Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Conversation with someone trying to make a commission

SALESPERSON: I recommend this TV.

ME: But that only has a one year warranty. This one has a three year warranty and is cheaper.

SALESPERSON: Yes, but if you buy that TV you can only expect it to last three years. If you buy this TV you can expect it to last 10 years.

ME: Why would I want to buy a TV from a company stupid enough to make a TV that lasts ten years and then only puts a one year warranty on it? They're not very good at this business stuff, are they?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Imaginary conversations with people who are only doing what their boss told them to

SALESPERSON: This TV is covered by a 12 month warranty, but for only $30 more you can buy an extended two year warranty and return it to any of our stores in the country if you have any problems.

ME: Do you think that's a good deal? I mean the TV only cost $168 so the extended warranty would only be worth it if there was a greater than 15% chance of the TV breaking down somewhere between 12 and 24 months from now. In fact, when you consider that in one to two years new TVs are likely to have dropped in price and improved in quality and the original TV will have depreciated in value it would only be worth it if the chance of breakdown was greater than 15%. Is your store in the habit of selling such shoddy goods?

SALESPERSON: Of course not sir. We try to sell only the best quality products. But the extended warranty does offer peace of mind.

ME: I'm trying to pick a nerdy fight based on the mathematics of probability with a complete stranger in the middle of a crowded department store, so I'm kind of wondering why on earth you think I care about peace of mind.

Incredible Stories of Psychic Powers

Ronald Brak: Tell me about your son’s psychic abilities, Madame.

Aunty Intellectual: Well, my son had a dream that we went to the zoo and I wouldn’t let him out of the car. Then, when we did go to the zoo, that’s exactly what happened.

Ronald Brak: That’s incredible.

Aunty Intellectual: And what’s more, my husband had a dream that he jumped in the chimpanzee enclosure and was made king of the apes.

Ronald Brak: And is that what happened?

Aunty Intellectual: Yes it is! They’ve been able to reattach one of his generative organs and he’ll be released from the hospital on Tuesday.

Ronald Brak: Astounding!

Aunty Intellectual: And that’s not all. I myself have psychic powers. Often I will be thinking of one of my friends and my friend will ring me.

Ronald Brak: That’s incredible. How often does this happen?

Aunty Intellectual: Everyday! I spend most of my time thinking about my friends and calling them.

Ronald Brak: And how many friends do you have?

Aunty Intellectual: Oh lots! Dozens! Three. Except I’m only talking to one of them right now.

Ronald Brak: One last question, Ms Intellectual. When the phone rings are you even consciously aware of the fact that you’re answering it?

Aunty Intellectual: I try to spend as little time conscious as possible.

Ronald Brak: Thank you for your time Ms Intellectual, as I have now sucked it out of you using temporal vampirism.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Why Insects have Camouflage

When I walked outside this morning a pee-wee flew over the fence straight towards me. (For those of you who don't know what a pee-wee is it's the Queensland term for a magpie lark.) ((For those of you who don't know what a magpie lark is it's a lark that looks like a magpie, or possibly vice versa.)) As it sliced through the air towards me it looked to its right and swooped to a halt a couple of feet from me on another fence, this one made of bundles of grey twigs, scooped up a brown moth and flew off. I was surprised. I would never have seen that moth if the pee-wee hadn't drawn my attention to it. I felt like I had let my primate ancestors down. My monkey relatives would probably appreciate a nice juicy moth and if they had seen what happened they would probably screech with laughter at me for being shown up by a bird with a brain the size of half a peanut. And they would probably keep laughing right up to the point where I used them for medical experiments. (Who's laughing now, monkey boy? How about I inject you with some more of this bird flu, He Who Laughs at Homo Sapiens?)

But what I can't figure out is why a brown moth was sitting on a gray fence. Surely they don't do this sort of thing just so we can have textbook examples of evolution in action? I have arrived at two possible conclusions:

1. Moths are colour blind.

2. Moths are stupid.

After giving it some thought I considered a third possibility:

3. Gray moths turn brown when they see a pee-wee coming in an attempt to scare them off.

I am aware that if my third point proves true it also provides support for point 2.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How to make the Virgin Mary cry in five easy steps

1. Take one glazed porcelain statue of the Virgin Mary.

2. Chip the glaze around the eyes.

3. Stand it in liquid.

4. Wait for the statue to absorb the liquid and start to leak it from the eyes.

5. Commence bilking the credulous out of their money or just enjoy the attention. Your choice.

Note, when people start claiming miracles associated with your crying statue it is vitally important that you don’t believe in them. Otherwise you’ll end up as one of those sad people who fake a miracle for either attention or money and wind up justifying your fakery to yourself as the will of God.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Joy of Consumerism

