Sunday, September 29, 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.

To Arthur

Thanks to the ubiquity of the Arthur's Day adverts it feels like the yearly celebration has been around for ever; but it only began in 2009. And if certain parties are to have their way it might not be around for much longer. As a semi-retired boozer this newly created excuse for a piss up has little impact on my life, it actually took me a while to figure out why town was so busy on what I presumed was just another mundane Thursday afternoon. But then it clicked, “ah yes, people are heading out to get hammered in the name of a person whom they know little about. I thought that was what Paddy's day was for?” You can't blame the drinks companies though, if they had their way there'd be festivals for every fucker who'd ever worked a day in the Guinness factory.

But Arthur's Day has it's fair share of detractors, with negativity stemming from several cunning marketing ploys designed to drum up interest in the event. The Arthur Guinness Project – essentially a talent show made cool by it's association with the black stuff – is a case in point. The belief among many is that this is merely a cynical way of getting the Arthur Guinness name out there, yes it rewards the nation's undiscovered talent but only a select few actually receive any funding from the organisers. This is modern-day Ireland though, everyone is just out get to a buck in any way they can.

Look at The Gathering, a complete shakedown of the Irish diaspora. But it worked, the fuckers were here in their droves this year, and they're still coming. Who benefits from this? Not you or I, at least not yet, but perhaps it will help drive the Irish economy forward indirectly and that's something we all want. As far as I'm concerned we can have Gatherings, monthly tributes to the Guinness family and four Paddy's Days a year, because no one is forcing us to get involved. Let them market the shit out of it and exploit as many poor fools as they want, and then maybe some day our beleaguered little country can get back on it's own two feet.

Flattering to deceive

I'm not really sure where I stand when it comes to Roy Keane these days. Time was when I'd spill blood for the Corkonian, but not any more. Granted, my loyalty towards him stemmed from his imperious performances in the name of MUFC but invariably when Roy spoke, I agreed. But that changed in the wake of United's Champion's League exit to Real Madrid this year. I'm not so precious that I can't handle an ex-player railing against the club he represented with such distinction; but there was something in the way Keane spoke that night, he seemed to revel in his role of naysayer and dare I say it, in Alex Ferguson's misfortune.

And given his own managerial failures Roy has been doing a lot of speaking lately; mostly in his role as pundit with ITV. But that hasn't stopped his name being mentioned in relation to the Irish job recently vacated by Giovanni Trappatoni. Despite not managing a club for over two years he's still found himself on the list of candidates to replace the departed Italian. Perhaps his time away from management has made us forget just how bad he was at it? Yes he had a great start with Sunderland, getting them promoted in his first season at the helm. But since then? Mediocre at best.

You'd think these humbling experiences would have softened Roy's cough, but it appears not. When asked if he was flattered to be linked with the Irish job his response was “No, not really. I shouldn't be flatted by that, should I?” Yes you bloody well should Mr 'I only buy players I used to play with', yes you should. In a way I admire his brazenness, his refusal to tow the company line has always made him one of the game's most fascinating characters. But a bit of humility wouldn't go astray either. Keane once famously told the FAI to “get over it”,in reference to the Hand of Henry. But maybe now it's time for Roy to heed his own advice, because you can't stay bitter for ever and eventually we all have to get over it.

Gift horses

It's great when you find money isn't it? You're walking along the street and there it is on the ground waiting to be picked up. Marvellous, free fucking money. But no sooner have you pocketed it then the guilt starts, “Oh I bet some poor old woman dropped that after getting her pension,” or words to that effect. You get so guilty that you wish more than anything you could give it back to the poor forgetful fool who dropped it. So if you find a wallet do you hand that back? Course ya do 'cos you're lovely. You ignore the wad of fifties bulging out from the seams and head straight to the nearest Garda station. In short: you are a credit to humanity.

That's what most people would do anyway, at least I think they would. Really we have no way of knowing how honest we are as a nation. But thanks to a recent experiment by Reader's Digest we can discover just how honest the sixteen other nations. They placed twelve wallets in each of the cities under the microscope - cities which included New York, London, Rio and Madrid – and then waited to see how many would be returned. A simple but genius way of finding out where the most generous folk in the world reside. And it will come as no surprise to learn that the Finns of Helsinki were the most virtuous of those investigated with eleven of the twelve wallets being returned to the authorities. Damn those Scandinavians and their beautiful hearts.

