Anarchy in the UK – Sainsbury’s style

When I was growing up there used to be this really annoying kid, (that I suspect was slightly mad), who used to have an opinion on absolutely everything, and he used to proceed to tell everyone how they should act in every situation. And every now and again I’d see this asshole limping or walking around with a black eye, because he would have told someone large and aggressive how they should do something and rather than receiving the usual response of “f&^k off” has received a wallop.

And there used to be this incredibly annoying old lady who was always on TV and in the papers telling everyone that they were wrong and that she was right. She even ended up having Pink Floyd write a song about her on the album pigs, with the memorable line “Whitehouse you fucked up old slag” in it, again a highly appropriate response.
And of course the US has their annoying bigoted assholes in the form of the religious right, epitomized by the incredible anti-social, racist sexist and generally nasty behavior of the Westborough Baptist Church.

Now all of these bigoted assholes have something in common, they truly believe that they know better than everyone else, and are proved to be soundly wrong by simple logic and ethical norms. But this doesn’t stop them being sociopathic pricks with a Napoleon complex.

But all of these loonies pale into insignificance when compared to the really incredible sociopathic pricks who now run Sainsbury’s, the supermarket chain in the UK.

Sainsbury’ are a pretty run-of-the-mill, supermarket in most respects. They sell the normal range of crap from poor quality frozen meat products with meat that probably shouldn’t be served to your cat, to vast quantities of sugary drinks and a massive volume of chocolate based products with enough sugar to kill the kidneys of everyone in the country, along with aisle after aisle of beer, wine, spirits, toxic cleaning products and virtually every other form of average supermarket fare.

And they also include a pharmacy in each store, and this is where the descendants of Mary Whitehouse clearly have found their power base.

All the staff in Sainsbury’s are dressed in high visibility jackets, because obviously this increases safety, while at the same time removing any semblance of human dignity, and that should have been a sign…

Some drugs (as in most pharmacies) are stocked behind the counter. And these either need a prescription or are limited to be sold by quantity and with advice on how they should be taken. That seems normal and somewhat expected.

But here’s is where things get very weird at Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s now have a rule that says you can only by a single pack of aspirin. Why you ask? Asprin isn’t a controlled substance. Well Sainsbury’s have decided that for health and safety reasons they will not sell you more than one packet of aspirin at a time.

Now you can buy a packet of 128 tabs if you like, but you are not allowed to by 2 packets of 16.

Why? Well the only reason I can think of is that Sainsbury’s have hired a bunch of brainless sociopathic morons who spend their time telling others how to live their lives.

You can buy a dozen bottles of vodka, or a pallet load of beer, or enough chocolate and coke to lead to your presence on a reality TV show about the morbidly obese. You can literally buy a rope (to hang yourself with) at Sainsbury’s, and you can buy 128 Aspirins, 64 Paracetamol and 64 Iburprofen tablets at the same time.

Just so long as you don’t buy more than one packet of each type. Buying a massive volume in a single packet is okay, but buying a smaller volume across multiple packets is not okay.

I’m sure the Westborough Baptist Church, and every other opinionated idiot in the world, worships at the head office of Sainsbury’s sales training department.

When I was hit by this illogical, petty bureaucratic nonsense as I was being checked out by a pleasant enough (but clearly emotionally beaten by life) lady at the conveyor belt, I asked to speak to a manager. The manager was duly called and some sole-less but in all other respects normal looking bloke in an orange high visibility jacket told be “that it was more than his job was worth to sell me 2 x 16 Aspirins”.

And what could I say, yes he was right it was more than his job was worth. Working for Sainsbury’s is that worthless!

I shook his hand out of pity for his wasted, pointless existence, took my single packet of Aspirin and walked out into the bright evening, in the certain knowledge that if I never shop at a Sainsbury’s store ever again in my life, and never have to think about the petty minded, idiots who spend their time thinking up ways other people should behave I will be happier and freer.

A little update to this story – had a call from Sainsbury’s today, they are changing their policy, you can now get two packets of aspirin at a time. They really don’t get it…..


Stop the bag madness

So what is the problem with plastic bags and supermarkets?