I went out and bought a Lovegirl today. You know, I used to pride myself on being the sort of person who would never buy that sort of thing, but the truth is I really wanted one and it was just intellectual snobbery that held me back. I bought her in Big W and the nice young man there popped her into a trolley and I wheelled her out through the shopping centre. When I got to the parking lot I had a bit of a problem. You see, my car is very small and I wasn't able to get my Lovegirl's box into either the boot or the back seat. I was reduced to taking her out of the box in the car park and sitting her in the back seat. It was extremely embarrassing, as I had to park in a handicapped space to do it.

My Lovegirl's main measurement is 51cm, which probably wouldn't be considered much by American standards, but I'm quite happy with it. I think that more than an eyefull is a waste.

I suppose most people wouldn't realise that the electronics brand Aiko literally translates into Lovegirl, but I think it's a lovely name for a television set.

I spent quite an amount of time considering the quality of the image. At first I wasn't terribly impressed. When I looked closely the picture on the screen it seemed to be make up of tiny little squares, unlike objects that weren't on TV such as the salesperson, unless of course her pixels were so small they were beyound the resolution of my eyes. I also stood in front of the display TV and closed my eyes to test if it had any backup systems for transmitting visual images directly into my cortex in case my eyeballs happened to fall out, but it apparently lacked even rudimentary telepathic ability. I finally decided that its image quality would do when I compared it to vastly more expensive TVs and could see no discernable difference.

I paid $168 dollars for her, which seemed reasonable. There was also another 51cm TV for $138 but there was a waiting list for that one so I didn't get it. It is interesting to consider that the median Australian worker earns over $30,000 per year and so could buy a TV for for less than one day's pay. This is quite a change from say thirty years ago when I guess that a similar sized TV with less features might have cost a month's pay.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Headscarves and Reality

It seems that there are a few people out there who are still a little bit confused over the issue of headscarves. In order to help these people I will provide the following infomation free of charge:

Blowing people up - Hurts other people.

Wearing headscarves - Does not hurt other people.

I hope this helps anyone is still thinking that wearing headscarves in school should be banned, or indeed those who think blowing people up should be legal.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Licking salt off the national flag

Today I ate some microwave popcorn. The packet was blue and had stars on it. It was like eating out of an Australian flag. Mmmm... nationalicious!

Sensible Questions

How much does an average African elephant weigh? If I tell you it weighs eight tons, you might not know if I'm correct, but you would probably think that my answer sounds reasonable in the way that the answer lemon chicken does not.

If I ask you a harder question, what kind of government or governments will the Iraq region have in ten years time? Then you will still be able to distinguish a possibly correct answer, such as Stalinist Monarchy, from an answer that could not possibly be correct, such as erotic aardvark.

However there are some questions for which all answers could be said to be equally valid. For example if I asked, "What is the meaning of life?" the answers lemon chicken or erotic aardvark seem to make as much sense as any others that have been advanced. Similar questions for which there are no classes of answers that we could could define as reasonable or unreasonable would be, "What is my purpose?" or, "Who am I?" Apart from reasons of convenience, Ronald Brak doesn’t seem to be a better answer to the question, "Who am I?" than erotic aardvark.

So what do I recommend when faced with a question for which no type of answer could be said to be correct or incorrect? My advice is to forget about it. Of course if you enjoy pondering it, then go ahead. But as people have been arguing over these sorts of things for thousands of years, be aware that you are extremely unlikely to come up with anything better than lemon chicken.

I'm Back!

Well I'm back in South Australia and I haven't seen a single giant insect since I arrived. How depressing! And time is out of joint again. It doesn’t get completely dark until after nine o’clock here. And every time I come here the moon moves lower in the sky.

Now some people may say that it's not the moon that has gotten lower in the sky but rather it's me who as moved further along the curvature of the earth. These people might also go on to say that everything that happens is not to do with me and that I am not the centre of the universe. Well if I'm not the centre of the universe, then how come everything happens from my point of view? Answer that one, Mister Smartypants! (Wow, I think I have now reached a level of self-centeredness that allows me to become a right wing blogger!)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Q. Why did the nuclear physicist go to the gay bar?

A. He wanted to find top and bottom quarks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ethanol - The Stench of Corruption!

