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03 December 2020

For Kids of All Ages...

Introducing the new range of children's books from Obvious Publishing.

Kids books are one of the most lucrative rackets out there, and they're dead easy - big friendly typefaces, lots of pictures, throw in a talking pig or an enchanted sword and pretty soon you're rolling in it. What we're trying to say is that we see no reason why we shouldn't get in on the action, so here are some of the titles that you can look forward to buying from our soon-to-be-launched children's publishing imprint.

The Magic Fridge

The Magic Fridge

Norris Plunk

TV celebrity Norris Plunk dips his toe into the children's book market with this tale of an enchanted fridge. It tells the story of the Taylor family, who are delighted with their purchase of a new top-of-the-range refrigerator. But upon opening the door they are astonished to find it's a portal to anywhere in the world they care to go. Stepping through, they are instantly whisked to distant sleepy shores, exciting foreign metropolises and exotic and wonderful remote landscapes. Unfortunately, it means they have nowhere to keep the milk, and the plot follows their efforts to get a refund.

Space Wizards from Mars
vs Vampire Dinosaurs

Space Wizards from Mars vs Vampire Dinosaurs

Terrence Photon

TV celebrity turned author Terrence Photon delivers a book that has almost everything. It's a frenetic tale of spacey laser monster shooty bloodsucking magic. Unfortunately he forgot to put zombies in it, but apart from that it pretty much covers all the bases.

The Snail and the Chicken

The Snail and the Chicken

Becky Toot

The Snail and the Chicken is a modern update of a classic tale from TV celebrity and now bestselling children's writer Becky Toot. You're probably familiar with the story: when Farmer Pong dies, a snail and a chicken inherit the farm and have to learn to work together to make ends meet. Becky Toot has brought the story right up to date and in her version the farm is a community centre, the snail is an illegal immigrant with a heroin addiction and the chicken is a lesbian. The bit with the runaway tractor is hilarious.

The Twat in the Hat

The Twat in the Hat

Reverend G.P. Dingus

First published in 1972, this book has enchanted generations of children with its silly rhymes and its colourful illustrations, and turned its author, the Reverend Dingus, into a TV celebrity. This edition has been printed in black and white on really cheap paper so that we can maximise profits.

The Old Man and the Crisps

The Old Man and the Crisps

The earliest known version of The Old Man and the Crisps was published by the Brothers Grimm, although it is based on a story dating back to the fifteenth century. It is essentially a cautionary tale about an old man who discovers a bottomless packet of crisps that can produce any type or flavour snack that you could name. At first the man is content to share his bounty with his neighbours, providing crisps for all the village. But he soon becomes selfish and chooses to keep all of his crisps himself, building a warehouse full of barrel upon barrel of different snacks - salt and vinegar, prawn cocktail, Frazzles and even Quavers. In the end his greed proves his undoing when his warehouse collapses under the colossal weight and he is crushed to death by Cheesy Wotsits.

Fat Uncle Barry

Fat Uncle Barry

Rufus Kooper

When Fat Uncle Barry comes to stay all hell breaks loose in the Ringworm family in this hilarious book from TV celebrity and established children's author Rufus Kooper. Barry has just come out of prison after serving three years for fraud, so it's only natural that Mrs Ringworm should be worried that he might lead seven-year-old Timmy astray. It turns out that Fat Uncle Barry is now going straight and all he wants to do is drink beer and eat pies. But the boot is on the other foot and it's Timmy's turn to be the bad influence. He masterminds a plot to defraud a local homeless charity and persuades Fat Uncle Barry to help. Against all odds, the crazy criminal pair manage to pull off their kooky caper, getting away scot-free with almost half a million pounds, causing the charity to close its shelter and throwing forty vulnerable homeless adults out into the street. With hilarious consequences.

