Bullshit Burgers

I have just read this post – as you do, checking for errors etc – and I am thinking maybe this one needs filing under ‘Grumpy Old Dad’. You decide and let me know…

Vegetarianism/Veganism

OK. “Bullshit” may not be the best word to use here. In fact it is probably the last thing a vegan wants to be associated with. Well, maybe after the bull’s meat I suppose.

But the latest gimmick from Burger King is exactly that. Just a gimmick!.

I use Burger King in this post because they have recently put up loads of posters in Madrid advertising their new Burger Vegetal – basically a veggie burger. Those posters caught my eye whilst taking Dani for his swimming lesson last weekend. It immediately struck me as complete virtue signalling. “Look at us aren’t we great?”

Why? I hear you ask: Or at least you should be asking….

Well; because the latest trendy thinking is that the planet is in complete jeopardy and one of the main reasons is (apparently) that we eat too much meat. Or that we just eat meat! if you listen to the crap that the eco-loons pump out. They actually think we should all stop eating meat and that might just save the planet.

I am sure that all the other big burger chains are doing something equally cringe-worthy. That place with the golden arches and the silly clown for example, has some veggie burger on the menu. They will all be doing similar publicity stunts.

Now for the record Dani loves going to Burger King and would go there every day if I let him. But he has never asked for a veggie burger. Yet!

OK. Here is the scenario…

Now; most vegetarians – especially vegans – will almost certainly not want to eat anything that is prepared in surroundings full of meat products. A big fast-food burger chain would be their worst nightmare. The thought of cross-contamination from meat reaching their veggie meal would make them cry. Literally in some cases I believe.

If my assumptions are correct – and I challenge anyone to say otherwise – then nobody (hardly) will buy these things. Real veggies will not go for it and meat eaters will always go for the Whopper, quarter-pounder, Big Mac or whatever it happens to be. 

On the other hand, if the likes of Burger King are still selling these veggie burgers in (say) six months time then clearly the so called vegetarians out there are not real vegetarians. Right? The chances are that they will have been bought by people just following this latest veggie trend. Or maybe they will just be bought by non-veggies who want to give them a try while still eating meat. That’s logical right?

Either way, there are not, and never can be, enough vegetarians out there to “save the planet”. Whichever way you look at it this vegetarian “burger” thing is total bullshit!

And so…

…back to my initial point: Why are these big burger chains virtue signalling? It seems that every company now has to pretend (at least) to be on this ‘Look at us! We are saving the planet’ bandwagon. It’s not that trying to make a difference is bad (per se). Everyone can do something to make the world a better and cleaner place to live – whether you believe in all of the ‘end of the world’ scare stories or not. But can’t they come up with something better than a f*cking veggie burger?

The Luddite in me – An old dad trait?

This past week one of the headline news stories was that the Mayor of London (one Sadiq Khan) was attempting to stop the Uber taxi company from operating in the capital city. Citing (mainly) the lack of safety as it was revealed that some 14,000 journeys have been made with uninsured and unlicensed drivers.

Gut Feeling

I have mixed feelings about companies like Uber. My gut instinct, as a kind of modern-day Luddite (see below), is that we do not need them. Also, while not inherently bad, they are also not ‘the greatest thing ever’ as some would have you believe. Uber operates on new technology and not all new technology is necessarily a good thing. Despite large parts of the media repeatedly telling us the contrary.  (That is one Luddite view I actually do believe)

Listening to the younger generation you would think that nobody was ever able to get from A to B before Uber. This complete lack of awareness seems commonplace nowadays. In London there have always been alternatives to the famous black cabs. Local private taxi firms have always existed. Then there is public transport (including night buses) plus the old-fashioned forms of transport – cycling and walking.

Above all, I do think there is a real problem with the younger generation not being able to survive without their mobile phones. What the hell do they think we did before mobile phones and the internet? Are they really that stupid?

In my experience…

Personally, I have only ever used Uber once. In Madrid. That was only because the “normal” taxi service was on strike and I needed to get to the airport very early on a Monday morning. I think I wrote about it in a previous post – try this one. My preference in a large city would always be to use the fully licenced local service. Not some global, distant company that has nothing to do with the area in question.

