Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Earlier today I was sitting at my very small table writing notes on my laptop from a large calculus textbook. As there wasn't room on the table I had put the textbook on the ironing board. Unfortunately, I was having a great deal of difficulty as the ironing board was just too high. I tried standing, but that got old quick, and then tried sitting and craning my neck, but that wasn't very cromulent either. So I decided to apply my massive brain to the problem and come up with a solution. After cognating upon my conundrumous dilemma for an hour, I'd quite worn out my massive brain and lay down on the floor to recuperate. While lying there I looked up and saw that the ironing board actually had a mechanism for adjusting its height. What unbelievable luck! I mean, really, what are the odds against that? I immediately leapt to my feet with joy and then collapsed as a result of propelling the ironing board through the window with my head. After fetching the ironing board from outside, putting ice on my head and pulling broken glass out of my feet, I adjusted the ironing board and immediately celebrated by writing this instead of studying.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Medical Lecture

Had my first medical lecture today. The lecturer was pretty good. Very intense. What I liked was how he didn't beat around the bush when it came to the truth. He started the medical lecture at beginning. That is, with the big bang. Then he quickly moved onto the formation of the earth and the evolution of life. And he said that if anyone tells you anything that differs significantly from what he was saying they were telling fibs.

That's a good word, fibs. Its usually used to describe childish lies and that's pretty much covers what supernaturalists opposed to scientific knowledge come up with. After the lecture students were talking about this, but all I heard was people wondering if religious people would be offended. I didn't hear or see anyone who actually was offended. It's interesting that in the minds of the young people talking that “religious people” seemed to mean “people offended by basic science”.

The lecturer was a prominent neurophysiologist and was talking outside of his field when he spoke about the formation of the earth. This might be why he seemed to confuse nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion keeps the sun pumping out heat, light, and cancer rays, while fission of radioactive elements contributes to the earth's internal heat. But I wasn't about to tell him that. He looked like he could snap me in half with one of his eyebrows.

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You Say Free Ride, I Say Extra Layer of Armour

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Monday, February 27, 2012

ANZAC Day Apparently Radically Changed in Meaning About 10 Years Ago

I went to university today to start a new semester of learning how to dominate humanity and I parked on the oval as one does when all the normal parking spaces are chocka*. As I did, a gentleman handed me a strange bundle of fibrous material. After staring at it in shock for a few seconds I realised it was a newspaper, which is a wad of paper with information, or news, printed on it. It didn't take me long to recognise it, as I'd just recently seen something similar in Sydney. They used to be quite common before the internet caught on. I opened it up randomly to page 12 and saw they were were bravely trying to give the internet a run for its money in the field of blatant stupidity.

In an article entitled, “New bid to pardon Breaker Morant”, David Jean wrote the following opening paragraph: “It took 30 years to recognise the contributions of Australians who fought in Vietnam and 60 years to recognise that the Australians who fought on the Kokoda Track were genuine heroes.”

How very true. Why every year on Anzac Day we used to gather around and spit on my grandfather. And we only stopped doing this in the year 2002 when we suddenly realised that he was a genuine hero. Before that we thought this whole World War II thing old people kept going on about was just bullshit.

*For Americanoids and others who don't know the word chocka, it means completely full. It's a perfectly cromulent word as evidenced by its use by Shakespeare:

SERGEANT: For brave Macbeth--well he deserves that name--
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valour's minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.

BERYL: Wouldya like some more pavlova, luv?

DUNCAN: Nah, piss off. I'm chocka.

--From Shakespeare's McBeth, Queensland Folio.

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A Sticky Situation

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oh My God! - Physiology Text Censored!

A couple of days ago I borrowed a physiology textbook from the Medical Library of an Australian University. An actual real live medical library connected to an actual hospital where every day people get hacked up with scalpels to save their lives. Not a fake medical library connected to a fake hospital where no one gets hacked up by scalpels and so accurate knowledge of physiology is not quite so essential.

The book is called Fundamentals of Human Physiology and it is written by Lauralee Sherwood. When I first opened the book I saw a physiological illustration of a human, that is, a picture of a person showing the guts and stuff inside them. But this was unique among all the physiological illustrations I have seen in that the person had their clothes on. I burst out laughing because it was just so odd. But then I realised the author or the artist must be making a point. Most people generally don't walk around naked and humans have been using clothes for thousands of years to protect them from the environment. Good point, now teach us some physiology.

But then I looked through the rest of the text I saw that they weren't making a point. The book is censored. Everybody has their clothes on. According to the textbook the integumentary system includes a pair of blue shorts. I only found one picture in the whole book that wasn't censored and that was in the section on human reproduction. They got out of showing a dong by putting it in cross section and they did the same thing for a boob, but there was just one bit they couldn't work out how to hide. It must have driven the illustrator mad. I can just imagine her playing with that particular part, turning it at all different ways and angles while trying to figure how to make it not look like what it looks like. I guess she eventually just gave up and decided that it wasn't actually possible to censor it.

Censoring a physiology textbook is pure stupidity. It's hard enough to come to a good understanding of the location of all the different bits and pieces inside a human body without the extra complication created by having the illustrations wear clothes. A health professional needs to learn to relate what is inside the body to what is visible on the outside of the body. The illustrations in this book are doing their bit to make the world a slightly more stupid and more dangerous place.

And why did they do it? Surely the Taliban market segment can't be that large? Or are there actually people in English speaking countries who are shocked when they see what the human body actually looks like in a physiology textbook? If this is the case, then why didn't the author realise that maybe the best thing to do with these strange people is to shock them and help them get over this problem rather than pander to it? Maybe that way fewer Americans will end up stabbing themselves in the eyes with forks when they accidentally see Janet Jackson's nipple.

Or maybe I shouldn't be blaming the author, this could all be the publisher's fault. Hopefully Lauralee Sherwood will knock some sense into her publisher and the next edition won't be so laughable. And if the publishers won't play ball she drop them like a lump of congealed idiocy for the good of the study of physiology and for the good of America! Do it for America, Lauralee! Stick a nipple in their eye! Shove a tastefully drawn dong in their face! Don't surrender knowledge of the appearance of the human body to pornography! Have you seen American pornography? Surrendering people's concept of normal human physiology to American pornography is a disturbing road to go down.

Or so I've been told.

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I Hate it When I Fall Asleep on Public Transport For Several Centuries

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Goldfinger - Laughing it up Villain Style


I've realise why I've been feeling so apathetic the past week or so. I've been suffering from depression. But I seem to be coming out of it, so hopefully it is all behind me now. Oh, wait a minute... I might only be feeling up because if the dark chocolate I had today. Tomorrow I might be plunged into a deep and dark pit of despair as I struggle with depression combined with caffeine withdrawal.

Caffeine is a very powerful stimulant for me. One can of coke is enough to turn me into a real joker. The Jack Nicholson kind of Joker. I once had an espresso in Japan and I blacked out for three months. I remember it was around the time of those sarin attacks in the Tokyo subway. I wonder if they ever got to the bottom of the Australian connection with that freaky cult?

Anyway, I've been wondering what I can do to emerge triumphant from the titanically apathetic war I've waging with depression for the past week and a half, and since I just watched the third James Bond movie the other night, I got to thinking that when James Bond wasn't actually around to bother him, the villain, Goldfinger, always seemed pretty jolly.

