Archive

Here are some old pages from previous versions of the website
(may contain broken links)

The CFZ Mystery Cat Database (software).
This is a web-based application that I produced for Jon Downes as a front-end to a large database he had built up containing reports of Big Cat sightings. The interface works on some browsers but not on others. There is a short video demonstration on YouTube.
Mathematics and Mysticism (article). The Aquarian, February 2006. (online)
A short article on the subject of irrational numbers, sacred geometry and mediaeval Gothic architecture. Originally written for Mensa's New Age Aquarian newsletter -- "Beyond conventional thought in science, religion and philosophy; towards a synthesis of these..."
Three UFO-themed limericks (poetry). Fortean Times, July 2008. (online)
I entered the Fortean Times Brain of Ufology 2008 quiz and won! This required a UFO-themed limerick as a tie-breaker, and I ended up producing three of these (although I only used one in the end).
Parsifal as Proto-SF (article). Interaction, August 2005. (online)
Wagner's Parsifal isn't like any other opera -- it's all about abstract ideas of philosophy, metaphysics and theology, which places it firmly in the realm of speculative fiction. In its subject matter and approach, Parsifal can be seen as a precursor to the novels of Philip K Dick and the Matrix trilogy. This paper was originally presented as part of the academic track at Interaction, the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention held in Glasgow in August 2005.
Cosmic Geometry (article). Mystery Magazine, January 2005. (online)
"As above, so below..." Following in the footsteps of Graham Hancock, this article shows how the constellation of Aquarius is mirrored in key sites across England's mystical West Country, including Stonehenge, Warminster, Glastonbury, Wells and Cerne Abbas.
The Lone Gunmen (letter). Fortean Times, December 2002. (online)
The September 2002 issue of Fortean Times contained an article on 9/11 conspiracy theories. This prompted me to write to them pointing out similarities between some of these theories and the pilot episode of the TV series The Lone Gunmen, which aired several months before the events of 9/11. FT printed part of my letter in issue 165 (December 2002), but only a tiny part (about two-thirds of the final sentence, in fact!). My letter appeared immediately after a much longer letter from someone else, which already included the bulk of the substance of my own letter - hence the editing. I can't complain though, because the "someone else" was none other than Bruce Harwood, the actor who played Byers in both The Lone Gunmen and The X-Files (my favorite character in both series!). Anyway, here is the full text of my letter for anyone who's interested.
Sender Theory (letter). Fortean Times, September 2004. (online)
The July 2004 issue of Fortean Times contained a spoof article entitled "Charles B Horn and the Senders", which appealed to me because the (totally fictitious) Professor Horn was an amalgam of two of my favorite archetypes -- the UFO believer and the postmodernist academic. However, I felt the article stretched credulity somewhat by combining both archetypes in a a single personality, and that's what prompted me to write this letter. I was flattered that it was positioned first out of the six letters FT printed on the subject two issues later.
Lunar secrets (letter). UFO Magazine, February 2003. (online)
I've always been interested in the question of whether the Americans really did land on the Moon, and what information they're witholding on the subject. I don't really have any strong views one way or the other, but I'm fascinated by the debate and the extent to which the establishment view relies on a nanny-like "believe what we tell you to believe". It's always nice to catch the experts out in a self-contradiction, such as the one I pointed out in this letter to UFO Magazine (the UK version).
Metaphysical quotations from the novels of Philip K Dick (web page). PhilipKDick.com, January 2003. (online)
It's taken slightly over thirty years from start to finish, but I've finally finished reading all of Dick's science fiction novels. When I looked back at them in chronological order, I noticed some interesting trends in the progression of philosophical ideas -- a feature I've tried to bring out in this structured selection of Philip K Dick quotes.
