Tag Archives: recession

New Year’s Devolutions

As another year draws to a close we are left to look back on the events of the last twelve months, and assess their impact on our lives. Unfortunately, however, due to my reliance on modern technology, I have no memory whatsoever of anything that happened before yesterday. Therefore, until we manage to invent some sort of collated, easily accessible database of news through which we can record our history as it unfolds, any attempt at such reflection is pointless.

Instead, I will attempt to predict what may lie in store for the duration of our next revolution around the sun, which conveniently gives me even more scope for absurd exaggeration and crude humour. To that end, here follows a synopsis of what we can expect in the year 2014…

To domestic affairs first, as Ireland continues its upward trajectory out of the doldrums of recession. Normality returns in increments as shoddily built apartments are bought by the thousand, helicopters are dusted off to head down to the Galway Races, and solicitors start snorting cocaine before midday again.

In politics, Enda Kenny finally gives in to pressure to reform the Seanad, and appoints David Norris to take charge of the transition. Unfortunately, Norris chooses to make no changes whatsoever to the political structures or powers of the upper house, deciding instead to use millions of euro of taxpayers’ money to build an exact replica of an Ancient Roman Senate chamber, complete with annexed bath house, and opulently furnished in marble and gold leaf. The Taoiseach defends the developments by arguing that attendance in the house is at a record high average of 11%, a vast improvement on previous years.

Unfortunately for many of our émigrés, next year will also see Australia suffer a severe economic crash akin to the one that sent them there. Thousands of young Irish people are left floundering in a sweltering, barren wasteland, with no employment and no money to get home. As the last remaining Aussies leave their shores en masse to seek bar work in London, our hapless emigrants are left to fend for themselves in the desolate wilderness. Rule of law breaks down and society devolves into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, like Mad Max with more swearing and Offaly jerseys.

In the US, troublesome Republicans once again force a shutdown of the government, which lasts for over six months. The leadership claims it is due to Obama’s wish to implement stricter gun laws, but House insiders maintain it is predominantly a backlash to the dryness of the muffins in the Congress cafeteria. The country is thrown into chaos as millions are denied access to essential services. A deal is eventually brokered after military cutbacks contribute to a worrying breach in security in an army base in Kandahar, in which an enemy missile lands inside the perimeter. After eliminating the insurgents responsible, the missile turns out to be a football that had come from a nearby playing field, but military intelligence verifies that the deceased 12-year old boys were ‘a lot more terrorist-y than they looked.’

More revelations are forthcoming in 2014 from Edward Snowden regarding NSA monitoring of internet communications. In a somewhat tragic twist, it emerges that an entire subsection of intelligence operatives, who had been tasked with examining comments on YouTube to seek potential terrorists, take their own lives in what seems like a ritual mass suicide by self-immolation. NSA chiefs announce their grief and shock over the lost lives, especially since the group had just started their first day on the project.

In Britain, police continue to crack down on abusive behaviour on social networking sites. This policy reaches its zenith when a student is imprisoned for three months for calling Harry Styles a ‘gobshite’ on Twitter. When the presiding magistrate orders everyone who retweeted the offending message to be given the same sentence, thousands of hardened criminals are released onto the streets to make room for the hordes of potty-mouthed youngsters. This results in an unprecedented crime wave sweeping across the country, which the government announces is ‘probably something to do with immigrants.’ The Daily Mail takes a different approach and blames the situation on Ed Miliband’s dad.

In international news, North Korea follows China’s example by expanding their space program. They spend months ferrying men and supplies to the moon, much to the concern of the international community. When it is revealed that Kim Jong-un has built an enormous moonbase, fears grow over what kind of terrible weapon he might unleash. This alarm is soon allayed, however, when it transpires that Kim was simply remaking the movie Moonraker, starring himself as James Bond, and featuring Dennis Rodman as Jaws.

The winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, take place in February under the shadow of a decree from President Putin that absolutely no gay behaviour will be tolerated. Secret police are stationed around the ground to enforce the law, with security particularly heavy in the figure skating arena for some reason. Putin himself projects his usual uber-macho image by appearing at the games naked, save for the pelt of a bear that he had killed that morning, which he had come upon in the wild and hadn’t been tranquilised in any way, shape or form.

