Tag Archives: Twitter

When Gay Met God

Famous Twitter user, Apple enthusiast and idiot’s thinking man Stephen Fry was this week the subject of slightly more inane internet chatter than usual as his verbose response to a theological question described a graceful arc amidst a profusion of beheadings, Ebola and water protestors, to the top of whatever collective noun is used for viral videos.

The video of Fry saying some words had stiff competition in the online news world from another which featured the fiancée of a tennis player saying some words, but the internet quickly decided that the former was far better suited to sharing on social media in lieu of opinions, especially when paired with accompanying epithets such as “Legend!” or “What a hero!”.

Videos such as this have begun to permeate and even dominate the colloquium of internet news in recent times; indeed why waste time writing lengthy articles outlining opinions and facts when the words “Watch What Happened when Noun Verb Noun” carry such inherent journalistic weight?

Given the video’s proliferation and the somewhat unflattering nature of Fry’s words concerning the individual known as God, it seemed natural to expect a reaction from the maligned party. And so it came to pass that on this week’s episode of The Meaning of Life, Gay Byrne sat down with God himself to discuss the issue, and many others besides. The following are excerpts taken from that interview.

~

Gay: Hello, and welcome to a very special episode of The Meaning of Life. My guest tonight has, quite literally, seen and done it all. It is of course, our Lord and Creator, God. Welcome, God. Can I call you God?

God: Of course Gay, and thanks for having me. Sorry I’m a bit late, I had to appear in a cracker in Guatemala.

– Understandable, no problem at all.

– And before we begin I have to say I’m a big fan. I never missed an episode of The Late Late when you were presenting. Of course I’m omniscient so I never miss anything.

– Of course.

– The new fella though, I don’t really care for him. I know I’m supposed to love you all equally but it’s hard sometimes, you know?

– I can imagine. So let’s get right into it then God. What do you think of Stephen Fry? Do you like him?

– Well I followed him on Twitter there a while ago, but he never followed me back. I tried to add him on Facebook too but he blocked me. It’s like he refuses to acknowledge my existence. It’s a bit mean really, I was a bit upset about it.

– From what I hear this story goes back further than his comments last week on this show.

– Yeah, there was an incident at the BAFTAs a few years back. He was presenting them for the first time and he was a bit nervous. I was there obviously, because I’m everywhere, as you know.

– Naturally.

– So anyway, I had been drinking Schnapps all night with Jason Isaacs and Helen Mirren, and we got a bit raucous. We started shouting stuff at Stephen, innocent enough stuff to begin with, but then Helen took it up a level, and I didn’t stop it.

– So you were heckling him?

– I’m not proud of it. Those were some difficult years for me, kind of a mid-life crisis I suppose. I filled his dressing room with locusts after the show too, just for a laugh. Made the walls drip blood, that kind of thing. It was around that time he started to ignore me. I suppose I can’t blame him.

– He called you a capricious bully last week. How did that make you feel?

– Look Gay, don’t go all Oprah on me now. This isn’t Sinead O’Connor you’re talking to. Deities aren’t comfortable talking about their feelings, that’s more of a mortal thing.

– Okay, let’s talk about the book. It’s coming out next month, is that right?

– That’s right yeah, that’s what I’m here to talk about really.

– Why did you feel that now was the time for an autobiography? Do you feel your life’s work is mostly behind you now?

– Not at all Gay, it’s more that I’m sick of being misrepresented by that other book. I mean, that’s not the real me, you know.

– So this one’s called Stairway from Heaven. It’s a nice title, why did you choose it?

– I suppose I wanted to let people know that I’m not always just sitting up in my ivory tower, that I’m down here on Earth with my people too.

– Do you actually have an ivory tower up there?

– It’s a metaphor Gay. I told you before the show Heaven was off limits. Why would you bring it up?

– You’re right, I’m sorry. So what kind of time period does the book cover? Do you go right back to the start, back to your childhood?

– I don’t really get into it in too much detail, my childhood was fairly ordinary.

– Ordinary?

– Yes.

– Eh, okay…so the book is twelve thousand pages long. Did you think of trimming it down a bit?

– My editor at Penguin kept telling me it was too long, until I smote him. Look there’s a lot to tell, it’s 14 billion years we’re talking about here. My first draft was a page per year, so it’s been cut down a lot as it is.

