inspireland podcast


Society & Culture






October 2016
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Kliph Nesteroff joins me on the show to discuss his bestselling book The Comedians; Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy. The Comedians chronicles the evolution of comedy from interval acts in burlesque shows, through its growth on radio and tv, to the glory days of Las Vegas and the comedy clubs, before finishing on the comedy of the new millenium.

The Comedians expertly blends deep research, anecdotes, and gossip to give us the definitive history of comedy and comedians but it also a social history of the US since the early 20th century. Kliph was a brilliant guest and his own origins are as fascinating as many of the people he chronicles.

During our conversation we discuss;

  • How Leo Tolstoy saved his grandparents from the gulags.
  • His first experience of live comedy.
  • His years as a stand-up comedian.
  • His love of counterculture.
  • The time he worked in a halfway house for heroin, crack, and meth heads.
  • Why Richard Pryor is so important to modern comedians.
  • Why comedy is full of white, middle-aged guys.
  • The types of personalities that are attracted to comedy (narcissistic personality disorder).

Kliph was a brilliant guest and it was great having him on the show. Enjoy, Dave.

For full episode notes, including a list of Kliph's recommendations visit the inspireland podcast blog.

Direct download: Inspireland_51_NesteroffBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:28am EDT


In episode #3 of Pop Filter I join Wil and Lorraine to discuss the first few episodes of Netflix's bleak but brilliant Black Mirror. Black Mirror was written by the always excellent Charlie Brooker and the current 6 episodes are the first installment of a 12 part season 3 commissioned by Netflix. 

Black Mirror paints a pessimistic picture of a dystopian,technology driven, near-future that will make you want to smash all your connected devices. Dave

Direct download: Episode_3_-_Black_Mirror_BOUNCE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10am EDT

In this episode of the podcast I was delighted to be joined in the studio by professional Irish poker player, Dara O'Kearney. Dara, or Doke as he's known in the poker world, gave a wide ranging and fascinating interview that's definitely one of my favourites to date. It's a long one but a good one! Enjoy, Dave.

Some of the areas we spoke about were:

  1. Dara's late entry and rapid ascension in the professional poker world.
  2. His experience as an ultra runner, including representing Ireland, and completing a 24 hour race.
  3. We chat about Dara's unlikely online friendship with David Bowie from the mid 1990s, a friendship initiated by Dara's online criticism of Bowie's online project.
  4. We chat about the psychology of endurance based high-performance.
  5. We discussed Dara's experience in dealing with his son's autism.

For full episode notes visit the inspireland podcast blog. Thanks, Dave

Direct download: InspirelandOKEARNEYBNC2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30am EDT

In episode #2 of Pop Filter Wil and Lorraine discuss the first few episodes of HBO's Westworld. Westworld is based on a 1973 film of the same name that was written and directed by novelist, Michael Crichton.

Westworld blends the Western and Sci-Fi genres and has a stellar cast. The reviews for the show have been overwhelmingly positive with IndieWire saying that it is: “Ambitious to the edge of a cliff."

There will be SPOILERS! Enjoy. Dave

Direct download: Episode_2_Westworld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25am EDT

I've read books and think pieces about the internet but none have come close to describing the web's awesome yet terrifying power as well as Magic And Loss by Virginia Heffernan. Heffernan, who has been described as " of the mothers of the internet.", views the web as a massive work of art favouring speed, wit, and versatility.

Virginia's work sidesteps the cliches rife in analysis of online life (decreased attention spans, trolls, obsession with appearance, etc) by taking a highly original, and at times searingly personal, account of the web's rules, aesthertics, and values.

Some of the topics covered in our conversation were;

  1. The recent US election and the role social media may have played in it's outcome.
  2. The fact that the web is now a part of our humanity, an expression of it, rather than merely an addendum to it.
  3. How virtual reality may create a deeper desire for real-world experience.
  4. A lot of what we think os as new, isn't; self-portraits, memes, pithy wisdom, the use of symbols to express ideas etc.
  5. The hipster revolt.
  6. How hard it is keeping up with young people in whatsapp groups.
  7. Virginia tells us some of her favourite internet things and places.