However, events take an unexpected turn at the speed skating track, when Putin’s attention is turned to a young Finnish athlete named Matthias. The Russian premier feels a strange sensation stirring in him as he watches the young man glide over the ice, his golden hair radiant, his enormous quadriceps rippling with every stride. To the alarm of his aides, Putin suddenly rushes onto the track, but trips on his bear suit and falls crashing to the ice. As he rises to his knees, a strong arm appears to help him up, and he finds himself gazing upon a set of chiselled Nordic features. Matthias lifts him into his arms and embraces him, and as the strains of Up Where We Belong begin to play over the PA system, the pair exit the arena to the cacophonous cheers of the assembled masses, and disappear into the setting sun.

Technology giant Apple’s reputation takes a hit next year after it is discovered that its iPhone 6, and its iPad Extra Mini Micro, are in fact the same device. Their PR troubles continue later in the year as a 16-year old worker in one of the company’s Beijing factories hacks the official Apple Twitter account. His strongly worded criticisms of working practices and his uploaded selfie of the effects of an unfortunate smelting accident are Tweeted for the world to see. Unfortunately for him, his revelations are overshadowed by the release of the iPad Pico, a tablet roughly the same size as a postage stamp, which is later revealed to be simply an actual stamp designed to look like a tablet.

Social media continues in the new year in its quest to rid the world of unuttered thoughts, comfortable silences and the last remaining semblances of privacy. Google introduces a controversial new app in which a drone follows the user’s daily movements and updates their Facebook status and Twitter feed accordingly, with observations like ‘Sarah has just been dumped and appears inconsolable’, ‘Paul is masturbating over a fire he just started’, and ‘Sally is bleeding profusely from a head wound caused by my malfunctioning gears’.

As collective attention spans continue to plummet, the fad of six-second long Vines becomes passé. They are replaced by Stems, videos lasting just one second. The most popular of the year is of a 2-year old child from Kansas saying the word ‘jam’ in an adorable fashion, which is shared by millions. The child is later mentioned in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which prompts knowing laughter and warm applause from the crowd, followed by an eighteen-minute chant of ‘USA, USA’.

New varieties of the ubiquitous selfie become popular with the babbling, androgynous masses that populate the trendiest corners of the internet, where they smear digital pictograms of the tedious minutiae of their lives across social networking sites, and heap scorn on those of us born before 1994 that still use words like ‘trendiest’. These include the ‘elfie’, a festive self-portrait, the ‘farewellfie’, an inappropriate picture taken at the service of a deceased relative, and the ‘continental shelfie’, photos taken in the shallow waters of the glacially eroded coastal plains of continental land masses. Okay, that last one doesn’t really become that popular.

In Hollywood news, the most anticipated film of the year, the third instalment of The Hobbit, is delayed as director Peter Jackson falls ill during filming. The only director available to take the reins at short notice is Michael Bay, who selflessly offers his services. Upon its release, many critics question the wisdom of Bay’s changes to the original script, including casting Samuel L. Jackson as Gandalf, replacing the eagles with a fleet of Chinook helicopters, and even contriving an entirely new female elven character called Tauriel to spice up proceedings. Well actually, that was Jackson, but it was Bay who decided she should be played by Eddie Murphy in drag as the film’s comic relief.

Most of the criticism, however, centres on the movie’s antagonist, Smaug Mohammed Smaug, who is portrayed as an Islamic oligarch who uses his obscene wealth to arm a sinister band of Yemeni terrorists. The film’s denouement sees the dragon and his insurgent colleagues consumed in the hellfires of US Army drones remotely piloted by a ragtag bunch of wisecracking dwarf grunts, who are all played by Robert Downey Jr. Empire magazine gives the film five stars, their review simply consisting of the words ‘high-octane action’ repeated seven hundred times, followed by an exclamation mark.

In the world of music, Miley Cyrus continues her crusade against subtlety with her new single, Dark Room Full of Middle-Aged Men. The raunchy video becomes a viral phenomenon, and gives rise to a new dance craze among adolescent girls the world over, affectionately called ‘the Miley’. This is much like the Macarena, except with less smiling, and more penetration using household objects. Twitter is abuzz for months with trending topics like ‘doing the Miley’, ‘My tongue is a feminist too’, and ‘late night emergency room visit’.

