Where are the girl nerds? "On the whole, the culture that develops around computers at a college or university is unlikely to be attractive to those who have been trained to value interpersonal relations, as most young women have," writes Eric Roberts in Tough Questions (Fall 1989). "More than any other scientific endeavor, computer science, and particularly programming, has a tendency to encourage highly focused behavior almost to the point of obsession. In our culture, males are given greater license to be obsessive....This is a very difficult issue in that it is hard to find the source of discriminatory intent in the face of obvious discriminatory effect."
Dept. of sophisticated political philosophy. "I was a child of the 60s," John O'Malley of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission tells Chicago Lawyer (December 1989). "But I remember thinking way back then that if it's anarchy we want, who's going to make our guitars?"
Looking for a tailor. According to Ed Zotti in Chicago Enterprise (December 1989), developers Albert Ratner and Gerald Fogelson "have three things: an idea, a real estate sales contract, and brass. The idea is that there is a big market for 'back-office' space near downtown Chicago. The sales contract is for 71 acres of old railroad property in the South Loop, for which they've agreed to pay $18 million. The brass is what enables them to ask the city for $210 million to put said property into usable condition" to become a mixed-use complex called Central Station. "Railroad land can be had for $5-10 a square foot, compared to $150 and up--way up--for prime Loop property. Trouble is, railroad land reposes in the inner-city equivalent of the state of nature, innocent of such niceties as streets and sewers. It's like a fifty-buck Hong Kong suit--it just needs $210 million worth of alterations."
"You may not have noticed it, but 50,000 American coal miners have been on strike for six months," writes Barbara Ehrenreich in Z magazine, reprinted in Harper's (December 1989). "The ten-state strike has featured the unprecedented mass application of nonviolent civil disobedience to a labor struggle: Thousands of miners and members of their families were arrested for peacefully blocking mine entrances. Troops were called in; they even, in some instances, fired on the strikers. It was possible, however, to read the daily newspapers with some diligence during the strike and completely miss the story. Meanwhile, the papers I read gave daily front-page coverage to the Soviet coal miners' strike....[giving] us an idea of what decent labor coverage might be like if the American media were to attempt it: The workers' demands were presented sympathetically; the larger ramifications of the strike were duly analyzed; and individual strike leaders were profiled generously."
Your tax dollars at work. The state Department of Professional Regulation recently admonished a Hoffman Estates real estate salesperson and fined her $50 because "she placed an ad in a newspaper in which her name appeared in larger print than the name of the real estate company."
"Like a sequel to an old horror movie, the plan to build the Fox Valley Freeway through McHenry County has been resurrected from the dead as part of a political deal made with DuPage County," according to a report in the McHenry County Defenders Environmental News (December 1989). Ironically, it was that same highway that brought the Defenders' predecessor group into existence almost 20 years ago. The freeway does not appear in the state transportation plan for the Chicago area, but "this appears to be only a minor problem for IDOT [Illinois Department of Transportation]. The agency says it will change the plan to add the new highway." Don't put it on your map yet, though, because the Defenders don't care for the idea any more now than they did in the 1970s.
"The Crash of October 1987 has shaken many economists' faith in market efficiency," writes U. of C. business professor Kenneth R. French in the University of Chicago Record (November 16). The Chicago School dogma that stock-market prices reflect rational information and not mindless panic has been shaken. "While a few marvel at what they call 'the most efficient price change in history,' most financial economists are still looking for the information that lowered prices by more than 20 percent on October 19."
"Shelter for the survivors of family violence is a critical need," reports Ann Elizabeth Bennett in the Chicago Community Trust Quarterly (Fall 1989). "In the Chicago metropolitan area, there are only six shelters for battered women and their children. Every day, five women are turned away from each shelter because it is filled to capacity."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.