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"Make sure you smoke a fresh cigar," advises the Cigar Association of America. "A simple test for determining the freshness of a cigar is to squeeze it gently while holding it to your ear. A fresh cigar will give a little and produce a rustling sound like a cool breeze passing over a lazy palm tree. If the cigar is too dry, however, it will sound brittle like the snap of dried twigs on a sun-scorched prairie." And a really stale cigar sounds like a person with emphysema trying to breathe, right?

"You would think that the homeless were born on the street or had dropped out of the sky," notes Alexander Cockburn of the rush of media coverage of homeless beggars (In These Times, September 28-October 4). "One striking feature of this sudden coverage is the tiny amount of attention given to the cause of the situation. It's as though cholera were sweeping the nation's major cities, and no one gave a thought as to why plague had suddenly struck. In the stories I've either read or watched about beggars lately, the name of Ronald Reagan has barely been mentioned, as though no known connection existed between slashing funds for public housing, attacking welfare programs of one sort or another and the consequent effect on the targets of these 'cuts'."

Thank-you notes that should never have been necessary, in this case from David Longaker of TGM to the North Business and Industrial Council (the NORBIC Network, October 1988): "No one will ever be able to calculate the money you have saved our company and the many companies along Kedzie Ave. since the installation of new street signs indicating Kedzie Ave. and Jersey are the same street. We once had a truck driver try to deliver a trailer load of grocery bags at 8 am; he arrived at 11 am because it took three hours for him to find Kedzie and Jersey are the same."

"Asian entrepreneurs rarely use banks to finance their ventures and seldom consult the government agencies designed to help their fledgling businesses," reports the University of Chicago Chronicle (September 29). According to a yearlong survey of 150 Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai immigrant entrepreneurs in Chicago conducted by the Center for Urban Research and Policy Studies, "only 29 percent of the Korean respondents, 9 percent of the Vietnamese and none of the Thai had turned to a bank for capital." They worried about the red tape, and they were right: "Those who had sought business loans were often turned down because of stringent policies that favor native-born Americans."

Dieting produces--blubber, according to John P. Foreyt of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, since most weight lost from dieting is regained within two years. According to a Dairy Nutrition Council description of Foreyt's views, repeated "weight cycling" actually "increases a person's percent body fat. The average woman has 22 percent body fat. But, according to Foreyt, after each weight cycle, a woman gains approximately 2 percent body fat. Foreyt has seen women, after years of weight cycling, with 50 percent body fat."

A new state constitutional convention could not limit individual liberties, according to the proconvention group Con Con for Court Reform. "Individual liberties are protected by the federal Constitution and the federal Bill of Rights. Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, no state constitution or law can override or infringe federally-protected liberties. . . . The Illinois Supreme Court has generally construed the Illinois Bill of Rights as providing no independent protection beyond federal and state statutory provisions. . . . Thus, as a practical matter, there are no individual liberties protected by the 1970 Constitution that can be taken away by a constitutional convention."

Religion is an art, isn't it? The Illinois Arts Council recently gave Chicago's Good News Community Church $11,600 tax dollars ("for an eight-month dance residency") and the Mont Clare Congregational Church $2,720 ("for general operating support").

About this time, Dagwood lost his grip on the bus. From a summary of the proposed 1989 budget for Pace, the suburban bus agency: "A General Strategy requiring services and capital programs pursued by Pace should not lower the Pace farebox recovery ratio if intended to increase ridership, and should not reduce ridership if intended to increase the farebox recovery ratio."

Thank you, Ron, for getting government off our backs. From Harper's "Index" (November 1988): Total federal spending in 1980 was 22 percent of the U.S. Gross National Product. Last year, after seven years with conservative hands on the tiller, federal spending was 23 percent of the GNP.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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