Brian Aldiss on Philip K Dick (web page). PhilipKDick.com, September 2000. (online)
This is a review of the small-press book "Kindred Blood in Kensington Gore: Philip K Dick in the Afterlife", published by Brian Aldiss in 1992. Actually the book is a short playlet, which I've seen on stage with Aldiss himself playing the part of PKD. The work provides some interesting insights into both Dick and Aldiss.
Quantum Shiatsu (letter). Shiatsu Society News, Spring 2000. (online)
I wrote this letter in reponse to an article in the previous issue, basically to endorse the views expressed in the article about some of the correspondences between the ideas of oriental medicine and those of modern physics. In particular, I referred to the thought-provoking experiments of Jacques Benveniste.
Metaphors in Science (letter). Physics World, December 2000. (online)
An article in the previous issue discussed the use of metaphors in science, but the point I made in this letter was that scientific theories are themselves a (uniquely powerful) form of metaphor for the real world, rather than being "real" in themselves. I also touched on cultural relativism, which is another view which goes against the grain of the mainstream scientific establishment.
Buddhism and Science (letter). The Middle Way, May 2000. (online)
I was a member of the Buddhist Society from the early 1990s until a couple of years ago, and they published a number of book reviews by me in their quarterly journal, "the Middle Way" (see below). I wrote this letter in response to two separate articles in preceding issues, one arguing for the compatibility of Buddhism and modern physical science, and the other a rather intolerant attack on scientists from a Buddhist perspective. Not surprisingly, my letter supported the first article, and used its arguments to dispute the second!
Buddhism and Human Rights (book review). The Middle Way, August 1998. (online)
This was the first book the Buddhist Society asked me to review for them, and I think I did a pretty good job given that it's the proceedings of an academic conference in a subject area where I'm far from being an expert. The book itself can be found online, in a back-issue of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics.
Buddhism and the Natural World (book review). The Middle Way, February 1999. (online)
This was an easier book to review, because it's aimed at a non-specialist audience. The main focus of the book is the Aggañña Sutta, which contains a charming little parable about the first humans and their detrimental effects on the environment, whose message will appeal to modern-day conservationists.
Cetasikas (book review). The Middle Way, November 1999. (online)
I wasn't very impressed with the book itself (mainly because of poor editing), but the subject matter is one of my favorite forms of Buddhist teaching - the Pali Abhidhamma. The book itself is now online.
Zen's Chinese Heritage (book review). The Middle Way, February 2001. (online)
This is a really excellent book, based on a very simple idea - a chronological translation of all the key writings of the early Chinese Zen Masters, based on untranslated originals readily available online.
Personal Identity and Buddhist Philosophy (book review). The Middle Way, May 2004. (online)
There are some fascinating parallels between traditional Buddhist ideas and the latest developments in modern philosophy, as explored in this new book by Mark Siderits.
Buddhism and the Modern World (book review). The Middle Way, August 2004. (online)
Buddhism is a living religion, and this book describes how real Buddhism works in the real world. Anyone who think of Buddhism purely in terms of New Age self-development will find it an eye-opener.
The New Physics and Cosmology (book review). The Middle Way, May 2005. (online)
A series of discussions between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a group of six professional scientists, ranging from wave-particle duality, quantum entanglement and the expanding universe to karma, emptiness and dependent origination. A unique and fascinating book!
Buddhism, Knowledge and Liberation (book review). The Middle Way, August 2005. (online)
I don't like writing negative reviews, and this certainly isn't a bad book. However, it's a book for academics, and my review was aimed at practising Buddhists who are unlikely to find anything of interest in it.
The Generation Stage in Buddhist Tantra (book review). The Middle Way, February 2006. (online)
In one form of Tibetan Buddhism, the aim is to identify oneself with a chosen deity through a series of visualisations, some of which may strike the outside observer as bizarre if not distinctly unholy. This book does an admirable job of demystifying a fascinating and esoteric practice.