The worst, most dishonest cities? Madrid and Lisbon. But I don't think we should jump to conclusions about Iberians just yet. Is it any coincidence that Portugal and Spain are two of the most hard-up countries in the world right now? They were probably fighting each other in the streets for those wallets. And given our own economic state perhaps we should be grateful that we weren't considered when it came to this study of honesty.

The acid test

I can't let a week go by without covering a more 'risqué' story, for a while it looked like there was nothing of note for me to talk about this week. But then I heard about the pH of a vagina. Uh oh things are about to get embarrassing - and yet I'm not embarrassed at all. Anyway the pH of a vagina (I really like saying that), what is it? Well if you must know it's 4.5; but unless you're a science boffin that number will mean nothing to you. The best way of judging this figure is by comparing to other items with a similar pH, or items with a comparable level of acidity. And they are? Beer and tomatoes. Brilliant. That's right girls your precious lady-garden is as acidic as a pint of Bud or a plump, ripe tomato.

At first I wondered if this high pH was evolution's way of warding off potential suitors, kind of like a burning furnace designed to injure all who entered. But it appears that it's perfectly natural and that this level of acidity is required in order to ward off harmful infections. The old bearded clam works in much the same way as our stomachs and mouths and therefore resembles a boiling hotpot of microorgnanisms and such like. It should make us blokes think twice about taking a trip South of the border but let's face it we've eaten worse. And because women are armed with the knowledge that their furry cups share a pH level with beer I get the feeling that no excuse will ever be good enough from now on. 

Sunday, September 22, 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.

The cutest, little baby-face

The sight of drunken teens puking their collective rings up on the night of their Junior Cert results has become a common sight on the streets of Ireland. But what we often choose to overlook is the fact that many of these revellers could quite easily have been mistaken for street-walkers were they not so flaming drunk. I'm certainly no prude but the get-up of some of the girls - yes girls not women - defies belief. Young lads today don't know how good they have it, back in our day they weren't left leave the house without at least five protective layers for us to work through. But sadly in today's society children are encouraged to ape their elders from the earliest possible opportunity.

At least these girls are almost 'of age', what excuse do the organisers of children's beauty pageants have? I had presumed this was a phenomenon consigned to the States and that the good people of Ireland would never allow their offspring to take part in such tawdry, sleazy activities. It seems I was wrong. Universal Royalty oversee beauty pageants all over the world and the next stop on their tour was Dublin, Ireland. However their attempts to stage what I presume would have been the first pageant of its kind in this country were thwarted by the good people of the Bracken Hotel in Ballybriggan. Once the true nature of the event was revealed: “a beauty pageant for babies, toddlers and teens”, the management at the venue were quick to cancel the booking.

And that was that, or so you'd think. Undeterred a spokeswoman for Universal Royalty said “You better believe there's going to be a pageant.” And so it was that yesterday, somewhere in County Monaghan, the pageant took place. All the to-ing and fro-ing took it's toll on the participants however, just over twenty children strutted their stuff instead instead of the fifty plus that had been expected to enter. But still, that's at least twenty parents who deemed it perfectly normal for their beloved to parade around a stage in a highly sexualised manner more in keeping with Miss World than a bonny baby comp. What are the odds on those kids being prone in the gutter as they celebrate their Junior Cert results in about ten years time?

Don't speak ill of the dead

The death of Elaine O'Hara still remains shrouded in mystery, one can only imagine the torment her family are enduring. And having the whole thing played out in the media only makes things worse. In circumstances such as this it is inevitable that countless theories and assumptions will be aired by those close to the case. Whether they be investigators, journalists or 'experts in the field', everyone will have their say, but can any good come from this? During a report on Ms O'Hara's passing one reporter alluded to her 'alternative lifestyle' on at least five occasions, and this was despite the interview lasting little more than a couple of minutes. Alternative lifestyle? Immediately that gets you thinking, and in my case it got me googling.

But what did I find? Nothing really. Apparently Elaine was registered with a couple of internet dating sites, wow how very alternative. How simple it is to besmirch someone's name, to tarnish it with a few misplaced words. At the mention of her apparently wild and crazy lifestyle I envisaged cults, sex dungeons, all sorts, you name it and chances are I thought of it. And then I looked her up further, a pleasant looking woman, a childcare assistant and a popular employee at her local newsagent's. Certainly not what I'd expected. But imagine if I hadn't bothered to dig deeper. Imagine if I'd listened to the news report and left it at that. “Oh yeah that Elaine O'Hara wan, she was a bit mad wasn't she? Alternative lifestyles and all sorts I heard.”