The government wants to make petrol that is 10% ethanol available for all Australians to use in their cars. Oh good. I’m sure this idea will work very well. You see Australian ethanol producers have a magic pixie dust they can spread on sugar cane and sorghum to make economical what has been a giant money loser in Brazil and the United States. The pixie dust is a special blend consisting of 60% winning votes in marginal seats, 40% corruption and 17% mathematical incompetence.

You see ethanol is good because it’s environmentally friendly. Sort of. Well, it uses solar energy stored by plants and there is nothing more environmentally friendly than solar energy, right? Of course, agricultural machinery used to grow and harvest the plants does use fossil fuels, as do chemical fertilizers. Transportation of crops to ethanol plants requires fossil fuels and the energy used at ethanol plants to create the ethanol also requires fossil fuels. Of course, all this fossil fuel use is only temporary. In the future we will be able to make the entire process powered by ethanol itself. Of course this would require approximately all the ethanol the process produces, so there wouldn't be any left over to actually add to fuel, but just think of all the jobs that will be created. Of course it wouldn't be fair to actually pay anyone in the ethanol business any money as they're not actually producing anything, but at least they would be kept busy. Besides, sniffing ethanol fumes before they're denatured is its own reward.

One columnist says that government subsidies to ethanol production are about $118,000,000 a year. I have no idea if that figure is correct, but it is obviously much better to spend taxpayer’s money on something that is economically inefficient rather than doing something like reducing the tax on fuel-efficent cars. Spending the money on subsidies for hybrids and other fuel efficient cars instead would drastically reduce the amount of oil consumed by Australians over the course of the decade and have a major impact on the amount of carbon dioxide released. But spending the money on ethanol is a much better idea. I mean, have you ever tried getting high by sniffing the exhaust of an electric car? It's damned near impossible. But ethanol exhaust is easy on the lungs and hard on the brain.

Then there is the fact that ethanol only has 68% of the power of petrol per litre which means that 10% ethanol fuel would have 3.2% less power than normal petrol and only an idiot would buy it unless it was at least 3.2% cheaper than ordinary petrol. But this isn't a problem. It can be easily fixed with more subsidies!

Now some people say that if ethanol is a practical energy source then it only needs a tax break equal to it's environmental benefit and then this thing called the free market will take over and provide ethanol. But I went to the Sunday market, which wasn't free but was pretty cheap and there was no ethanol there. So I think the free market is for losers and poor people.

Soon I shall open a plant that will render lepricorns into biodisel fuel. It shall be going into operation as soon as the government drops off my wheelbarrow full of subsidies.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Even Darker Side of the Force!

I was talking to my brother yesterday. Well, not actually talking as such, we were more verbalizing our internal thought processes while in the same room, when my brother pointed out something interesting about Star Wars. In the Star Wars movies there is supposed to be a light side of the Force and a dark side of the Force. The dark side of the Force is described as giving in to anger or fear or desire for revenge when fighting. So does this mean that if you can cut people up with a light sabre while maintaining a pleasant state of mind you are using the good side of the Force? Surely wouldn't someone who cuts another person in half without experiencing anger or fear would be a psycho nutcase rather than a person who could be described as being on the good side of anything? Instead of the light side of the Force, surely the sociopathic side of the Force would be a better description?

Friday, November 04, 2005

If the ground writhes, I'm happy.

Well I'm back in Queensland now, as opposed to South Australia and it's quite pleasent to be back in the sub-tropics. I was getting tired of living in an area where I could walk outside and not see some form of bizarre organism crawling around. Now that I'm back I've already seen lizards, frogs, a hand spider (generic name for any spider the size of your hand), ants that build nests in trees, etc. I also like the approach to pest control in this house. Last night a cockroach flew inside and a geko ran out from behind a painting and ate it. Back in South Australia the ecosystem seems to be dominated by feral apes and ducks. The ducks are nice enough, but the apes don't seem as cheerful or as relaxed as the ones around here. Possibly this is due to the large number of churches in South Australia, which I've found generally have a bad effect upon apes, or maybe it's just something to do with the rate at which cannibis grows here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Today I have realized two amazing things.

1. The universe is infomation. The fact that the universe is the form it is means that all the possible forms that the universe could be are implicit in it's current state. There are a finite, yet immense number of alternate universes seperated from us not by other dimensions but by flips of a coin. As our ability to control outcomes over a greater and greater area of space increases, so our abilities become more and more godlike as we chart our course across the vast sea of the possible.

2. If you drink a lot of yellow softdrink and then brush your teeth with blue toothpaste, green foam comes out of your mouth.