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Wet Dragon Cloudblaster

If you'll just take a minute to read over my brief profile on the left-hand side of my online blog, you'll discover that "malfunctioning technology" is listed under "Peeves." That's because my profile doesn't have a "Things That Send Me into a Blind Rage while Making Me Hot for Luddites" section. Luckily for you, I'm not one of those people who think an inability to navigate the Windows file system or operate simple office programs is all Microsoft's fault. It's unquestionably the computer. In my never-ending quest to hone my finger-pointing reserves for more efficient blameage, let it be known that I'd charge an exorbitant amount of money on someone else's credit card to discover exactly who it was that decided to make keyboards with those teeny weeny shift keys. Look, it's hard enough to send your pinky stretching and probing for the only two keys on the board that make you sound educated without having to send in a team of trained SEAL mercenaries tracking death bringers every time you want to capitalize something.

"//dear[delete]Dear b//Beijing ?dDaily,

//i/'I[delete delete] I saw in your online advertisement that you?/j"re looking for a /f/[delete]Freelance //j/a/Journalist to cover the local f//shitshitshitshit. sigh. Furry community. ?m/[delete]My grammar is impeccable, and //iI/I have a journalism degree from h//Harvard ??u///aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggghhhhhhh///!!!"

I smack my machine around enough as it is. If my computer was a child, social services would have swooped it out from under my abusive fingers, swung it up onto their shoulders, and, shooting damning looks at me over its rectangular head, whispered, "Mommy won't touch you there ever again," while it mewled in little ones and zeros all the while. "Oh, what?" I holler through the screen door as they sprint across my patchy lawn toward waiting cars, "and you've never had to find a compatible USB driver? Fine! Take it! It's aaaallll yours!"

I'm pretty good with gadgets. They giggle when I tickle them. You can stop wondering what I was doing while all the other kids were outside. Screw the innocence of youth; kids are bratty, cruel, and totally have poopy pants. But computers and I have long-standing diplomatic relations. We have an understanding. I talk to them in a language they understand -- "Zot Thrasher Boot Disk Fight!" -- and they keep turning on when I press the round button.

Now I discover that a harmonious relationship with household electronics can be added to the monstrously long list of other things that being in China does not help. It's not that you can't get what you need here. China might still be working on producing edible dairy products, but they're on the cutting edge of ripping off other people's awesome inventions. There are whole six-story shopping complexes dedicated to computers that look exactly like Sonys and little gadgets that function exactly like iPods, complete with sanitary hospital packaging and miniature apple. It's bloody hard to complain when you can buy the Neverwinter Nights expansion pack for a dollar thanks to all the placating lip-service that China's paid to the WTO in regards to cracking down on pirate DVDs and software. It's easy to complain when three computers in a row explode when you touch them. It's been happening to me all month. I reach over to plug something in, there's a popping sound, and the whole system goes dead. This is the government's fault.

The PRC has had god-like control over the elements for decades. At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, commie scientists discovered that every time they took a picture of Chairman Mao, regardless of the time of day or which direction he was facing, the sun was always directly behind his head, giving him a radioactive halo of Farmer Satisfaction Beams. Since then, their superpowers have grown, allowing them to stuff a country almost as big as the U.S. into a single time zone, simply by stamping a piece of paper. One out of 1.5 Tibetan farmers surveyed expressed gratification that sunset would occur at around 2:30 p.m. throughout the winter months. "You know how sometimes you eat this huge lunch and then you're starving again, like, two hours later?" a whole Tibetan farmer quipped. "What's with that?"

Half of a Tibetan farmer had this to say: "Ungh, my kneecaps..."

Other supernatural feats include mass substitution of the phrase "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" for "Capitalism, Only With Chinese People" and also making it rain by firing an anti-aircraft gun at the sky. No, seriously. The Wet Dragon Cloudblaster Ubertank, housed on a military base just north of Beijing, is one of those things that was invented by ironic accident during a nationwide drought, when a young chemical engineer burst into the 31st Annual People's Committee Confucian Karaoke Poetry Slam and Hoedown with uplifting news.

"Great leaders!" he bellowed. "The pelicans have brought cloud relief!"

But through the thunderous sound of nearly five hundred men simultaneously patting their own backs, the officials heard only, "The Americans have invented the boxer brief!"

"Shoot them. With silver iodide rockets," they told him. The chemical consolidated the moisture in the clouds, the drought ended, and Second Deputy Premiere Tu Qi Lai was congratulated on his peppy rendition of "Come On, Eileen."

So, don't tell me someone in the politburo can't wave a magic kite over this city and make all the electrical sockets whisper soothing little nothings into our collective power ports. Next up: enchanted taxis that stay in one lane and bloggers who know when to keep their mouth shut. Meh. One out of two ain't bad.


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