One lazy journalist, that's all it takes. 

Parental guidance advised

Video games linked to higher IQs in the nation's children.” “How Lara Croft helped me to learn about the history of the Mayan people.” “Chubby teen sheds four stone thanks to Nike Plus Kinect Training.”

Notice anything about those imaginary headlines? They all have something in common, something that ensures they will never see the light of day: they portray gaming in a positive manner. Because you see as far as the media is concerned gaming is bad, and it always will be. And if we're lucky enough to hear our hobby discussed on any of the conventional news channels we can guarantee they're not singing it's praises - the week just gone was a prime example.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is out, have you played it? Tremendous fun isn't it? Did it make you carjack a stranger, shoot them in the tits and run over their kids? No, me neither. Luckily we're well-adjusted adults and can distinguish between fantasy and reality, but not everyone is as fortunate; children for example, they're an impressionable bunch. As usual there were two predominant debates doing the rounds, first up was; does playing these games pollute the mind's of our innocent children? And secondly; if this is an over-eighteens game why are so many kids playing it? Now correct me if I'm wrong but don't these two arguments contradict one another? How can you have one and then the other? Put simply if you're not eighteen years old then you shouldn't be playing GTA. And if you are then it's not Rockstar's fault, it's your parent's, or at a push the retailer's.

But surprisingly there was a slight sea-change in the way the nation's talking heads broached this topic. Yes of course there was still those uneducated buffoons eager to denounce gaming as the work of Satan, but amid all the condemnation was the common belief that there is a need for change, a need to educate. Time and time again broadcasters spoke of purchasing games for their children, grandchildren or godchildren without being fully aware of it's content. Then Junior disappears to his room to get lapdances, ride hookers and pop caps in the asses of several African-Americans. But he's quiet so it's okay.

Then should Junior ever get himself into real-life mischief it's because of those blasted video games. But it's just too simple to blame games like Grand Theft Auto for society's ails; parents raise children, not Sony, and not Microsoft. And if you're going to allow your progeny to have a gaming console then the least you can do is inform yourself about the kind of things he or she is likely to be playing on it. It's not that difficult, honest.

Aim high and shoot for the stars

When asked if it was now acceptable to masturbate in public if you don't direct it towards a specific individual the prosecutor said it was 'okay'.”

That may very well be the greatest line ever written. Read it again, it's fuckin ace. I don't particularly like the idea of being a court reporter but I'm currently having a rethink. Sadly I would have to move to Sweden in order to be privy to such comments. The case in question surrounded a 65 year old man charged with sexual assault. His crime? Masturbating on a public beach in Stockholm. Off to jail with ya you dirty old bugger. Nope 'fraid not. His defence argued that because the perpetrator wasn't directing his activity towards a specific individual he wasn't committing a crime. What the actual fuck? Don't mind me lads I'm just gonna have a wank over here in the sea, you go about your day and don't take any notice of me.

The Swedes, and the Scandinavians in general, are renowned for their forward-thinking policies, how many times do you hear George Hook laud their respective governments on Newstalk? But this is surely a step too far. Where will it end? A bloke knocking one out as he's walking down the street? Some dirty oul' trollop tearing the box off herself in Tesco? A gang of lads all furiously bashing away in your local pub? Whatever you do don't look at 'em that'll only encourage 'em. Best to just turn a blind eye, because if nothing is aimed in your direction then it doesn't concern you. Now if you don't mind I'm off to me local Supermacs for a public display of self-affection; just gotta be careful where I point it....want mayo with them chips love?

Sunday, September 15, 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 Le Vell playing field

I honestly think I would rather be accused of murdering someone than of raping someone. I realise the sentence for murder is far higher than for that of rape, but still I would prefer to be in the dock on the former charge. Why? Because to rape someone, to take someone's liberty and humanity for your own pleasure is an unforgivable sin. People murder one another for all kinds of reasons but rape is committed for one reason and one reason alone; self-gratification. And the only thing I can think of that would be worse than being accused of raping someone, would to be accused of raping a child. Imagine if it happened to you? If you were innocent and the very thought of doing something like that to a child made you sick to your stomach? I honestly can't think of anything worse.

