; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Daily 2 Cents: Experiences With the Dead -- A.I. Could Be Our 'Worst Mistake In History' -- Horrors of Forest Haven

Experiences With the Dead

I wanted to share a few experiences I've had with you all. I doubt I'll have time or space to tell you all of them, as my early life was pretty full but I'll share a few of my favourites with you.

The first story comes from my Mum, I was only four and so have no memory of this day. I was a very odd kid. My mum says I was one of those children who didn't really talk, I'd prefer my own company and that of books to other people. I was odd, but not creepy. I was pretty easy to take places, I was a really tiny kid and I was so quiet you'd barely notice I was there, so, when her grandfather died, she bundled me into the car seat and we all went to see Flora, my Mum’s grandma.

I quickly vanished, as I was apt to do, and my mum thought nothing of it. She was too busy comforting her family and thinking through funeral arrangements to worry much about me. When a half hour had passed and I hadn’t reappeared she began to worry and excused herself to go and find me. She looked all around the lower floor, under tables and inside cupboards (I liked to hide) but to no avail. She stood at the bottom of the stairs and called up to me to come down. She even tried to tempt me with the promise of a second cake. Nothing.

Eventually she started up the stairs and as she did I skipped down the hallway, looking pretty pleased with myself.

“Where were you?” she asked, whisking me up.

“I was with the man mummy. In the bedroom.”

“What man sweet?” she asked, scared someone might have gotten into the house.

I pointed to a picture of my deceased greatgrandfather on the wall. “That man mummy. He’s awfully nice.”

As you can imagine, this freaked my mum out pretty well. She told my dad about it and they decided to ignore it, thinking that I was just a kid with an active imagination. But it didn’t stop.

I would be in the back of the car and suddenly start laughing or talking to people who just weren’t there. One time I shouted out for them to stop the car. My dad did, thinking I was going to throw up or something. I pointed to a farm on the distance. “I lived there with the pigs Daddy. In the before. All the little boys are dead now.”

This was the final straw, they took me to a psychotherapist who told them I was normal. There were no abnormalities in my blood, scans or my tests and they should hope to see this ‘active imagination’ quell in a few years time.

It still didn't stop. By now, aged seven, I have recollections of what happened for myself and don’t need to rely on my parent's testimony.

The dead people I saw were my friends. They were so essential and normal to me that I used to get into trouble when I forgot which people were real and which weren't. At the time I was talking with a girl who told me she was ‘stuck.’ She used to get really cross and I remember being a bit afraid of her. She’d sit with me and we’d draw together in the evenings. When I look back now it’s terrifying. I had pages of drawings of coffins, death and blood. Again, for me then, it was normal.

She was starting to get more and more annoyed that I couldn’t help her. I knew that normally all I had to do was concentrate really hard and I’d help them to ‘pull open a crack’ but it wasn’t working with her. She started to play up at school, mostly breaking glass and turning on taps. It got to the point where each time I’d go to use the bathroom the minute the doors shut all the taps would turn on, flooding the floor in seconds. I made a teacher stand outside of the door while I went so I knew no one else was turning them on.

No one believed it wasn’t me doing it but I know it wasn’t.

The next day at school some of the kids were making fun of me, saying I was a freak. I was so mad I went into the bathroom and locked myself in a stall. I yelled at her, telling her she had to stop. That she was making people hate me.

The mains water pipe exploded beneath the bathroom. The school was closed that whole week.

These stories aren’t extraordinary for me. I saw people, spoke with people who other people just couldn’t see up until I was fifteen. Sometimes it was tough. Sometimes there would be so many of them around me I just wouldn’t know how to cope. It was like they were moths and I was a flame. Every corner, every empty chair, every night on the end of my bed.

My therapists since have said that ‘at least they’re gone’ but I’m not sure. I like to think that it’s my mind, playing some odd little trick. But if not, I’m pretty sure they’re not gone. I think I just can’t see them anymore. - Reddit.com


Bus-Size Asteroid Buzzes Earth, Comes Closer Than the Moon

A small asteroid about the size of a city bus zipped by Earth at a range closer than the moon early Saturday (May 3), but posed no threat to our planet.

The newly discovered asteroid 2014 HL129 came within 186,000 miles (299,338 kilometers) of Earth when it made its closest approach on Saturday morning, which is close enough to pass between the planet and the orbit of the moon. The average distance between the Earth and moon is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km).

You can watch a video animation of asteroid 2014 HL129's orbit around the sun on Space.com. The asteroid is about 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide, according to NASA's Asteroid Watch project based at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. It made its closest approach to Earth at 4:13 a.m. EDT (0813 GMT).

Saturday's close shave by asteroid 2014 HL129 came just days after its discovery on Wednesday, April 28, by astronomers with the Mt. Lemmon Survey team, according to an alert by the Minor Planet Center, an arm of the International Astronomical Union that chronicles asteroid discoveries. The Mt. Lemmon Survey team scans the night sky with a telescope at the Steward Observatory atop Mt. Lemmon in Arizona's Catalina Mountains.

