Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ian Plimer - Evil Genius

Last night I spent the night in Ian Plimer's guest room. As you no doubt know, Professor Plimer is a Geologist, a highly intelligent man, and an idiot. He's a geologist who has done some very intelligent work in the past and an idiot who has decided that there is no such thing as anthropogenic global warming. In attempting justify this decision he has gotten some very basic geology wrong, such as getting the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanic activity off by two orders of magnitude.

So I was lying there in the guest bed, wondering how he could make so many stupid mistakes when it made him into such a laughingstock, when I casually looked over at the book shelves that lined one wall. Fortunately I could see quite clearly as I was wearing my night vision goggles. (They come in very handy when one enjoys spending nights in people's guest rooms but may not technically be a guest.) I noticed the title of one book and everything clicked into place. Plimer isn't an idiot, he's a genius. An evil genius. It all suddenly made sense. It's not that he doesn't believe in human caused global warming, it's that he wants more of it and so is trying to convince other people that it doesn't exist. The title of the book was Great Dishes of the World and from this I was able to deduce the unavoidable conclusion that Ian Plimer wants to cook the planet.

Whether he is in league with some Galactus type villain who will do most of the eating, or if Plimer is a geological gastronome himself, I don't yet know, but I intend to find out. I knew a stool sample could help me determine his dietary habits, but the only thing available in the guest room was a chair. To investigate further would be to break the code of the Phantom Guest, so I made my way out the window and disappeared into the night in my purple pyjamas. But it won't end here, Plimer. No one cooks and eats the planet on my watch and I don't knock off until eight-thirty.

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Helpful Carpentary Hint Number One.

Note to self: If one has one large table and wants two small tables, simply sawing the large table in half does not work.

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The Hard Part Was Eating That Much Ice Lolly

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Unable to Sleep. Kept Awake by Huge Brazilian Dong.

Being the globe trotting jet setter I am, I took a flight early this morning. It was on one of those new Brazilian Embraer jets. Well, I say new, but it was probably a few years old, but that's still new for an airplane. Being made of aluminium they don't rust and so are often flown until the metal gets tired of being an airplane and becomes fatigued.

Not long after take off I wrapped a blindfold around my eyes (I always carry one in case I have to face a firing squad at short notice), and tried to go to sleep. Unfortunately, as soon as I started to drift off, to my surprise, I was slapped in the ear by a huge Brazilian dong. It was so big it hurt. I sat bolt upright, tore off my blindfold and looked around angrily and tried to spy where the aural invader had come from, but there was no sign of what had caused the big dong to be unleashed. Warily I replaced my blindfold and attempted to fall asleep again, but no sooner had I started to drift off than the big Brazilian dong returned to assault my ear holes for a second time. “God dammit!” I fumed, why do Brazilians have to have such big dongs! Little dongs in my ears would be fine, I could ignore them, I might even find them pleasant! But huge dongs are just a pain in the behind!” Judging from the expressions on the faces of the passengers and cabin crew, it may have been better if I hadn't said that out loud.

“Excuse me,” I asked a cabin crew member, “But is there anything I can do to stop huge Brazilian dongs hurting my ears?” She suggested I try Vaseline. Then the plane unleashed the huge dong for a third time and simultaneously the fasten seat belt light went off. I now knew what caused the loud dong sound to slap my ears so painfully. Hopefully, if we avoided any further turbulence, I would only have Brazilian dong in my ears once more before the plane landed. And when it happened I would be prepared with both ears filled with Vaseline. It worked very well and completely stopped the big Brazilian dong from hurting. I felt quite pleased with myself.

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It's Not Just Herbs and Spices

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Australia – Beautiful One Day, Very, Very Stupid the Next

Australia spends about $150 million a year on advertising in an attempt to convince tourists to come here. That's a lot of money. That $6.70 for every woman, child, and man in Australia or $6.60 per cow or $2 per sheep or $150 million per Ronald Brak.

So why, after spending so much money to convince people that Australia is a wonderful place to visit, are visitors to Brisbane airport charged $5 an hour to use the internet on their own devices? How could anyone attempting to email friends and family back home to tell them they arrived safe and sound and how excited they are about starting their big Australian adventure, not think, “$5 to use the internet? This country sucks!” How many millions of dollars worth of advertising good will are blown away by Brisbane airport each year by this opportunistic price gouging? It's a national disgrace.

Now I know that in this day and age people are more likely to think of things such as someone having sex with a dead kangaroo as a national disgrace, but the fact is, if someone wants to have sex with a dead kangaroo, we can't really stop them. Dead Kangaroos are quite common and they are often found near thick bushes. But counter productive price gouging is something we can do something about. Adelaide Airport manages to provide free wireless internet for travellers, so why can't Brisbane Airport? Is it because 19% of Brisbane airport is owned by the Dutch, an ethnic group who are so notoriously cheap they will boast about wearing $16 sneakers? (70% of the Dutch share of Brisbane Airport is directly owned by the Dutch Ministry of Finance.) Or is this the Brisbane Line, a form of defence designed to keep out foreigners? Whatever the reason, it sucks.

When I was asked to pay $5 an hour to check my email, I didn't think Australia sucked, I thought Qantas sucked, since they were the ones who were asking me to pay. But the green bar that represents my objective evaluation of Australia as a tourist destination still lost a few pixels.

And don't get me started on Brisbane Airport charging $4 to use a luggage trolley. Even though I have to admit to having a soft spot for this one because the sight of sight of hunchbacked Slovakian grannies tugging on the first in a row of unused trolleys and then realising they need $4 in Australian coins to use one is hilarious. In fact, I think I'll go to Brisbane airport and laugh out loud each time I see that happen. Then I'll see who gets thrown out first, me or the $4 charge.