Chan Buddhism (book review). The Middle Way, May 2006. (online)
Chan Buddhism, better known in the West by its Japanese name Zen, is traditionally described as "a special transmission outside the scriptures, not depending on words and letters." This excellent book by Peter Hershock cuts through the mystery and hype to present a historically accurate view of Chan Buddhism.
Explaining Pictures (book review). The Middle Way, August 2006. (online)
"Explaining pictures" is a translation of the Japanese word etoki, which in a Buddhist context refers to a form of sermon that uses a painting or other image to convey a religious message. This book focuses on the cultural aspects of etoki and its place in the social history of Japanese Buddhism.
The Awakening of Faith (book review). The Middle Way, November 2006. (online)
The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana is a traditional Buddhist text dating from the sixth century, which provides a concise yet thorough tutorial on Mahayana Buddhist thought in its most refined form. This newly reissued translation by Yoshito Hakeda is the most reliable version of the text available to English-speaking readers.
All is Change (book review). The Middle Way, February 2007. (online)
Subtitled "The two-thousand year journey of Buddhism to the West", this is a book about the changing attitude of the West towards Buddhism, from missionary zeal through intellectual curiosity to New Age syncretism. The book is by Lawrence Sutin, whose other works incude biographies of Philip K. Dick and Aleister Crowley.
Images of Enlightenment (book review). The Middle Way, May 2007. (online)
One of the most striking images in this book shows a naked, blue-skinned creature with bestial features and a rampant sex organ, carrying severed heads and a fearsome array of weapons. Is this meant as a warning to sinners of what awaits them in hell, or is it a scene from some Buddhist horror story, or a demon worshipped by a malevolent cult? As the authors explain, it is none of these things. It is a compassionate, enlightened being whose only enemy is delusion. His various accoutrements are meant as symbolic representations of wisdom and purity, while his nakedness denotes an unobstructed mind and his erection symbolises bliss!
Haunted Weymouth (book review). Dark Dorset, November 2011. (online)
Weymouth is a traditional seaside town on England's south coast, and over the years it has acquired its fair share of ghostly tales and legends. For anyone with the slightest interest in the supernatural, whether they are long-time residents, regular holidaymakers or occasional visitors, Haunted Weymouth is a fascinating and enjoyable insight into the spookier side of the town. But it's definitely not a book for skeptics!
Black Holes and the Shapes of Galaxies (article). Astrophysical Journal, September 1985. (online)
Between 1984 and 1987 I wrote (or co-wrote) eight scientific papers on astronomical subjects, but this is really the only one that's going to be meaningful in layman's terms. Co-written with Colin Norman and T S Van Albada, we used computer modeling to show that the presence of a black hole at the center of an elliptical galaxy causes the motion of stars on elongated orbits to become chaotic (in the sense of Chaos Theory), thus making the outer parts of the galaxy rounder. However, in order for the effect to be measurable, the black hole would have to be very big (tens of millions of solar masses).
Neural Network Models of Human Operator Performance (article). Aeronautical Journal, April 1997. (abstract online)
I mention this one because it was my only professional foray into those staples of science fiction, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. The outcome was, not surprisingly, that it's a lot easier to teach a computer to mimic a human being's behavior than to think like one.
Science Forecasting: Predicting the Unpredictable (article). Journal of Defence Science, May 2001. (online)
My approach to this subject was strongly influenced by Thomas Kuhn, so in an indirect way you could say it was my contribution to the Science Wars debate. The article touches on many "fringe science" topics, including the Benveniste experiments mentioned above, as well as Brian Josephson's Mind-matter unification project, NASA's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics and BAE Systems' Project Greenglow.
INTERESTING LINKS
When I started this website back in 2001, it was common practice to have a page of "interesting web links". People don't seem to do this so much these days, possibly because it's much easier to find things via search engines than it used to be. Anyhow, for what it's worth here is MY LIST... I don't think it's been seriously updated since 2005, so not all of the links are going to work now.

Copyright © 2001-2012 Andrew May