A Cautionary Tale For The New Age

Beware of being too real, lest your “positive” new-agey friends deem you too “negative.” For according to these folk, if we pretend bad stuff doesn’t exist, it won’t.
          – Ghostseeker, on the Waking Ambrose website.

Periodically, I get to tell students and other audiences about a device called an electron gun. It’s the business end of a machine called an electron microscope, which scientists use to see things in very fine detail. It also has other applications – more on that anon.

Basically, the electron gun is just a piece of tungsten wire, which is placed in a vacuum and plugged into an electric circuit. The same thing happens in an incandescent light bulb. The wire gets hot, and the hot wire produces electrons.

Now, electrons are negativity- negatively-charged particles. Their entire mission in life is to achieve wholeness by seeking out the positive – which the makers of electron guns thoughtfully provide in the form of a copper plate (anode) next to the wire (cathode).

This is where I get to tell folks that scientists, at the most basic, fundamental level, are mean, nasty, rotten people. They put a large potential difference (voltage) between the cathode and the anode, so there’s a powerful attraction for the electrons to that positive force, and they flock to it at a very high speed.

Then, the scientists put a hole in the middle of that copper plate.

So lots of the electrons rush towards that nice, inviting, positively-charged anode and miss.

For the electrons, this is bad stuff. They don’t exactly have the option of turning around, they’re going too fast. They’re halfway to Port-au-Français (a god-forsaken spot in the Southern Ocean that just happens to be about where a rod stuck through Seattle and the center of the Earth would come out) before they even figure out what happened, and meanwhile the mean, nasty, rotten scientists get a nice fat electron beam to play with.

In electron microscopes.

And television picture tubes. Where the electron beam is aimed at a screen and turned into Fox News.

So you see? The world is full of negativity. For some couch potatoes, it is their whole world. Deal with it.

Hmm. I wonder if it was new-age types that were responsible for the development of LCD displays, flat-screen TVs, etc. Which don’t use electron guns.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2010 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. Reactions to cautionary tales:

    In The Complete Tribune Printer, Eugene Field gave cautionary tales an ironic inversion, as in The Gun:

    This is a gun. Is the Gun loaded? Really, I do not know. Let us Find out. Put the Gun on the table, and you, Susie, blow down one barrel while you, Charlie, blow down the other.


    Yes, it was loaded. Run quick, Jennie, and pick up Susie’s head and Charlies lower Jaw before the Nasty Blood gets over the New carpet.

    Some films, such as Gremlins, satirized this framework by imposing very arbitrary rules whose violation results in horrendous consequences for the community.

    So sayeth the Great Wikipedia.

      • No Amoeba. I really had no idea that Eugene Field wrote Wynken, Blynken and and Nod, the “fantasy bed-time story of three fishermen sailing and fishing in the stars. Their boat is a wooden shoe. The fishermen symbolize a sleepy child’s blinking eyes and nodding head” until I googled E. Field

        I had originally googled “Cautionary tale” and again, under the subhead ‘Reactions to cautionary tales” is:

        Lewis Carroll, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, says that Alice, “had read several nice little histories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them”

    • You’ll look long and hard and without success for Libertarian electrons, Doug. Too much co-dependency. The fleeting freedom of missing the copper plate is quickly quenched in something less polished, like dirt. I need to take you to a scientific meeting or two. “Warm and cuddly” will survive about as long as a snowman in Honolulu.

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