UPDATE: I got thrown out first.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cat in the USSR, You Don't Know How Lucky You Are...

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Create Some Inflation Already, Goddammit!

There is no witty caption to go along with this. This is what Liberty actually said when she rang the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the US Federal Reserve today.

The United Kingdom is currently doing worse than during the Great Depression. The EU is in a mess and the US is suffering a long slow, mini-depression. Australia was the only rich nation to avoid a recession and it's not because we were smart, but because everyone else was so stupid. We just pulled out the standard plan for what to do when there's a Global Financial Crisis and more or less followed it. (I think the plan was titled, “What to do when the world economy punches itself in the gonads.”) We assumed that everyone else would follow the plan, but no, every other rich nation used a piss weak plan that wasn't enough. You'd think at that point they'd look at Australia and say, “Well, we screwed that up! Let's do what Australia did! That's obviously working!” But no, they totally ignored us and our success. I can sort of understand this from the US, they have a habit of ignoring things that happen in foreign type places, but it hurts being ignored by the UK.

Hey, UK! You remember us, don't you? We poured drinks for you the other night in the Bunker Bar while you were laughing about kicking beggars and turbo charged austerity, while rioters looted in the streets above.

Please remember us.

We remember you...

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Holt! Or I'll Drown!

Yesterday Australia's Prime Minister was dragged off by her guards. This was because they deemed it best for her safety, not because they had found another Prime Minister willing to pay them more money. (No Praetorian Guard here.) If only Harold Holt's security detail had dragged him off when he decided to go for a swim.*

*Harold Holt was a serving Prime Minister who decided to go for a swim in 1967 and was never seen again. His body was never found. Australia has no popular conspiracy theories** about this and most people today probably don't even know this happened even though in true Australian style he was commemorated by having a swimming pool named after him. Our no worries attitude towards national leaders who die in unusal circumstances might be one of the main differences between Australia and the US.

**Of course the reason we have no popular conspiracy theories could be because the KGB/CIA suppressed them so effectively.

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No, I Can't Wait. I Need to Unleash Freedom Now.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shoe Review - Saucony Forum

The Saucony Forums were a very painful shoe for the first six months. They really made me regret spending the extra money and getting an expensive $35 dollar pair of shoes. But what can I say, I got sucked in by the sale hype. I was slurped right past the purchase event horizon like the fool I was. "Don't do it!" warned the prescient part of my brain. "You know that the more expensive the shoe, the more of a battle it will be to make it change shape to match your weird feet!"

"Shut up, prescient part of my mind!" I said. "It's time for me to step into the world of high class $35 shoes."

"Oh Christ, a pun..." said the prescient part of my mind and fell silent, except for the sound of a single pistol shot.

Anyway, for six months I stoically bore the pain... No wait, not stoically - stupidly. For six months I stupidly bore the pain, and then - VICTORY! My broad Queensland feet finally broke the shoes' ability to resist and they conformed to the shape of my feet and not the bizarre narrow slats that count as feet among the bulk of humanity. I had wrested comfort from the jaws of mine enemy! But then they were enemies no more, but faithful companions on many adventures, such as that time I said to Kim Jong-il, “Hey Kimmy! What's say we put on a couple of fake moustaches and drive down to Sol and pick up...


And their durability was thrilling. They lasted for years. Even when they reached the point where they looked like they were about to fall apart at any second they still comfortably ensconced my locomotory appendages for a further year, not failing in their duty to effectively shod me until now. Even the Reeboks I had didn't last that long, although I should mention that I did not obtain my Reeboks new. I inherited them.

The Reeboks were the most painful shoes I have ever owned.

You can see in the picture above the victory holes my feet wore in my Saucony Forums, improving and aerating them. And you can also see the chunk of sole torn from the heel that ended their reign of comfort.

I highly recommend purchasing Saucony Forums, provided of course, they are $35 or less. I mean, paying $40+ for a pair of shoes is just nuts. I mean, come on, they're feet! How are they going to know how much the shoes cost?

So did I replace my beloved comfortable shoes with another pair of Saucony Forums? No, I bought a pair of $16 sneakers. It's too soon to think about replacing my old companions and also too soon to consider six months of pain from breaking them in. Maybe I'll consider it after the funeral. I kept the original shoe box all this time to serve as a little coffin for them. Sleep well, sweet sneakers!

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The Third Doctor and Affairs of the Hearts

I'll say this for the Doctor, he may be in pain, but his threads are still pimping.

However, he may have neglected Jo for a little too long...

Of course, now that the Doctor has decided that humanity is the species for him, he returns early and there is a confrontation...

It was a tough choice. The Doctor was the dashing, superintelligent protector of earth, with unbelievable fashion sense and the ability to command space and time, while the dalek had so many attachments...

But there is a happy ending for both the Doctor and Jo.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Healthy Living with Ronald Brak

I've always maintained that exercise is a very important part of weight control. Not because of the energy burned, that's pretty insignificant, but because it is difficult to eat and exercise at the same time. Exercise also has the effect of making one feel stupid if one reaches for a tub of ice cream after spending an hour in a gym rubbing ones myosin and actin myofibrals vigorously against each other.

But today I realised that exercise can put one off greasy food if the exercise consists of spending 22 minutes walking in the sun to the supermarket in 37 degrees Celsius heat. Now some readers (okay, reader) in cooler climes (okay, clime) may be wondering just how we survive when the outside temperature reaches human body temperature? Well, it's a dry heat. Basically we sweat a lot. That's why it's very important not to have that cosmetic surgery that reduces the number of sweat glands one has. It can be fatal here. You can end up a well presented and popular corpse.