Goldfinger has fun cheating at cards and he enjoys boasting about his smuggling operation to a Chinese agent. When he has Bond at his mercy he enjoys taunting him, “No Mr Bond, I expect you to have your dick burnt off!” He has incredible fun explaining his plan to a bunch of hoodlums before gassing them. In fact, the only reason he invited the hoodlums there appeared to be so he could explain his plan and then gas them. It had no effect on the plot. I suspect that if James Bond hadn't been bothering him he would have spent the whole afternoon explaining his plan to groups of people and then gassing them. He would have loved it and so would his guests, up until the end part that is. The man is a born entertainer. His little get togethers are always a real gas.

And building his camouflaged military ambulance “laser” platform must have been a real hoot. And you know, this is why I prefer not to use German henchmen. Sure they're efficient, and sure they obey orders, but when you pull out cool stuff like a “laser” ambulance platform, you can see from the look in their eyes that they're thinking that it would have been easier to do the job with a kilo of thermite and a fuse. Sometimes Teutonic efficiency just gets in the way of enjoying life.

And let's not forget the scene where Goldfinger comes onto Pussy Galore. Pussy rejects him and his advances go nowhere, but I think just having the opportunity to come onto Pussy is pretty neat.

Goldfinger certainly seems to be a data point in the fat people are jolly column. So, if I want to be happier and less apathetic and depressed, should I try to be more like Goldfinger? Well, taking into account that Goldfinger is a fictional character in a movie that is only tenuously connected to reality, I'd have to say yes. Of course Goldfinger's actions were evil, but my own actions don't have to be evil. I can be a good insane megalomaniac fixated on power, economic domination, and burning the crotches off tall Scotsmen. (Trust me, the midget population of the world will thank me. We all know what tall Scotsmen don't wear under their kilts.) Now some people might say that it's difficult to be good while manipulating the world economy and “lasering” groins, but it's really quite simple. I'll just make sure I take the time to justify my actions first.

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What About Pneumonia?

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Time to Put My Nose to the Grindstone and Then Stare in Horror as the Red Smear Spins Round and Round

University starts on Monday, so I popped down there and borrowed a textbook from the Medical Library. It was the first time I had sunk down and plunged the medical end of things. I guess they keep the medicalists separate from everybody else to get them used to everything being white and smelling like disinfectant. And to protect everyone else. Trust me, you don't want to get into a fight with a nursing student. They know your every physiological weakness and how to exploit them. I've had nurses exploit my weakness on more than one occasion.

So I quickly glanced at the textbook I borrowed, and yeah, I passed. Well, technically I haven't passed yet, as I have to do a few exams and things first, but the material is covered at such a basic level I could probably pass with one frontal lobe nailed behind my brain stem. I really don't understand how a literate person could live 17 or 18 years and not already know physiology at this level. I mean it is human physiology. You'd think they'd be into that sort of thing, wouldn't you?

It's certainly not like back in the old days when the final exam in first year anatomy involved dissecting a human body in an hour. It would take place with two students at a time in the medical theatre with the Professors in the observation gallery looking down and betting on who would pass. The really tricky part for the two students was that while they were provided with all the scalpels and dissection tools they might need, they weren't actually provided with a dead body. Yeah, even back then the Australian Medical Association really took keeping the number of qualified doctors down seriously.

Interestingly, the Professors wouldn't make bets in pounds or dollars, but for some reason only Quatloos.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I only had a quick look at the textbook, but I knew more detailed physiology than this when I was a kid just from trying to research how the movement of a person's right hand could cause them to go blind. And I'm not referring to obvious causes such as stabbing oneself in the eye with a fork.

And the reason I am now studying physiology is not just so I can work out how to repair my right hand and so freely stab myself and other people in the eye with a fork. My goals are a little loftier than that. I'm learning to study physiology so I can learn how to repair everybody's right hand. Even the right hands that belong to people with left handed right hands. I want to repair everybody's hands. And then control them from a distance. So basically I want to be like the Catholic Church, except more precise.

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He's a Little Bit Like King Midas

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Cornucopia Produces an Endless Supply of Rats and Cockroaches!

Shorter Julian L. Simon: We don't need to worry about resource exhaustion because people will see the resources being exhausted and do something about it.

So if we don't need to worry, then who is actually going to do the worrying and do something to solve the problem? It's Catch 44 - like Catch 22 but twice as bad. But actually, since I'm an optimist, for me it's only Catch 11. I actually totally agree with Julian in a totally qualified way. We have solutions to pretty much all our problems, we just need to actually do something about them. Like yesterday. But I do see modest steps being taken and I'm sure that boulder behind us won't pick up any speed as it rolls down that slope. I know the laws of physics say it will, but I'm sure if we ignore those laws hard enough they'll go away.

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The Original Goldfinger

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Apathy - Why I Haven't Put Mind Control Drugs in Your Breakfast

I didn't feel terrible today. This is a good thing. I was able to achieve this state by not eating anything for most of the day. You see, once I'm well fed, I don't really give a damn about anything. My lack of emotional response seems to leave my stomach as the main motivating factor in my life and if I refuse to fill it to capacity some of the FEED ME! motivation can spill into the non-gustatory areas of my life. Why today I must have spent a good five minutes doing stuff that was useful. Pushing myself to the limits of physical exhaustion can also trigger survival mechanisms meant to keep a human alive in times of physical stress but which I exploit to do things such as grout the bathroom tiles. Mind you, this can have drawbacks such as crippling oneself. I seem to have mildly crippled myself in several respects. My ow right ow hand ow is ow sending staccato flashes of mildly searing ow pain up my arm as I type this. This is somewhat annoying, but on the bright side I'll be less annoyed if I lose my right arm when my manpig turns on me.

I guess I should stop typing and hope that my hand experiences some degree of recovery. In fact, I think it would be very sensible for me to not type anything at all for a while, as not stopping could make my encripplement worse. So if you see anything written here in the next few weeks then I am being very, very stupid.

But then, that's pretty much always been the case.

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They're just trying to front.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

James Bond Goldfinger and Misogyny

I just watched James Bond Goldfinger. I may have more to say on it later, but for now I'll just mention an example of the terrible sexism that is often seen in James Bond movies. The name of the female lead's character is Pussy Galore. Now that's just disgusting. The character was a strong confident female and they had to go and give her a name that suggests she's catty. That's pretty low. It's almost like they had to take her down a notch so people would know it's still okay to demean her even though she had ovaries of steel.

In fact, I don't think it is until near the end of the Roger Moore era that we get a female lead who doesn't have a sexist name with the NASA scientist Holly Goodhead. Her name at least suggests she has a high quality brain.

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Now Hold Still While I Weld On This Boilerplate

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Monday, February 20, 2012

There Are No Americans Here to Tell Me How I Should Feel - I Want Them!

It all started so innocently. I would read the movie reviews in the newspaper. Yes, I am actually old enough to have read actual physical newspapers and gotten newsprint ink on my hands. I would read the reviews, not because I was fond of going to the movies, just so I could, you know, keep up to date with what was out there, maybe rent it on video at some point, or perhaps, if I thought I might really enjoy a movie, actually go to a theatre and see it. Not that I ever did. There are people in movie theatres. People who are not Americans. And if the audience isn't American there is simply no point in going to a movie. Well, at a pinch Italians might do.