It was great talking to Virginia and I hope to have her back on the show soon. You can check the full episode notes out at inspireland podcast. Enjoy the show, Dave


Direct download: InspirelandHEFFERNANBNC2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

We break from the norm for this episode as Wil McDermott, editor of Inspireland Podcast, sits down with our mutual friend, Lorraine Harton to discuss something from popular culture. In this episode they discuss Netflix's Amanda Knox documentary. Enjoy. Dave

Direct download: Episode_1_Amanda_Knox_NEW_MUSIC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57am EDT

In episode #48 I was joined by Ireland's first lady of surfing, Easkey Britton. Surfing is so deep in Easkey's DNA that she was named after a famous wave off Ireland's west coast. More recently, Easkey has shifted her focus from competitive big wave surfing to using her training and research to help bring surfing to communities with no experience of the sport. If all this wasn't enough Easkey also writes, paints, and speaks.

During our conversation we discussed;

  1. The legendary story of Easkey's grandmother bringing the first surfboard to Ireland in the 1960s.
  2. Easkey's earliest memories of surfing and the start of her deep relationship with the sea.
  3. The ability of surfing to help people live in the moment.
  4. The introduction of surfing to a group of women in a remote part of Iran.
  5. How the environment and society are inextricably linked.
  6. The power of exposure to nature to improve our mental well being.

Easkey was a superb guest and I know you'll enjoy listening to her as much as I enjoyed speaking to her. Dave

For full episode notes please check out the Inspireland Podcast blog.


Direct download: Inspireland_BRITTON.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:04pm EDT

For episode #47 I was joined by the economist Dr Constantin Gurdgiev. When the Irish economy crashed and everybody was desperately searching for answers and solutions I often heard Constantin on the radio and was instantly attracted to his knowledge of economics and his ability to communicate complex ideas in simple ways.

When we met in June to record this episode I was delighted to find that his ability to explain economic ideas wasn't limited to the shorter bursts radio generally provides but easily transferred to the longer podcast format.

During the episode we discussed:

  1. What it was like to be a Russian in the US when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
  2. Why economics is as much art as science.
  3. The difference between micro and macroeconomics.
  4. Why attempts to speedily and drastically redistribute wealth fail, and what the alternative is.
  5. Why Ireland is good at attracting, but bad at keeping, human talent.
  6. The distinction between risk and probability.
  7. Constantin had difficulty recommending a good primer on economics but relented and suggested a few!

For full episode notes go to the inspireland podcast blog and click on the episode.

Thanks for listening. Dave

Direct download: Gurdgiev_Sample.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm EDT

In episode #46 I was joined by journalist and author, James Bloodworth. James's book, The Myth Of Meritocracy, is a detailed investigation of the inequalities at the heart of how society works.  Bloodworth has found that if you're born poor you'll stay poor in spite of the widely-held belief that hard work and intelligence will see us rewarded with a better quality for ourselves and our family.

Topics covered during the conversation:

  1. What Meritocracy is and why it's a myth.
  2. Why political parties have embraced it as an ideal worth pursuing (or at least talking about pursuing).
  3. Why there is so little social mobility in society.
  4. The role of genetics in social mobility.
  5. The failure of education to address inequality of opportunity and income.
  6. What we can do to make society more egalitarian.

James was a brilliant guest and his book is an excellent, concise read. In a lot of ways The Myth Of Meritocracy confirms something you've probably always felt to be true but does it better than you ever could.

Enjoy the episode. Dave

For full episode notes, including links to where you can get James's book, please visit my blog at inspireland podcast.