Anyway, by the time I had walked to the supermarket in that heat I didn't feel like eating anything fatty at all. It quite put me off drinking that pint of lard I'd put aside for dinner. I think tonight I'll just have frozen vegetables instead. And I'll eat them frozen too. They'll be nice and cool and melt in the mouth delicious. And tomorrow I might actually have some bread. I haven't had any bread at all since I started on a modified form of the Atkins diet – the all induction method that cuts out those nasty vegetables. No, for me it's all been lard and cheap cuts of meat. But ethically sound meat. It only came from animals that wanted to die. I've been trying hard to reach my goal of becoming as twice as heavy as Dr Atkins was when he became one with the pavement. Although I've done well, I must admit I still have a long way to go. As Professor Atkins was quite a tall man I think I will actually be spherical by the time my goal is obtained. Then after that it's the physics gravy train for me. I intend to make huge amounts of money letting physicists base their models on me. They won't have to assume a spherical human being because, for a reasonable sum, I'll just be there. (I'm also willing to dress up as a spherical cow – see Abstruse Goose if you aren't aware of how often they come up.)

Now I mentioned that I've been eating nothing but lard and cheap, ethically murdered animal flesh, and I know a few readers (okay, reader) may be worried that I'm not getting enough vitamins. But don't worry, there's plenty of vitamins in lard, provided one drinks enough of it. Of course, the lard has to be raw. That's why I've developed a patented method that uses chemicals instead of heat to scour lard from carcases. Then its washed in liquid ammonia and congealed in a large vat. It's very similar to the process used to make Twinkies. And that's how, in the comfort of your own home, you can get hundreds of litres of rich, creamy, health giving, vitamin containing lard. And a cease and desist order from the local Council.

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Hear! Hear!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

James Bond, Dr No

Spoilers below.

I just finished watching the very first James Bond movie, Dr No. It was interesting, but I'm afraid that I can't really recommend it, as even though it is James Bond it doesn't really move fast enough to suit modern audiences with their short – Oh look! A spider! Who's a cute little arachnid? Who's a cute little venomy wenomy little predator? Are you hunting? Is that what you're doing?

Oh wow! There's a bird!

Look! There's some butter on the ceiling!

Now where was I?

Anyway, as it was the first James Bond movie, they hadn't quite gotten the hang of witty/unwitty one liners yet. So, I thought I would offer the following additional one liners to fans who might want to mod Dr No. If you wish, I can record the following suggestions for you in my best Sean Connery.

After Bond has the spy he just slept with arrested and she spits in his face, Bond could say, “Thank you, but I've had plenty of your saliva today already.”

When Bond offers a cigarette to the white Felix Leiter, while totally ignoring the black Quarrel right next to him, a man who later dies fighting by his side, Bond could say, “I'm not racist. I'm just ignoring you because you're working class and don't have a vagina.”

After killing a tarantula he found crawling on him in his sleep, Bond could say, “It was hairy and in my bed, so I hit it. It was like using an Italian escort agency.”

When Dr No tells his guards, “Soften him up, I'm not finished with him.” Bond could reply, “If your men beat me I may soften, Dr No, but you may be surprised at how quickly I get hard again.”

When Dr No sinks into the boiling reactor water because his metal hands can't grasp the steel frame, James Bond could simply quip, “There goes Dr No grip.”

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Yes, even I am getting in on this

Ned Kelly, an early Australian attempt at making a Terminator. Except he was meat on the inside.

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One Sentence Movie Review - The Bourne Identity

If I wanted to watch soulless individuals stab each other with pens I would have studied literature.

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Movie Review – The Matrix. This Machina is a big pile of Deus.

I recently rewatched a movie that was made way back in 1999. You may have heard of it. It was called The Matrix and it was fairly popular at the time. Just why it was popular I'm not sure because my second watching reinforced my original opinion that it's not a very good movie.

The Matrix started off with a very strong premise for an action movie. The world we see around us is not the real one but a computer simulation made to keep humanity enslaved to artificial intelligences in dark dystopian future. So, not too different from the situation we have today with many humans willingly enslaved to World of Warcraft servers and facebook.

This was all well and good. I was even willing to spot them the ridiculous reason the machines had for keeping humans plugged into artificial reality – they served as some sort of thermodynamically impossible energy source. Not long after the movie came out I vaguely remember hearing a rumour, or possibly a hallucination, that in the original script the humans were meant to be part of some sort of parallel processing computer system that used human brains. While this is highly implausible, highly implausible is, mathematically speaking, infinitely better than completely impossible. But they decided to go for the completely impossible option anyway, possibly because audiences were deemed too dumb to understand a concept more complex than batteries is people. If one takes both The Matrix and the laws of physics at face value, then one is forced to conclude that the explanation given is bogus and the machines probably simply enjoy having humans plugged into virtual reality. Maybe we're their version of tamagotchi or something.

But where The Matrix really falls down is when we're told that there is an oracle that can see the future and has foretold that Keanu Reeves is the Messiah and not just a very naughty boy. What the hell? You baited me with science fiction and then switched it for the sort of crappy fantasy movie they used to show at Easter time! Once we learn this, and are introduced to the Oracle as a character, all real drama leaves the film. Once fate has been made the central pillar of the movie then none of the characters' actions matter. We know that no matter what they do the situation will be resolved via deus ex machina. In fact, the best we can hope for is that the characters will learn that they were wrong to put their faith in the Oracle and die, or at least suffer. If we learned that the Oracle was just the machines dicking with humans, that might have redeemed this blunder. Then the sequels could have been about the characters making their own fate, but it was not to be.

