2013.03.27 A magazine for only $12,168

Written by David Green.


There's a magazine for everything in the world. Every interest, every profession, every course of study.

My wife brought a catalogue of periodicals home from the library because she’s planning to add a few new magazines to the collection. Colleen walked by while I was flipping through the catalogue and she looked at a page of magazines highlighted in an ad. 

"I'd like that one," she said, pointing at "Saveur," a magazine with the slogan "Savoring the World of Authentic Cuisine." Nine issues a year for 30 bucks.

She pointed at "Working Mothers" and joked, "They don't have time to read." Next she touched "Parenting, School Years," and said the library already takes that one but it's very seldom checked out.

It seems that she has a tough job ahead. Should she get "Batwoman"? "Amateur Wrestling News"? "Armchair General"?

Sometimes the first challenge is figuring out what the magazine is about. "Ad Astra." Any guesses? Of course you know that's Latin for "to the stars." What about "Animal Man"? I figured that was...well, I don't know. Some manly periodical about men and their love of animals. I was very wrong. Twelve issues for $25 tell the story of Buddy Baker who gained animal powers after an encounter with a space station that blew up and irradiated him. It's a superhero comic book.

"Weatherwise" is a little pricey—only six issues for $188. I think I was a subscriber to that magazine once, or at least I ended up with a few issues somehow. It was back in my early high school days when I wanted to be a weatherman.

At the back of the catalogue, all the titles are divided into a Topical Index of Periodicals, from Aeronautics & Aviation to Youth. In the middle is the category called General Interest. There are several dozen here, from "15 a 20" to "Yes: Journal of Positive Futures." The first is for chicas between the ages of 15 and 20; the second attempts to reframe the world's problems into solutions—for those of you who are tired of bad news.

In between those two magazines are many that seem misplaced in the General Interest category. "Containerisation International" publishes personalized news of the container industry—containers as in container ships. It must be good. Twelve issues costs $1,640. It's something everyone needs on their coffee table.

The American Naturalist Supplement comes out only once a year, at a cost of $580. At first I thought naturist—as in people who frequent nude beaches—but I was way off. Here's a sample story: "High-stress Subterranean Habitats and Evolutionary Change in Cave-Inhabiting Arthropods." And worth every penny.

"Phronesis" (four issues, $452) is "the most authoritarian scholarly journal of the study of Ancient Greek and Roman thought."

"Mammalia" is a little cheaper at four issues for $338. With this magazine, you can read about high elevation records of ocelots in Jalisco, Mexico, and the effect of seed availability on hoarding behaviors of the Siberian chipmunk. You can just sit and marvel at the things scientists spend time studying. But General Interest?

One of the cheaper periodicals listed is called "Men's Fraternity—Quest for Authentic Manhood." It's listed as just one issue for $10. Is it for you? It is if you have a "distorted idea of biblical masculinity." I could be wrong, but I don't expect to see this one on Colleen's order list.

Maybe she'll go with "Garden and Gun," described as the "best of the South" lifestyle. Could be a guide to keeping rabbits away from your kale and broccoli.

The big prices of some periodicals put me on the hunt to find the most expensive. "Plant Cell and Environment" comes your way for $5,571 a year. Hold on: "Science of the Total Environment" runs $7,924 annually, but there are 24 issues.

We're not done yet. "Molecular Ecology Package" costs $9,796 but it's a generous 30 issues. There's one more to go: "Journal of Materials Science" will stretch the budget of any library at $12,168 a year, even though there are 48 exciting issues.

When you check that one out of the library, please don't keep it on the coffee table.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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