You see, Australians, British, Japanese, Koreans, basically all the non-imaginary races, are quite subdued when watching movies, so I never know how I should feel during a movie and people become disturbed when I try to closely monitor their reactions to determine how I should respond to what's up on the screen. But Americans, they are so... so alive in movie theatres. They have no reservations, no guile, no tact. What they feel is immediately displayed in their faces and by their bodies. Their ability to display emotion is almost without compare. They are like human muppets. And inside each and every one of them the hand of America contorts them to show emotion in the clearest possible way. When there are Americans in the audience I know how I should feel during a movie and just having this knowledge is almost like feeling the emotions myself, or at least it's the closest I am ever likely to get.

But Australians and Japanese, they're not so demonstrative. It's much harder to work out how I should be feeling. So I don't go to many movies and I don't watch many movies. But I can analyse movies and I can read other people's analysis of movies. Today I had a clear choice. I could either watch a movie or read movie reviews. I chose to read reviews. It was good. I think I have transcended the actual need for movies. I just need the analysis. What did the Director do wrong? How could the movie have been improved? What were the weak points? What were the strong points? ALL ANALYSIS! NO EMOTION! YES! YES! It was so good, I may never go back to movies again. I don't care if I haven't seen the movie, I just want to enjoy the feel of it being picked apart within my frontal lobes. Ohhhhhh... yes...

So, if you want a movie emotionally interpreted for you, watch it with Americans. But interestingly enough, the Japanese already have emotional interpretation in many of their television shows. They will have a little inset screen displaying someone reacting to what's going on so the audience will know how to react. Why Americans don't have this I don't know. It's almost as if they feel entitled to come up with their emotions on their own. I think I would like it if all movies and TV shows came with something like this. Except it should be a muppet.

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Annunciate on This!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Putting a Life in Order

Today I told myself that it was time to get my life in order. But after thinking about it for a while I decided that it would actually be easier to get someone else's life in order. So it's time to ninja up, plant some pinhole cameras and write anonymous letters to my victim telling him everything he's doing wrong.

I realise this might cause the person I choose some degree of stress, but then nothing worthwhile ever comes easy now, does it?

I feel quite cheerful now I've put on my black pyjamas. I'm never happier than when I'm doing good.

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The Rise of Imperial Japan Was Brought to You Today by the Letters T, O, R and A, and the Letters T, O, R, and A, and the Letters T, O, R, and A.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Movie Review – James Bond, From Russia With Love


There's a new digital format that has come out called high definition. It can be viewed on disks called blu-ray. Just why they are called that I don't know. I presume that the laser that reads them is higher frequency than usual and therefore bluer, but I suspect that I am trying to make sense out of a marketing decision and that way lies madness.

I have watched three movies in this new format and I do enjoy the clear picture it gives. It lets one see important details that one might have otherwise missed, such as just what type of doors were used on trains in 1963. I could have noticed even more important details like this if the Director had the good sense to refrain from placing gun fights in the foreground.

While unlikely to be considered riveting by modern audiences, From Russia With Love, the second James Bond movie, does seem better paced than the first, Doctor No. But, as with all James Bond movies there are a number of things that don't make sense once you think about them, and any number of things that don't make sense without any thought at all.

I wondered what was the point of stealing a code machine if the the Russians will know it has been stolen? Surely this would result in them simply changing their codes? Or is the KGB just an incredibly lazy organisation that couldn't be arsed to change their codes even if James Bond walked out of their embassy with a code machine under his arm? But I suppose the machine could be very useful for decoding messages intercepted in the past even if it was of no use in the future.

But that's all par the course for James Bond. What really made no sense, even for James Bond, was when they suddenly segue from making a spy movie to making a women's prison exploitation movie and two unknown female characters suddenly started having a cat fight in front of Bond. I'm not sure why they thought this was a good idea, but I suppose that it might have happened something like this:

DIRECTOR: ...and then these two actresses will enter left and start making out on the table in front of Bond. Okay ladies, I want to see lots of passion and lots of tongue. Ready? Roll 'em!

Wait! Wait! Cut! This is a terrible idea!

DIRECTOR: Really? From the looks of it, little assistant director thinks it's a great idea.

LITTLE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: All my fantasies have come true!

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy sapphism as much as the next overtly gay man, but it's 1963! If you put this in the movie it will be banned in so many countries only the Swedes will see it and the only jobs we'll be able to get in the film industry will be feeding stale popcorn to pigs.

DIRECTOR: You mean work in television? Oh god no! But what can I do? I have a really strong artistic urge for these women to get physical together and this is the sort of thing that sells tickets. How close can we get them to making out before we start getting banned? A spanking session maybe? A Romany spank inferno, perhaps?

I don't think we can have women spanking each other in 1963, but maybe if they fought each other it would be okay.

DIRECTOR: Fight each other? But that makes no sense at all! It will just seem weird, especially to people watching the movie in the year 2012. But I guess it's the best we can do. Okay ladies, I want you to fight each other. I want to see real passion. Anger passion that is. Action!

And that might be how it went. But the woman on woman wrestling didn't go on for too long before it was interrupted by the attack of the Bulgars. In the resulting fight scene, James Bond wonders around, using various techniques to screw people over. But what is interesting is that he doesn't seem to have a side. His actions appear to inconvenience his allies as much as his opponents. It's as if he is on a mission to screw over Eastern Europeans in general. Actually, given that he works for MI6, that might actually be standing orders.

Anyway, after posing as a married couple, Bond beats his pretend wife and goes on to save the day, all while wearing a hat in any scene that takes place outdoors in the day. The amazing thing is that after losing his hat in a random helicopter attack, his need to wear a hat is so powerful he grows a new one after getting out of a truck. What was really impressive was that he was about to get into a boat so he managed to grow a natty looking Captain's cap. Now that's what I call talented.

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Book Comment - Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian

My first impression of the sex scene on pages 450-451 of the large print version was that it was a little unrealistic, particularly the whole shoving of his head in her mouth thing. However, after doing a little research on the internet, I discovered that it was actually very accurate. I must congratulate Patrick O'Brian on doing his research. But what I don't understand is how he managed to learn about the behaviours he described, as back when he wrote the book in 1970 the internet hadn't yet been invented. But, I guess it is quite possible that the author learned about those strange acts first hand by hanging out in the bushes. I must admit this is something I did a fair bit of myself as a lad, although I never did come across two praying mantises mating.

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Go Go Lenin Missiles!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Gas Giant Obesity Update

Earlier I mentioned that in their book, Fleet of Words, Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner appeared not to know that gas giants don't get much bigger than Jupiter. This was surprising because I thought Larry Niven always seemed very well informed about things spacey. In other areas he could be a bit muddled, but in matters cosmological he was the very model of an author who was knowledgeable. However, in their book, Juggler of Worlds they have a gas giant that is greater than Jupiter in mass, but smaller than Jupiter in size, which suggests they are are quite aware of the fact that after a point gas giants just tend to get denser rather than fatter.

But what I am confused about is just what the heck the books Juggler of Worlds and Fleet of Worlds are. They're not sequels to each other as the novels detail events occurring at the same time with some overlapping of events. The two books appear to be equal partners, so would this make them biquels? Simultaneous sequels? Temporally co-locatedquels? I just don't know, and I suspect we may never know. I don't know what made them decide to write the books like that. Perhaps the two authors started off with a basic outline to collaborate on, but when they got down to the details they just couldn't agree and then one of them said, “Well why don't you write your own novel then if you think your ideas are God's gift to narrative!” and the other one replied, “Fine, I will!” and the first one threw pencils and a donut at his back as he stormed out. And then after he was gone, a single tear ran down from his eye and he whispered, “But I love you...”