In hip-hop news, Kanye West releases an experimental 3-hour long album featuring the sounds of his infant child’s bowel movements, set to a snappy bassline from a little-known 1970s adult movie about a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon who falls in love with a sassy waitress named LaQuanza. It sells eighteen million copies, and is hailed by music critics as ‘the seminal post-racial artwork of this, or any, millennium’.

So ends my forecast for the year 2014. Some of these things may come to pass; some will not; some may even look tame when reflected in the reality that comes to meet us. The future is a puzzling thing; no less a man than George Orwell had a great fear of it, which manifested itself in his works. This sense of foreboding is nowhere better illustrated than in an achingly bleak line from 1984: ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.’

While I don’t think I’ve quite reached the depths of Orwellian cynicism just yet, it must be said that the pain in my face seems to be increasing exponentially with each passing year. Happy New Year you shower of bastards.


See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Leak No Evil

The Irish government has been rocked to its core this week after thousands of classified files containing highly sensitive information were leaked and published online. Politicians and senior establishment figures are reeling in the wake of the revelations, which implicate many of the country’s ruling elite in various scandals and nefarious activities which allegedly took place over the last few years.

It is believed that the confidential data was released by a disgruntled civil servant earlier this week. Mickey Reilly, a 44-year old Dubliner who has worked in the Department of Transportation for twenty years, is alleged to be the man responsible, and is currently being pursued by the Gardaí. It is thought that a particularly miserable Monday at work is what drove Reilly to take such drastic action. Reports indicate that during the course of the day, already severely hungover and way behind with his workload, he had his hat crushed by an overweight woman on the Dart, got his tie stuck in a printer in a manner found most amusing by his colleagues, and, most worryingly, farted loudly in an elevator in front of an attractive co-worker.

It was this very Monday evening that a humiliated and emboldened Reilly procured the secret files from a government database and published them en masse on his hastily prepared and somewhat unfortunately named whistle blowing website MickeyLeaks. The site received hundreds of thousands of hits in its first few hours online, although Gardaí are investigating the possibility that some of this traffic comprised individuals with a particularly specific sexual fetish mistakenly soliciting Mr Reilly for an activity known in such niche circles as ‘damp squibbing’.

By Tuesday morning the nation’s media had seized on the most salacious of the newly disclosed secrets, bringing disgrace and shame upon many of Ireland’s most recognisable faces. The following is but a brief synopsis of a few of the more shocking stories to be divulged in the MickeyLeaks scandal.

The politicians of Ireland are most prevalent among the alleged incidents, with few currently sitting members of government escaping the sensationalist headlines. Records of expenses claimed by TDs have shown the errant spending of taxpayers’ money that has occurred in recent years.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore and his team of attachés claimed thousands of Euro after a diplomatic trip to Japan, most of which seems to have been spent on alcohol and escorts, with the remainder puzzlingly set aside for a shovel and a bag of lime. It has also emerged that Taoiseach Enda Kenny himself has been skimming extra packets of pink wafer biscuits and purple Snack bars from the Dáil canteen. One of the more troubling disclosures is that Leo Varadkar had a hundred thousand business cards printed that read Leo Varadkar: Politician, Patriot, Amateur Gynaecologist, accompanied by a rather lewd picture of the Minister.

Another startling revelation concerns a directive from Minister for Health James Reilly to remove all the beds from a Dublin hospice last year and relocate them to his house for the weekend so he could have all the Fine Gael lads over for a slumber party and watch some Sex and the City DVDs.

One of the most serious allegations is that a new government jet had to be purchased recently, at massive cost to the taxpayer, after Ruairí Quinn and Pat Rabbitte took it out for a spin after a night in Leggs. They ended up crashing it into a field after running out of fuel while circling around looking for Alan Shatter’s house, so they could land and ring the doorbell, then call him a wanker and run away when he answered.

Another state institution to be damaged by these accusations is An Garda Síochána. One particularly embarrassing story related by the leaked files concerns a Galway sergeant who attempted the off-duty arrest of two young men in a pub who he claimed were ‘acting like feckin’ queers, so they were’. The sergeant was later promoted for his actions.

A separate document details a case whereby a second-year student at the Garda College in Templemore was removed from the course before his final exams after it emerged that he was in fact a sheep. It is believed his unusually high scores in both the cognitive and physical aspects of the training were enough to mask his true identity for such a long time. It is rumoured he is now working part-time as a security guard at a major third-level institution.