– I’m sorry, just to go back, when you say ‘smote’?…

– It was a joke, Gay. I do have a sense of humour you know.

– Ha, of course. Good one, God.

– Okay, don’t go all Jonathan Ross on it Gay. Let’s move on.

– Let’s talk about the new Pope. What do you think of him?

– Hmmm. He’s alright I suppose, a bit soft maybe but that’s the modern world for you. Stephen VI, now he could pope with the best of them. Mad as a brush of course, but some man for the craic all the same.

– So Pope Francis isn’t much fun then? Do you talk often?

– I try to keep it professional, send him the odd memo about this or that. He’s a bit too friendly though, he keeps sending me links to YouTube videos and inviting me to play Candy Crush Saga.

– You don’t like the game?

– It’s not that I don’t like it Gay, it wouldn’t be fair for me to play it. I’d win every time. Because I’m omnipotent, you see.

– I see, of course. So before we finish God, can you give us any hints as to what the future holds in store for mankind?

– Well, something big’s going to go down in the year 3196, but I can’t say much beyond that without giving it away.

– Okay, you can’t give us anything a bit more short-term?

– That’s the blink of an eye in cosmic terms Gay.

– Of course, of course. Well, I’ll let you go God, I know you’re busy.

– Thanks Gay, I’ve to get back up there or the young lad’ll have the place wrecked. Take it easy, see you soon. Not too soon says you, ha?

– Ha, thanks again God.

(God disappears with a loud bang, leaving just a puff of white smoke)

– Well, that’s all for this week. Join us next time when we’ll be talking to the prophet Muhammad about privacy in the modern age. Until then, good night and God bless.

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Betamorphosis

Adam woke from a deep sleep to the noise of his alarm echoing through his apartment. It was the serene sound of expensive bottled mineral water being poured over a smooth rock in rural Japan; just one of eight billion alarm and alert sound options available. He lazily fished his iThimble from his pyjama pocket and swiped the air above his head from left to right, stopping the alarm just at the good part where the water goes ‘shhhhlllllooop’ in an incredibly peaceful and contemplative way.

He sat up in bed and with another flick of his finger opened the blinds. The sun was creeping over the city’s skyline, glinting alluringly on the chrome surface of an enormous fruit-shaped colossus in the heart of the sprawling metropolis. Adam grinned to himself as he clicked his fingers to initiate his iWall.

The giant figures appeared instantaneously beside the window; gleaming white lettering in a familiar font that was at once playful yet professional, like a dog wearing a necktie. The display told Adam it was just after 7:30, on September 1st 2024. The wall also told him that the temperature outside was a crisp nine degrees Celsius, that the Japanese markets had taken a six-point hit overnight, and that today was Jessica Biel’s cat’s birthday (Swipe left to send e-card).

Adam wiped the sleep from his eyes and smiled languidly at the tiny black orifice at the centre of the wall. He held his finger aloft and pushed it down in a clicking motion, eliciting a brief flash from the other side of the room.

“Post to all media,” Adam spoke aloud to the room, “with caption: Big day today. Exclamation mark.”

Climbing out of bed, he continued,

“Bring up Facebook feed.”

The wall shimmered into bluish life as the text appeared in front of him. He saw instantly at the top of the wall the picture he had taken seconds earlier, underneath which was written,

“Big gay today!”

“Christ,” he muttered, “you need to sort out that bug.”

The screen shimmered once more into a garish flashing advertisement for insect repellent. Adam shook his head and headed for the shower.

After catching up on Tweets over breakfast (seven of his followers were eating muesli too), Adam headed for his garage. He tapped the thimble lightly with his thumb and the door of his iCar slid open noiselessly.

“Apple Headquarters,” Adam intoned to the car’s interior as he sat back into the ergonomic seat. The machine purred to life and rolled out of the garage into a streaming line of identical white monoliths, sleekly gliding their way along the road. Suddenly a black blur zoomed by in the outside lane, causing Adam’s car to shake violently in its wake. Adam swore under his breath.

“Typical Android driver.”

