Sunday, April 21, 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.


What's your first port of call when a big news story breaks? Depending on my circumstance I will always turn to BBC News or, if unable to access a television, Twitter. So on Monday evening when the first reports of an explosion at the Boston marathon surfaced I dutifully switched to the Beeb while simultaneously scouring my Twitter feed for updates. I lasted about 20 minutes before I had to switch both off. First to go was the TV, a steady stream of meaningless interviews containing nothing more than speculation and conjecture saw to that. But that was okay, I've come to expect tedium from 24 hour news channels. In the case of Twitter however I found myself logging out before I lost all faith in the human race.

The clamour to be first with the macabre details was unrelenting. “Follow all the action here”, “LIVE UPDATES FROM BOSTON BOMBING”, “Two dead, up to 100 injured, more to follow....”. And so it went on. A tragic occurrence reduced to nothing more than a sideshow as the world's populous vied for the most salacious headlines. Of course there were the odd conscientious voice lamenting the loss of two people but they were quickly drowned out by the braying mob. I, like everyone else, was eager to find out exactly what had happened in Massachusetts but not in this fashion. I didn't need slow motion replays of the moment of impact, nor did I need pictures of clearly distressed runners covered in blood, and I certainly didn't need a who's who of news stations engaging in their own civil war before my eyes.

Unfortunately there is an audience for this kind of reporting. Never once during 9/11 did I stop to consider how horrific it must have been to die in a towering inferno or to be left with no choice but to plummet to your death from thirty storeys high. I was too busy firing texts back and forth, glued to Sky News as I willed the attackers to hit the Pentagon and keep the entertainment going. We can't help ourselves, it may be happening in real life but because it's on TV and is happening far away we care not for the welfare of those involved. Indeed as I went for a walk to clear my head of all things Boston and bombing I sensed an air of disappointment in my own corner of the world. As I walked past a man engaged in a panicked phone call with a loved one I overhead him say, “Quick turn on Sky News, there's been a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Two dead and 22 injured.......but there could be more”.


Surprised isn't quite the word. No, no appalled doesn't quite fit the bill either. If I was to sum it up in one succinct phrase I think I'd plump for 'dejected bemusement'. The source of my confused sadness? He of the Beliebers. Justin. Writing in the guest book of the Anne Frank museum that she was a “great girl” and he hoped that were she alive today “she would have been a belieber” is not in itself all that surprising. He is after all a teen icon, a child cosseted by minders and money, someone completely out of touch with reality. I wouldn't expect much more from him to be honest. What reference point could he possibly have as he attempted to reconcile his own life with the experiences of the tragic Anne Frank? None whatsoever.

But even the most simple-minded of modern-day heroes must surely be able to heed the advice of those who have thus far steered his career into the stratosphere. Did someone explain to young Justin just how important a figure Anne Frank is when it comes to our recent history? Did they warn about making glib statements which might reflect badly upon him? “Hey Justin, this Anne Frank girl went through a helluva time, be cool alright man”, “Yeah dude, I'm on it”. Or maybe his entourage are just as dumb as he? Maybe the people who control this pop puppet thought it was okay to desecrate Anne's name with this simpleton's musing? That's what really concerns me.


Picture the scene; you're at home on a Saturday evening and it's approaching dinner time, “What shall we have for our dinner”, you ask the assembled throng, “Mmm I'd quite like some Indian”, says little Ricky, his eyes lighting up. Immediately the poor child's request is drowned out by a chorus of boos, “Ooooohhhh, ohhhh, aahhhh, nnooooo, bbooooo”. He tries to respond with an argument furthering his case but is again overwhelmed by the protests of his determined siblings. “Fine we won't have Indian then”, says Ricky as he sullenly scans the pizza menu. Not really the best way to settle an argument is it? And yet it is the method favoured by those charged with running our country.

I rarely watch the Daíl's daily dealings, but on the odd occasion that I do I'm invariably treated to a group of grown men behaving like primates. I'm vaguely aware of this slanging and slagging having historical resonance but this is the 21st century can it not be replaced with something more urbane? Buzzers perhaps? Or maybe not, can you imagine the mayhem if they all had little buttons to press? Red-faced and sweating they'd all hammer their buttons into submission before bitterly complaining that “mine wasn't working”. How about they signal their intent to speak by raising their arm in the air and frantically chanting “Miss, Miss, Miss” just like we did in school? Although the last thing anyone wants to see are the flabby underarms of our government. Or they could just try something completely radical and wait their turn, that sounds a bit far-fetched though in fairness.