 

Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021


26 November 2020

Ant Facts with Donald Fact

Ant Facts

with Donald Fact

Hello boys and girls. Well what do you know, it's ant week again, that special time of year when we celebrate the ant. How time flies! I'm sure you've all been paying special attention to the ants in your garden, joining in the local ant parades and singing the special ant song. But of course, it wouldn't be ant week without your annual dose of ant facts, and this year we've got some real crackers. So, without further ado, let's get facting!

Roman Legionnaires regularly went into battle with ants tucked into their undergarments because they believed it brought them luck. How the ants felt about it is not recorded.

The Amazonian bullhorn ant loves singing and can be heard up to five miles away. On particularly warm days it can do a remarkably accurate impression of an ice cream van.

The Swiss army ant comes with six different attachments, including a tiny soup spoon. This is odd since, as far as scientists are aware, ants have never been observed eating soup.

Ants are acknowledged masters of hand-to-hand combat, although proficiency in this area is wasted on them, since they don't have hands.

Opinions are divided on the existence of the shaggy coated mountain ant, which some authorities claim inhabits the inhospitable slopes of the Himalayas. Last year, a mountain ant scalp obtained by the British Museum was found to be a fake, but many climbers have nevertheless reported ant footprints at high altitude and Brian Blessed says he encountered one of the animals in the flesh.

In 1952, palaeontologists unearthed a fossilised skeleton over twenty feet long, which displayed a number of ant characteristics. In particular, this is the only dinosaur so far discovered that had six legs, and for this reason is widely considered to be the common ancestor of all modern-day ants.

In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder wrote that ants continue to grow throughout their lives, losing one pair of legs, growing udders and eventually turning into cows. We now know that this is rarely ever the case.

In Victorian times children used to use ants as an early form of Lego, due to the unique way that they interlocked. Despite the obvious difficulty of persuading them to stay still, ants were extremely popular and it is widely believed that the most popular toy of 1872 was an ant model of the Albert Hall.

And finally, a cautionary fact:

Ants are extremely flammable and frequently burst into flames. For this reason they are not recommended as pets. Professional ant handlers can only keep them under special licence and must undergo regular fire safety training.

Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021


25 November 2020

Dr Bongo on...

Dr Bongo on...Ants

from the desk of Dr Bongo

Ants

Some time ago a young man forcibly entered my surgery, screaming and shrieking and wailing that he was infested with ants. After completing three circuits of my consulting room, scratching and tearing at his blistered and raw flesh as he did so, this entertaining lunatic finally proclaimed that he could take no more and hurled himself head first through my open window, plummeting into the car park and through the sunroof of my receptionist's cheap family hatchback, concluding his time in the realm of the living buried up to his neck in its leather upholstery. And this was a Tuesday.

Good evening. My name is Doctor Adolphous Bongo and I understand that some of my peers have been putting it about that I have no sense of humour. I refute this suggestion. I am a fun-loving and comical person, a diagnosis which is founded on an indisputable medical opinion - my own, of which there is none better. I will, however, concede that I rarely get the opportunity to demonstrate my innately jovial nature - it would be inappropriate to display any measure of frivolity whilst carrying out my professional duties and I simply don't have time for any of that nonsense in my private life.

A rash course of action

Having said that, I did have a damn good giggle when this fellow threw himself out of my window. You're probably wondering what possessed him to take such a rash course of action. Was he, you might wonder, really infested with ants? I did make a cursory inspection of his remains, for the sake of appearances. I found three snails, a handful of lice, a couple of beetles and a dead rat, but there was no guarantee that these weren't already present in my receptionist's car before this ridiculous man planted himself so firmly in the driver's seat. My receptionist is a filthy cow who will frequently sit at her station peeling scabs from her knuckles and shaking dirt from her hair, so the fact that her car provides a haven for such a rich diversity of vermin, parasites and other assorted nasties is not merely unsurprising, it's actually to be expected.

No ants, though. They, wisely, had scarpered after doing this fellow in, expertly removing all evidence of their presence before they went. You can't help admiring them for that, can you?