That's how Michael Le Vell must have felt; sick to his stomach. And even worse, his case was played out in the public eye, merely compounding his shame. I didn't know whether he was guilty or not. He didn't seem the type, but then who does? As it turns out he wasn't the type. He was just another hapless victim in a long line of them, all high profile cases which have amounted to nothing. I can only hope the Coronation Street actor can rebuild his life and put the whole thing behind him. But what of the alleged victim? What happens to her? For a start she can't be named, which is understandable given her age. But why was Michael Le Vell named? He hadn't done anything wrong and yet was in the dock both literally and figuratively.

The bottom line is that it's too easy to 'cry wolf' nowadays. It's too easy to drag someone's name through the mud, at great cost to their reputation, while the accuser goes unpunished. Why not jail sentences for those who falsely accuse others of rape? It's only fair. A term identical to the one the accused was facing would fit the bill perfectly, and you never know it might even act as a deterrent for those who decide they'd like to ruin someone's life in the future.

You've got some balls

The testicles are a funny pair of lads aren't they? Easily the most unsightly part of the human body they are nevertheless of utmost importance, the penis may hog all the glory but without his two lieutenants backing him up he's nothing. In recent times we've become accustomed to grappling with our bad boys for reasons other than it feels nice, we're all well aware of the dangers of testicular cancer and we dutifully check for lumps whilst lying on the couch watching football. But no sooner have we become “balls-aware” then our scrotums find themselves under scrutiny once more.

It now appears that having a heaving sack hanging from your midriff is a bad thing, at least when it comes to being a Daddy. James Rilling, an anthropologist from Atlanta, claims that the smaller your two veg the better a father you're likely to be. In a study of 70 willing males he discovered that those with petite potatoes were more likely to be involved in care giving activities such as nappy-changing, bottle-feeding and singing lullabies in a high-pitched falsetto (guess which one of those I made up). I bet you're all checking your bollocks now aren't you? I know I did.

But these findings got me thinking; maybe these fellas had massive balls before they became fathers, perhaps their testes were literally spilling out of their trousers until Junior came along. And then everything changed. The sex dried up, they no longer spent their evenings down the pub with their mates. Now it was all days out at Mothercare, shit-filled nappies and lukewarm breastmilk. Their testicles simply gave up, we're not needed here anymore they said; and with that they simply shrivelled up and died. So lads, be a good father but do it in the traditional sense - a kickabout in the backgarden, fishing-trips, that kind of thing – and if you're lucky your gonads may just survive the experience.

Unfinished monkey business

You know that thing where you're asked to name the four famous people you'd like to have a dinner party with? The one where you forget that no celebrity in their right mind would want to spend an evening fending off drunken advances from you? Yeah that's the one. Whenever I'm asked to select the lucky few who get to dine with me one name invariably pops up time and time again: Sir David Attenborough. I love that man. In truth we don't have a lot of common other than a shared interest in the animal kingdom, but still I'd give anything to spend an evening listening to old Dave recounting tales of his adventures in all four corners of the globe.

However as he's got older (he's 87 now) Sir David has become prone to the odd controversial statement or two, but he gets away with it 'cos he's a national treasure and all that. In January of this year he declared that humans are “a plague on the Earth” - hard to argue with that really. And now, not content with calling us a plague, he has declared that we as a species have ceased to evolve; his reasoning being that birth control has put a halt to the Darwinian theory of natural selection. Now I'll be the first to admit that all things science blow my fucking mind, I really haven't a clue how any of it works. I have a vague understanding of molecules and bacterias but it only takes five minutes of Brian Cox for me  to be sitting there scratching my head in bewilderment.

But we've stopped evolving because of contraception? How does that work? Surely we're evolving just by existing. For example we use our thumbs far more than any generations that went before; so it stands to reason that in a thousand years time humans will have oversized thumbs borne out of necessity. Is that not how evolution works? If only Dave would accept my dinner invite and explain it to me properly. As it is I can feel a headache coming on so I think I'll have a little lie down.

Any minute now

Since the beginning of this double/triple/quadruple dip recession it's been one bad news story after another. It's hard to turn on your television or radio without being exposed to it. Occasionally though they throw us a tidbit, these usually come at the end of a tough few months or just before them. And what these comforting morsels provide us with is hope; enough hope to ensure we don't lose heart, but not so much that we'll get carried away with ourselves. This week we were given a little hope, but like I said not too much. Because apparently the worst of it is behind us, that's right the last five years were awful bastards but the only way is up from here on in. And not only that, our economy is growing too! Well it couldn't get any fuckin' smaller now could it?

