In “Dead Kids Make Bad Laws” (page 24), Michael Tracey looks at New Jersey’s heavy restrictions on drivers under the age of 21. Tracey, 22, is a former intern at The Nation, and his own first driving experiences involved “a driving instructor from Russia who strongly disliked George W. Bush.” While attending the College of New Jersey, he started a news magazine, The Perspective, with money from George Soros. “The highlight of my editorship,” he says, “was probably when Mike Huckabee told me that same-sex marriage is morally comparable to incest and drug use.”
G. Pascal Zachary, 55, writes about the developing world’s private mass-transit solutions in “What Sub-Saharan Africa Can Teach San Francisco” (page 30). Zachary, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent and New York Times columnist, has traveled to Africa for research purposes 30 times since 2000. While there, he takes mass transit “every day” and never drives himself. “I always use mini-buses, a taxi driver, or even a motorcycle driver,” he says. Sometimes that means sitting next to animals. But he says that’s rarely a problem. “Africans usually maintain their animals well,” he says. “Chickens can stay surprisingly calm.”
In “Ventriloquists for the Powerless” (page 48), historian and journalist Thaddeus Russell reviews Jason Hribal’s Fear of the Animal Planet, which argues that animals have political consciousness. The 45-year-old Russell, who teaches history and American studies at Occidental College, admits to occasionally anthropomorphizing his pet dog. “I actually love to ventriloquize through him,” he says, “but only as comedy.” Russell is currently developing a graphic-novel version of his 2010 book A Renegade History of the United States.