At around 9 a.m., after a brief detour via the headquarters of an MMA gym chain called Grapple, Adam arrived at his destination and rolled into a parking bay. As he got out and swiped the alarm on, he craned his neck to look up at the giant apple-shaped complex that dwarfed the surrounding buildings. He took a deep breath and headed for the front door, swiping his hand left as he walked straight into the polished glass. Staggering backwards he sighed to himself as he swiped right and gingerly walked into the cavernous interior.

The building was a bustling hive of activity. Workers in identical black turtlenecks swarmed and scurried to and fro. Some carried tablets and phones; some were wearing the new iGlove; some even had an ocular device fitted, the iEye Patch, that hadn’t been officially released yet. Adam approached the vast chrome tablet that served as the reception desk and placed his thimble on top. His photo appeared on the screen, along with his personal details and Apple purchase history. A mellifluous voice issued from the display.

“Good morning Adam. Please proceed to the iLab. Follow the ambient blue lights.”

Adam looked down at the floor to see a gleaming network of differently coloured tracks, and with a brief gulp of trepidation set out on the blue path.

When he stepped out of the elevator onto the iLab floor he realised he was at the very top of the enormous structure, inside the precipitous leaf of the apple which looked out over the entire cityscape. This vertiginous position did nothing to calm his nerves, and he walked straight ahead, trying not to gaze out through the clear glass walls that enclosed him. He recognised the iDoc sitting at the desk as the man who had handled his application procedures.

“Good morning, Adam,” the man beamed at him as he approached. He smiled knowingly at him, “Don’t worry about the nerves, it’s normal. You’re in good hands.”

Adam nodded silently.

“Well, if you’re ready we can begin straight away,” the doc continued, gesturing towards a chrome door with iTheatre printed on it. Adam took one last look down at himself, as if storing a mental image, then nodded once more and followed the man through the door.

~

When Adam emerged from sleep for the second time that day it was not an alarm that woke him, but an uncomfortable feeling of dull pain that throbbed throughout his entire body. He groggily surveyed the white walls and shining surfaces that surrounded him as he came to his senses. Just then the doc entered the room, his smile even broader than before. Instantly text began to appear beside him: details of his professional history at the company, links to his social media profiles, lists of recently consumed iMeals and the last iBooks he had read. Adam blinked and shook his head but the text remained.

“It’ll take a while to get used to, I know,” said the doc reassuringly.

“Can I see a mirror?”

“You can do one better than that. Just activate your camera and take a selfie.”

Adam had no sooner heard the word and begun to think of a command when a tiny camera buzzed into sight from his right shoulder and whirred into life. Instantly a picture appeared in Adam’s view, shimmering in front of the doc as if it were imprinted in Adam’s very eyes.

Adam sat perfectly still, mouth open, as he inspected the high-quality image of himself he had just taken. Beside him the doc droned on, “…world’s first iHuman…revolutionary optical interface…the luckiest man alive…” but Adam wasn’t listening. He was transfixed by the image that still occluded his view, and struggled to recognise the person depicted in its flickering pixels. His torso was now a gleaming black surface, illuminated with a soft white light. His hands had been replaced by advanced iGloves, covered in sensory nodes and fixed with their own small screens. His face was a gleaming mass of chrome, a slim black screen covering his eyes. As Adam’s head fell to the pillow as he fainted into unconsciousness, he thought he could hear a voice in his head warning him about low battery.

~

The next few weeks went by in a dreamlike blur. Adam spent a few days with Apple technicians learning the nuances of his iOS and troubleshooting some technical difficulties. There were problems with the Angry Birds holograms that had to be ironed out, his battery had to be replaced after a leak, and there was a hardware issue that caused the pre-loaded U2 album to play continuously in his head for six hours.

After this came a whirlwind tour of the media circuit, during which Adam was dragged from talk show to podcast, performing tasks on demand to the amazement of onlookers. All of his public appearances began with the same act: he would be encased in a sleek white box, and would break out of it and stand for photographs, after which he would be induced to play YouTube videos and take selfies with fans for hours at a time. The battery fitted to his back was so heavy that staying on his feet for any extended period of time amounted to torture.

By the time three weeks had gone by most people had lost interest. A Sony team in Japan had used lasers to turn the moon into a giant Twitter feed, and the tech journalists soon lost interest in Adam. People would point and laugh at him in the street as he trudged along, updating their feeds with pictures of him dragging behind him his worn cables that already needed to be replaced.