I still can't be quite certain what this means can you? Misadventure? defines it as “bad luck, mishap”. So essentially what they're saying is that Savita's death was a terrible mix-up, an awful mess, we're really sorry about that. What a cop out. Even worse is the list of recommendations which were set out to avoid further similar 'misadventures'.

1 The Medical Council should lay out exactly when a doctor can intervene to save the life of the mother in similar circumstances.

Erm is there no such thing as common sense these days? Why must a doctor adhere to protocol when there's lives on the line?

2 Blood samples should be properly followed up and proper procedures put in place to ensure errors don't occur.

What the fuck is this, a Carry On movie?

3 Protocols should be followed in the management of sepsis and there should be proper training and guidelines for all medical and nursing personnel.

Ah yes proper training for our doctors and nurses, why didn't we think of this before?! Doh!

4 Proper and effective communication to occur between staff on-call and a team coming on duty and a dedicated handover time to be set aside for such communications.

What? We have to talk to each other? And tell one another what's wrong with the patients? Ah come on now this is getting excessive!
The rest of the recommendations follow a similar suit as doctors are told to always tie their laces before coming on duty and nurses are advised to go wee-wee at least once every four hours.

It's rather crass of me to joke about such a sensitive case but it's got to the point where I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The least the Halappanavars deserve is justice, the very least. Instead they have been fobbed off with rhetoric and spin, told “we're very sorry now toddle off and stop being such a nuisance”. Praveen plans to take this to the European Courts, and who can blame him? His wife has been unnecessarily taken from him and those responsible for her death are hiding behind the state in a desperate attempt to maintain their careers. I hope he takes down not only those directly at fault but each and every person who so guilelessly tried to cover up this sorry affair into the bargain.


I often bemoan the lack of freedom given to kids today, let them run free I say, didn't do us any harm. But it's a different world now, a world full of child-killers and paedophiles, you'd be crazy to let them out of your sight for even a second. It's often made me wonder about my own childhood, I mean where were all the nonces then? I was fortunate enough never to be an altar boy but was it just the Catholic church that spawned these odious creatures? No, the BBC was in on it too. The unmasking of Jimmy Savile was hardly that surprising, he was always an oddball. The same goes for Jim Davidson, Stuart Hall and Freddie Starr, it didn't take a huge leap of the imagination to envisage that motley crue getting up to no good. But Rolf?

He released a song entitled “Two little boys” and still no-one batted an eyelid. And why would they? The cuddly Antipodean looked about as harmless as they come. “Can you tell what it is yet?” he'd ask as his latest creation came to fruition, and we would innocently guess 'Kangaroo' or 'Koala' when in actual fact it was his penis, rising in his pants. Oh Rolf, say it ain't so. But it is so. Just in the same way prospective paedos joined the priesthood in the hope of gaining access to vulnerable children their broadcasting counterparts did likewise via the BBC. They may indeed have been simpler times but thanks to these monsters we'll never look back on them with the same fondness again.


Daft Punk are quite rightly regarded as one of contemporary music's most important acts. Their 1996 début Homework deserves to be ranked among the very best of any pieces of music, never mind the electronic dance genre. The follow-up Discovery was a similar tour-de-force and cemented their status as arguably the most influential band of my lifetime. Human After All was a slight let-down by their own very high standards but it did nothing to sully their renown. They are legends in their field and if anything their slight back catalogue only enhances their standing. So when it was announced that a new album was forthcoming in 2013 the world, quite rightly, turned on it's axis. Early samples were devoured by eager fans and the hype surrounding the first single was unparalleled. And then it came out, and Pharell Williams was on it, and it sounded a bit meh, but the public lapped it up. What's gone on here then?

Firstly the presence of the Neptunes producer goes against everything that has come before. Daft Punk have never needed superstar guest appearances in the past so why start now? What else can we expect once the album comes out? Justin Timberlake? Will.I.Am? Who's next up to desecrate their once pristine reputation? You may think this an overreaction but to me Daft Punk are one of the few remaining bands that can be relied upon to try something new, to eschew the path taken by others and release something brave, something daring. I'm loathe to use the phrase sell-out but that's what it looks like to me. Get Lucky is everywhere at the moment, all over the Internet, all over the airwaves. Daft Punk were never about that. Naturally I will hold fire until I hear the final product, after all there was a similar reaction when One More Time came out - and Discovery didn't turn out too bad eh? 

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