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Let's see--they have fundamentalists, but they need rubble. Roosevelt University political science professor Paul Green, reflecting on the difficulties of selling regional governance in the Chicago suburbs, at a meeting of the Campaign for Sensible Growth on December 7: "It's a mini-Afghanistan out there, with tribal leaders."

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth will make you sick. When Northwestern University economist David Dranove and three colleagues evaluated the first four years of mandatory cardiac surgery "report cards" in New York and Pennsylvania (National Bureau of Economic Research working paper "Is More Information Better?" January), they found that the report cards made things worse. Instead of helping providers improve and consumers make better choices about their care, the report cards "led to higher levels of resource use and to worse health outcomes, particularly for sicker patients." Evidently providers decided to improve their scores by rejecting the sicker patients. The authors do caution that report cards might have a more beneficial impact in the long run.

"People who found themselves with nowhere to go used to be able to find shelter within CHA--either legally or illegally," writes Mary Johns in Residents' Journal (October-November). "Many residents and others don't like the idea of people squatting in the buildings. But at least the CHA units were shelter."

In God We Trust--a little less. According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by Barry Kosmin and Egon Mayer of the City University of New York, the three largest religious groupings in the United States are Catholics (51 million), Baptists (34 million), and those with "no religion" (29 million). The nonreligious have almost doubled in number since 1990 and now make up 14 percent of the population (www.gc.cuny.edu/studies/

key_findings.htm).

No respect. The 16 world cities mentioned in Economist.com's "Cities Guide" (www.economist.com/cities/) include New York, Washington, San Francisco, Zurich, Sao Paulo, and Johannesburg--but not Chicago.

The continuing crisis. Record highs (since measuring began, in 1959) for African-Americans in 2000, according to the Census Bureau's news release for African-American History Month: median income ($30,439 per household), percentage of those aged 25 and up who graduated from high school (79), and percentage of those aged 25 and up who hold at least a bachelor's degree (17). Record low: poverty rate (22.1 percent).

Bad rap. Chicago's Seventh Circuit federal appeals judge, prolific author, and libertarian/conservative Richard Posner thinks the market in pundits could work better than it does. In his new book, Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, he proposes that public intellectuals disclose the sources of their income, that academics post their writings on their university's Web page, and that publishers refrain from publishing book reviews by individuals criticized in the book under review. These he proposes as "norms" that would make pundits more credible and accountable, but he adds that "the shortcomings of the public-intellectual market do not warrant costly methods of correction. (In particular they would not warrant government regulation even if the First Amendment permitted it.)" Perhaps Posner is a bit too optimistic about the state of the market. Reviewer Alan Wolfe confirmed the need for more accountability when he incorrectly wrote in the New Republic (December 31-January 7) that Posner is now "willing to use the powers of government to get the results that he wants."

What you see is not what you get. Percentage of Cook County land that's cropland: 4. Percentage of Illinois land that's urban or built-up (including major roadways and railroads): 4 ("Critical Trends in Illinois Ecosystems," dnr.state.il.us/orep/ctap2).

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