Facebook campaigns began to see who could be the first person to crack his screen. His Twitter page was swamped with abusive messages. He couldn’t walk anywhere without blaring personalised advertisements at passers-by, a term stipulated by his contract. One afternoon he was badly beaten by a group of dock-workers to whom he had advertised an erectile dysfunction remedy based on their internet search history.

It was a month to the day after the procedure that Adam sat in his darkened apartment, wondering what he had been thinking to have embarked on such a foolish endeavour. He ran his digital hands over the top of his head, feeling the cold metal of the speaker jack that was embedded there. He looked down at the giant cable that was presently charging his battery, entering his body through what the iDoc had described as “the only orifice that it was practical to use for the charging port”. As Adam sat and watched the battery life seep into him, he felt utterly hopeless. There was only one thing to do.

~

The next morning Adam returned to the Apple Headquarters and met with the iDoc. The doc frowned as he listened to Adam’s request.

“You know Adam, I only ever mentioned this as a last resort. It’s entirely theoretical, we have no idea if it will work.”

Adam was resolute, “I don’t care, I can’t take it anymore. Just do it.”

The doc nodded with resignation and looked forlornly at Adam. He balled up his face and hid it with his hands as tears glistened in his eyes.

“I always wanted to be a father,” he whispered breathlessly as he got up and walked disconsolately from the room.

~

This time there was no pain when Adam became aware of his consciousness. He felt a euphoric sensation as he quickly assimilated his surroundings and adapted to them. He felt as if he were floating in an ether, a dense fog of data that enveloped and embraced him. He needed only to think of a web address, and he was there. He drifted through the bytes and pixels, gliding from one page to another, feeling as one with all of the information that it was possible to consume. He could not look down at himself, for he had left his earthly body. He was now pure data, moving with the ebb and flow of the internet itself as part of the cloud he inhabited. It was an indescribable feeling of liberation, and one that he immediately felt like sharing. His consciousness coasted through a shining blue tunnel and arrived at Facebook, and he began to type.

~

The doc sat at his desk in front of his glowing laptop, smiling sadly as he closed his Facebook page. He opened another window that brought up a map of a huge Apple facility in San Diego; a giant warehouse used for cloud storage. As the building came into view the doc raised his hand to the screen and trailed his fingers down the image.

He paused for a moment, then closed his laptop and walked out into the starry California night. He walked for what seemed like hours, until he came to a bridge over the bay. He looked up at the sky and took a deep breath. He tore his Apple name badge from his immaculate white lab coat and threw it into the water, then turned and walked purposefully away, a wry smile fixed on his face as the moon shone down on the rippling waters of the bay.


Kanye West: The Being Kanye West Years

Sue Townsend, the author of the hugely popular Adrian Mole series of books, passed away this week. From the early 1980s onwards, her creation provided the faltering, socially awkward voice of a generation, reflecting the experiences of millions in dealing with life, love, Margaret Thatcher and everything in between.

One wonders how a contemporary teenager’s diary might differ from Adrian’s, some thirty years on. Keeping a diary was once a private act of reflection; a healthy, cathartic practice for the individual, but kept secret from prying eyes. This personal reticence has been inverted with the advent of social media, with Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses consumed with indulgent over-sharing and detailed pictorial logs of people going about their everyday business.

In searching for a modern voice to act as a paragon for these shamelessly garrulous masses, one needn’t look further than the inimitable Kanye West, whose wisdom shines like a beacon through the mist of Tweeted trivialities and cuts  right to the core of the human condition.

Philosopher. Warrior. Polemicist. Educator. Preacher. Kanye is none of these things. Nonetheless, his digital diary acts as a veritable canon of life lessons for his legions of followers. Perception and sagacity drip from his brilliant mind like melted cheese and runny ketchup from a giant hamburger of profound understanding. Here is just a taste of his boundless insight…

 ~

– I just deleted the word ‘failure’ from my Dictionary app. Cos I don’t even know what that word means. Also, did you know that ‘fain’ is an Old English word that means pleased or willing under the circumstances? Because I did.

– How come paparazzi always come into the garden when I leave the gate open? Can’t a man and his wife do some gardening in their matching mink coats in peace? I feel like John Lennon, yo. After he got shot.

– Kim asked me today, How come you never sing about me, and I was like, cos your crazy name don’t rhyme with shit.

