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Land butcher to the world. "Between 1982 and 1997, the Northeast saw its overall population density drop by 23 percent (to 4.51 persons per urbanized acre) while the Midwest saw its overall population density drop by 19 percent (to 3.39 persons per acre)," write William Fulton and his colleagues in their July report "Who Sprawls Most?" published by the Brookings Institution. "These regions used land extremely inefficiently. . . . The [midwest] region increased its population by 4.1 million people but increased its urbanized land by 4.5 million acres, for a 'marginal metropolitan density' of 0.91 persons per acre."

"While the law [the Americans With Disabilities Act] has had its positive results, it has also produced a great deal of troublesome and vexatious litigation," claims the management law firm Wessels & Pautsch in its "Client Alert" newsletter (July). "For example, a number of cases have been filed by individuals claiming to be 'disabled' because of the difficulties they have encountered in working with one particular supervisor. They have indicated that they would no longer have been 'disabled' if they were accommodated by a transfer to another position or if their supervisor was transferred. These cases have rightfully been dismissed, but oftentimes only after requiring the employer to spend substantial time and energy defending the claim."

Toynbee, eat your heart out. Adam Gopnik writes in the New Yorker (July 23): "All cultures need symbolic images of naked women and excuses for looking at them. The excuses are the culture. (The really good excuses hang in museums, the lame ones used to hang around Times Square.)"

Apostrophe death watch. Headline from summer issue of "Library Beat," the newsletter of the Michigan City Public Library: "Literacy Spreads It's Wings Into Learning Center."

From the Uncity File. Kevin Clarke writes in U.S. Catholic (August): "The descendants of the European settlers of the prairie are simply leaving, depopulating the plains states. . . . There are now more bison and Native Americans living on the Great Plains than at any time since the late 1870s as the prairie is slowly reconverted to the ranching and grazing that best suits its particular ecology. . . . European expansion into the Plains and the great agricultural enterprise that accompanied it may turn out to be a short-lived experiment in human historical time, barely a blip in the geological clock that marks God's time."

"The First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA) has represented people charged with disorderly conduct for a variety of situations," writes attorney Kate Walz in "Neighborhoods" (June/July), newsletter of the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety, "including standing at a bus stop, documenting police license plates, and walking away when police officers spat at them."

Well, sort of sacred anyway. Jennifer Vanasco suggests in the July 4 issue of the Chicago Free Press that the gay community acknowledge the plight of straight spouses of gays: "Perhaps we should also establish some sort of community ethic that regards marriage, any type of marriage, as sacred. Perhaps we should refuse to sleep with or have relationships with men and women who have wedding rings hidden in their pockets until they are honest with their spouses about what's going on."

Speed limits. "Organs for transplantation also differ in their mobility," according to a story in the University of Chicago Chronicle (July 12). "While kidneys can be safely transplanted after more than two days of transport time, livers should be transplanted within eight hours and hearts and lungs have a very short viability."

In a sentence. According to G. Alfred Hess Jr. of Northwestern University, Chicago high schools "look an awful lot like they did 10 years ago and probably 30 years ago" (Catalyst, June).

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