Sunday, August 25, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.

Insane in the meme-Slane

I often wonder how different my formative years would have been if social media were around at the time. And then I thank my lucky stars that there was nothing more than the occasional camera and hearsay to document my activities. If Facebook had existed while I was a teen my page would have been full of incriminating evidence. Pictures of my gurning, bug-eyed face, videos of me dancing to cheesy French house music, rambling, indecipherable status updates penned in the dead of the night (wait, I already do that) and ill-advised declarations of lust for womenfolk I barely know – and that's just the good stuff.

Among all that relatively harmless activity there'd surely be something that made me cringe, something that reminded me of a moment I'd rather forget. I'd try to delete it lest my mother feast her eyes upon it, but it'd be too late, she'd never look at me in the same light again. Luckily, mercifully, I'd just about given up my hedonistic activities before Facebook came around. Oh how I laughed at the pictures of my young friends lying in a pool of their own vomit, all the while knowing that it could have been me up there on the tinternet for all to see. Being young and stupid is tough, but having your every mistake highlighted and analysed on a public forum makes it substantially tougher.

And nowhere are you more likely to be young and stupid than at a live music event. Shorn of responsibility and free from the restraints of your local town or village you can go wild, in your own misguided little mind you imagine yourself frolicking through the fields like it's the Summer of Love and you're just another wildchild about to come of age. The reality is far harsher; you get blind drunk on unfamiliar spirits and the rest of the day is a blur of twisted limbs, thumping sounds and corrupted souls. By the time it's over you wander through the exit and somehow manage to find the transport which will escort you home to Mammy and Daddy where you belong.

You wake up the next day and wonder what the fuck went on. But unlike in my day where all I had to worry about was a few texts ridiculing me for my antics there's a judge, jury and executioner waiting for you online. The girl captured on camera at Slane acted foolishly but she didn't do anything that the generations before didn't do. I could recount tales that would make a pornstar blush but that's all they are, tales. Once you put someone at the mercy of the Internet the gloves are well and truly off, and whomever thought if funny to post those pictures on Twitter and Facebook can congratulate themselves, because they have ruined this girl's life forever.

If she'd done that in my day her only worry would be facing the patrons of the bus on the way home. She'd be derided as a slapper and word would get around town, she'd walk with her head down for a few months and struggle to shake off that tag. But eventually she'd meet a nice fella, settle down and look back on her youthful endeavours with nothing more than a tinge of regret. Compare that to this girl. Her parents, her entire family, everyone she knows and beyond, they've all seen what she's done and in graphic detail too. How is that fair? Young girls get pissed and get off with boys, sometimes more than one, it's what they do, until they get a bit of sense and cop themselves on.

I'm not sure how the girl in question can ever come back from this. She's already been named and shamed and worst of all the posting of said pictures has been held up as a sign of all that is wrong with social media. So now the debate has extended beyond her actions and the fecklessness of those who brought them to the masses, we are now discussing the impact of those images and what it says about social media in general. Sadly she has now gone down in internet infamy, likely to be remembered alongside Joseph Kony, Rebecca Black and the girl caught flashing her tits on webcam by her dad. Saddest of all though is that for months she and her friends probably talked excitedly about the forthcoming gig, she went to bed the night before giddy and excited about the day ahead, and she woke up that morning with a spring in her step. Little did she know that by the day's end her life would be in ruins, in tatters, and why? Because she made a mistake, just like every teenager in history has done thousands and thousands of times.

Only in Ireland

Oh the embarrassment of it all, 'twas on Sky Sports News and everything. The Brits were laughing their holes off at the thick ole Irish again. Hawk-eye has been used to great effect in tennis and cricket but wouldn't you just know that as soon as we get our hands on it we fuck it up. I say we, but who I really mean are the GAA. The technology has had teething problems in other sports nut nothing on the level as seen in Croke Park last Sunday. Okay so the GAA can't be directly blamed for their piece of kit malfunctioning as it did, but the decision to slavishly follow it's commendation despite everyone in the stadium, and at home seeing it was wrong, is just so typical of the organisation. “Ooer the machine said it was wide so it must be wide,” “But it went over I can see it with me own two eyes,” “No, no, the machine is never wrong, if it says wide then wide it is.”

