Bored of the Big Man

I wrote this article for The Economist, based on my Ugandan trip.  It can be seen in the paper here. THE buildings stormed by Israeli commandos in 1976 still stand on Entebbe airfield. Now they are joined by the occasional C-17 Globemaster of the United States Air Force, part of an American presence trying, among…

Singing like a bird

IT IS one thing to possess the ability to interfere with the avionic systems onboard an aircraft. It is quite another to announce to the world the intention of practicing such capabilities. But it takes a galactic level of stupidity, hubris or, perhaps, courage to tweet that you are going to do it when you…

Walking on water

IN 1983 Christo surrounded 11 islands in Biscayne Bay, off Miami, with 600,000 square metres (6.5m square feet) of luminous pink fabric. The installation, called “Surrounded Islands”, was completely removed after two weeks. On one morning of its brief existence an elderly woman entered the project’s main office. She was livid. “It looks like you’ve…

Dirty rotten scoundrels

To be remembered as a truly sinister villain it’s all in the marketing. A memorable name is a must; preferably ironic or cropped from the rarely frequented areas of the keyboard and even better when combined with the definite article or an umlaut. Angel Eyes, The Mekon and Keyser Söze all fit the bill nicely….

High Noon for cyber complacency

Imagine standing next to a railway track and seeing a runaway carriage hurtling down the line towards a group of ten workers. Oblivious to the danger, they will certainly be killed unless the train is diverted onto another track. Luckily, next to you is the lever controlling a set of points that can make this…