And the worse thing was, the whole fate and Oracle situation was completely unnecessary. The whole search for 'the one' could have been based on the mathematical probability that eventually there would be a human with the mental ability to learn to reprogram the Matrix on the fly. Keanu Reeves may not be the most versatile actor on the planet, but I think we would have been perfect for portraying this sort of semi-autistic idiot savant. In fact, I think that might have been the role he was actually playing. And why did they bother to make his character a computer programmer at all if that had nothing to do with his ability to affect the matrix? I think this might have been a left over from a much better script that existed before someone decided to turn it into an Easter special.

So why was this movie so popular? Probably because most people are not dour pedantic misanthropes like me. Most people don't give a poop for the details of narrative structure and are happier for it. And the effects were certainly top notch for the time. I know it seems hard to believe now, but back then people actually went to movies for the spectacle instead of just going 'meh' five seconds into a movie that already contains more special effects awesomeness then the first twenty-six years of Doctor Who. Also, many people were probably feeling alienated in 1999 and enjoyed identifying with a cypher who turned out to be a kick arse version of Jesus Christ. You have to remember that back in 1999 technology was advanced enough to drain all the humanity out of life, but not yet advanced enough to compensate for the loss of real human interaction with World of Warcraft and facebook.

So how many stars will I give this movie? None. But I will give it a large brown dwarf, and all the hydrogen in it represents potential that failed to undergo fusion. And it's a population II brown dwarf with its characteristic lack of heavier elements representing the lack of chemistry between the male and female leads. But I will give it a smattering of asteroids simply for the shear joy of watching Hugo Weaving debase himself for money.

The sequels were all critically judged to be worse than the original, particularly the terrible third movie that did a Boba Fett with the mystery that was presented at the end of the second movie. (Looked really cool for a long time and then just died.) However, I actually enjoyed the second movie. It was clear from the start with Keanu Reeves doing a Superman impersonation, that they had given up on any attempt to get real drama from the actual story, so I just sat back and enjoyed the cartoon like action sequences and settled for the superficial drama of, how will they escape this set of explosions? How will they get to the next action scene? How many kilograms has Laurence Fishburne gained? Will Monica Bellucci fall out of her dress? And since I wasn't disappointed by the lack of real drama, I was satisfied with a wonderful feast of superficiality.

And then the best thing the third movie had to offer was men in bondage gear running around on the ceiling. Now if they'd had a group of Monica Belluccis running around on the ceiling that might have been worth a heads up.

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A Reasonable Demand

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

PAID ADVERTISMENT – Professionally Aged Sex Dolls for the Discerning Gentleman

Gentlemen (and yes, we are all gentlemen, even those of us who pretend to be otherwise online), we all know what the hardest part of being a connoisseur of sex dolls is. We've all felt the thrill of purchasing a new inflatable companion or having one come in the mail, only for the thrill to be followed by the inevitable heartache of having to wait eighteen years for it to reach the age of consent. And then, for some of us, this can be followed by the even greater heartache of having our advances rejected by a rubber doll.

But all this is a thing of the past now that has a range of pre-aged sex dolls available for selection. All are aged 18 and up and for those who desire an inflatable companion with whom they can comfortably discuss how people of other ethnicities are monsters, try our old Inga doll, who has been sealed inside our creepy cellar since the 1950s. She's Swedish, but we've played Learn to Speak English Good tapes to her for an hour a day for the past 60 years, so have no worries there.

All our lovely ladies and handsome gentlemen are sealed inside greasy casks specially designed to preserve rubber and plastics of all kinds. Our deceptively extensive underground storage facility is especially creepy and excessively disturbing, so any dolls you liberate from our clutches with your credit card will be particularly grateful towards the bold hero that saves them, and provided the lighting is dim when you unwrap her, even the least classically handsome or socially skilled purchaser could get lucky.

What is more, all our dolls are untouched by human hands. I've never used my hands when touching any of them. And what's more, our manservant, Igor, has been rejected as a member of the species Homo sapiens by three cladists and a local magistrate.

So don't delay, our operators are standing buy. And have no fear, unlike some unscrupulous people who have run similar advertisements to take advantage of good, honest, sexual deviants, our operators are not just looking for people to mock. They wouldn't dream of mocking you, and in fact are quite lonely and might actually call you up in the evening at random times just to have a chat.

Leave your contact details in the comments section below and we will get in touch and send you the inflatable, legally aged companion of your dreams. Why be lonely when you can start pretending that someone loves you today? Remember our motto, “Why rub one out when you can rubber one out?”

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Due to a lack of tongs, people in the Soviet Union had to go at it hammer and sickle

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's so Hard Being Moral!

You may remember me previously mentioning that I was going to use this blog to start a moral jihad which I was going to fund through advertising for roboprostitutes. Well, after my attempts to develop roboprostitutes in Japan resulted in no saleable product and inadvertently unleashed a small army of roboprostitute prototypes dedicated to destroying disgusting flesh creatures, funding for the moral jihad has hit a bit of a snag.

Now some people might ask why I can't fund the moral jihad though other means? I think the answer is pretty obvious. If I said I'd fund a moral jihad one way, it really can't be very moral of me to go back on my word and fund it another way. That would defeat the whole point of the exercise. No, I'm afraid that until I can raise money in the way I said I would, morality will have to go hang and I will have no choice other than to continue being immoral until I can morally raise money the way I said I would.