It seems that these companies spring up with no real tangible assets or hardware. They operate via mobile phone “Apps” and the internet and take a small percentage of the booking fee while other people take all the risks (e.g. investing in a vehicle) and do all the work. How is that progress?

And don’t get me started on those fast food delivery services. Who the f*ck thought those were a necessity?

On the other hand…

Now for the other side of the argument. There are always two sides of course.

In big city centres getting a regular taxi can be easy. Outside of the centre this is not the case. This is even more so in rural areas. And this is where Uber has become popular. Also, Uber drivers need to operate to the Uber rules so you can track your taxi’s arrival on the “App”. This means that the whole service will generally be more reliable than the old private hire taxis ever were.

There will clearly be political reasons why London’s mayor is doing this. Just being seen to be doing something is no doubt the main one. I am sure that Uber will come up with some excuses and new means of vetting drivers that will quickly be accepted by the same politician. The whole thing will blow over as these things tend to do.

Speaking of which… What happened in Madrid? What was the result of the licenced taxi drivers’ strike? Anyone know?

A bit of history…

Luddite is defined online (ugh! apologies for that) as “a person opposed to new technology or ways of working” and classed as a derogatory term. Yet the history of the Luddites is far more interesting.

Back in the late 18th century the textiles mills of England were harsh places to work. Despite this the workforce were generally well behaved as they needed the pay. They were also highly skilled. However, when the industry introduced machines which could produce the textiles much faster and more efficiently. They could also now be operated by much lower skilled workers. The old workforce saw that the need for their skills was coming to an end, so they set about secretly sabotaging the new technology by breaking up the machines. Fairly soon the secret movement early activist movement was formed and became known as the Luddites.

The name is said to be derived from a person called Ned Ludd. But it turns out that Ned Ludd was a fictional character. It is more likely that they took their name from a lad named Ed Ludlam – who did exist – and was said to have destroyed two knitting frames in a factory in 1779; in a ‘fit of passion’. By the time the “Luddites” had started their campaign (about 1812), whenever any machinery was broken people would say “Ned Ludd did it”. (For some reason that reminds me of the movie 12 Monkeys – but I digress…)

In this case the established – and fully licenced – taxi service are the Luddites. And I have to say that I am more or less fully on their side in this whole argument. 

Todo Sobre Mi

Last weekend Dani made a poster for another school project.

Last time his class did it in English, the project was called “This is me.” This time they have been doing it in Spanish and it is called “Todo Sobre Mi.” Literally ‘everything about me’. Well hardly everything for obvious reasons but still. More like whatever they can cram onto a poster and be bothered speaking to their class about.

This time just like the previous project, Dani was the last member of the group to present his work of art and speak to the class. Was it a case of saving the best till the last? Let’s see…

Making the poster

Top of the poster was a photograph he had made himself using one of the features on his camera. An arty little composition of four different facial shots in one photo. It always amazes me how quickly he has managed to self learn all this  latest gadget shit  nonsense stuff.

This time he didn’t include any dislikes. Only things he enjoys. Among these he included some old favorites; Lego (naturally), SuperZings and Star Wars. For his favorite book he put “Greg” – meaning “The diary of a Wimpy Kid” books. He doesn’t actually read those himself. They are perhaps a little too difficult, but I think he is not far off. Right now, he prefers me to read them to him. But he has discovered the movies and has watched those more than a few times.

He added some photos of his sporting activities – swimming, running and chess (is that a sport or a game?). Plus, a couple of fancy dress (disfraces) photos.

Finishing touches

Towards the end of the poster design he was trying to fill the last few spaces while eating another one of his favorite things. Shortbread biscuit. That good old British classic. Who doesn’t love those? While he was making his usual little pile of crumbs on the table, I suggested that he could pick them up using sticky tape and then apply the tape to the poster. Hey presto! Another one of his little preferences captured for posterity. Needless to say, he loved that idea and thought it was hilarious. Fully aware that his classmates would ask him about it.

The last time he did a presentation like this one it was difficult getting any information out of him. That kids secret-school-service thing. This time he was a lot more open and actually talked to me about it. Only after I had asked (several times) however. I think the offering of such information voluntarily could still be another two years away.

