunker and eventually left to his daughter, Ursula.

Research into the life of Alfred Lucas revealed that he had been right-hand man to Howard Carter, the Egyptologist who discovered the boy king's tomb in 1922.

It was Lucas who famously demonstrated that when the inner chamber of the tomb was opened for the first time, there were no bacteria present.

The tomb could not, therefore, have been broken into and plundered prior to the official opening, as had hitherto been believed.

Henry Bunker's swab-analysis of the walls, floors and furniture of the tomb confirmed this. His tests altered the understanding of everything that had happened during and after the tomb's discovery.

And here, in a humble bedroom, were laid before me some of the extraordinary and truly ancient samples that were excavated from the tomb. It was an author's dream.

The contents of our boxes came directly from the lifetime of a Boy King born more than 3,000 years earlier.

His life and death remain clouded by a shifting melange of elusive fact, erratic data, supposition, invention and sheer fantasy. Every scrap taken from his tomb is, therefore, an object of fascination.

And those boxes were about to be brought home by my then husband and I. What was once secreted beneath the Valley of the Kings was about to take up residence in our front room in London. I was utterly enthralled.

The boxes remained on our drawing room coffee table for months - like Aladdin's lamps, filled with pent-up genies, begging to be opened and given a chance to tell their tale.

I would visit them at night, lift out the yellowed glass dishes and stare at their other-worldy contents. These were the most ancient things I had ever held in my bare hands. I was terrified of spilling them, of destroying what little remained.

It eventually occurred to me to research and write a book about the lives of the two men directly responsible for the relics which had found their way into our home. I subsequently spent months ploughing through paperwork at the British Library.

Meanwhile, we took the samples to the British Museum, where they were verified by excited experts.

Jeffrey Spencer, assistant keeper of Egyptology, declared them "the most important collection ever to have been brought to us from the tomb of Tutankhamun by a private individual".

We were even warned to be wary of aggressive Elgin Marbles-style headlines in Egyptian newspapers.

They also advised us to present them for academic valuation, and we soon learned that private collectors were prepared to pay around £1million for them. But though there was no inclination to sell, insurance proved impossible. Hence, they went to the nearest bank vault.

Shortly after signing a publishing deal through my literary agent, Giles Gordon, to begin a book about Henry Bunker's exploits in Egypt, the first incident occurred in what was to become a catalogue of setbacks, tragedies and out-and-out disasters.

Could it be that, having taken possession of some of Tutankhamun's possessions, I was falling prey to the Pharaoh's Curse carved out in hieroglyphics on the walls of his tomb?

Having at last tracked down the private papers of Alfred Lucas to the Griffith Institute in Oxford, the entire archive suddenly became inaccessible due to a two-year rebuilding programme. After that, mysteriously, they were "lost". So near, yet so far. Thanks to that huge and mysterious setback, the story has had to remain on hold.

The first real tragedy was that my literary agent, Giles, was killed when he tripped over a toy at the top of the stairs in his Edinburgh home, tumbling to the bottom and crashing onto his head. The freak accident, which rocked the publishing world, left a lovely young family fatherless.

As I stood at his memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, among the many authors who had Giles to thank for their careers - Vikram Seth, Fay Weldon, Sue Townsend and Joseph Connolly - an unpalatable thought crossed my mind.

Could I, unwittingly, have had something to do with the tragedy? Had delving into the unsolved mysteries of Tutankhamun awakened some dormant doom-ridden curse?

Writer and food critic Giles Coren, standing beside me, saw the blood drain from my face and urged me to sit down. All around, friends and colleagues sobbed quietly as the eulogies flowed. I closed my eyes to eradicate the looming picture of Tutankhamun's famous death mask.

If that were not bad enough, following the birth of our third child not long after, I was forced to submit to life-saving abdominal surgery which left me bedridden for months.

My friend Fizz Shapur, the musical director of Cats and Les Miserables, visited me one afternoon, carrying with him a volume of Egypt: The Land Of The Pharaohs, a huge close-up of the Boy King's mask filling the cover.

