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Niche marketing comes to the library. In her September 27 on-line newsletter "NeatNew and ExLibris" (, Marylaine Block lauds suburban Morton Grove's "Webrary." Among other things, it tries to make reading user-friendly by posting book lists that "really zero in on reader preferences," such as "Asian Magical Realism for high school kids, Genealogy Mysteries, Little Old Lady Sleuths, Cat Mysteries...Bridget Jones Readalikes, Neal Stephenson Readalikes, Terry McMillan Readalikes...Sports (a very extensive and detailed list, sorted by individual sport)."

Your hovel or mine? We're too late for the November 7 "Flirting for Disaster" fund-raiser held by the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Auxiliary Board, which the press release advertised as a way to "find out how much fun the nation's largest disaster relief organization can be."

The Chicago metropolitan area is the least sprawling midwestern region, while the Gary-Hammond area is the most, according to a new study sponsored by Smart Growth America, "Measuring Sprawl and Its Impact" ( The authors define "sprawl" as areas with low residential density; separated homes, jobs, and services; weak activity centers and downtowns; and a poorly connected street network, with long blocks and culs-de-sac. On this four-factor scale, New York City scores 178 (the least sprawling area of the country), Chicago scores 121, and Gary-Hammond 77. The most sprawling city is Riverside-San Bernardino, California, at 14. The researchers found that people who live in sprawling places tend to drive more, walk less, use transit less, own more cars, and have higher maximum ozone levels than people in denser areas. Since the authors are working for an antisprawl group, they were obviously embarrassed to find that sprawl as they measured it has no effect--repeat, none--on traffic congestion.

Self-determination is where you find it. There will be no national commission to examine the impact of gambling on Native Americans. Such a proposal, from Virginia congressman Frank Wolf, passed the House appropriations committee in July but was defeated in the full House. Writing in the magazine Global Gaming Business (October 1), Kate Ackley describes the defeat as an example of the "Indian casino lobby's increasing clout on Capitol Hill....The measure was strongly opposed by the 184-member National Indian Gaming Association, an association of tribes with casino interests, and individual tribal gaming businesses."

"The recent arrival of [X] will not be the last, nor the deadliest, of [X] to invade the United States and attack American citizens, scientists warn. In fact, [X] is merely a wake-up call for what we will confront in future years

if we continue to refrain from controlling [the cause of X]." This according to an article in the Chicago-based Heartland Institute's "Environment & Climate News" (October). The newsletter routinely debunks and ridicules environmental scare mongering when X equals suburban sprawl, climate change, or dioxins. But this time X means mosquitoes and the West Nile virus. The proposed cure is massive spraying of chemicals alleged to control mosquitoes. And alarmism has apparently become acceptable.

Not exactly news, but now a panel of scientists has said it. From a National Academies' Institute of Medicine press release (September 18): "The stress of having even one uninsured family member can ripple through the household as other family members cope with their relative's illness, high medical bills, and financial distress."

"If they have attended a CPS high school, there's a good chance they have an academic deficiency," says Ayana Karanja, a Loyola University anthropologist and director of its Black World Studies Department (Catalyst Chicago, October). "Not a deficiency in intelligence, but we know Chicago Public Schools need to do a lot more....We have bright students, but they have not been prepared academically to compete with students from the best high schools."

In a sentence. Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco writes in the September 13 issue of "Foreign Policy in Focus": "The list of UN Security Council resolutions violated by Iraq cited by President Bush pales in comparison to the list of UN Security Council resolutions currently being violated by U.S. allies."

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