'Nazi' baker row really takes the biscuit...
Another day, another scandal.
Another day, another scandal.
Sometimes it's hard to be a woman - apparently.
I was watching Sky News the other afternoon - how I came to have an afternoon free to watch the telly is another matter entirely - and a woman from an organisation called Anxiety UK was being...
For most people, growing up means learning new things and remembering old lessons.
Every now and then, it's a good idea to take a take step back from the Sturm und Drang of popular culture and see if you can tie any disparate threads into a coherent knot.
You'd swear we have no domestic controversies of our own, such is our insatiable desire to import them from other countries.
It has been the one conversational constant for the last few months, a never-ending deluge of opinions, conspiracy theories, general befuddlement and occasional outright fury.
Now here's something to gladden the heart of every proud Irish man and woman - we're the most liberal country in the world!
It always amazes me how some secular people bring a religious fervour to their politics.
It started in the roof. Rustling, scratching and the dreaded fear that, after being told for years I had bats in the belfry, I now had mice in the attic.
I used to think that we're witnessing the end of liberalism, and that was something to be deplored. After all, the basic tenets of old-school liberalism were tolerance, an acceptance of opposing points of view, a fundamental belief in freedom and an opposition to censorship.
Unless you've been living with your head in a bucket, in a cave, on Mars, you will know that we're rapidly approaching the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's untimely death.
Amidst the hysterical hand-wringing and ever-present stench of envy, one person will be happy at how the BBC pay controversy has dominated the headlines for the last few days.
By now, you will have read the horrifying details of a crime committed by a thug called Robert Maguire.
I'm sure, by now, that you've seen the video of Donald Trump scrapping with a guy with the CNN logo digitally superimposed on his head.
Well, have you had your 5-a-day yet?
Well, it's that time of the year again - the strawberries and cream have been prepared, the Pimm's is on ice, Wimbledon has just started and, of course, we also have the traditional sexism row.
For all the talk of the so-called era of 'new politics' we're supposed to have entered, it seems more a case of here comes the new politics, same as the old politics. The squabbling remains, the point scoring continues unabated, and we even have the sight of Paschal Donohoe lamenting the rise of populism - a tactic so belonging to 'old' politics it might as well be carbon dated.
The death last Sunday of Galway woman Teresa McDonagh (pictured) following an attack by two mastiffs was horrific but, sadly, not surprising.
When the news emerged that one of the London Bridge terrorists had lived in and married in Dublin and may also have had extensive contacts with other extremists in this country, were you shocked? Flummoxed? Stunned?
Well, I didn't see that one coming, did you? But maybe I should have. After all, everything is up in the air at the moment.
A few years ago, I went to see a psychic in action. I didn't go voluntarily, trust me.
'The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial."
If words are the best weapons in a battle of ideas, then we're in more trouble than I thought.
Ever see one of those cases where you wished both parties could lose?
When you think of Nóirín O'Sullivan, what springs to mind?
Well, that was a week of it, that's for sure.
In last week's column, I mentioned the erosion of the nation state in the face of ever increasing EU meddling.
The EU is dead. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It's bereft of life. It rests in peace. It is an ex-EU.
So, it looks like next spring, then.
In all the recent talk of the books that most accurately reflect our febrile cultural landscape, several classics have been mentioned.
Back in the day, when I was in the process of selling my apartment and trying to buy a house, the general wisdom was that I should keep the apartment and let it out.
How the mighty have fallen. And how quickly they fell. When news broke on Wednesday that Bill O'Reilly had been sacked from his role as the main star on Fox News, the general reaction was one of jubilation.
One of the perks of this job is that you get to meet a wide variety of people.
Well, they're at it again.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Or, in Donald Trump's case, just damned.
Well, it's that time of the year again.
One of the more amusing furores of recent weeks erupted when British journalist Melanie Phillips was less than complimentary about this country.
Oh Ricky, you've done it again.
As Dee Forbes approaches the end of her first year in the job, any performance review she conducts on herself will surely be framed along the lines of 'be careful what you wish for'.
So three innocents dead. A terrorist shot. London shut down. Yes, another week, another terrorist attack. Amazing how we quickly we get used to them, eh?
It was violent. It was horrifying. It was funny. It was brilliantly written and yet it has been largely forgotten. Anyone who saw the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have sniggered at the idea that such a throw-away flick, most notable for the sight of Donald Sutherland going through the motions while he waited for his cheque to clear, would spawn a TV show which would go on to become one of the most important pieces of television of its generation.