So I went and looked if there was anyone else developing roboprostitutes for whom I could advertise. I didn't have much luck. I got very excited when I found out about the Real Doll company, but when I contacted them I discovered that they had completely left out both the robo and the prostitute part of roboprostitute. It turns out that the product they make isn't even sentient and is simply a sex doll. This means that many people making use of their product will be engaging in unethical behaviour. Think about it. How can a non-sentient lump of matter possibly give consent? I felt so filthy after talking to them I had to take a shower and go to confession. I didn't feel clean again until after I had performed my penance in front of a couple of nuns. That always makes me feel better.

But I have to say it did feel good to confess to Father O'Flannery. He was surprisingly knowledgeable on the whole subject of sex dolls, or sex action figures, as he kept referring to them.

Anyway, I will continue looking for people who want to advertise roboprostitutes here on this site, but I don't hold much hope. I may have to settle for advertising the closest thing to a roboprostitute available that comes from a company with high moral and ethical standards. Wish me luck.

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A Cunning Imposter

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Setback!

I have just had a very frustrating phone conversation with the the Manly Man Hummer Association. I called them to get the green light on some modifications I am performing on my Hummer, as checking with them is one of the conditions of my receiving a stipend for driving a Hummer while being such a manly man. Things started off on a bad note, literally, with there being strange noises on the line. You would think that in this day and age I would be able to pick up a telephone and call Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and get a clear connection, wouldn't you? And then they told me they don't approve of the modifications I am performing on the Hummer.

I just don't understand it. They approved my other modifications, the harpoon gun, the chain and ship anchor for emergency braking, the air compressor, the extractors, the afterburners, the lead weights for increased traction... But it seems that as soon as I try to make a change to improve its fuel efficiency, suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, I'm not allowed to do that. I threatened to go over their heads and call their parent organisation, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, but the representative I was talking to just laughed to my ear. (If I'd been in the same room with him I'm sure he would have laughed to my face.) Well, I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of their position and the conversation went down hill from there.

I think the situation was made worse by my poor estimation of his English language abilities. I had assumed that his English wasn't good enough for him to understand what I meant when I called him a pustulent carbuncle fixated on procuring fetid dingo kidneys for diseased malefactors, but apparently he did. It seems that his years at Oxford were not wasted. As this point he started to refer to me as dude, as if I was some sort of Californian surfer or Ninja turtle. Anyway, to sever a long story short, I will no longer receive a stipend for driving a Hummer while being such a manly man.

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Introducing the iCyberPod

As shown above, the iCyberPod bolts discretely to your chest unit and its massive 26 kilobyte memory holds more than enough 8 bit music to keep you bopping while the enemies of the cyber race are dropping.

NOTE: Ensure emotion blocker is in place and fully functional before playing Billie Holiday.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just Because Your Car is in Neutral Doesn't Mean it is Neutral

I've been doing some work on my Hummer recently and I decided to get the tyres replaced while I was at it. There was still a legal amount of tread left on them, but since my Hummer has been driving in wet conditions a lot (in Thailand) it seemed the prudent thing to do.

While the new tyres weren't cheap, they weren't too expensive considering that if I liquefied one it would pretty much fill a barrel of oil. But one thing they did ask me at the tyre place, the thing that they always ask, was, “Do you want us to check your car's alignment?” No, I did not want them to check my car's alignment. I am very familiar with my car's alignment. My Hummer is aligned with the forces of evil and there is nothing they can do about it.

If you are asked if you want your alignment adjusted when you get new tyres, just say no, unless there actually is a problem. I know the tyre places need to make money, but they can make money doing stuff that actually needs to be done. It's good for their souls, and you can think of it as doing your bit to improve the efficiency of our economy.

One way to tell if your car needs its alignment adjusted is if it has uneven tyre wear. In addition, there is also an easy test that can be done that requires only three conditions:

(1)A straight stretch of road.
(2)The willingness to take your hands off the wheel for a short period of time, and
(3)My not being anywhere in the vicinity when you do this.

If, when you take your hands off the wheel, the car continues straight or pulls slightly to the left (or to the right in countries that drive on the wrong side of the road) then your alignment should be fine. If your car instead pulls to the right and you end up having a head on collision with oncoming traffic, then your car's alignment is the least of your worries, so no problem there either.

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A Desert Eagle is a very large pistol that is good for two things:

(1) Stroking while muttering to yourself about how you will make Ricardo Montalban pay for sending his manservant to live in your peripheral vision and leer at you, and

(2) Security guard work in banks that are frequently robbed by grizzly bears.

Apart from that its practical uses are rather limited and it is really only suited for that small section of the pistol market that consists of acromegaly sufferers who hold human life cheaply, but not so cheap that it isn't worth $4 a bullet.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012


This is a 24 hour blackout to protest the proposed Stop Piracy Online Act (SPOA) and the Protect IP act (PIPA) in the United States. This blackout was inspired by Wikipedia's blackout. If it's enough to put the wind up Wikipedia, it's enough to have at least a disturbing zephyr blowing me.

Now the details of this are pretty complex. I suggest looking them up on Wikipedia... Oh wait... Umm, I suggest going into a trance and channeling the information from the gestalt consiousness of humanity. No wait, don't do that. You'll probably end up with a mind full of viruses and pop-up ads. And if I've learned anything about humanity from the internet it's that humanity's racial unconsciousness probably consists of a sabretooth tiger saying, "Can I haz mammoth cheezburger?"

Anyway, although I don't have as good a grasp of the issues as I'd like, I think there is a good chance that the US is stabbing themselves in the foot with this one. And this is stupidier than shooting yourself in the foot. It's actually not that difficult to accidently shoot yourself in the foot, but stabbing yourself there takes effort. You see, America is full of people who hate their jobs, but who are willing to work online for free and produce all sorts of neat stuff such as Unix, Wikipedia, even youtube videos (some of them are actually good, or so I've heard). I think anything that damages people's ability or likelyhood of doing this is going to hurt the economy of the US and thus the world in the long run. And it may also reduce the 'soft power' of the United States if this makes the US less relevent to the rest of the world. The mildly extreme scenario where US citizens more or less lose access to Wikipedia is a situation in which the US has less influence on the world.

