Nicholas Thompson

Machined Politics

Although these issues matter, close elections often hinge on a much less sexy factor: which party does a better job of getting out the vote. After all, when the polls open, policies don’t vote. People do. So if you want a sense of who will win, pay less attention to pundits and more to what… Read more »

Gene Blues

When these binders arrive loaded with genetic information, young men and women, often recent chemistry or biology PhDs, examine them against the PTO’s requirements. The examiners initially reject most submissions but subsequently accept about half after the applicant makes suggested revisions. If approved, the submitting company gets 17 to 20 years of monopoly rights to… Read more »

Net Loss

John Cassidy probably set out to write the first really readable, definitive history of the Internet: from the wild levers of early punch-card machines to the glorious late ’90s, when you could log onto, order a pint of ice cream or an old comic book, and get it delivered in minutes for free. Cassidy… Read more »

This Ain’t Your Momma’s CIA

Markovic was trying to invoke the ghosts of the swashbuckling, sinister CIA of the past that might have plotted to finish Milosevic off with an exploding cigar or sent Stinger missiles to his political opponents. But Markovic didn’t have a lot to go on. The nefarious plan consisted of congressional testimony prepared by a fellow… Read more »

Locking Up The Vote

Rosetta Meeks lives in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, but she didn’t get to vote in the presidential election. Nobody scrutinized her ballot for hanging chads or screamed himself hoarse trying to prevent officials from counting it. An African-American woman who has devoted her last six years to teaching computer skills to low-income people, Meeks wanted to… Read more »