Okay, I know this is not an especially original selection, but over time I have truly found Scientific American to be a great balance between hard science magazines and those that are popular because they're a bit too lightweight (e.g., Discover). The articles in Scientific American seem to emphasize subjects that non-scientists will find interesting, and yet do not pander to us. At least not too much...dinosaurs do seem to appear on the cover an awful lot ; )
Another great thing about Scientific American is that articles end with a thumbnail box listing further reading, often including books or articles from harder science pubs. So if a subject really fires my imagination, I have some directions for how to dive into the deeper water. On the other side of this, about twenty years ago I read so voraciously about theoretical physics and cosmology that I was considering taking a calculus course, because the books I wanted to read started using equations to explain things. My ever migrant imagination took me in another direction before I got too serious that, but with Scientific American I feel like I can keep up somewhat with a discourse I still find thrilling.
For some time, I've toyed with the idea of opening a gallery someday. While this may be one of my many ideas that ultimately goes nowhere, it spurred me into visiting some galleries, talking to the owners, and thinking about what kind of creative works I admire enough to represent in my imaginary gallery. What I discovered is that I get really excited about where art and craft intersect. There are brilliant artists out there whose process is just as fascinating as the work they ultimately produce. For example, I came across one artist (or artisan?) who weaves baskets and other forms. She apparently grows all her own materials. She grows plants, harvests them, and then creates the reeds, string, and whatever else she needs to create her works. For me, this made her objects a thousand times more meaningful.
Lo and behold! There is an arts magazine that focuses on just this kind of work! American Craft - in just a few pages - made me realize I held an assumption that 'crafts' are a lightweight cousin of painting and sculpture. I really can't believe I actually held this opinion, but I have been thoroughly cured of it. In the issue I read, the volume of artists covered and the array of media and materials touched on made me feel like a kid in a candy store. So much amazing work is out there, and I'll be surfing the web to explore many of the artists covered and even some of the works advertised. Definitely looking to have my perceptions stretched by this magazine!
One of the benefits of being politically independent is that you are not a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal. You are free of labels and, thus, free to explore and accept any and all ideas you find worthy. When someone balks at a belief I hold that doesn't fit predictably with wherever they have attempted to pigeonhole me, I get to smile blithely and say: "I'm an independent, my dear."
As I was exploring potential magazines to subscribe to, I thought: "What I would love to have is a magazine that - without stinking of pot and hippies - introduces the latest super-liberal, non-religious thinking." There are tons of ideas that come from this end of the spectrum. Today, they get dismissed as left wing Utopian idealism...only to end up informing our reality years later. It's like when you watch a couture fashion show or visit a cutting edge art gallery. You wouldn't wear or buy much of anything you see, but this is the fertile ground of ideas from which everything cool that you will end up wearing or buying comes from.
The Humanist may be that magazine for me. While I get my dander up when I sense shallow polemic (see recent post refuting one article that annoyed me), there are fantastic ideas in this magazine. Since I naturally lean towards fiscal conservatism and yet am all too aware of the social and economic equity issues we face in our nation, exposure to these ideas on a regular basis will help broaden my perspective. Whatever we might think of hippies and left wing Utopian idealism, the US needs this element in our discourse to stay fresh and vibrant as a nation.
More pubs to be covered in subsequent posts.
By the way, it's amazing that I am actually reading all this material (so far)! Ensuring that a good number of the pubs I select are quarterly or bi-monthly helps keep the reading level manageable.