Monday, February 22, 2010

Thank You UTNE Reader

I was looking through links to quarterly periodicals, the kind of magazines you see in train stations that cost as much as a small to medium paperback book. The AL Daily has a superb list of links to such magazines. Some of these magazines have generous offerings of articles they will let you read on line. The sites also offer articles that can be read only with a subscription. It's a good way to sell magazines.

The UTNE Reader really caught my eye with some very good Indie music, spread out across a wide variety of styles, from bluegrass to world music. They had a phenomenal singer named Razia Said from Madagascar who sings in the language of her country. Another singer named Pale White Moon who does mood pieces for National Public Radio also has a song on this month's list.

When I buy a CD, I feel I have broken even if three or four songs out of twelve are songs that I like. The UTNE Reader gave me very pleasant surprise with Pale White Moon, Razia Said and other gifted performers. The UTNE Reader on line offers each month a list of songs from Indie musicians that you can lsten to and download for free. Out of nine songs with this month's issue, I found four that were really phenomenal. It motivated me to look at the articles in UTNE Reader as well.

I like articles that go into depth. A title like "Letter From Birobidzhan" with twelve pages of travelogue, factoids and history from the Soviet far east is right about my speed. If it includes a video clip of a Mongolian rock band singing hits from the Moody Blues in Mongolian, then I'm completely hooked.

The UTNE Reader passes my test for giving a topic a lot more than a couple of perfunctory paragraphs to a topic. The feature article in this issue was an article on prisons for immigrant criminals, many of whom have children and spouses who are American citizens. The article dealt with the social effects of treating immigration violations as hard core felonies. It also dealt at length with the privatisation of prisons and the corner cutting that goes with it. How bad is the corner cutting? The article opened with a prison riot that was sparked because a man in solitary confinement was denied medication for his epileptic seizures. The man died in solitary and left prison without even the dignity of a pauper's coffin. It described a labyrinth of paperwork and bureaucracy between the government and the corporations that house prisoners that is a nesting place for waste and corruption.

It is clear that the private prison industry is happy to have unsealed borders. Desperate fence jumpers will continue to come north. The unlucky ones will be caught and imprisoned, and someone will make their living off the deal. If you seal the border and set economically realistic quotas for immigration, then you will have an orderly process. The UTNE Reader article shed light on a whole range of complexities that are lost in fusillades of jingoism and cliches coming from both sides of the immigration debate.

I like to go "off the main roads" when seeking information. I also like to venture outside of my political comfort zone. Some of the UTNE Reader material definitely meets this qualification. The UTNE Reader provides information I might otherwise not find. One article The Dark Side of Dairies deals with the occupational hazards of working in a dairy. As someone who cares about the workers who produce my food, clothing and electronics, I thrive on articles like these. I may well consider subscribing to the UTNE Reader. At $36.00 a year, its price is reasonable.

I do one of my daily articles on a publication. Today I made an exception. I have what might be called a religious belief. I determine how religious a society is by how they treat prisoners and the unborn. Those are the polar extremes in my mind of the voiceless and those who evoke societal anger. It is because of this belief that the latest issue of the UTNE Reader caught my eye. Thank you UTNE Reader. I am glad I found you. And by the way, those were some real good songs.

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