Don’t Try The Sausages At Joe Delucci’s

When people go to a restaurant, they usually expect courteous service, hot and tasty food, and a reasonable bill. Clare Watkin got much more from an Italian restaurant in Staffordshire in the UK. Printed on the bill was an invitation to get to know the waiter in an up close and personal manner:

First she waited 45 minutes to place her order. Then she waited more than an hour for the food. Then she saw the bill. Clare Watkin was out with a group of friends Friday at an Italian steak restaurant in the English town of Lichfield, about 125 miles north of London when she found “absolutely disgusting language” printed on her bill, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.
The BBC Web site carried what it said was a copy of the bill, with the message — a crude invitation to oral sex — printed between the cabernet sauvignon and the fish cakes. …
Joe Delucci’s owner Mr Langsdon said the message had been meant to be seen only by kitchen staff and he did not know how it ended up as an item on the receipt.
He said: “That shouldn’t come out on the bill, so we’ve got to find out what’s gone wrong there.[“]

That’s an odd response. It shouldn’t come out on the bill? Perhaps it shouldn’t have gotten into the system in the first place. One wonders what else is on the menu at Joe Delucci’s.
At least they gave them the offer for free. If they had charged them for it, would the waiter have expected them to consider the cost when calculating the tip?

One In Five Brits Think Churchill Never Existed?

Every once in a while, some pollster comes up with a survey that shows what idiots Westerners can be. They especially like to pick on Americans and their rather insular attitude towards geography, being unable in large numbers to actually find Iraq on a globe or to identify the correct continent for Guyana (South America, in case anyone asks). Jay Leno has a running gag on the Tonight Show where he goes out in the street and asks people simple questions and films them getting the answers spectacularly wrong.
So I have some sympathy with our friends in Britain this morning, who have to be slapping their heads with the results of a poll taken by a television production company that found 23% of their fellow countrymen didn’t believe that Winston Churchill actually existed:

Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.
The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.
And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.

Even more laughable, the man who most exemplified peaceful protest in this century also got relegated to mythical status. Mohandas Gandhi appears in the Top Ten of Mythical Creatures in this poll. In contrast, a majority — 58% — believed that Sherlock Holmes was in fact a real person, and not a fictional character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s excellent novels.
One might forgive those who consider Richard Lionheart and the Duke of Wellington mythical. Especially with the former, the myths may have overtaken the actual history, to some extent. The British can afford to have a mythical Wellington now, even if they should be grateful for having an actual Wellington when they needed him most against Napoleon.
But Churchill? Not only was Churchill the truly indispensable man of World War II, he was also captured on miles of film. He served a second term as prime minister just fifty years ago. His descendants still work in politics and speak on ceremonial occasions that celebrate his life. Most critically, Churchill produced some of the most important volumes of history during his long lifetime which grace libraries around the world.
I mean, what more does a man have to do to gain some measure of immortality?
At least 23% of Americans don’t believe that FDR or Abraham Lincoln never existed. Or at least I hope they don’t. Maybe we shouldn’t ask questions for which we’d rather not hear the answers.

But Did He Confess?

Security inspectors see just about every possible dodge known to man when it comes to smuggling dope across the border. Today, someone decided to try using one known to A Higher Power. A man dressed as a Catholic priest tried using his supposed religious status to get past inspectors in a Dutch airport with almost eight pounds of cocaine strapped to his body under his robes:

A man claiming to be a Catholic priest was arrested Friday at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport after he was caught carrying 7.7 pounds of cocaine under his robes, a spokesman for Dutch border police said.
The suspect, whose identity was being traced, initially refused to undergo a routine body check “for religious reasons,” spokesman Robert van Kapel said.
He said the man was then spotted lining up at a different entrance gate. He was searched and the drugs were found in packages taped to his body.

Well, you have to admire his chutzpah, if not his research. Priests don’t get any special pass through airport security or customs. In fact, in this day and age, religious figures in flowing robes probably generate even more suspicion than anyone else, especially when they refuse to be searched.
The AP reports that Father Blow still hasn’t told authorities who he is and why he had eight pounds of Bolivian marching powder taped to his body. Perhaps they should remind the padre that confession is good for the soul.

Getting Caught In The Rain

Remember the “Pina Colada Song”? Rupert Holmes’ ditty to coincidental infidelity has improbably survived the 70’s to appear in movies such as Shrek, even more improbably. In Poland, the song got a little off-key — and off-color:

A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment’s employees.
Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town.