It's called the salami effect. You take a piece of salami and cut a thin slice. The salami still seems the same size. Then you take another thin slice. Then another. Before anyone has really noticed, the salami is gone.
Like many white suburban lads my age, I came of age during the golden era of rap and hip-hop.
'Yeah, I was offered a trip to Aleppo for Paddy's Day. Sounds great, but the wife wasn't keen. Doesn't look like I'll be able to make it."
Have you spoken to X recently?' my wife asked me the other day.
SS-GB has been the most eagerly awaited new drama of the year. Well, certainly the most eagerly awaited from my perspective.
Well, that wasn't in the script, was it?
As I said in the main piece, mockery is a useful tool and laughter is the sound that tyrants and dictators and all bullies hate the most.
A Trump victory would usher in a new age of intolerance, they said. A Trump victory would bring hordes of his demented redneck fans on to the streets, chasing down the defeated Hillary supporters and forcing them to read the Bible and swear allegiance to the flag.
Earlier this month the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill was passed in the Dáil.
So, this country is to receive nearly 3,000 extra J1 student visas for the States.
This has certainly been a good week if you like to take your news with a side of Armageddon. Between chaos in an America which seems determined to tear itself apart, the rotten stench of incompetence and malevolence emanating from Official Ireland and a Middle East doing its best to revert to the Middle Ages, there's a real sense that we are currently witnessing a startling shift in the world.
We're gonna need a bigger Gubu. When further revelations about the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe began to emerge last week, particularly in the wake of a damning RTÉ 'Prime Time' report on Thursday night, things already looked bad for the Government.
We're experiencing a glut of good drama, the likes of which we have never seen before. You could even argue that we're going through a Golden Age of TV. Last Tuesday saw one perfect example - The Moorside.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
There'd be riots on the streets, we were warned.
One of the great indulgences of the so-called 'boom years' was all the money spent by quangos urging us to be more 'mindful' and telling us to carefully monitor our work-life balance.
It doesn't really matter that the seven countries affected by US President Donald Trump's new immigration rules - Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan - had previously been earmarked by Barack Obama for special immigration measures.
Wow. They still don't get it, do they? It almost appears that there are now two kinds of people in this world - the ones who accept that Donald Trump is US president (whether they voted for him or not), and the people who simply refuse to accept that fact (and I'm pretty confident in asserting that none of the latter group voted for him).
I don't often feel jealous of a 10-year-old. There's a variety of reasons for that, but mostly it boils down to one compelling element - being jealous of a kid would be mad and weird. But I must say, the shot of young Eden Hasson unwittingly surfing beside a great white shark in Australia had me wishing I was in his shoes.
Twenty one years? Twenty one bloody years? That's the length of time it takes to have a kid, send it to school, watch it grow up and then kick it out of your house. It is a very long time.
Any hopes that the weekend might have ushered in a new era of mutual respect and understanding now seem foolish - to put it mildly. In fact, what we've witnessed since President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday isn't so much a peaceful handover of power as a mutual declaration of war between two opposing factions.
Is Obama the worst American president of our lifetime? I suppose Jimmy Carter runs him close, if you're old enough to actually remember his time in charge. But even then, the Georgia peanut farmer only had one term, whereas his spiritual successor, Obama, has had the full eight-year, two-term opportunity to make his country a better place than when he took office.
Well, I guess you learn something new every day. But I never thought tipping was racist. That, however, is the claim of one American burger joint owner who is banning customers from leaving tips in any of his Shake Shack premises.
When U2 fans snapped up all the tickets for their July 22 Croke Park gig within six minutes of them going on sale yesterday morning, it was as if all was right in the world.
There's an old adage in journalism that if something seems too good to be true, it's probably fake.
So, farewell then, Nat Hentoff, who has died at the ripe old age of 91.
To misquote an old BT commercial with Bob Hoskins from a few year ago - it's good to shock.
One of the great mistakes consistently repeated by Irish broadcasters is their weird desire to ape overseas formats.
I once had the honour of interviewing the great comedian Jackie Mason. I'd loved him since I heard one of his records when I was a kid and the more I got into comedy as I got older, the more I kept coming back to him.
If we can take one thing from 2016, it is surely that it was the year of the quiet revolution.
So, um, we nearly done yet?
So farewell George Michael, it feels like we hardly knew you at all.
