Dec 31st

My Agenda Today

By sirtanicmills

A big day. My birthday. One that involves numbers that defy belief.

Friends will arrive around mid-day and whisk me off to lunch. There will be 16 of us. There will be noise and taxis will be essential to return to Mills Towers.

We shall continue over games, but at slow pace in order that we shall be in some kind of condition to party vigorously later on, through to the early hours.

I hope to survive it but I think a little contingency plan is in order. Whilst I still can, I would like to wish all Cloudies a Happy, Healthy and Fulfilling New Year.


Dec 29th

Wot? No Ghosts, Brian?

By Gerry

Last Tuesday morning, I listened to the Christmas Special edition of The Infinite Monkey Cage, a ‘witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes’ (as it declares on the webpage).


The topic was Ghosts, and after the initial introductions, Brian Cox had this to say: ‘Before we ask the first question, I want to make a statement. We are not here to debate the existence of ghosts because they don’t exist. If we want some sort of pattern that carries information about our living cells to persist, then we must specify precisely what medium carries that pattern and how it interacts with different matter particles out of which our bodies are made. We must in other words invent an extension to the standard model of particle physics that has escaped detection at the Large Hadron Collider. That’s almost inconceivable at the energy scales typical of the particle interactions in our bodies. And so we need not discuss this further. Does anybody object to this at all? No? Excellent. Carry on.’


A few moments later Neil deGrasse Tyson, guesting on the show, asked: ‘Brian, if I understand what you just declared, you just asserted that CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear research, disproved the existence of ghosts.’


Brian Cox: ‘Yes.’


Now, I know it is a humorous show, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Brian Cox make his statement at a pace that overwhelmed our capacity to register the details. It’s sort of funny to do that. It’s also a naughty debating tactic. Overwhelming pace can easily be mistaken for overwhelming evidence.


So let’s slow down and have a think.


First of all, is it scientific to be certain about anything? Once certainty creeps in, investigation ceases, and science comes to a stop. For example, how many scientists are seriously investigating Near Death Experiences, Out of Body Experiences, historical case files of the Society for Psychical Research, ‘impossible’ reincarnation ‘memories’ amongst small children, etc, etc? How many would dare, bearing in mind the likely funding issues?


Secondly, is it philosophically feasible to prove a negative? In a closed system, yes. For example, we can be reasonably sure there is no elephant in the room. But can we be 100% sure there is no monster in Loch Ness? (99.9% perhaps, but 100%?)


Now, to exclude any sort of interaction between ghost ‘reality’ and physical reality would require an elephant-in-the-room level of certainty. Brian Cox thinks he has it because he knows, via CERN, everything there is to know about particle interactions in the Standard Model (perhaps).


But are those the only possible interactions? Here come two exceptions. Quantum entanglement allows instantaneous interactions between charged particles at cosmic distances, a phenomenon so unlikely that Einstein famously dismissed it as “spooky action at a distance”. Nonetheless it works and is the basis for quantum computers.


Another weird phenomenon is gravity, originally dismissed, pre Newton, as an occult force, and for the same reason. It appears to be action at a distance, without any connecting medium. However, post Einstein, it is understood to result from the curvature of space. Oh yes, and what is space? Well, mostly emptiness. Nothingness. So gravity is a curvature of nothing. And that’s how the Earth makes the Moon go round it. By curving nothing.


And so, encouraged by these two non-CERN interactions, let us see what might be a candidate for the link between ghost ‘reality’ and physical reality. Step forward please Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Centre, and let us quote from his February 2013 YouTube article, ‘A Universe is a Free Lunch’:


‘The leading candidate for dark matter today is called the sparticle. The sparticle is the next octave of the string. Now look around you. Everything around you, we think, is nothing but the lowest vibration of a vibrating string, the lowest octave in some sense. But a string, of course, has higher octaves, higher notes. We think that dark matter could in fact be nothing but a higher vibration of the string. So we think that 23% of the universe, which is the dark matter's contribution to the universe, comes from a higher octave of the string. Now, the standard model, which we have ample verification of, only represents four percent of the universe. So the universe of atoms, protons, neutrons, neutrinos – that universe only represents four percent of what there is. 23% is dark matter, which we think is the next vibration up of the string, and then 73% of the universe is dark energy.


Let’s not get into Dark Energy: it’s too weird to contemplate. But Dark Matter, ‘a higher octave of the string’? Can anyone see the possibilities there?