Instead of using common sense and discretion the man in the box chose to side with the robots and in the process deny Limerick's minors the chance of All-Ireland glory. Indeed the only saving grace is that this happened in a minor match and not the seniors, can you imagine the outcry if it had been in the following game? As it was the appeals from the losing county fell on deaf ears, gway outta it lads oul' Hawk-eye was just having an off day. But this wasn't any ordinary protest, it's not like they were complaining about a poor refereeing decision which came down to human error. Their case centred on a seemingly infallible contraption proving anything but. There was no precedence and you can't help but wonder if the error had occurred in a senior game, and it had been one of the more prominent counties, would the outcome have been different.

As it is the short-sighted birdie has been put out to pasture. You had your chance and you fucked it up, 'tis back to the boys in the white coats for us. I'm sure Hawk-eye return at some stage, but for the time being it'll have to make do with deciding the outcome of other sports, in other countries.


The latest newspaper circulation figures do not make good reading; readership is decreasing across the board and it seems only a matter of time before print media dies out altogether. I don't buy a newspaper anymore, and really I should. As someone with a vested interest in the industry it's my duty to support it any way I can. But still I don't. I, like everyone else, simply gather as much information as I can from other outlets, television, radio, oh and of course, the internet. I know that if I want to read good quality journalism then the best place to go is the national broadsheet, but who has time to sit and read for a newspaper nowadays? That's not how things work any longer.

We just want byte-sized nuggets of info, enough to give us a general idea of what's going on. Once we've acquired that piece of data we look for another, flitting from one story to the next without ever really getting the full picture. Even this blog, I've entitled it “a round-up of the week's news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.”There's obviously some slight self-deprecation there but as a description it's not far wide of the mark (the moron bit aside) and the same can be said for much of society in the digital age. Occasionally a story will take hold and we'll endeavour to learn more about it through well-regarded, reliable sources. But for the most part we just haven't got time. We're too busy watching three-minute long Youtube videos, tweeting 140 character messages and sharing apparently funny stories that we've only half read. Take the Internet away and suddenly the newspaper becomes King once more, but this world isn't big enough for the both of them and sooner or later one has to go. I know who my money's on. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.


A life is a long time, hell I'm only a young(ish) lad and I feel like I've been going forever. If you were to ask me to sum up my existence so far you'd most likely have died of boredom yourself before my story's conclusion, and I'm really interesting! So when I meet my maker another hundred years (yes I intend to live that long) down the line I'll hopefully have left behind many a fond memory and cheerful anecdote, certainly enough to fill a funeral service I'd imagine. Because that's the bit we all remember about funerals isn't it? They are incredibly painful experiences but through those tears we can sometimes smile as a loved one recalls the lifetime of the dearly departed. It brings a human side to what can often feel like a clinical and impersonal goodbye to someone you cherish.

But not everyone agrees. Bishop of Meath Dr Michael Smith has moved to ban funeral eulogies in his diocese, his reasoning being that the ceremonies have become “dumbed down” as a result.  And here was me thinking the Catholic church was out of touch with modern day society?! Clearly a balance has to be struck here, as much as I'd like to have Biggie Smalls played at my funeral I know it's never gonna happen. Instead I'll be more circumspect and plump for some Stevie Wonder, that's okay right? And herein lies the problem, the Church fully believes that secular material has no place in their house, but who decides what's appropriate and what's not?

It's not just music that they have a problem with however, Dr Smith has banned all texts devoid of a Christian context. So that beautiful poem which sums up everything great about your loved one? No we can't have that I'm afraid, why not read this indecipherable scripture instead? Sadly there is only one solution here, and it involves yet further distancing from the church. If the priest isn't willing to give the deceased the send-off they deserve then we'll just do it ourselves. And this is the way we're headed, most of the upcoming generation have no more than a passing interest in the Church and it's arcane ways. They see it as a decaying institution ravaged by scandal and unwillingness to change. Do you think this latest ban is going to change that? Of course not, it's just going to drive them away further. The times they are a' changing and if the Church doesn't keep up it's going to be left behind, way behind, until it's extinct.


