Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

China's Green Dam Youth Escort Program has all the porn busting power you need!

China's Green Dam Youth Escort Program has all the porn busting power you need to keep your country safe from the internet! With 3D monitor technology just around the corner, can you really afford to be unprotected and have something unexpectedly come through your computer screen and poke your eye out? But porn busting is not all it does! Green Dam Youth Escort Program limits the amount of time youth can stay on instant messaging and social networking sites to prevent addiction! Forcing them to go out on the streets and spend time with their compatriots such as Pigdog and Spider and their magic bags of white powder that chemically sooth the pain of internet withdrawal! And, in addition, as an extra bonus, Green Dam Youth Escort Program now contains a historical whitewash feature that removes all references to the Tian An Men square protests or the Fulun Gong crackdown. But for those of you who like mystically based martial arts protest movements, you can have all the Boxer Rebellion you like!

And what's more, this great new program will come completely free with every new computer sold in China after July the first! But wait, there's still more! It isn't even compulsory! You don't actually have to install it! Although it might be a good idea if you do, you know, for protection. You want to be protected, don't you? The internet's a dangerous place. Who knows what could happen to you if you went around unprotected. For example, a truncheon could fly out of your monitor and hit you in the kidneys when you have your back turned.

I recently spoke with the Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Li Ziying, who really isn’t anything at all like Joseph Goebbles:

ME: How do you respond to accusations that Green Dam Youth Escort program is part of a historical whitewash of the Tien an Men Square protests?

MINSTER: We don't. And we certainly don't put people who make such accusations under house arrest.

ME: I see.

MINISTER: And we don't approve of the term historical whitewash. When activated Green Dam will eliminate it from existence.

ME: Well the term certainly seems more appropriate when used in an Australian context. But what of allegations that the porn filter which detects skin colour is defective and blocks pictures of Garfield the cat while allowing pornographic images of people with black skin to get through? Isn't this likely to lead to the development of some interesting fetishes among the population that will boost African tourism?

MINISTER: Yes, but we believe the slight decrease in furries will make it all worthwhile.

ME: And what of reports that parts of the program were stolen from a US internet nanny program?

MINISTER: Lies spread by paper hyenas. And anyway, there wouldn't be any USA if we hadn't invented gunpowder, so they should cut us some fricking slack.

ME: And how do you respond to those who say that the program is just one more example of ham-fisted government censorship?

MINISTER: We totally disagree with the term ham-fisted censorship, as it is insulting to our Muslim minorities. Beef-fisted is a much more accurate term. However, in order to maintain good relations with India, the official term is now chicken-fisted. The term ham-fisted will be eradicated upon Green Dam's first update.

And there you have it. No doubt Green Dam Youth Escort Program will have many interesting economic effects. I for one am selling my Chinese language furry orientated web site and I'm starting a Chinese language Nigeria based mail order bride business.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Morgan Spurlock Discovers the Magical Olive Trees of Copious Oil!

Once again, to satisfy my urge to walk through airport security while carrying a book with a picture of an internationally wanted criminal mastermind on the back cover, I picked up Morgan Spurlock's, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" again and discovered the route cause of all Middle-Eastern conflict. They are fighting over the magical Palestinian olive trees. How do I know that these Palestinian olive trees are magical? Well, on page 142 Ahmed explains to Morgan Spurlock that six or seven trees should yield enough olives to make about make 20 kiloliters of olive oil. And as everyone knows, a kilogram of olives contains under a fifth of a litre of oil, so each olive tree is producing something like 15 tons of olives. This is truly magical. And, as everyone also knows, since olive trees are typically grown at a density of about one per 34 square metres, this means that these magical olive trees produce about 90 litres of oil per square metre. That's better than a Saudi Arabian oil field. No wonder people are fighting over the land.