Maybe that's what happened.

Or maybe they just decided to get out of a two book contract by cutting one book in two and pad them out by doubling up on some scenes by writing them from different character's viewpoints. The books certainly smell like they followed the method when writing them - a paragraph written for each and every section in advance and then expanded out later. I can't say that that is a bad way to write, but when authors start actually doing what they advise people to do when they are asked how to write a novel, maybe it's time to take them out the back and shoot them. To let them go down that path lies madness. Or worse, an alternate history novel/brick by Harry Tortoisepigeon.

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This is Not a Charade!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Feel... ANGRY!

A most unusual event occurred today. I believe that I actually experienced an emotion. This rarely happens and I am very excited about it. Ha! Excited! That's another emotion! And Ha! also! Well, Ha! isn't exactly an emotion... I guess I could call it delight, but that seems a tad strong. I think I'll just call Ha! the thrill of realisation. It's like I'm a veritable living cornucopia of emotional experience today. And they said I was dead inside. (They being my parents, my sister, the Catholic Church, my psychiatrist, two Papal Bulls, and the guy who wanted to remove my necrotic lymph node.)

So what initiated this outpouring of emotion? Well, somebody tried to kill me. And not in the usual, quite understandable way. When I say tried to kill me, I think that unusually for me they actually might have tried to kill me by accident. (Does paranoia count as an emotion?)

Anyway, I was driving along, heading around a curve, when the person in the car next to me decided that they would rather be where I was and almost drove into my side. Now if I was in the Hummer this wouldn't have been a problem. In fact I probably wouldn't have noticed them. Even after they had collided with me I probably wouldn't have noticed them. Of course, if I was in the Hummer there wouldn't have been a problem as I would have taken up both my lane and theirs and I would have been impossible not to notice. Even blind people can notice my Hummer. (The blind can sense evil.) But I wasn't in my Hummer, I was on a tiny motorised skateboard called a Hyundai Getz that only has enough power to do everything you could possibly want to legally do.

When I saw them attempting to turn into me, (an understandable desire, but foolish, as I don't think anyone else has got what it takes to be me), I swerved out of the way and honked the horn. And here's the interesting part. I honked the horn a second time even though it served no practical purpose as the goal of giving a warning would have been fully achieved by the first honkeration. I believe that I honked the horn a second time because I was feeling angry.

I'm very excited about this. I've never felt angry before. The best I've been able to manage is irritated or annoyed. But angry is something new. Sure I've pretended to be angry before, but I've never actually felt it. I've pretended to be angry when facing angry people, mainly to stop myself from laughing out loud because angry people look so hilarious. They go bright red, or at least the pale ones do, and they make the oddest expressions. But if instead of getting angry they go into a killing rage, then they go slack faced and ashen. It's actually quite surprising the number of people who go into a killing rage when I'm around. It's almost as if people don't like having the beliefs they've based their lives upon mocked as I try to help them by pedantically pointing out incongruities in said beliefs. Odd that.

Anyway, I'm hoping that feeling anger will help me understand other people and their bizarre, non-nonsensical, stupid, irrational, and frequently mindless behaviour better. You see, I'm trying to develop empathy. And I'm getting quite good at it too. I'm able to recognise four different facial expressions now. Admittedly I'm having trouble recognising these expressions in humans rather than muppets, but I think I've got the basics pretty much down pat.

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Sip Sip Bang Bang

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Letter to John Williams, Former Executive Manager of Pacific Power

Dear John Williams, former Executive General Manager of Pacific Power,

Just thought I'd write a letter to you to let you know that you missed a couple of points in the letter you wrote that I found lying on a seat in Sydney Airport. The first and probably most important thing is that the vast majority of solar power in Australia is point of use. That is, it saves the people with solar panels the retail cost of electricity rather than the wholesale cost, and the retail cost is often five or more times the wholesale cost. This is why solar panels with lower installation costs are now around grid parity in Australia. And since you don't mention this in your letter I'll just point out that solar panels have minimal maintenance costs and zero fuel costs. A lot of people regard these two points as major features of solar power.

I'm kind of surprised you didn't know about the point of use stuff already, what with working in the power industry so long, but I guess executing might have kept you too busy to keep up with everything. Anyway, I'm just glad to be able to fill you in on this.

But then you start to get weird, John.

You state the efficiency of the best coal and gas plants at converting heat into electricity and then you compare this to the efficiency of a solar panel at converting light into electricity. You declare that solar panels have to be more efficient at turning sunlight into electricity than an advanced coal plant is at turning heat into electricity in order to be competitive.

Are you pooping me? Are you seriously ignorant enough to believe this, or are you just pooping everyone? Did you delegate your thinking to an idiot? Are you really comparing the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity to the efficiency of converting the heat of burning fossil fuels into electricity and saying that comparison determines competitiveness? If I developed a method for turning sewage into petrol at no cost would you say it wasn't competitive if it was only 15% efficient? You state that gas can be more efficient than coal, so how come we generate most of our electricity from coal if efficiency determines competitiveness? Or could it be that something other than raw efficiency measures determine where we get our electricity from? I'm sure you must have known this at some point. If you cast your mind back to when you were Executive General Manager of Pacific Power you might remember.

Anyway, I hope you found this helpful. And don't feel too bad. Age gets to us all. Why just the other day I could not for the life of me remember the name of the green Teletubby. Took me hours before I remembered its name was Dipsy. But I swear I'll never forget the name of that bastard Laa-Laa.

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It's Round... It's Chewy... You Can Put Tongue Through the Hole in the Centre!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sydney Airport - Not Nasty.

Went flying this morning, but it didn't work out too well. However, I had greater success later in the day when I made use of an airplane.

I give Sydney airport 10 out of 10 for having free wireless. And then I deduct 87 points for it not actually working for a total of negative 77. However, this still puts them way ahead of Brisbane airport which tries to charge $5 an hour for wireless internet. Sydney Airport comes out ahead because it is better to appear incompetant than to appear nasty.

And geeze Brisbane airport, are you even aware how much five Australian dollars is in foreign type currencies at the moment? A lot, that's how much. The Bark Like a Dog Index is through the roof!*

*The Bark Like a Dog Index is a measure of how many people in a given currency region are willing to bark like a dog for a shiny Australian dollar. For some reason the figure is surprisingly low in the Middle East.

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Learning by Doing

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Survival Tip #2 – How to Survive Setting Fire to Weed Killer Made From Sodium Chlorate.

Don't do it.

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Quantum Pacifist

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Space Battleship Yamoto - An Ethical Struggle

Today I saw the first 13 seconds of the movie 'Space Battleship Yamato', and, as unusual as it is for this to happen, the spectacle did manage to claw an emotional response from my black and bituminous soul.  And that emotion was, 'Hell, yes!'

English speakers may be familiar with the heavily edited anime version known as Star Blazers. It seems quite a large number of people have fond memories of it and one of the greatest intellects in the world has seen the movie in full and commented, and I quote, "The movie punched its way into my childhood memories and pulled out a fistful of awesome."

