Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Friday, November 30, 2012

SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (Much shorter original draft)

SUPERMAN: Gentlemen, I shall now collect all the world's nuclear weapons in a big net and hurl them into the sun.

DR PHYSICS: Superman, there is this thing called critical mass and I don't think...

SUPERMAN: Silence! You are bald and my past experience has taught me that bald people are not to be trusted! Now I'll just hoist this net and crunch all the world's nuclear weapons together in one big nuclear pile.


SUPERMAN: Oh crap. What are my chances of finding another planet where the inhabitant's naughty bits are anatomically compatible with my own?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Probably No Significant Amount of Concentrating Solar Thermal Capacity Will Be Built In Australia

Concentrating solar thermal power, that is using mirrors to concentrate sunlight to produce steam to run a generator, used to be a big contender in the renewable energy stakes.  It seemed like it should be a low cost way to generate electricity.  After all, the basics are pretty simple - mirrors, pipes, steam, generators.  We could have started building concentrted solar thermal back in the 19th century if we'd wanted to.  But it has been sidelined over the past few years by the huge drop in the price of solar PV which you can see in the form of solar panels installed on roofs all over the place in Australia.  But solar concentrating thermal can be built with thermal storage that can provide electricity after the sun goes down or when it's overcast.  So will Australia build a significant amount of concentrating solar thermal plants?

Probably not.

It's possible that concentrating solar thermal may become an important source of electricity in the future, but it faces some challenges. Its first problem is it’s not currently suitable for point of use applications. That is, you can't easily stick it on your roof and so needs to supply power directly to the grid.  This means that like any other source of electricity that is delivered directly to the grid, it is less competitive than point of use solar PV. As point of use PV is the cheapest source of electricity for most Australians, people are installing a lot of it which is pushing down the wholesale price of electricity during the day and making concentrating solar thermal less economical.

Concentrating solar thermal can be built with energy storage to provide electricity during the evening, but faces the problem that Australia’s high retail prices mean Australians may soon find it profitable to install home and business energy storage which has the potential to greatly reduce the demand for electricity in the evening.   And for on grid storage, concentrating solar thermal faces competition from point of use PV. This is because Australia may end up with enough point of use solar to often push the price of electricity down towards zero during the day. This means that energy storage could be charged at little or no cost during these times. This means that thermal storage could be built without any attached concentrating solar capacity. Using electrical resistance heating to raise the temperature of concrete or other material to later produce steam to generate electricity is not efficient, but if the cost of daytime electricity is low enough it could be cheaper than building concentrating solar thermal.

So I basically I can't see Australia building much in the way of concentrating solar thermal plants, not with the decreasing cost and increasing adoption of solar PV.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

I could buy me a new Maserati with the copper on that

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

C is for Murder

I just read an astounding bit of information. Apparently only 1 in 3 housecats kill. I'm amazed that two out of three housecats are not murderous. Now this study was done in the US and maybe it's flawed, but it suggests that it might be easy to breed cats that don't kill. Putting aside the question of is it ethical to interfere with the perfect killing machine. (It is, just ask Winston Churchill.) If you take the murder out of a cat, can we still call it a cat? I'd say the answer is yes, although it would be easier to do if they were originally called cmurderats.

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Monday, November 12, 2012


I came across Brakels's axiom while googling my own name today:

If someone thinks [nation] is following a master plan, it is only because that person does not speak [national language].  A lack of ability that prevents them from understanding that [nation] is just as disorganized as everywhere else. 

I often come across things when googling my own name despite typing with both hands.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Republican Party and the Batshit Insane Factor

Well, the Republican party gave up on objective reality and ran an entire campaign based on lies and bullshit and lost. So you'd think they'd change tack now. The trouble is, how do you find your way back to reality after denying it exists for so long? The Republican Party gave free reign to its teabagging attack loonies and now it is full of them and they're going to attack anyone who attempts to move the party away from batshit insane towards less batshit insane. I just don't know how this is going to play out. It's a worry because one of the functions of the opposition is to keep the government grounded in reality and I don't see how they can do that when they're off floating in the Gamma Quadrant. Our own opposition spends a lot of time beyond the orbit of Pluto, but at least they are still under the gravitational influence of the sun.

Oh, and if you don't think the Republican Party is batshit insane you might want to take this little test:

1. Is the earth more than 6,000 years old?
2. Is there such a thing as global warming or is it all a lie?
3. Is there such a thing as evolution or is the diversity of life on earth the work of some sort of magic sky wizard?   
4. Does two people of the same sex getting married hurt anyone?  And I don't mean hurt your stupid fucking feelings.

Now I'm not saying the Democratic Party is sane on these issues, but they are clearly less batshit insane when it comes to this stuff than the Republican Party. 

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Presidents and Penises

Well, it's a day or so till the US election and the odds are overwhelmingly in favour of the presiding president winning. So basically it all comes down to penises now. About the only thing that might stop the current President from winning is if it is revealed that he put his penis somewhere he shouldn't have. And I'm not talking about an Australian shouldn't have, such as a chicken, barbed wire, or a tram conductor's pocket. I'm talking about an American shouldn't have, which oddly enough includes consenting adults. And what is even stranger, the lower the albedo of the penis the more scared Americans appear to be of it being put where it shouldn't. I don't know why this is the case, but I'm sure there must be a good reason. Maybe they're just scared of poking their eye out on it in the dark?

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