Category Archives: magazine journalism

A New Award

I’ve received my second Best of the Best in Indiana Journalism award from the Indy Pro Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists: Second place in the category of Medical or Science Reporting for 2019. The honor is for this piece in the December/January issue of Bloom Magazine, “IU Researchers Develop BotSlayer: A Tool That Roots Out Fake News.

I’m pleased, needless to say.


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Sandcastles on Mars


Astronauts on a future manned Mars mission would need a place to live and work — something like the structure envisioned above. Here’s the thing, though: What would it be made of? Not stuff hauled from Earth — we’ll never have the payload capacity. NASA’s best guess is that it would be 3D-printed from Martian soil, which isn’t much like the stuff you garden in. It’s a kind of jagged sand called regolith.

I dug into off-Earth additive construction in my latest article for RedShift.

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Best Investigative Reporting

asylumMy feature article in Bloom Magazine, “The Plight of Asylum Seekers,” took second place in the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Best in Indiana Journalism” competition for 2017, in the category of Best Investigative Reporting for small-circulation magazines. The graphics, by Joe Lee, also won second place in their category.

I’m honored.

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This turned out to be the year

iuwbbI’m feeling vindicated.

Last year, after all my years as a content creator and magazine journalist focused on technology and business stories, I somehow found myself writing about Big Ten sports. Bloom, the lifestyle magazine for Bloomington, Indiana, asked me last August to write a feature on the Indiana University women’s basketball team. The article was to profile a program that had had its ups and downs, but there were reasons to believe 2017-18 might be a breakout season for the Hoosiers. The working title for the article was, “This Could Be the Year.

The drama centered on two supremely talented seniors playing out their last campaign together. Expectations were modest; most of the roster were freshmen, and early in the season, the team struggled against Big Ten rivals. But they finished strong — not strong enough to earn an NCAA tournament berth, but they were chosen for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Today, the Hoosier women won that tournament, beating Virginia Tech for their first WNIT championship ever. And a team that had averaged about 4,000 spectators per game over the course of the season drew 13,007 — by far the largest crowd ever to witness a women’s basketball game at IU.

It was the Hoosiers’ year after all. These women earned it.

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Spaxels: Drone murmuration in the sky

These tech stories for Autodesk’s RedShift online magazine are so much fun…

SPAXELS Drone Shows Are Using Swarm Intelligence to Generate Some Serious Buzz

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Attorney General Sessions: Stop Scapegoating Immigrants

I try to keep politics separate from this blog and from my professional social media presence. But I’ve spent too much time and energy on the issue of asylum law in the U.S. to listen passively while Jeff Sessions conducts his ignorant, nativist campaign against asylum-seekers.





The attorney general is pointlessly, cynically scapegoating desperate people who are in the U.S. legally, seeking safe haven from typically-violent persecution in their home countries. Until they have their hearings with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — for which they are usually made to wait two to three years — they are legally not subject to deportation, and it is grossly irresponsible for the attorney general to make statements that could prejudice USCIS against their petitions.

For at least the first six months after these people apply for asylum, they are not legally allowed to work. They are entirely reliant on their own savings or on charity. They’re certainly not taking jobs from Americans.

Even after they have their hearings, asylum-seekers typically wait years before a final decision comes down. While they are waiting, they usually are underemployed, if they are employed at all. And they are laying very low — asylum-seekers keep to the shadows, lest they attract the attention of people in their home countries who could take action against their friends or relatives.

“This is the worst part of asylum law. People talk to me, and I am 95 percent certain that they will be harmed if they go back home, but I know the government will deny them asylum.”

Christine Popp, immigration lawyer, Bloomington, Indiana

If you’re assuming that demonstrating that the applicant is likely to face violent reprisals on returning to his or her home country is enough to justify asylum…think again. Under U.S. law, the asylum-seeker has to prove that their fear is based on their membership in a persecuted group. Groups are narrowly and tortuously defined.

Most asylum applications are denied. Denials often are for arbitrary reasons, or no stated reason at all. The applicant’s chance of approval is largely based on the jurisdiction in which the hearing takes place; some offices reject more than 90% of the applications they hear. And the federal government commonly appeals asylum decisions that result in approvals.

Jeff Sessions’ rant about applicants’ gaming the asylum system is not based on any factual analysis. It’s just the latest Trump Administration attempt to make its critics feel powerless in the face of its incessant stream of irrational, antisocial, irresponsible, destructive policy pronouncements. This plays well with Trump’s extremist base, but it is immoral and impractical policy.

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