herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

We're an amazing little country when we've got our Google goggles on

In a week when Michael Noonan gave grown-up columnists plenty to write about there was more than enough happening about the place to keep the likes of myself amused.

That Ebola lad doesn't look like he's going away too soon (expect those protection suits to be the Halloween costume of choice in a fortnight's time) but I'm sure we'll be grand as a spokesman for the HSE assured us during the week that we'd be, er, grand if (actually, when) it arrives here.

Really, given that our A&E departments can barely cope with the results of a typically drunken weekend how on earth can we expect them to deal with one of the most dangerous diseases on the planet? Be very afraid.

Billions

Ah well, at least we've got loads more nurses working thanks to our generous tax schemes which make our lovely little island so attractive to US corporations who siphon millions if not billions of dollars through here and throw us a few oul jobs to keep us sweet as an afterthought. And who made this pronouncement? Why, none other than Bono himself.

In a fantastic interview in last weekend's Observer to help flog U2's dreadful new album the diminutive frontman was more than happy to waffle on about his worldview over a long lunch in the South of France.

Having observed that "we are a tiny little country and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we've known" before going on to state "there are more hospitals and firemen and teachers because of Ireland's tax policy".

Well thank God for that. There was I thinking that people were running marathons and suchlike to keep wards in childrens' hospitals open when, in fact, there were hospitals springing up all over the place thanks to the munificence of overseas tech companies.

Oh and I must have missed the news about class sizes being reduced due to legions of teachers pouring into the dilapidated pre-fabs that pass for classrooms in several parts of the country. Thank you Bono, the scales have now fallen from my eyes and may the blessings of God fall upon ye and your pals in Google, Apple and Facebook.

Google and Facebook also featured in one of the creepiest stories of the week when it emerged that they'll pay for female employees to have their eggs frozen in order to have a longer working life before they have children.

The very notion of this kind of social engineering being initiated by tech companies sent a shiver down my spine. Anyone who's read The Handmaid's Tale, Never Let Me Go or Brave New World would have been, rightly, alarmed if not scared stupid at the thought that corporations are now interfering in matters of human fertility.

Spin

The ethical dilemmas would make your head spin. If they pay for the process and agree to mind the eggs then what happens should a woman decide to jump ship, do they retain copyright so to speak? But hey, if Bono thinks these people are cool then who are we mere mortals to question them?

The glorious game of football threw up some of the most memorable moments of the week. John O'Shea's last-gasp equaliser in Gelsenkirchen quite properly sent the nation into raptures but Eamon Dunphy was rather unfairly lambasted for his view that, in essence, we were outplayed on the night and in the end lucky to get a point out of the game. It was one of the most gloriously jammy draws imaginable but - it must be stressed - that didn't stop myself and everyone else in the pub where I watched the game going absolutely mental when the ball went past Manuel Neuer.

What a truly wonderful sport.

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