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The City File



Why couldn't we have been mighty Bulls instead? Governor Jim Edgar in Area Development (May): "Illinois has for decades been among the mightiest pistons in the national economic engine."

Can it be too easy to fly an airplane? Evidently so, according to a recent UIC press release quoting Linda Skitka, an assistant professor of psychology who's collaborating on a study of cockpit automation. "Automating the cockpit can make overall flight operations more efficient," she says. "But over-automating the cockpit can make the job more dull and lead to lower levels of vigilance. We're working to find the optimal mix of automation and human decision-making control."

Rewriting and editing, on the other hand, are optional. From a suburban quality assurance consultant's brochure: "With these new standards the quality profession has been legitimatized. It is no longer an option whether a company has a quality program or not. Nor is it an option as to the nature of that program. The days of 'The Quality Program of the Month' and 'Quality Buzz Words' are gone. The same is true for the panderers to the quality profession. As the quality field has developed so has the nature of the quality consultant. Like their professional counterparts..."

"I miss the more intellectual kind of conversation that I got in school," city garbage collector and artist Chris Wilkinson tells StreetWise (May 1-15). "I liked going from that to garbage collecting because I was so sick of the air-headedness of the Art Institute. I thought they were up on another plane. And I felt good about being grounded."

Sentences we were afraid to read beyond. From a Cooperative Extension Service flyer on spring leaf diseases: "There are many foliar diseases, however, a few are more serious than others and more common than some. Anthracnose is one."

Adjectives we could have lived without. From a current Museum of Contemporary Art catalog: "In the work displayed in this exhibition...Kimler's colors are muddier, more intestinal."

Does religion need government help? Not likely, says the ACLU's Ira Glasser in a letter to President Clinton: "In terms of per capita time spent on religious devotion, money contributed and church attendance, the United States ranks higher than any advanced industrial nation. According to a recent public opinion poll, the United States ranked as one of the two highest nations in the percentage of its population that believed in God. The notion that religion is failing in America, and needs the government's assistance, is demonstrably false."

Finding a quarter is an act of God; finding a $100 bill is something else. According to the Chicago-based Kemper Reports (Spring/Summer), a recent survey by the Lutheran Brotherhood found that "49 percent of all survey respondents have prayed for guidance in their financial affairs. This percentage declines as the respondents' income increases." Similarly, "81 percent have thanked God for their financial well-being; those who have the least income tend to be the most thankful."

White skin privilege. The Y-Me Hotline newsletter (March/April) reports that the breast cancer death rate for white women dropped 5.5 percent between 1989 and 1992--while the death rate for African-American women increased 2.6 percent.

Who loves me, who loves me not? About five of every eight adults surveyed in the six-county region say that the city of Chicago is a positive influence on their quality of life, reports the Metro Chicago Information Center on South Michigan. Most disaffected: African-American suburbanites, only 41 percent of whom see the city as a positive influence. Most affectionate: white urbanites, who are 75 percent procity.

"Most well-trained public school teachers choose to teach where they're needed least," according to a recent press release quoting Southern Illinois University education professor Sharon Gilbert. Her survey of 193 prospective teachers found that most come from rural settings and plan to return there to teach. And, strangely enough, she says, "there aren't many students coming into teacher preparation from ethnic groups." Guess they must be extraterrestrials, then.

Block that metaphor I. Article summary from Travel Press Index (Winter/Spring): "Chicago's historic hotels are often architecturally overwhelmed by the newcomers that scrape the clouds of today's skyline. Formed from marble and stone, these grande dames are indispensable arenas of history."

Block that metaphor II. From a recent press release quoting Des Plaines attorney Richard Colombik: "Many times we are called upon by individuals, businesses, and multinational companies when their foot is in the grave, when the IRS is about to slam the coffin shut on them. At times like these, the IRS is like a tiger with its teeth in the neck of its prey."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration/Carl Kock.

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