“Wouldn’t it be amazing if our defenses against pathogens, over time, have a sort of tectonic force in a given culture, and nobody knows it?” asks Ethan Watters, a San Francisco-based contributing editor to the magazine. Watters unpacks the evolutionary biologist Randy Thornhill’s grand theory that many of our most cherished beliefs and institutions are the fruit of a much more primitive mechanism: the drive to avoid diseases. “Thornhill is willing to take the theory wherever it goes, and not interested in whether other people think he’s stepping beyond the bounds of decorum,” Watters says. “Looking back 10 years from now, his proclamations may either seem unbelievably prescient or outrageously grandiose.”
The Washington, D.C.-based author Timothy Noah has had a longstanding interest in how income inequalities are created. While the fast-food industry has been vilified for paying its workers pennies, in his article, “Disenfranchised,” Noah considers an often-overlooked victim in the fast-food hierarchy: franchise owners. “Franchising has become a modern variation on sharecropping,” he says. The franchisees’ plight—struggling to meet their brands’ demands while dealing with worker protests for higher wages—exemplifies the extent of corporate exploitation today.
"One effect of 12-step dominance is that addiction continues to be seen by many people as a moral failing rather than a disease. This is ironic, since many 12-step advocates firmly consider addiction to be a disease, as do government agencies like the National Institute on Drug Abuse."
Christina Moon, like many Korean Americans with ties to fashion, became interested in the apparel industry through her parents. Both worked in a jewelry factory after they immigrated to New York. Today Moon is an anthropologist who studies the garment business. In “The Slow Road to Fast Fashion,” she explores how young Korean American designers have transformed their families’ businesses into some of the leading suppliers of low-cost, trendy clothing in the country. “Older generations didn’t really have the American cultural fluency and skills to connect whatever they were making to American buyers,” says Moon, who is an assistant professor at Parsons The New School for Design.
Robert Anasi caught the exploration bug the first time he visited Machu Picchu, more than a decade ago. “I was fascinated by the ancient cultures, but I felt like I was missing something,” he says. In “What Dreams Still Come,” the Los Angeles-based author returns to Peru to bushwhack through the Andean jungle with a retired university administrator, Keith Muscutt, in search of pre-Columbian tombs—and of what it means to be an explorer today. Muscutt, in Anasi’s words, “has this superhero secret identity where he disappears into the jungle every summer.”
“Everyone wants there to be one answer,” when it comes to curing drug addiction, laments Maia Szalavitz. In her book review, “Kicking the Habit,” the New York-based writer examines why Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous are the rehab industry’s go-to solution—and almost a religion. “One effect of this 12-step dominance is that addiction continues to be seen by many people as a moral failing rather than a disease,” Szalavitz says. “This is ironic, since many 12-step advocates firmly consider addiction to be a disease, as do government agencies like the National Institute on Drug Abuse.” Szalavitz is at work on a book that explores addiction and compulsive disorders at length.
Lauren Lancaster, a Brooklyn-based photographer who regularly contributes to The New Yorker, didn’t know anything about the Los Angeles garment district before she began documenting it with Christina Moon. “Like most people, I knew of the products but I wasn’t aware of the process,” she says. In “The Slow Road to Fast Fashion,” she gives readers a window into the lives of the Korean American families who have revolutionized fashion’s accessibility. “I had no idea how much specific labor went into making certain kinds of jeans,” Lancaster says, “that there is a man scrunching creases into every pair and a woman with a razor blade fraying sections by hand.”