Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lemmings-R-Us!


Are You interested in Lemmings? Sure! We ALL are! Now you too can learn at home about this cute, furry, compulsively suicidal animal!

Another ed-yoo-KAY-shun-all ep-PIS-odd brought to you by Noisephactory.com and the Welsh Radio Ensemble.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dear Mrs. Palin

I was also not one of those people who's parents got me a passport and bought me a backpack and sent me off to Europe after college. Like you, I often worked two or three jobs through college and after. Yet I have a passport and I've used it and though I have to work to pay my bills and keep a roof over my head, you can bet that I plan on using it again and again in my lifetime.

Out of all the ridiculously stupid things you stuttered out at Katy Couric in your interview on foreign policy, I felt that your implication that harboring a desire and curiosity to understand other cultures and to see other countries as something elitist was possibly the most offensive.

It is not elitist or un-American to travel abroad. Before I went truly abroad for the first time (like you, I lived for many years right next to another country to which I traveled many times), I was disaffected and angry with the U.S.A. I won't go into my reasons. Spending time abroad not only taught me a great deal about how other people live, how they are not so much different than you or me and that I really, truly loved the country I came from to begin with.

It is obvious you have been nowhere and that you have been exposed to very few types of people outside your own community. You claim to have explored the world through books, yet your lack of eloquence would lead me to believe that you haven't read anything but the back of a cereal box in a long, long time.

Also, instead of looking down (or being jealous) of families who can afford to introduce the world to their children, we should applaud them. They are doing a great service by their kids.

I really dislike you. I really, really dislike you. I get a creepy crawly feeling when I see your face and hear your voice.

Anyway, I am off to study another language. I hope you stick to English. You should think about taking a class in it.

<3 Sir William Shakespeare

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Timeout...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Guest Author: Beth Fehlbaum

Chris Crutcher, acclaimed author of such books as Deadline, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, and Ironman, is not only a writer who reaches kids where they are, but he is also a champion for First Amendment rights. Besides admiring him for the reasons just noted, I am such a fan of his that I asked him if I could use his novel, Ironman, as a thematic element in my debut novel, Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse. Courage in Patience is the story of Ashley Nicole Asher, 15, who has been sexually abused by her stepfather for six years. She is removed from her mother's home and sent to live with her biological father, David, whom she has not seen since she was three months old. It is with David and his wife, Bev, an English teacher, that Ashley's life begins anew, in the tiny East Texas town of Patience.

Chris Crutcher is used to his books being a lightning rod for controversy; after all, the stories he writes routinely address hard-hitting topics such as racism, incest, child abuse, and homophobia. This made Ironman the perfect choice for Bev to use in her summer school English classroom. I was thrilled when he graciously agreed to allow me to use Ironman as a launch pad for controversy.

What follows is an excerpt from Courage in Patience. The parents of one of Bev's students are discussing Chris Crutcher's novel, Ironman:

© Beth Fehlbaum, 2008

“We have a problem, dear,” Chloe said as she wiped the crumbs from the kitchen table and wrinkled her nose to hike up her glasses.

“What’s that?” Dayton said from the living room. T.W. had placated him somewhat by asking if he would throw the ball around with him before dinner, so the issue of his son being influenced by the Bo Brewster character had lessened in his mind. “This book, this Ironman. Is it on the list of approved novels for the district?”

“I doubt it. Beverly Asher’s teaching the class. Have you ever seen her car, Chloe? She has this strange bumper sticker with a Star of David and a cross on it. Peace signs, other weirdo stuff. I think she was raised in a commune. I'll bet she doesn't even shave her legs. Or under her arms."

To continue reading this excerpt on my website, http://www.bethfehlbaum.com, please click here: website

To read a review or buy this book: Click here.

Or buy it now:

Cris Crutcher books discussed in this post:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Awesome doesn't even begin to cover it

I have seen the greatest television show ever created. It is, obviously, Japanese. Witness the glory that is Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot! (Jaianto robo if you speak Japanese.)

Johnny Sokko is an affable little tyke, so well-adjusted that he can swim away from a sinking ship without shedding a single tear for the friends and family who are surely dying mere feet away from him. No! Johnny Sokko moves on to the next adventure and puts the past behind him.

He is assisted in his quest by one Gary Manno, who is the Japanese James Bond, if James Bond were unable to stop smiling and announcing that he is a secret agent on a very important mission. Also, if James Bond befriended random unattended children and forced them to help him infiltrate the bad guy's HQ. Gary Manno's secret spy organization is called "Unicorn," which dovetails nicely with the evil conglomeration they fight, "Gargoyle."

Johnny acquires his flying robot in the usual way: while infiltrating Gargoyle's secret island headquarters after being shipwrecked by a giant sea monster named Dragulon, he is allowed to hold the device that controls Gargoyle's unactivated death robot just as the mad scientist who created it against his will decides to use the power of nuclear detonation to destroy the criminals. The robot has been cleverly engineered such that it will only obey the voice of the first person it hears after activation. Got it?