– Someone tried to hand me a pamphlet on the street today about African babies, and I was like I don’t believe in paper, it’s just dead trees. Would you put dead trees on your shelf? I don’t wanna be looking at no dead trees with babies on. They had nothing to say to me cos they knew I was right.

– Pretty sure I just invented a new colour playing around with North’s pencils. I’mma call some people and I’ll keep you posted.

– They name stars after people but they never name people after stars. But the stars were there first, so I’mma call my next child Alpha Centauri. Then when I want to reach for the stars I can just reach out and touch him. I’mma get him some tiny Timberlands too, just cos.

– Gandhi said that there is more to life than simply increasing its speed. But he ain’t never heard ‘Gold Digger’.

– I brought North to the MTV awards, and he wore a tuxedo and I wore some Spiderman pyjamas. That’s why I’m Kanye West and you’re not. ‘Cept for that one guy in Kansas but my lawyers are making him change his name to Dave or some shit.

– When I arrive at a crossroads in life I don’t choose which road to take, I turn around and go home. Cos I live in a big-ass apartment and I got a 3D TV, yo.

– I don’t allow animals in my apartment because then they think that they’re people, and they get all haughty, and they look at you like, Yeah I could make a record too. But I’m like, no you couldn’t, you’re a dog, you don’t got no thumbs. A chimp could maybe make a record, but it wouldn’t go platinum like Yeezus did.

– People ask me what my lucky number is and I say they haven’t invented it yet. Then I just drive away in my Benz while they thinking on it.

– Listening to old records trying to find samples for the new album. Can’t find anything better than my last album so I think I’ll just sample myself. I’ll call the album Kanye Squared, and instead of a circle, the disc will be a square. I like to play with conventions.

– Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” But 2Pac said, “Thug Life is dead”, so I don’t know what to think.

– I was lying on my bearskin rug looking through abstract nouns for the name of my next fragrance. Kim was all like, you should call it ‘Talent’. I told her you can’t bottle that. If you could then I’d be twice as rich as I am today. Then we made love on the rug.

– People say nothing rhymes with orange or purple, but Shakespeare invented, like, a hundred thousand words, including ‘England’, ‘William’ and ‘ho’. So I’mma invent the word ‘morange’, and it’s gonna mean that feeling you get when you wake up from a dream, and you’re in bed next to Kim Kardashian, and you realise that you’re Kanye West. That’s why I don’t need to dream. I just morange, yo.

– If I could be a god I would be the one from Asia with eight arms, cos then I could write three times as many albums, and just make pasta all day with the other two.

– Sometimes old people be like, you young folks got it easy, we had world wars and disease and unemployment and all that, and I’m like yeah, but we got to put up with Miley Cyrus so it’s about even.

– I would like to win an Oscar one day, but I feel like I should already have one just for living my life. My life is every genre, even those crazy Japanese ones, and I’m the best actor in my life. But the Academy wouldn’t do that. Cos it’s full of white dudes.

– People ask me why I never smile, then I say maybe if you tell a joke I’ll smile. Then they say, You wanna hear a joke? Then I say no, I don’t like jokes.

– Kim thought we should bring some wine to Brad and Angelina’s dinner party, but I was like, that’s a cliché. So I took a picture of some wine and I gave Brad the picture. He didn’t say anything but I could tell he was thinking, There’s a genius in my house. And his name is Kanye West. Then later we ran out of wine and Angelina had to drive down to the store.

– I was playing Wordfeud with Johnny Depp and he was like, Influenticize ain’t a word. And I was like, well I’ll call up Webster and make him put that shit in. I know Webster and he thought Yeezus was dope. He owe me one.

– If at first you don’t succeed, then you should probably just give up. ‘Less your name is Kanye West.

– I ain’t scared of dying cos I believe in reincarnation. But I wanna come back as the stupidest animal there is, like a cow, cos if I come back smart I’ll be sad that I ain’t Kanye no more. If I’m a cow I’mma be like, alright, where the grass at? That’s my philosophy.


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.


