Big Bad Burger Bar

I am watching at this very moment (yes, this VERY MOMENT) a Swedish documentary about working conditions in McDonalds.

They show the usual horror stories, in the usual horror-story fashion. How for example “old” food is kept longer than it should, how employees are paid less than they work, and how worker’s rights are regularly stamped upon. An hour is spent, talking to lots of people, with scary music in the background. All to make us angry or upset or something.

Now, any regular readers of mine will suspect where this is going next. Let’s see now, he describes the situation, he builds it up, he piles on the irony… and oh yes, then he starts swearing. So let’s do it!

Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild. With a faery, hand in hand. For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Excuse me, you complete dicks, what exactly do you expect here? You go to a place that offers really cheap bad-quality food, and you complain that they are cheating you? You pay fuck-all for your carbohydrate stodge but you still expect the staff to be buzzing about behind the counter, on gold-plated Segways, wearing goofy smiles from all the free high-quality coke they disperse for free in the staff bathroom?

McDonalds is cheap. It’s their thing. Do people think that this can be accomplished without exploiting somebody along the way? The workers, the suppliers, the growers? Yes, McDonalds simply desires to serve us with cheap, high-quality food while making the world a happy place, and to hell with the profit margins. Sure they do.

Now go bite the other one, it’s got bells on.

These moaners are like the people who complain about glass in their chicken, or meat-glue in their sausages, while at the same time expecting the slop they buy in their supermarkets to be as cheap as possible. You want cheap food, you got it. Tasty, isn’t it?

Seriously, get a fucking grip people. You pay shit, you get shit. What part of this is so difficult to follow? If you want good food and good workers conditions, then don’t go to Mc fucking Donalds just to moan about it. Go to a real restaurant, or make it your fucking self.

Clever, snappy and ironic summing-up line of some sort. You know the drill.

/ paddy

Doing it Wrong

I am never sure if I should be pleased or annoyed when other people spot the same things that I spot. Like, for example, those “doing it wrong” clips on TV shopping ads.

You know the ones I mean. Let’s say they are trying to sell you a new chopping knife and, as an indication of how your life will improve, they show you a hand-cam, black and white clip of some complete fucking moron who can’t do any basic task without getting everything on the floor, up her nose and in her underwear.

These clips usually end with the stressed sweaty women blowing a sprig of hair from her face with a wistful expression. If only life could be better, she thinks. If only I weren’t such an enormous waste of space. If only I had a special salad-chopping machine or a tiny vacuum cleaner or a grill endorsed by a boxer.

These clips are enthralling. They show people who are so utterly hopeless that they should never be allowed to leave their own bedrooms, and then only if their bedrooms have no sharp edges or heavy objects.

And now some genius has made a wonderful compilation of the best ones. So here we have it, the “doing it wrong” compilation. And let me just warn you – the pace is frenetic, the cutting is relentless and the idiocy is completely off the scale.

Makes you want to buy just about everything ever made, doesn’t it? And if you buy it all RIGHT NOW, we will give you a free planet to put it on. So call now, lines are open until the end of time.

/ paddy

Much Ado About Meat Glue

The Swedish food industry recently won permission to use a new kind of “meat glue”, an enzyme called thrombin that, to put it simply, will allow you to stick scrap pieces of animal flesh together to “build” a larger and more expensive-looking chunk of meat.

The concept of meat glue is hardly a new one: another enzyme, transglutaminase, has been used for years to stick together imitation crabmeat, fish balls, Chicken McNuggets, sausages and hot-dogs, meatballs and even to thicken that healthy low-fat milk and yoghurt (and yes I am basically quoting the Wikipedia article here).

And very probably your Saturday night post-pub kebab too.

So now another glue has come on the market and we have more options for making clumps of cheap protein. And strangely consumers and consumer organisations are now flipping out, even though they have been happily consuming meat glues for years.

Um, why, dare I ask? Don’t those aforementioned groups all go on about getting meat for less? And if you demand low meat prices, and low prices in general, isn’t this sort of thing bound to happen eventually?

It’s amazing too how everybody gets so upset when some factory farm is discovered where animals are being misstreated. As if people didn’t realise this was happening, as if it’s some sort of news to them.

It’s a simple equation folks – if something is extremely cheap for you, then somebody or something else is paying for it in some nasty way, be it clothes, coffee, chemicals or food.