A complete imbecile

Actually, this reminds me of a joke. It's about a getaway driver. Or was it a bus driver? Well, whoever he was, he behaved like a complete imbecile and it was all very funny... Well there you go. Jokes are overrated in my opinion.

So back to the ants, and that perennial scientific debate: are ants a virus or a bacterium? Surprisingly, the answer is neither. They're actually something else, can't remember what, but then I'm a people-doctor not an ant-doctor, so I can hardly be expected to know, can I? Perhaps they're a fungus? Or perhaps I'm confusing them with my own patients? What I do know is that not all ants are killers. Some just haven't got the stomach for it, or whatever organ passes for a stomach in the ant kingdom. These 'pacifist ants', as I have just this minute decided to call them, are hounded from the nest and fall easy prey to predators.

None of these things will protect you from getting attacked by ants

How then, the more sensible amongst you will be asking, are you to protect yourself from these murderous predators? Obviously, as a doctor I would advise you to moderate your alcohol intake, exercise regularly and make sure you use mouthwash after every meal. None of these things will protect you from getting attacked by ants but I understand this sort of stuff is generally good for you and at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that in your dying moments your breath will be minty fresh.

General health advice aside, the only way I know of to avoid ant attack is to keep your wits about you. This is clearly bad news for the fumbling, bumbling sacks of assorted offal that wobble into my surgery week after week. Most of them are regularly outsmarted by their own underwear, so something with the brain power and raw undiluted savagery of the average ant will inevitably prove a devastating adversary.

A delicate part of an ant's anatomy

And if you need proof of my assertion, let me tell you that I have rarely, if ever, had occasion to extricate a delicate part of an ant's anatomy from a snuggly fitting domestic appliance, and yet this seems to happen with a quite alarming degree of regularity amongst my 'human' clients. So much so, in fact, that I wonder whether the major portion of the vacuum cleaner industry doesn't entirely depend on the painful and embarrassing misadventures of the nation's sexual deviants. Neither, for that matter, have I received too many panicked calls from ants after they have inadvertently drunk bleach, partially throttled themselves with an item of neckwear or accidentally bitten off their own thumb partway through an unsuccessful attempt to eat a sandwich, and I don't think the fact that most ants don't have access to telephones can be the only reason for this.

Ants simply don't do that kind of thing. Human beings, on the other hand, aspire to new heights every day in their several missions to damage themselves, and it is only the certitude of an early demise that prevents most people from gradually whittling themselves down to nothing. There are days when I wish I was an ant doctor, and that's exactly what I would be if there was any money in it. There isn't. I've checked.

Outwitting a crafty ant assassin

Seeing that there is very little likelihood of most people getting real smart, real quick, we can rule out the option of outwitting a crafty ant assassin. My colleague, the eminent proctologist Sir Cardew 'Fatty' Robinson, has suggested that the everyday moron can still reduce the risk of an attack by taking the following advice:

  • On spotting a lone ant, hit it with a stick before it can scamper off and tell its friends. Beware, however - if it is a particularly burly ant and/or you are a particularly scrawny individual, the ant could take the stick off you and start laying into you with it instead.
  • On being cornered by a group of ants, make for open water. Ants cannot swim as they have no way of holding their noses. If there is no open water nearby, immediately drop to the ground and roll in the dirt with your legs in the air. This will not deter the ants in any way but your agonising death will at least provide some small measure of amusement for any onlookers.
  • On being taken back to the ants' secret underground nest, challenge the emperor ant to hand-to-hand combat. I don't know if ants have an emperor or, if so, whether ant etiquette permits them to accept challenges, but it's probably worth a go.
  • On finding yourself smothered by a wriggling, writhing shroud of millions upon millions of enraged ants, tearing at your skin with their pincers, peeling the sinews from your bones and gradually devouring your mortal flesh, try applying a small amount of antiseptic cream or calamine lotion to the affected area.

