Paraic and Jack and John by Mike Gallagher

the internet of thingsIn computing, Moore’s Law stated that the overall processing power of a computer would double every two years. This has literally powered the start of a wave of technological development, whose social impact is unfathomable, especially if we remember we are still the same cognitive creatures we were hundreds of years ago, when things changed at a far slower pace. This is both frightening and exciting and has accelerated the outcome of international capitalism – globalisation; that great sway of moving things, from people to pins.

Around 2009, more people lived in cities and urban areas, than in rural parts for the first time in history. Partly explained by population growth it is also to do with mass migration to the expectant honeypots of city life, both in home countries and abroad. Those who work in the cities, sometimes leaving their families for many months or even years, send much needed money back to family members who are no longer able to make a living from the countryside. In the Philippines for example, ten percent of its population work overseas, generating some $25 billion in remittances to their home economy (10% of its GDP). But I have always wondered what of the country without the ten percent of its population. What effect can this have?

White House PoetMike Gallagher’s powerful poem, Paraic and Jack and John, tells a familiar story of the Irish diaspora, who have left to go to the UK, America and elsewhere, and the gap this left for those still living in Ireland. not too many options there,/the bus up Gowlawám,/the train to Westland Row./Holyhead gave them choices:/Preston? Ormskirk? Cricklewood?” These men traversed the 260 mile long A5 road that runs from Holyhead on the Welsh island of Anglesey all the way to London and the Kilburn Road. (more…)


In 1930 the economist John Maynard Keynes, predicted that by the beginning of the 21st century, capitalism would have been so successful people would only need to work a fifteen hour week in order to maintain a decent quality of life. As great and influential an economist as he was, he missed the carnivorous quality of capitalism to feed off others and to not know when it is full. So today, near on a century since his prediction, most people are still working a forty (or more) hour a week, just to stand still.

Yes, in global terms there is more wealth, improved health, and wider variety of leisure, at least in developed countries, but we are far from being a ‘leisure’ society. However, there is greater competition for jobs at lower wages with a growing global population and a predicted reduction in employment due to technological advances.

Dargan - Copy (800x480)All of these developments affect people in developed and developing countries alike and these global shifts are reflected beautifully in Kyle Dargan’s poem, “Two years from retirement, my neighbour contemplates Canada.” An ageing neighbour, whose arthritis is ‘now a hymn sung/by the choir of his bones’ will not be having the retirement he hoped for, and looks to work his final years in Canada, where its map is “speckled with throbbing circles,/bull’s-eyes. Those are the job sites—so many,/one must wonder what is Canada building.(more…)