I'm sure this information is true – it's not like the Government to lie to us now is it? - but excuse me if I don't start doing cartwheels. It's not that I'm a pessimist, far from it, but it feels like we've been fed stories like this at regular intervals since the beginning of the economic downturn. If I was to be cynical I'd say that these nuggets of news are timed for release with almost military precision. The mood of the nation is assessed, a day is chosen for maximum impact and then BAM they hit us with the good stuff. There ye go now lads, just when you thought life was shit, it's not; it's still not great but any day now it will be, now stop your complaining and get back to work – oh feck we forgot ye don't have any jobs, never mind the recession will be over soon. When? Ah sure any time in the next fifty years ya know yerself. 

Sunday, September 8, 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.

Just go

When there's nothing left to say you must simply walk away”

And is there anything left to say? Judging by his incoherent post-match ramblings I would say no. Giovanni Trappatoni's time is up. And he has to go now, not in three games time when yet more damage has been done to the fragile confidence of promising young players like James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman. But will he? Of course not, he'll see things out to the bitter end and most likely with the full backing of the FAI too. We've been here before though. A stirring second-leg display in the Stade de France quietened many of his critics and allowed him to begin the Euro 2012 qualifiers in good heart. But after the debacle of the European finals the country was magnanimous: get him out and let us start afresh.

The decent thing would have been to walk away, you got us to a finals you're a great fella now fuck off. But when you've got a juicy contract dangling in front of your nose you're hardly gonna turn it down; who cares what the punters think? Sure they'll come support the team no matter what. And once the World Cup campaign began things just got worse, an undeserved last-minute victory over the powerhouses of Kazakhstan was followed by our darkest hour: a 6-1 mauling at home against Germany. Surely this was the time, there could be no coming back from this. Wrong. On he went, mumbling about how our fate was still in our own hands, if our fate was in our own hands you would've been gone a long time ago boy.

Mathematically we can still qualify, victories in Austria and Germany could very well see us on the plane to Brazil, I can't see it happening though can you? Instead we'll endure yet more of this caveman football we've become accustomed to, horrible, prehistoric stuff, the tactics of a footballing dinosaur. All throughout his reign he has pointed to the lack of quality at his disposal, we have to play this way he says, we haven't got the players to y'know, play real football. Well pretty soon we'll find out if he was telling the truth. Because in a matter of months he will leave our shores for the last time - fat with our cash - and a new man will be at the helm. Then we'll see if we're good enough Trap, then we'll see.

Where's me dinner ya prick

Last week I spoke of the male populous of Ireland and how unsatisfied ye women are were with us. And now this week we hear that the number of men suffering domestic abuse is on the rise, hmm you do the Math – you're not happy with how we look so ye beat the shit out of us. We can joke about this and make light of it but over 5,000 calls were made to AMEN (support centre for male victims of domestic abuse) in 2012. The majority of these calls concerned cases of emotional or psychological abuse but over 1,500 of them came from men who had suffered physical harm at the hands of their significant other. Again the temptation is to laugh and tell these fellas to grow a pair - but therein lies the problem.

If you were suffering at the hands of your partner what would you do? Report the abuse? For most women the answer would be yes, it may take some time, but eventually you would say enough is enough and contact the authorities. But it wouldn't easy. Now think of a man in that situation. He has all the same problems as his female counterpart, but added to that is untold shame and self-loathing. Because who wants to be the man not strong enough to protect his woman? And not only can you not protect her; you can't even protect yourself from her! You may think that's an antiquated view and I am a misogynistic caveman but for all the advances society has made we men are still judged by our masculinity and this in turn reflects upon our worth as males.

You see certain things haven't changed at all: men wear the trousers and women control the purse strings. There are many different variants on this theme but for the most part that simple statement defines our attitude to relationships. Of course many men secretly fear their better half and, for the sake of a quiet life, reside firmly under their partner's thumb. But how do you get from that to becoming an abused spouse? I hope I never have to find out. These figures, and the sheer volume of incidents, are shocking in themselves, but when you consider that most men probably suffer in silence you can't help but wonder what really goes on behind closed doors in the average Irish household.

