Sunday, November 24, 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.

Balon Bore

When did the annual crowning of the best footballer on the planet become such a big deal? Time was when the Balon d'Or and the separate World Footballer of the Year award were handed out with a minimum of fuss to the players that most agreed deserved them. But that was before the days of Messi and Ronaldo, the greatest footballing rivalry since, well since ever. In a team sport it's rare to see two individuals develop a conflict like their's, even more so when you consider they're rarely in direct contact on the occasions that they line up against one another. And you could argue that if it wasn't for Cristiano's gigantic ego there wouldn't be any rivalry at all. Messi appears happy to just plod along and receive whatever plaudits come his way, Ronaldo on the other hand..

For what it's worth I prefer Ronaldo as a player, because you have to pick one don't you? His ties with United may have something to do with that but my reasons are my own and I won't bore you with them right now. But even as someone who believes Madrid's number seven is the finest talent on the planet I've found myself getting irked by the continued campaigning for him to win this year's Balon d'Or. His backers point to his goalscoring feats and his individual masterclasses as evidence of his credentials, they compare the stats of his competitors and declare each and every one of them his inferior. I think they're missing the point.

The Balon d'Or, like any annual award, is not about who is the best player but who has had the best year. Yes Ronaldo has scored five-hundred hat-tricks and broke records that were never meant to be broken, but for what? A runners-up spot in La Liga and a Champions League semi-final. His international exploits can't be overlooked, but does his performance against a pretty average Swedish side suddenly propel him to the top of the list. Not in my opinion. The players that have had the best year in the world of football all currently play for Bayern Munich. They may not have wowed audiences with their goalscoring feats or had historians scrambling for the record books, but they won everything. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and even Arjen Robben deserve the gong more than Cristiano, because what they did mattered, what they did brought glory, and ultimately that's all that counts.


Remember all the excitement surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey and it's successors? Women worldwide were visiting book shops for the very first time and getting all hot and bothered by the antics of Mr Grey, or whatever the fucker's name was. It was a sexual revolution and hardware stores reported a sizeable increase in the sales of chains, ropes and other bondage type materials. The female population were outed as the kinky little tarts they were and us blokes simply sat back and enjoyed the ride. But it couldn't last, neither the depraved coitus nor the interest in literature. Where are those ropes and chains now? And more importantly where's your copy of Fifty Shades?

If you loaned your book out to a friend or an acquaintance you might wanna think twice before asking for it back: because you have no idea where it's been. Researchers at a Belgian laboratory undertook a study which involved running chemical tests on the ten most popular books at their local library. All ten tested positive for cocaine; that's hardly surprising though given the prevalence of the drug in most urban areas. More concerning is that two of the books – one of which was Fifty Shades – tested positive for herpes. Oh my. 

And just in case you were thinking this was just a strange coincidence you should be aware that the other book which had traces of the clap was also a romance novel, Tango by Pieter Aspe. But don't text that slutty friend of yours telling her to keep your book forever just yet. Because although traces of the herpes virus were found on the books the researchers were quick to point out that there was no possibility of catching the disease from simply handling the saucy tomes. So you can rest easy, unless of course you're one of the filthy fuckers smearing your dirty microbes all over one of E.L James' novels, in which case you need to get yourself to a clinic and hand back that library card right now. 

The wait is over

The relationship between the déise and the good folk of neighbouring county Kilkenny is at best, fractious. But for the most part this antipathy is rather one-sided. Sure what have us Cats got to be angry about? A constant, steady stream of All-Irelands makes one very content with their lot. And that in turn explains the sourness of pusses in and around Waterford county and city. They hate us, fuckin' detest us they do, and in reply we ruffle their hair, pat them on the back and say “maybe next year lads.”But 'tis only sport at the end of the day and I personally have great fondness for Waterford and it's people having lived and worked there at various intervals in my life.

There's one thing that Waterford has that us Kilkenny people are all secretly jealous of though, no not the minor All-Ireland sure we've loads of them! The Blaa. Ooh I'd love a Blaa now, but I'm in Limerick and you can't get them here. Which is how it should be. If you've never heard of a Blaa you need to get yourself to the South-East to sample their floury delights, but in the meantime I'll describe them as best I can. They're kind of a round little bread roll, with flour dusted on to the surface. And they're crunchy on the outside and squidgy in the middle. They go great with corned beef, luncheon, salad cream, crisps, bananas, cheese, pickles and anything else you can think of – although not all at the same time obviously.