Who can tell me? When do they start offering information without being interrogated?

Did his classmates ask him what was that stuck on with transparent tape? Of course they did. And he loved explaining it to them.

LEGO Review – Hidden Side Haunted Highschool

LEGO Set number 70425 – Hidden Side; Haunted Highschool

The Hidden Side Lego theme is set in the quiet town of Newbury. Presumably not the Berkshire town in England. The sets are based on the adventures of teen vloggers and intrepid ghost-hunters Jack Davids and Parker L. Jackson as they uncover a hidden world of ghouls and spooky events in Newbury. Other characters include Paola, Professor J.B., Elton Douglas. and Spencer the ghost dog.

The sets in this series are also supposed to tie in with something called a “Reality App”. Although it is not clear how the use of the word ‘reality’ has been manipulated here…

Animated TV series

The animated TV series of Hidden Side is expected to hit the screens early in 2020, months later than originally planned apparently and thereby missing out on this year’s Christmas rush. All that should not matter however. If previous Lego series such as Ninjago and Nexo Knights are anything to go by then the kids are going to love it. Once the TV series is aired the sets will sell.

The set….

The haunted high school set has several moving, spooky parts and countless little touches like hot dogs, pizza, fruit and even a school trophy cabinet. Meanwhile, the reverse of the house is split into classroom areas with an anatomy class complete with skeleton. There is also a co-ed toilet and school refectory zone.

 The set is aimed at age 9+. However, it is split into nine separate packages and the instruction manual is over 300 pages long. So the process is broken down into very easy to build steps. Dani has just turned six years old and managed to do most of it with only the minimum amount of help from his mum or dad.

Costly but still….

This set is not cheap. At around €125 in Spain and about £110 in the UK this is the biggest and most expensive Hidden Side set. Personally I think it is over-priced but this was a birthday present bought by Dani’s auntie Natalia.

How collectable the sets will become is not so clear at this stage. The haunted high school set being expensive enough will mean that not too many will buy it. My money would go on the ‘Paranormal Intercept School Bus 3000’ – Lego set number 70423. In my experience great Lego vehicles tend to become at least as collectable as the bigger and more expensive buildings. And definitely cheaper.

Plans for the Haunted Highschool

Dani saw that the Hidden Side sets had their own story but he always knew what he wanted that haunted high school building for. This set is destined to be a University for past, present and future Avengers.

Like all kids he enjoys mixing up the different themes. In this case the Marvel superheroes universe with a paranormal ghost series. That’s the beauty of Lego and certainly the kind of child’s mind interaction the Danish constructors have always encouraged.

 

Dani is six.

Yet again time has flown by. So; let’s catch up… Starting with last weekend’s election.

As predicted last week’s Spanish elections saw no change in the parties’ abilities to form a government. Stalemate again. If you are a betting person I would recommend that you put money on the same happening in the UK next month. The overall result will leave us exactly where we are now.

Sixth birthday

Last week (Tuesday) saw Dani’s sixth birthday. I missed the actual day as I was working. I am hoping that never happens again. But being in the middle of the week and me working away can be tricky.

It dawned on me the day of his birthday: This is my 6th job since he was born. Six jobs in six years. Not bad going I suppose. Or is it really bad? I guess it all depends on how you view these things.

I think this could be my last (serious) engineering job. I have had enough now. The jobs hold nothing for me and I miss my son too much. Maybe a part time job. If that even. This one seems to be dragging… there’s that old saying in some jobs; ‘the days drag but the weeks fly by’. This sixth job since Dani was born is certainly like that. The weeks are flying though. But what about the years? Six of them!!? In another 6 years he will be 12 years old and almost certainly won’t want to spend so much time with his old dad. For the moment however he still enjoys watching complete nonsense with his dad. Like the animated WWE wrestling match between Rey Mysterio and Spiderman. Yes; that is what I thought. Even more incredible is the fact that Spiderman somehow lost that match! Who would have thought that the California born luchador of Mexican heritage would beat the New York based super-human web-slinger? I would have put money on Spidey for that one. It just goes to show eh? Anything can happen on youtube…

(Very) Quick Film Review

So, this weekend we have been reliving Dani’s birthday – like opening my present before going to the cinema, followed by some more WWE Smackdown. We saw the latest Shaun the Sheep movie – “Farmageddon”. If you ask me the story was a bit of a rip off of E.T., but the kids loved it. I have to admit to almost falling asleep at one point but not sure why; because I enjoyed the film also. It had the usual mix of silly and more grown-up humour that we have come to expect from these plasticine farm animals.