Or is it possible that there was some sort of mistake in translation and Ahmed actually said 20 kilograms of oil and not 20 kilolitres? I suppose such a mistake could have happened, but what are the chances that Morgan or his editor wouldn't have picked up on it? Not very high I’d wager. No, it seems much more likely that Morgan Spurlock has discovered magical olive trees of copious oil in the middle-east and I’m sure the rest of his book describes a Harry Potteresque adventure where the trees play an integral roll in the plot. I shall eagerly read on to see if Osama Bin Laden turns out to be an irredeemably evil wizard, or if it’s all some big misunderstanding and everyone has scones and tea together at the end.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Twit in Iran

10:04 - Iranian Police have confiscated my camera equipment. Attempting to film protests using mobile phone.

10:07 - Iranian Police officer complains that my confiscated video camera doesn't work. I tell him you have to push on the battery pack. He says his cousin can fix it.

10:09 - I realize my mobile phone doesn't have a camera. In retrospect I should have realized sometime in the past four years that my phone doesn't have one. The colourless grey liquid crystal display should also have been a give away. Never bothered to replace it because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

10:10 - Iranian police clubbed my mobile out of my hand and it's swelling up and turning purple. My hand that is, not the mobile phone. (Although a mobile phone that swelled up and turned purple would be cool.) Huzzuh! I now have an excuse to buy a new phone!

10:13 - Crap! I fixed my phone. Probably stuck with it for another four years now. Hand has returned to normal colour. The purple started fading after I stopped squeezing my wrist so hard.

10:17 - Have found a ten year old with a mobile phone that has a camera. I am now holding him above the crowd so he can take photos for me.

10:22 - Police didn't appreciate me using a ten year old to take photos and smashed his mobile phone. Fortunately I suffered no injuries this time as I had a convenient shield.

10:26 - Other ten year olds reluctant to work for me despite promise of delicious candy. I am going to try to get through the police cordon and ask the people lying on the street bleeding how they feel.

10:32 - Plan to get through police line by disguising myself as a pinata unsuccessful. Supplies of delicous candy running low. Fortunately I still have adequate quantities of teeth.

10:39 - Plan to get through police line disguised as pig also unsucessful. Attempt to curry good will by handing out curried pork and other pork products did not go down well for some reason.

10:42 - Have successfully bribed a police officer with my remaining delicious candy and two pounds of revolting candy. Passing though police line now.

10:43 - I kneel down before an injured protestor. He cries out in pain. I take my knee off his groin.

10:44 - "Hello," I say. The injured man looks up at me and says in perfect English, "As you can see, the Iranian people are in a desperate struggle for democracy..." I cut him off.

10:45 - "No long speeches. As a result of constant exposure to modern media we no longer have the attention span to... Wow! Look at that guy get beat up! Excuse me..."

Monday, June 15, 2009

$134.5 Billion in Smuggled US Treasury Bills equals 12.4 sandwiches in North Korea

Two Japanese people were caught by Italian police trying to smuggle $134.5 billion in US Treasury bills into Switzerland in a false bottom compartment in a suitcase. Apparently this is illegal. But while it certainly does seem suspicious, perhaps we shouldn't jumping to conclusions and assume that an intentional misdeed was performed here. After all, this could just be a cutural misunderstanding. You see, people in Japan have a habit of leaving large amounts of cash lying around. I know that when I was in Japan I'd often have $15,000 in yen piled up on my dresser. Perhaps some Japanese person just happened to keep $134.5 billion in US T-bills in their suitcase, equal to one fifth of the total amount of US debt held by Japan, and then forgot all about it when they decided to fly to Switzerland for the annual cuckoo clock festival?

