"Poor people in Milwaukee have responded to the loss of steady employment by starting thousands of new, mainly 'off-the-books' businesses," according to a new report by John Hagedorn, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Among those businesses are car repair, house painting, child care, haircutting, street vending, and--the most profitable--selling drugs. "What I found was a very deep adherence to mainstream values of success and in wanting to get ahead by whatever means they could do it. What I saw were people motivated by the same things you and I are motivated by, trying to figure out what to do. But they had a different set of opportunities available to them."
"I have seen mink on the Upper North Branch" of the Chicago River, writes Laurene von Klan in the "River Reporter" (Summer), newsletter of the Friends of the Chicago River. "Twice. And young snapping turtles--never a grown one, but I am sure they are there, posing as logs. In the heart of the Loop I have seen kingfishers. They perch under the bridges. Boating on the South Branch with board member Grant Crowley, I watched hundreds of fish jump as the boat accelerated....This time of year the carp are spawning. Go see them at the Diversey Avenue Turning Basin. They are big and captivating."
The young and the clueless. A professor copied all of the questions for a take-home exam from a textbook in the school library; some students found the book and copied the answers. Michigan State's Eldon Case presented this story to his freshman engineering students, who first discussed the ethics of the students' actions. Many in his class felt the copying was OK but laughed at the idea of the students citing the textbook as their source when they wrote their exams. "Many of the students didn't see the flaw in the logic of 'Copying the exam is not cheating' and 'Don't cite the book you copied the exam from or you'll be caught cheating.'" When Case asked his class about the professor's role, "Some students replied, 'He's the professor, he can do anything he wants.' No one in the class protested that view. Many in the class seemed genuinely surprised when I suggested that the professor should take a sizable share of the blame for the situation" (from the spring issue of "Perspectives," newsletter of the Illinois Institute of Technology's Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions).
The richest fifth of school districts in Illinois get about $6,700 per pupil from local, state, and federal sources, reports the General Accounting Office in a January report, "State and Federal Efforts to Target Poor Students." The poorest fifth gets about $4,700. If the schools didn't get state or federal dollars, the difference would be much worse: $5,600 to $2,200.
Maybe they know something you don't. Latinos who are naturalized citizens voted at a higher rate than U.S.-born Latinos in November 1996, reports "Politico" (August 24)--53 percent to 42 percent. This is surprising because as a rule younger, poorer, less-educated citizens (which naturalized immigrants tend to be) are less likely to turn out.
At least there's more space in the closet if you don't have kids. "If homophobia is the last socially acceptable prejudice, hatred and disdain for the childfree is its close cousin," writes Rachel Pildis in a letter to the Windy City Times (August 20). "Before breeding-happy gay people cheerfully indulge in the socially accepted disgust for those who choose the childfree path, please consider why childfree people (who are often closeted more deeply than gay people these days) get these reactions. We obviously engage in non-reproductive sex, are more affluent than the average breeder het, and, for women, are clearly thinking that we have higher priorities than filling our wombs with sacred sperm. Hmmm, see a connection there? The roots of homophobia are much the same."
"Chicago's Finest have been making news all year--and for all the wrong reasons," writes James Ylisela Jr. in Illinois Issues (June). "The politicians like to remind us that crime is down across the board, but they leave out the one statistic heading in the wrong direction: crimes committed by cops."