I should point out that Fatty Robinson's particular area of expertise in no way enables him to speak with any authority on the subject of ants and that he was phenomenally drunk when he offered up these morsels of advice, so you act upon them at your peril.

However, what I would advise you to do upon falling victim to ant attack is to seek medical advice immediately. Not from me, obviously. While I won't argue that it's fun to watch a person's agonised flailing as they career wildly around the room before eventually succumbing to the soothing mercy of oblivion, it all starts to get a bit samey when you see it every day.

 

Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

Buy from Amazon UK.

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021


23 November 2020

The Wonderful World of Ants

 

Ant

Ah, ants! Ants, ants, ants, ants, ants! Apologies, I was reminiscing. Since the dawn of time, ants and mankind have lived hand in hand. Palaeontologists have discovered Neolithic cave paintings that depict ant hunts, the most well-known example being a startling image of a mighty stag ant being brought down by a single spear, which adorns a wall in Lascaux.

Later, of course, humans learned how to domesticate the ant, coming to rely on its plentiful and sweet-tasting milk for their nourishment, and using its soft, downy pelt to insulate themselves from the harsh winters. Even today, ants are still used to irrigate fields, lay cables, power turbines, make sandals, fit carpets, sell motor home insurance, assemble electronic circuitry, round up sheep, track illegal narcotics, stitch wounds, calibrate GPS equipment, carry out surveillance and dig for tin. And let's not forget that long before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, it was an ant that first set foot upon the lunar surface. Six feet, to be precise.

But for me it is the almost infinite variety of ants that I find so fascinating. I have studied ants all my life, and will often observe them for hours on end, until I start to see spots before my eyes and the ants themselves begin to get paranoid. You may have thought that there are only two types of ants - red ants and black ants - but that's because you are impossibly naïve and don't know nothing about it. In fact, not only are there many different species, but there are also many different adaptations within each colony.

And so I am on a mission - a mission to educate the general public about the wonderful world of ants - and to this end I have prepared the following guide to some of the more interesting examples you are likely to see in your gardens, outhouses, kitchens and cupboards. I am hopeful that this will encourage a greater appreciation of the kingdom of the ant and help to spark a genuine interest in the subject so that finally, dear reader, you and I might be friends.

Standard Worker Ant

Standard worker ant

So this is the ant that you're most likely familiar with, usually to be found scurrying around, apparently randomly, or massing in large numbers during a picnic. Many people profess to being wary of ants, and yet there's really very little to be worried about. Stand your ground, don't show your fear and try not to make any sudden moves, and you should find that you survive the encounter unscathed. Ants have tiny brains but even they are aware that you're much bigger than they are, so they will attempt to avoid you if they can.

Lantern Ant

Lantern ant

"Hey!" people often shout at me in the street. "How come ants don't come out at night?" Well, the answer is that certain specialised types of ants are indeed nocturnal. The lantern ant has built-in arse illumination, meaning that it can operate after sunset, when there is less traffic about and it can get more stuff done.

Parasol Ant

Parasol ant

The other great advantage of the lantern ant is that it avoids the harsh heat of day. The parasol ant has dealt with this problem by growing its own sun shade. There are two varieties: the collapsible parasol ant and the non-collapsible parasol ant. The non-collapsible version is far less common as it is often unable to get back through the narrow doorway to its nest, and is therefore vulnerable to predators.

Trumpet Ant

Trumpet ant

On the subject of predators, the trumpet ant has evolved a means of both raising the alarm and disabling its attacker. Its twin horns deliver a sharp blast that notifies other ants of the impending danger and creates and shockwave that can temporarily disorientate the aggressor. Many people cite the trumpet ant as evidence of intelligent design, asserting that it is not possible for brass instruments to evolve through a process of natural selection. (See also the cornet gull and the trombone squid.)

The Bullhorn Ant

Bullhorn ant

A more technologically advanced adaptation of the trumpet ant.

