Bad Math Props Up Border Wall 18 October 2016

Estimating the cost (in dollars) of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall
It would be many times more expensive than he claims.
[MIT Technology Review]

A son’s portrait of his murderous drug lord father, Pablo Escobar 30 September 2016

This unsettlingly shallow memoir of a drug kingpin falls flat.
A review of “Pablo Escobar, My Father” by Juan Pablo Escobar.
[Washington Post]

Cosmic Certainties 19 September 2016

More trouble with string theory, an attempt to do away with inflation, and a novel theory of dark matter, critiqued.
A review of “Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe” by Roger Penrose.
[Wall Street Journal]

There and back again and there again 5 July 2016

Why I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy
A summer reading enthusiasm.

New Directions 24 June 2016

On the way to Desert Storm, U.S. troops stopped in California in order to buy consumer GPS units at local stores.
A review of “Pinpoint” by Greg Milner and “Finding North” by George Michelsen Foy.
[Wall Street Journal]

The All-American iPhone 9 June 2016

What would it take to make iPhones in the US?
A thought experiment; doing so profitably is possible.
[MIT Technology Review]

Drones can photograph almost anything. But should they? 21 April 2016

What Justin Trudeau got wrong about Quantum Computing 18 April 2016

A video of the Canadian Prime Minister giving an apparently impromptu riff on quantum computing had a few mistakes in it.
This is a critique not so much of his minor errors, but of the media storm which treated his lecture as a sign of genius.
[Washington Post]

Why Bernie Sanders has Donald Trump to thank 11 February 2016

Drone-based film-making 16 November 2015

Why good drone art is necessary
A review of the New York Drone Film Festival.
[The Economist]

Drone strikes and international law 22 April 2015

Fallout reaches the ivory tower
NYU law school students react to Harold Koh’s support for targeted killings.
[The Economist]

Civil disobedience in the air 15 April 2015

A man landed a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn
Some thoughts on why this sort of thing shouldn’t be prevented by computer software.
[Washington Post]

Regulating Persistence 19 March 2015

Why persistent surveillance must be regulated
A brief response to Obama’s call for comment on drones and privacy.
[The Economist]

Beware the ‘Big Data’ Gospel 27 February 2015

More debunking of the idea that ‘data’ can always be a tool for rigorous & disinterested analysis
A follow-up to my earlier CNN article, responding to a couple of poorly reasoned critiques
[Weekly Wonk]

Reflections on the 90th Anniversary of the New Yorker 19 February 2015

On first looking into Trow’s essay
A reminiscence of the first time I read “Within the Context of No Context” and why you should read it too
[Weekly Wonk]

The FAA’s new rules on Small Drones 16 February 2015

A quick reaction to the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking
The new rules are tardy and incomplete but could have been much worse.

Alibaba’s Teabag Stunt Doesn’t Prove That Drone Delivery Works 4 February 2015

Another drone PR stunt
A Chinese companies scheme to deliver tea doesn’t mean the logistics or economics of delivery via drone will be real anytime soon.

The big dangers of ‘big data’ 2 February 2015

Don’t fall in love with every bit you meet
An essay about how the obsession with data is undermining social structures in government, business and life.

Why Are Drone-Makers Helping Governments Crack Down on Drones? 28 January 2015

DJI’s brute force regulation through software
The dangers of users lacking control over the devices they use, as illustrated by one drone-maker’s reaction when one of its aircraft crashed on the White House grounds.

A small step backward for mankind 5 November 2014

Why America needs to embrace a culture of risk in order to build the next-generation space program.
How and why to be resilient in the face of failed spacecraft, and the loss of life.
[Foreign Policy]