Another document pertains to the visit of President Obama last year and the unit of Gardaí that were assigned to chaperone him. It has emerged that three of these officers were suspended from duty after they took the President’s iPhone from his hotel room while he was in the shower, and took dozens of photos of their testicles with it. They then tagged the President in these photos on Facebook with the caption, ‘I hereby award these balls the Congressional Medal of Honour.’ The reports indicate that the President was most displeased, especially since his wife Michelle, on seeing the pictures, briefly changed her relationship status to ‘It’s complicated’.

The Irish clergy, already much maligned in recent years, do not emerge unscathed from these leaks either. One incident concerned the bishop of a small parish in Cork fabricating a supposed miracle in order to garner interest from locals. The deception involved carving crude likenesses of the Virgin Mary onto objects such as trees, walls and rocks. The ruse fell apart somewhat when the deluded bishop attempted to carve the face on a statue that was already of Mary, claiming that it looked ‘even more like Mary than usual’.

A number of alarming cases of alleged child abuse are also recorded in the documents, including one particularly heinous example of a punishment given to an unruly child in a Christian Brothers school in Carlow. The boy was made to perform every single role in the annual Nativity play, which for the sake of realism was scripted exclusively in Aramaic and Latin, and had been extended to over three hours that year. Although he collapsed from exhaustion during an encore, the Carlow Examiner described it as ‘a virtuoso performance’. Remarkably, the priests responsible were not reprimanded for their actions, but were instead simply moved around repeatedly from parish to parish.

Ireland’s legal profession has also taken a hit in the wake of this exposure. The leaks have confirmed persistent rumours that one of the country’s top barristers, Michael O’Shaughnessy Shaughnessy, does not actually have a cocaine habit, and instead prefers to simply enjoy the odd cigarette and a nice bottle of red at the weekends. Needless to say he has already been sacked by the other partners at his firm, Shaughnessy, Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy Shaughnessy, who released a statement earlier today remarking that he ‘has brought disgrace upon this noble profession’, and that he was ‘a complete bastard’.

Staying with legal matters, the judiciary has not been spared humiliation as a result of the leaks. A prominent High Court judge, Mr Justice Ulick O’Gogarty, has been incriminated in a bizarre sexual scandal. The sordid details of the case are too offensive to publish, but it is believed that the judge has been banned from Dublin Zoo for life. It is also reported that some of the zoo’s sloths are currently undergoing extensive psychological counselling as a result of the ordeal. A spokesman for the zoo commented that ‘unfortunately sloths are often vulnerable to this sort of abuse, since they are such lazy feckers’.

Ireland’s finance sector has come in for much criticism over the past few years for its craven greed and corruption, and these documents serialise even more serious examples of this avarice. One branch of AIB illegally repossessed an entire seaside housing estate so that the staff could go on a surfing trip over the bank holiday weekend and have somewhere to stay.

Another report indicates that Anglo Irish Bank is partly responsible for massive inflation rates over the last number of years, after it allowed its investors to use Monopoly money instead of real money as part of their property speculation.

One of the most damning indictments of all concerns a bank manager who had his entire office plated in solid gold at the height of the Celtic Tiger. Unfortunately he was found dead in the room shortly afterwards, having suffocated due to the fact that he couldn’t open the door, which now weighed about two tonnes.

Thousands more of these sorts of stories appear in the documents, and the fallout from their shocking revelations is sure to continue unabated for some time. Reilly is already a hero to the ordinary people of the country for exposing the sins of its most powerful citizens.

It is believed that the fugitive civil servant is currently taking refuge in an Ecuadorian fast food outlet in Dublin’s city centre, and is seeking asylum there, which is somewhat confusing since it clearly has no powers to grant such a thing.

Gardaí have surrounded the building and are presently attempting to coax him out. When asked by a journalist if Reilly was facing a long and tortuous incarceration for his crimes, a senior Garda official remarked,

‘Ah no, sure we’re just going to give him a bit of a telling off. What do you think this is, America?’


We Don’t Need Another (Super)Hero

The long-awaited superhero blockbuster The Avengers was finally released this past week after years of media hype, much fanboy salivating, and a series of extended trailers posing as movies in their own right, such as the fairly decent Thor, the tedious Captain America: The First Avenger, and the downright lamentable Iron Man 2.