Flying Ants

Flying ants

You will be aware of flying ants, but you are most probably unaware of the many varied ways that ants employ to get airborne. The jet ant, for example needs to reach a fantastic speed to achieve lift. This means that it requires a sizeable runaway and is also prone to colliding with windows, walls, trees etc. The heli-ant, the on the other hand, can take off from anywhere, but provides easy pickings for birds, usually because it's so pleased with itself once it gets airborne that it completely fails to notice that it's about to get eaten.

Rodeo Ant

Rodeo ant

All but extinct these days, at one time rodeo ants used to thunder across the plains of Midwest America is great herds, their headlong stampede raising dust clouds that could be seen for miles around. Tame rodeo ants were commonly used on cattle drives, their sturdy six-legged stride making them ideal for the rough and uneven terrain. Unfortunately, since ants are relatively small and cowboys are substantially larger, they couldn't be ridden for more than a few miles without their backs snapping. This is why so few of them survived and the small number that remain are a protected species.

The Chicken Ant

Chicken ant

Science has produced some wonderful things but the nightmare abomination that resulted from the ill-conceived scheme to cross a chicken with an ant is most certainly not one of them. Thankfully, the laboratory that produced them was decommissioned in 1973 and the last remaining example of this mutant species was walled up in its abandoned incubation centre, along with the maniac who created it.

The Stag Ant

Stag ant

The mating habits of ants are indeed extraordinary, and for me this has always been a subject of great interest. For the record, I am not a pervert and this is a completely legitimate area of study. By far the most impressive example of courtship within the ant kingdom is provided by the stag ant, which uses its impressive antlers to fend off rival males. Stag ants will often fight to the death, the survivor winning the right to mate with the female or 'doe', while the loser is made into a very fetching and impressive coat rack.

Extended and Chunky

Extended and chunky ants

Two interesting examples of adaptations that can be seen in most ant colonies. The extended ant is blessed with additional pairs of legs, making it much speedier and therefore ideal for conveying news of imminent danger and other urgent communications. The chunky ant is much slower, but can carry a much greater payload. Even ants need somewhere to put stuff.

The Double Header

Double Header

Often called the 'push me pull you' ant, this creature has solved the tricky problem of not being able to turn round in the narrow corridors of the ant nest. The double header does not have an anus, instead having a second head, meaning that it can simply reverse direction. Extraordinarily ingenious though this is, the lack of an anus presents problems of its own, as the inability to get rid of waste means that the ant rapidly swells up and is unable to enter the tunnel in the first place.

Soldier Ant

Soldier ant

You've no doubt heard of soldier ants but have you ever stopped to consider how they are armed? As you would expect, they are equipped with what is, to an ant, the ultimate weapon - a magnifying glass. This enables them to focus a beam of sunlight with laser-like precision and burn their enemy to a crisp in seconds. Actually, this is only the second deadliest type of ant - the extremely rare boiler ant can wipe out a whole next with a single kettle of hot water, but these only exist in small colonies in South America.

Skater Ant

Skater ant

There is nowhere on the planet that has not been colonized by ants, from the baking sands of central Africa, to the icy wastes of the Arctic you will find the humble ant. And it is in this last location where, if you are lucky, you can see seething columns of skater ants, streaming like endless black rivers over the surface of the ice. They are well known to the Inuits, although where they come from and where they are going has been a mystery for centuries. One thing is certain: although they can glide over the ice with no apparent effort, the ability to stop seems to have eluded them.

The Dapper Ant

Dapper ant

Finally, my favourite: the dapper ant can be seen most evenings wearing a top hat, a satin-lined cape and carrying a silver-topped walking stick. He's most probably off to the theatre, or perhaps a cocktail party or private function. Stop him and say hello and he'll always politely doff his hat. Just don't expect him to stick around for too long - this ant is much in demand and has places to be, although he will usually present you with his card and promise to keep in touch, if you keep a civil tongue in your head.

 

Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

Buy from Amazon UK.

