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I like science, and every time the sun completes another turn around the earth I resolve to learn more about it. "More than 80% of Americans believe that science and technology make their lives healthier, easier, and more comfortable," reports the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, but "fewer than half of American adults understand that the Earth orbits the sun yearly. Only 9% can explain a molecule" (Nature's Notes, Fall).

Good news considering where we started. According to a recent press release from the Metro Chicago Information Center, the percentage of area households getting all the child support they're entitled to has risen in the last two years from 29 to 42 percent.

"To take up a cross-racial affair is probably the quickest way to learn about [race]," writes Jon-Henri Damski in Outlines (September). "For the last year or so, I have been dating an American Indian (and he's been dating me), a Cheyenne rocker....When we enter a place, the assumption is I'm with them, the one in control. He couldn't be with me. He's trying to sneak in and do something 'criminal.'...My white arrogance is such a part of my makeup that I seldom notice how self-assured and oblivious I am to race. White guys go around unaware they are white. It's their bad luck and dumb privilege."

Laying fiber-optic cable from Chicago to Champaign didn't destroy virgin prairie, thanks to voluntary efforts by Consolidated Communications, Electricom, and the Illinois Central Railroad. The 100-mile easement along the IC tracks was adjusted to avoid seven rare remnants containing more than 80 species of native prairie plants, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

"As a nonbeliever, I crave religious students," says professor Alan Wolfe, quoted in Martin Marty's Chicago-based newsletter Context (September 15). "At least they have something in their backgrounds to which I can appeal that was not the subject of last night's prime-time programming. Teaching classes on abortion and AIDS to students who simply cannot understand that there really are people who think about such issues in other than utilitarian ways is incredibly frustrating."

"Daley is totally unchallengeable politically, a virtual mayor-for-life," writes political scientist Julia Vitullo-Martin in the New Democrat (September/October) on the latest round of school reform. "Thus, he has the freedom to take on the unions and other traditional Democratic constituencies and do the right thing. No other big-city mayor in America is in such a position."

"Puppet theaters are forced to set up at the periphery of cultural activities at large," writes Blair Thomas in Randolph Street Gallery's P-FORM magazine (Fall). "I feel the once vital and now culturally castrated hand puppet Punch epitomized this marginal tradition....Equally marginal and influential is the puppet['s]....manifest embodiment of life forces that are otherwise not physically evident to us. (It has been a common tradition of the puppet theater in China for the puppet's head to be stored in one box and its body in another to fully remove the spirit from the puppet when it is not being used in a performance.)"

Wish I'd said that. Former senator Eugene McCarthy, quoted in Progressive Review (September 18): "Clinton is a Peronist, really. He has made his peace with the military, the big corporations, and he sends his wife out to take care of social issues."

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