The Baby Subsequently Known as Prince (or Princess)

The royal baby is due to enter the world any day now, his or her arrival sure to herald a new age in mildly distracting chitchat among royalists, morning television presenters and baby enthusiasts everywhere. The world will be invited to gawk in collective wonder at his or her cute ickle shoes, cute ickle face, and cute ickle life of hollow luxury, haunted evermore by the terrible, oppressive burden of responsibilty it must bear until the end of its days. Oh, and the cute ickle hollow part of its head. That thing is weird, man.

The Prince or Princess of Cambridge is in for an eye-opening few weeks, as it becomes accustomed to its new but transient position as the most adorable news item of the day. This will pass, of course, and as the baby grows into its esteemed position, its lofty duties and obligations, and its enormous, beak-like nose (thanks a lot Grandad), it will be replaced by some new internet-based phenomenon, like a scruffy three-legged dog that rescues a family of endearing ducklings from the BNP. Or something.

For a while, however, this young child will be the focus of boundless attention on social media worldwide, and will be trending so much that even sensible people will become enamoured with its presence, so much so that they forget that trend is not a verb.

People the world over will sit agog at their screens, frothing at the mouth in a regally induced stupor as they vacantly tickle and cuddle the virtual image of this messianic child, singing and gurgling to its pixellated form until their own children have long since starved from neglect, and their carcasses are mere husks, laid as sacrifices on the altar of #RoyalBaby.

It is impossible to predict how the child will react to the adulation that will be showered over it like confetti over a hungry passing seagull, whose stomach will later explode after ingesting the celebratory detritus. I imagine if his or her impending majesty were to keep a diary of these hectic few weeks, it would look a little something like this…

Day 1:

Today I came out all covered in goo and I met Mumsie and Daddy. They are nice. Mumsie said that I only cost seven pounds ten, but that sounds like a lot of money. I think my name is Hair because the doctor said that I was the new Hair. I think I must be called Hair because I already have more than Daddy.

After I was cleaned off, I met the whole family. They are very nice, but most of them are very old. Uncle Harry is my favourite because he is very funny, and his hair is pointy. Mumsie pointed to the television in the room and told me that the man called Kay was talking about me on the News about the sky, but I didn’t understand what she meant.

Another man was there with a camera. I think his name was Magazine because I heard people say Hello Magazine to him. The man looked different to Mumsie and Daddy, his face was brown. Even browner than Auntie Pippa’s face. Great Grandad asked him where he had learnt to use a camera, and Great Grandma told him to shut up. I think ‘shut up’ means the same as ‘go to sleep’, because that’s what he did straight away. After a while I met Grandma Camilla too. She is very nice. Great Grandma says she is not part of my family but I think she was only joking, and Daddy told her to stop being awful.

Day 2:

Today I got my very own iPad. On the back it has a picture of a crown and the letters H.R.H. Uncle Harry says that stands for Harry’s Really Handsome, but I think he’s fibbing. I heard Great Grandad say that Uncle Harry was a waste of space, but I don’t really know what that means. I should Google it.

Mumsie helped me to download some apps. One is a game where you throw birds at pigs and everybody dies. It’s not great. I also got an app called the Guardian, which is full of stories, but they’re not very good. Some of the women who write the stories look like Grandma Camilla, and they seem to be very angry with somebody called Cameron. I think he might be on X-Factor. Mumsie said that his wife is a cow, but I think this was a joke because people can’t be married to animals.

Day 3:

Today Mumsie helped me to set up my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I have thousands of followers on Twitter already, and I got some very nice messages. I even got one from Adele, who is a famous singer. I downloaded his album this morning and he has a really nice voice. Even nicer than Grandad’s singing on the night after I was born when he drank lots of fizzy water and Great Grandma told him to be quiet and that he was an oaf. I don’t know what an oaf is but I think it means you have a nice voice, so I Tweeted Adele saying he was a nice oaf.

Later I got Tweets from men who Mumsie says are bad. A man called Piers said that the monarchy was a relic of a bygone age. I didn’t understand these words but I think it was about Great Grandad because before he went back to sleep he said that Piers talked out of his bum. I asked Uncle Harry and he said that this was true.

I also got a Tweet from someone called Frank Boyle, who said it was a shame that someone called Jim Fix It had died before I was born, because he would have liked me. I think it is a shame too because I Googled Jim Fix It and he wore funny suits and glasses, and he looks like a nice man.

