Anton Savage: Raising Nazi flags is a disgraceful new low, even for bigoted muppets
As always, with the approach of the 12th of July, things north of the Border are getting a little bit tense.
By comparison with the old days, it's in the ha'penny place, but nonetheless the environment in some areas is getting if not sinister, then odd.
Flags are being hoisted in Loyalist areas of Antrim. No shock there, says you. For decades, the month of July had caused Red Hands and Union Jacks to flutter around the province. But this July, the stakes are upped - the usual flags have been joined by Nazi and Confederate ones.
This shows that the line between stupidity and bigotry is sometimes indistinguishable. Clearly someone felt they needed to express a good dose of prejudice in the form of a flag but hadn't the wit to check Wikipedia before they started climbing poles.
The UK took a neutral stance on the American Civil War, and had abolished slavery throughout almost all of the Empire more than a decade before the fight commenced in its former colony. So what's the point of flying a Confederate flag over the streets of Carrickfergus?
'We don't like black people?' is something of a dilution of the anti-Republican sentiment of the traditional Red Hand and Union Jack banners.
Even more baffling is the Nazi flag. No-one came closer to the complete destruction of Britain than the Nazis.
Importantly from a Unionist perspective, more members of the Orange Order died at the hands of the German military between 1939 and 1945 than were killed by all subsequent Republican paramilitaries combined.
Yet someone's decided the Third Reich should be celebrated.
This shows how important education is. Nobody with even a passing understanding of history could fly a Nazi flag with pride. The people who chose to do this clearly root much of their lives in historical assumptions - yet hold dear to traditions they clearly don't understand. They don't have a clue the flag represents the opposite of what they stand for.
The lesson from this is wider than the realisation that there's a lot of bigoted muppets in the world. In Northern Ireland, bigoted muppetry has a tendency to lead to homicide.
Regardless of what brand the bigotry has taken, be it Republican or Loyalist, the tradition has long been one of death and pain. Since the ceasefire, it would be easy to take it for granted that a new dawn has broken. The appearance of Confederate and Nazi flags are a useful reminder to all of us that we are nowhere near being able to take such a new dawn for granted.
It's almost as if a certain chunk of the community went to the trouble of announcing to the world 'hey, I'm angry, prejudiced and I've grown up in a tradition of brutal violence. Now I have time on my hands and a desire to express free-floating hatred'.
Announcements like that should be taken seriously.
Everyone knows capitalists are predators Joan, but you're the park ranger
Joan Burton has accused the new owners of Clerys of "predator capitalism". The Tanaiste said, in essence, that the store was closed in a manner that gave no thought or consideration to the lives and welfare of the workers.
It's hard to argue with her. But the phase 'predator capitalism' shows an odd attitude to the economic system which dominates our lives. Capitalism is intrinsically predatory. That's how it works.
It is, by definition, survival of the fittest in an environment of eternal competition. Like an economic Serengeti, companies fight for food, attack each other for territory and put their own survival ahead of everyone else.
Sure, you get the occasional exception - a hyena raising a leopard cub, or a company displaying empathy. But those instances are notable for their rarity. The law requires public corporations to compete and to put profit above all else. Boards of directors are legally bound to seek the highest return possible for their shareholders.
The good thing about all this (possibly the only good thing) is how predictable it is. The lions will eat the gazelles, the big companies will chew people up and spit them out.
The responsibility for protecting the little guy falls not on the predators but on the rangers, the likes of Joan Burton and her Government colleagues. It is they who make the laws to control the worst excesses of capitalism.
The State has already been punished badly for forgetting this lesson with the banks in the Boom, when it stood by as they gorged on all they could find. They shouldn't make the same mistake twice.
So yes Joan, you're right. Now go make sure Clerys can't happen again.
Pic not the issue for Kylie's Tyga
Tyga's in hot water. Who? Don't worry, nobody else has heard of him either. Tyga is the boyfriend of the youngest Kardashian family member, Kylie Jenner.
He's in hot water because he sent a picture of his genitals to a person who wasn't Kylie. I say 'person' because an online debate rages as to whether the original recipient was a man, woman or transgender.
Tyga has neither admitted nor denied the pics are of him (although he is so heavily and identifiably tattooed that it's not really worth arguing). Surely all the people who are getting aggrieved about him potentially cheating on Kylie are missing the point, though?
He's a 25-year-old dad-of-one in a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Surely he could find someone else to date, without a creepy age gap?
Burn your hair say the bright sparks
Irish women have taken to setting fire to their hair with candles.
It's called velaterapia and it's the latest trend to hit the cosmetic world, reputed to sort out split ends. It's a complete fad. You know how to be sure it's a fad? Because we've had candles for several thousand years and ever since they invented the scissors, punters have not been flambéing their heads.
Any time you find something very old being used in a new way, you can be sure someone tried it centuries ago and worked out that it was crap. Straight razors, typewriters, and polyester. All were superseded by something better and more modern, and all things someone tried to convince us were 'classic'.
It's rubbish. Stick with the scissors.