I expect that some people will have moral qualms about watching a movie in which Japanese people in the future salvage the wreck of the Imperial Japanese Battleship Yamato, turn it into a spaceship and then fly off on a mission to save humanity while never once mentioning the whole rape, murder, and slavery thing that was part of Imperial Japan's war effort. Now I would guess that the people who made this movie don't actually approve of rape, murder, and slavery. Or at least not more than the average person... Hmm...average person? On average people are rather sickenly in favour of murder, aren't they? A disturbingly large proportion of people seem quick to recommend unrestricted free murder for certain classes of human being they happen to disapprove of. But I guess on the bright side they generally don't advocate rape or slavery. I suppose only being in favour of one out of three isn't all bad, but I still find the fact that a significant portion of the population is wholeheartedly in favour of murder for certain groups disquieting. I was going to suggest that people with qualms could practice feeling the emotion, 'Hell, tsk tsk', instead of 'Hell, yes!' when they see the movie, but right now I'm going to express that emotion towards humanity in general. Humanity – Hell, tsk tsk.

Now that this movie has been made, I am looking forward to similar projects getting green lighted, such as 'Space Battleship Bismark', and 'Armistad II: Space Trader Armistad'.

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Expression Question

I was wondering today, if someone bet you their bottom dollar and you won, would you really want it considering where it had been?

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Protect Your Purity With Flag Abstinence

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Get Out of My Head!

You ever get a song stuck in your head? Well, Britney Spears has been doing a head job on me for hours now. I can't make her stop. It really sucks. It started last night and stopped me getting to sleep, so I tried to drown her with half a finger of Scotch. Unfortunately, while I can't hold my liquor, she certainly can. Her song haunted me through my dreams and I woke up with her saccharine pop on my lips and for some inexplicable reason, sore ears. I never should have listened to that song when I drove Uncle Bob back to the asylum last night. And when I got to the asylum I never should have performed it for the guests, but I looked so fabulous in that blonde wig I just couldn't help myself.

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I Bet You Dollars to Donuts They Won't Make It

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Friday, February 10, 2012

I Caught Crabs on a Queensland Beach After Sundown!

Hooray! I finally caught crabs! It happened on the beach just after sunset. It was low tide and I had waded through a narrow channel of water to a sandbank and – balls! So many balls! Balls everywhere! I began to wade my way through a sea of balls. No, wait a minute, the sea was that blue wobbly thing over there. I started wade my way through a sandbank of balls. I felt balls crush and pop as they ground beneath the heels of my feet and I felt balls squishing between my toes. Surely with all these balls around there had to be crabs somewhere? And yes! There they were! In the fading light I spotted two crabs and I swooped down and scooped them up as they attempted to escape by disappearing down their holes.

Catching crabs was such a beautiful experience. It was such a thrill to have them again. When I was younger, if I sat still long enough, I'd have crabs running across my legs, but it had been years since I'd seen any. They were small and a beautiful dark blue colour. Mictyrus Platycheles, usually known as solider crabs because of their former habit of forming armies. Since there were only two of them maybe I should call them reconnaissance crabs. And these crabs are much smarter than your average crab. They have worked out that first you move a leg on one side forward, then you move a leg on the other side forward and so on, and they walk instead of this sideways scuttling nonsense other crabs do. In this respect they're actually smarter than kangaroos.

After marvelling at them for a short while I let them go and with a soul buoyed with joy I turned to the west and even though the sun had only recently set I saw Venus shining brightly. No wait, that was macular degeneration. Venus was over there and much dimmer.

They were the only crabs I caught, and in fact, they were the only crabs I saw. It seemed none of the others were game to come out while there was any light. Quite possibly I had caught the only ones that weren't completely nocturnal and scared the last dregs of diurnal out of them. They'll probably warn their children to never to go out while there is any light whatsoever or giant lopsided star fish will scoop them up and hoist them into the sky to be judged by an enormous moon with one huge mountain and a collection of craters, one of which is massive and filled with teeth. I may have destroyed any hope that existed of them becoming daywalkers again.

Oh well, my bad.

I walked further along the beach. I was there with a family member, Uncle Bob. Walking with family can be embarrassing, and since Uncle Bob has a habit of peeing on everything he comes across, running around on all fours, and sniffing people's bottoms, you'd think he'd be a bit socially awkward to take a walk with, but he's actually one of the least embarrassing members of my family. Just as Hitler had the concept of the big lie that makes people ignore smaller lies, once Uncle Bob has defecated in public not much else he does manages to be embarrassing.

So I walked along the beach and Uncle Bob splashed in the shallows trying to catch little toad fish in his mouth even though he's never managed to catch one in his life. I know this because he is still alive. This is Australia you know.

Toadfish are the kamikaze of the tetrodotoxin set. Unlike blue ringed octopuses they can't inject their toxin and unlike puffer fish they still look delicious when puffed up. In fact, they look downright cute, which makes them particularly attractive to kawaiivores that feast upon the cuteness of the living. So the only way its deadly toxin helps it is if it gets eaten, which is a bit of a drawback. But it is of benefit to the toadfish that don't get eaten. Although some predators can survive the toxin, presumably many won't live long enough to make a habit of eating them.

When I saw how many toadfish there were I made plans to catch them and eat them if I had to. I often make plans like this. It's a survival reflex. If you see me staring at you intently and our eyes lock across a crowded room, I may simply be estimating how long I'll be able to live off your body if our plane crashed in the Andes.

I know a process for removing the toxin from toadfish. I also know how to eat small quantities without dying. The tetrodotoxin they contain can cause profound paralysis and when I was in Japan I'd often fake pufferfish poisoning until whoever was annoying me went away. And although I will probably never be in a situation where I'll have to eat toadfish I always like to have a back up plan, even if that plan involves convincing people I can remove the toxin from toadfish and then stealing their food while they're paralysed.

Eventually I lassoed Uncle Bob with a metal chain and dragged him off the beach and brought him back to the hummer. As it had gotten so dark, on the way back we saw fruit bats soaring overhead as they left their roosts for a night of feeding and fruit cost raising. Hundreds of bats with wingspans of a metre or more flew overhead. Batman would be so jealous if he saw this. Gotham city has nothing on Queensland. We also call them flying foxes 'cause that's what they look like. And no mucking about with any of this echolocation nonsense. Fruit bats have big googly eyes they use to see where they're going. Sure, they have a type of echolocation, but it really sucks. Instead of being ultrasonic it can wake you up in the night. Humans are almost as good at echolocation as they are.

After watching the bats fly overhead I drove to the asylum to drop off Uncle Bob off and on the way we listened to a Britney Spears song:

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He Knows If You've Been Honorable Or Dishonorable, So Be Honorable For Social Harmony's Sake

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Used to Have Crabs When I Was Younger

When I was younger we always used to get crabs down at the beach. But not any more. I was hoping I could go down and catch crabs today, but no luck. We used to be proud to have crabs. Having crabs meant we were lucky. In today's world so few people are blessed with having so much life.

It used to be that there were more crabs than you could poke a stick at. Even if you had a stick so big you needed both hands to wave it around, you still couldn't poke it at all the crabs on that beach. But that's all over now. I tried and tried, but no matter what holes I probed or crevices I stuck my face in there were no crabs to be had anywhere

But there was one thing there was plenty of down at the beach and that was balls. There were balls everywhere, far too many to count, lying on the sand. Their owners had reached down, dug them out and left them on the beach for everyone to see. It warmed my heart to see all those sandy balls because if there is one constant about Queensland beaches, where there are balls, there are crabs. You might not be able to see them, but they're there.