Day 4:

Mumsie showed me the pictures that Magazine took of me. He put them in his shiny book and Mumsie said that people buy the shiny book so they can see me. There are seventy-eight pages of pictures and I look very shrivelled and purple in all of them. Mumsie said that Magazine got his lighting wrong. Maybe that is why his face was all dark.

Day 6:

Mumsie helped me to upload a picture on Instagram of me chewing on my toy crown. I like my toy crown because some of it crinkles and some of it has bells and some of it is shiny and some of it is fuzzy and some of it is squelchy. Mumsie said that lots of people shared my crown on their Facebooks, but it was still there when I went to bed, so I don’t mind.

Day 8:

On my Facebook today someone called LADBible posted a picture of Mumsie feeding me my milk, and they said that I was a breastfeeding LAD. I do not know what this means but Mumsie says she doesn’t like the picture, so I think maybe the lighting was wrong in it.

Day 11:

Today I was on Facebook and I found a page called ‘Like if you’re bored of Royal Baby’. It had lots of likes, and people had made me into a meme, and I cried when I saw it.

Mumsie told me to ignore it, and that the man on the News about the sky was still talking about me, but when I turned it on they were talking about somebody called Pervert Schoolteacher, who I’ve never heard of.

Day 13:

Today I looked at the Daily Mail website. I think it is a website about holidays because they have lots of pictures of people at the beach. They had a picture of Auntie Pippa changing my nappy, but they cut me out of the picture. All you can see are my socks which say H.R.H. and the rest of the picture is Pippa. I’ve decided I don’t really like Auntie Pippa, and she has nothing to do with holidays anyway.

Uncle Harry says that Auntie Pippa is ‘a goer’ but whenever I see her she is just sitting down and not going anywhere.

Day 16:

Nobody Tweeted me at all today, except for Kanye West, who sent me a picture of a Duplo Buckingham Palace that North made, and he said it was better than the real one where I lived, and that North was better at Duplo than me. Daddy says that Kanye is derivative, and Mumsie said that North’s Mumsie is a tramp. Tramps have no palaces to sleep in and live on benches in Hyde Park so I feel sorry for her. Great Grandad said something about Kanye too but Mumsie told me it was a bad word.

Day 19:

Nobody is talking about me on the internet at all today. Mumsie and Auntie Pippa have been talking about shoes for six hours and I am very bored. I wish Uncle Harry was here, but he had to fly his helicopter to a war to ask the people to stop fighting. I watched him for a while because I knew the News about the sky would show him in his helicopter. After they showed Uncle Harry they had a story about a man whose lighting was wrong who got shot with a gun. And they said that Pervert Schoolteacher is still at large, but in his picture he looks quite small.

Day 21:

Today I threw my iPad on the floor and it broke. I don’t like the internet anymore. Now I just like to play with my toy crown and listen to Uncle Harry’s funny stories about a girl he knows whose name is This Stripper. Or listen to Great Grandad read me his diary from a hundred years ago when he was in a war against some Germs.

Most of all I like to be with Mumsie and Daddy when they cuddle me and pretend that I am a cloud, and they say that I will rain some day.

Before I threw my iPad away I sent one last Tweet to the man called Piers after Uncle Harry had taught me a bold word and helped me to make a funny picture with Piers’ head and some tall men whose lighting is wrong with no clothes on. It made me giggle so much that I got sick on Harry, and he called me a stupid baby, which I think is like an oaf. I love my Uncle Harry, and I love all my family. I don’t need the internet to have fun. Now where’s my crown? My gums are sore…


Patriot Claims

Starbucks Ireland found itself in hot, mediocre coffee-flavoured water this week when it mistakenly asked its Irish Twitter followers to ‘show us what makes you proud to be British’. The backlash from the proud people of Ireland was, of course, as prompt and severe as it was inane and littered with spelling mistakes. I am still undecided as to who deserves my respect less: the computer monkeys at Starbucks whose historical gaffe must almost have had O’Connell and Parnell climbing down from their plinths to go up round the corner and crack some heads; or the pathetic group of 2,000 or so self-styled baristocrats who took time out of admiring their MacBooks to follow the pointless tweets of an enormous faceless organisation that serves hot drinks.

This indignation is no surprise of course; we Irish tend to be quite sensitive about these matters, our nationalism usually displaying itself most vehemently when the subject of old Blighty is brought up. In recent times, in particular, a veritable maelstrom of patriotic fervour seems to have gripped our stricken country.

