"I never looked at any of my relatives as compulsive gamblers," writes Mike Morsch in Illinois Issues (November), "and I'm pretty sure I know what the answer would be if I suggested to any of them that they enroll in the state's Self-Exclusion Program," which lets gamblers ask to be kept off riverboats. "They would immediately lay odds on the over-under number of people who actually would enroll in the program."
The Chicago Public Schools spent almost $6,500 per teacher on professional development last year, "but the money yielded little discernible improvement in teaching, according to a first-ever, comprehensive inventory of professional development activities in the system," writes Alexander Russo in Catalyst Chicago (November). School budget expert Karen Hawley Miles finds that, as in other districts, "the central office has not developed clear standards for instructional quality and has scattered professional development programs throughout the bureaucracy without any clear lines of accountability for results."
Number of nuclear warheads in the world in 1960: 22,069. In 1986 (the peak): 65,057. In 2002: 20,150 (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December).
Affordability versus the market, one more time. "The CHA plans to retain title to all land, and give developers [of new mixed-income developments] 99-year leases," write Robin Snyderman and Maricruz Ponce de Leon in the Metropolitan Planning Council's new report, "Public Housing in the Public Interest" (November), available at www.metroplanning.org. "Developers argue that this compromises their ability to leverage conventional financing. Having a 99-year lease with the CHA is not the same as having ownership in lenders' eyes. 'Ultimately, what matters is that the housing remain affordable over the long term. The ground lease is the only way to protect that land,' counters Carl Byrd, director of development management at the CHA."
The horror of praising McDonald's. In the November issue of Conscious Choice editor Rebecca Ephraim agonizes over what attitude to take toward McDonald's given its "newfound leadership in encouraging animal welfare": "Granted, McDonald's is spurring a national movement for animal welfare among fast food and supermarket chains. Perhaps, then, its action should not be summarily dismissed even if the motive is based on profits rather than philanthropy." She didn't consider whether it should be applauded all the more for basing its policy change on profits, a dependably long-lasting motivation, rather than some fleeting do-gooder sentiment.
"Who wants eco-friendly funerals?" asks the Society of Environmental Journalists in its October 16 "Tipsheet" (www.sej.org/ pub/index.htm). "This issue is somewhat buried..."
Losers, no matter how you cut it. According to Sharyn Adams and David Olson, writing in the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority newsletter "On Good Authority" (September), "Gang members were almost 3.5 times more likely than non-gang members to be rearrested while on probation after statistically controlling for factors such as age, race, gender, education, employment, marital status, substance abuse, and conviction offense." Fortunately, they make up only a small share of the state's probationers.
"The democratic West does not face an 'axis of evil' today, it faces the geography of a new age of tyranny," writes Mark Lilla, a member of the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought (New York Review of Books, October 24). "From Zimbabwe to Libya, from Algeria to Iraq, from the Central Asian republics to Burma, from Pakistan to Venezuela, we discover nations that are neither totalitarian nor democratic....As yet, we have no geographers of this new terrain....Academic political science, which once considered the categorization and study of different regime types one of its main tasks, no longer does." As a result, nobody knows what to do. "Very few Europeans were able to make the more moderate case that while Milosevic was not Hitler he was a dangerous tyrant who had to be combated with means commensurate to the threat he posed. American policymakers find themselves in a similar bind today when building their case against Saddam Hussein's Iraq."