On the other other hand, when I think if counterfeiting and Japan, I think North Korea. I know North Korean submariners would often turn up on Himi beach and offer to trade US dollars, Euros, bearer bonds, treasury bills, the Mona Lisa and so on in return for a sandwich. If you couldn't get a stack of greasy crayola greenbacks at least an inch high in return for a sandwich you'd been ripped off. Now $134.5 billion in US treasury bills, some of them with a face value of $500 million, is a kind of stupid thing to counterfiet, as people are unlikely to simply take your word that they are fair dinkum and not check the serial numbers, for the days when the local corner store would accept a $500 million T-bill at face value are long gone. But nothing has stopped our friends north of the 38th parallel from counterfieting strange things in the past, and when the boss says counterfeit $134.5 billion in treasury bills you counterfeit $134.5 billion in treasury bills without mentioning that they are impossible to pass off because a bullet in the head tomorrow is better than a bullet in the head today. (Not that too many forgers get shot, usually it's more a case that the forgers pretend to forge and the secret police pretend to shoot them.) And anyway, maybe they were hoping they could find someone very trusting with a spare $500 million who didn't feel the need to verify them. And who knows, maybe the two Japanese people caught with the bonds handed over a huge stack of sandwiches for them.

But the Japanese smugglers where fools from trying to get the bonds into Switzerland. They should have gone straight to where the real money is with North Korean forgeries. Selling them on ebay.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ha! I did it! I smuggled a chunk of Spurlock through Airport Security!

I did it! I smuggled a chunk of Morgan Spurlock through airport security! I am such a smooth operator. Which chunk of Morgan Spurlock you ask? The chunk of his thoughts, fears and humour he codified into the book, "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" The airport security person at the screening station did do a double take when he saw the picture of Osama Bin Laden on the back cover but didn't try to stop me. This could be because he was too terrified of my threatening presence to do anything or maybe I got through because he was a terrorist himself and a member of Osama's punk the American lickspittles club. Or maybe, just maybe, Australian domestic airport security actually has a modicum of common sense. (But I doubt it. It's much more likely my terrifying visage filled his heart with a surfeit of fear that quelled his courage in my opinon.)

It's a good thing I don't live in a free country. If I did I'd probably still be sitting in an airport interrogation chamber being questioned about what they'd discovered after performing an exhaustive "search" of my person:

AIRPORT SECURITY: And what is this?

ME: That's my breakfast.

AIRPORT SECURITY: And what is this?

ME: That's yesterday's breakfast.

AIRPORT SECURITY: If that's the case then perhaps you'd care to explain how it is we found today's breakfast prior to yesterday's breakfast?

ME: I'm very talented. And sometimes I have trouble letting go. Yesterday's breakfast is the only thing I have to remember my lungfish by.

AIRPORT SECURITY: Your lungfish?

ME: Yes, he drowned. But at least he died doing what he loved. Kind of like David Carradine in that respect. And what he loved was lying motionless at the bottom of a tank. So he was kind of also like a Tien an Men Square protester. But he did not die in vain. Just before he drowned we were able to perfect the technology required to upload lungfish into electronic form. We released the resulting cyber lungfish onto the internet where he went viral and he now lies motionless at the bottom of aquarium screen savers across the world. And he tasted kind of muddy.

AIRPORT SECURITY: Enough of your lies! You will now provide us with a list of your associates who may be planning to engage in harmless activity in airports so that we can stomp down on them as part of a magic ritual to appease the gods of terrorism so they won't send their suicide bombers against us!

ME: Well, my friend has a Megatron t-shirt and it's possible he could wear it to an airport and thereby blatently terrorise passangers with fictional autobot CGI extremism.

AIRPORT SECURITY: Excellent, excellent, tell me more!

ME: My grandmother constantly smuggles weapons grade titanium in her hip joint.

AIRPORT SECURITY: Good, good, go on.

ME: Every year I'm visted by a man who violates international airspace, along with his team of 12 caribou.

AIRPORT SECURITY: Yes, yes, don't stop.

ME: The guy next door has 27 guns, watches westling all day and has written a manifesto on why god wants him to hijack a plane and use it to penetrate the holo shroud that evil scientists use to hide heaven from the masses so people will believe in evolution. Here's a pamphlet he wrote called, "Why God Wants Me to Hijack a Plane and use it to Penetrate the Holo Shroud."

AIRPORT SECURITY: No, that information might actually be useful. We're more interested in pointless fear mongering through over reacting to inconsequential nonsense. Go back to telling me about the guy with the megatron t-shirt.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Finding Love Through Bioengineering or Possibly Lycanthropy.