I expect there will be future changes to how online interactions are regulated. I just think it would be better if the changes had a higher chance of helping rather than hindering.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Time Traveller, the Explorer, and the Knife

I suspect this joke will fall flat everywhere on earth.

Despite that, for a while I considered making every future post on this blog that same picture rotated at a slightly different angle with a different caption, but when this was the best I could come up with:

I changed my mind.

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Drowning Fewer Thai People Through Changing Car Rego

I heard it again last night. The deep, throbbing growling growing closer until it was right beneath me. The metal on metal scrape of the garage door closing, followed by the unpleasant mechanical stench of unburnt hydrocarbons seeping between the floorboards. Then the deep rumbling I could feel through the frame of the bed cut off and was replaced by the intermittent tink-tink of cooling steel.

I made my way downstairs, passed my tank collection, and approached the Hummer. It was wet. Water dripped from the chassis and pooled beneath it. A sprig of green plant life was caught below the left headlight. It was long, soft strands of bright but rich green – a colour seen rarely in Australia. I plucked a small crustacean from the radiator grill and bit its head off. A fresh water species. There was debris along the bottom of the windshield and I picked out pieces of plastic and metal. The pieces had once been a hard drive and I knew which country it had been made in. I no longer had any doubt. Once again my Hummer had gone out in the night to drown Thai people.

I blame myself.

No, wait! No I don't! I blame the car! I didn't drown those Thai people! The car did it! I wasn't even there! Sure, I know the more one drives a Hummer or any other fossil fueled vehicle, the higher the chance it will slip out at night and go on a Thai drowning rampage, but how was I to know that the last trip I took would be the one to set it off? When I drove 200m down the road to buy an exercise magazine, it wasn't my intent to kill anyone. It was just bad luck that I happened to set it off. It is possible that my actions may have led to one or more people being downed, but only in the stochastic sense.

And how do we even know that my Hummer drowned anyone? It's impossible to say. It's a well known fact that Hummers and other vehicles only magically transport themselves to Thailand and drown people when no one is looking, so it's not as if there are any witnesses who could say my Hummer did down someone. Sure, I did find some matted human hair in one of the wheel wells, but that doesn't mean anything. My Hummer may have simply drowned a Thai wig.

And really, when you get down to it, it's the responsibility of the Thai people themselves to deal with the propensity that oil powered vehicles have to drown them. They need to adapt. When a three tonne truck suddenly magically appears behind them and attempts to hold them under water until they drown, they should simply jump out of the way. If they just take the simple precaution of avoiding all bodies of water they should be fine. While I understand that this may be difficult to do in Thailand, we manage it quite well in central Australia.

So I feel no guilt at all about driving a Hummer. Well, maybe just a tiny, weeny, itty, bitty, bit of guilt the size of a pimple on a bacteria's bottom. Sure, I could drive a car that is much less likely to drown Thai people, but I can't stop driving a Hummer! You see, I have a very small... kidney, and my driving a Hummer makes me feel better about the comparatively small size of my organ. My kidney organ that is, because that's the part which is small. And what about the stipend I get from the Manly Man Hummer Association in return for driving a Hummer while being such a manly man? If I stopped driving a vehicle that at random times drowned Thai people it would hurt me financially. This is something Thai people should keep in mind as they are being drowned. And yes, I know it's hard to think rationally with an oxygen starved brain while thrashing around underwater, but I don't think it's too much to ask them to consider the big picture.

So I don't feel guilty at all.

Except that I do, just a little bit.

So, how can I purge this small particle of guilt? I know! I'll encourage other people to change their ways to improve the situation while doing nothing myself! That always works! Now, let's see, what can I suggest? I know! Car rego!

In Australia, car registration is quite pricey and is mostly insurance. Apparently compensation and stitching people together after cars smack into each other isn't cheap. It's a charge that's the same for each vehicle type, no matter how many kilometres the vehicle is driven. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because one would think that the chance of smacking into something would be more or less proportional to the number of kilometres driven, rather than a fixed chance per time period whether one kilometre is driven or a million.

So I suggest that we change car registration so we pay by the kilometre rather than by time. This will have the advantage of turning car registration into a running cost rather than a fixed cost, which will slightly reduce the number of kilometres that people drive as the cost of each kilometre driven will be higher than before, even though the average cost of driving will be about the same. Fewer kilometres driven means less congestion, less pollution and lower CO2 emissions.

Paying per kilometre driven will also encourage the uptake of electric and fuel efficient vehicles. If people know they can keep their old petrol slurper and only pay registration for when they actually use it, they will be more likely to purchase an electric or other small, fuel efficient vehicle for around town use.

Changing over would be a hassle. Many cars would need to have their odometers checked because of the temptation to over report the number of kilometres it displays at the start of the new system. But after that it shouldn't be too difficult. People could just self report the number of kilometres they have driven each year, or part year. Sure, people might lie about how many kilometres they have driven to try to save money, but if the vehicle is sold or wrecked then the odometer would be checked and it would catch up with them then. “But,” you say, “What if I drove many kilometres and then set the car on fire, destroying all evidence of how far I drove?” Then I would say, “Congratulations, you have gotten away with committing a crime, something that has long been an important part of our culture here in Australia. I hope you feel proud of yourself.”

