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This is how the New Deal ends, not with a bang but a whimper. A chronology from Poverty Issues...Dateline Illinois (November 15): 9/21/96 Illinois starts denying Food Stamps to legal immigrants. 10/1/96 Federal entitlements for cash and child care end. 11/22/96 Deadline for Illinois to notify 18-50-year-old adults of three-month limit for Food Stamps. 1/1/97 Illinois can end cash aid, Medicaid, and state-funded public aid for legal immigrants. 8/22/97 Legal immigrants begin to be cut off from Food Stamps.

Signs of the (digital) times. Amount spent per pupil on school library materials, 1993-'94, according to School Library Journal: $6.60. Amount of that spent on CD-ROMs, computer software, microforms, and audiovisual equipment: $5.28. Amount spent on books: $1.32 (USA Ed.Net Briefs, November 18).

Slackers complain too much? They have good reason, judging from a study titled "How Long Does It Take a Young Worker to Support a Family?" published in a recent issue of NU Policy Research by Greg Duncan, Johanne Boisjoly, and Timothy Smeeding. "Earnings levels are uniformly lower for men turning 21 between 1980-91 than those reaching adolescence between 1970-79." But even though it has become more difficult, "it is indeed still possible to build up a stock of skills that provide a middle-class standard of living in one-earner household." Of men turning 21 in the 1980s, 42 percent had "made it" into the middle class by age 30. Of college-educated men that age, 56 percent. Of black men and those from impoverished backgrounds, less than 20 percent.

"Chicago has put more schools on probation than any other city that I can think of," the University of Chicago's Tony Bryk tells Debra Williams in Catalyst (November). "But in terms of using statistical data to make their judgments about schools, other cities are much more sophisticated. Chicago's criteria are crude."

Cheap stuff and Victorian values too! "The old [Maxwell Street Market] emerged in the late 19th century in the age of the industrial revolution with great waves of immigration coming to Chicago," writes Roosevelt University professor Steve Balkin. "The new market is originating in the 1990's in the information age with its accom-panying displacements and waves of immigration to the city. The market is needed now no less than it was needed in the 19th century."

As others see us. Philadelphia architect Robert Venturi, in his new book Iconography and Electronics Upon a Generic Architecture: "Chicago: An exquisite and beloved museum of architecture that includes Sullivan and Richardson and the Chicago School and Wright and Mies and Tigerman: is it to be America's Florence?"

What's the best thing about being married? When Cathy O'Connell-Cahill was asked this question at a party celebrating the upcoming wedding of her sister she had a ready answer: "For me the best thing about being married is that I don't spend a lot of time anymore wondering whether we're going to break up, the way I did before." The other women around the table, ages 25 to 45, were not impressed. "You'd have thought I had just walked into an animal-rights rally wearing a mink coat. A loud hoot rose up from the table. Wordless, it might as well have shouted, 'Just you wait!' or 'You're living in a dream world!' Although my sister-in-law gently stuck up for me, for a moment I felt as if I must have committed a colossal faux pas. Then my confidence righted itself. If speaking out loud my commitment to my husband had now become a countercultural statement, well, so be it" (Bringing Religion Home, August/September).

Attention Kmart shoppers--blue light special on XXXL dresses now under way in aisle 13. "We [gays] are too complicated to count, too contradictory to describe, and often too hidden to find, yet still clearly constitute a market," writes D. Jean Albright in CLOUT! Business Report (September), reviewing a new book on marketing to gays and lesbians. Even getting a truly random sample for a market survey is difficult--but worth trying. For instance, "In some cities but not others, it would pay mainstream clothiers to carry large-size women's clothes for well-attended holiday drag events."

I'd heard that said about graduate school subject matter, but I never took it literally.

Karen Chin's recent lecture at the Field Museum, titled "What the Dinosaurs Left Us," dealt with coprolites, or fossil dung. A doctoral candidate at the University of California, she was listed in the press release as the only recognized expert in the field.

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