PETER: Hello, I don't believe we've met. My name is Peter.


PETER: Peter Green. My father owns the bakery.


PETER: His name is Tyrone Green. Perhaps you know my brother?


PETER: His name is Andrew.


PETER: My brother, Andrew Green. But perhaps you could tell me your name?



OWL WOMAN: Who who.

PETER: Your name is Who Who? You're not from around these parts, are you?




PETER: Oh, now you're just making fun of me.


PETER: Me! Oh, look out! A mouse!


PETER: Oh, now that's disgusting! On the other hand I find your large eyes very attractive and I also find the way you can rotate your head 180 degrees alluring. Would you like to come to my place for dinner? You can meet my father and brother.


PETER: Let's not go into that again.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Will the Rebound Effect increase the use of fossil fuels?

Tonight on the Ronald Brak Discussion Hour we will be debating the rebound effect as it applies to fossil fuels. To start us off, perhaps you could tell us just what the rebound effect is, Ronald?

RONALD: Well, to put it simply, the rebound effect, or Jevon's Paradox, results from people using fossil fuels more efficiently and as a direct result they are able to afford to use more fossil fuels. For example, if someone who can only afford to heat one room in their house gets insulation installed, then instead of reducing the amount of fossil fuel they burn, they might continue to use the same amount and heat two or three rooms. However, this effect is something that only really occurs to a large extent in the developing world and isn’t something that people in richer nations need to be too concerned about, especially where improved efficiency results from a price on carbon. I’m sure Mr Brak will agree with me on this.

BRAK: I couldn’t disagree more. Indeed, the force of my disagreement is psychically radiating from my cerebral cortex with the force of a billon exploding suns. If any of you had even the slightest amount of residual telepathic ability your heads would not only have exploded but also imploded so rapidly they would have come out of the other side and exploded again. You are so very, very wrong.

RONALD: Would you care to elaborate?

BRAK: Certainly. The force of my disagreement roils the sea of troubles and dashes it to vapour, driving a rain of squalling pandemonium before its contentious fury to lash the recalcitrant fools who have the audacity to…

RONALD: No, I meant could you elaborate on why you disagree, rather than elaborating on your disagreement itself?

BRAK: Oh. Well, I disagree because common everyday experience refutes what you say with such force a roll of thunder is heard across the land. Speaking from my own common everyday experience, I know that when I replaced my personal car, a V8 interceptor, I replaced it with two hybrids which I drove by standing with one foot on each car roof while using the controls via a marionette operated by each hand through specially installed sunroofs. Then, when I discovered that I was still only using half the amount of fuel that my V8 did, I bought two more hybrids, hitched all four to a chariot and had them drag me through the streets as I lashed those hybrid beasts most cruelly with a whip. Actually the hard part was modifying them so they could feel pain.
Furthermore, after I had my house insulated, rather than use less heating oil I instead was finally able to heat my house to a pleasant 140 degrees celsius. It was quite comfortable, as long as the dehumidifiers were operating and it was filled with the pleasant smell of crispy bacon whenever visitors came around and touched anything metal.
And now, after building that one gig capacity wind farm, the 230 megawatt solar thermal plant and those six gigawatts of dry rock geothermal power, I now heat my house by burying it in 30,000 tons of coal every day and setting it on fire. And it’s simply absurd not to expect other people to do the same out of some namby-pamby sense of environmental responsibility.

RONALD: So you’d be in favour of some sort of regulation to prevent this then?

BRAK: Normally I’d say no, but having to use an asbestos covered mole machine powered and cooled by a torrent of externally supplied liquid nitrogen every time I want to go from the living room to the kitchen to get a snack is becoming rather tiresome.

RONALD: And I’m afraid that’s all we have time for tonight.

I want a mole machine that’s cooled by the latent heat of vaporizing human souls. Now THAT would be cool…

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Where in the world is Osama Bin Laden? Where in the world is basic maths?