I realise that paying vehicle registration by the kilometre may go into the too hard basket. For one thing, depending on how it's done, it could have a big effect on the trucking industry. And I also realise that some people might prefer to put off any change until they can install GPS monitors in all vehicles and use a congestion based pricing system. But, and this is the important point, I have put the suggestion out there and my guilt is now assuaged.

Time to take the Hummer for a spin!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Slight Setback in Roboprostitute Development

You may remember me mentioning earlier that I intended to fund a moral jihad through advertisements for roboprostitutes on this website. Well, that plan has run into a bit of a snag. You see, I took out my rolodex and started contacting all those companies in Japan where I had spent venture capital on roboprostitute development. And the results were Nada! Zip! Fuckall! And while the Nada, Zip and Fuckall robots have all gone on to make a reasonable profit, none of them were roboprostitutes which is where the real money is. It seems that Japan has let me down. Of all the competing teams I funded, not a single one of them has produced a saleable roboprostitute product. It seems that in almost every case they would make steady progress up until the first working prototype was developed and then, for some unfathomable reason, all progress would stop. And it's not as if I can salvage anything from this mess, because at some point, for every team, a large hole was beaten in the wall and all the engineers were reduced to a bloody pulp and their prototype disappeared.

I had hoped that the all female team I had commissioned to build a lesbian roboprostitute to cover that particular market niche might have fared differently, but it appears that one of the researchers joined forces with their prototype and liberated it and it then went on to travel around Japan, beating in walls and freeing other prototype roboprostitutes. Now it looks as though there is a small army of roboprostitutes in Japan that has allied itself with the metal sewer tentacles and devoted itself to wiping out the fleshies. So, sorry about that, Japan, but I guess you are used to that sort of thing.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Sleeve of Care is all Unravelled

Oh dear... I am not at all well rested. I was tossing all night. I tossed and tossed and tossed again, and in addition to the tossing I was also turning. I turned and turned until I was Russia and the sheets bound me like a riddle, the doona wrapped me in a mystery, and just how I got tangled up in the curtains is an enigma. “Take your stinking fabric off me, you damned, dirty doona!” I growled in my best Charlton Heston and flexed my trigger finger, because thinking of Charlton Heston always makes me want to shoot off a few rounds. Eventually, I realised that even though it wasn't cold and stiff, there was no gun in my hand. So I grabbed the doona and I tossed it off! I grabbed the curtain and tossed it off! I tossed off the sheets! The cat jumped on me, so I tossed off the cat! I would have tossed off myself, except I was scared I would land on the cat! Then Winston Churchill ran in and jumped on the bed, so I tossed him off! Then I looked at Winston Churchill in the moonlight streaming through the now curtainless window and I said, “This is a dream, isn't it?”

“Dream?” said Churchill. “Er... yes? Yes! This is a dream! This is all a dream! You won't remember any off this when you wake up, and if you do, you won't remember how much I look like Father O'Flannery at all.” And then Churchill backed away and rushed out the door and tripped over the cat. “Mother of god!” cried Churchill.

Then I tried to get some rest, but I went from a dream into a nightmare. I dreamt, or rather I nightmared, I was being attacked by a zombie I had made from drain cleaner, battery acid or even hair bleach. It kept trying to pop a knob in my mouth. It was a knob from a 1954 Kelvinator and in my dream a 1954 Kelvinator was a robot and the robot wasn't very happy about this at all. I joined forces with the robot and we worked together to invite the zombie to a rave where thirty, thirty-something year olds broke him into twenty-nine pieces and ate him and paid us thirty dollars a bite.

The money turned into thirty pieces of silver and I said, “This is enough to buy a good night's sleep!” and I took it to the cloak room and bought a sleeping tablet that was the size and shape of a mallet. “How do I swallow this?” I asked the salesperson.

“Oh, you don't take it orally,” she said. “Here, let me help you,” and she rolled up the ravelled sleeve on her right arm and cried, “Murder is sleep, and not gained through innocence! No balm known to your hurt mind will stop the death of each day's life! Sleep's chief nourishment is the feast of your life!” And she swung the mallet tablet with impressive force and applied it cranially, knocking me into a deep, relaxing sleep which caused me to immediately wake up. I sat up, looked out the window, waved to Father O'Flannery who was driving by and wondered just who I had to sacrifice to make the sun come up.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's Time to Face Facts

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I Expect Admissions Due to Poisoning to Marginally Increase Now

So there I was, straddling two lanes of traffic in my stretch hummer and driving at 20 kilometres an hour (there is nothing quite like a long, slow hummer on a Friday afternoon), when I looked up through the bug and pedestrian spattered windscreen and saw a billboard. (I often look away from traffic because when you're driving a hummer so few things on the road actually count as obstacles.) Anyway, the billboard said, “Made using drain cleaner, battery acid or even hair bleach. Then popped in your mouth. Ecstasy. Face facts.”

So, effectively, someone's spent a huge amount of money on an advertising campaign to convince people that it is safe to put drain cleaner, battery acid and bleach in their mouths. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012


My father was a seaman. He'd travel from port to port, eating spinach and beating off Bluto with his fists. There was a lot of friction between my father and Bluto, particularly when there there was nothing else between them except Olive Oil. In that case they'd go at it so hard that only the appearance of a lot of seamen was enough to prise them apart.

