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Why draw a dinosaur bone when you could take a picture of it? University of Chicago scientific illustrator Carol Abraczinskas, interviewed in the University of Chicago Chronicle (February 5), explains: "The drawing is a way of getting across the most important information about an object--you can't always do that with a photograph....To take a photograph, you need both light and shadow to make the object look realistic. But by doing a drawing, you can manipulate the light in order to emphasize the information that normally would be lost in the shadow. Often with specimens there is discoloration, cracks, or other information that you don't need, so a drawing can simplify an object. You can also reconstruct broken areas with a dashed line to show the actual outline of the object."

An electric fence for fish. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and federal EPA will spend $750,000 to design and build two electrical fields to prevent the round goby, an aggressive exotic fish now found in the Great Lakes, from getting into the Illinois and Mississippi rivers ("Helm," Winter). They'll be located 300 yards apart in the Sanitary and Ship Canal. According to Phil Moy of the corps, "Each array will generate an electrical field effective to a height about 2 meters above the canal bottom, posing no threat to human safety. The barrier will be attached to the bottom and recessed into the sides of the canal so that barge traffic can continue to operate normally....It is intended to deter the fish, not to stun or kill them." Current designs have repelled 80 percent of gobies.

"The Village of Hinsdale is under a siege," says the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois in a recent press release. "Since 1985, Hinsdale has lost 648 houses to demolition....New 'tract mansions' have taken their place." Let's see--preservationists don't like sprawl either, so if you can afford Hinsdale at all, the only politically correct way to do so is to live in an old house.

Sleeping giant no more. "Latino voter turnout...increased dramatically by 500,000-700,000 in each presidential election from 1980-1992," writes Juan Andrade Jr. in the Chicago-based United States Hispanic Leadership Institute's "Quarterly Update" (Winter), "but nothing compared to the historic gain recorded between 1992 and 1996 when 1,000,000 more Latinos turned out to vote, an increase of 19%....Overall, ten million fewer Americans turned out to vote in 1996 than in 1992. Why? I don't know. But I do know that Latinos were the only ethnic or racial group in America that increased in voter turnout."

"Judges shouldn't be glad-handing at ward meetings and making themselves 'accessible,'" writes former North Shore congressman and federal judge Abner Mikva in a recent American Bar Association press release. The Illinois State Bar Association found that "45 percent of the candidates running in the March 17 primary for a seat on the Cook County bench could not be recommended after careful screening."

The great(er) divide. "The black middle class has quadrupled since the '60s, doubling in the '80s alone," writes Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (March 22). "Yet fully one-third of all African-Americans are worse off economically today than they were on the day that Martin Luther King Jr. died in 1968."

Oh--I thought it was because they were exceptionally bad people. The Field Museum's Bill Burger summarizes Jared Diamond's new book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies ("In the Field," March-April): "Europeans did not develop the world's dominant material culture because they were innately more intelligent, rather they rose to the top because of geographical factors that provided both a rich biota and the possibility of diverse cultural interactions over a huge area."

"Nobody got on the school board unless the old man [Richard J. Daley] OK'd it," John Hoellen, the Republican mayoral challenger in 1975, tells Illinois Issues (March). "He had to OK almost every principal, or at least his henchmen did, and every engineer. It was just a cesspool of political activity. That's why it was teeming with incompetence. He didn't give a damn about [educational quality]. He was parochial all the way. Rich has a much broader sensitivity toward his responsibility."

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