Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
A slim monthly out of San Diego, Zenger's Newsmagazine is named after John Peter Zenger, a publisher whose 1735 court case 'established, for the first time in America, the concept of freedom of the press.' The April 2006 issue profiles Jennifer Schumaker, a lesbian single mother who, in a long line of past walkers, is undertaking a journey on foot in order to advocate for social change. Her 'Walk for Togetherness,' slated to begin April 8, will take her from San Diego to San Francisco. It's an attempt to promote the 'rainbow ribbon' as a symbol of one's solidarity with the struggle for 'Queer rights.' Also in this issue is the story of another visionary walker, John Francis, Ph.D. An expert on oil spills, Dr. Francis himself refuses motorized transport, and is planning a cross-country walk aimed at raising awareness for environmental issues. In the words of Dr. Francis: 'It's all about doing what we're going to do.' -- Nick Rose
Like an anarchist to a Sex Pistols album, I was uncontrollably drawn to a brilliantly hued stack of Razorcake magazines towering over the rest of our library's contributions. Issues 24 (Feb/March 05) through 31 (April/May 06) supplied a feast of compelling prose, laced with equal parts drunken debauchery and high school reminiscing (in a good way). The latest issue also featured Q and A's with the banjo/punk group Can Kickers, rockers Dead Moon, and retro-punkers Regulations. -- Kristen Mueller
For the superhero in everyone, the first issue of Superior Showcase just flew into our stacks. This issue features a tale created by Dean Trippe and John Campbell that follows the tribulations of a super sidekick with identity issues as he fights hipster ghosts, comes to grips with his angst, and searches for a sidekick of his own. Other highlights include a retired crime fighter turned college professor and a not-so-super kid who wears a mask while he works at the 'Super-Mart.' -- Bennett Gordon
Published by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the Spring 2006 issue of Wild Rockies Networker is brimming with information on environmental protection in the Rockies. This issue has got a decidedly legal bent, chronicling the pitfalls of using the courts for environmental activism. It doesn't pull any punches, either, blasting the Bureau of Land Management for its plan to 'recklessly control vegetation in the West' via increased use of herbicide over vast swaths of land primarily in Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming. This 'fraud,' they claim, is based on 'financially-conflicted data' supplied by the very entities that are poised to cash in on the deal. Also in this issue is a listing of western environmental groups and governmental officials, just in case its' readers would like to take further action. -- Nick Rose
Materials scientists who are struggling to build tougher, lighter materials are taking cues from an ancient teacher: Mother Nature. It's not the first time this apprenticeship has come about, but an article in the March 25 Science News (a 2004 UIPA nominee) illuminates several enviable creatures, including the sea sponge E. aspergillum, with its durable glass skeleton, and a South American toucan, with a powerful 20 cm-long beak. Researchers hope to glean enough from these structures to create impact-resistant body armor and buildings better able to withstand earthquakes. -- Kristen Mueller
Dense, thoughtful, and diverse, the Spring 2006 The American Scholar -- a 2005 UIPA nominee -- just landed in our library. Plunging into topics headlong, this issue includes articles on the veracity of memoir, a man's experience in Bollywood, and twenty questions we should be asking about the brain. Of note is a piece by Amitai Etzioni that discusses the US' ongoing inability to adequately cope with race. Etzioni approaches the topic by questioning why the US census requires that citizens pick a racial category, pointing out that, if you don't select one, the government will choose for you. This approach to race, he suggests, is akin to when Nazi Germany decided who was Jewish and who was not or, closer to home, when the US government declared one to be African-American on the basis of one drop of blood. -- Nick Rose