How Silicon Valley lost its shine

This morning’s Observer column:

Remember the time when tech companies were cool? So do I. Once upon a time, Silicon Valley was the jewel in the American crown, a magnet for high IQ – and predominately male – talent from all over the world. Palo Alto was the centre of what its more delusional inhabitants regarded as the Florence of Renaissance 2.0. Parents swelled with pride when their offspring landed a job with the Googles, Facebooks and Apples of that world, where they stood a sporting chance of becoming as rich as they might have done if they had joined Goldman Sachs or Lehman Brothers, but without the moral odium attendant on investment backing. I mean to say, where else could you be employed by a company to which every president, prime minister and aspirant politician craved an invitation? Where else could you be part of inventing the future?

But that was then and this is now…

Read on

Happy Bloomsday!

It’s Bloomsday — June 16 — the day when all the action in James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place. For years — since the early 1990s — I’ve celebrated it by giving a lunch in my college at which guests have Gorgonzola sandwiches and drink Burgundy (same as Leopold Bloom did in Davey Byrne’s pub in the novel) and read from the great book. I can’t hold the lunch this year because of coincidental diary conflicts, but the lovely Bronac Ferran, a regular attendee, sent me (as a consolation prize) this photograph she’d taken recently while on a trip to Zurich — the city where Joyce died and is buried together with Nóra, his wife, and Giorgio, their son.