I've started reading Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? by Morgan Spurlock. I'm up to page three. Now I'm sure it's a good book. It has a picture of an amusing looking camel on the front and I don't think you are allowed to put pictures of amusing camels on the front of books that aren't good. But I've had to temporarily stop at page three because Morgan Spurlock puts these three sentences right next to each other, "In 2002, a representative year, almost 43,000 Americans died in car accidents. That same year, only 600 Americans died in aircraft crashes. Your chances of dying in an aircraft are around one in 10 million, versus one in 7,000 in a car."

Now I admit that I am completely unaware of Morgan Spurlock ever claiming to be exceptionally mathematically skilled. In fact his skills seem to lie in writing, directing, producing and consuming vast amounts of junk food. However, I would have hoped that an editor or someone would have noticed that if 2002 is a representative year, then Americans are 72 times more likely to die in car accidents than plane crashes, while if they have around a, " in 10 million chance of dying in an aircraft versus one in 7,000 of dying in a car," then Americans are 1,429 times more likely to die in a car than an airplane. So which one is it? Seventy-two times more likely or 1,429 times more likely? Because it's quite a difference.

I'm afraid that mistakes like this will continue to happen as long as people continue to fail to get me to check their work before it's published. It's the only sure way for people to have their mistakes removed and my own inserted. So I invite Morgan to send me his next book so I can go over it before it's printed.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Done Fu!

David Carradine, the actor who single handedly beat Bruce Lee in a battle to see who looked the least Asian has died. Apparently from sexual hijinks in a hotel room in Bangcock, which is exactly how my friend Benedict has always wanted to go. Now for some strange reason people have been saying that the way he died is bad for his posterity. I don't see why. If he had died from a heart attack, two years from now if someone mentioned his name I'd go, "David who?" But now I'll go, "Oh yeah, isn't he the guy who..." His immortality is assured, and this is true regardless of what actually happened in that hotel room. The internet has already done its work. He will live on in our hearts and minds, and for some people with over active imaginations, our closets.

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Edwin Hubble versus Fred Hoyle Celebrity Deathmatch! ('Cause they're both dead.)

So last night the neighbour started channelling Edward Hubble and got into a drunken fight with the ghost of Fred Hoyle. "You want a big bang? I'll give you a big bang!" cried Hoyle before spurting ecoplasm everywhere. (Who you gonna call? A good drycleaner, that's who.) Anyway, I was on the phone to Satoshi Tajiri at the time discussing beetles and the sound of the ruckus next door inspired me to pitch an idea to him about putting stars in the ring and getting them to fight. He said this had already been done with Celebrity Deathmatch and I said, "No, stars as in actual immense balls of flaming hydrogen. The neat thing is the stars will be the stars!" Satoshi fell silent for a minute, I could tell he was astounded by my idea, and then he said he'd get back to me. I have a feeling this could be as big as Pokemon:

RED DWARF: I may be small, but my FLARE POWER shall defeat him!

MANAGER: Take it easy Red Dee. You've got the stamina to go the full 15 billion years, just keep your distance in the first round or BLUE HYPERGIANT will catch you with his SUPERNOVA STRIKE. But if you are at apogee when he lets loose you can take it and then just circle around him for the next 14 billion years and win on points. But whatever you do, don't get cocky and stay the hell away from his event horizon.

That's odd. I could have sworn Tolsty was standing next to Lenin in this photograph (instead of on all fours by Stalin and wearing a gimp suit).

Perhaps I should go back and update some of my old blog posts now that I is a year smarterer? After all, I have all these tins of historical white wash John Howard gave me. You get three tins each time you hand in a black armband.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Pirates of the Caribbean Computer Game Partakes of Perspiration from a Deceased Pirate's Cannon Shot

I tried playing a computer game recently. It was a big mistake. I tried to play the Pirates of the Caribbean game because it was made by a company with a great reputation. However, this game proved that in the software world it is obviously possible to redeem yourself no matter how heinous the quality of the crud you produced in the past. I began to suspect that it was a bad game when I felt as though I needed an introductory tutorial to get through the introductory tutorial. Things didn't get any better when I found out that sword fighting consisted for the most part of holding your sword in front of your face while your opponents, instead of trying to hit you, would just swing at the sword. Every now and then they'd slow down giving you a chance to strike them, and they would eventually go down, probably gasping as they choked on their own blood about how you cheated by striking them instead of their sword.