The E.T. style storyline got me thinking. Here we are being treated to a second Shaun the Sheep movie. Undoubtedly there will be more to come now that Shaun’s creator (Nick Park) has relinquished control of his ovine character to a company called Aardman Animations. But why did they never make a sequel to E.T.? Or did they? If anyone knows please let us know.

At the end of E.T. the alien points at the kid’s (Elliot) head and says that he will always be there. In his mind, or thoughts, or whatever…. It seemed obvious that they would make another movie when the kid was a little older or even an adult. But I don’t think they ever did.

The Isadora Moon books (again)

Just throwing this one in…

Last weekend a few of Dani’s classmates celebrated their birthdays. It turns out that the mother of one of the birthday kids is the Spanish translator for the Isadora Moon books by Harriet Muncaster. It means that the kids in the school get several free copies to read. Great eh?

Elections and the Fall of a Wall.

Politics – again…

While Dani and his old dad watch WWE wrestling on TV some people in Spain may be talking politics. The reason? Because tomorrow (Sunday 10th November 2019) Spain goes to the polls to elect the next government. Well at least that is the theory. This is the third election in just over three years. The second this year. And there is no sign that it will all be resolved.

While the current (supposedly socialist) Prime Minister has the biggest number of seats he cannot form a government. After seven months! Yet last week he managed get the body of Franco exhumed from El Valle de los Caídos. Something many previous socialist governments had failed to do. (Read more on that here.) Not that there are more important issues in Spain right now eh?. Of course not! How could there be? Right?

Meanwhile. In the UK…

Then again, it is not much better in the UK. A month and 3 days from now the UK goes to the polls for the third time in four years. Fourth time if you include the EU referendum. In the UK it’s all been about “Brexit”. Or rather all about stopping or delaying Brexit.

Now there’s a good job. Member of Parliament. Get paid a reasonable wage. Probably in the top 0.5% of world-wide earners. Plus, a raft of expenses. And basically; do nothing.

In nearly three and a half years the UK parliament has done nothing apart from discuss/debate (more like argue about) Brexit. Doesn’t this just prove beyond any doubt that while Europe makes all the decisions our own lot do absolutely jack shit??! The same goes for Spain, as the very recent events show.

It begs the question: How many more elections will there be before Dani is old enough to vote?

And History?

As if all the political mess is not enough, what about this one? (We are heading into grumpy old dad territory here.)

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not exactly the “fall” but certainly the beginning of the end of the wall. I was there a few days later. I stepped through a hole someone had hammered out of the wall so I could have my photo taken. Only to be punched and shoved back through that hole by an angry east German guard.

There was an article celebrating the event in the easyjet magazine which I read yesterday on my flight. And it kind of pissed me off. I need to quote this word for word:

The Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart as its east German builders officially called it, separated two very different ideologies, with the authoritarian communism of the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic (GDR) effectively using the Wall to block the influence of the more liberal, capitalist, US-controlled West Berlin.

I feel I have to call out this shoddy piece of writing/journalism (or whatever it is). What are they teaching kids these days? The commies may have wanted you to think that they were trying to keep westerners out, but anyone old enough to know better, knows that the wall was built by the east German communists only to keep their own people in. Yet he never mentioned this. Here we have a modern day ‘writer’ trying to twist history. Trying to pretend that it was somehow both sides to blame. Was he taught that in school? If not then where does he get this false information?

Let’s look at that again;  “…effectively using the Wall to block the influence of the more liberal, capitalist, US-controlled West Berlin.

Where do these people get these ideas from? And more importantly why are they putting this shit out there to deliberately tell readers the wrong things. Why can’t these so-called writers tell it how it is? Or was in this case?

