Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things By Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Chicago Press, 183 pp., $25) JUST WEST OF SEOUL, on a man-made island in the Yellow Sea, a city is rising. Slated for completion by 2015, Songdo has been meticulously planned by engineers and architects and lavishly financed by money from the American real estate company Gale International and the investment bank Morgan Stanley.
Has this been the tournament of Euroredemption? It has been impossible to follow Euro 2012 unaware of political frissons, and the echoes of the other Euro, as the European Union undergoes its gravest crisis since Treaty of Rome in 1957. “Greece Leaves the Euro” was one cheeky London tabloid headline after the Greeks were beaten 4-2 (it had to be Germany who beat them).
Last year, the football editor of The Independent ran an article with a surprising headline: “Portugal ‘sells’ Ronaldo to Spain in £160m deal on national debt.” Less than ten days earlier, Portugal’s prime minister, José Sócrates, had resigned upon failing to enact a fourth round of austerity measures to make up a severe budget shortfall.
Could there be a better final for this year’s Euro than Spain vs. Germany? One of the great joys of watching the Euro as an American is the ability to be unapologetically mercenary in my fandom. Germany vs. Portugal? I pick Germany because I can’t stand the smugness of Cristiano Ronaldo’s smile, and those young Germans seem like such good, wholesome guys. Germany vs. Greece? Can’t resist the geo-political underdog narrative, so Greece all the way. Ultimately, this approach is about rooting for one of two things: Either the most compelling story or the most entertaining match.
Czech Republic vs. Portugal I think Portugal wins. When your chances of winning are drastically reduced because Rosicky won’t be playing, you’re not that good of a team. No offense to Tomas. I’m an Arsenal fan and he’s been wonderful this season, almost as good as he was before the spate of injuries that befell him. But he’s nowhere near the main man. Portugal has been playing well. Second game: Germany vs. Greece Germany wins, but my heart is with the Greeks.
Europe’s Greek tragedy has now entered its final act, with potentially fateful consequences for the global economy—and for Barack Obama, whose reelection may hinge on the decisions of Germany in the coming weeks. The 2012 election will pivot on the public’s evaluation of the president’s economic stewardship, and a perceptible decline in the U.S. growth rate—which a badly handled Greek exit from the Eurozone would cause—could easily spell the difference between victory and defeat. Obama’s fate, then, may well lie in Angela Merkel’s hands.
Madrid–Outgoing Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, of Spain, had until recently been the beneficiary of propitious circumstances. Party infighting enabled him to outmaneuver the establishment favorite in the 2000 primaries. Four years later, he eked out an eleventh hour victory in national elections when a terrorist bombing mere days before voting turned the tide against incumbent conservatives.
The eurozone debt crisis simply refuses to go away. Last month’s latest and greatest plan put forward by European leaders has already been judged by financial markets to be insufficient. And while it is political uncertainty in Greece that has thrown the whole process into question, the main victim has actually been Italy; in the days since the rescue package was announced, Italy has found its borrowing costs rising to record levels as investors continue to expect the worst. But why are investors picking on Italy?
It’s all Greece’s fault. That’s what a lot of Europeans secretly—or not so secretly—think as they grumble at the prospect of coming up with yet more money to bail the eurozone out of its debt crisis. But what if that easy view of how Europe landed in its current predicament is not just simplistic, but wrong? Nonsense, argue the grumblers. Clearly the crisis started because debt in the eurozone’s periphery—Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain—became so large that investors grew frightened that entire countries were at risk of default.
I’m in London, having arrived on Saturday evening. The Sunday morning papers had absolutely nothing about the enormous riot in Tottenham the night before. But the online press had plenty—except who exactly was doing the rioting. I got all my news all day from this—shall we say incomplete?—source. The front pages of the print press on Monday, however, had almost nothing else. (Except, de rigueur,the disastrous news of advanced capitalism in further collapse.) The headlines were a bit different Tuesday morning.