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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Just the Facts?: 'Linda' Was No Joke! -- The Science of Miracles -- ‘Invisible Sex’ Frightens Teachers

'Linda' was no joke!

A bit of backstory is required, so I'll apologize if this becomes a wall o'text. My wife and I have each lived in our current home once before: my wife with her family several years ago, and me from March '11 through August '12.

While her family lived here, they experienced odd happenings that they jokingly attributed to a ghost. They eventually named this ghost Linda, and to this day still discuss Linda as if she were a real person. When I moved into the house in 2011 they jokingly warned me about Linda, but I never experienced anything I would call paranormal.

As fate would have it, the wife and I ended up back in the house together when we exchanged vows earlier this year. I moved in first, and she followed suit a few weeks later. After I had been in the house for about a month, electrical appliances all over the house started dying. Naturally, I called in an electrician but he said that there were no issues with any wiring or the like. Just bad luck, I thought. It was around that time the wife started having bad insomnia and nightmares when she could actually fall asleep, though she could never remember what they were about. She also started joking about Linda more often since she is paranoid at night and likes to try and lighten the mood for herself, going so far as to actually talk to Linda for minutes at a time.

Everything eventually returned to some semblance of normality until last week, when the dryer died. The wife's nightmares and insomnia returned, and so did the talking with Linda. I finally asked where the name came from, and she said that she had arbitrarily named the ghost Linda. Then she shared a story that I hadn't heard before. Sometime after naming Linda while she was living in the house with her family, they received a letter addressed to Linda [their last name]. Now, that's a huge coincidence, isn't it? Mail ends up at the wrong addresses all the time, and companies will sometimes misname recipients, but to receive a letter at the correct address for a person matching the name of an arbitrarily named imaginary ghost is to much.

It doesn't end there, though. I sat down last night and listed all the appliances that have suddenly died and was startled to realize that they were all mine, and that electrical Armageddon had begun the week my wife moved in. What the Hell is going on?! - Reddit


The Science of Miracles

When Pope John Paul II died eight years ago, supporters chanted "Santo subito," or "Sainthood now!"

It looks like his supporters will finally be getting their wish. The former pope's path to sainthood is almost complete, with the Vatican recently confirming that he performed two miracles. Now all that's left is the official canonization ceremony, which has not been scheduled yet. The process of certifying miracles in the Catholic Church goes back centuries and involves an investigation by scientific experts.

Though it may seem strange to outsiders, verifying that miracles have occurred can strengthen people's beliefs, said Michael O'Neill, who runs the website

"Even people who are believers in God have an attraction to proofs of his existence. Sometimes it seems like he's hiding," O'Neill said. "Miracles are a way that people see God touching the world."

Long road to sainthood

In the Catholic religion, saints are people who are in heaven with God. Though many more people may be in heaven and technically saints, those deemed official saints of the church are ones that the Catholic church knows are in heaven. As such, people can pray to these saints, who sometimes intercede on their behalf with God.

But determining who is in heaven is a tricky proposition. That's where miracles come in. According to the church, miracles, or divine events that have no natural or scientific explanation, serve as proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede with God to change the ordinary course of events.

The Catholic Church uses a formal process to determine who is a saint. First, that person's life is thoroughly investigated. If deemed virtuous enough, the person is said to be a servant of God. If they've exhibited heroic levels of virtue in their life, they are considered venerable. To become saints, however, they need to have performed two miracles after death.

Miracle commission

Toward that end, a Vatican-appointed Miracle Commission sifts through hundreds or even thousands of miraculous claims. Typically, the commissions are composed of theologians and scientific experts.

Nearly all, or "99.9 percent of these are medical miracles," O'Neill said. "They need to be spontaneous, instantaneous and complete healing. Doctors have to say, 'We don't have any natural explanation of what happened,'" O'Neill said.

A woman whose breast cancer was cured wouldn't qualify, for instance, if she was given a 10 percent chance of survival — she would need to be told there was no chance of survival before any divine intervention, said the Rev. Stephan Bevans, a theology professor at the Catholic Theological Union.

In 2010, former Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that John Paul II had posthumously healed a French nun suffering from Parkinson's disease. The church recently confirmed a second miracle, when a Costa Rican woman's brain injury spontaneously healed after praying to John Paul II.

Miracles can be confirmed only if the healed person prayed solely to one person, such as John Paul II, during their ordeal. That way, there can be no mix-up when determining which person in heaven interceded on their behalf, O'Neill said.

Recent tradition

The process of using miracles to determine saints has a relatively short history in the Catholic Church. Prior to 1531, when a Spanish peasant reportedly saw an image of the Virgin Mary in the slopes surrounding Mexico City, miracles weren't required and saints were agreed upon mostly through tradition or martyrdom, O'Neill told LiveScience.

The rules regarding miracles and sainthood changed as recently as John Paul II's tenure. He reduced the required number of miracles to two, from three.

And as science has explained more and more over the years, many things that would have been considered miracles in the past are no longer seen that way, Bevans said.

