Monday, July 19, 2010

Well! Looks like it's possible.

While I'm at it, allow me to weigh in on the iPhone 4 debacle.

I went ahead and purchased the iPhone 4 with full knowledge of the external antenna "issue." So, I bought a simple case-type covering for it. I've had zero issues with the iPhone 4, with or without the case. I've tried to hold the iPhone the "wrong" way and had no decrease in signal strength. And I've had no other issues with the 4.

We have short memories. The first gen iPhone, which I bought in '07, was plagued with glitches. The most serious, for me, involved the failure of the device to switch back and forth from headphone mode. What this meant was that, for me and thousands of others, if you unplugged the Apple-issued headphones, the iPhone did not switch back to regular mode, and you were unable to make calls. You could hear the caller, but the caller could not hear you. This was a major bug; various remedies were posted (one YouTube showed you how to clean out the headphone jack with a q-tip), but nothing worked. I has an appointment at an Apple store to swap out my phone. The morning of the appointment, I had a dream that my iPhone had started working. I woke up, checked the phone, and the dreaded "(headphones)" designation was gone. (A subsequent firmware patch fixed it finally.)

And have we forgotten the crappy 3G reception of the iPhone 3G? Apparently... because I never see it mentioned anymore. Point is, every initial iPhone run has had some sort of issue. But not until the 4G did these bugs become matters of cosmic importance. I'm not a Mac fanboy... My everyday box is Ubuntu, which I like a lot. I have a really good Dell with Windows 7, which is also a good OS. But for mobile, I prefer the iPhone... And likely always will. Naysayers argue that Apple just refined the innovativions of others, but I disagree. The iPhone was a radical device in '07. Steve Jobs went out on a big limb: the "no-keyboard" keyboard... the "walled garden" of iTunes being the primary software interface... the App Store. They've all worked. And the iPhone has gone from being a revolutionary device to a very good, solid, and useful device (even with still-crappy battery life). So if you are leaning toward getting one--get it.

Posting to Blogger by iPhone and mobile Safari...

Possible? Or impossible? I'm about to find out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some initial thoughts on John Gillanders (Paratopia episode 73)

I skipped ahead to hear this one (still haven't listened to the prior two, or the "curtain call"), mostly because it's a subject that people in the paranormal field talk around alot, but rarely discuss in detail: the subject of OOBEs, and how (or if) the experience is different from that of "sleep paralysis" or "lucid dreams." So I have to give John Gillanders cudos for putting himself out there in that way. It took him a while to get started, and there was a bit of reverb in his recording, but once he got started, he had some interesting points to make. Haven't heard the classic Jeff and Jer after-chat yet, so my initial impression is untainted, as it were.

A slight criticism: There's a reason that the two-host paranormal podcast is better than the usual one-host--the "other" tends to keep the "one" grounded. And Gillanders probably would have benefited from some grounding. But he made some salient observations, and I have little doubt that he has experienced genuine OOBEs. (In any case, I don't have the guts to do a podcast like he did, so I have no basis for criticism.)

I got burned online about a decade ago while discussing OOBEs; it's a long story, but short story is that I got ridiculed in a very public forum for broaching my experiences (after I was sharply attacked personally), so I've never written about them since.

Nonetheless, whereas most of us may never see a UFO, or a ghost, most of us can have an OOBE, once a few basic techniques are learned. So this is the easiest (and probably the safest) gateway into an altered framework that a human can experience.

Like Gillanders, I was initiated into the craft by the late, great Robert Monroe. Surprisingly, I found his "Journeys Out Of The Body" in clear view, in my college library. I don't remember him elaborating on any techniques, but if I tried anything he mentioned, I did not have an OOBE.

I actually did not become a repeat-OOBE'r until I read Seth / Jane Roberts' "Dreams and Projections Of Consciousness" in 1986, and like Gillanders's experience, once I had cracked open the book, I had my first vivid OOBE that very night. It was as if some part of me was triggered by the book, and my conscious-aware part granted the other part permission.

Since that time I've had a number of OOBEs, which I have documented through the years. Not only have I been "observed" by others while out of the body, I've found verification for some of the more puzzling aspects of the OOBE phenomenon--such as projecting through a room and seeing, not the room as it actually physically appears--but, instead, a reverse-mirror image of it. I've traveled back (and forward) in time (though nothing quite as dramatic as Whitley Strieber's recent experience). I've put my hand up to walls and felt the slight resistance that many experiencers feel, only to feel my hand break through to the other side of it.

In a nutshell, I've had many OOBEs, and I've remembered them, and I've gathered enough personal evidence to demonstrate to me that the experience is "real." It is not a dream; it is not a hallucination. The experiences that one has in a valid OOBE are just as objectively "real" as one has in physical life.

Personally, I think that tremendous knowledge of the edges of our physical reality can be gained from observing the out-of-body experience. And once you've had a vivid OOBE, your essential orientation to physical existence is altered--because you realize that consciousness is, essentially, non-physical... and from this awareness, you can begin to question many of the root assumptions that govern our politics, our religions, and our sciences.

Hopefully this episode will be one of many.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bart Ehrman on Coast To Coast March 13 (thumbs up)

Just got around to listening to this episode and really did not know what to expect; Ian Punnett has hosted some strange guests with some questionable opinions of late; but a show on Biblical textual criticism is right down my alley, and I enjoyed it.

I was surprised that Ian Punnett, who is an ordained minister, would invite a guest who argues agnosticism from a post-Christian perspective. I didn't listen to the call-in portion, but I can imagine that it was a bit hot--just as you don't question the principle tenets of Islam in Saudi Arabia, you don't question Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. of A. But what interested me about the show is how my life path mirrored, in a very superficial way, Ehrman's life path. He started out as a committed fundamentalist (or, perhaps more accurately, a strict constructionist of the Biblical writings), to a period of equivocation where he tried to reconcile his beliefs with the contradictions that life experience presented him, to, finally, agnosticism. (Though I have passed through my agnostic phase.) The show was, at the very least, a useful antidote to the extreme religiosity that characterizes much of American life (on the surface, at least). I've seen the pendulum swing several times in my life, so perhaps it's swinging back around again.

As someone who believes in an afterlife and, in a non-specific way, to entities and forces higher than myself, I wasn't really bothered by Ehrman's agnosticism. It didn't threaten my opinions. But then, I think that most Americans are reared with an automatic sense of entitlement to telling others what and how to think (and bombing them if they resist); and if life experience does not succeed in knocking this out of us, then, perhaps, episodes like this might cause us to begin to backtrack, if only marginally.