So I waited with high hopes
And she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant
I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady
And she said, “Oh it’s you.”

It didn’t turn out quite like Rupert sang back in the day. Instead of sipping drinks in the dunes of the cape, the pair will instead plan their escape in family court after a 14-year marriage.
Somewhere in here, a political analogy awaits. It might be that voters who want pork shouldn’t be surprised when their representatives turn out to be whores, or perhaps that people get what they deserve when they don’t vet their candidates properly. Right now, it’s a nice break from the primaries!

Light ‘Em If You Got ‘Em?

The man responsible for enforcing a smoking ban in Portugal needs a refresher course on its parameters, as well as a nicotine patch for himself. The day that the new ban went into effect, Antonio Nunes decided to light one up in a casino — one of the areas where cigarette smoking is prohibited:

The head of the Portuguese agency responsible for enforcing a new ban on smoking in public was seen lighting up at a New Year party, breaking the law on the first day it came into effect.
Antonio Nunes, president of Portugal’s food standards agency, was photographed by the daily Diario de Noticias smoking a cigar at a casino on the outskirts of Lisbon.
Nunes told the daily he was not aware the anti-smoking law, which applies to cafes, restaurants and bars, also included casinos. But a spokesman for the Ministry of Health said it did.
“We will have to look into what is in the law,” Nunes said.

Well, that would be a nice idea, considering that Nunes is supposed to enforce that law. One presumes that the person heading an enforcement agency for such an intrusive regulation would understand exactly where it applies. And isn’t it a little incongruous to have a smoker enforcing a smoking ban?
Smoking bans just constitute the next iteration of nanny-statism. It would be nice if the nannies themselves knew what they were doing. Spending the first day on the job proving that they have no better insight into living than anyone else doesn’t help. Nunes showed that he has no business scolding others on a choice he flunks as well.

A Heartwarming Display Of Christianity At Its Birthplace

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, tradition has it, is located on the spot where Jesus was born. The church itself honors the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, who called all humanity to love one another as they do themselves. What better place to have a recurring brawl between His followers?

On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners were scrubbing the church ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in early January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.
But the clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church’s section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.
Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue, then ordered an Associated Press photographer out of the church.

It’s not the first time the keepers of a holy site in the Holy Land have come to blows. Unfortunately, the close quarters of these sites creates turf wars that are the antithesis of the sites themselves and everything they represent. It’s a kind of sacrilege, committed by those who should most know better. It demeans their message, and it embarrasses every Christian around the world.
The governing bodies of these sects should replace every last priest involved in this scuffle, and should apologize to each other for fistfighting in the birthplace of our Lord. Shame on all of them.

Stop A Fire, Go To Jail

The city of La Habra Heights sits on the eastern end of Los Angeles County, among foothills filled with brush and trees. It has some spectacular views but also has the potential for some spectacular fires. The city does not have a full-time fire department but relies on a two-truck volunteer force, located at one end of the city. When George Edwardz decided to buy a pumper truck to augment the response capabilities of La Habra Heights, he thought that the city would appreciate the help. Instead, they threatened him with prosecution:

Edwardz, 39, an executive vice president of a communications firm that does satellite work for TV broadcasters, has lived in La Habra Heights for five years.
He bought his 1980 four-wheel-drive pumper truck for $7,200 from a department in Montour Falls, N.Y., in early 2006 after becoming alarmed at the slow response to his neighborhood.
Sometimes, he said, it takes more than 12 minutes for La Habra Heights’ fire engines — which travel through La Habra in Orange County — to reach his neighborhood.
When he acquired his 1 1/2 -acre hillside property in 2002 he was concerned about fire protection, Edwardz said. But local maps indicated there were five fire stations scattered across La Habra Heights, including one just a quarter-mile from his house, he said.

In fact, four of those stations no longer exist, including Station 5, the closest to his house. Edwardz and his neighbors clearly feel the need to protect themselves better than waiting 12 minutes for the long drive from the one working station. One might think that a city strapped for resources would welcome the help, but apparently not. Even though no one can explain how the law that criminalizes helping one’s neighbors fight a fire got on the books, the city attorney wants to make sure it gets enforced.
Doug Bandow calls the government ban on community action “moronic”:

To recap: in an area prone to fires, the government devotes little attention to fire-fighting. But when private people organize to protect themselves, the government steps in–and threatens them with jail.
It gives new meaning to the slogan, I’m from the government and I’m hear to help you!