And in a testament to their delightfulness we, and people from the surrounding counties, took to naming our Waterford neighbours as...the Blaas. And they weren't even offended, if anything they were proud to be named after their finest export. That pride swelled even further this week with the news that the Blaa was finally to be granted European Union protection, meaning that it is now illegal to use the name Blaa to describe any other type of bread. To give you an idea of how big a deal this is other foodstuffs to be awarded the same protection include the likes of Champagne, Cornish Pasties and Gorgonzola cheese. 

So all in all it's a proud moment for the Blaas, both the people and the bread. But while we'll continue to sneak into their land and nab some of their lovely rolls they have no chance of laying a finger on a single one of our All-Irelands. 

Yes, I'm seeing someone

Single men have it tough. They might not have to contend with the daily stresses that come with being in a committed relationship but all in all the negatives far outweigh the positives. Yes they can head to the pub whenever they want and, in theory, they can shag as many women as they want but it can be a quite lonely existence. It's all very well getting pissed with the lads and waking up beside strangers but all most of us really want is a good woman to cuddle up to of a chilly winter's night. But by far the biggest problem any single man faces is how other people perceive him. 

If you go a couple of years without entering into a serious relationship chances are your sexuality will be brought into question: “Jaysus I haven't seen himself with a young wan in a while, dya reckon he's, yknow, gay?” If women decide to be single for a while then they're congratulated for being independent. But if men do the same, well then there's clearly something up with them. Arrive at a family gathering by yourself and straight away suspicions are aroused, “When you going to find a nice girl for yerself?” “I know someone who'd be lovely for you,” they say, automatically assuming that you're a lovelorn loser incapable of meeting someone all by yourself.

But now a solution is at hand. Whether you're a single man who's enjoying his freedom or someone who's hapless in affairs of the heart then the Invisible Girlfriend app is the thing for you. For just €7.35 a month you can fool friends and family into believing you've finally landed the girl of the dreams. Interactive text messages, voice mails and a false Facebook account to be 'in a relationship' with should go some way to convincing them. But that's just the basic package, stick another €30 on top to avail of the 'Almost Engaged' plan which includes random gifts and phone calls from your mystery lady. 

Many fellas will be looking at this and thinking “€37, that's a lot cheaper than the bitch I'm with now, and I wouldn't have to listen to any nagging either.” But until they offer a deluxe deal which includes a few extras I think most of us will be happy to remain with our living, breathing and all too visible, better halves. 

Sunday, November 17, 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.

Smokin' hot mama

If there's one sight guaranteed to rile even the most mild-mannered among us it is that of a pregnant women with a fag in her mouth. You don't see it so often anymore but according to Minister Alex White almost a fifth of smokers continue their habit while carrying a child. This is a quite staggering figure given the evidence available to any would-be mother. There is no argument; smoking while pregnant greatly increases the risk or miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome, premature birth and asthma. Of course this is on the mother, if she's not willing to ditch her habit for the benefit of her offspring then she must live with the consequences. We'd all like to step in, whip the ciggie from her mouth and stub it out on her face but it is not yet illegal to smoke while up the duff.

However our government think they might have a solution, but as usual they seem to be missing the point. Their idea is to offer free nicotine patches for pregnant women. In theory it sounds like solid reasoning and anything that leads to healthy, bonny babies gets my vote. But if you give pregnant women nicotine patches what do you do with the ones who drink to excess, take drugs or eat unhealthily? Do you provide Michelin Star chefs to prepare nutritious and delicious meals for the expectant mother who's addicted to Maccy D's? Ten-step programmes for those that fancy a can of Stella first thing in the morning? And lovely, yummy morphine for the mammies who chose the needle over their child? Prospective parents need all the support they can get but a line must be drawn somewhere. Unless you have good reason for not wanting your child then the responsibility must lie with the mother. Because if you're responsible enough to become pregnant then you have to be considered responsible enough to carry the child through it's gestation without harming it.

Friend or food? 

Is it too soon to say that I found the outcry regarding the 'horse meat scandal' a tad excessive? I wasn't the one chowing down on fetlocks and hooves so I'm not in any position to comment but at the time I noted that “there's worse things you could be eating.” But you can't say that, we keep them as pets and use them in sporting events and in this country the horse is considered friend not food. That hasn't stopped Princess Anne ruminating on the topic however.

