When he's not reading up on legal theory, frequent contributor Damon W. Root gets his counterculture kicks in New York's hardcore punk scene. "It's why I moved to New York," says Root, who counts Sick of It All and Agnostic Front as favorite bands and the storied venue CBGBs as one of the city's most appealing draws. In "Unleash the Judges" (page 34), Root offers thanks to another bunch of loudmouths: activist judges. "A principled form of libertarian judicial activism," he writes, "is clearly consistent with the basic requirement of a free society." Root, a graduate of Columbia University, has written for reason on topics ranging from the legacy of country music to the legacy of FDR.

Freelance writer Melinda Ammann has seen the future–and it's in Botswana. The months she spent in Africa's best-governed country, she says, were a lesson in how quickly a developing economy can adapt to new technologies, from cell phones to contraception. "Before Botswana, I'd never ever seen a female condom," she comments. In this month's review of Robert Guest's The Shackled Continent: Power, Corruption, and African Lives (page 61), Ammann asks why some African countries have leapt ahead, helped along by Western technologies, while others stay locked in poverty. Ammann is a compulsive traveler who, when not teaching in Japan, touring Cambodia, or reporting from Botswana, sticks around Colorado just enough to call it home.

Shortly after helping to found The American Spectator as a freshman at Indiana University, Ron Burr came across another budding college publication–the very first issue of Reason. "The first mimeographed copy came into the Spectator office in 1968, and I've been reading it ever since," he says. Nearly four decades later, Burr joined the reason team as a publishing consultant in 2004. In between the Spectator and Reason, Burr, who holds an MBA from Indiana University, earned his publishing stripes at such magazines as Launchspace, The American Conservative, The Washington Monthly, and European Affairs.