You see, the crabs dig into the sand, roll the sand into little balls and leave them on the beach. And there were millions of balls, so the crabs are still there. I'm guessing that the crabs no longer come out in the daylight. This make me think that if I were head down to the beach at night I would have an excellent chance of catching crabs. Not that I would do anything to harm them if I did catch crabs. I would just admire them and then let free to go on with their lives. I love these crabs. I just wish I had some so I could spread them around. If you live on the beach in Queensland I'd love to give you crabs. Then you could breed them up and give crabs to a couple of friends. And if they each gave crabs to a couple of their friends, then we'll be well on our way to having as many crabs as we did when I was young.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

He Feasts Upon the Patriotism of the Living

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Fleet of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner - Inexplicable Gas Giant Obesity

On page 17 paragraph 3, the start of third sentence reads, 'One of its worlds, a gas giant alongside which Jupiter would seem puny...'

This is odd. Gas giants don't get much bigger than Jupiter. They can be much more massive, but they don't actually get that much bigger. This is because as more mass is added to a gas giant its gravity increases and its matter becomes more compressed. We can see an example of this in our own solar system with Jupiter having 3.34 times Saturn's mass but only 1.73 times Saturn's volume. If we increased Jupiter's mass 50 times it would only become something like 10-30% bigger and if we increased its mass 80 times it would become a star, so it's not really possible to have a gas giant that would make Jupiter seem puny, unless perhaps there were some special circumstances. I'll let you know if the book mentions any.

Then again they may have simply meant that Jupiter seemed puny in terms of mass and I am making a mountain out of a molehill and adding mass to it until it undergoes fusion.

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Professors and Elephants and Komodos Oh My!

A Tasmanian professor has suggested that komodo dragons be released onto the Australian mainland. This is an interesting idea because one thing that Australia currently lacks is a large carnivore that bites people, let's them run, and then relentlessly hunts them down by tracking the scent of their blood until they succumb to a combination of blood loss, venom, and bacterial infection. At the moment we don't really have an animal that can kill you those three ways all at once, but now that I've been made aware of this lack, I can't say I really feel the need for one. I feel much the way I did after Sister Geraldine explained to me what a conscience is.

So why would the professor possibly think this is a good idea? Well, it might not be good for mainland Australians, but I think it is important to note that we are talking about a Tasmanian Professor and Tasmania is an island surrounded by cold water currents that a komodo dragon can not swim. I think he might just want us to pay for the fact that during the opening ceremony of the 1980 Commonwealth games they left Tasmania off the map of Australia made from school children. Either that or he's some sort of Pokemon fanatic and when it comes to feral animals he has to collect them all.

Sure he says the komodo dragons would control feral animals such as goats, but our feral goats are a multimillion dollar export industry and lets face it, what has more meat on it and is easier to chase down, a scrawny old goat or the average Australian hominid? I think he's being quite honest when he says the komodo dragons can control feral animals, I just think he might be hoping we forget that we're a pretty feral bunch ourselves.

However, I do like his idea of introducing elephants to Australia for moral reasons. Elephants are highly intelligent animals and I think with a bit of effort we could learn to communicate with them which would enable me to talk them into committing suicide so we can ethically harvest their meat.

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Your Ability to Control Your Pooping Will Not Avail You Now!

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A Great Yawning Schism Has Opened in the World of Fiction

I'm reading Anasi Boys by Neil Gaiman. It managed to hold my attention quite well up until I got to the part where the main character is given the offer, “I will help you if you give me your medulla oblongata.” And the main character replies, “My medulla oblongata? Sure, I don't possibly see what could go wrong with a deal like that!” I'm paraphrasing a little here, but the point is, its hard to feel sympathy for a character who fecklessly does the equivalent of bartering away his own brain stem. But it's not actually my intention to talk about the story. I want to talk about the date of publication.

The date of publication has become an important thing. It used to be I could just pick up a novel and roughly work out from the context when it was set and read away. For a long time the exact year or even the exact decade didn't matter. Whether it was the 60's or the 90's guns went bang, phones rang, cars had four wheels, men were men, women were women, and in some of the more fascinating novels the men were ladyboys.

But this lackadaisical approach no longer suffices. Now when I open a book I need to look at the publication date. I forgot to do it with Anansi Boys and kept getting my attention derailed by questions such as, “How did he take the wrong exit? Doesn't he have a GPS navigation system in his car or on his phone? Why doesn't he text her when his call doesn't go through? Why doesn't he look it up on the internet?” These questions vexed me to such an extent I stopped reading and looked up the publication date. The year 2005. Not that long ago, but long enough to make quite a difference.

It used to be that writers and their audience had a deal. They'd ignore things like mobile phones and the internet and we'd let it slide. Like the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her Scooby gang really would have benefited from some cell phones, but we tried not to ask why they never got any. You see, the writers grew up without them and so did the audience. But now that the audience has grown up with them, or at least has had them become as familiar as their dentures and support underwear, we can no longer let it slide. A schism has appeared. All fiction is now divided into pre smart phone and post smart phone. The singularity has arrived.

Now a lot of complete garbage has been written about the singularity, the point at which technology advances so far that there is a compete break with the past. Unfortunately, instead of involving immortality, robot companions, or even jet packs, it is simply ubiquitous smart phones. Personally it's not what I would have chosen, but in literature, and quite possibly life, that damned singularity that has been following us around for so long has finally caught up.

And of course the amusing coda to all this is that I don't even have a smart phone, but I have gotten used to living in a world where most people I interact with do. From now on I think I'll need to check the publication date for every piece of contemporary fiction I read, because if I try to guess and I'm off by just a year or two it can be confusing. And this schism is still growing. It is yawning like a Tongan shift worker when you knock on his door on a Saturday morning to talk to him about Jesus. We won't reach the other side of this chasm until there's an app for everything. For example, I watched the first season of Sherlock the other day and it seemed positively stone aged. You might say that's not surprising seeing as Sherlock Holmes is a 19th century character, but I'm talking about the one that was filmed and set in 2010. This series made of point of incorporating the latest in information technology and that made it worse, as it is now obviously technology that is two years out of date.

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Where They Burn Books They Will Ultimately Burn Kindle Readers

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Aquatic Exercise for Fun and Profit

I've recently started swimming. Started swimming again that is. I've always been able to swim. After all, there was amniotic fluid in my mother's belly and once I took out the competition there was plenty of room for backstroke.

I was told that swimming is a good low impact exercise that can help one recover from injuries, especially the sort that often result from escaping an exploding lair. Lies! All lies! My De Quervain's Syndrome has flared up! Damn you, De Quervain, damn you!

I've noticed that I appear to have a higher than average tolerance for pain. This is not a good thing. The line between this hurts a bit and crippling injury is a very fine one for me and I keep stumbling over it.

So there I was in the water, suddenly realising that the nagging pain I had been vaguely aware of for the past couple of days was coming from my hand and was being made worse by swimming. So I took the practical course of learning to swim with one arm. I can't believe I've managed to live this long without ever practicing it. This sort of basic skill could be a life saver. Let's say I am in an exploding lair, clinging to some machinery which an explosion causes to topple into a pool of boiling reactor water and, as tonnes of metal crash down on me, the water turns red and an arm floats to the surface. Well, if I am ever going to have a pleasant dinner with the person who caused my lair to explode while I explain all my plans to him again, then I had better know how to swim with one arm. This applies even if we later totally ignore the arm floating on the surface, or if it turns out to be somebody else's. And it still applies even if I just end up wearing an unconvincing prosthesis that just looks like I'm simply wearing a black glove. Some things are worth doing properly.