And why is this new meat glue worse than eating any of the processed meat we eat today? I’ll tell you why – because it’s being highlighted by the media this week and people are trained to get excited and upset by what the press tells them to get excited and upset about.

In a month this “scare” will have joined the glass in chicken scandal, the acrylamide in crisps scandal, the trans fats scandal and all the other “scares” that the public has forgotten about because the media has stopped going on about them.

If you want good quality meat, then read the fucking label, or find a supplier that you trust, or hunt it yourself. And stop going on about being “deceived” when you demand cheap meat and then get just that – cheap meat.

And one more thing: the Swedish word for “meat glue” is “köttklister”, pronounced “shutt-klis-ter”, and I think it’s just such a fat and delicious word and I had to mention it.

And, oh yeah – new layout! Well it’s been like 3 years, so I figure why not. Just bear with me while I poke around and get it all the way I like it. Getting the damn column to be wider, for one thing. And if you have any suggestions, or hate something immensely, please let me know.

/ paddy

Local Newspaper Disappointment

This site was suggested to me recently. And it has quickly become a huge favourite of mine.

It’s in Swedish, so feel free to slip out the back door if you want.

So, it’s a blog called “Dagens Lokaltidningsbesvikelse” or “The day’s local newspaper disappointment”.

It specialises in those pathetic articles from small newspapers concerning idiots and the trivial things that make them sad.

You know the ones I mean:

“Billy, 53, had to wait three weeks for his phone to be repaired”.

Or: “Alice is annoyed by the ducks in the garden.” That kind of thing, but worse.

The site gives four basic rules for the articles it will accept. They must:

  1. Concern a trivial problem
  2. Have a photo of the affected person, with family if possible
  3. Who will have a forced look, head askew, and a pathetic sad face
  4. Must be from a local paper or, in a pinch, a national gutter rag

Examples of the side-splitting misery from this site include the guy who doesn’t like dog shit, the ladies who were expelled from the sushi buffet for eating only the fish, the woman who cries because of the pile of snow outside her window, and the guy in a wheelchair who is made feel handicapped by the excess of snow.

It just goes to show that newspapers, as if we didn’t already know, are shit, and that the vast majority of “news” in them is meaningless crap that only is there to fill space. But if we don’t feel sorry for these everyday morons, then at least we can have a good laugh at them.

See moron. See moron run. Run moron run.

(Except the wheelchair guy, obviously.)

/ paddy

Reporting the “News”

Now it’s not often I express my love for another man (not in a public forum anyway) but I must say that I fucking love Charlie Brooker. Yes, I love you Charlie, from your brilliant Guardian column, to your various TV exploits, to your unabashed love of computer games and geekery, and to the fact that you was born the same year as I was.

This however take the biscuit (possibly a Toffee Pop). It is Charlie’s quick and dirty stab at TV news, from his longer and more savage stab at TV news called Newswipe.

Dowdy Kitchen Man for president!

/ paddy

Advertising to Boys and Girls

I utterly despise advertising and advertisers. Utterly. The skill to make people fret about what they don’t have, and consume things that they neither want nor need is no skill that the Earth needs at this point.

I like to rant in particular about the image of women in advertising, and how they are portrayed in any of three ways: sexy, virginal, or pregnant. And always in need of something to improve themselves, because they are never good enough.

And now I discovered a sketch by my favourite duo, Webb and Mitchell, that encapsulated this wonderfully.

Now off you go and consume something pointless for Christmas, or else nobody will love you. And especially not me.

/ Paddy

Tea in The Local

So I had an article published in The Local, which is probably the world’s biggest outlet for Swedish news through English (a narrow target group, admittedly, but still fairly large).

The article is about tea, and it’s about me doing a bit of moaning about tea, but I guess you’re all used to that by now.

And now, three days after the article has been published I am number 1 on The Local’s “most frequently emailed” list and also present on the “most read” and “most commented” lists.

Now I’m not suggesting that all my readers should go in and start mailing it to everybody they know in order to keep me on that list. No, I’m not suggesting that at all.

Apologies to those of you who have come here via The Local, since you are aware of all this already.

But please feel free to browse the 400 other articles I have scribbled over the years and let me know if anything takes your fancy. Or spew some invective in the comments, whichever you prefer.