Most of the show's "special" effects, including everything robot does, consist of stock footage. Its production values rank on par with your average elementary school spring sing. The robot appears to have been built by a twelve year old who happened to have a lot of cardboard, a can of silver spray paint, and a Pharaoh mask. Despite its appearance, the robot can shoot rockets from its finger, lasers from its eyes, and fire from its mouth. And it can fly. There's some kind of hideous alien in a plastic spaceship orbiting Earth, but his role remains undefined in my mind.

Truly, a testament to the power of the audio-visual medium to change the world.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Custom Chessboards by Woodeye Studios



This is a custom chess board I just finished recently that features an incredibly detailed design by Casey Young. I remastered his drawings, then sandblasted the design into a 18 x 18 granite tile, and laid a heat hardened porcelain paint into the etched portions. With Casey's permission I will create a limited run of up to 10 of these boards... or I can also create a custom board just for you, in the designs and materials you want! Just follow this link to head over to my new online gallery for details!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fingers at Mafia dot com


Do you need protection? This week, and this week only we are offering a special on our "Protection Services" thru our mandatory partnership with Don Giovani's Insurance Company. Not sure you need his "assistance" with your "little problem"? Well we will just let Don Giovani explain to you the variety of services he currently offers. We are sure you will be satisfied with the services he renders for you... seriously, he knows where you live.

Brought to you by Noisephactory.com and the Welsh Radio Ensemble.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bottoms up!


In our last update we mentioned the "can we/should we" duality that exists in scientific pursuit. Today, we are happy to present a new technological advance that should be: The Lifesaver Water Bottle, a hand held device that retails for about $230 and removes 99.999% of "bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and all other microbiological waterborne pathogens" from any water source. Each bottle can process approximately 4000 liters of water before its filter needs to be changed. (A more expensive version can process up to 6000 liters.)

Even though it was developed in response to humanitarian aid crises, due to the price (and demand outstripping supply), it's primarily ending up as tool for survivalists and soldiers. Clearly, it should be donated to refugees in third world countries, but the cost is prohibitive. It's easier to blow things up than to repair them, less hassle to pollute water than to clean it, and more socially acceptable to wage war than to mitigate human suffering. How many people could be provided with clean drinking water for the cost of one day of warfare in Iraq?

In further awesome news, the inventor is on the verge of releasing a desalinization bottle. It almost feels like a race between the folks intent on global destruction and those furiously working to patch up the devastation.

Get your own at Amazon.com!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's not the end of the world as we know it

While there's no doubt in my mind that the world will keep on keeping on even after they fire up the Large Hadron Collider, it's still fun to contemplate doomsday scenarios and end-of-the-world conspiracy theories. Although modern science usually functions on the "Can we?" principle (rather than the "Should we?" principle) you kind of do have to start with the assumption that scientists with the understanding to build such a machine have a pretty good idea of what it's going to do. They are hopeful that they will discover the elusive Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle" that imparts mass to the universe. (No, there's no Higgs boson in chocolate cake. They've looked there already.) Protesters seem hopeful that the CERN collider will create minuscule black holes that will compress our planet to a finite point. But the people who actually built the thing believe they are more likely to create a Higgs boson than a black hole. So, unless you've finished your doctorate in particle physics, why wouldn't you trust the experts?

To put it another way, the folks at CERN and Fermilab have been looking for Higgs boson for a while. They probably have some concept of how to go about it without ending the world.

Tomorrow, we can get back to the prevailing immediate doomsday scenario (no, not the Republican administration's foreign policy), the world-ending red letter day that comes in 2012 when the Mayan calendar ends.mayan I'm not worried about this one either. Not because I don't believe in the Mayan gods or their cosmogony, but because the Mayan calendar is a cycle. It has come to an end before. Fortunately, the religion provides a simple way to reboot the universe. All it takes is a little human sacrifice. And just like I know the scientists at CERN are doing all they can to keep the world spinning, I know there are believers in the old ways who are doing the same.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shock to the System

Feeling down? Got a $150,000? Willing to have a pair of dime-sized holes drilled in your skull and a power source implanted under your collarbone? Welcome to the wonderful world of Deep Brain Stimulation. Scientists have known for a while that electrical stimulation of the brain can have myriad surprising results for people with different neurological and psychiatric diagnoses. ECT, however, can be debilitating, with negative long-term side effects.

Rather than deliver a massive dose of generalized electricity, this new technology delivers electricity only to "pinpointed locations," via tiny electrodes. Already a proven treatment for Parkinson's disease, it is now being tested on "severe depression, chronic pain and epilepsy...obsessive compulsive disorder, traumatic brain injuries and Alzheimer's disease."

It won't be long now. Soon we'll all be able to reprogram our own brains!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Off limits

In regard to the announcement that Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, all we can say is, "Abstinence only education, anyone?"