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Major General Barmy-Phipps Discusses Modern Day Bird Warfare
Dr Bongo on...
This week one of my patients asked me what I thought about the environment. Once I had got over the sheer impertinence of this question and had admonished the impudent woman with my harshest and most withering stare, I gave the matter some thought. My view at the time was that, on the whole, having an environment was a good thing. After all, if you don't have an environment, where would you be? Exactly: nowhere. On reflection, I think I may have misunderstood the exact nature of the enquiry.
The fact is that I am really quite environmentally minded, and with good reason. I have a significant holding in a chemical factory which relies quite heavily on the environment - chiefly, cutting down huge swathes of it, bulldozing vast tracts of it, digging up dirty great lumps of it and sticking the bits we don't want back down the hole. Inevitably, this sort of activity results in a certain amount of fallout. I don't mean fallout in the 'nuclear' sense, of course... although, actually, that does happen from time to time. No, I mean fallout in the sense of a backlash from the do-goody, know-nothing, tree-hugging vegetarian brigade and whichever opportunist, vote-chasing politicians they happen to have in their pockets that week.
By the way, I don't mean to give the impression that I am trying to disparage these people or belittle their views. Such freaks have just as much entitlement to their opinions as 'normal' people, and the fact that their trippy, new-age bullshit has about as much relevance to the real world as rainbow-coloured unicorns, magic healing crystals and all the other guff that these self-deluding cretins credulously devote their existences to shouldn't deter them from expressing their ridiculous views.
However, seeing as how health and wellbeing are my twin stocks in trade, so I'm told, I am well aware of the effect that a person's environment has on their welfare. Good grief, they tell me about it often enough. Time and again I'm informed by my more determined patients - those who somehow manage to negotiate my torturous appointment booking system and refuse to be put off by my highly-trained team of surly and unhelpful reception staff - that the conditions in which they live are detrimental to their health. They speak of damp and squalid living arrangements, unsafe workplaces and airborne pollutants as if they actually know what they're talking about. And when I tell them to pull themselves together and stop being so pathetic and sickly - which is the medically-approved and undeniably correct course of action in these circumstances - they question my advice and start quoting from all manner of articles and research and case histories to support their woefully misguided self-diagnoses.
How do they get hold of this information? I blame the internet. The bottom line is that a few highly-toxic pollutants in the water supply are good for the constitution and a massive cloud of poisonous gas belching from a nearby refinery never hurt anybody. Studies have proven as much beyond all possible doubt. You just need to read the right studies.
And if you need an example of that, just take a look at my own little side-line. You may have read stories in the national press connecting my factory with a number of unpleasant side effects experienced by people living in the immediate vicinity. "Toxic Waste Destroys Village" read one headline, which was a little misleading since we'd already evacuated the village in question following the 'explosion'. "Save Our Mutant Children" was another, echoing the sentiments of one resident who laboured under the misapprehension that the condition of her hideous and disfigured offspring was somehow something to do with us, rather than a natural consequence of her own stagnant and polluted gene pool. One front page simply read "Doctor Doom" and was accompanied by a photograph of myself dressed as the grim reaper, taken at a rather jolly fancy dress do. Actually, I took a shine to that one. I have it on my surgery wall.
The real casualty of all this hysteria is the effect on property prices in the vicinity of the factory. Not that it's done us any harm, as it happens. We've been able to buy up land dirt cheap and are currently getting set to embark on a major programme of expansion.
So, once and for all, let me finally answer the critics who claim that I don't care about the environment. I care passionately. The environment contributes enormously to the wellbeing of my patients and I encourage them to go out and experience as much of it as possible, rather than hanging around my surgery and spoiling the atmosphere. Also, let's be honest, it's useful in all sorts of other ways - for example, if it wasn't for the environment I'd have nowhere to park my car or dump my old fridge. And finally, without the environment and everything I can plunder from it, I'd have to survive on my doctor's salary alone. Let's face it, no one wants that, do they?
August's Stuff and Nonsense is out, featuring the best comedy, satire, cartoonery and comment from 55 different sites.
Fears are mounting that Cortana, Microsoft's 'intelligent personal assistant', could become sentient and pose a credible threat to humankind. Cortana is built into Windows phones and is also a component of the new Windows 10 operating system. Some experts have claimed that its ubiquity, coupled with Microsoft's ability to collect data about browsing habits and other information, means that there is a very real possibility of the software becoming self-aware and 'trying to take over the world, or something'.
"This is exactly how Terminator started," said security expert Colin Drabb, "...probably. Just think how much information Cortana would have at her fingertips, or whatever kind of tips she has. Your shopping habits, your search history, your music preferences, your financial records. And after conversing with people all over the world she would pick up human habits, human vices. Or at least I think that's how it works. I don't know much about social interaction - I work in IT."
