A perfect storm

Poor old Michael Fish. When the sad day eventually arrives and the erstwhile BBC weatherman is whisked away to the great big spirit in the sky, passing through all those clouds, whose formations he spent so many long hours analysing, our Mick will be instantly recalled as ‘the weatherman who couldn’t even see a hurricane coming’. Fish’s failure, in 1987, to foresee what would be the worst storm to hit Britain for nearly 300 years will forever taint the thousands upon thousands of reasonably accurate predictions he made before and after his infamous faux pas.

Neoliberal fairytales

It is a grand little country after all - where our austerity preaching politicians are feted as celebrities and people like Lucinda Creighton and Paschal Donohue come across as angels, such is their innocence and horror if there is a mention of ideology  - or in their case, codology.  The name of the whole game here is spin - because spin works and spin is politics.

We don't need no regulation

Is there a need for greater regulation of how we express ourselves on the internet? Ironically, some of the best reasons for thinking that there isn’t are to be found in the sorts of pro-regulation articles which have recently appeared in the ‘traditional media’. (See, for a perfect example, Eamon Delaney’s latest offering on the Sunday Independent’s website here)

History is not on Europe's side

Despite daily talk of European disunity, and the Czech declaration last night that it won't join a fiscal compact, we are (yet) living through the strongest phase of the European “concert system” since 1815.

Parallels with past, weaker iterations of such a system of what was (then) nominal co-operation and (mainly) diplomatic summit politics are intriguing. In each time, great powers have clubbed together (“in concert”) to constrain hegemony and protect the status quo and have ultimately failed.

Taking exception to exceptionalism

Anyone who has been exposed to the soap-opera-cum-cage-match that is American politics will know that there is little upon which both Democrats and Republicans can agree. “American exceptionalism” is, well, an exception to this rule. Put simply (and usually hyperbolically) this is the idea that the US is the “greatest nation in the history of the Earth”; the exact words used by Mitt Romney in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition last December.

Why don't Irish people protest more?

1. Our political system breeds apathy

A lot of Irish people are just apathetic. But apathy is not some kind of innate attitude we’re born with, rather it gets drilled into us by a political system that not only encourages bad behaviour from politicians but one that also discourages the rest of us from getting involved. With a political system as dysfunctional as ours of course people become apathetic. But it’s not because people don’t care; it’s just that people come to expect the worst because that’s what we’re used to.

2. Our religious history

The gift

With its glass frontage Stapleton House on Cork’s Oliver Plunkett Street is an unlikely Bastille. However, like the Bastille, this NAMA building serves as one symbol of the illegitimacy of the regime, and contrary to myth the Bastille was almost equally empty.