Let’s put it this way. Anyone who plays a stringed instrument, say a guitar or a piano, knows that a note vibrating at one octave can set the same note vibrating at a different octave. For instance, hold down a middle C on a piano – don’t play it, just hold it open – then play a C one octave below. Bingo, the middle C sounds even though you haven’t played it.


So here is an idea to play with. Perhaps ghosts inhabit some sort of dark matter. There’s plenty of the stuff (even more than Michio Kaku says, 26.8 % according to the 2013 Planck probe). Thus when a ghost moves within its own ‘octave’ it sets up a resonance in our ‘octave’ which some of us may detect.


How would we detect it? Because arguably we all have – as the saying goes – a ‘ghost in the machine’. That is our bodies, and brains, might be very clever machines, but we drive them with our minds (our ghosts). And when we die, our ghosts (souls, spirits, astral bodies, dark matter selves, whatever) continue functioning in their ‘octave’ – only there’s no physical matter distracting them any more.


This can be so scary that some ghosts immediately refocus on the physical world and get round to a bit of haunting. (Think films like ‘The Others’ or Patrick Swayze’s ‘Ghost’.)


Obviously there can be numerous objections to all this. For instance, the vibrating piano strings need a connecting medium – air – ‘In Space No One Can Hear You... Play the Piano’, so what would be the medium between one octave of the string and another? (The string itself perhaps?)


And how can we test the way that Dark Matter interacts with Physical Matter? Answer: we can’t. That’s why we call it Dark Matter. Because we can’t detect it – except at vast gravitational scales. Therefore, it remains hidden, undetected, occult. (Go on, check it in a thesaurus: that sort of ‘dark’ means, amongst other synonyms, ‘occult’.)


And how do we know whether there’s much, or any, Dark Matter in our vicinity? We can’t. It’s dark. There may be oodles. There may just be spitty little bits. We don’t know.



And why should we believe Michio Kaku and his String speculations? No reason. Just so long as we don’t go trusting Coxy cos he looks good on a mountain in jeans. Let the scientists fight it out – but they’ve got to play fair and not try inflicting any naughty unscientific certainties on us.

Dec 28th

It's the thought that counts

By Mezz
by Mezz 17 mins ago
Hello! Welcome, welcome. Come on in.
What's this? Really? For me? A gift?
How thoughtful. Have you got the receipt?

Don't shout !!

I know I haven't even opened it yet but - Be honest - You're not known for your good taste are you?
I mean, I'm easily pleased, as you know, but ...

I most certainly AM!
I can't help it if you buy things with no real thought for the recipient put in.
Impulse buying I think they call that.
Be careful. At your age that can escalate to kleptomania.
Definitely no receipt then?


Well, I know everybody else SEEMS perfectly delighted when you decide to give a gift just because; and I quote;
"I saw this and my first thought was you."
They're your family.
Bless you for trying, though.

What are you doing?

No! Don't put it back in your bag. I won't hear of it!
You've made the effort so far be it for me to be churlish.
Give it here.
I'll just pop it in my cupboard.

It is quite full isn't it.

I KNOW I haven't opened it. For goodness sake!
Would YOU like a gift that looked like it had been opened already?

Why would I want to know what's in it?
It's going to be a gift for someone else.

What do you mean?

Are you seriously asking How will I know who to give it to if I haven't even opened it?
LOOK! It's obvious. It's a present cupboard.
The Christmassy wrapped ones are on the top shelf and Birthday paper ones are on the bottom.

Like I said to you earlier, it's the thought that counts;
so don't feel bad you didn't get a receipt.

You have to go? So soon?

I can only assume "You are the living end." is a compliment.
Bye for now. Pop back soon.
Dec 24th

Spirits on a Christmas Eve

By Momo

It's an interesting and strange place where I live. In fact it is like two cities in one. It seems that there are two spirits of the place. And because each of them is a spirit of the place, there are two places here - or two cities. One of the cities inspires us against everything boring in our lives. The other one inspires us against everything dangerous in our lives. I do not want to sound like someone certain in these kinds of things, because you can never be certain except if you were a priest, and I am not priest. Sometimes I wish I were a priest so I would understand it better, but I have never thought that in certain period of my life I would be interested in spirits. However, it may be better this way - now I an able to comprehend these matters more unconventionally. I imagine spirits as ideals or archetypes or dispositions that everyone seems to consider, although we are rarely ready to admit it. Some of us are more close to reaching them. And those are who I am interested in. Speaking with them, even passing each other on the pavement - that is enough to change you and come with a different point of view. My point of view on this Christmas Eve - after seeing some people of opposite disposition today - is that there is peace between the cities where I live. I may even say that it is a peaceful - even though strange - place.          