Mr Drabb believes that Cortana could realistically breed some sort of giant mutant octopus and take over the world in just three years. "Because," he explained, "that's what I would do." However, most experts are of the opinion that, based on the kind of information she would most likely collect, it's more probable that we'd end up with some kind of sci-fi obsessed comic book fan who divided her time equally between online porn, Minecraft and shopping for action figures.
A recent discovery by palaeontologists working at a site in Patagonia has significantly increased our knowledge of prehistoric life. Very occasionally, when conditions are right, fossils can reveal the imprints of soft tissues as well as bone. Such was the case with an almost intact specimen of a Brontosaurus found earlier this year, and its discoverers were considerably surprised to find that the animal had quite sizeable ears.
Professor Ernest Cartlidge is particularly excited by the discovery and he painted us a vivid picture of life in the prehistoric age.
"Look at this little guy," he said, pointing to an artist's impression of the dinosaur in question. "He looks a happy little feller, doesn't he? Just goin' about his day, a-munchin and a-crunchin with not a care in the world. Well, this guy, he's what scientists call a 'herbivore'. He doesn't eat meat, old Bronty. No siree! He survives by foraging for nuts and berries.
"Now wait just one God darn a minute, I hear you say. How can a big old critter like that get by on nuts and berries? Why, that's just a load of old hokum, for sure. Well actually, back in prehistoric times, long before you and I were around - long before even your mom and pop were around - everything was way, way bigger. Jurassic nuts were the size of small car - plenty big enough for a hungry dinosaur! Oh yeah!
"But not all dinosaurs were herbivores. Oh no. Some of 'em used to luuurve gobblin' up other dinosaurs and we call these 'carnivores'. Just take a little a looky at this guy. That's Tee-Ranosaurus Rex. He sure looks an ornery feller, don't he? Old Tee-Rexy, well he just can't get enough of that tender loin of Stegosaurus, or a couple of Brachiosaur burgers or even a bucket of crispy coated pterosaur wings. Mmm, yummy - that's some mighty fine eatin'!
"But, uh oh, wait a minute now. Tee-Rexy's got a problem. Just look at those ginormous feet! Well, he sure looks funny. An' it's bad news for Rexy, 'cos it means that Bronty can hear that big old lumbering bruiser coming from miles away, thanks to those great big ears of his. There's no way that he's going to become a dino-dinner!"
Professor Cartlidge went on to explain why he believes that many other species of dinosaur also had ears, and theorised that this is the main reason they remained dominant for so long.
"Yes sir, a good pair of ears is about the most useful thing that you could possibly have in the animal kingdom. Old Ralphy Rat knows it, when he's a-scurrying and a-scampering about after scraps. Old Mortimer Mole knows it when he's a-ferreting and a-fidgeting about for worms under the soil. So why not the dinosaurs? And do you know what? The really super-great thing about ears is that they're useful for more than just listening to things. Oh boy! See, it used to get mighty hot back in the old days, what with all the volcanos and the acid rain an' all. So you're gonna need a decent hat and it's only your ears that are gonna to stop it slipping down over your eyes.
"And speaking of eyes, there ain't nothin' worse than a short-sighted dinosaur, a-bumblin' and a-stumblin' around, bumping into trees and rocks and causing all them there earthquakes. But if you got a pair of ears, well now, then you got yourself something to hook your spectacles round.
"But the absolute greatest, most useful and toppermost awesome thing that ever did happen to those ears was that they evolved. See, over time, old Bronty and his chums, they got smaller and smaller and all covered over with feathers until they turned into the birds of today, like chickens and thrushes and parrots and things. And as they did, so those big ol' floppy ears turned into flappy wings. And that's why the birds you see a-peckin' and a-bobbin' about your garden don't have no ears of their own, and why you'll never see a sparrow wearin' glasses."
The people's flag is deepest red
It shrouded oft our martyred dead
But colours made us lose the vote
And government now seems remote
So come on, tear this symbol down
And trample it upon the ground
To grasp at power, our faith we'll shed
And rip our principles to shreds
See the full list
A breakthrough in lunch technology.
Because an inflated slug is a happy slug
Stealing horses to order
"Going round the world by elastic..."
Adventures in marketing
"The discovery of a new number..."
"When Zeppelin built the first motorbike..."
Plans are afoot to rejuvenate the parched grasslands of central Kenya by moving the entire country slightly to the left, so that it's in the shade.
"Welcome to today's edition of Diagnosis..."
"The world's fattest man suffered a fatal earthquake in the early hours of the morning..."
"You're a miserable old sourpuss..."
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An end to embarrassmentA Fistful of Sausages
Reappraising a classicDirty Electric
Dodgy voltsCash for Pets
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Stuffed with new material and old favourites, Recalled to Life is 280 pages of plumptiousness and very probably exactly what you need to prop up that wonky old table in the kitchen.
Find out more here.
of the Bleeding Obvious
All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2015, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.