The writer’s name is Thomas Hobbs. Shame on him for not knowing (or at least telling) the real story here. I am sorry to tell you Mr. Hobbs, but you are wrong and should have used this opportunity to tell the real story of why that wall was built.

Anyway, Back to the Wrestling…

Meanwhile I just watched a wrestler win a fight by pinning his opponent down with a fork-lift truck. Work that one out!?

How I would love to see the politicians slugging it out in this way. We can all dream eh?

Halloween – First in UK

Dani’s favourite fiesta

He has only been old enough to really get in the party spirit in the past couple of years. But I have missed both of those Halloween nights. So not only was this Dani’s first Halloween in the UK; it was my first proper Halloween with him.

A bit of history…

When I was young I remember first hearing about ‘trick or treat’. We tried knocking on doors one Halloween night after seeing something on a kids TV show called Blue Peter. We never even made any effort to dress up etc… Unsurprisingly Most people either looked at us as if we had just climbed off an alien spaceship or politely told us to feck off!.

I always thought that this form of celebration/begging was just an American thing. I still do really. It never really caught on in the UK until recent years. Now it is fairly common and as long as you approach a house that has decked out with pumpkins and/or Halloween decorations then you are fine. In Spain it is only just breaking through as the “thing” to do on ‘all saints eve’.

Not unlike the subtle (enough) difference between Spain and her former colony Mexico. In Central America the day of the dead (el día de los muertos) is a much bigger celebration taken far more seriously….

Spooked out!

 Even Dani’s old dad tried to look the part in a themed T-shirt with a kids’ “Scream” mask. A bit small admittedly but some might consider it an improvement – of sorts.

Pounding the streets asking for sweets and chocolate with little kids. Hmm… Then it started raining. Typical!

Some places made a real effort with one having a full skeleton in their car. I managed to sneak a quick snap…

OK, I know it’s  little out of focus but I didn’t want to be seen taking shots of someone else’s property so I made it quickly. And anyway, by now, it was raining.

Halloween costumes

One of Dani’s cousins made a real effort. Emily started high school this year and I thought she may not be joining the party. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Like many kids her age – and certainly many teenagers – she pushed the boat out and really went for the full-on costume. Naturally Dani had to try Harley Quinn’s wig.

Drama Queen….

At the end of the evening while driving back to his nana’s house Dani did something he has done before, and no doubt will do again. He went into full melodramatic mode.

He sighed and said; “I think today was the best day of my life.” That brought a smile to my face. At least it meant that he had enjoyed his Halloween day in the UK. As for being the best day in his life? Well, I am sure there will be many more to come… Probably starting with his sixth birthday in a few days’ time.

Addams Family and onto Halloween

The day after the Opera House visit the kids went to see The Addams Family animated film. Dani had been wanting to see it since the posters appeared in the streets. And as I had been telling him that he was not old enough to see the Joker movie, he was never going to let this one pass him by.

Reaction

They loved it. Susana liked it more than Dani and yet ironically the tale was not too dissimilar to the puppet show they had seen the previous day. One of rejection for being “different” etc… The puppet show had upset her but this one (it seems) was just a lot more fun.

OK: I know what you’re thinking. What did this grumpy old dad think of the film? Well it was just about OK. As with all animation the film makers can push the boundaries that bit further. And they certainly did that with the help of all the usual CGI we see these days. I would class this kids’ movie as “watchable”.

At least they kept the spirit (no pun intended) of the original TV series. The original theme music and song making an appearance. The kids in the audience soon picked up on the finger clicking. Good stuff.

One Joker to Another

Before leaving the cinema, Dani had to get his photograph taken with the Joker himself.

The following day we flew off to the UK where Dani would spend the week leading up to his first British Halloween. Plus a chance to catch up with all his relatives of course.

Halloween…

And what do you know? It is not raining… Or have I spoken too soon?

The plan is to go ‘trick or treating’ with his younger cousins followed by a house party. And we are about to start… More to come.

A Day at the Opera

Not to be confused with the famous Queen album of 1975. This was a daytime trip to see a Chinese puppet style production in the Opera house in Madrid.