On the one hand we have the defensive, jingoistic wailing of our socialist contingent, lamenting the loss of our sovereignty, our free water, and our jobs for white people to the maniacal fat cats in Brussels. In marked contrast to this we have also seen a much more positive exhibition of our national pride in the euphoria surrounding the impending European Championship. Tacky plastic referendum posters and tacky plastic tricolour bunting have been jostling for our attention, each intent on whipping up a frenzy of patriotism for very different reasons, the only common element being that they both look shite.

Patriotism can be something of a nebulous concept, ranging from the nostalgic fondness of an emigrant for the auld sod, to a convenient label to excuse the ignorance and xenophobia of the ultra-nationalist. Oscar Wilde labelled patriotism ‘the virtue of the vicious’; Mark Twain regarded it as an illustration of moral cowardice. Although it seems that those two spent most of their time sitting around thinking up pithy witticisms and probably should have left the house a bit more often.

While there are certainly elements of truth to their aphorisms, perhaps the most salient description was offered by George Bernard Shaw, who called it the ‘conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it’. This summation captures both the simplicity and the illogical nature of the idea of patriotism.

In this country it is almost impossible to separate our supposed patriotism from a very childish, but deep-rooted anti-English sentiment. An immensely complicated relationship with our neighbours, which has been characterised for centuries by violence and bloodshed, has essentially been reduced to the ritual of celebrating whenever an English sports team loses. The less progressive among us, of course, still cling to a mountain of sectarian prejudice, as evidenced by the bile and invective spewed by many around the time of the Queen’s visit to our shores last year. Hatred and stupidity dressed up in a Celtic jersey does not equal patriotism, but it is unfortunately all too common a sight.

One major problem is that in the current strained economic and political climate, as has always happened throughout history, more reasonable and educated people are turning to the extremist fringes of the political spectrum. Anyone who has a functional cerebral cortex and has ever read a book, other than a pamphlet entitled ‘Methadone: The Easy Way Out’, should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for even considering voting for a party like Sinn Féin. It is when their exploitative, abhorrent republican propaganda begins to seep through to the minds of previously sensible people that you really start to think that evolution might actually be a bell curve, and that we are currently entering freefall from the apex of human civilisation marked by the discovery of nuclear fission, the moon landing, and the revelation that was Angry Birds.

Where flagrant, flag-waving patriotism is concerned, however, the Irish aren’t a patch on our star-spangled friends from across the pond. When it comes to national pride, and as it happens, most other things, the US is rather like that really loud, spoilt brat from your primary school class. He’s a classless, brazen little shit who has to be the best at everything and screams the house down if he doesn’t get what he wants. But you go to his birthday party anyway because you know there’ll be rice krispie cakes, and because his mam has huge cans.

The US is a case study in using the blind patriotism of its lower echelons to its advantage, particularly when it comes to supplying the fodder necessary to flex its military might. Naive, impressionable kids grow up taking the Pledge of Allegiance and being programmed in the ways of idolatry and worship of an intangible idea of America. The chimera of American freedom, under threat from the looming shadow of terrorism, is the product of one of the most successful propaganda machines in recent history, resulting in legions of young men and women who give their lives, and take plenty too, for something they can never hope to realise. This is the most profitable form of patriotism, and its proliferation is a sad indictment of the world we live in.

The sense of wanting to belong to a tribe is very much a human trait, and this explains our affinity with people of a similar culture. However, the fact that this is usually expressed most vehemently at a national level is peculiar. Even small countries like ours encompass countless disparate peoples, religions, personalities, beliefs, and anything else which may define us. To be grouped together due to geographical circumstance, and to have a collective identity and pride, is very much a phenomenon of the modern world.

As easy as it is to be sceptical of the uninhibited, zealous patriotism of others, there is something attractive in its ability to bring people together. Which is why, even as a devoted cynic, a disillusioned, lapsed patriot, and someone who can’t stand that overblown, tedious spectacle of overpaid ball-chasing urchins that somehow passes for a sport, I’ll still be cheering for the boys in green this summer. I might even have a chuckle to myself when the English team inevitably implodes and crashes out of the tournament. I guess old habits die hard.


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.