Hopefully I’ll get a few more in The Local, acquire a rabid cult following, then a book deal, and then a house in Cornwall with a herd of goats. It’s only a matter of time.

/ paddy

Chicken Surprise

Currently Sweden is in the grip of a strange and unlikely epidemic – the dreaded glass-in-chicken scenario. Reports have been coming in from all over of consumers finding small chunks of glass in their chicken bits, both fresh and frozen.

freedom_chicken440The most bizarre thing about this is the complete lack of coherent information. All we hear are things like: “More glass found in chicken in some crappy little town!” or “Now glass found in restaurant!” or “Chicken pulled from shelves. Again!”

But actual analysis and discussion, apart from confused mumbling from Säpo (the Swedish FBI) about them looking into it, is missing. This is bizarre.

Is somebody putting the glass bits in chicken, and who? Is it some kind of one-off, or an organised campaign? What kind of glass is being found? Is it the same kind all over? Is is some artefact from the production process? Is it a new exciting way to slaughter chickens? Or is it sabotage, and why?

But nobody seems willing to venture an opinion. And nobody has yet claimed responsibility. Everybody suspects animal rights people, but if it is them they are going about this in a very stupid way indeed. Isn’t claiming reposibility step one of this kind of sabotage?

And if it is animal rights people, then this is the worst plan ever, since the chicken recalled and destroyed will have to be replaced by, you guessed it, the deaths of even more chickens. Chalk one up for the animal rights geniuses!

I think it’s the chickens themselves, breaking beer glasses and swallowing the shards in an attempt to shorten their miserable factory lives, Or perhaps it’s the aliens again. But whatever it is, I doubt that the strangely incurious Swedish press will find the answer any time soon.

/ paddy (your bimonthly news source)

Jobs for Morons

Behold, this article in the wonderful Swedish daily, Expressen, home of all things mediocre, sensational and mildly embarrassing.

stig.jpg

The article is about the latest adventures of the crisis-ridden supermarket chain ICA. They apparently put up a movie on their web site, the latest in a very popular series of soap-opera ads regarding the goings-on at a fictitious store.

In this ad a “help wanted” sign was shown for applying to work in the store, and a phone number was visible. Unfortunately the phone number was a real one, and it wasn’t for an ICA store.

Now I am with the ICA people on this one – what is the problem with putting a phone number on an ad? Surely people will know that an ad is not reality. Surely they will.

Well, apparently not. People called in. Lots of them. And even when it became apparent that the number in question was to an innocent family and not a fictional supermarket, they just kept on ringing.

This really scares me. I mean, you used to hear all these stories about people in the US assaulting “evil” soap-opera stars when they happen to see them in a shop, or on a beach and I always wondered – can there really be people who can function well enough to get up in the morning and put thier shoes on but cannot tell TV from reality?

I guess there are, and not only in the US, but everywhere, even sexy secular Sweden.

However, if I were the family, I would have taken a different tack after call number 2. I would have invited the callers for an interview, and given them the name of one of the head people at the ICA central office. Then he or she could deal with the problem of a thousand frothing-at-the-mouth crazies showing up of a tuesday morning and demanding jobs that don’t exist at stores that don’t exist.

And anyway I bet the family who were “terrorised” are only out after compensation, after having sold their story to the dodgy newspapers. So they probably deserved everything they got, the bastards.

/ paddy

Free Newspapers Indeed

So then, fickle fame has floated away again. After almost 2 days of being WordPress blog post number one, my Star Wars article has been moved to the great spare room in the sky where it will age, gain weight and become bitter and twisted.

Still, 6000 hits in two days – not too bad. The downside of course is all the young idiot men who find their way to my blog and proceed, in very bad grammar, to diss me in the comments. “Hey asshole”, “fuck you” and so on. Brilliant. Keep it up lads – the world needs more morons. Who else is going to flip our burgers?

1.jpg

And so onto today’s frivolity. The Stockholm underground has a (fairly) new message rolling on its information system. Under the times of the arriving trains you will now see the text:

“For everybody’s safety and enjoyment, please take your free newspaper with you when you leave the train.”

metro.jpgAlright, first of all it can’t very well be my newspapers if it was free, can it? And second of all – in what way does it constitute a threat to safety? Are they worried that somebody will get a rolled-up newspaper in the eye and sue them?