You go to the super market and buy a couple of apples, an onion, some carrots, a lettuce and a cucumber, but what you get includes a stack of polystyrene trays, 20 feet of plastic wrap and a bunch of printed stickers along with the fruit and veg.

But when you go to buy these items at the checkout and need a bag to put them in, the staff are shocked that YOU are single handedly destroying the planet.

It seems that that one plastic bag is (in their minds) causing landfills, and causing the seas to rise.

I suspect the reason for their consternation is that the plastic bag is actually a useful piece of packaging. When you get home you throw away all the crap that the groceries came in, but actually REUSE the plastic bag. And of course the reuse stops you buying a bag for whatever purpose it’s being reused for.

Next time the supermarket gives me shit over the need for a bag, I am goinf to ask them to remove all the superfluous packaging and just give me what I will be able to consume. Until they can do that I don’t want to hear another word about reusable bags that I need to purchase. That’s how they can help the environment.


Legalize everything

All addiction is bad.

Why are some drugs legal and some illegal? It seems to me that the worst aspects of illegal drugs are not the poor decisions that weak-minded users make to consume them, but the effects of making them illegal.

Can you imagine what would happen if all drugs were legal but controlled?

Can you imagine how the world would change if Pfizer were to go to the poppy farmers of Afghanistan and agree to purchase their crops legally?

What would happen if those farmers all of a sudden became legal, responsible members of society, and their children could go to university?

What would happen if companies could legally transport crops from those farmers to warehouses, which could legally distribute them to legal manufacturers? Who in turn would need to meet quality controls and could sell their products openly around the world.

Imagine that selling and consuming drugs would be legal? Would any more people take drugs?


Taking a drug like Ethanol (Alcohol), Caffine or Nicotine is already legal. And since there are legal controls on quality and access and moderation, they are kept out of the hands of children and strict limits of consumption in conjunction with machinery are mandated. Many people still suffer from over consumption, but they are not criminals just by the fact they consume. Of course addiction can lead to crimes to feed the addiction, and it’s the act of stealing, driving under the influence or making any other poor decisions that is illegal, not the consumption itself.


Today there are no controls on the quality of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), benzoylmethylecgonine (cocaine) or Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). And the means of production, distribution and consumption are all illegal. This has not limited access, but has fostered a subculture of gangs, guns and crime that actually grows stronger as enforcement and punishment get higher.

Imagine if all drugs were legal but controlled just like Alcohol or Tabaco? That effort could be legitimately taken to create safer drugs?

And think if the tax income.

Imagine if todays drug lords became the CEO’s of legitimate companies, who could be brought back into society. My guess is that many of the current purveyors of drugs would quickly be replaced by a new class of business leader.

Let drug addicts be able to sue drug companies for creating an addictive drug, and quickly (just like alcohol and Tabaco) those companies would look at ways of reducing addiction while maintaining their products “desirable” qualities.

I’m not a taker of “illegal” drugs, and it’s not because they are illegal, it’s simply because I know that I don’t want to ruin by mind. If I wanted drugs today, I know I can get them in any city in the world. Supply actually outstrips demand.

I like that children cannot get alcohol or cigarettes, and I want the same controls placed on all drugs. That can only happen when a sensible legal framework is employed.

Any day I walk around Manhattan I smell the distinctive aroma of marijuana smoke. It’s as pervasive everywhere in the world, and clearly any concept of a war of drugs can be seen as over and lost.

It’s time for a new approach, one that brings the whole drugs ecosystem into a legal framework, and allows the millions (if not billions) of people all over this planet who are part of this drug world to be part of society.

There is no simple answer, but removing violence and any motivation to make people even more addicted or unwell has to be the right direction.

How much of the worlds resources are today consumed in trying to stop the drug trade? Wars only get won when people start to talk. It’s time to think differently.


NYC Mayor Making Adults Fat. Why?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is cast as a benevolent Mr. Mom or “He-Nanny” who watches out for New Yorkers, wipes their mouths and fannies, and keeps them safe from evil sugar and 2nd hand smoke.  I’m here to tell you that something else may be afoot… something more sinister and malevolent.