Having never previously discussed my fears with him, there was no way Fizz could have known that such an extraordinary suspicion had been forming in my mind. It seemed to me to be a coincidence too far.

A year later I contracted meningitis, became critically ill and was hospitalised for six weeks. Sweating into the small hours in an intensive care isolation room, I found myself hallucinating and having vision of hieroglyphs and swarming Egyptian scarab beetles.

My mother told me later that during spells of raging delirium, I had implored her not to "put me down on the sand".

The next disaster arrived when I came close to losing my life as I was ambushed at gunpoint outside a restaurant on Tobago. During the attack, my masked assailant attempted to tear off my finger, complete with engagement ring.

Jewels, masks ... could there possibly be some connection? I know many people will think these were simply the kind of setbacks that seem to happen to plenty of people. And, despite my misgivings, I still refused to give in to the far-fetched notion of a "curse".

But I was horrified to discover that my luck was not about to change. This time, I had developed skin cancer - despite the fact that I had not sunbathed since I was a teenager and have skin whiter than milk. Surely, though, this could have no connection to what had gone before, I told myself.

Then I discovered who my surgeon was to be - and my blood ran cold. The man who removed the tumour from my cheekbone was none other than Professor Christopher Bunker - another grandson of Henry Bunker, who had been involved in the work on the tomb.

At that point, I seriously began to wonder if someone was trying to tell me something; that just perhaps there was a power at work reaching out across the centuries. I tried to tell myself it was all too fanciful, but I just couldn't shake the nagging fears.

The next disaster was that my beloved father became seriously ill, though he has since recovered.

And finally, after all the tribulations we had survived together, my husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage with a renewal of our vows in church and a lavish party.

Just two weeks later, without a word, he packed his bags and walked out. Our divorce has just been declared absolute.

So, sickness, death, disease, divorce. They have stalked my life since the day I brought the relics of Tutankhamun into my home.

They have still not been sold. Despite numerous offers, my former mother-in-law Ursula has refused to sell them - though she is considering donating them to a British college for research purposes.

Perhaps if she did so, my life would take a turn for the better.

Meanwhile, my youngest two children and I are finally setting off for Cairo this month, preparing for our own long-awaited expedition down the Nile to the Valley of the Kings.

It is the only place on Earth, reasons my ten-year-old son (like his father a keen Egyptologist), where we might shake off the so-called "curse", make our peace with the Pharaohs and pick up the pieces of our shattered lives.

I hope we make it back in one piece. But if we're never heard of again - well, you'll know who to blame.

Source: The Daily Mail
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_
id=487991&in_page_id=1879

- TALES FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE DEPARTMENT -

Ghost Writers

When you hear of someone said to be possessed by a spirit, the first thing you probably think of is a writhing creature spitting obscenities, making a bed thump up and down, and perhaps with a spinning head. Obviously, that’s the undesirable kind of possession.

There are cases, however, of people who claim that more docile spirits possess them or work through them in astonishing ways. They don’t speak in some long lost Druidic tongue or make chests of drawers levitate, but have more creative, artistic things in mind, such as books and pieces of classical music.

Pearl Curran and Patience Worth

One of the most famous cases is that of Pearl Curran, a woman in St. Louis of little education who, beginning in 1913, produced a series of novels that she claimed was dictated to her by a spirit going by the name of Patience Worth.

Although Curran had no interest in spiritualism, she was persuaded to take part in a séance. Using a Ouija board, Curran spelled out the name of Patience Worth who later revealed that she was a native of Dorset, England in the 17th century who emigrated to America and was killed by an Indians. From that time, Curran and Worth became perhaps the most unusual literary collaborators of all time. Curran would enter a trance and receive dictation from Worth, the result of which were several novels that were widely praised by critics of the time.

