Thursday, February 01, 2007

Buying into terror

This article ( - regarding the men arrested in connection with the alleged beheading terror plot - really bugged me.

I'm not in a position to know the ins-and-outs of the arrest and whether or not the plot was real, etc, but what I found a little disturbing about this article was the fact that the journalist has accepted that the case against these men is already proven.

Surely the headline should be "A new kind of terror allegedly comes to these shores"?

The article is sensationalist from start to finish. There is no proof, as of yet, that these men are guilty as charged. Once that comes, by all means treat it as a new form of terror. Until then, stop treating the accusations as fact. The police have got it wrong before. These men could be fanatics that are prepared to murder. Then again, they could just as easily have never been going to do it. The point is, we don't know yet.

It seems that, in the UK, when it comes to anybody accused of plotting terrorism, as opposed to being arrested for carrying out an ordinary crime, all question of innocent until proven guilty goes out of the window.

Equally worrying are all of the comments after the article, many are along the lines of "stop immigration, all Muslims should adopt our culture, we won't be invaded from within". The last thing we need is more prejudice.

People should be just as worried about the erosion of tolerance and the way that the media are increasingly buying what the government and police tell them. What extremists on all sides want is for people to hate each other more. We're giving them what they want.

Songs Burns should have written

We went to a Burns' Night earlier this week, and I was struck by two things. One, by how absolutely smashed the piper they had flown in from Scotland was. He forgot the words to Address to a Haggis after only the first verse, and then in his nervousness pronounced the haggis "fucking rich". This was in front of a crowd of church-going folk (myself and Nats obviously excluded). He was also spotted lying prone outside and speaking in an extremely slurred voice. Top marks for showcasing Scottish culture to Hungarians.

The other thing that struck me was all the eulogising about Burns' love poetry and what a sweet man he was. Let's be honest. He was a shagger. The man liked to dip his wick, often, and he wasn't too fussy about where. So, in honour of the real Burns, I'd like to suggest the titles of some poems he should have written:

Don't let the door hit yer arse on the way oot
Ma boabie is like a red, red scab
Have ah no' shagged you already?
Stop greeting ya daft cow, it was only a shag
Ah don't care if ah shagged yer ma, yer no' ma wayne

Maybe I'll write some of these if I can find the time. Who knows, maybe they'll be celebrating my life in 300 years.

Hungarian waiters to launch “Scowlathon”

The Association of Hungarian Waiting Staff last week launched a yearlong “Scowlathon” to raise money for waiting staff forced to retire early after years of bad service.

“We plan to tap into what is clearly a natural talent amongst our members,” said Attila Szomorú. “Hungarian waiters and waitresses are renowned worldwide for their surliness; we hope to use this to rake in millions of forints.”
Szomorú said that money would be used to help support waiting staff forced to retire early with facial spasms brought on by constant frowning, scowling and glaring at customers who had the temerity to interrupt a discussion about how bad tips are these days to ask for a coffee.
“This is a major problem for our members,” Szomorú said. “People don’t realise the strain that appearing miserable 40 hours a week can put on the facial muscles. Many waiters end up with faces only a mother could love.”
Buckets will be placed in every bar, café and restaurant across Budapest, and Szomorú urged customers to reward surliness with an absolute minimum of 10% on top of the usual tip.
“We’re only asking for fair payment,” he said. “After all, we have to tend to customers’ every need, sometimes having to stop flirting with the cute barmaid or texting our friends to take orders, bring food and other such menial tasks.”
Waiting staff will have their existing skills - such as avoiding eye contact with customers, sighing when receiving a large order and starting derisorily at a tip less than 10% - maximised at special training courses.
Szomorú said that the campaign had a dual purpose, and that it aimed to raise not just money but awareness of what a pain in the arse it is to wait on people. “Let’s be honest: we’re doing you a favour serving you at all,” he said. “Don’t you people have coffee machines and ovens at home? Slavery was abolished in the 19th century. Make your own damn coffee.”
Waiters at many cafés on Liszt Ferenc tér enthusiastically joined in the campaign last week. Erszébet Tóth, speaking on a break, said that she was relishing the chance to be as rude as possible. “This morning alone I made two tourists cry and spilled soup all over somebody’s Calvin Klein jacket. When they asked me to clean it up, I threw a napkin the size of a postage stamp at them and stalked off,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty good already.”
However, many customers seemed unaware of the campaign. “I’ve been trying to get the waiter to bring me a menu for twenty minutes, but he seems more interested in the contents of his nose,” said John Timmons, a businessman who regularly dines out. “To be honest, that’s about average.”
Nonetheless, Szomorú said he was hopeful of raising “more cash than you can shake a stick at”.
“We’re expecting to bring in at least HUF 500 million,” he said. “Failing that, we aim to drive away as many customers as possible so we can sit about and watch TV all day.”