The movie will no doubt run along somewhat predictable lines: The makeshift team of mercurial heroes are thrown together; sparks fly; personalities clash; Scarlett Johansson flashes some side-boob; Robert Downey Jr. arches an eyebrow and makes a pithy remark; Samuel L. Jackson sends his driver to collect his cheque. All very banal and utterly unsurprising.

What audiences need is an entirely new kind of superhero film, one removed from the tired clichés and overused tropes of the black hole of originality that is the Marvel Universe. Perhaps one set in Ireland, against the backdrop of our economic woe, could be the answer…

The film opens with a sweeping panorama of a ravaged, decrepit Dublin ten years in the future. The once prosperous city, now known as AvivaPolis, has crumbled under the weight of insurmountable debt, massive unemployment, and the closure of that savage little doughnut stall on O’Connell Street. Gigantic toxic banks line the streets, their colossal smokestacks spewing waste high into the grey, lifeless air as they burn the carcasses of household charge withholders in order to turn their remains into miniature European flags.

Cash-for-gold shops stretch as far as the eye can see, interspersed with the makeshift tenements of the legions of citizens who have been evicted from their homes. Their crude dwellings are thrown together using anything that can be found: mountains of now useless 2 Euro coins, posters pleading for a ‘Yes’ vote in the 27th referendum on the austerity package, old issues of the Evening Herald full of pictures of food so people could remember what it looked like.

Towering above all of this misery and desolation lies an enormous glass dome perched on top of the Spire, the headquarters of the evil Troika, a trio of ruthless oligarchs who rule the city with an iron fist. The fist itself is kept out in the RDS and is taken out on special occasions to crush dissidents and small animals, so as to keep people in check. Some say that the Troika escaped from a two-dimensional floating prison in space and came to Earth to conquer it. Others maintain that this is just the plot of Superman II and that the Troika are in fact from mainland Europe.

Marching along the streets day and night, clad in black leather uniforms and EU flag capes, are the Siptuplets, the police force of the Troika. Legend has it that the Siptuplets were once part of the proletariat, but were corrupted after years of pay agreements warped their socialist ideals and turned them to the dark side. Their commander, known only as Dr. Joe, is regarded as the Troika’s right-hand man, and is feared even by his own men. He once found one of his subordinates feeding half a cheese sandwich to a duck that had been ejected from his lake for non-payment of a Credit Union loan. He proceeded to beat the man to death with the bird, then beat the bird to death with the cheese sandwich.

In this dark dystopian hinterland, amidst the turmoil and grief that lies over the city like a dense fog made of turmoil and grief, there is but one beacon of hope for the Irish people. He is a shining light who inspires hope in the face of the city’s oppression. A noble insurgent against the forces of economic subjugation. A daring warrior poet who stands resolved to fight for the fiscal independence of every starving man, woman and child that he represents and holds dear. His name, let it be praised, is Shinnerman.

As night falls in AvivaPolis, our intrepid hero may be seen dashing across a darkened rooftop, or perched atop a vacant block of apartments, broodily surveying his domain as he plans his next strike into the heart of the wicked Troika. Grubby-faced children point and call to him as he swoops from building to building. “Oh Shinnerman, where you gonna run to?” they shout. He turns and answers with a low, sonorous growl, “I go to finish what I have begun.” And with that he is gone, leaving just the slightest gleam of light as the price tag on his tricolour cape catches a glint of the waxing moon.

The Shinnerman is always vigilant, always alert, always looking for a way to end the Troika’s reign of terror with the economic policies he has scrawled on the napkins stuffed into the pockets of his Celtic utility belt. He will not rest until he has restored economic independence to the island. He will not retreat until the hordes of homeless are safely returned to their abodes. He will not waver until the Troika is vanquished and his people can go back to spending their social welfare on essentials like cigarettes. The only problem is…he has no idea how to do any of this.

And so Shinnerman recoils once more into the shadows, vowing to return and liberate the city from bondage, just as soon as he’s figured out a few things. In the meantime, however, he’s heading to the chipper, followed by a trip to the bookies. He got a great tip from a taximan the other day for the 3.30 at Doncaster. Shinnerman, away!