Category:general -- posted at: 6:11am EDT

In episode #45 I was joined by the wonderfully sweary Sarah Knight to discuss the philosophy behind her bestselling book: The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A Fuck. This book's philosophy is more than a gimmick and helps us identify the things in our lives that bring us joy while simultaneously teaching us to give less fucks about the things/people/ideas that we don't really give a fuck about.

During my chat with Sarah we discussed;

  1. The inspiration for the book and what it had to do with a tidy sock drawer.
  2. The NotSorry method of giving less fucks.
  3. How honesty and politeness are key to successfully giving less fucks.
  4. The three types of people who don't give a fuck; children, assholes, and the enlightened.
  5. The 4 categories of fuck giving; Things, Work, People, and Family.
  6. The danger of 'the likeability vortex.'
  7. How giving less fucks really has the power to positively change your life.

This episode was one of the most fun we've done to date and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed chatting. Enjoy the fucking show. Dave

For full episode notes go to

Direct download: InspirelandKNIGHTBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39am EDT

For episode #44 I was joined by Dr Philip Nitschke of Exit International. In 1996, Nitschke became the first doctor to administer a legal, voluntary, lethal injection to a terminally ill patient. For the short period that euthanasia was legal in Australia Nitschke oversaw 4 voluntary suicides.

Philip recently ran a show at Edinburgh called Dicing with Dr Death that attracted a lot of media attention. Philip made for a thought provoking and informative guest and his argument that euthanasia should be available to those that want it is difficult to counter.

Our episode covered the following topics;

  1. The difference between euthanasia and suicide.
  2. The short-lived availability of euthanasia in Australia.
  3. The personal impact of helping people die.
  4. What countries/regions allow euthanasia.
  5. The goal of Exit International.
  6. The online and real world harassment of Exit’s volunteers.
  7. The mechanics of taking your own life.
  8. The Peaceful Pill.
  9. The future of euthanasia legislation.

Enjoy the episode. Dave

For full episode notes please visit inspireland podcast.

Direct download: InspirelandNITSCHKEBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01am EDT

In episode #43 I was joined by Amanda Fielding, founder and director of the Beckley Foundation. The Beckley Foundation are currently involved in pioneering research into the effect of psychedelics on the brain and their possible use in treatment for mental conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety etc.

Amanda was a charming and engaging guest with a real passion for drug-policy reform and the exploration of the potential of psychoactive substances.

Below is a list of some of the questions I asked Amanda.

  1. Who are Beckley and what do they do?
  2. What are the potential benefits of taking psychedelics?
  3. Why was research into LSD etc. been out of fashion for so long?
  4. How can psychoactives help treat depression, anxiety, etc.?
  5. What is the difference between therapeutic and recreational use?
  6. What are the possible negative side-effects of taking these substances?

Enjoy the episode. Dave

For full episode notes visit inspireland podcast blog.

Direct download: InspirelandFIELDINGBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:16am EDT

In this episode it was my pleasure to be joined by photographer Michael Boran. We met in Dublin's Kevin Kavanagh gallery to look at, and discuss, Michael's latest solo exhibition, Through The Undergrowth. I was worried that talking about photographs might prove to be as difficult as bicycling about philosophy but luckily for all of us Michael is as good at painting images with words as he is at capturing them with his camera.

This episode is divided into two parts. In the first section myself and Michael walk the main gallery floor discussing some of the photos in his exhibition; their genesis, technique, execution, editing etc. In the second part we sit down to discuss Michael's career and work in more general terms, from his early experiences in an amateur camera club to his current list of advice to himself! Enjoy the episode. Dave.

For full episode notes visit:

Direct download: InspireBoranENHANCE.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03am EDT

In Ep#41 I was joined by biosocial criminologist, Brian Boutwell PhD. Brian works as an associate professor at St Louis University in the US and his passion for his subject is contagious. Boutwell's writing on the often overlooked role of heritability as a driver for behaviour is thought-provoking and fascinating.