The community response organization has received training in fire response. Roy Francis, a former Pasadena fire captain, told the Times that the response from the city surprised him. Th city manager claims that the city only responded because of a complaint from the LA County FD. The city attorney claims that the unit puts the community at risk.
One can certainly see that an untrained team with a pumper truck could do damage if they handled it improperly. However, letting the truck stand by while flames race through the hills would create monumentally more damage and possibly cost lives. The balance of interests here favor the volunteers who stand ready to serve and who could help defeat disaster. Government exists precisely to provide that balance of interests, and to protect their citizens. Forcing valuable resources to stand down during fires is the antithesis of the basis for any kind of government.

When Santas Go Bad

I decided to take most of the day off today and will work a limited schedule tomorrow, but this little news item is just too weird to pass up. Santa Claus will have to add himself to the list of bad boys in New Zealand as fifty Santas went on a drunken rampage at a movie theater, frightening the filmwatchers:

A gang of about 50 apparently drunken Santas invaded a New Zealand cinema complex at the weekend — frightening customers, damaging property and swearing, the cinema’s manager said Monday.
Thought by police to be university students dressed in Santa suits, the group did a lightning 20-second raid on Hoyts Cinema complex in the South Island city of Christchurch on Saturday, manager Derek Rive said.

You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry …. you’d better not pout, or I’ll blacken your eye … Kiwi Clauses will sack the town!

‘How Dare You!’

You won’t see me say this often, but I want to thank Bill Clinton for his speech Wednesday in Minnesota. I don’t agree with his policies and I certainly don’t want his wife to win the White House, but Bill Clinton said something that needed to be said — to 9/11 Truthers. A small group of them disrupted his campaign stop, and the former President got a little angry. Our local affiliate has the footage:

Here’s the rest of the quote:

One heckler shouted that 9/11 was a fraud, and Clinton bristled. “No, it wasn’t a fraud. I’ll be glad to talk about it if you’ll shut up and let me talk.” The heckling continued, and he told another heckler “these people did not come here to hear you speak. If you don’t have any self-control, we can deal with that.”
When a third called 9/11 an “inside job,” Clinton snapped back “How dare you? I live in New York, and I know who did that. You guys have got to be careful, or you’re going to give Minnesota a bad reputation.”

Thank you. (via MVDG Gazette)

The Nobel Glory Of Doris Lessing

The Nobel committee has certainly fallen on desperate times, and especially so this year. First they award a peace prize to Al Gore for his global-warming hysterics, apparently because the science committee understood the extent of his exaggerations in An Inconvenient Truth. They awarded the literature prize to British author Doris Lessing, who disqualified herself for the peace prize by claiming that Americans were just too sensitive about having 3,000 murdered by terrorists on 9/11 (via Memeorandum):

Nobel laureate Doris Lessing said the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States were “not that terrible” when compared to attacks by the IRA in Britain.
“September 11 was terrible, but if one goes back over the history of the IRA, what happened to the Americans wasn’t that terrible,” the Nobel Literature Prize winner told the leading Spanish daily El Pais.
“Some Americans will think I’m crazy. Many people died, two prominent buildings fell, but it was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary as they think. They’re a very naive people, or they pretend to be,” she said in an interview published Sunday.
“Do you know what people forget? That the IRA attacked with bombs against our government; it killed several people while a Conservative congress was being held and in which the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was (attending). People forget,” she said.

No one has forgotten the IRA and its terrorism, Doris. Talk about naive! Who has forgotten about them? How does Lessing measure the forgetfulness? The IRA has surrendered, thanks to a peace process that has the US as a partner with the British to secure. We’re a good part of the reason that the IRA quit throwing bombs at the British.
So you’re welcome, Doris. No, no, don’t mention it at all. Oh, wait … you didn’t.
Because the IRA killed 700 more people over 30 years than we lost in a single day, apparently Doris thinks we should focus on a defunct terrorist group rather than defend ourselves against an ongoing threat. Perhaps Doris writes fiction better than she comprehends reality, but that’s about as stupid an assertion as I’ve heard since 9/11, and she has a lot of competition for that prize. But why not? After all, it’s just that a lot of people died and a couple of buildings fell. What’s that in comparison to her professed hatred for Tony Blair and George Bush?
The Nobel Prizes have apparently shifted focus to the world’s most clueless and/or despicable people. That started with Yasser Arafat’s award for the latter, and Gore seems to embody the former. Lessing exemplifies both.