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Utne ReaderUtne Reader

Utne Reader Winter 2018

Since 1984, Utne Reader has been the vanguard of the alternative press, celebrating independent news and views from across the political spectrum. With ideas, trends and solutions you won’t see in the mainstream media for months or even years, those who want to know what’s happening next, read Utne Reader first.

United States
Ogden Publications, Inc.
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access_time2 min.
beyond el capitan

ONE OF MY many interests is climbing, specifically rocks and mountains. To be clear, I’ve never actually been climbing. In fact, I have no desire to ever try it—I just find it mesmerizing to watch others do it. I think my interest in climbing stems from a healthy acknowledgement of my shortcomings, both physical and mental. For one, I’ve never had the upper body strength to manage more than a handful of pullups, so to watch someone consistently drag their bodyweight up a sheer granite face is awe-inspiring. Secondly, I know that I have a short-attention span when it comes to tasks that require intense and unrelenting focus so, again, I’m fascinated by what’s humanly possible with expert-level determination and dedication. When most people think of amazing human achievements in the realm…

access_time4 min.

RESPONDING TO “DREAMS DEFERRED,” (FALL 2018) According to The National Sleep Foundation, a majority of Americans say they’ve had trouble getting adequate sleep. But, where is the proof that African-Americans, more than any other Americans, suffer from a racial sleep gap? The author doesn’t give any proof that “fewer black people are able to sleep for the recommended six to nine hours nightly than any other ethnic group in the United States.” And no systematic reviews or other other medical studies are presented. In this age of “post-truths” and “alternative facts,” Utne should always demand scientific proof-replicated studies for bio-medical claims. This is especially true for claims about African-Americans. As illustrated by the statements of Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Cartwright, junk science has plagued African-Americans for a very long time. sandmadd via online…

access_time25 min.
all along the rio grande

Marta Todd lives happily with her husband and an adopted stray dog on the Texas side of the Rio Grande. They are content with their small town, Zapata (pop. 5,089), their RV home on the edge of Falcon Lake, and the eBay business they run out of a nearby storage container. A cool breeze is always blowing off the water, rustling the tall grass and the palm trees that shade the trailer park. Weekend campers and anglers flock in and out, but the Todd family stays put. She was raised on the Mexican side of the river, however, where things are different, she tells me. She avoids visiting her hometown, Reynosa, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Family comes first on both sides of the border, and Todd has relatives living…

access_time15 min.
an economy of false profits

A few years ago, I began to notice the trembling of the newspaper in my wife’s hand as she held it up to read at breakfast. Since Ruth and I were in our 60s, I took it to be a sign of aging, like the creases in my face or the arthritis in my thumbs, rather than a sign of illness. As months passed, however, the trembling grew more pronounced, and ominous, the way the quivering of leaves foretells an approaching storm. Then one morning she lowered the newspaper, pressed it firmly on the table to still her hand, and said, “I think I have Parkinson’s.” A neurologist soon confirmed the diagnosis. Ruth and I knew several people who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, some in the late stages, their voices whittled…

access_time12 min.
the airshaft

Only when the moans grew louder did I realize how quiet the airshaft had been, how little emotion the space itself—which was really an absence of space, a hollow between two buildings—had held until then. Now it is the source of my fury and disdain, this negative space that somehow holds such power. I live on the fourth, and top, floor of an eight-unit limestone apartment building in Brooklyn, NY. It was built in 1905, five years after the passage of the 1901 Tenement House Act, requiring windows, natural light, and fresh air in every room. It’s classified by the Department of Buildings as C1: more than six units, a walk-up, no stores, although there is a doctor’s office in the basement. The building itself is close to stately but unremarkable,…

access_time11 min.
the designated driver

I arrived at the faculty meeting as a few hundred students stormed the room, chanting about campus-wide racism, demanding justice. Most of the students were white, there to support their black peers as they aired grievances. After a while, some of the speakers began to cry, which fueled my growing unease. The offenses struck me as minor, the kinds of slights that I, 30 years ago, as a black student who had also attended an overwhelmingly white university, merely brushed aside, things like coeds requesting to touch my hair, and faculty asking if I was there because of a racial quota. Annoying, to be sure, but not demonstration-worthy, not tear-worthy, not worthy of the bullhorn a young man kept bringing to his lips to shout, “The racism ends now!” And…