The Saudi prince who took a joyride on the space shuttle
and other space misadventures
30 March 2017

International Collaborations in Space Always
Reflect Politics on Earth

A brief history of the countries that send people to space, and why..
[Slate]


A Hundred Million Invaders 1 February 2017

NY/NJ Baykeeper’s War on Microplastic
A multimedia piece on the impact of plastic refuse in oceans generally, and New York harbor in particular.
[Primer Stories]


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.
[Slate]


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.
[Quartz]


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.
[Slate]


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.
[CNN]