No Rugby here…

While many people were watching the rugby semi-final between England and New Zealand I had to travel into the centre of Madrid to watch a performance called “Mi Amigo Frankenstein” (My Friend Frankenstein) in the grand and well-known Opera building. It was for kids.

While the rugby played out in Japan, I was watching a bloody Chinese puppet show. Mixed with some pantomime-like, slap-stick comedy thrown in.

It was immediately after Dani’s swimming class. There were four of us. Myself, Dani, his cousin Susana and her mum. A Metro journey took us right into the beating heart of Madrid. Arriving just in time for the lad to run to the toilet. I swear he would have pissed himself if he had started watching the show without going.

The Show…

Naturally I thought it was crap. But Dani loved it. Far more than I thought he would. Meanwhile Susana had to leave about half-way through the performance. Crying. It as all too much for her. At first, I thought it was because something had frightened her. There was a little scary music at one point and then the image of a skeleton coming to life. Well, maybe…

But no. she was in tears because it made her sad. Sad to see how others were treating the ‘monster’. Funny in a way. She is a lovely and very sensitive girl. I remember she also cried when we went to watch the Dumbo movie when the baby elephant was teased.

More brainwashing for the kids…

Ironically that was supposed to be the whole point of the play. A message about “exclusion”. How we should not exclude anyone just because they are “different”. Typical nonsense these days. Keep enforcing the PC messages to young kids. Never mind the format or story used to do so…

This was a story about a doctor digging up corpses to acquire body parts to make a ‘monster’ right?

Please!! Help me out here!

All that aside, the puppetry was quite good. After the show they even invited the children to see all the puppet parts and how it was done. Dani joined in the crowd of kids but Susana had already left the building.

City Centre Photo

As this was the centre of Madrid there were the usual street entertainers plying their trade. Or in many cases just photo opportunities.

This is the one the kids chose… A giant panda. Nice photo though don’t you think?

panda

Susana now back to normal and unstressed. No pandas were hurt in the making of this photo.

The Gambling Problem

When I first started this blog I mentioned that I would write about my ‘hopes and fears’ for my son. The biggest fears most parents have are the well documented addictions. Smoking is one for sure but it is alcohol and drugs that most parents worry about.

But there is a fourth threat. One that is not only still socially acceptable but actively encouraged on TV and other forms of media. Gambling!

The Advertising Scandal

While alcohol is socially acceptable it is closely monitored when it comes to advertising. At least it used to be.

When I was growing up adverts for cigarettes and alcohol partially filled the TV screens. Then tobacco advertising was phased out – rapidly becoming non-existent. I don’t recall any for gambling.

Nowadays? Wow! It is so different.

My young son is growing up in a world where gambling is the new sexy. Apart from all the national, state and regional lotteries the airwaves are full of it. And these gambling airwaves are everywhere now due to mobile phones and the internet.

In Spain many of the gambling ads on TV are fronted by top footballers (mostly south American). Other gambling adverts are performed by famous and trusted TV personalities and actors.

In UK I noticed an ad with a very well-known sports star; none other than the global super star himself, Usain Bolt. That advert was for online poker.

These sportsmen – and they are always men – are not only (supposed) role models. They are heroes to young boys. And the not so young too. Many adults, who admittedly should know better, are suckered into the world of gambling by these sports icons.

The obvious question…

How can the politicians ban cigarette advertising and regulate the hell out of beer ads while allowing such hero-worshipped “stars” to advertise gambling?

Gambling like alcoholism, drugs and smoking is a serious addiction. While not directly affecting one’s health in the same way as the other three it can lead to serious problems devastating the lives of the gambler and his/her family. If gets out of hand It can rapidly destroy lives more quickly than booze and cigarettes combined.

Finally they are expressing concern

Recently there have been calls to regulate gambling advertising more strictly. The problem is now being discussed at least.

While I do not (yet) worry about Dani becoming addicted to gambling I do think things are getting out of hand. In further posts I will look more closely at the regulations on all these addictive habits. Comparing the rules then and now.

Meanwhile, ask yourself this question: Do you think there is too much gambling advertising?