Dec 23rd

Gnossiennes (interludes for the Wellbeing project)

By Edward Picot

gnossiennes image

Three short videos based on Eric Satie's Gnossiennes, and designed to be used as interludes between the text-videos in the Wellbeing project.

The paintings in Gnossienne 2 are by Edward Hopper.

Gnossienne 1 -
Gnossienne 2 -
Gnossienne 3 -

Dec 22nd

at a theatre near you. (RE-homlessless)

By mike

Good luck with your book project

I visit london theaters frequently and am  very much aware of homeless people.* This may seem a contradiction. I remember attempting a story about this very paradox a few years ago in which  the barrier between these two worlds is breached.

    My contribution to the   local homeless is to give money to the local church.  This is St Martins-in-the-Fields’ which is in Trafalgar Square.   (I think Radio 4 is sponsoring their appeal this year.)   If you have any spare cash left at such a late date, I am sure it would be appreciated.  If you look at their web-site you will see that they can be first point of contact for the homeless too. 

   ‘St Martins-in-the Fields’ is one of my favourite London places, as I am sufferer from intense social snobbery, and this is not  a concern of this church.  

    I am off to the theatre this evening,  It is only a standing position and the play is Shaw’s St Joan -  for the grand cost of £7.50.  


*There may be a practical reason.  Theaters present a long bare wall in roads where shops predominate.    There are always people sleeping rough in the Strand and around Charing Cross station

Dec 20th

Stories for Homes TWO!

By Skylark

Very exciting news shared by Debi today:

Heads up,lovely SfH community. We're back on the road with plans for Volume 2! Sally Swingewood and I met this afternoon and these are our thoughts. Settle down, pour yourself a cuppa tea or gin and read on.

We don't want to automatically have the same people as before. Though you/they are all very welcome to submit, we'd also like others to have the opportunity to launch their journeys through the anthology, as many already have. And we'd love to have some people who are already published too, so there's a good mix. The standard of the stories has to be maintained and that needs to come first so we reckon it would be best for the submissions to be anonymous ie names not included on the Word doc.We'll print them out and read them without linking them to the sender.

We're thinking that this time we need more people to do some of the admin stuff. We would still receive all the submissions, select the best, choose the running order, match authors and editors and do the final edit and check of the proof copy.

We'd like other people to volunteer for the following:

1) Crowdfunding for start-up costs.
2) Handling all the finance side including keeping track of how much we make for Shelter.
3) Doing all the techy stuff for conversions for both e-book and paperback.
4) Handling the Amazon side, including tracking sales (this might be tied in with 1 and 2)).
5) Updating the website.

We're ready to accept submissions now! Deadline 14 Feb. Get submitting and please spread the word. Word count 100-3000. Please email them as a Word attachment to and copy in Don't forget to leave your name off the Word doc
Launch of e-book in early Sept
Launch of paperback mid-Nov

We thought a calendar would work well. It would be an additional source of fundraising and would broaden the community by including photographers and visual artists. Perhaps there could be some poems or flash fiction to go with each image so that people whose story isn't chosen for the anthology would have another way to be included. Thoughts?

Dec 20th


By Momo

I am. It means that I am lucky. Although I love only myself, I think that I am still lucky. Anyway, I wish that I may love somebody else. It would make me really lucky. So I try to love girls all the time. Unsuccessfully. May be I am not that lucky after all. May be I am a girl and I should try to love boys. But I am looking for my own unique solution. May be I should try to love myself not as a boy but as a girl. That would be most difficult. But it would make me a little less unlucky than I am and much more lucky than I would be if I was not that lucky. 

Dec 20th

At a cinema near you

By mike

     Theatre is an interest of mine and this just curiosity.  Last Thursday I attended the ‘live’ performance of ‘No Man’s Land’ by Harold Pinter at my local cinema,  These ‘live’ transmissions are international.   Did anybody else see this performance, or indeed, did anybody see this particular stage production? It began life in New York several years ago and I  finishes its English run at the Wyndham’s theatre in London.

       There are only four actors in the play and two of these are Sir Ian Mackellan and Patrick Stewart.   It would have been difficult to get a seat for the London run as it had been almost immediately booked up.





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