We find ourselves yet again at the annual cusp, the last breaths of 2010 will soon be drawn and the dawn of 2011 will break. As is customary at such times, one is invited (perhaps compelled) to reflect on what the year has taught us or at the very least, what is has presented to us. I for one will be very happy to see the end of 2010. It has been a very tough, sometimes shocking and overall, a disappointing year. I regret to admit that I grew a little more cynical of people as a result of 2010 but such is life I guess. Anyway, more of a time for points and not prose, let’s get to the standout stories for me.
1) You are what you tweet – the Gillian McKeith debacle. Yes midway through the year, we were treated to a rather scrumptious story from the twittersphere. A spat had developed between nutritionist Gillian McKeith and Bad Science guy Ben Goldacre. In what can only be referred to as an alleged sequence of misdemeanours, tweets were sent that accused Ben Goldacre of telling lies. Then suddenly the twittersphere went nuts, the topic was trending and retweets were rife. Once the story hit the big time, the tweets from the Gillian McKeith entitled account disappeared (i.e. were deleted) and the world’s worst cover up was attempted including the statement that the account was not Gillian’s despite several official tweets and logos, and prior printed publications suggesting otherwise. Ladies and gentlemen – how not to use Twitter!
2) Dublin Metro despite all needs. Yes, I’ve been banging on about this for years now but it’s still as valid an argument as ever in my opinion. I was delighted earlier in the year, to see that Kevin Myers has joined my band wagon of sense by slamming the metro in one of his columns. I have great time for Kevin’s articles, his lucid and direct arguments, even if sometimes I don’t agree fully – it was a relief to know that I was not alone in my thoughts on what I consider to be one of the biggest travesties in the state. This year, Ireland is swinging from the door frame of wreck and ruin. The country has been swept with budget cuts, banks have been all but nationalised, the IMF even turned up for a friendly chat, we were dealt an austerity budget, and in the end we were forced to take a bailout loan that the country will probably never have the capacity to pay back in full. Yes, Ireland will be in the back pocket of the IMF and more worryingly, the EU, for a very long time to come. It’s never a good idea to be the littlest member of the family whose causing trouble for your bigger brothers and I believe it won’t be long before we see hard evidence of that. Anyway, I digress. Despite all of these economically horrific events the one thing that has not been cut is the Dublin Metro project. Roads around the country have been slashed, hospitals will probably be increasingly centralised (i.e. further limit access to), and other nationwide capital expenditure for local councils is being slashed too. However, Dublin still wants its metro and a two finger salute to all those who speak sense to the contrary. The whole thing has become so absurd at this stage that despite there being no money to construct the metro, the project still isn’t being taken off the table. Sheer stubbornness, ignorance and callous disregard for their fellow man. One really does have to wonder whose legacy this metro is. No project as ridiculous as this, in these austere times, would ever survive if it wasn’t to serve as a tombstone epithet for some politician.
3) Student protests and Garda violence. This was the moment that really worried me this year – the moment that democracy all but died. What was largely a peaceful, in some parts sit down, protest by the students of Ireland, turned to a brutal and characterless assault of anyone that dared not be moved. Students moving through the streets, bleeding, Gardaí caught on camera kicking and beating students with truncheons. There could be no cover up for these events, in this time. Yet again Twitter and other social networks started to buzz with photos and videos of the events as they unfolded. We still await the outcome of what will no doubt be a suffocated inquiry.
4) Attack on Prince Charle’s car. Student protests in England surrounding education fees and such, boiled over into troubles and riots. During said troubles, Prince Charles and Camilla were being driven to the London Palladium for a night of unashamed entertainment. So, what would one do? I know Jeeves, let’s drive our most opulent vehicle through the riots. That will calm the students and show them that all is fair and equal. Boom, bang, crash! What more can one say…
5) Wikileaks. Well the year wouldn’t be worth mentioning if we didn’t mention Wikileaks and the debacle surrounding it. For anyone living under a rock for the past year, Wikileaks is essentially true freedom of information sped up and nothing more. However, when civil servants and petty government officials who feel they can be less than diplomatic in their words and actions have information tied to them, released to the public without the option of redacting it, then there’s a problem. Wikileaks isn’t making up anything, it’s simply setting free information that has been gathered by elected and employed public officials, on behalf of their countries. In other words, public information that citizens elected their governments to manage and gather in the best interest of the country. However, as we can see from some of the leaks, not all that information is in best interests, indeed it would appear that a right bunch of immature, undiplomatic and untrustworthy individuals are running this globe. Founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange is strangely finding himself at the centre of a scandal and arrest with subsequent trial at the same time the US are screaming for his head – hmm, me ponders. Amazon cancelled the hosting used by Wikileaks, PayPal froze access to the accounts used for donations to Wikileaks and apparently also froze the accounts of people who donated money to Wikileaks because the US State Department told them it was illegal. Just what kind of people do we have running this world; Where repressed news reports and public information is a reason to assassinate somebody’s character and act in an undemocratic way?
6) Horse Outside. Well, well, “Horse Outside”. The duo known as the Rubber Bandits, known for their antics on RTE’s Republic of Telly, released what can only be described as the track of the year. A controversial, possibly offensive to most societal groups, riotous composition and video to accompany it. I think it’s best to approach the new year with a smile on our faces and a happy state of mind. So, with that philosophy I salute 2010’s passing with one more play of “Horse Outside”.