Brian's current research into the biosocial impact of race differences on behaviour is likely to provoke as vociferous a reaction as his recent assertion that it's parents, not parenting, that shape who we become. The episode is fast paced, packed full of brilliant ideas and science, and caused me to reassess the way I've looked at much of social life for the last 20 years!

My conversation with Brian included the following topics;

  1. A definition of criminology and biosocial criminology.
  2. A brief discussion of the effectiveness of prisons as institutions of reformation and/or punishment.
  3. How our parents imprint very little on our personality that continues into adulthood.
  4. The strange feeling of predetermination that comes with acceptance of Brian's view of the power of heritability.
  5. I try to nail Brian down on the percentages of nature vs nurture. It turns out it's not as simple as it sounds but he gives it a damn good go!
  6. Brian explains that much of modern research into human behaviour is deeply flawed due to it's failure to account for inherited traits.
  7. Brian explains the importance of twins in studies of criminal behaviour.
  8. Brian recommends a load of good books, podcast, and films/tv.

Brian was an excellent guest who I'm already planning on having back on the show soon. Our conversation raised almost as many questions for me as it answered, an experience I'm sure you'll share upon listening.

Enjoy the episode, Dave.

For full episode notes, including all Brian's recommendations, visit the inspirelandpodcast blog.

Direct download: Inspireland_BOUTWELLBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:43am EDT

In this short episode I was joined by psychologist and author, Maria Konnikova. Maria was born in Russia but moved to the US with her family when she was 4 years old.  Maria studied psychology and creative writing in Harvard where she was lucky enough to be tutored by Steven Pinker before completing her PhD in psychology at Columbia.

Maria has written for a host of titles including Scientific America, The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and Big Think, as well as having a stint as a producer on The Charlie Rose Show.  Maria's first book Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes was a NYT bestseller and has been translated into 18 languages. Maria's latest book, The Confidence Game, is a psychological exploration of The Grifter (con artist) and The Mark (victim).

Our conversation included the following topics;

  1. What first got Maria interested in the con.
  2. A brief bio of The Great Imposter.
  3. The impact of technology on the con.
  4. Why we all fall for the lure of the con.
  5. Maria explains why fiction writers are often the best psychologists.
  6. The traits of the conman/woman.
  7. Maria tells us her favourite con movie and book.

For full episode notes, as well as link mentioned in the interview, please visit the inspirelandpodcast blog.

Enjoy the show, Dave.


Direct download: Inspireland_KONNIKOVABNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08am EDT

In episode 39 I was joined in the studio by adventurous Irish geography teacher Fearghal O'Nuallain. Fearghal trained as a chef in several exclusive restaurants before waking up hungover one morning to the serendipitous discovery that he had emptied his bank account to buy a touring bike and camping equipment.

Fearghal's experience on this bike inspired him to become the first Irishman to circumnavigate the world by bike between 2008-2010. Since then he has walked across Rwanda, hitched, biked, and tramped across Transylvania and the Balkan peninsula, before recently travelling the Bolivian high plains, a journey that was documented in soon to be released documentary, Altiplano.

Fearghal has the wild eyes and zen like physical presence I've come to recognise in adventurers and combat sportspeople. His love of adventure isn't limited to his travels but permeates all aspects of his life including his current career as a geography teacher in the tough south east London suburb of Abbey Wood.

My conversation with Fearghal included;

  1. His assertion that life can teach us far more than books.
  2. The importance of learning by experience, even if means learning things the hard way.
  3. Fearghal's experience as a student in Blackrock College, one of Ireland's most exclusive secondary schools.
  4. The contrast between Blackrock College and St Paul's, where he now works.
  5. How his adventures started accidentally, and almost stopped immediately, when he bought that bike in Melbourne, Australia.
  6. Ferghal's use of the joy of expectation of future adventures to temper his occasional depression.
  7. Fearghal's belief that endurance for Western adventurers is a hobby compared to the struggles faced by many.
  8. His description of the time he was attacked by 3 men with knives.
  9. What HTFU means.