After mastering the art of one armed swimming, I considered the fact that this wasn't going to be of any benefit to the muscles of my off arm. After all, if I become involved in a test of strength I want to make a good show of it before I finally succumb to the greater power exerted by my lithe, athletic, sinewy opponent. For this reason I developed a method of swimming to prevent aggravating my injury that involved curling the fingers of each hand into a ball. I call it fisting.

I think I may really onto something here. Fisting could be the next new health craze. I can see it now, a whole line of fisting DVDs. I want to cover all demographics, so I'll have Fisting for Men, Fisting for Women, Granny Fisting, Fisting for the Disabled, Fist your way to Health, Fisting for Fun, and for the Americans – Fist Your Way to Wealth. I'll charge a lot for that one because if you tell an American they can make money from something they'll dig deep.

Of course the appeal will be somewhat limited because not everyone has access to a pool, but this doesn't mean I won't be making money hand over fist. One of my goals is to market to big companies. Take a company like Google for example. Imagine what would happen if just one in ten of their workers started fisting in the company pool. Just think about it. The consequences are mind boggling. It would be enough to start an awesome new craze! And these people would no doubt be willing to pay a lot of money for personal fisting training. Sure they could probably learn fisting just as well from watching the DVDs, but for these sort of people it's all about buying a unique experience and my fisting training can give that to them. They'll probably bend over backwards to get personal fisting training from me and I'll extract a double fist full of cash each time.

Of course I'm not limited to pools. I'll produce a DVD called Ocean Fisting. In fact, I think I'll film one with a variety of aquatic creatures in the background and call it Dolphin Fisting. I can think of one demographic that should really appeal to – New Agers.

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Bizarre Facts #1 – Mission to Mars

Life is full of strange events that defy rational explanation. In this semi-regular feature I'd like to take you on a journey to explore some of the more bizarre mysteries that have confounded some of the greatest minds ever to exist.

Bizarre Fact Number 1:
The DVD commentary on the movie Mission to Mars does not consist of a 114 minute apology by the director, producers, and writers.

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The Master Speaks

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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Me Tarzan, You Zoologically Confused

I started watching Tarzan the animated movie by Disney, but I had to stop due to aural distress. I really don't know what they were thinking when they did the soundtrack to that movie. They start off showing us gorillas, but they have the gorillas making chimpanzee sounds. Did they think the discrepancy wouldn't be noticed? I know that film makers do this all the time for for other animals such as birds, but chimpanzees are in the same order as us, so it kind of stands out. Actually we should be in the same family, but 19th century cladists were scared god would get them if they lumped us too close together. Anyway, I spent a great deal of my childhood locked in a cage in a medical lab that had several chimpanzees, and since I had a perfectly normal childhood, I suspect that most people know what a chimpanzee sounds like and know that sound sounds like something that is not a gorilla. I really had to work hard to suspend my disbelief in the face of this aural discord and I was onlly just beginning to succeed at that Herculean task, when they suddenly switched from having the gorillas make chimpanzee sounds to human sounds. Or at least they were speaking English. I can produce several people who will attest that the English are human, at least provisionally.

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You Have to be Realistic

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Lawnmower Person

I mowed a lawn today. What the hell is up with that? Lawn mowing is a concept I have trouble getting my head around. (Probably because my head possesses very little elasticity.) As far as I can work out, it seems that after the agricultural revolution and the enclosure acts, the new industrial cities in Britain and later Europe filled up with people who went kind of insane after being removed from the countryside and spending twelve hours a day working in a mill down a coal mine full of phossy jaw from the age of four. In the time they weren't working they did their best to drink themselves to death, get hanged, or get transported to Australia. Apparently having a tiny patch of ground on which to grow something made them feel better. Quite possibly because the food they grew resulted in the only contact their bodies ever had with a vitamin.

But then in the 50's things started to change. In rich countries having a little patch of land to grow something on changed from being a source of an improved chance of survival to being a source of status. Wealthy people had always had gardens that were just for show and served no practical purpose and almost everyone started imitating the rich and building gardens that were of no practical use. But of course the lower classes didn't imitate the most important thing about being wealthy, which is never do the actual real work of gardening yourself. My parents, after a 60 hour week of lower middle class work, would often spend a few of their precious off hours each week working in the garden so that everyone could see how stupid they were. Sorry, I mean, so that everyone could see how respectable they are. Although I must admit that in my experience the word respectable has always been a synonym for stupid.

My father believed in a hands off approach to foreign policy, but for some reason I could never convince him of my position on gardening – let the plants fight it out amongst themselves. Because once you pick a side there will never be an end to it. Only a fool meddles in age old rivalries among vegetation. Sure you can try to keep your flower beds free of weeds, but once you pull up one weed, another will grow, and then another, and another, and there are more weeds than there are days in your life. To chase freedom from weeds is a fool's errand. The tree of freedom, watered with the sweat of exertion, only sprouts the seeds of future labour.

My solution was both simple and semantic. Do nothing, and declare the plants that thrive to be ornamental and declare the plants that don't grow to be weeds. Simple. The war is over and we can all go home. Which is easy because it's that building right next to us.

Now, with the maturity that comes from not having died, I see that what my parents were doing was their own thing. When they worked in their garden they were doing what they wanted to do, not what their jobs required them to do, and so they enjoyed their freedom to do as they wished. But I wasn't free. I was expected to do as I was told and so gardening seemed stupid and pointless to me. To this day I don't think my father realises you can get better results by letting people do what they want rather than just what they're told.

One day my father told me to pull up the weeds growing by the side of the house. He told me to make sure I got all the roots otherwise they would just grow back. Well, we were on rich volcanic soil and those roots went down a long way. I spent most of the weekend digging a 13 foot deep trench next to the house. I never did get all the roots because late on Sunday afternoon the side of the house fell on top of me. Luckily I was in a 13 foot deep trench which provided excellent protection. Actually it was a relief. It was cool and dark down there and I had an excuse to stop weeding. I could have dug myself out as I still had a shovel, but I didn't bother. I figured that there would only be trouble waiting for me out there.

Now normally when I caused property damage I would get in trouble. But it seemed that if I caused enough damage it would break something inside my parents so that not only would I not get in trouble for causing massive damage, but they would even forget about other punishments I had coming to me for previous transgressions. Of course, it helped to be bleeding profusely or to show them a bone sticking out of your skin. I somewhat blame this incentive for the way I turned out. Or to be more precise, I blame myself for taking advantage of it and making a habit of it.

Actually I only had a bone sticking out of my skin once, and it wasn't my own. It belonged to the kid that had been standing next to me. Fortunately, when I say kid, I mean young goat, so it was more hygenic than if it had been a human kid. The young goat had got exploded by a rather convoluted set of events that I had set in motion. It was probably fortunate that I got injured, as Plan B to avoid punishment was to hit myself with an axe.