What is certain is that he’s trying to make NYers fat; consider these events:

-He cancelled Halloween and trick or treating so now people will eat all the candy themselves and get fat.

-He still has Central Park closed so we can’t exercise there (and make an adult decision as to whether a road or path is “safe”).  No exercise = fat.
Central Park closed for exercise + NYers with huge bags of unneeded candy. Coincidence?


-The YMCA is again closed today which probably is due to some sort of government meddling or funding or tax issues (the ‘C’ stands for Christian so you never know).  No exercise = fat.

-And with no more smoking or large soft drinks allowed, people are drinking more high calorie beer and Red Bull every day!  More calories = fat and since smoking also curbs appetite, this = double fat.


It looks to me like NYC’s caring “Nanny Bloomberg” is secretly fattening us all up Hansel & Gretel style for some nefarious purpose.  I’m angry and a bit scared but I must say that my giant bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins looks soooooo tasty that I may yet fall into Mrs. Doubtberg’s evil trap!  You’ve been warned.
Are NYers just Hansels & Gretels to the Mayor’s evil, witch-like nanny?


How the hell do I know if I want pepper?

Ok so here’s the thing that annoys me today. You go to a restaurant and order your favorite pasta dish. It arrives and in the waiters other hand is a pepper mill, and you know the question is about to be asked. “Would Sir like pepper on that?”.

Would Sir like Pepper?

But here’s the issue, every time I feel like saying, “Ask the Chef, does he think this needs pepper? And if so why didn’t he add pepper to it in the kitchen? And if it’s just a personal choice, why not give me a minute to TRY the food and see if I want some pepper, rather than you hovering over me and asking me to make a random choice that will either ruin my food or potentially make it better”

I know I can’t say this of course at it will have three immediate effects. Firstly it will annoy the people I’m at dinner with. Secondly it will cause the waiter to roll his eyes and provide no other useful input. And of course thirdly it will guarantee that my wine or desert will then include either a pubic hair or a reasonable quantity of the staffs’ sputum.

What would be the issue with just placing a pepper mill on the table? Is there some form of bistro union rule that says grinding your own pepper mill is crossing the demarcation line, and it would require a “tools down” strike?

Or maybe this is “special” pepper that is of such purity that the cost is a significant part of the restaurants running costs, and so the quantity must be stringently managed by a pepper mill professional.

Or maybe just maybe there is no reason except it’s been taught from generation to generation of waiters, just to annoy generation after generation of restaurant patrons.

It’s a question I ask myself every time I see that wooden tube of unground piper nigrum moving in my tables direction.

Lets not even start to talk about the parmesan cheese.



Saving the world one plastic bag at a time – PLEASE!!!!

I’m angry at the blatant hypocrisy of the anti plastic bag brigade. We are lead to believe that by charging us for a plastic bag at the supermarket the world is being saved from a millennia of landfills, and it of course is a total lie.

When we go to the supermarket apples are packed in polystyrene (Styrofoam to some) and then covered in cellophane (clear plastic) and then labeled. Toothpaste comes in a plastic tube, and is covered by a cardboard box. Cheese is covered in plastic, nappies (Diapers) come in a mix of plastic, paper and cardboard. In fact the amount of packaging we end up taking home from a trip to the local supermarket often exceeds the mass of the items we want to buy.

Yet the plastic bag is held up at the most vile of all items! That must be eliminated at all costs. Why, well the plastic bag is the only packaging that actually has a further use after the trip home. I use these bags to store garbage, and if the supermarket no longer provides them, then like you I am forced to purchase a roll of bin liners.

The only reason why the poor plastic bag has been singled out at the only packaging that must be removed from the ecosystem of shopping is that it is the only packing item that can be eliminated and allow the supermarket to both reduce their costs and increase their revenue.

We are being scammed! Lets see the supermarkets face regulations that demand they take back all packaging that that push on the consumer. All of a sudden I suspect they will find numerous ways to reduce the crap they push.

And lets take in one step further, make it the responsibility of the manufactures to take back their packaging from the supermarkets.

Lets face it we can buy apples from a bin and not require any packaging, we do it from farmers markets, and the world keeps turning, so we can do it from the supermarket.