Let’s Not Meet Up For The Year 2012

As 2011 comes to a close it seems only fitting to look back on the big news stories of the year and analyse how the world has changed for all of us over the last twelve months. However, that sounds really boring and depressing so instead I’m going to attempt to predict the major events that will shape the year 2012. And if there’s half as much economic misery, brutal conflict, tragic natural disasters, and television exposure for Jedward as there was last year, let’s hope the Mayans were right when they predicted that the world would end if John Cusack ever made a movie as awful as 2012.

In economic matters, the Eurozone crisis deepens even further in early 2012, with the pressure on Angela Merkel finally taking its toll at a meeting in Brussels, during which she tears one of Sarkozy’s arms off and proceeds to beat him and several other less important European leaders to death with it before she can be restrained. The outburst results in massive fluctuations in German markets as Boris Becker is declared the interim leader of the country for some reason. Commentators across the world are astounded at the move, and all agree that the end is nigh for the Euro. John McEnroe also gets a lot of air time on American TV, remarking that Germany “cannot be serious.”

Fearing the imminent collapse of the EU as we know it, President Higgins takes drastic action and decides not only to secede from the union, but also to declare geographical independence from the continent of Europe. The country’s legions of unemployed are soon put to work preparing the island for emigration. In late summer, after all the arrangements have been made, we set sail for Australia, only losing half of Wexford along the way when we hit Portugal in rough seas, which everyone agrees was probably for the best anyway. Unfortunately we have to return to the economic hinterland of Europe after only a month spent down south, due to people complaining that the weather is too mild to be working, and the milk doesn’t taste the same. On the plus side, however, we also manage to cut loose most of Cork somewhere around Angola on the way back.

Meanwhile in the US, Barack Obama is narrowly re-elected, with many citing the Republicans’ choice of an overly stereotypical candidate as the reason for their loss. Others credit Obama’s win to his catchy slogan, ‘Change we can kind of believe in after four years of not much change at all really.’ After dispatching both bin Laden and Gaddafi in 2011, Obama feels under pressure to topple another dictator before the end of the year. In December he sends a covert unit of troops to kidnap Kim Jong-un while the North Korean leader attends an anniversary feast for the passing of his father.

However, a full year in power has seen the young man balloon to epic proportions due to his gluttonous diet, including consuming over 80 percent of the country’s sugar stockpile during one particularly decadent golfing weekend (when incidentally he also beat his late father’s world record by 17 strokes). The tyrant is too heavy for the American soldiers to lift and they are forced to leave without him. Unfortunately all forty of them perish an hour later when their helicopter accidentally fires at itself having mistaken a passing seagull for a North Korean stealth bomber.

Wikileaks later reveals that the kidnap plot was simply a ruse to begin a ‘liberation’ of North Korea, after it emerged that an extremely rare ore that Apple uses to make the limited edition Hello Kitty carrier case for the iPad is found exclusively in the foothills outside Pyongyang.

The Arab world continues to suffer massive political and social unrest as its citizens voice their opposition to totalitarian rule via social media. Trending tags on Twitter for the year include #MarchLikeAnEgyptian, #Don’tBeATahrirSquare, and #Don’tBahrainOnMyParade. Unfortunately the Islamic autocrats strike back by creating a Facebook page called ‘That awkward moment when you get your hands chopped off for engaging in political dissent on Twitter’, which soon silences most of the protesters.

Civil disorder continues in the West also, with the Occupy Movement growing ever larger. Police in New York run into difficulties as the protesters on Wall Street build up an immunity to pepper spray. As the crowds increase and become more vocal each day, eventually the cops take drastic action. They erect massive television screens around the area and begin to air Kim Kardashian’s new reality show, which revolves around her eight-week search for a new personal trainer for her cat, O.J. The tactic works as the protesters dwindle in number, though the large number of deaths by self-immolation recorded mark a tragic end to proceedings.

Meanwhile the stock market traders have endless fun laughing at the occupiers. When they’re not busy burying dead hookers in shallow graves, or telling CNN that we’ve entered our sixth recession of the week, they spend their days throwing staplers and bags of substandard cocaine at the protesters from the windows of their luxurious offices. They even respond to the famous ‘We are the 99%’ slogan with a giant banner of their own that says ‘We are the 11% and we don’t give a shit.’ It takes them three weeks to realise their mistake.