Now we all know the Royals are a bunch of wrong 'uns and therefore nothing they say can ever be taken seriously. But in this instance maybe Annie has a point. She believes that by raising horses for meat it would increase their value. Okay so that part is a bit Sweeney Todd, but she goes on to say that doing this would greatly reduce the number of horses suffering from neglect. And is there anything worse than seeing one of these great beasts reduced to a shadow of it's former self in some parched plot of land at the side of the road? Many of us would balk at the notion of eating one but are then content to turn a blind eye to their mistreatment at the hands of unsuitable owners.

Here in Limerick it's almost impossible to go a day without seeing an ill-equipped horse being driven along a main road by members of the travelling community. I personally would much rather see that horse slaughtered and used to feed the masses than have it endure such a miserable existence. But the problem here is an ethical one. It's easy for me to say “yeah chop him up and make him into a lasagne”, I've never owned a horse and have no particular fondness for them. But thousands in this country have, just in the same way that thousands dote on their dogs and their cats. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I'd be at the front of the line of protesters if someone were suggesting we eat Labradors for lunch. Although that would mainly be because dogs are dirty buggers and their meat is probably disgusting.

A great bunch of lads

The Catholic church is slowly rebuilding it's reputation after a spate of torrid revelations, most of them concerning evil Irish priests. But no matter what happens from this point forwards that spectre of holiness has been forever tarnished. And the veil was further lifted when reports emerged that someone in the Vatican was watching naughty videos on the Internet. Personally I didn't have a problem with that story, if you're not gonna leave the poor buggers get married then the least you can do is allow them to sample some smut during their quiet hours.

In a way it humanised those living in the Holy City, here we were thinking they spent all their time praying and reading the Bible when in actual fact they're just a bunch of bored lads browsing MILF vids on Youporn. And when they're not doing that? Why they're playing Football Manager of course, aboy the lads! And they're downloading the flipping thing illegally into the bargain. Fucking hell, Holy City? More like den of iniquity. Of the ten million copies of the game obtained by illicit means one of them was traced back to the Vatican. Ah only one, that's not so bad. Maybe not, but there's only 800 people living there! We'll never know who the culprit is unfortunately. He's probably in confession as we speak, getting a spate of Hail Marys for his sins. Unless it was the big dog himself, the Pope. He answers to no-one and is probably laughing his bollix off while he leads Yeovil Town to Champions League glory for the third season in succession.

Fair trade

Ah we're all so feckin' fat, look at the state of us; wobbly bits everywhere! And sure why wouldn't we be with all them lovely cakes to be eating? The government and the foodies can issue all the warnings they want, we don't care. We'd rather die at forty with a fried Mars bar in our gob than live 'til a hundred on a diet of Quinoa and lettuce. Put simply you're gonna have to put a better incentive than 'health benefits' in front of us before we'll stop stuffing our faces. Free public transport in exchange for exercise? Well why didn't you say so?!

That's what the Russians are doing (as seen in the video above). With next year's Winter Olympics just around the corner a special automated transit machine has been installed in a Moscow subway. It's goal is to promote physical well-being in advance of the games being held in Sochi by asking commuters to perform 30 squats or thrusts in exchange for a free train ticket. How genius is that? Tell us to exercise for our own good and we'll laugh in your face, but offer us free public transport for touching our toes a few times and we're all over it. This could just be the beginning, a true solution to the worldwide obesity epidemic. I can see it already; national airports heaving with star jumping tourists, bus stops reverberating to the sound of hot stepping excursionists, we'll dance and jive our way around the world without having to pay a penny for the privilege. And we'll all be as skinny as fuck.  

Sunday, November 10, 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 few weeks ago I criticised Roy Keane for his blasé attitude towards filling the vacancy left by Giovanni Trappatoni. He had been asked whether he felt flattered to be linked with the Ireland manager job and in typical Keane fashion replied “No, not really. I shouldn't be flattered by that, should I?” At the time no-one seriously thought he would be considered for the role but his stance was galling given his managerial record. Now look at him. John Delaney is his new bessie mate and I think I actually saw him smile during ITV's Champions League coverage the other night.

The issue of Roy Keane and his patriotism - or lack of it some might say - has long since been the subject of national debate. There are far too many arguments and viewpoints to list them here but suffice to say his involvement as Martin O'Neill's assistant will have infuriated as many as it thrilled. But now is the time to forget about the past and put all those tiresome mantras to bed - it's boring, let it go. For me it's always been quite simple: Roy loves his country, fuckin loves it he does, but he hates 'the suits.'