The times they are a' changing

I'll be honest, the first time I heard about smart watches was just this week. But apparently they're set to become all the rage, replacing the smart phone (ahh there's the connection) as the must-have accessory. So what is a smart watch? It appears to be a a fancy digitalised time-keeping device fastened around your arm, but one that also allows you to access your Facebook account, download apps and send emails. And despite all the new technology contained within the onus is still on making it look, and feel, like a watch. So essentially it's a smart phone that you can wear on your wrist, but with one exception: you can't make calls. Ah fuck, just when I was coming round to the idea. I had visions of talking to my arm like something out of a 1980s sci-fi movie, but I guess I'm gonna have to forget about that for now. It's a real shame though because the common wristwatch has almost become obsolete thanks to the wonders of mobile phones, and these new-fangled devices could have changed that forever.

Because one of the big problems with mobile phones is losing the little buggers. We've all been there, you wake up with your face glued to the pillow and one of your eyebrows missing and think things can't get any worse. Then you check your pockets, wallet: check, keys: check, phone: uh-oh. You've only gone and lost it. If only it had been attached to your arm. Apparently you can make calls via a smart watch, but only by syncing it with your smart phone. Um, what's the fucking point of that? I'm sure there's reasons why smart watches have been designed in this way, the multi-billion phone industry for starters. But just think how much easier your life would be if your phone was there, stuck to your person, on the morning after the night before.

Good riddance

He died as he lived; like a coward. His victims endured years in captivity, he barely lasted a month. For Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight the death of Ariel Castro brought an end to more than ten years of trauma and suffering. They will likely rest easier in the knowledge that he will never harm anyone again, but is this how they wanted it to conclude? Did they, like the rest of us, wish to see Castro suffer? To see him die miserable, old and alone in a cold, dark prison cell. Most probably. But they don't get to make that choice. More's the pity.

At his sentencing Castro avoided the death penalty and instead received life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. And as usual in cases as extreme as this one he was placed in solitary confinement with maximum security - no doubt his fellow inmates were queuing up to test said security. The cost of housing criminals like Ariel Castro is exorbitant, thousands of dollars spent on protecting someone who is universally loathed both inside and outside of the prison in which he resides. Money that could be used towards providing better facilities for those who wish to spend their jail time rehabilitating themselves so that they may one day contribute to society. I doubt very much that Castro had that on his mind as he tied the noose around his neck, but his final act of cowardice will hopefully benefit others in a way he never managed during his time on this earth.

Sunday, September 1, 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.

La la la la la, I can't hear you

So in spite of all the warnings about our health and childhood obesity we've just carried on as normal. We've continued scoffing our fat faces with sugary drinks and greasy crisps, and we won't be happy until we're all so huge that we can't even lift that lovely bitta cake to our gaping gobs. Don't believe me? Well the stats don't lie; Ireland's biggest selling brand is, for the ninth year in a row, *drum-roll*...............................Coca-Cola. What a surprise. A drink that contains ten spoons of sugar per can is the most popular grocery item in a country full of hippos, well I never. 

Clearly I'm being dramatic here, we're not all chubsters and let's face it, Coke is fuckin' lovely - you really can't beat the feeling. But the fact that the omnipotent soft drink continues to be so popular despite several campaigns warning of the dangers of fizzy drinks is quite worrying. Perhaps these figures were tallied too early and this time next year Coke will be nowhere to be seen. Perhaps in twelve months time the list will be topped by Manuka Honey, Green Tea or whatever else 'they' tell us is good for us. Unlikely though, instead we'll just continue in the same vein, paying not a second's heed to the health risks until it's too late.

And if you're looking for reassurances further down the list then I'm afraid you're out of luck. The rest of the top ten consists of Avonmore, Brennan's, Lucozade, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Tayto, 7up, Jacobs, Walkers and Danone. So that's: milk, bread, fizzy drinks, chocolate, crisps, more fizzy drinks, biscuits, more crisps and a lovely yoghurt to top it all off, delicious, a meal fit for a King. We've already adopted the American accent and made it our own, and it appears our next step is to assume the mantle of the world's fattest nation from our trans-Atlantic cousins. 