The entertainment world continues to provide reasons to welcome the warm glow of the apocalypse during the year. The top grossing film is The Hangover Part III, which simply consists of the lads sitting around a breakfast table having a fry and some Solpadeine, and arguing over who paid for the taxi the previous night for an hour and a half. Lady GaGa takes an indefinite hiatus from making music as she is committed to an institution after turning up at the Grammys wearing Elizabeth Taylor’s skin. Though criticised by many, the look goes on to influence much of Karl Lagerfeld’s acclaimed ‘Eau de Cleopatra’ fashion line that takes catwalks by storm over the summer.

Overall, 2012 is little more than another crushingly disappointing vignette illustrating the woeful state that the human race finds itself in. This time next year will see us looking back on even more misery and despair that has been heaped upon us by the ambivalent teet of the universe that we have suckled until dry and withered, and unable to provide us with anything but empty hopes and crushed dreams. On the plus side though, the new Batman film turns out to be awesome, so it all balances out really.


Emigration, Emigration, Emigration

Have you noticed that every article written on the topic of young people emigrating from these shores is quick to bemoan the fact that we are losing intelligent, valuable young minds with the potential for future greatness? Veritable entrepreneurs in waiting, every one of them, with just the kind of chutzpah and initiative we need to reach up with our grubby little hand, grab Europe by the ankle, and drag ourselves out of this quagmire of economic shite. Oh if only some of these politicians of ours had an ounce of what these young people ha…yadda yadda etc. etc.

Nobody mentions the fact that we’re also cutting loose an awful lot of very average people who have the potential to become very ordinary and contribute absolutely nothing of value. It is still a shame to be losing so many of our most promising citizens, however. The headache of rearranging the daytime TV schedule once all of our arts graduates have left is just one of the multitude of problems we’ll be faced with if this en masse evacuation keeps up.

If recent figures are to be believed, it appears we are haemorrhaging young, vibrant grey matter at an alarming rate. The last time young Irish people left the motherland in such quantities was when we were kind enough to build New York for the Yanks. They were so impressed with our work they even asked us to stay on and police the city and put out all their fires for them too. The time before that our youngsters left hanging off the side of a boat, looking to go anywhere you could find a daycent spud.

So the question is, now that this mass exodus of our brightest and best is underway once more and our sons and daughters are off to join NASA, become the next Steve Jobs or cure AIDS (read bartend in London, bartend in Vancouver or bartend in Sydney), what is to become of them?

The reality is that the internet, which has really taken off in the last few years after a slow start, has revolutionised the concept of emigration. In those bygone days you’d have Mammy fretting over whether that last jumper or packet of Oxo cubes reached you safely, waiting for weeks on end for a letter from across the water. These days, she can just go online five minutes after you’ve left the house and read your inane Facebook post about how awesome the Guinness tastes in Dublin airport.

After a month of Skyping and e-mailing has gone by and you’re uploading photos of yourself in the county colours in some shithole of a pub in Boston for your granny to see, your family will be sick of hearing from you. They’ll want you to come home so you can go back to ringing the house once a month and occasionally turning up with dirty laundry.

The point is that Irish people are good at planting our seed all over the world. Literally and figuratively. This is not only because we know the whole twinkly-eyed Irish-accented troubadour shtick goes down a treat with the rest of the world and gives us a license to act like depraved animals and call it craic. That’s fantastic and we take full advantage of it.

No, it is also because, unlike the Greeks and the Portugese and the, eh, people who live in Iceland, we’re not too worried about our short-term prosperity. Because we know that fifty, a hundred, two hundred years from now, this place will be stuffed to the gills with second and third generation Irish-Americans, Irish-Australians and Irish-wherever else we did a bit of ridin’, spending fifty euro for a “Kiss me I’m deadly” T-shirt in Carroll’s and six quid a pint in Temple Bar. We are such an economically savvy race that our tourism strategy is planned not by the year but by the generation.

In a world ruled by Google, Twitter, Facebook and their ilk, we have recognised that Irishness is a brand. Like any good marketing strategy, ours involves expansion, self-advertisement, and a nicely self-deprecating, friendly attitude for good measure. Let’s be honest; we all know that the Emerald Isle image, land of a hundred thousand welcomes and saints and scholars and all that, is complete nonsense. But they don’t know that. So let’s do as our forefathers before us have done, what comes naturally to us, and what we do best: whore ourselves out for money. No kissing though, that costs extra. Doesn’t everything these days…