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Clearest lake in northeastern Illinois? Grove Lake in Du Page County, where you can see a white dinner plate submerged a full 12 feet (144 inches) below the surface. Runners-up: Cedar Lake in Lake County (139 inches) and Crystal Lake in McHenry County (123 inches). (From a recent report by the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.)

Something's happening here, and you don't know what it is--do you, Mother Jones? The on-line version of Mother Jones magazine, the MoJo Wire, runs a weekly "snap poll" of its on-line readers, who seem to be a less than leftist lot these days. The week of August 4, 40 percent of those responding said they would use UPS if the company hired scabs, and the week of July 28, 44 percent wanted other states to follow Texas's lead and execute prisoners faster. And back on June 30, 63 percent opposed an official government apology for slavery.

"I want to see a person being helped," says Neil Steinberg of the Sun-Times, recalling his days on the philanthropy beat in "Beyond Conventional Wisdom: An Assessment of the Community News Project," a report recently released by the Community Media Workshop. "And [nonprofit] organizations are not set up to do that; they are set up to promote events. People cutting ribbons and putting shovels in the ground and holding balls, I don't want to cover that. I may go, if there's an open bar, and good entertainment. But even then, who cares? If I did a story about the United Way dance, my career would be over."

Cosmetology U: a poor investment for students--and taxpayers? The U.S. General Accounting Office reports that in Illinois there are three barbers/ cosmetologists for every opening in those fields. Nevertheless, in fiscal 1995 the federal government gave 6,942 students $11.7 million to study these fields in proprietary schools ("Proprietary Schools," June).

Will storytelling make better law--or tabloid law? Emily Bazelon in the Chicago-based Student Lawyer (September) on the new trend toward "narrative law": "Dershowitz credits the playwright Anton Chekhov for observing that, in a drama, a gun that appears on stage in the first act will go off in the third. But in real life, a defendant isn't necessarily a murderer because he happens to have a weapon. The plot line--or 'stock story,' in narrative law terms--of a businessman who takes a life insurance policy out on his partner days before the partner is killed ignores the fact that most people who buy life insurance for their partners or relatives don't ever think about murdering them."

Revenge of the audience? "With the amazing variety of musics waiting to be heard, aren't you sometimes struck by how little there is to hear when you flip through the [radio] dial?" asks Michael Harris in Illinois Entertainer (September). "Sure, this is a familiar lament of music fans, but it's one that radio programmers should heed if they want to avoid becoming a 'quaint' medium....

Soon we'll be able to choose what music we want to hear--albums, selected mixes, or pre-programmed radio-like shows--when we want to hear it via our phone lines and computers. We won't need to put up with the same lousy dozen songs today's radio programmers think we want to hear."

"Our only obligation is to pay the market wage and we pay that," says Robert Bruce, senior vice president of ServiceMaster in suburban Downers Grove and a participant in meetings of Business Executives for Economic Justice, a group discussing how to apply Catholic social teaching to business (U.S.Catholic, September). "To pay below market, that would be unjust and unfair. I know you're not living a great lifestyle on $7 an hour. Yet, when we advertise for $7 or $7.50 an hour, people come in and apply for the jobs." How about paying more than the market rate? "We wouldn't get service contracts for our employees," he says. "Our customers tell us, 'This is the most we're going to pay you.'"

Ouch! Henry Louis Gates in the New Yorker (August 25 & September 1): "If the electorate were as conflicted over property rights as it is over abortion we'd hear fence-straddling pols speak soothingly on the subject: 'Personally, I'm not comfortable with theft, and if a child of mine told me she was contemplating a burglary I'd ask her to consider going shopping instead.' A beat. 'But, of course, we'd support her in whatever decision she made.'"

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