Jimmy Magee, George Hamilton, even Ger Canning, they're all part of Irish folklore, and they've all helped define our sporting memories over the years. Whether it's Hamilton's “the nation holds it's breath”, Magee's listing of every Irish Olympic medallist as John Treacy won his and Ger Canning''s skip that one. When we think back on our favourite sporting moments it's inevitable that we remember the words that accompanied them, it wouldn't be the same without them. After all we don't prosper on the international scene all that often, so when we do we like to replay the moment over and over and over again, ad infinitum.

And yet as of today, just a few hours after Rob Heffernan became only the third Irish person to win gold at the World Athletics Championships, I have yet to see anything more than brief highlights of his joyous victory. And worse still those highlights were voiced not by Magee or any of his colleagues, they played out to the backbeat of a British commentator on Eurosport. When I first realised our state broadcaster would not be covering these championships I stated that it would hardly inspire our athletes to greater heights. The knowledge that their country's TV network couldn't be bothered televising their exploits must have been quite demoralising for the eleven Irish athletes competing in Moscow.

Or perhaps it had the opposite effect, maybe it served as a motivational tool – they think we're not worth showing? Well we'll show them! And while most of the Irish competitors performed exactly as those at RTÉ had expected one man has left them with large portions of egg on their face. Heffernan's gold should assure him of legendary status in his native Cork but really he should already be a national hero. We saw what the Olympics did for Katie Taylor and the sport of boxing so why shouldn't it be the same for Rob Heffernan and his discipline. Okay so the 50k walk might not be the most glamorous of events but the very fact we have the world's best proponent of it should count for something. But sadly it won't. If we're lucky we might get to see his medal ceremony tomorrow evening but that's about it. And if we want to relive his victory? I hope you have that mute button at the ready.


Barely a week can go by in this country without a march of some description. Whether it’s gaudily attired Northerners, proud homosexuals or irate pro-lifers we’ve grown accustomed to seeing swathes of people troop up and down our main thoroughfares. For the most part these protests pass off peacefully and the intended message is received loud and clear. Indeed some might say that the Irish don’t gather in unison to state their collective case enough, we’re too laissez faire they say, we should be more like the French. But the problem is that despite being a tiny little island with a meagre population we possess numerous, wildly varying, opinions on the issues that matter. And as a result we can barely agree on things long enough to stand side by side for a second never mind organise a march.

But salvation is at hand. I don’t know the exact figures, but there is one thing that unites at least a quarter of the population. No it’s not the latest Gallup polls which show the re-emergence of Fianna Faíl, nor is it the shared belief that Giovanni Trappatoni should have been quietly escorted back to Italy after the debacle at last year’s European Championship, it’s something that thousands upon thousands of Irish people are born with, and something that they’re persecuted for during their every waking minute. Ginger hair.

We all know a few gingers, and we’ve all taken great delight in besmirching them for their unfortunate shade of follicle. But now they’re fighting back, and about time too. The first ever Ginger Pride March took place in Edinburgh this week, how fitting that it took place in a similarly plagued country, that of our carrot-topped Celtic cousins. It was a fairly low key event with just 100 participants, but this is surely only the start of a movement, even the civil rights action began as a small-scale event. And the ginger nation equals, if not outnumbers, that of it’s sinned against predecessors.

The worry now for us normal folk is that the gingers will find strength in numbers, they’ll come together and start a revolution. Their goal? The eradication of the sallow-skinned, raven-haired members of society. They’ll stop at nothing, and only when Ireland is restored to it’s rightful state – a country of pasty, freckled redheads – will they be sated. We’ve had our fun, we’ve made our jokes, but it looks like the last laugh will be on us.


The day I received my Leaving Cert results has long since receded from memory. I vaguely recall ripping open a piece of paper and shrugging my shoulders before asking one of the bigger lads to accompany me to the off-license, the rest of the day (and night) is something of a blur. The contents of that envelope just confirmed what I already knew, that I’d wasted my school years due to an apathy which completely overwhelmed me. Ho hum. It wasn’t that I considered myself too cool to try, and it certainly wasn’t down to being a bit fick (did I spell that right?), I just couldn’t be bothered. What a little shit I was.

