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No wonder the kids don't learn math. Barbara Kato of the Chicago Area Writing Project, writing in Catalyst (September) about the tyranny of standardized testing in the schools: "A particularly perplexing misconception is the expectation that all students should score above the 50th percentile."

"While the press thinks it is owed a full account of the president's behavior, it does not think it has to give a full account of its own," writes the University of Chicago's Jonathan Lear in the New Republic (September 28). "If there is one important law that has been broken in this whole mess, it

is the one that forbids federal prosecutors from leaking confidential grand jury proceedings. But no editor is going to assign an investigative reporter to do a story on who is leaking to the paper because the press is actively participating in, and encouraging, the subversion of this law....Unlike the president's extramarital sex life, the way news is gathered and reported is clearly a matter of legitimate public concern. Of course, the press hides that, while, at the same time, under the guise of truth, it pushes for the transparency of the president's extramarital sex life."

The American Wind Energy Association ranks Illinois 16th--just ahead of California and just behind New York--in its wind energy potential, 61 billion kilowatt-hours per year. That's just one-twentieth of number one North Dakota's potential 1,210 billion. ("Sustainable Business Network Journal," September.)

Stretch. Julia Margaret Cameron "was a photographic pioneer in the 1860's much like Charles Lindbergh was an aviation pioneer when he flew mail from Chicago

to St. Louis in 1926 for an outfit that grew up to become American Airlines." That's perhaps not the comparison you would naturally come up with to describe her Art Institute exhibition...unless you were writing the press release for exhibit sponsor American Airlines.

Guilty of traveling while brown. Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation writes in "Politico" (September 8) about the United States' de facto domestic passport system. "After I had gone through the metal detector at the Laredo airport, preparing to board my plane back to Virginia, I (along with the other passengers) was stopped by a U.S. immigration official and asked whether I was an American citizen. I later asked another passenger--a Mexican American--about this and he said that he never travels to the border without his passport, in case he has to document that he really is an American citizen. He also said that he never 'dresses down' when he leaves Laredo, for fear of being mistaken for a Mexican illegal immigrant. The situation is the same for automobile travelers who leave Laredo on Interstate 35 for parts north. Drivers are required to slow down on the interstate and must be prepared to stop to discuss citizenship with U.S. immigration officials."

Illinois is one of four states that spends almost as much on highway administration as it does on road maintenance, complains University of North Carolina professor David Hartgen in "Engineering News-Record" (August 31). In general, highway mileage increased less than 2 percent between 1984 and 1996, whereas highway administrative budgets went up 127 percent. "Perhaps the states will even argue that it isn't their fault, by blaming increasing administrative rules, air quality rules, design and management costs, and benefits requirements for these run-ups." Hartgen doesn't care. "The bottom line is that state highway bureaucracies today are fatter."

Rubbing it in. Visiting novelist Elizabeth Berg writes in National Geographic Traveler (September/October) about riding into town on the Kennedy with her boyfriend, admiring the John Hancock Center and Sears Tower "and all the beautiful buildings between, spread before us like an architectural smorgasbord. 'Now there's a city,' Bill says. 'Not like Boston, where, on a clear day, you can see both buildings.'"

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