From the Stacks: September 21, 2007

Utne Reader‘s library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500
magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively
dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box
bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights
(and occasional lowlights) of what’s landing in our library each
week in ‘From the Stacks.’ Check in every Friday for the latest
edition.

Warning:
Reading Verge, an ethical-travel magazine
bursting with good-for-the-planet trips and tours, might cause you
to drop what you’re doing and start planning an extended adventure
abroad. The Fall issue includes Verge‘s annual Go Abroad
Directory, a handy roundup of programs that send you to trek,
teach, work, volunteer, or study on all seven continents (yes,
destinations include Antarctica). The issue includes dispatches
from Morocco, India, Cozumel, Ontario, Kenya, and Nicaragua, where
Toronto-based photographer Matthew Kadey recently took part in an
‘agro eco-tourism’ project that pairs visitors with fair trade
coffee farmers in four communities for home-stays and hands-on
coffee production. I recommend keeping a notepad nearby, because
you may find yourself tabulating revised budgets, vacation days,
and potential cat-sitters. — Danielle Maestretti

The Art of Eating is a svelte food
quarterly that entices readers with the promise of authentic,
exquisite eating experiences. The latest issue describes the
difficulty of finding real wasabi — the green lump you get in
most sushi restaurants is just gussied-up horseradish that
‘bears the same resemblance to wasabi that Roger Moore bears to
Sean Connery.’ To experience wasabi’s true ‘grassy freshness’
for yourself, Rowan Jacobsen explains that you can special-order
some from a farm in British Columbia and then grate it on a
sharkskin grater, or scratch together a lot of dough and find
one of the handful of sushi restaurants in the United States
that’s fancy enough to serve the real thing. — Brendan
Mackie

The Octonauts & the Sea of
Shade
is a book for children, and for adults who want
to act like children. The Octonauts are a team of eight adorable
creatures who hang out in a bright, colorful, octopus-shaped
city under the sea. In Vicki Wong and Michael Murphy’s second
Octonaut tale, the gang must travel to the creepy Sea of Shade
to rescue all the world’s shadows. The crisply drafted pages
bloom with fascinating detail: every tree, shadow, rock, and
animal has an endearing, individual personality. While the story
might be too cute for some, the book itself is a lush visual
treat. — Brendan Mackie

In New
Internationalist
‘s September cover package, Vanessa Baird
investigates the roots of ‘the most hideous incarnation of
globalization’ — international sex trafficking. According to
Baird, when the Iron Curtain fell, global capitalism swept into
former communist states, creating a boon for the now $12 billion
industry. For example, the social and economic instability that
plagued Albania after it joined the World Trade Organization
created ideal conditions for sex traffickers to prey on young women
and ensure the country’s ascendance in the international sex trade.
Also in the package, New Internationalist tells the
stories of two trafficked women — one from Nigeria, the other from
Moldova — and offers a character sketch of the ‘small-time
bottom-feeders’ that turn the wheels of the sex slavery industry.
Eric Kelsey

Finally,
a magazine you can read for the pictures!
DOUBLEtruck, the magazine for the photo
and news service Zuma Press, reprints ‘pictures that need to be
seen.’ The current issue (#8) documents both international headline
grabbers, such as the Virginia Tech shootings, and little-known
local stories, like rampant malnutrition in Guatemala. Most of the
photos span two pages (a ‘doubletruck’ spread), offering the images
a privileged platform rarely seen in the daily newspapers that are
the bread and butter of photojournalism. Most evocative are the
photos of public leaders caught outside of staged photo ops. In one
picture, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair pensively
crouches in a helicopter circling Baghdad, and in another, Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert turns his head toward a protester as if
in personal confrontation. — Eric Kelsey

The
September issue of Governing, a comprehensive and
engaging magazine covering state and municipal politics, starts off
another school year with two features on education. In ‘Teaching
Past the Test,’ Alan Greenblatt writes about the new ‘data
revolution in education,’ describing how some educators  use
data collected through No Child Left Behind to gauge individual
students’ needs and trace their performance histories.  In ‘A
Higher Purpose,’ Greenblatt notes that only 18 of every 100
American ninth graders will complete college before turning 25. To
address these dismal rates, some states have tasked legislative
groups with setting explicit agendas and expectations for higher
education institutions. But some university presidents complain of
falling victim to legislative meddling that ‘veers between
micromanagement and benign neglect.’ Greenblatt argues that to
promote college graduation rates, policymakers would do better to
provide funding that colleges can count on in the long term. —
Julie Dolan

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