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Monday, October 26, 2009

My radio interview with Jill Delbridge to discuss my novel, Pandora's Succession

My first radio interview for my novel, Pandora's Succession

The Artist Lounge Radio Show

I was the featured guest on The Artist Lounge Radio Show to promote my upcoming action/thriller, Pandora's Succession. Here I chat with Jill Delbridge and answer various questions about myself and my novel from callers.

Where would you hide if you learned that the CDC and a major pharmaceutical company unleashed a hyperdeadly microbe on the human race?

Visit and enter your email address to join the thousands who have listened to the first three chapters of this upcoming action/thriller.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When desperation and ignorance combine, everyone loses

When desperation and ignorance combine, everyone loses.

Mariam Staford Bandaba, a Tanzanian native, was brutally attacked by machete-wielding thugs a year ago in her home village in the north-western Kagera region. Bandaba lost an arm in the attack and the other was amputated in the hospital where she had remained for several weeks. Although senseless attacks occur in Africa on a regular basis as they do in the streets of any major city, this particular attack ought to spark particular interest. Bandaba is one of thousands of Tanzanian albinos that live in constant fear of being attacked. It is believed that mutilated body parts of albinos are sold to synthesize potions. Bandaba’s attackers would have been paid a lot of money for her body parts. Fortunately Bandaba survived the assault and was brave enough to identify her aggressors—some of whom were arrested, and then sentenced to death. Nevertheless, should one examine any of the three parties—Bandaba, her attackers, or the consumers of these so-called albino potions which have not been proven to work—all of their losses result from acts of desperation and ignorance.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),Tanzania is in the bottom ten percent of the world's economies in terms of per capita income. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than 40% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. Due to its topography and climatic condition, cultivation of crops is limited to only 4% of the land area. (1). Although outlawed by the government, witch-doctors still practice in this country, claiming that a potion made of an albino's hair, blood or limbs paves the way to riches (2). Regrettably, enough people were gullible to fall for this fairy tale that over 53 innocent albinos were murdered in grisly ritualistic killings in the past two years.

On the other side of the planet, the U.S. Secret Service has be

Barack Obama and Michelle ObamaImage via Wikipedia

en overwhelmed in its duties in the past several months. According to a U.S. congressional report, the Service’s activities have increased due to terrorist threats and the expanded arsenal of weapons that terrorists could use in an assassination attempt or attacks on facilities. According to specialists who study homegrown radical movements, the domestic threat has risen—fueled in part by Barack Obama being elected as the nation’s first black President. As a result, Obama was given Secret Service protection 18 months before the election—the earliest ever for a presidential candidate—making him the target of more threats since his inauguration than his predecessors. (3). Based on the number of celebrations that occurred worldwide after Obama’s victory, it would be correct to assume that the number of radical groups pushing for his assassination is in the minority. If an assassin were to succeed in his or her attempt, the hope that Obama was able to instil in the hearts and minds of people worldwide would greatly be diminished. In addition, America’s image in the eyes of the world—which has steadily increased since Obama took office—may falter (4).

Although Bandaba’s attackers may have sold her limbs, their gains were short-lived since most of them were sentenced to death. As for Bandaba’s father and four siblings—who have been taking care of her since the attack—they all live in fear of reprisals. Even though a physical threat against Obama has not made the news lately, the constant racket perpetuated by the Teabaggers, the Birthers, and a certain Faux network has done everything but bring a nation together. Everyone has a right to their beliefs. However if one were so desperate as to physically or psychologically harm another person in order to push their own belief, they ought to do themselves and their neighbours a favour: don’t be ignorant.

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora's Succession. Subscribe for free to receive serialized excerpts here.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hey, Kanye. Lay the fuck off of us authors

Hey, Kanye, lay the fuck off of us authors

By Russell Brooks

Neck-related sprains surely rose across the planet this morning due to the number of double-takes readers (and authors) would have done after having read the latest news about Kanye West. The Grammy Award-winning artist and “proud” non-reader has produced a book. I specify the word, produced, because West did not write the book himself. It was written by J. Sakiya Sandifer. What is shocking is not the fact that he has produced a book as so much that he has shown complete disrespect for books and inadvertently to thousands of authors. For this reason, I would like to illustrate the importance of reading and how Kanye could benefit from doing so more often.

William Kamkwamba

Most of us probably have not heard of this young 21 year-old genius from Malawi (Most likely because he has not committed an act of mass genocide). In 2002, his country was plagued with disease and a serious drought. Coming from a family of 20, he was forced to drop out of school because his parents could not afford the $80 school fee. At the age of 14, rather than accept his fate and starve, he borrowed books from the library and taught himself the physics of electricity. Having nothing to work with but old spare parts from the junk yard to work with, he built a primitive windmill. Yes, he was laughed at by his neighbours. But according to him, once he had generated electricity for his family, the entire village was lining up at his house to charge their mobile phones.

Everyone that is pissed off at their insurance company for not paying benefits that they expected

I’m sorry, but this is a topic that I cannot get away from because despite the amount of literate and educated people out there, there are still too many people that don’t read contracts. My previous essay dealt with me illustrating to a 70 year-old woman how she got swindled by an unscrupulous agent from a competing insurance company. The fact remains that people don’t read their insurance contracts or re-read the specifics of their contracts regularly to refresh their memories on what they purchased. Fact (and I invite everyone that reads this to write this down and place it where you can see it every day): Insurance companies never pay a penny more or a penny less than what’s written on the contracts that a policyholder signs. It is up to the policyholder to learn the specifics of their contract. If they can’t do it, then have a licensed professional explain the specifics to them.