If the world needs an end to packaging, lets not start with the useful plastic bag, but instead everything that goes inside it.


European Vacation: A National Lampoon?

What’s with Europeans (even many former Europeans), taking the month of August off?  The entire month?!!!  How is this possible in the 24x7x365 global economy?

Maybe they’ve set up a scenario in which a “backup” employee covers their ongoing projects and keeps work moving – ummmmm, no.  No backup, no manager filling in, no efficient and pleasant intern… nothing.  Just an automated message with something about enjoying being “on holiday” and a desire to follow-up sometime in September (I’m assuming 2012).

“The Wedding” drove an extra 4 Million visitors and £2 Billion in tourism revenue

European economies in the toilet, sloth-like growth compared to China, massive debt and/or trade deficits everywhere, moving toward becoming tourism-based economies, etc.  A coincidence that these things are happening where entire countries take the month off?  Doesn’t seem like it.

But is there another side to this?  Of course there is.  We deserve real time off and if we want it during the brutally hot month of August, we should get it.  And what if a great euro-friend gets an awesome place for a month in an awesome European “holiday” spot AND invites you to come stay for a week?  You do it, that’s what!  And when you do, you notice how relaxed and happy they all are compared to Americans who are afraid to use all of 2 weeks vacation all year.

The wines and wineries of Provence, France are the world’s best

So, am I angry and puzzled about Europeans taking August off or just jealous and angry because I’ve never taken more than a week off at a time… ever?  What do you think? (61)


Pennsylvania Reboot?

The Statue Was A Major Tourist Draw

With all the unpleasantness in State College, PA related to the details of the crimes and cover-up, trials, the firing, the statue downing, sanctions, appeals of sanctions (which could actually trigger the narrowly avoided college football “death penalty”), etc., it is easy overlook the potential economic impact of everything on the Pennsylvania economy.  Large numbers of visitors have flocked to central PA for college football in the Fall for generations and they often stay longer than just Saturday night and also return to PA to experience other fun attractions and activities.  They tell friends and before you know it, Pennsylvania tourism is a model that other states try to emulate.

But what about now?  What can draw visitors to PA each month in the post-Paterno era?  Locals are worried and angry but not short on ideas.  I’ve consulted experts in marketing, local tourism and Pennsylvania (as well as potential political candidates and other locals), and here is a sampling of their plans:

-Groundhog Saturdays in Punxatawney (Can anyone really get enough Phil?)

-“Pennsylvania Steagles” football games each weekend featuring surviving members of the original, legendary NFL Steagles and their children (and grandchildren)

Noxen, PA Rattlesnake Roundups* Each Week (*”Rattlesnake Roundup Now Safer ’cause They’re Tired!”)

Mauch Chunk, PA Bought Some Bones and Became Jim Thorpe, PA

-The town of Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe, PA will now have a weekly renaming ceremony and parade with the remains of the famous athlete serving as Grand Marshall on odd-numbered weekends. “We’d like to get JoePa up there with Big Jim at some point; statue or bones is cool with us.” said one football loving PA local.

Lebanon Bologna Drops at 11:59pm each Fri/Sat in addition to their legendary New Year’s Eve Bologna Drop.  The Lebanon Bologna companies already sponsor a Bologna Fest and can easily alternate in sponsoring a weekly “Bologna & Eggs Breakfast Social!” the next morning serving the previous night’s projectile (note: a 200+ pounder has been dropped in recent years).  This new weekly charity event is a natural for big time PA college football fans, because, who is more “full of bologna” they are.  Sure, it is a letdown from their catered tailgates with lobster, pierogies with gold flakes and filet mignon, but how better to reintegrate with the regular and average folk of Pennsylvania, than to share their peasant food and traditions?

Politician, Power Lawyer and Super-Nerd Dick Thornburgh

-Dick Thornburgh look-a-like contests in the state capitol of Harrisburg to both honor the former governor and US Attorney General but also to give some glory to Pennsylvania’s nerds and other bespectacled locals and visitors.

So, keep an eye out for these and other and great new PA promotions, let us know your ideas, and remember, “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania!” (35)


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