And third of all – why is it suddenly my job to clean up the trains? SL, Stockholm Local Transit, has a deal with the newspaper Metro to allow it to be distributed inside their buildings. And so what do they do? They pocket the money, get us all to read the vacuous slab of non-threatening “news” and then try and give us a bad conscience for leaving it behind.

Normally I am all in favour of everybody getting stuck in to keep the world clean. But in this case, I think we should all gladly scatter these free newspapers underfoot. Maybe a protest like this would force them to get rid of it completely, and reduce the mountains of paper wasted.

And if we make as large a mess as possible, then maybe SL will be forced to use some of the profits from the Metro deal to pay some extra cleaners. The tight scummy gits.

Well I’m off to France now. Expect to see my next entry in about a week.

/ paddy

Christmas Duck

Well it’s Christmas and as much as I like to pretend otherwise, I do indeed like it in many ways.

I’m not a fan of whole consumption thing, how “showing that you care” has been translated into “buying lots of stuff” by the idiot automatons who inhabit the world’s advertising agencies. But even I have my Christmas traditions: go and look at the Christmas windows in some big department store; buy a kick-ass space opera book for myself, wrap it and put it under the tree; drink a whole bottle of Bailey’s and half a pound of fudge; and so on.

space_opera.jpg
Figure 1: A Space Opera, low on singing, high on fusion bombs

But the Swedes have one tradition I cannot understand. At 15:00 on December 24th, the entire country grinds to a standstill and puts on the TV to watch an old, scratchy and badly dubbed Disney Christmas Special. This is a golden, unbreakable “tradition” and you will get a good percentage of the Swedish population frothing at the mouth if you even mention the possibility of showing something else instead.

The funny thing is that for the last 15 minutes of this “tradition”, Disney shows ads for upcoming Disney movies. And bear in mind that the entire Swedish population is watching this. So 15 minutes of prime-time advertising to an entire country would normally cost – how much, exactly? A shit-load?

kalle_anka.jpgNow I am sure that Swedish TV, SVT, is getting paid by Disney to show this stuff. But I can’t find any proof on the net. All I find is SVT complaining about how much of the taxpayers money they have to give to Disney in order to continue this “tradition” – or, to summarise: Disney demands to get paid in order for SVT to give them massive free advertising time on Christmas day. Does this make sense to anybody? Or is SVT simply talking out of their collective arses? Even Wikipedia (Swedish) doesn’t really know.

My suggestion is for everybody to download the damned thing and put it on at 15:00. And in this way everybody will get to see it, Disney won’t get a fucking penny and SVT can save some taxpayer’s money and put a picture of some bananas on the TV for 45 minutes instead. As well as give their managers a big fat Christmas bonus for being so fucking clever.

Tradition, my dears, is the tyranny of the dead.

Have a good one.

/ paddy

Swimming for Stupid People

A funny story from the Swedish press. (Yes, yes, I know it’s old.)

swimming-pool.jpg
Figure 1: A swimming pool, possibly not in Husby

This public swimming pool in Husby near Stockholm may have to spend pots of money to install a new cleaning unit on their pool filters because so many people are bathing with their underwear on under their swimming trunks. This leads to high amounts of nitrogen in the water which in turn leads to large bacteria populations.

WTF?

Indeed. The question is, why the hell would people do this? Laziness? Stupidity? Religious reasons (the great invisible sky ape said onto me: thou shalt bathe i thine underpants)? Some new youth fashion? Fuck knows.

The story gets better. When the pool guards point out to people that they may not have underwear on in the pool, they get replies such as: “We know where you live”. Lovely.

It seems to there is one solution here: don’t allow the morons to bathe with their underwear on. Could it be simpler than that? Just chuck them out, the brainless twats.

Honestly, if they just put me in charge, then everything would be OK forever. And first to go would be Swedish pizza. And then SUVs.

/ paddy (your nicer dictator)

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(And scientifically minded people out there – don’t forget that I will be hosting the Tangled Bank science blog carnival on November 7. So please send me your own articles on anything remotely related to science, or other people’s articles you stumbled across, or funny stories you heard on the bus, or just smutty jokes with scientists in them. I’m not a fussy man.

Just send them to mrPaddyK[a.t]gmail[d.o.t]com)