Looking back on 2011 what springs to mind in this eventful year? Well, it certainly has been an eventful year from all angles, both nationally, internationally, politically, socially and a host of other categories. Here are a few things that stood out for me in the past 12 months (in no specific order).
- Steve Jobs R.I.P. – a genius, a true innovator, an inspiration; a slice of madness that gave the world a pie full of greatness. Many will have their own take on “the Steve” but I’ll not hear a bad word against him. For as long as I can remember, the world of Apple and more importantly the world of Apple under Steve’s control, has been a source of wonderment and inspiration to me. Although a late adopter of Apple hardware (for financial reasons) I have now become an almost shameless whore for their products, with the exception thus far of the iPhone. I do now worry for the future of Apple without Steve. Albeit that Steve may have been one man, let history remind us of the harm and good that can be done by one man, I personally don’t think that Steve would have released iPhone 4s or at least if he did, I would have wanted it. We’ll miss you greatly Steve.
- Frank O’Sullivan – a dentist, a scholar, a gentleman and a friend. This one is entirely personal. In the latter half of this year, Waterford lost a great man, Dr O’Sullivan, dentist but known simply by most as Frank. Taken from us long before his time, Frank will be sadly missed by the many whose lives he made less painful and whom he made smile regularly, not just for dental inspection purposes.
- Hackgate – and so the Murdoch empire appeared before a special inquiry with respect to alleged hacking of phones by one of its newspapers. The absurd theatre took over the mainstream media and culminated in appropriate fashion by the youthful wife of Mr Murdoch defending her beau at millisecond reaction time, from a pie flinging malcontent in the audience of the inquiry. The actions of whom made for the most interesting press of the entire non-event in my personal opinion.
- Bye bye Fianna Fail[sic] – yes 2011 finally saw the fall of the tyrannical, pseudo-democratic empire that reigned over Ireland for so long. A regime that borrowed and borrowed so that a wall of money covered its ineptitude and so that people would turn a blind eye to such. They neglected to inform all concerned that the repayments would soon be due but not before they all had time to bugger off and take a hefty goodbye payment and cushy pension with them. My only regret is that the party hasn’t been dissolved or branded an illegal organisation.
- Queenie, Queenie whom has the balls – the first of two hugely significant state visits in the space of a month brought hope and welcome distraction to the people of Ireland. The visit of the Queen of England was yet another positive point in the rebuilding of relations between Ireland and England. Her visit to the garden of remembrance, a significance that no words would reflect appropriately enough. Following up this year with fond and respectful reference in her annual Christmas speech to the nation, hopefully the past will soon fade to the history books.
- Goodbye Osama, Hello Obama – just weeks after the U.S. finally nailed their long time prey, Osama Bin Laden, the Irish people were treated to another state visit. Of course that visit was of the American President: The one, the only, Offaly’s long lost grandson, Barack Obama. A flying visit to Ireland but one that brought hope to many and lifted the spirits of even more. Had it not been for these two visits (Obama and the Queen), the Irish news headlines would have been nothing but depressing this year. Now, however, one would be forgiven for thinking the year to be an unmitigated success in relative terms.
- John Patrick Byrne – who? Many will be forgiven for not knowing this name but I have no doubt that most will recall his actions. In July of this year, Mr Byrne selflessly jumped into the river Liffey in Dublin, to rescue his pet rabbit, which had been thrown in by despicable members of Dublin’s ever growing rabble. Mr. Byrne (homeless at the time of the incident) received worthy, high praise for his actions that secured the life of his pet rabbit Barney. I hope that both of them are doing well.
- EU Oligarchy Rumbled – yes, 2011 was the year that it all became hugely apparent, to all, that the EU is truly an oligarchical structure and not a true union of members. A few small fringe countries get into financial collapse due to monies recklessly loaned by the ECB (and even more recklessly abused by the recipient banks) and suddenly the entire EU is in collapse with fears for the future of the Euro. When the achilles heel is that easy to wound, one would really have to question the future for the EU. What was worse was the reaction by France and Germany (the real EU). 2012 will be a very shaky year for the EU and the Euro; the Mayans may very well have predicted the end of this little fantasy world, if not the greater globe in which we live.
- English riots – yet again, just a few years short of 100 years to the day that Archbishop Ferindand was shot and much unrest began, so too did a single event (the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by Metropolitan Police) trigger wide-scale riots across England. These riots burned parts of London to the ground, devastation not seen since a small bakery fire in 1666. Violence, looting, arson, a litany of offences to report but the most unusual item reported was that relating to the use of social media to orchestrate the riots. Everything from Facebook to Twitter to Blackberry messaging was called into question and given partial blame for the rapid spread and precise organisation of the events. While we may have reached a point in our technological evolution whereby mass groups can mobilise themselves with such ease, the question really stands as to why they cannot be controlled when they do and further more, why so many people are so ill at ease, to a point where they are ready to riot at the next Facebook update.
- Middle-East riots – anything you can do, we can do better. Not to be out-done by the riots in England during the Summer, most of the middle-East countries decided to organise their own riots on social media at the beginning of the year and overthrow governing regimes that were in place for decades. Oddly enough, most have been successful in their primary objective, even if they have caused significant, resultant issues. One thing is for sure, social media has (allegedly) changed the face of the middle-East and rioting for a long time to come.
- Can you spell Gadaffi? – Not taking from the real news that was the death of Libya’s dictator but what struck me while reading about the events in various “rags of record” was the huge variety of ways in which his name was spelled. Everything from Gadaffi to Gaddafi to Gadaffy (duck?) to Gadafy to, well feel free to make one up, everyone else seems to. Of course this brings an end to the rule of Libya’s dictator and of note is the fact that this happened by local rebels teaming up with US forces to fight against a common enemy. Now that rings a bell, local rebels and the US fighting together, when was that again? Oh yeah, 1980’s Afghanistan when the US fought beside the Taliban, against the “enemy of the month” Russians. Let’s hope that this one pans out better.
- The God Particle – otherwise referred to as the elusive Higgs boson. In December of this year, the science world was alive with anticipation from Cern that they may eventually have found the “God Particle”, the sub-atomic particle credited with possibly being one of the building blocks of the universe. So far the news is that they are unsure. Oh well nevermind, continue to plough money in. After all organised religion has been doing the same for millennia without a single glimpse of God but keeps the donations coming. Looks like science and religion have finally hit a meeting point.
I’m sure that there are many other noteworthy events of the past 12 months but for me, right now, that about wraps it up. Have a great New Year everyone!