Upon arrival at the Coombe Abbey near Coventry, I was surprised to run into a crew of cigar-smoking rich guys and their vintage race cars. They do this three-day tour around the country that, although I'm not much interested in classic cars or cigars, provides me with a promising potential title for this section of the book: Tour Britannia.

What a deluge of interesting things to discuss and read this week—about autism, spelling, handedness, the carbon economy, songbird-killing cats, and more—that jetlag recovery will have to wait while I catch up a little. Thanks to Paul Collins for promptly forwarding the New York Times piece about left-clawed crabs. Coincidentally, I’m currently two-thirds of the way through Collins’ book about autism, Not Even Wrong. It’s an easy read and Collins does a terrific job weaving personal discussion and history. It’s also been a helpful primer for a feature assignment to write about autism that I’ve recently taken on.

In other news, my Wired piece about environmental markets has not, thus far, generated nearly the amount of reader interest that the essay about high-speed trains did. Some of that may be a function of the readership, as well as the more theoretical nature of the enviro-themed article. To the end, take a look at the comments on the Wired website (below the story itself). There’s an interesting and rather scathing indictment of carbon trading. Similarly, this recent International Herald Tribune story begins with news that the Vatican hopes to go carbon neutral, thanks to a planned forest on an island in Hungary. The piece then widens to address this aspect of the green economy more generally. Some familiar verbiage re: the bad and the good. The essential good, I think, is that cap-and-trade at least makes companies pay, or even just consider having to pay, for polluting in ways they never have in the past. Efficacy of the offsets themselves and the legitimacy of the offset market are much thornier issues.

On my flight from Chicago to Heathrow, I read a Wall Street Journal piece about feral cats that kill birds. Talk about a difficult issue! At the risk of turning millions and millions of cat lovers into David Wolman haters, I must confess that my sympathies are with the birds on this one. In fact, I have a very environmentally mindful friend who, after witnessing his cat kill some birds, decided to have it put down. He called someone at the humane society and asked how to go about this process as humanely as possible. Thinking the animal was sick or injured, the humane society staffer told him to bring the cat in. But when he showed up with a healthy animal, he was met by dirty looks and a refusal to help. What do you think he should have done? Should do? And no, this isn’t one of those tales in which the speaker speaks of a so-called friend because the speaker’s too embarrassed to admit that the problem is his. I’ve never had a cat.

AuthorDavid Wolman