But while the swordplay was boring, the pistol shooting was just disturbing. Your game character, Nathaniel Hawke, has a flintlock pistol, so you would think he would only be able to fire it once without reloading it. However, after firing his pistol he immediately puts it back in his pants and then when he pulls it out again eight seconds later it is fully reloaded. It makes me wonder just how is he managing to reload it while it is in his pants without using his hands? I think Nathaniel Hawke must be a very talented man, but his field of specialty does not lie in piracy. I think there are some bar owners in Thailand who would be quite interested in employing his services.

And as the game is called Pirates of the Caribbean, there is of course lots of daring action on the high seas, right? No, not right. There’s lots of deadly boring action, as dying repeatedly is boring. Sailing in the game went like this: Leave port, get attacked by someone, pirates maybe I don’t know, sink and drown. Reload, leave port again, run into storm and sink and drown. Reload again, leave port again, run into another storm and sink and drown again. Stupidly and against all reason, reload again, get to port on neighbouring island, run into dock while attempting to moor and sink and drown in port.

And what is it with games and loading times? And I don't mean having to wait for loading after you have completed an hour or two of play, I mean constantly having to wait for loading every three minutes or so:

ME: I walk from the docks to the town.

GODBOX: Loading town.

ME: What to you mean, loading town? There's nowhere flipping else for me to go, so why couldn't you have loaded the town while I was walking up that pointless beach?

GODBOX: Sheesh, it's only a minute. Keep your shirt on......Here you go, here's the town.

ME: I go to the tavern.

GODBOX: Loading tavern.

ME: Oh Christ on a stick...

GODBOX: .......................................................................
.................................Tavern wait.……..okay, it's loaded now, honest.

ME: I buy a bottle of rum.

GODBOX: You can't do that. It's a tavern.

ME: What?

GODBOX: Taverns are for hiring sailors. They have nothing to do with rum. You have to go to the town store for that.

ME: Sheesh, who does a pirate have to kill to get a drink around here? What am I supposed to do? Sing Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of tea? Okay, I go to the town store then.

GODBOX: Loading town.

ME: What do you mean, loading town? I was there only a second ago. How could you have forgotten what the town was like in that time? I was in a fricking one room tavern! How much of your fricking memory does that take up?

GODBOX: I'm sorry, but the universe is uncertain about the state of the town. It's quantum.

ME: Arrghhh!

GODBOX: Town loaded.

ME: I go to the store!

GODBOX: Loading store.

Me: Arrrrrrrrrrg!

GODBOX: Store loaded.

ME: I buy some rum!

GODBOX: Rum bought.

ME: I drink the rum and sing a pirate song.

GODBOX: Drinking rum is not permitted here. You will have to go to the tavern.

ME: ARRRRRGHHHH! (Pulls out pistol, shoots store owner dead.)

GODBOX: Would you like to reload the game?

ME: No, wait... Reloading my pistol feels kind of good.


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Monday, June 01, 2009

You can have my memory engram when you pry it from my cold stiff cerebral cortex

Just to avoid any possible confusion, I'll point out that I don't want my memory of naked Uhura removed.

The Top Five Star Trek Movies

Here's what I think are the top five Star Trek movies. Now I realize that most fans consider The Wrath of Khan to be the best Star Trek movie, but there is one that just manages to beat it in my opinon.

1. Galaxy Quest
2. The Wrath of Khan
3. The Voyage Home
4. The undiscovered Country
5. Blur - Which is what all the other movies are to me. (Except the part where Uhura gets naked. That is seared into my memory and I may need a scalpel to get it out.)