It started with the aftermath of the Bataclan attacks and ended - we hope - with Berlin. 2016 was the year terror hit closer to home, with more regularity and greater audacity. It was also the year when the Brits decided to take back their democracy and stunned the world and the bien pensants with a Brexit vote which few of us saw coming.
Well, we're nearly there. At this stage, there are two types of people - those who have done everything that needed to be done, who have all their presents wrapped and sorted and who can now enjoy the next few days at their leisure; and then there's the rest of the country, the silent, despised section of the citizenry who haven't done a thing yet.
First it was Guernica.
I don't know what I've done to irritate my various bosses down the years here at Indo Towers. But every Christmas they seem to come up with some new and ridiculous way to ensure that I can't spend the last week before the break doing sod all.
Well, it's that time of the year again.
Next year will see the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome - the international treaty which formalised the EEC. Signed by the Benelux countries, Germany, France and, of course, Italy, it was the foundation document of the EU and alongside later amendments, such as Maastricht in the early 1990s, was responsible for the creation of what we now call the European Union.
Let's be honest for once - the war on drugs has been lost. It was neither winnable nor justifiable in the first place, but it managed to cause a hell of a lot of collateral damage. Now it's a case of organising a sensible truce.
Well, old age and infirmity finally did what a succession of American presidents failed to do - bring an end to Fidel Castro, the last socially acceptable despot in the Western hemisphere.
Okay class, can you tell teacher what we've learned so far from this the year of our Lord, 2016? Well, it's not a great year to be an icon, that's for sure.
'Dear Mr Trump, can I run your Twitter account for you?" That was the rather despairing cry from one conservative American blogger which became something of a running joke during the campaign. That the blogger in question was forced to issue the entreaty over the weekend, less than a fortnight after Trump won the presidency, could well be a foretaste of the four years to come.
Well, it didn't take long, did it?
I hear you're a racist now, Oprah?
Tuesday November 8 2016 - a day that will live in infamy or the moment when America was made great again?
Well, where do we go from here?
Last week, I made mention of the weirdly cyclical nature of life and politics - what goes around comes around. Each generation that thinks it's dealing with a new problem is merely grappling with the same issues as the previous generation.
So, has it come to this? I mean, really, come on - we're reduced to this?
As a general rule for life, you should never lift up a rock if you don't want to see what crawls underneath.
There comes a point in every columnist's career when they realise that everything is cyclical.
When I was growing up, a family moved in next door. They were polite enough at the start, but over time I could see my parents begin to bristle every time they saw them.
Now is the winter of our discontent. Again. One of the many political missteps made by Fine Gael in the run-up to the last election was to oversell the recovery of the country.
They used to say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In Ireland, however, it would perhaps be more accurate to say that when the going gets tough, the tough form a committee.
Well, now we know what this week's moral panic is childhood obesity. That means the spotlight has veered, momentarily, away from childhood drinking. Or childhood drug-taking. Or kids having sex.
'We want to create a fairer Ireland." That was the refrain common to Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe as they delivered Budget 2017, and that certainly came as a relief.
It was shocking but, unfortunately, not surprising.
Who would be a cyclist in Dublin? The fumes, the traffic, the dangerous motorists and distracted pedestrians, the simple act of cycling into work has now taken on an almost political significance.
I've never agreed with the lazy fallacy that Americans don't get irony.
One of the great delusions we spin children is that once they grow older, they will get to make their own choices.
The madness started before the event even began. First there was the sparring over the guests at the first US presidential debate of Campaign 2016. When Donald Trump's billionaire-buddy-turned-nemesis Mark Cuban announced he would sit in the front row to throw the Republican candidate off his game, Trump's team responded by threatening to invite Gennifer Flowers, one of the many women who have accused Bill Clinton of inappropriate sexual shenanigans.
There's an old rule of thumb which goes like this - leave it as you find it.
Today's sermon is mostly about greed.
It has been a busy time for unions in this country of late. The strikes were seen by many observers as just the first blow of a newly militant union approach towards industrial relations.
When is a sexist not a sexist? Why, when he's dead, of course.
It says a lot about just how surreal this American election cycle has become that they couldn't even have a 9/11 commemoration without one of the candidates grabbing all the headlines.
Let's get a few things straight.
For most people under 30, the events of 9/11 are little more than a blurred memory of exploding planes, collapsing buildings and the kind of images more normally associated with a Hollywood disaster movie.