It’s probably fair to say that Mark Berney is the polar opposite to my young self. The child prodigy was the only student in the country to receive nine A1s in his Leaving Cert results this week. And even more incredible he only took up one of his subjects in February! I wonder what he does for fun? Of course I’m just jealous, it took me another ten years before I realised that life required hard work if you were to prosper. Clearly Mark is way ahead of schedule on that count, he’s worked his clever little arse off and is now set to reap the benefits. I wish him every success in his future endeavours, not that he needs it.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.


There is one phrase that no celebrity worth their salt should ever have to utter. A phrase so pathetic and self-serving that to speak it instantly labels you a nobody, and not only a nobody but a nobody with an attitude. The phrase is of course “Do you know who I am?” No, we don't know who you are and we don't give a fuck either, now piss off. Usually this utterance is the sole preserve of former boyband members or lower league footballers, but occasionally even the big guns are forced to wonder it, if not come right out and say it.

Oprah Winfrey, despite being largely ignored anywhere outside of the States, would most likely consider herself a big gun in the celebrity world. In all honesty I'm not quite sure what she does anymore, I'm aware that she's queen of the daytime chat show but that alone doesn't explain her fame and wealth. She is what you'd call a brand I suppose, someone who's personality has long since outstripped her worth. And in all honesty if she were walking down O'Connell Street in Limerick City tomorrow I would walk past her with nary a hint of recognition.

So on that basis I have more than a smidgen of sympathy for the Zurich shop assistant who has been branded a racist by Oprah. The shop assistant's crime? Advising Ms Winfrey that a particular item in the store was “too expensive.”Perhaps Oprah sensed something in the tone of this mysterious Swiss racist, something that told her “don't be silly love you couldn't afford this, you are black after all.” Or perhaps she was just a little peeved that the worker in question hadn't the foggiest who she was, Winfrey was even moved to lament “obviously the Oprah Winfrey show is not shown in Zurich.”

It's easy for me, a white man living in a largely white populous, to scoff at Oprah's words, I don't have to carry the burden that every ethnic minority does on a daily basis. But in this instance I can't help but feel she's jumping to conclusions. The worker simply said the item was too expensive, and the likelihood is that he/she would have said the exact same thing to any shopper whom they didn't recognise as being dripping with cash. Maybe Oprah felt a little peeved by this perceived slight, maybe she thought her fame spread all the way through central Europe and beyond, and maybe this is her way of ensuring that if the people of Switzerland weren't aware of who she was before they certainly are now.


As a teenage boy there was no sight more exciting, a glimpse of that red-top and already your mind was racing; who will it be? Sam from Surrey? Jo from Birmingham? Or your favourite, Amanda from Essex? But the red-top in question wasn't draped around the shoulders of a buxom lady, it was emblazoned across the front page of the nation's favourite tabloid, the Sun. And you knew that just one page in all your hopes and dreams would come to life in the form of the page three lovely.

We're all a lot older and wiser now, the sight of a bare-chested lady is something we've come to take for granted given the ease of access to such delights via the Internet. But even now when I see a discarded Sun newspaper I can't resist having a sneaky peek for old time's sake. However the next time I flick through that esteemed publication I may be in for something of a surprise, because instead of ogling a pert pair of breasts on the third page I will be met with a tastefully shot woman in a swimsuit.

Of course the irony of this move by the Irish edition of the tabloid is that nobody really gives a fuck. Who needs Page Three when we've got (insert your site of choice here). If this had happened during the nineties there would have been outrage and many a young lad would have been deprived of his only access to the female form. The Sun claim that their reason for removing the topless pictures is that it has become outdated and archaic, but the truth is that people don't buy the paper for such reasons anymore so why persevere with it? They may try and claim the moral high ground but one glance through the rest of that newspaper will tell you that tits or no tits it's still the same old Sun, and the quality of it's content is unlikely to change any time soon. 


