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Eat your heart out, Henry David Thoreau. According to the Illinois Natural History Survey "Reports" (Autumn), on June 29 and 30, more than 160 scientists participated in a "biodiversity blitz" at the Robert Allerton Park, which is west of Champaign-Urbana. Among other things, they were seeking "to break the temperate zone blitz record for species found in 24 hours, 1,905 species found at Walden Pond in 1998." Final numbers from Allerton Park are not in, but the tentative count is more than 2,000 species.

"We are now the largest harbor system in the country," Chicago Park District superintendent David Doig tells the Trust for Public Land in an interview posted on the group's Web site. "We have over 5,000 slips. We passed Long Beach last summer. We added a new harbor, DuSable Harbor, which added about 500 new slips....The day that we announced DuSable was the day the Tribune headline was 'O'Hare loses first place as busiest airport.' We may not be the busiest airport, but we have the largest harbor system."

From the (highly vulnerable) horse's mouth. According to a September 21 press release from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "Nuclear power plants...are among the most hardened structures in the country and are designed to withstand extreme events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes....However, the NRC did not specifically contemplate attacks by aircraft such as Boeing 757s or 767s and nuclear power plants were not designed to withstand such crashes. Detailed engineering analyses of a large airliner crash have not yet been performed."

Can you make money and fight sprawl too? The authors of an article in the Institutional Real Estate Letter (October) think so. "Urban housing generally presents an investor with greater development, market, operating, financing and liquidity risk," write Quintin Primo III and Allison Grant Williams of Capri/Capital Advisors LLC. "However, investment returns can and should be significantly higher."

It's virtually certain people will keep on pressing the flesh, given that even the Online News Association deemed it necessary to gather in a single physical place--Berkeley, California--last month for its second annual conference and awards banquet ("OJR Newsletter," October 21).

Thirty years of mostly good news. From 1970 to 2000, the economy grew 158 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 143 percent, and emissions of our six principal air pollutants dropped 29 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's September publication, "Latest Findings on National Air Quality: 2000 Status and Trends" ( But greenhouse-gas emissions have grown 11 percent just since 1990.

Better than hellfire. According to a Newsday report reprinted in the Centers for Disease Control "AIDS Daily Summary" (October 31), public health officials report some success at scaring teenagers into safe sex using a haunted house with "startling, full-color photos of canker sores and genital warts on female and male genitalia infected with STDs."

Forget Palestine. How about jobs and marriage partners? "Islamic fundamentalism is primarily a revolt of young people," says Valerie Hoffman, a professor of religious studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in a November 1 news release, "who are caught between a traditional past and a higher secular education with all its implications." They see their lives "bifurcated between an Islamic culture that provides moral values, community and spiritual satisfaction, and a Western culture that provides access to the material improvement of their lives." She finds that fundamentalism draws heavily from students and graduates in physical sciences with rural or traditional backgrounds, insufficient job opportunities, and little opportunity for legitimate political or sexual expression.

Honor roll. Area congresspeople who voted against the overbroad antiterrorism bill, according to the "Progressive Review," October 29: Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold; Illinois representatives Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis, and Jesse Jackson Jr.; and northwest Indiana representative Peter Visclosky.

In a sentence. The October 19 "Window to Africa Radio eNewsletter" quotes this Igbo proverb from Nigeria: "He who tries to live without risk will be killed by a falling dried leaf."

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