"Geologically, the strata bearing our civilization will be found with a Geiger counter," reflects Chicago Green Party activist Bob Rudner in Green Politics (Summer). "In 24,065 years A.C. (After Chernobyl), when half of the Pu-239 [plutonium] decays, archaeologists (if there are any) will also see other markings of our industrial civilization."
That rock that just came through my window was a resentment rock, not a racist rock--so it's OK, right? Russ Stewart on white resistance to scattered-site housing, in Illinois Politics (July/August): "There is a huge difference between white 'racism' and white 'resentment.' The infuriated reaction of white 36th Ward property owners on Chicago's northwest side to the placement of a public housing unit in the vicinity of Addison and Forest Preserve Drive illustrates that difference: If a minority family can afford to buy a $350,000 three-flat in the area, and the white neighbors are outraged, that's racism. If the federal government uses tax dollars to buy a $350,000 three-flat so that they can lease the units to CHA-eligible 'poor' families (incomes of less than $42,000) at a rent equal to 30 percent of their household income, with the CHA absorbing the $6,000 in annual property taxes, and the white neighbors are outraged, that's resentment."
"The Ohio River aquatic snails, often called periwinkles by local folk," have suffered from the zebra-mussel invasion, writes John Schwegman of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in a recent press release. "By 1995, the snails were reduced to a third of their former abundance [20 to 25 per square quarter meter]. Surviving snails were covered with zebra mussels and struggled to even move with this load on their shells. This year they are gone. No snails were found in the 10 samples I helped process and [biologist Drew] Miller said they had seen none the prior day either. Hopefully a few survive in the lower Ohio somewhere."
Guys too. State representative Nancy Kaszak in Illinois Issues (September): "One lesson I learned in running for Congress is that men legislators don't take you seriously until you raise money."
"If you visit Chicago, bring lots of centavos," Mary Dugger advises would-be tourists in her new book, The History of Lesbian Hair and Other Tales of Bent Life in a Straight World. "Because of huge amounts of pilferage among Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) employees, CTA personnel can no longer sell tokens. This is like the post office telling you that they don't sell stamps....This makes me so angry that I regularly get back at the CTA by using centavos in the turnstiles. I once even stuffed a note into the slot that read, 'Sorry about the inconvenience but I find that I steal from myself if I carry CTA tokens.'"
Still headed down. According to the Metro Chicago Information Center, union membership in the city has dropped from 22 percent in 1992 to 16 percent in 1996; in the suburbs it's down from 23 to 18 percent in the same time span.
The long arm of the Lake Michigan snowbelt. Average annual snowfall in Chicago (1961-1990), 39 inches; in South Bend, Indiana, 83 inches. Chicago's record snowiest winter is 90 inches, only a little above South Bend's average (The Snow Booklet: A Guide to Science, Climatology and Measurement of Snow in the United States).
Bet you didn't know science was so commercial. "An experiment follows the scientific method," according to Nature's Notes (Fall), the quarterly newsletter of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, "by isolating the variable to be tested and keeping other variables constant. Take the simple question, 'Which brand of popcorn pops the largest kernels?' You might first hypothesize that the brand with the largest unpopped kernels will also pop the largest. To find out scientifically, keep all the other variables the same (such as the popping machine, amount popped, temperature, etc.), and compare the results of different brands."
"Students who commit violent acts get a choice" in the Paul Vallas school-reform era, writes Julia Vitullo-Martin in the New Democrat (September/October): "Accept a transfer to one of these [alternative schools for disruptive students], or drop out. It's a harsh policy, but one supported by principals. Edward Guerra, principal of Farragut High School, which is located in a troubled neighborhood, has seen a 100 percent decrease in gang-related violent incidents in the last year -- from 80 to zero. He says, 'We introduced mandatory uniforms, which work for all the obvious reasons, and beefed up the security staff. And Vallas opened the alternative schools. Now we have a chance.'"