There's nothing worse than a social media faux pas, you concoct what you believe to be a credible argument, press post and instantly forget about it. Then, a few hours later, you log back in and all hell has broke loose. What the fuck have I done? Shit! Usually all you've done is call someone a fat bastard or intimate that someone's baby is ugly, but occasionally you really fuck up and have to go incognito (offline) for a few days until it all blows over. But Derek Medina is going to have to do a lot more than simply go offline before his indiscretion is forgotten about.

The South Floridian had been having some girl trouble of late and in true Facebook style he took to the web to do a little venting. “I'm going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife,” he said on Thursday morning, oh Derek you're such a drama queen shall I send you a pm and we can talk this over? But he wasn't kidding, and to prove his point he followed up his confession with a picture of the wife in question, and she was clearly quite dead. Fucking hell Derek you've really gone and done it now.

The only surprise is that Medina was the first person to do this, when you see some of the shit published on social media sites it's a miracle that it's taken this long. Quite simply if you give people an outlet then it's only a matter of time until they abuse it. The staggering thing is that the picture in question remained on Medina's timeline for up to five hours. Where were the Facebook police then? When I posted a picture of my knob it was taken down within minutes and I got banned for a week.*

The fear in a case like this is that it will start a trend. The Woolwich murders showed how evil people can use the Internet as a tool for their propaganda. At the time we wondered whether Lee Rigby would have been so brutally slain if the act couldn't then be viewed by millions of people. Chances are Derek Medina would have murdered his wife regardless we'll never know, but the story here is not that of a deranged man killing his spouse in cold blood, it is the effect social media is having on society and those who use it.


You've all had a great laugh at Kilkenny's expense this summer, the all-conquering Cats finally laid to rest and poor Henry sent off into the bargain. Hahaha, fuckin' hilarious. Well I'm afraid the joke's on you. We're still the best in the country - no not at hurling, not until next year - but at life. To be more precise we are the friendliest, loveliest people in the whole country. And not only that, we are also the friendliest, loveliest people in the whole of Europe. Suck on that Rebel County!

And just in case you think I'm making this up in a last-ditch attempt to save face after a summer of relative failure I will point you in the direction of esteemed travel magazine Conde Naste. It is their readers who placed the Marble City as Ireland's, and Europe's, friendliest, placing it ninth in the world behind such luminaries as Paro, Thimpo and Florianopolis (no I've never heard of them either). And the stats don't lie, us Kilkenny folk are simply a joy to be around bringing happiness and pleasure to all we meet. I presume the votes were counted in advance of the Cats exit from this year's Championship though, because any tourist visiting our fine city from that day onwards is likely to have received a tepid welcome at best.  

* I have never, nor will I ever, post a picture of my junk on Facebook. You should be so lucky!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.


At the time of writing Gareth Bale is still a Tottenham Hotspur player. But with an offer rumoured to be in excess of 100 million pounds on the table it appears only a matter of time before the Welshman swaps the white of Spurs for that of Madrid. It really is an outlandish sum of money and the size of the fee has sparked fevered debate among football fans throughout the world - the common theme being “Is he worth it?”But who knows if he's worth it? His value is inestimable when compared to real world finances. However when it comes to money football has always made up it's own rules. Forget about the fact that over half of Spaniards under twenty-five are unemployed, or that Real are heavily in debt and continue to flagrantly disregard the recently introduced FFP; Barcelona have signed Neymar, and the King's club can't have those pesky Catalans outdoing them.

This is what football has become, a willy-waving contest. And in spite of all their prestige and history Real Madrid are by far the worst culprits. The craziest thing of all is that as a squad they have no pressing need for the mercurial talents of Bale, they are already stockpiled with attacking talent and a defensive linchpin is far more of a priority - but lumbering, wonky-nosed stoppers don't sell jerseys. The likelihood is that Bale will end up at the Bernebau and luckily for English football that will mean a stagnant market suddenly bursting into life as a result. The future of many of the league's top names should be decided within the next few weeks bringing an end to many months of mind-numbing speculation.