Was Curran simply a naturally gifted writer who used the figure of Worth as a device for her own self-expression, perhaps not even consciously? The odd thing about the novels, which include The Sorry Tale, Hope Trueblood, and The Athenaeum, is that they are detailed historical novels written in a variety of literary styles. Those who knew Curran felt that she alone lacked the education, the historical knowledge and the literary skills to create such well-written stories. More unusual still, Curran would sometimes work on two of Worth’s books at once, alternating between titles and literary styles, without detriment to the theme of either. Their most highly praised work was the novel Telka, a story taking place in medieval England and told in the old English dialect of that period – although it is said that Curran had absolutely no knowledge of it.

Rosemary Brown and Franz Liszt (et al.)

Rosemary Brown surpassed even Curran with her artistic accomplishments, composing music, she claimed, through as many as 20 dead composers, many of them very well known. Born to a mother who was said to have psychic gifts, Rosemary claims that at age seven a white-haired spirit appeared to her and told her that she would become a famous musician. It wasn’t until 10 years later that, seeing his picture in a book, she realized the spirit was that of Franz Liszt. Despite the prophecy, Rosemary never became proficient in music, only taking a few piano lessons. In 1964, Rosemary, then a middle-aged British widow with two children, was again contacted by the spirit of Liszt. And he apparently brought some friends along. Rosemary began composing music through the guidance of such legendary composers as Bach, Chopin, Stravinsky, Schubert, Grieg, Debussy, Rachmoninoff, Liszt – even finishing Beethoven’s Tenth and Eleventh Symphonies.

The critical assessment of Rosemary Brown’s work is mixed. While all critics agreed that the compositions were definitely in the style of the composers to which they were attributed, some were very impressed with the works, finding several compositions to be subtle and complex. Other critics, however, argued that they were just reworkings of the composers’ known works, although they admitted that it would take a person of substantial musical knowledge and training even to pull off this feat – which Rosemary did not have. In fact, she had difficulty even playing many of the compositions she wrote down.

The Seth Material

One of the most extraordinary and controversial cases of channeled writing is that of Jane Roberts, who claimed to receive volumes of writing from a spirit personality named Seth.

Her story begins in 1963 when Jane, a writer, and her husband Rob, an artist, began experimenting with a ouija board in an effort to develop ESP powers. To their surprise, the Seth personality came through and began telling Jane, letter by letter, the most extraordinary information about life, the human condition and the potential of the human experience. Eventually, Jane was able to channel information from Seth directly, without the use of the Ouija board. "A fantastic avalanche of radical new ideas burst into my head with tremendous force," Jane said, "as if my skull were some sort of receiving station, turned up to an unbearable volume, my body sat at the table, my hands furiously scribbling down the words and ideas that flashed through my head."

The result, over many years and as many as 1,500 channeling sessions, were seven books that Jane said were dictated by Seth, including Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul, The Nature of Personal Reality and Dreams, "Evolution," and Value Fulfillment.

A Course in Miracles

It may not be commonly known that Helen Schucman's now-famous book A Course in Miracles was also the result of trance spirit channeling.
The book has been distilled and popularized by the interpretation of the work by Marianne Williamson in Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles" and subsequent books.

Helen Schucman was a Columbia University professor and psychologist who claimed to channel the text of the book in trance states that she experiences over a seven-year period. The author, she said, was none other than Jesus Christ himself, who dictated to her this "new gospel" in an effort to correct errors in commonly accepted scriptures and certain teachings of the Church. As you might expect, this claim has led to the denunciation of A Course in Miracles by mainstream religions (some have even called it demonically inspired), but has enjoyed a growing interest among many others, primarily through the books and lectures of Williamson. Its message is hardly demonic, essentially being one of love, forgiveness and spiritual growth.

How can these amazing accomplishments of these writers be explained? There are several possibilities:

    * We can accept the women at their word that spirits of the dead or other dimensions wrote through them; that they were chosen for some unknown reason to write these works via an unknown conduit to another plane of existence.
    * The women were somehow able to receive the knowledge (which they are said not to possess) telepathically from living artists or autors who did have a faculty for such work.
    * The women had the ability to tap into the collective unconscious and collective memory that may permeate all of us and create these specific works.
    * The women were remarkable savants. Like savants who have an incredible, unexplained faculty for mathematics, for example, the women had extraordinary development or activity in certain parts of their brains that allowed them to create these works of art with apparent ease... and even while being mysteries to themselves.