My achey-breaky tart

How could anyone called Miley ever be considered sexy? That's what was going through my mind as I watched Ms Cyrus gyrating like a demented crack addict in nowt but her smalls. I certainly wasn't titillated by her performance, if anything I found it comical. If that's what's considered sexy in the world of music today then I may just strip to my own undies and pursue a chart career myself. What? What do you mean I can't sing? Since when has that stopped anyone. But for all I know Miley Cyrus is a vocal powerhouse with a talent for song-writing unparalleled throughout history, I've never heard her music so I couldn't possibly comment.

However if she possesses even a smidgen of talent why did she feel the need to debase herself in front of an audience of millions? In the music industry I believe this is what they call “vamping it up”, Miley is no longer a child, she's now a woman and by God don't we know it. She could have been a bit more subtle though no? A tasteful photo-shoot containing demure snaps of a shy but sexy teen eager to announce her womanhood. Nah just get yer kit off and wiggle your arse a bit, they'll love it! 

Like most modern day artists Miley Cyrus is a product and those in charge of her career have decided that now is the time to target a new audience. Gone are the innocent pre-teens and the bubblegum pop, now it's all angsty young women, raunchy lyrics and suggestive attire. If she's lucky Cyrus will emerge unscathed from this period of her career and maybe even continue on in the industry, alá Madonna. If she's unlucky, well, think Britney Spears. And those calling the shots? They'll wait for her to implode before dispensing with her services and moving on to the next cash-cow. 

I'm Batman

If I was to be given one superpower I would, quite naturally, choose carefully. I'd weigh up my options; the ability to fly? Nah. Lasers coming out of my eyes? Tempting, but still nah. Super-smartness? Um, hello? No, if I were choosing such a thing I would inevitably pick something that would enable me to get up to all kinds of mischief, I'm thinking invisibility or the ability to read minds, what I'd use them for I'll leave up to your imagination. Sadly the real-life (sic) superheroes of this world are far more virtuous than I and most tend to use their talents for the greater good. Booring. 

Then again if we were to watch a movie about a mind-reading supervillain playing tricks on unsuspecting strangers it probably wouldn't make for great viewing. No it's all save the world and get the girl as far as these lads are concerned. And in fairness they do make for great films, sometimes. Personally I can take or leave most of this particular genre of film-making, I enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises but cringed a tad at the wankfest that surrounded it. However before you think I'm getting all holier than thou you should bear in mind that I still hold out hope of becoming a Jedi at the ripe old age of 34. 

But although I love the Star Wars franchise (urgh what a horrible word) I did the normal thing and took it on the chin when George Lucas besmirched my memories of the original trilogy with those lamentable prequels. Yes Hayden Christensen was a disaster and yes Jar-Jar Binks was about as entertaining as glandular fever but it's only a movie, move on, there'll be other movies. Try telling that to Batman-men (hmm is that right?), fuckin' hell talk about a furore! It's only a film lads, relax. Personally if I was choosing the next Batmen I'd go for........oh no wait........I don't give a fuck. And neither should you. I do actually agree with their misgivings about Ben Affleck though, he has a face like an arse, and no superhero should ever have an arse-face. But the hullabaloo which followed the announcement was ever so slightly over the top, aside from the occasional well-measured, constructive debate it was wall-to-wall outcry. How could you do this? Are you crazy? No, they're not. But you are. 

The eighty-percenters

Ye fussy fuckin' hoors? Who us? Yes you, sitting there preening yourselves thinking yeer great wans, well it's not fuckin' on. What am I talking about? I'm talking about Irish women and their abhorrent treatment of us fellas. A recent survey among the fairer sex revealed that in their opinion 80% of Irish men are below average looking. Well excuse us, we're sorry we're not all Charlie Taters or whatever he's called. We're busy being real blokes and doing real stuff, we haven't time to spend hours in front of the mirror moisturising and making ourselves all photogenic and shit. 

If ye don't like us then fuck off somewhere else, we don't mind, we'll have the Polish wans to look at. Haha ye didn't know that did ye? That's right, while ye've been silently judging us and calling us ugly fuckin' bastards we've been completely oblivious, far too busy perving on our Eastern European neighbours to actually give a shit. Only problem is the Poles and Slovaks tend to stick to their own, and by the way have you seen the Eastern European men? We're all adonises compared to them gargoyles. So I guess we're kinda stuck with ye, and ye with us. As it goes I think at least 65% of Irish women are average or above average looking, for all your faults you're not a bad bunch. Although if you don't take that look of disgust off your face that number could significantly drop