Cars are the primary predators of the modern urban ecosystem. They roam at will, and kill some 400,000 pedestrians worldwide every year — about 4,500 annually in the United States.

Faced with evolutionary pressure, pedestrians will do what other species have done over many millennia: evolve and adapt, such that the fittest will survive. This notion is at least a century old. “What is the future of the pedestrian, anyway?” the New York Times asked in 1908. “Darwin might tell us if he were here, but he is not here and we must look elsewhere for enlightenment.”

Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor to The Atlantic and the author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.



When that poor women recently fell into and tore Picasso’s “The Actor” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, nobody questioned whether the painting should be repaired. The only issue seemed to be how — and as of right now, the Met either doesn’t know or isn’t revealing the answer.

This is a no-brainer. The master paints the work, an adult-education student tumbles into it: Despite the power differential between the two, we’re still working in the realm of the human.

Repairing nature, on the other hand, is a bit more jarring. This is likely why Richard Barnes’ photographs of natural history dioramas in various state of repair have drawn attention since they were collected in a book of his work Animal Logic, released in the fall.

To equate natural history dioramas with… More…

“For the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.” — Isaac Bashevis Singer

One morning recently I woke up and found I no longer wanted to eat meat. It seemed a sudden and unaccountable distaste. I had seen the images and read the books decrying animal slaughter over the years, and they had provoked the predictable sense of horror but no change in my eating habits. Why would I now, for no apparent reason, see things differently?

I’ve asked myself this question, even hoping that my newly acquired aversion would dissipate. I’ve always found vegetarians annoying. There’s nothing that can reduce the pleasure of a steak dinner like sitting opposite someone eating stir fried vegetables. I didn’t want to be the person who got the vegetarian option at the wedding and whose entrees were served first, with the kosher meals, on the airplane. I don’t travel in vegetarian circles. Sure, people… More…