But the future of a club which once counted themselves among the league's top names for over thirty years is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. This week Coventry City went into liquidation, that's right the same club who regularly tamed the game's big boys at a feverish Highfield Road, the same club who once boasted talents like Dion Dublin, Gary McAllister and Darren Huckerby. How much money the club needed to remain financially viable is not known, but I'd wager that it amounted to little more than a fraction of the price tag placed upon the monkey-headed Welshman.


Will I do another doughnut Mrs Murphy?” “Yes, go on, do another, WAHEY!” “You asked for it.” SCREEECH!!! “WHEEEEEEE.”
That was a fictional reconstruction of an old-age pensioner in a car with a boy-racer, no grannies nor local amenities were damaged during it's production. But this unlikely alliance may soon become a reality all over the country if Killarney's Mayor Paddy Courtney has his way. Mr Courtney's suggestion is that these young ne'er do wells tearing up the roads in their souped up Micras put their mileage to better use. And how so? By ferrying the nation's grannies and grandads to and from their social activities that's how. Worried about how you're going to get home from mass Mr O'Leary? Fear not help is at hand in the guise of young Liam here. Now just hop in the back seat there, that's right, beside the subwoofers, and away you go, be sure to buckle up tight 'cos it's bound to be a bumpy ride.

The funny thing is that this isn't the worst idea of all time. If you can ignore the legal ramifications and the propensity for mischief for a second it could actually work – sure them young fellas are haring up and down the road all day and night anyway, why not stick an ould wan in the back while they're at it! But then you think back to when you were that age and the whole thing comes tumbling down. Imagine the craic you'd have with a poor, defenceless septuagenarian coming along for the ride. There'd be joints flying around the place, Biggie Smalls blasting at full volume and corners took at death-defying speed, if Mrs McGrath wasn't incontinent before she got into the car she fuckin' will be by the time she gets out.

So sadly it's back to the drawing board for Mayor Courtney. The youth of today are often unfairly criticised and compared unfavourably to previous generations, but in the case I think a little too much trust has been placed in their feckless hands.


Back before quiz shows dealt only in cold, hard cash there was a real chance that a single, elderly woman living in a small cottage in the Midlands might end up going home with a speedboat. That was just how it was. There appeared to be no forethought when it came to dishing out prizes, who on earth would want a set of self-folding vacuum cleaners? Doesn't matter just bung it in as prize number seven and away we go. The introduction of Who wants to be a Millionaire changed all that however and now no quizzer worth their salt will appear on anything offering less than a few grand for their efforts. But the producers of Pakistani gameshow Aman Ramzan have decided that cash money is just a little bit passé. Ew fifty thousand rupees, how very boring.

Contestants on Aman Ramzan (which is basically the Pakistani version of The Price is Right) could potentially land the gift of a lifetime, but not their lifetime, someone else's. A recent childless couple who had registered an interest in caring for abandoned children found their wishes coming true in the most unlikely of fashions. Most prospective parents receive news of a child's arrival in more conventional ways than this.

You may say that all's well that ends well. Two overjoyed parents and a child with a new home, perfect. But how the fuck are they going to explain this one to Junior in a few years time? Oh yeah, we err, won you on a TV show, your father wanted to take the flat-screen TV but I convinced him you were the better option. Should be an interesting conversation.


Uh oh it's finally happened, the robots are taking over and we are all officially doomed. And wouldn't you just know it, it's the Japanese who've set the ball in motion. Their creation Kirobo – who in no, way, shape or form looks like a creepy little monster bent on world domination – is being sent into space to test how machines can help astronauts with their work. Um hello have you not seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? We've already seen how machines help astronauts with their work and it's not pretty. The six other crew members who will be accompanying Kirobo may as well already be dead, it's up to the rest of us to save ourselves now.

And in fact Kirobo has begun his manifesto early by menacingly stating that he “hoped to create a future where humans and robots live together and get along.” Yeah right boy, pull the other one. It starts all friendly and nice and before you know it we're bowing to our new masters and begging for forgiveness. Our only hope now is that Obama or Cameron, or feck it, even Enda, realise the danger this little shite poses to humanity and blows the fucker out of the sky. Because otherwise it'll be curtains for mankind, mark my words.