Fiscal cliffs and the metaphors of politics

  With the Republicans forcing the government shutdown this week, I was reminded of this piece from the beginning of the year, discussing the flawed metaphors we use to understand politics. FLOATING ON A SEA OF MISPLACED METAPHORS From The Irish Times, January 5th, 2013 It’s one of the oldest plot devices in the movies…

‘Trading Places 2’: The Aluminium Warehouse Caper

  From The Irish Times, Saturday, July 27th, 2013 I was reminded recently about a classic tale of greed and excess in the world of high finance, a narrative that exposes the moral turpitude so prevalent among bankers and brokers, and the high cost of the grotesque inequality that too often results from the machinations…

The costs and rewards of island-sized village life

SOCIAL CAPITAL YIELDS BIG DIVIDENDS My column from The Irish Times, Saturday, July 20th We tend to tell ourselves a lot of myths about Ireland and being Irish – it’s the best little country in the world, we basically invented having the craic, if only our weather was like this all the time our problems…

The homeopathic ruse of austerity

Given the conflicting reports we’re hearing on what sort of approach the ECB is encouraging regarding our debts, thought this might be a good time to run this column from last month.   THE HOMEOPATHIC RUSE OF AUSTERITY From The Irish Times, March 2nd, 2013  Let’s be honest. Who among us didn’t take a moment…

Exploring Obama’s Victory Lab

Barack Obama’s re-election has prompted a lot of shock among American conservatives, convinced they were about to get their man back in the White House. In some of the rancorous fallout, Mitt Romney’s ground game software, Project Orca, has come in for some serious criticism – this Ars Technica piece details how poorly it performed….

Who invented the iPhone?

So Apple won a sizeable victory against Samsung in the big patent trial of the year/decade/century. Fair play for originality, I think, but still no vindication for the barmy patent system. But as I put it in this recent Irish Times column, “if Samsung could have invented the iPhone, Samsung would have invented the iPhone”….

Growing up in Hamburg – The Beatles in St Pauli

“They’re just steel silhouettes, but instantly recognizable, an iconic lineup of four figures striking familiar poses with their instruments. Revelers passing through this busy intersection on Hamburg’s so-called “Sinful Mile” gravitate toward them, posing for photographs alongside the Fab Four: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and a drummer that represents both Ringo Starr and…

Why Microsoft is losing the battle and the war

Microsoft have just announced their first ever quarterly loss in their corporate history, losing $492 million, albeit with a $6.2 billion write-down after its ill-fated (read: stupid) purchase of online advertising business aQuantive. That write-down is enough to get an asterisk beside this loss, although Microsoft’s ludicrously misjudged Online Services strategy meant something like this was only a matter…

The Return of the King

I’ve been religiously watching Wimbledon finals since I was about five, but yesterday’s held a special sort of joy that I haven’t experienced in many years – the joy of seeing greatness revived. Last year, Brian Phillips wrote a touching, perceptive piece about the long autumn of Roger Federer’s career, a prolonged “still” phase –…

Cities, Dublin, and the future of the metropolis

Urban design shapes lives in fundamental ways, and a recent spate of books, movies and exhibitions have seen a revival of interest in urbanism. Here’s my piece focusing on the Hack the City exhibition that tackles some of these issues. WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR CITY TO BE? From The Irish Times, July 23rd, 2012…