Journal 99

The Embassy of the United States of America overlooking the Malecón, taken at night.

This week — the dictionary in the internet age, advances in gene editing techniques, a mystery in Havana, and the operation of ‘unmanned’ drones. 
If you only read one thing — The Washingtonian on a KGB defection gone wrong is worth the time.


The Amazing Story of the Russian Defector Who Changed his Mind // The Washingtonian // Politics

This story of espionage and counterespionage is, as it describes itself — “a John le Carré novel come to life”.

Inside the OED: can the world’s biggest dictionary survive the internet? // The Guardian // Culture

A study of the history of the dictionary and the evolving work of lexicographers in the internet age.

Process of Elimination // Wired // Science

A look at the work and mission of scientists and conservationists proposing gene editing techniques to control animal population, and the potential ramifications of adopting their methods outside the laboratory.

The Sound And The Fury: Inside The Mystery Of The Havana Embassy // ProPublica // Politics

An account of the unexplained health issues encountered by US Embassy staff in Havana, particularly those that were intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover. The incident has had an enduring impact on America’s diplomatic capabilities in Cuba at a pivotal moment of transition.

The Disposition of Drones // Places Journal // Technology

A piece examining how military drones actually work and interact with both their operators and so-called “customers” (soldiers on the ground).