Fearghal was an absolute gent and it was my pleasure to spend to a few rushed hours with him. Enjoy the episode. Dave


For full episode notes go to


Direct download: INSPIRELAND_ONuallainBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:34pm EDT

In this episode I was joined by pilates instructor, health blogger, and self confessed science geek, Annie Kirwan. Annie has a degree in biological science and a masters in molecular immunology. This science background, together with her experience of high level sports, led Annie to Platinum Pilates where she now counts the great Brian O'Driscoll among her students.

Annie writes an excellent blog that focuses on improving movement, diet, lifestyle and future health with an emphasis on small, achievable changes. 

During my chat with Annie we discussed:

  1. What molecular immunology is.
  2. The difference between team sports and fitness classes.
  3. The history, different types, and benefits of pilates.
  4. Why we lose movement as we get older.
  5. The benefits of improving your diet.
  6. Giving up sugar.
  7. Why small lifestyle changes stick and big ones don't.
  8. The connection between physical and mental wellbeing.

Annie was an excellent guest and exudes the calm, easy, confidence of someone who is reaching their goals in work and life. Annie also persuaded me to give up sugar and gave me hope that some day I may be able to touch my toes! Enjoy the episode. Dave


For full episode notes, including links to Annie's Platinum Pilates blog, and links to the books etc that Annie mentions during the interview, head over to the Inspireland Podcast blog.

Direct download: InspirelandKIRWANBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:21am EDT

In Episode #37 I was joined by John Seabrook, author of The Song Machine: Inside the hit factory. John is a writer for the excellent The New Yorker where he writes about "... the intersection between commerce and creativity in the fields of technology, design, and music."

The Song Machine is brilliantly researched and Seabrook takes us on a journey from the heady days of record breaking album sales right up to the current era of Spotify and the artist as performer, not creator, of hit songs. Performers aside, there are two constants as we journey through the hit factory; songwriters, and producers. The role of both has evolved dramatically to give us the type of hyper-produced pop music that currently dominates the charts.

As John himself puts it: "... modern pop [produces] industrial-strength products, made for malls, stadiums, airports, casinos, gyms and the Super Bowl halftime show. The music reminded me a little of the bubble-gum pop of my preteen years, but it was vodka-flavored and laced with MDMA."

During our conversation we discussed:

  1. The chronology of the hit factory.
  2. Why performers don't admit that they don't write their own songs.
  3. How exclusively playing the top 20 songs can make a radio station's listenership explode.
  4. Why we like a song more the more often we hear it.
  5. The pop cycle of Pure Pop, The Doldrums, and The Extremes.
  6. Why so many female pop performers come from troubled backgrounds.

I came to John's book as someone who hasn't engaged with pop music for almost 20 years. One of the achievements of The Song Machine is that Seabrook manages to dissect the pop industry without judging it, an objective stance that seemed to rub off on me. My youtube playlist is now full of Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Adele, and Ke$ha and while this is slightly embarrassing for a 39 year old man I've also just discovered Kendrick Lamar, something that wouldn't have happened had I not read the book. 

Enjoy the episode. Dave

For full episode notes please visit the inspireland podcast blog.

Direct download: InspirelandSEABROOKBNC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:54am EDT

In this episode I was joined by filmmaker, teacher, and personal friend Frank Berry. Frank's latest award winning feature film, I Used To Live Here, is an examination of the phenomenon of suicide clusters told entirely using a cast and crew from an area affected by one such cluster.

Our conversation included;

  1. Why Frank chose to shoot the film using non-actors from the area the film is set.
  2. The advantages/disadvantages of collaborative projects.
  3. The ethical concerns of shooting in disadvantaged areas.
  4. The phenomenon of suicide clusters.
  5. How Frank's last 2 films have changed Frank's approach to teaching.

Frank was a thoughtful, sincere, and inspiring guest.

Visit inspirelandpodcast for the full episode notes. Enjoy. Dave

Direct download: INSPIRELANDBerryBOUNCE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18am EDT