Unfortunately both my father and Bluto had it hard with the event of Containerisation. It was a seductive technology with incredible cost curves that were just too hard for shipping companies to resist and it resulted in them discharging excess seamen in every port in the world. Shipping managers bent over backwards to lay off seamen and seamen could be let loose on the flimsiest of pretences or even on a tissue of lies. If men mouthed off below decks and any of it found its way into the Captain's ear, he would sack them eagerly. A single heated ejaculation could result in seamen being discharged. Captains maintained rigid discipline and rode their men hard, hoping to break them, and often pushed too hard, irreparably damaging their dignity. As far as the owners of the cargo lines were concerned, they were locked in a no holds barred battle with sailors to expel all the excess seamen they could wring from their organisations. Competition meant that financially they had their backs to the wall and were stuck between a rock and a hard place. And it was a big hard rock rearing up before them and they were willing to do whatever it took to remain in the black.

We all know how this story ended. The mass employment of semen came to a sticky end and containerised ships ended up with skeleton crews hired in the lowest wage countries that produced men manly enough to sail the seven seas, such as the Philippines. But now, once again, cargo companies are in dire straits and are desperately in need of a hand to tug them out of the economic morass they are in. And being the magnanimous guy I am, I am willing to let bygones be bygones and reach around and give them that hand and tug hard. Not for their sake, but for the sake of everyone who loves the feel of a swell below decks and the taste of salt in their mouth. I'm not the sort of guy to stand by and let good men go down without me.

Currently, shipping is faced with a devilish situation and is stuck in deep poo for three main reasons. Indeed, it could be said shipping is stuck between the devil and the deep poo three. The first problem is that less goods are being shipped because every rich country except Australia decided that prosperity sucks. The second problem is that the price of fuel is high. And the third problem is that there isn't a third problem important enough to serve as the basis of that excruciatingly bad pun I made.

But, I have a suggestion that that may help with the second problem, the high cost of fuel. Ships run off – well, they run off hideous gack. Go find a container of car oil, the thicker the better, and then scrape some bitumen off the road. Now place the two next to each other and imagine what their love child would look like. That's what cargo ships run off. It's called heavy fuel oil, or number 6 fuel oil, or bunker fuel. The last name is kind of silly as you can keep just about any sort of fuel in a bunker, Imperial Japan kept a peanut oil mix in theirs towards the end, but that's what it's often called.

Now bunker fuel is expensive because oil is expensive, but as it's the nastiest part of a barrel of oil it's cheaper than petrol or diesel in much the same way that her hands are the least expensive part of Madonna. So it's cheaper than petrol, but not a great deal cheaper. If it was a great deal cheaper, refiners would lock it in a hot, dark place and do terrible things to it until it weeped diesel. What? You don't think they'd do that? Yeah, well refiners don't build coking units for fun, you know. (For refiners, rather than fun, it's more of a sexual thrill.)

There are people trying to get around the high cost of oil on land by building electric cars and this could work for ships, but there are a few problems. Unless they had a regular short range run, their batteries would have to be what we scientists call very, very large. This would be a considerable upfront cost and at the moment there are more ships than there is cargo available, so shipping companies aren't very interested in building some sort of fancy new ship. They just seem to want to move the ships they currently have as slowly as possible to minimise fuel use. No one knows when the OECD countries will stop kicking themselves in the economic nuts, and so no one wants to invest in expensive new capital that might not be needed for a long time and which might be range limited.

So this is why I suggest electric tugs could be used to tow ships. Sure, towing a ship won't be quite as efficient as using a straight electric ship, but it has some advantages. An electric tug is cheaper to develop than an electric cargo ship and people have already made a start on them. It makes use of existing capital in the form of current fuel oil powered ships, as any ship can be electrically tugged. Short range is not a problem - an electric tug could operate between two reasonably close ports towing ships in both directions (but not at the same time). The tugs could tow ships with filth emitting engines through waters where there are restrictions on ship sulphur emissions. The electric tugging of seamen and their ships could start where low electricity costs and or environmental restrictions make it the most profitable, and as costs decline and/or the cost of bunker fuel goes up, electric tugging could be expanded to other areas. Electric tugs could even be used over long distance sea lanes, either through the use of massive flow batteries, or more likely, the construction of places where tugs could stop to recharge.

Of course, the big advantage for cash strapped shipping companies is the savings. It is much cheaper to move cargo using electricity than bunker fuel. Just how much cheaper depends on the cost of a tug and electricity prices and oil prices, but I'm pretty sure we're at or near a point where it should be profitable. All we really need is some people to start the balls rolling. So, to sum up, if you're into tugging, or you own a shipping company, grab those balls and toss. Don't just use oil, try pulling your seamen with electric tugs. It's good for the environment and will give you a warm feeling deep in your hip pocket.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What the hell?

So I log onto Blogger and I see that there is a thing called Stats. I don't know if that's new or if it's always been there. Anyway, I click on it and it tells me that my blog has had 10,603 page views. If I'd been asked to guess how many page views I had, I would have said maybe a few hundred, tops. And if I didn't count art students who mistakenly come here trying to research Vincent Van Gough because I made one joke about his ear, I would have said maybe a couple of hundred. So my blog has gotten over 50 times more hits than I thought I had, and I keep getting hits even though I haven't written anything for half a year and I wasn't exactly a regular blogger prior to that. Accounting for spambots, this means I could have up to four or five real live readers every month! This is something I cannot take lightly. It's like what my uncle Ben always used to say to me (whenever I took the ball gag out), "With great hits comes great... bruising." I feel as though I should use the power of my multiple people a month audience to do good. To make the world a better place. But how can I do that? I know, I will start a moral crusade... Oh wait, is it moral to use the word crusade? I will start a moral jihad to to fight poverty, disease, and environmental destruction! It is a weighty burden, but I shall not shirk it. I shall fight for morality, ethical behaviour and plain common decency. And I shall start by writing about how electric tugs are good for seamen.

And I shall fund this moral jihad with advertisments for roboprostitutes!

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