High altitude wind turbines: a step above ground based turbines

I wrote this piece for the Irish Times for April 6th last.  I had been following Makani with interest for some time,  and thought it opportune to write about the opportunities for Ireland.  Then,  by complete co-incidence a week later, the major German power companyy E.on announced a project with the Dutch start-up Ampyx Power for an airborne wind generation system on a test site in Co. Mayo..

The Fianna Fail administration established the Digital Hub in 2003 in Dublin’s Liberties to provide a national focus for innovation, and to nurture digital skills for a new economy. The iconic symbol of the Digital Hub is St Patrick’s Tower, a 40m monolith topped by a St Patrick weather-vane. Built in 1805, St Patrick’s Tower was the largest windmill in Europe for much of the first half of the nineteenth century, when it was used to provide power to Roe’s whiskey distillery, until the distillery converted to coal-fuelled steam power in 1860. Continue reading

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Space: the final, increasingly accessible, frontier..

I wrote this piece about the accessibility of satellite technology for the Irish Times,  on March 16th last..

In October later this year, we will celebrate sixty years of space technology. On 4th October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik-1. Continue reading

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How “America First” is hurting Silicon Valley, how Silicon Valley is hurting “America First”, and how China has Silicon Valley in a necklock.

I wrote this for the Irish Times which duly published it on February 9th last.  The impact of Silicon Valley on blue collar jobs,  and of China on Silicon Valley,  has not been much discussed to my knowledge in the media..

‘The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins remorse from power.’ So mused Shakespeare’s Brutus, contemplating his response to the increasingly tyrannical behaviour of Julius Caesar. Caesar introduced term limits for important governing positions while making his own appointment indefinite; installed his own men to control the senate; appointed his own pool of magistrates; reduced social support funding; and outlawed professional guilds. Continue reading

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Ethos, Logos and Pathos

This was published in the Irish Times on the 19th January – a view on the progression of advertising.

“At the tone, it’s 8PM, B-U-L-O-V-A Bulova Watch Time”. Thus in 1926, the world’s first radio advertisement grabbed attention. Bulova (now owned by Citizen Watch Co.) was founded in 1875 by a Czech immigrant in New York. It rapidly came to prominence with the move from pocket to wrist watches during the First World War, and then introduced the first full line of wrist watches for women. Bulova also aired the world’s first TV commercial, immediately before a Brooklyn Dodgers home baseball game in 1941. Continue reading

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A lie told often enough becomes the truth.

This was published in the Irish Times on December 15th 2016.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” The internet reverberates with catchy populism. The more attention that a piece attracts, the more that people promote it to their friends and community. The more a piece is amplified, the higher credence given to it by web software. Then the higher a piece appears in search rankings and social network feeds, yet the more attention it receives. Positive feedback can frequently amplify a lie to become a convenient truth. Continue reading

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Why Ireland is a unique location for start-ups, having something that not even Silicon Valley has..

The unique advantage to Ireland for start-ups is not Croke Park (colloquially “Croker”).   Croker is the Irish national centre for our national sports – GAA football and hurling.  Playing there represents the pinnacle of achievement:  equivalent perhaps to Wembley Stadium in the UK,  or playing in the Superbowl final.  No,  the advantage to start-ups is not Croker but something else… This article appeared in the Irish Times on 24th November 2016. Continue reading

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The Gig Economy – and the Unions

I wrote this for the Irish Times on November 3rd.

“The black market was a way of getting around government controls”. So asserted Milton Friedman, a Nobel prizewinner in Economics. Last Friday, the Central London Employment Tribunal came to a somewhat similar conclusion regarding the behaviour of Uber, a ride-hailing app company. GMB, a trade union for private drivers, successfully took a test case on behalf of two Uber drivers. The union asserted that Uber was acting unlawfully in that its drivers were not self-employed but in effect employees. Continue reading

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