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The problem with the old-boy network is that they're still boys. "Every really successful woman I know wants to become either an entrepreneur or a freelancer and go into business for herself," says contributing editor Liz Mitchell in Today's Chicago Woman (January 1990). "That's because she doesn't want to sit in the corporate lunchroom or executive dining room and talk about football pools. She wants to talk about important subjects."

"The vast majority of Guatemalans are living in the city in violation of U.S. immigration laws," writes Lynda Gorov in the Chicago Reporter (January 1990). Perhaps 2,000 of the 35,000 to 80,000 Guatemalans now in Chicago were tortured by their own government, but now they are the victims of our government as well. "Since 1980, U.S. law has defined refugees as people with a 'well-founded fear of persecution in their homeland.' The burden of proof is on applicants, who must prove they have been persecuted because of their politics, race, religion, nationality or social group. To grant Guatemalans political asylum would be to concede that a government with ties to the United States persecutes its people....The approval rate for Guatemalans seeking political asylum is so low that some immigration specialists now counsel Guatemalans against even applying."

Who needs books? According to the office of Illinois' secretary of state, "Illinois now has the largest number of libraries in the country using fax equipment."

Well, maybe the flavors are subtle. On Valentine's Day Jerome's on North Clark is offering Ardent Artichokes, Orgasmic Oysters, Wild Mistress Mushrooms, Lothario's Lobster, Buxom Beef Tenderloin, Sybaritic Salmon, Philandering Fruit Plate, Promiscuous Passion Fruit Cheesecake, and Carnal Chocolate-Banana Tart.

The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, even when "they" are Illinois counties and not individuals. According to the Illinois Business Review (December 1989): The richest county in Illinois--Lake County--had a per capita income of $17,773 in 1984. That year the poorest Illinois county--Pope, in far southern Illinois--had $7,844. In 1987 Lake County was up to $21,432, while the poorest county--now Johnson--had risen only to $8,763. The gap between top and bottom had widened from $9,929 to $12,669. In fact, all ten of the poorest counties in the state were farther below Lake County than the single poorest one had been in 1984.

If you're selling your business, give the buyers your tax forms. But give them the truth too. "Buyers understand that business owners take pains to reduce the taxes they pay," writes Victor von Schlegell in the Norbic Network (December 1989). "So although you will need to provide actual figures, you should also recast the figures to indicate 'excessive' owner's compensation and perquisites, rents or equipment leases paid to a separate company owned by you, etc....[Tax returns] may satisfy Uncle Sam, but they probably will not give buyers a true picture of the business."

New horizons for liberal guilt. Dr. Gerald Barney of the Institute for 21st Century Studies tells the Chicago-based Lutheran magazine (January 3) about one more nonrenewable resource we're squandering: "The year 2000 is a symbolic year--that symbolism having to do with both the past and the future. People can expand their minds beyond this year, this lifetime....[It's] a tremendous resource for humanity that we don't want to lose. What I'm worried about is that we're going to have one gigantic cocktail party."

The good news is only statistical. According to a recent survey released by the state Department of Public Health, condom usage among young blacks and Hispanics rose from 14 percent in August 1988 to 24 percent in June 1989. Unfortunately, the survey's margin of error is plus or minus 7 percent, making it uncertain whether AIDS education has actually had an effect.

"Crowding has plagued the Cook County correctional system since its inception more than 100 years ago," according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority's research bulletin on the subject. The old county jail, with 316 single-occupancy cells, reached a single-day population of 1,013 in 1921. The current jail, with a capacity for 6,237, houses more than 7,000 inmates, the vast majority (87 percent) of whom have only been accused, not convicted, of a crime.

Things that, once upon a time, money could not buy: customized phone-answering-machine messages. "We think the days of home-made announcements are numbered," says the owner of the Evanston-based Phone Tree Announcements. I mean, I called you up--what makes you think I want to listen to your voice?

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

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