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Mr. Butts and Mr. Bike duke it out in the baggage car. Rick Harnish in a letter to "Chicagoland Bicycle Federation News" (June/July): "Amtrak has made a big step by recognizing that bicycles represent a valuable market. As its smoking policy became more restrictive, however, Amtrak lost a significant portion of its ridership to air and auto travel. In contrast, the Vermonter, a train that has been outfitted with roll-on bike racks for at least a year, has apparently seen little usage by bicyclists. Amtrak's decision to provide a separate smoking area instead of more bike racks was based on market indicators like these."

"The $4,400 paid for each Earnfare participant getting a job [after the General Assistance cutoff] is $200 more than Edgar is proposing to pay per public school student yearly for education," writes Doug Dobmeyer in "Poverty Issues...Dateline Illinois" (May 30). "The legislature is demanding more accountability from schools, while the Edgar Administration doesn't feel it has to provide the same accountability for Earnfare....The state cannot tell if the people are still employed because they have no tracking mechanism."

Then again; perhaps we should leave well enough; alone. The University of Chicago's "Publishing Program News" (May) grapples with punctuation: "In terms of lists, semicolons are used for sake of clarity to separate items in a long or complex series. For example, 'In the NBA semifinals, the final score was Bulls, 5; Atlanta, 1; Knicks, 4; Miami, 3.'" Those four-way series are hell on the United Center floor too.

Things libertarians don't want to know. About 7,000 elderly and disabled legal immigrants now living in Uptown, Edgewater, and Rogers Park will soon lose their SSI benefits. A recent Loyola University study analyzed a proposal that religious congregations make up for the loss by increasing the services they provide. Based on the average $484-a-month SSI grant and approximately 220 churches in the area, that would mean that "each church would need an additional $15,900 per month or $190,000 annually in their budgets to compensate for the increased demand for additional resources."

PR people without a clue. First line of a letter from the American Dairy Association of Illinois: "Rollerbladers step aside. The grilled cheese sandwich of the '90s is the next trendsetter."

First, insert politically correct foot in mouth. From the publisher of Spinsters Ink, a Minnesota feminist publishing house: "I think we need to reclaim the words 'excellent' and 'quality' and refuse to have them usurped by dead white male standards or anyone else's standards. How, then, do we define 'excellence' in writing? It's arbitrary."

Where the money isn't. "The software industry...[is] afraid of writing code for old computers," complains Paul Ehrling in Chicago Computer Guide (June). "No one sells a major program that will make a 386 or 486 with 4 megs of RAM look good."

Supermyth? "Most kids aren't criminals," a recent press release from the Chicago-based Youth Vision reminds us, referring to publicity about "superpredators." "The juvenile crime rate, while still higher than in the 1970's, is dropping. And the youth predicted to become future superpredators have the greatest drop in violent crime rate."

Them that has, gets. "The rich communities can afford to charge very exorbitant [impact] fees because they're hot spots," an unnamed northern Illinois consultant tells William Foster in "Tax Facts" (May). "Everyone wants to be there." But poorer communities, Foster adds, "often will forgo exactions in order to woo development, leaving themselves unable to meet capital spending requirements later on."

But mom, I have to carry these old chicken bones back inside to compare! On selected days this summer, the Field Museum will offer visitors "an outdoor picnic supper of fried chicken" in conjunction with its dinosaur exhibit. "Afterwards, [visitors] can compare the bones to bird-like dinosaurs and learn why some paleontologists think that dinosaurs and chickens may be distant relatives."

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