Although miracles are still technically required, "I think they've receded in importance" as criteria for sainthood, Bevans told LiveScience. "It's the holiness of the life of the person that counts."

That may be the main value of saints, Bevans said.

John Paul II, for instance, has "performed the miracles, so to speak, but he's also somebody who many people have found a great inspiration. His holiness was so evident," Bevans said. - Discovery

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India's Most Haunted Location

How many of us believe in ghosts? Do they actually exist? Can they be felt? Believers will reply in affirmative and non-believers will perish the thought. But everybody would like to take a trip to THE den of the ghosts and such was the trip to Bhangarh, considered India’s “most haunted” place.

Although it is a 300-km drive away from Delhi, yet a handful of people know about it. We started driving towards Bhangarh from Delhi early morning, expecting the journey to last not more than four hours. As not many people frequent the place, we did not have any first hand information and took guidance from a map and distance measurements available on the internet.

After crossing Gurgaon we proceeded towards Bhiwadi and turned to Alwar district in Rajasthan. Till this point we did not encounter any problem; it was a nice long drive and a little anxiety about what we would encounter at the fort.

From Alwar, as we crossed the Sariska reserve, the weather conditions changed. The sky became completely dark and in the afternoon it seemed like 7 o’ clock in the evening. Dark clouds started descending over the Aravalli range and both melted into each other.

The weather condition was becoming hostile the more we approached the fort. To add to our plight, we bumped our way over at least two kilometres where there was no asphalt on the surface.

After crossing Ajabgarh, we entered into Bhangarh territory. It started raining profusely. It rained so much that visibility was down to 500 metres. Luckily we were carrying umbrellas and so without wasting a minute’s time, we jumped out of the car and entered the fort. The lush green grass in the fort and its adjoining area surprised us. It did not at all seem like a place in the desert state of Rajasthan. There were many local tourists who came in groups, mostly youngsters. The dilapidated fort and the ruins welcomed us.

As we entered we found a Hanuman temple right next to the main gate. The sprawling premises has more than half a dozen temples: Hanuman Temple, Gopinath Temple, Someswar Temple, Keshav Rai Temple, Mangla Devi Temple, Ganesh Temple and Naveen Temple and a very strategically positioned Purohitji ki Haveli. It left us wondering how ghosts stay in a premises where there are so many temples!

A young tourist, Babulal, who was in a group of 10, said: “We all have come to see bhoot bangla (the fort of the ghosts)! We have heard about this place a lot and hence thought of coming once.”

As we entered, we saw a Dancers’ Haveli and Jauhari Bazar. All dilapidated now, but locals say paranormal activities are observed in these places at night. Further down the sprawling expanse of the fort was the Gopinath Temple, crossing which we reached the Royal Palace. It is located at the farthest end of the fort area.

The architecture of the buildings and the fort speaks volumes of the talent and acumen of the people during the rule of Bhagwant Das who established the town in 1573.

There are many myths about the place. It is believed that the entire township was obliterated in a day. But no written evidence has been found till date.

Against the backdrop of the Royal Palace stands the Aravalli Range. Bisram Nath, who works in the Someswar Temple said at times wild animals come down from the mountain ranges at night. “A few families like ours stay within the premise. We stay near the Ganesh Temple. The biggest problem is that the area does not have electricity.”

The Archeological Survey of India has put up a board on the fort gate that it is prohibited for tourists to stay inside the fort area after sunset and before sunrise. Locals say whoever has tried to stay inside after sunset was never found.

Standing on the terrace of the Royal Palace one can view the vast expanse of the fort. It has four gates – Lahori Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Phulbari Gate and Delhi Gate. It seems life has come to a standstill in this area.

Like all other tourists, we also left the place before sunset with many questions remaining still unanswered in our minds. - First Post

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‘Invisible sex’ frightens teachers

Teacher at Nashongo and Makaba primary schools in Siavonga have threatened to abandon the schools for fear of witchcraft.

The teachers have packed their belongings in readiness for departure if the wizards and witches continue with their acts.

Chief Sinadambwe of the Tonga-speaking people confirmed this yesterday.

The traditional leader said the teachers have complained of sleepless nights and bad dreams allegedly caused by wizards and witches.

“The male teachers complained that they have been having sex with women they cannot see. This has been happening to them for about three weeks,” he said.

Chief Sinadambwe said the same incidents were being experienced by female teachers.

“I received a complaint from a female teacher of Makaba Primary School who told me what had happened to her on Friday.

“She said while sleeping next to her husband, an invisible man undressed her and had sex with her,” he said.

He said when she woke up, she found herself naked and her nightdress and underwear were on the floor.

Chief Sinadambwe said when the woman asked her husband if he had intercourse with her late in the night, he expressed ignorance.

“The husband started wondering who could have done that to his wife,” he said.

The chief, however, advised the teachers to drop their intentions to leave the schools and assured them that the problem would be resolved.

Chief Sinadambwe called on Government to help resolve the matter. - Daily-Mail



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