Those suits were the same ones he railed against in Saipan and again during a press conference filled with invective following Ireland's elimination to the Hand of Henry. And now they're his bosses. Or is Martin O'Neill his boss? In fact can anyone ever really call themselves the boss of Roy Keane? And therein lies the problem with this appointment. It's great that Roy is all buddy buddy with the FAI, and it's great that someone with so much love for his country is part of the fold, but there's no way it'll end well. It just won't. Somewhere along the line Roy's instincts will take over, he'll see something that he doesn't agree with, and he'll want to change it – only to be told he can't because that's not his job. And when you tell Roy Keane he can't do something? That's when the trouble starts.

Personalised shopping

Do you know what cookies are? No, not those chunky segments of biscuity delight, online cookies: the ones that are tailored specifically to your needs? I bet some of you don't. Essentially what cookies do is track your Internet browsing history and, in theory, make your online experience a more enjoyable one. That ad for a peephole bra from Ann Summers which seems to be constantly at the top of your screen? That's there because you're constantly looking at sexy underwear ya feckin' tramp. But are cookies invasive? Do they impinge on our privacy and violate our rights as human beings? Probably not - and anyway you can always turn them off.

Alternatively you could go out in the real world, where cookies don't exist, and browse around Ann Summers all you like. Or can you? It would appear not. At least not when you're going to Tesco anyway. The supermarket chain is installing the 'OptimEyes' system at 450 of their petrol station forecourts across the UK. So what does it do? Put simply it scans the face of each customer, estimates their age and subsequently tailors adverts to that person upon future visits. So if you're a woman in her early thirties you're going to be most likely bombarded with ads for Pampers, and her male counterpart can expect to be treated to videos extolling the virtues of Regaine. In theory anyway.

At this early stage in it's development OptimEyes works quite crudely, we are all thrown into one of three gender groups and then targeted based on what people of that age generally like. Which in turn means that a large proportion of those scanned won't be subjected to adverts that interest them. Instead it'll be the same mind-numbing content you see on television every night, if you're gonna invade our privacy at least fucking do it right. Create an X-Ray machine that can tell how much money I have in my pocket, or better still hack into my back account so you can see what's in there. Then, when that's done, find a way to read my mind so you can see what I really want. And hey presto, I'm walking through Tesco with a fiver in my pocket thinking how great it'd be if they made gravy flavoured chocolate bars and I see an ad for? Yep you guessed it.

Only a bitta crack

Barack Obama admits to smoking a joint or two and is considered cool, the Mayor of Toronto confesses to dabbling in crack cocaine and is castigated by all-comers – where's the justice in that? Okay, okay I admit it, crack is probably a teeny weeny bit more serious than cannabis and Rob Ford indulged in recreational drug use just last year rather than in his youth, but still, a bit of perspective here people? Oh alright then Mr Ford is clearly a bumbling buffoon incapable of fulfilling his duties or stringing a coherent sentence together even on his good days, but look at the picture below, he seems a right laugh.

This is what we need in politics, not half-hearted dilettantes like Ming Flanagan who won't even put their weed where their mouth is, but deviants like Ford. All we ever do is moan and criticise about those in power so why not put a total headcase in charge; it worked for London, they're having a great time giggling at Boris Johnson's antics. I'm not suggesting we make the local drunk An Taoiseach, that'd be folly - just appoint him Tanaiste or something similarly pointless. It would lighten the nation's mood at a stroke, we could still grumble about the inefficiency of our Government and call them all a shower of bastards, and then we could watch our pride and joy cartwheeling around a NATO convention while flashing his cock at the wife of the Japanese Prime Minister.

God complex

Synthetic biology or synbio has been summed up by one expert as “essentially about how we design life.” Remember Dolly the cloned sheep? Well synbio is like that, only way more fucked up. Human's giving birth to dolphins, mice with the personality of Elvis, that kinda fucked up. By using the DNA of one organism and then merging it with another synbiologists are able to create....well just about anything really. So far this has only resulted in armpit cheese and e-coli bananas but those at the forefront of this new radical science claim that the possibilities are endless, going as far to compare the birth of synbio to The Enlightenment.

They claim that by fusing Elvis's DNA with that of a rodent we could have a suspicious minded mouse on our hands. That sounds great but it'd be circus freak fodder at best. More interesting is their belief that a human body could host an animal foetus. Worried about the decline in Siberian Tigers? Well give birth to one if you care so much. How far this thing can go is as of yet unknown, the ethical implications alone should stop it from ever progressing beyond the cheese/banana stage. But it's good to know that the option to create a spider-baby is out there should we ever need it.