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When eternity is not enough. From the Washington Times (July 5): "A forthcoming study for the National Federation of Priests' Councils, a group based in Chicago, found that celibacy and loneliness were the main reasons why a sample of 72 priests, most of them younger, had left the church since 1992. Many also felt a lack of appreciation."

Future plans of an eighth-grade dropout, as quoted in Catalyst (June): "I want to be someone sitting behind a desk in a suit, getting calls, like 'Mr. _____, you got a call.'"

Life at the Black Robe Buffet,

according to Dahlia Lithwick, reporting on the Supreme Court's year in Slate (July 6): "This virtuous, self-denying paragon of judicial restraint has gorged and stuffed itself on constitutional cheesecake, somehow all the while insisting that it's on a diet." The hypocrisy of Bush v. Gore makes it easy to forget that "this same court that barred Congress in half a dozen ways this year from promulgating rules to protect civil rights beneficently made itself the bestower of individual rights in several other cases, including the astonishing case of Kyllo v. United States (giving us the right to grow pot and grill indoors free from warrantless uses of thermal imaging devices)."

The Great Bicoastal Subsidy turns out to be the home-mortgage-interest deduction, according to a July study, "The Spatial Distribution of Housing-Related Tax Benefits in the United States," written by real estate professors at the Wharton School and published by the Brookings Institution ( The benefits of favorable federal tax treatment of housing are concentrated "almost exclusively along the California coast and in the Northeast from Washington, DC, to Boston." The program also "effectively transfers just over $18 billion from census tracts in cities to those outside cities," though not everywhere. Surprisingly, "in over half the states, the transfers go the other direction--from suburban tracts to city tracts--albeit at much lower levels." In Illinois, suburbs get about $1.4 billion a year extra; in Wisconsin and Indiana, cities are favored by $179 million and $453 million respectively.

"The fundamental problem in many, maybe most, underperforming schools is that the parents and community leaders haven't bought into the prevailing American culture," argues political scientist James Nowlan in Crain's Chicago Business (June 25). "To improve Chicago school performance, the mayor and civic and school leaders must further reduce teen pregnancies, keep pupils away from their neighborhoods (and often their parents) as long as possible and instill in youngsters a belief that by learning they can also achieve their dreams."

When affordable housing really was. An unusual Chicago export--chicken houses for people--was recently turned up in rural Wheatfield, in northwest Indiana, by Kent Abraham ("Indiana Preservationist," July/August). In the housing-short years after World War II, the Economy Portable Housing Company of West Chicago adapted designs for buildings that housed chickens, hogs, and turkeys and sold them as lake cottages and garages. Abraham writes, "The houses in Wheatfield are versions of the Streamliner, a unit promoted as a lake cottage. The basic floor plan is 18 by 34 feet, with four rooms and a bath. An entire unit, not including a foundation, could have been delivered for between $500 and $600."

Warning: guys, do not attempt this art form. From the July exhibitions listing of the ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation: "Vital X: Kissing Project is a video documentation of an ongoing project in which the artist [Yoshie Suzuki] asks strangers to kiss her passionately. Suzuki says she marks foreign cityscapes with intimate kisses in much the same way a dog marks its territory with urination. Using her body as a medium of experimentation and as a battlefield, Suzuki explores the blatant exploitation of the human body and sexuality in our culture."

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