Source: paranormal.about.com/Stephen Wagner
http://paranormal.about.com/od/channeling/a/aa040405.htm

- WHISTLE WHILE YOU HAUNT DEPARTMENT -

Whistling Ghost Chases Woman

Many readers of this column get in touch with me on a weekly basis and often provide me with fascinating information regarding intriguing local history tales, UFO sightings, and, of course, details of encounters with the supernatural.

A recent email from a reader led to my investigation of the following story.

On Monday October 1, at 9pm, a 22-year-old woman named Hayley was walking up Menlove Gardens East on her way to a friend’s house on Eldred Road.

As Hayley walked along the leaf-covered pavement, her thoughts were as far as possible from the world of the paranormal, but as she passed Menlove Gardens North, she became aware of an eerie faint whistling sound.

She glanced around without stopping and out the corner of her eyes, she saw that someone was walking behind her, so she quickened her pace.

The whistling man seemed to speed up too, so Hayley delved into her handbag and took out her mobile phone, ready to call the police, for she felt the man behind her would pounce at any moment.

Suddenly, two girls, aged about fifteen or sixteen, walking on the other side of the road, let out a scream and halted in their tracks.

They were gazing directly at the man who had been walking close behind Hayley with their hands to their shocked faces.

Hayley turned around and saw to her horror that the man following her had no legs, and he looked as if he was floating several feet off the ground.

Scarier still, the man had two hollow black sockets where his eyes were supposed to be, his face and hands were a deathly white, and he was still whistling as he floated towards Hayley.

The teenage girls turned and ran off down Woolton Road, and Hayley ran across the same road in the other direction towards Eldred Road.

The ghostly pursuer apparently gave up the chase at the junction of Woolton Road and Menlove Gardens West, because Hayley looked back at that point, narrowly missing being hit by a car, and saw that the sinister legless apparition was nowhere to be seen.

I first received word of the curious ghost in 2001 at Radio Merseyside, and even staked out the Menlove Gardens area with two other ghost-hunters, but we saw nothing.

Now, it seems, the whistling phantom of Woolton is up to his old tricks again.

Some think he was a disgraced reverend, whilst a medium who investigated the floating stalker a few years ago has claimed he is Frederick Garrod, a butler who lost his legs in World War One.

Join my forum on www.slemen.com/forum if you want to know if there are ghosts in your area.

Source: ICseftonandwestlancs
http://icseftonandwestlancs.icnetwork.co.uk/icmaghull/news/tm_headline=
whistling-ghost&method=full&objectid=19924509&siteid=60252-name_page.html

- OUCH, YOU'RE ON MY CIRCUTS DEPARTMENT -

Sex and Marriage to Robots by 2050


Humans could marry robots within the century. And consummate those vows.

"My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots," artificial intelligence researcher David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told LiveScience. Levy recently completed his Ph.D. work on the subject of human-robot relationships, covering many of the privileges and practices that generally come with marriage as well as outside of it.

At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, "but once you have a story like 'I had sex with a robot, and it was great!' appear someplace like Cosmo magazine, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon," Levy said.

Pygmalion to Roomba

The idea of romance between humanity and our artistic and/or mechanical creations dates back to ancient times, with the Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion falling in love with the ivory statue he made named Galatea, to which the goddess Venus eventually granted life.

This notion persists in modern times. Not only has science fiction explored this idea, but 40 years ago, scientists noticed that students at times became unusually attracted to ELIZA, a computer program designed to ask questions and mimic a psychotherapist.