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021


19 November 2020

Travel News

North East Central Trains

Lincoln - Derby
Ongoing delays due to a train pulling into the station upside down.

Express Saver Nottingham - Manchester
Reduced headroom on this service. Tall passengers are advised to find an alternative route.

Grantham - Norwich Local Service
Train currently lost somewhere in Norfolk.

Norwich - Grantham Local Service
Train sent to look for the Grantham-Norwich train. This train is also now missing.

Sheffield - London
All services rerouted via Glasgow due to bricked-up tunnel.

Liverpool - Bristol
Services are experiencing delays due to cowboys on the line.

Penzance - Birmingham
Delays due to speed reductions. We have had to slow the trains down because the passengers kept falling out as it was going round corners.

Coventry - Coventry
Delays due to train taking a wrong turn and ending up back where it came from.

Halifax - Swansea
Reduced timetable due to printing costs.

Bristol - Southampton
Train failed to stop and kept on going into the sea. Service delayed while we dry it out.

Leeds - Edinburgh
Delayed because driver stopped to pick up a prescription.

Chester - York
Cancelled due to odd-looking passenger. We hope to resume service as soon as this passenger has been humanely exploded by the bomb squad.

Colchester - Peterborough
All trains are currently out of service while they have their horns retuned. Also, the thing that makes the 'clickety-clack' noise is being re-greased.

Dover - Warwick
Some trains currently undergoing an existential crisis and may arrive confused and emotionally drained. Delays likely while they sort themselves out.

South-East - All routes
Most services rerouted due to feng shui.

Walsal - York
Train rerouted to Blackpool because the train driver's daughter wanted to go to the seaside.

Gateshead - All inbound services
All inbound services will now terminate at Durham, as Gateshead station has been stolen.

Stoke-on-Trent - Worcester
Trains rerouted because some carriages on the 10.30 service swelled up and got stuck in a tunnel.

Rotherham - Sunderland
Eaten by wolves.

 

Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

Buy from Amazon UK.

Buy from Amazon US.

The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021


Blog Index

Archive 1

February 2001
- July 2003

Skydiving

"We provide flippers, facemasks, breathing apparatus..."

Did Man Really Go To Belgium?

"He has dreamed of travelling to Belgium..."


Knitting in Colour

"The first regular colour knitting patterns..."

Jars4u

"We open your Jars for you!"

more...

 

 

Cathedral Root System Undermines Buildings

"Concerns for cathedral root system..."


Your Staff Feedback

"Everybody thinks you're fantastic..."

Pixie Guard

"Eradicate the misery of pixies..."

Diagnosis

"Welcome to today's edition of Diagnosis..."

more...

Piffin: A Mediterrean Paradise

Roly Coconut pays a visit

My Favourite Nuts

An actor remembers

A Tall Order

Adventures in marketing

Occuloid Laserprobe

The latest in laser eye surgery

Vapid

Procrastination software for business

Marmaduke Irksome

Talking rubbish for Britain.

  The Licepummeller

Knock 'em for six

Fields of Gold

Fergus farms financiers

Death Striker

Marketing a new disease

British Gas

A party political message

More...
Jehovahs Cleaners
Sandals
Animals
more
Kicking and Screaming

Prologue: Peanuts

You Don't Have to be Mad to Work Here...

Machiavelli Management Solutions

The Bleeding Obvious

Exploding Dogs

Baby's First Swear

Scrufty's Magic Juju Shop

Pigmongering

Empire of the Flowers

Scumm

Mrs Wilberforce and the River

Epilogue: Persons Unknown

Golfing bird
The Hedgehog King Board Meeting Goldilocks and the Free Bears Death Doom and Disaster Tall Story in a Short Glass Venus by Catapult Barry Buys a Broom
The History of Rock
Teaching Carrots to FlyTeaching Carrots to FlyStandard British NunsExtreme Dinosaurs
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All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2020, 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.


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