Friday, 29 January 2010

Nude X-factor Big Brother drugs terrorist Avatar

Earlier this week, I attended a training event on the subject of Search Engine Optimization, which is basically the matter of spiking your interweb offerings with terms that you think enormous tits will be typing into their free viagra search engines, thus ensuring that a form of virtual guaranteed penis enlargement takes place in your page rankings and numbers of visitors.

I hoped the trainer would start by showing us the Robert Pattinson-Zac Efron gay sex tape, but apparently no such thing exists. The same could be said for the hardcore pics of Angelina Jolie which also failed to appear. We did talk a little about the uncensored Roswell/Area 51 film and the proof that 9/11 was a conspiracy engineered from a UFO powered by a perpetual motion device though. Actually we didn't; I just made that bit up...

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Americans - what the **** is wrong with them?

My generally positive view of our cousins in the rebellious colonies - which rose sharply a year ago with the election to the highest office in the land of a man whose intelligence placed him well above the cnidarians for a change - has taken a double whammy in the past 24 hours.

I mean, I'm not, deep down, anti-American. I love many things about the United States (in America), not least among them jazz; the optimistic, can-do attitude; Neil Shubin; the Marx Brothers and much else. But there are times when you have to wonder.

Whammy No 1: A firm supplying gunsights for US and UK troops in Afghanistan is putting Bible references on their products. I mean, Shrubya calling the war on terror "a Crusade" was bad enough; handing a propaganda victory to anyone who wants to see things in black-and-white 'clash of religions' terms is just downright stupid. Furthermore, do the fundamentalists at Trijicon realise how dangerous it is to hand such an obvious feedline to people like me? New Testament sniper sights? I mean, come on guys... "I am the night-vision goggles of the world"..."'WWJD?' 'Aim off a little to the right to allow for the wind'"...

I am not a Christian as such, although I do sing in church for the music. As such, I've heard quite a lot of the Bible and seem to remember JC being quoted saying things like 'turn the other cheek', 'blessed are the peacemakers' and 'put up your swords'. I've honestly never hear the bits from the Sermon on the Mount in which His followers are reminded to conceal themselves against a light background to make muzzle-flash less obvious or told "blessed are they who aim high at long distances to allow for gravity acting on the round".

And one final thing - if the founder of Trijicon was so devout a Christian, shouldn't he have found something other than weapons to make?

Whammy No 2: And then, the people of Massachusetts managed to go one better and elect a Republican senator, almost guaranteeing that health-care reform will be mired in an insanely complex and expensive legislative gridlock. How come - and I ask this in a spirit of affectionate puzzlement - when Bush brought forward major policy initiatives like "invade Iraq", "remove all environmental protection" and "let our Wall Street cronies smeg up much of the global economy", Congress sat supine and allowed them through on the nod; yet will fight tooth-and-nail to oppose Obama's big idea of "shouldn't it be possible for the world's richest nation to provide afforable medical care for all its citizens?"

Monday, 18 January 2010

Dark clouds on the horizon

Reviewing last year's posts on this blog thingummy, I notice a distinct trend of tales of international travel, flippancy and bad puns which turned a little darker at the end owing to the loss of a beloved aunt.

This year promises to be worse, and more serious overall, with the Byard vardo heading towards metaphorical bumpy roads and barricaded campsites. We recently had news that my mother-in-law has been bouncing off various doctors with contradictory diagnoses of her breathing difficulties, varying from "nothing at all to worry about" to "advanced lung cancer". Eventually my sister-in-law accompanied her to Singapore to see a more reliable doctor, who confirmed the worst case scenario of advanced lung cancer. We are now preparing to get out to Indonesia at Easter to see her for the last time. I know that looks melodramatic but it's the exact truth, unfortunately. We are still struggling to cope with the awful finality of knowing a loved one is going to die in the very near future.

Less awful but also not at all frivolous - Djangolina moves up to secondary school in September. Guthlac is in the midst of toilet training, I shall turn 45 and Mrs Byard 40. My Open University studies are moving onto a couple of courses which I don't particularly like the look of but which I have to get under my belt to move on to what I want to do, but on the bright side my own parents will be celebrating their golden wedding anniversary, with my sister and I united in an attempt to convince them to have a 'do' at a hotel *we* like.

Rather than dwell on the bad news and forthcoming grief, I shall conclude by sharing with you instead the worst yodelling ever committed to film (from 6'45" in this short film):

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

My mother - her part in WWII

We spent New Year happily up in the Midlands, at my parents' place. Djangolina is doing WWII next term as a history project and was keen to quiz her grandparents on their memories of the conflict. Much of this I had already heard quite a few times over, but my mother came out with a tale I'd quite honestly never heard before.

I knew about her role lighting a fake flarepath to encourage the Luftwaffe to bomb her aunt's village in Somerset, but her activities as a fifth-columnist guide to the last successful invasion of Birmingham had not been told before, at least not in my presence.

You have to bear in mind that my mother grew up in The Last House In Worcestershire - the bottom of their garden was the boundary with the City of Birmingham, which is traditionally Warwickshire. Our side - Black Country (Hooray!); over there - Brummies (Boo, hiss). Though outsiders are pressed to recognise a difference, the border is obvious and major to the peoples of Worcestershire and Staffordshire.

Anyway, some brass hat decided it would be a spiffing idea to give the Home Guard some useful practice at setting up road blocks by ordering the Worcestershire Home Guard to invade Birmingham. The Brummies thus set up positions on all the major roads leading into Birmingham, a fact obvous to anyone who had just walked past them up the end of their road on the way to school in Halesowen, such as my mother and her friend Ann. And just down the road they met a column of Worcestershire Home Guard advancing purposefully up Mucklow's Hill.

For reasons we had probably better not probe too deeply, the Worcestershire Home Guard fell into conversation with two gymslip-clad pubescent girls, who informed them brightly that "the Brummies had set up a road block just up ahead, and was that anything to do with you? Because we can show you a way round through the backstreets if you give us a ride..."

Birmingham was deemed by the umpires to have fallen before lunch.

In her defence, my mother was at pains to point out that she was helping her own side invade the cess-pit of evil and filth that was, and shall ever remain, Bromycham, rather than aiding and abetting an invader.