"There's a trend of robots becoming more human-like in appearance and coming more in contact with humans," Levy said. "At first robots were used impersonally, in factories where they helped build automobiles, for instance. Then they were used in offices to deliver mail, or to show visitors around museums, or in homes as vacuum cleaners, such as with the Roomba. Now you have robot toys, like Sony's Aibo robot dog, or Tickle Me Elmos, or digital pets like Tamagotchis."

In his thesis, "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners," Levy conjectures that robots will become so human-like in appearance, function and personality that many people will fall in love with them, have sex with them and even marry them.

"It may sound a little weird, but it isn't," Levy said. "Love and sex with robots are inevitable."

Sex in 5 years

Levy argues that psychologists have identified roughly a dozen basic reasons why people fall in love, "and almost all of them could apply to human-robot relationships. For instance, one thing that prompts people to fall in love are similarities in personality and knowledge, and all of this is programmable. Another reason people are more likely to fall in love is if they know the other person likes them, and that's programmable too."

In 2006, Henrik Christensen, founder of the European Robotics Research Network, predicted that people will be having sex with robots within five years, and Levy thinks that's quite likely. There are companies that already sell realistic sex dolls, "and it's just a matter of adding some electronics to them to add some vibration," he said, or endowing the robots with a few audio responses. "That's fairly primitive in terms of robotics, but the technology is already there."

As software becomes more advanced and the relationship between humans and robots becomes more personal, marriage could result. "One hundred years ago, interracial marriage and same-sex marriages were illegal in the United States. Interracial marriage has been legal now for 50 years, and same-sex marriage is legal in some parts of the states," Levy said. "There has been this trend in marriage where each partner gets to make their own choice of who they want to be with."

"The question is not if this will happen, but when," Levy said. "I am convinced the answer is much earlier than you think."

When and where it'll happen

Levy predicts Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize human-robot marriage. "Massachusetts is more liberal than most other jurisdictions in the United States and has been at the forefront of same-sex marriage," Levy said. "There's also a lot of high-tech research there at places like MIT."

Although roboticist Ronald Arkin at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta does not think human-robot marriages will be legal anywhere by 2050, "anything's possible. And just because it's not legal doesn't mean people won't try it," he told LiveScience.

"Humans are very unusual creatures," Arkin said. "If you ask me if every human will want to marry a robot, my answer is probably not. But will there be a subset of people? There are people ready right now to marry sex toys."

The main benefit of human-robot marriage could be to make people who otherwise could not get married happier, "people who find it hard to form relationships, because they are extremely shy, or have psychological problems, or are just plain ugly or have unpleasant personalities," Levy said. "Of course, such people who completely give up the idea of forming relationships with other people are going to be few and far between, but they will be out there."

Ethical questions

The possibility of sex with robots could prove a mixed bag for humanity. For instance, robot sex could provide an outlet for criminal sexual urges. "If you have pedophiles and you let them use a robotic child, will that reduce the incidence of them abusing real children, or will it increase it?" Arkin asked. "I don't think anyone has the answers for that yet—that's where future research needs to be done."

Keeping a robot for sex could reduce human prostitution and the problems that come with it. However, "in a marriage or other relationship, one partner could be jealous or consider it infidelity if the other used a robot," Levy said. "But who knows, maybe some other relationships could welcome a robot. Instead of a woman saying, 'Darling, not tonight, I have a headache,' you could get 'Darling, I have a headache, why not use your robot?'"

Arkin noted that "if we allow robots to become a part of everyday life and bond with them, we'll have to ask questions about what's going to happen to our social fabric. How will they change humanity and civilization? I don't have any answers, but I think it's something we need to study. There's a real potential for intimacy here, where humans become psychologically and emotionally attached to these devices in ways we wouldn't to a vibrator."

Levy is currently writing a paper on the ethical treatment of robots. When it comes to sex and love with robots, "the ethical issues on how to treat them are something we'll have to consider very seriously, and they're very complicated issues," Levy said.

Levy successfully defended his thesis Oct. 11.

Source: Live Science
http://www.livescience.com/technology/071012-robot-marriage.html

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