Kanye West

Above it is illustrated how reading has changed the life of a poor 14 year old that knew very little of the internet, CNN, or much of the world outside his village. By the same token it is also illustrated why more educated and well-to-do individuals who earn more money in an hour than what Kamkwamba’s family earn in a month, should read more. You have some excellent songs, I will not deny it. I have never turned off the radio or changed stations when I hear one of your songs. But for you to say: “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph” while you want other people to purchase and read yours, just illustrates how much you’re an immature, very low-class individual with too much money to spend. I may not be able to write out a check for 1 million dollars like you can. Neither do I have the fan base nor the publicity engine that you have that allows you to travel the world in first class and stay in five star hotels. But I plan to get to that level one day. It shouldn’t be too complicated. I’ll just keep reading, much of which will be about you. That way I can be sure not to fuck up like you have.


Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora’s Succession. Visit to subscribe for free to listen to excerpts from chapters 1 to 3.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Of course it's not a scam. Oprah endorses it."

“Of course it’s not a scam. Oprah endorses it.”

On October 7, 2009, the company that I work for notified me that a client, a seventy-year old woman, had canceled her health protection. I knew her personally and was surprised as to why she had done so, considering that she received a $1400 claim the year before for fracturing two fingers. I visited her to discuss the matter, since she’s covered until she’s 85 years old without any limitations. She told me 85 isn’t long enough for her and that she took out another insurance that will cover her for life. When she showed me the contract, I noticed three things. The first thing was that in order for her to be compensated, she would have to be incapable of performing her duties at her place of employment for at least 90 (she’s retired); hospital fees are covered under the condition that they are for accidents only (in Quebec, seniors over 65 don’t have any hospital fees to pay); and disability benefits are paid only to individuals under 60 years of age (she’s 70). Although I showed her these clauses on the new policy and compared it with the plan that she had canceled—which covered her for everything her new plan did not, she refused to accept that she had been swindled. This experience clearly illustrates when it comes to someone wanting something bad enough, they’ll always check their intelligence at the door.

Several months ago, one could not check their email or their favorite website without being bombarded by weight loss plans or the like. The latest fad is the acai berry supplement and colon cleansing products. A few hours before I wrote this essay, I was on a website and saw what appeared to be a news channel’s ad banner. After clicking the banner, I was brought to a news reporter’s website where she described her skepticism of acai berry supplements. To make a long story short, the reporter wrote that she lost enough weight that she was able to fit into two smaller dress sizes after only four weeks. What was more interesting at the bottom of the page was the fine print that declared that the mentioned company is not affiliated with ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS, etc. Furthermore, after I closed the page I was brought to the website of the company that sold these supplements. Although this was an obvious scam, these scammers are obviously selling enough of their crap to enough dumb people in order to pay for these phony ads. As mentioned earlier, when people want something badly enough, they will check their intelligence at the door.

This naivety is also found among a more unlikely group—first-time authors. As ironic as it may sound, first-time authors often fall victim to unscrupulous agents and vanity publishers who will always charge for their services. This author will admit to almost being a victim. Often in this case, the first-time author would have been rejected dozens of times by agents and traditional publishers. One could imagine the excitement they would feel after receiving a letter of acceptance from an agency or publisher they had queried. Unfortunately most sign the contracts failing to realize that they’ve been scammed. They will find themselves paying large amounts of money to see their work published only to wind up with a garage full of books that bookstores don’t want. Although there are numerous sources where writers could inform themselves on the legitimacy of agencies and, most don’t even bother to research the ones that they choose to do business with. After all, since they wanted something badly enough, their intelligence was also checked at the door.

Scams of all sorts have always been around and are not likely to disappear anytime soon. Regardless of how many laws that are enacted to protect consumers, this form of non-ethical and criminal conduct will still persist one way or another. What’s annoying is that most victims could have protected themselves from falling prey had they not been so lazy to use the multitude of information sources that are available and that are free. As harsh as it may sound, people that ignorantly fall for these scams do not deserve much sympathy for their losses. As for the scammers that run off with their money, one could argue that they get away with it because they themselves wanted something badly. The only difference is that they get what they want because they never check their intelligence at the door.

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora's Succession.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I am so happy to hear this boy say this N-Word

I am so happy to hear this boy say the N-WordBlack. African-American. These are two common names that are used to describe men and women of African descent. Negro—meaning black in Portuguese and Spanish—was a term that was more commonly used during the Civil Rights era, but less today. However the word Nigger, or its derivation, Nigga, are still widely used. It is disturbing that those two words are still popular in today’s culture. I am not referring to the white supremacists or other racists who deliberately use the word to degrade black people, I am specifically referring to black people that use those words amongst themselves. This habbit has even prompted people from other racial backgrounds to use the word. Not out of malice, but in order to sound cool. One does not have to go far to observe how much the word is still in circulation. One could simply peruse social websites. Many profiles contain the N-word. The sad truth is that most of the individuals that use the N-word in a friendly way among their friends, are clueless as to the true meaning of the word. These same people will continue to use the word without realizing how they are insulting themselves.
This is why I am so happy to see this young black man repeatedly say the N-word.

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming novel, Pandora's Succession. Visit here to subscribe for free to receive and listen to serialized excerpts from chapters one through three.