NASA scientists and researchers around the world constantly monitor the sky for potentially dangerous asteroids that could pose a risk of impacting the Earth. - Space


Stephen Hawking Says A.I. Could Be Our 'Worst Mistake In History'

Writing in The Independent, the scientists warn:

...Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. An explosive transition is possible, although it might play out differently from in the movie: as Irving Good realised in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a "singularity" and Johnny Depp's movie character calls "transcendence".

One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.

So, facing possible futures of incalculable benefits and risks, the experts are surely doing everything possible to ensure the best outcome, right? Wrong. If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, "We'll arrive in a few decades," would we just reply, "OK, call us when you get here – we'll leave the lights on"? Probably not – but this is more or less what is happening with AI. Although we are facing potentially the best or worst thing to happen to humanity in history, little serious research is devoted to these issues outside non-profit institutes such as the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, the Future of Humanity Institute, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, and the Future Life Institute. All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks...


Abandoned Asylum: Horrors of Forest Haven

44 photos of Forest Haven Asylum

Kevin Feeheley and some old high school buddies were driving to a party not long ago when they decided to take a detour to explore a haunted village they'd heard about near the headquarters of the National Security Agency.

The rumor was that government agents accidentally killed everyone in a town east of Laurel with radiation, buried their bodies in unmarked graves and left without even cleaning up.

As his car's headlights swung around a bend, Feeheley saw evidence to suggest the ghost story was true. A cluster of buildings stood in a forest clearing with their doors gaping open and curtains lolling out of shattered windows. A stone slab announced that 389 people were buried in an adjacent field.

"I wondered what in the world went on here?" said Feeheley, a 20-year-old title clerk from Glen Burnie. "My nerves were really shot."

Like other young thrill-seekers in northern Anne Arundel County, Feeheley had been drawn to the ruins of Forest Haven, a District of Columbia institution for the mentally retarded that the U.S. Justice Department closed in 1991 because residents were dying of abuse and neglect.

Twenty years after a judge ordered the district to begin transferring the residents to group homes, Forest Haven's 21 decaying brick buildings remain as a symbol of the failed policy of institutionalizing the mentally disabled.

Community residents and fire officials are demanding that the district tear down the ruins that have become a magnet for young ghost-hunters, arsonists and vandals.

"D.C. has been a very bad neighbor," said Pastel S. Puffinberger, 69, a retired carpenter who lives about 200 yards from the entrance to Forest Haven. "They should bulldoze the place. The kids are breaking in there, doing dope and smashing windows. It's pretty creepy."

But district officials say they have no plans to demolish or retreat from their outpost in Maryland. They are talking about new construction on the site, which infuriates residents.

The district runs the Oak Hill youth detention center next door and is discussing using some of the Forest Haven property to build a jail in fiscal 2000, said Rhonda Stewart, spokeswoman for the district's Department of Human Services.

Gayle L. Turner, an administrator for the district's Youth Services Administration, said that the district has tried to board up the Forest Haven buildings but that teen-agers keep tearing down the boards.

"Initially, our focus was on deinstitutionalizing the patients, not making sure the buildings were well kept," Turner said. "But we are looking into the buildings now. We hope to install a gate across the entrance in the next 30 to 60 days."

Maryland City volunteer Fire Chief Ray Smallwood said the district's neglect has allowed the buildings to become a safety hazard. Teen-age partyers and other trespassers have started about 14 fires this year, he said.

"A lot of kids come up here at night, for sex, for booze, for drugs, to hang out and light fires. They think it's fun. I guess they like it better than the mall," said Smallwood.

The U.S. Park Police, who patrol the federal land on which the district-owned buildings sit, have responded to 16 reports of problems at Forest Haven this year, twice as many as last year, said spokesman Sgt. David Mulholland. About half were for trespassing; the rest for minor crimes such as abandoned vehicles.

In September, police arrested a 44-year-old Odenton man who was found lurking around one of the abandoned buildings with gloves and a flashlight.

"He said it was the closest thing he could find to a cave and he was exploring," Mulholland said. "We gave him an A for creativity, but a citation for trespassing."

Police have found a few young ghost-hunters. In March, police arrested two Linthicum men, ages 18 and 19, in their cars outside one of the bunker-like cottages.

"They had heard the complex was haunted, and they wanted to check it out," Mulholland said. "Given the history of the place, your imagination could run wild."

Institutional abuse

Forest Haven was the site of one of the top 10 worst cases of institutional abuse in U.S. history, said Tony Records, a Bethesda-based expert on mental retardation.

As part of a wave of class action lawsuits that forced a revolution in the way governments house the mentally disabled, parents who found their children covered with bruises in Forest Haven sued the district in 1976.

With the help of the Justice Department, they forced the district to transfer the roughly 1,000 residents into smaller and better-supervised group homes scattered throughout the city over about a decade.

Records said that some of the Forest Haven buildings should be preserved as a museum.

"I believe Forest Haven's history must be maintained because our nation must not forget how these vulnerable people were treated," he said. "We need to remember so we don't make the same mistake again." - Baltimore Sun

NOTE: Forest Haven is about 20 minutes from me and is not the only abandoned asylum in the Baltimore/Washington DC metro area. I was last there about 8 years ago. The Henryton State Hospital (near Marriotsville, MD) was just a few miles from me as well. It was one of the most haunted locations I have ever visited (razed in 2013). Lon



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