Anyway, I mowed the lawn today. I burned fossil fuels so that nutrients could be removed from the soil and dumped elsewhere. I suppose I could say I composted the grass clippings, but it would be more accurate to say I hid the grass clippings where no one was likely to see them. Before I mowed the lawn the property looked distinctive, but after I finished it looked just like every other one on the street. And it was hot and the lawn mower required pushing and I couldn't figure out how to turn the air conditioning on. I think I may have actually perspired. And for what? In a couple of weeks of weeks the lawn will be back to the way it was. Christ, if Allah had meant us to closely crop grass she would have given us four stomachs.

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The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword When it Comes to... Cutting.

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Friday, February 03, 2012

The Blood, The Pressure, and The Beauty.

I took my blood pressure today. It was 106 over 72. I looked that result up on a chart and it said, “Desirable”. From this I conclude that the people who make blood pressure charts must be pretty damn kinky if that piques their desire. I can just imagine them sneaking blood pressure charts out of hospitals and showing them to each other while exclaiming, “Foar! Check out the diastole on that!” And when they complain about their spouses they probably say things like, “Since we got married my husband has lost so much systole he just doesn't do it for me any more. If only he could get it up I be attracted to him again.”

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My Mother Says I Should Find a Nice Girl

At the moment I'm not sure what I should do with my life but my parents keep telling me I should go to college. Apparently they think the victims I currently bring them are just too old and stringy.

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How to Hit on Japanese Models

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Ronald Brak's Real Life Survival Tip #1

Welcome to Ronald Brak's survival tips, a possibly regular feature where you can learn real life survival tactics to help you in real life survival situations. You won't find any useless advice on how to survive bull attacks or falling elevators here, but vital tips on how to survive things that are actually likely to kill you – yes, you! So provided you are not suffering from bovine related aggression or currently experiencing zero gee in a lift shaft, read on.

Tip 1, Pneumonia and other stuff that makes you lungs cry: You're Australian and it's a cold winter's night in the foreign country you have travelled to and you don't know where to turn for medical help and medical help mostly consists of poking people with sharp sticks anyway. Alternatively you're American and just broke. Either way, you have that terrible feeling in your chest that only comes from intracellular fluid oozing through your alveoli and collecting in your lungs. (If you're not sure just what that feels like, it is very similar to that heavy feeling of dismay you get when you discover that the ecologically friendly car you just purchased runs exclusively off baby fat.)

So, what to do? Well, you could ask for help, but really, is that the sort of life you want to live? Expecting other people to help solve your problems? If you are going to be a survivor, you have to learn to cope with a simple thing like drowning in your own bodily fluids on your own, otherwise how well are you going to cope when something really serious happens, like drowning in somebody else's bodily fluids? I want you to tell yourself that you can cope with this on your own. Say it out loud like you mean it! Or failing that, gargle it out loud and then wipe the froth from your mouth and follow my advice.

From previous experience with colds and lung problems you might think that a humidifier would be a useful item. Sure it's useful. Useful if you want to drown! The problem is your lungs are too wet and a humidifier makes the air wet. This is not a good combination. Wet plus wet makes wetter. So unless you've been bitten by a radioactive fish recently, forget about humidifiers once you reach the starting to drown phase.

What you need is the opposite of what a humidifier does. So turn the air conditioner on. They don't just cool air, they also dry it. If you can set it so it just dehumidifies, that's even better. The dry air will help dry up the fluid in your lungs and turn it into lovely phlegm that you may be able to cough up. Unless of course your condition is so bad it just makes your lungs go stiff. In which case you'll die. My bad.

Assuming that you didn't keel over and die from you lungs turning into a pair of hard scouring sponges, and you still have difficulty breathing, the next step is to increase the oxygen content of the room you are in by setting fire to weed killer composed of sodium chlorate.

Tune in next week for survival tip number 2 – How to survive setting fire to weed killer.

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Master of Time and Space, Slave to His Stomach

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Taking an American Car for a Spin. A 720 Degree Complete Loss of Control Spin.

I drove an an American car the other day. I didn't even know that Americans still made cars any more, at least not for export. I'd never driven an American car before. Now if you have been reading my blog you may know that I drive a Hummer, but I will point out that a Hummer is not a car. In the US it is classed as a light truck and in Europe it is classified as a continental siege machine.

The car I drove was made by General Motors. Oddly enough, I couldn't recall ever hearing of a General Motors or what part of the armed forces he served in, but I hoped he was involved in the occupation of Japan and while there had learned the secret of making cars that don't suck.

The car looked very good on the outside and the interior was very nice too. I was starting to find it hard to believe the American reputation for shoddy workpersonship, but then, when I got in the car, I discovered that it had a pedal missing. They forgot to put the clutch in. In a way, I have to admit I was relieved. It meant I wouldn't have to go to the bother of changing the stereotype that I had adopted after the laborious process of watching an episode of The Simpsons and eating octopus balls with some Toyota executives. Those shoddy American workers also forgot the gearbox, although that wasn't much of a loss, as it wouldn't have been much good without a clutch. Instead of a gearbox there was just a stick that I could only make slide up and down on a single axis. I presumed some drunken American worker had stuck it there to make it look like she had installed a proper gearbox and her cocaine addled supervisor hadn't noticed.

This was all quite unfortunate as I had a trip to make and too many kilometres to cover in too little time to walk and I hadn't managed to acquire the key to any other vehicle. I would just have to try to start the car and make the trip in whatever gear it was in. I preyed upon the common decency of human beings on this continent and acquired the assistance of a group of them in pushing the car until it was moving fast enough for me to attempt to start it without a clutch. This worked surprisingly well. I then headed down the road towards the highway. As I refused to stop at intersections I was photographed by red light cameras on the way, but no negative consequences resulted from this as the car wasn't registered in my name.

Soon after running a bus full of kids from Camp Cancer (or possibly Camp Neo-Nazi) off the road and merging onto the highway, I realised something interesting. The car appeared to be changing gears by itself. And not just randomly, but in a way that seemed to suit the speed I was driving at. It was then I realised that I must be in one of those self driving robot cars I had read about. I was pretty impressed. I thought it would be at least a decade before I would have a chance to steal one of these babies. So I decided to relax, pushed my seat back, put my feet up on the dash and took out a book.

You ever see The Dukes of Hazard? It's an old American TV show about a Confederate General who is reincarnated as a car, but who has his plans to create a plantation based slave state foiled by his two stupid white henchmen week after week. Oh, how I would laugh at their antics and when they cracked their running joke about the US Civil War being about state rights, specifically the right of states to have slaves. Anyway, I mention this because in that show the car had a habit of flying. This appears to be a characteristic shared by American robot cars as well, as I soon found myself airborne over a large patch of bushes of a type we usually call lantana or sometimes choking noxious Argentinian death weed.

I have to say there was nothing shoddy about the suspension on that robot car as it survived the impact of landing surprisingly well. In that respect it seemed quite over engineered. And, as luck would have it, by the time I made it back to the highway with me in firm control, I had actually managed to take a shortcut of a few hundred meters. So top marks for the ability to survive a hard landing. However, I found out a few kilometres down the road that its ability to survive a kangaroo impact was rather low. Oddly enough, the robot car also appeared to be an autobot, as it attempted to transform into a blimp before it died and inflated several large balloons around me. While it failed to complete the transformation, this did have the fortunate side effect of cushioning the impact for me. It was an unfortunate end to the first robot car I've ever driven, but on the bright side it was almost out of petrol anyway.

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It's the Easiest Way to Tell

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